(Adrian Eiskalt’s narration)
Adrian Eiskalt relays how he first saw Magneto attacking East German tanks years ago. It was like looking directly into the sun at high noon. Simply overwhelming in his brilliance – domineering in his superiority – prostrating in his arrogance. He was everything Eiskalt was led to believe he would be. Magneto one of the most powerful mutant on the face of the planet: cold, clinical, methodical, none of which Eiskalt ever expected from a man whose psyche profile indicated an aversion to the military mindset. Yet there they were – soldiers in the East German army, being buffeted about like toys.
His control over his electromagnetic field was frightening in its applications. Bullets aimed at his heart found their way back to the triggermen. The iron in their blood was used to cause seizures and strokes. Tanks were rent asunder as if made of tissue paper. The air burned and through the din his voice could be heard like the snarling of a rabid wolf: You will not take Wundagore Mountain for your own! I will not allow you to tread so callously upon consecrated ground!
The commander cried for a strategic retreat and the soldiers fled. Adrian, whose shirt was burning, and his brother, Ute, ran madly into one direction, away from the others. They reached a clearing in the forest, where they found a small cabin. They wondered whether this could be Magneto’s home, until they chanced upon the cabin’s true inhabitant – a creature half cow, half human. The men were horrified and the poor creature was terrified. Surprisingly, she told the men to save themselves.
Ute murmured something about a tombstone. Adrian doesn’t remember what. He was watching the cow-woman flee into the darkness. Adrian was looking with detached curiosity as the monster from hell calmly joined them. He was staring at his own impending death with an almost bemused indifference. You have disturbed my wife’s eternal sleep, Magneto said with a voice choking in contained fury. Have you no respect?
Ute threw up his arms surrendering. Looking at them with inhuman eyes Magneto bellowed: Surrender yourselves? Isn’t that what my family did? What my wife did? What I did, time and time again? Surrender myself to your tender mercies only to have that thrown back into my face through the pain, misery and death your kind has inflicted on me and mine?!!! He gestured and, a moment later, Ute exploded.
Adrian watched, horrified, as his brother’s mutilated body fell before him. When he looked down at the smoldering remains, Magneto’s voice softened. She always did say I would bring violence to her. When I learned that this was the last place she may have known hope – where our twin children were born – I built a monument for her. I swore never to allow blood to be spilled here. Resigned and disgusted, he told Eiskalt to take his fellow soldier and go. Eiskalt angrily shouted out that he was more than his troop mate. He was his brother. Magneto flew away uttering these last words: So then you now know the pain of loss as sharply as do I. Not much difference between human and mutant pain, is there?
That was over seven years ago. Adrian Eiskalt finishes his tale to his psychiatrist Dr. Heisenberg, who points out that he lives in that moment. Why can’t he let it go? Keeping the anger and hatred stoked provides the fuel he needs to keep living, he replies. She tells him to look outside. The Berlin Wall is down - for better or worse, their country is now united – shouldn’t his body and mind be as well? He is free of his obligation to state service, no? Isn’t it time to begin his life again? Doesn’t he owe Ute more than this? Perhaps he does, he agrees, fantasizing about killing Magneto. It’s just such a cleansing fire inside him. It simplifies things and provides him with an impetus, a clarity of vision. Then why does he continue to see her, she asks. As it is quite obvious he doesn’t want to move beyond what s emotionally crippling him. He is unsure, replying that he is still looking for a better way to save himself. Better than what, she asks.
Empire State University, New York.
An unusual class for international law is being held: “Demagogues of the twentieth century.” This week’s topic is Magneto and the guest speaker is Gabrielle Haller, Israel’s former ambassador to Great Britain.
Gabrielle announces that the man they are here to discuss is unique in his own right, a man they know precious little about – with the official recordings having precious little to say. They believe the man who would become Magneto was born Erik Magnus Lehnsherr, to a gypsy family of Sinte descent outside Gdansk, Poland, then known as Danzig, around 1928.
A picture of Magneto as a young man dressed in gypsy clothing is shown. The picture is replaced by other pictures showing the horrors of Auschwitz as Gabrielle continues her lecture: After Danzig was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939, Erik along with thousands of other gypsies was shifted to a work camp in Auschwitz. They all know what happened there. Genocide, Extermination of Jews, Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, intellectuals. Anyone the master race felt was… disposable.
Lehnsherr lost his parents and his sister in Auschwitz. But he gained something in the liberation of the camp in 1945 as well. He gained hope in the form of a wife, a woman called Magda. In 1946 they took up residence in the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa, where Magda gave birth to a daughter they named Anya. But Lehnsherr had learned something else about himself in Auschwitz, something which was becoming more apparent every day. He learned he was a mutant and, when Anya was tragically killed in an arsonist’s fire, Lehnsherr lashed out at the villagers who refused to help save her and Magda, witnessing this deed, fled.
In his misery and loneliness, he went to Israel to save his own soul. He chose to work with survivors of the camps and, in turn, helped them regain their souls. That is where Gabrielle met him, for she was a patient at that hospital in Haifa. Lehnsherr had taken to calling himself Magnus at the time, as if by choosing the middle name he could bring some semblance of balance and simplicity to his haunted life. Magnus helped nurse her back to health. Does that make her an objective lecturer? she asks rhetorically. For the most part, she can separate Magnus the man from Magneto the mutant crusader. And she has reason to label him crusader and not dictator.
Firstly: he has no country to call his own. Secondly: he has fought for a specific cause, not for personal power. Which begs the question then, before he died in a battle above Earth -- was Magneto a demagogue or an ideologue?
Was he a tyrannical madman or a righteous zealot fighting for a noble cause – equality for mutants? Can anyone truly answer that question?
Eiskalt is leaving on a plane, hating every moment of flight, of not having control. To keep himself busy, he is reading J.B. Chambers’ bestseller on mutants. Fatal Attractions – Mutants & Men. He s leaving Berlin to regain his lost sense of control. And in New York lies the beginning of the end.
His neighbor asks him to let her out As he stands up he sees several rows before them the back of a head with full white flowing hair. Magnus!, he shouts, taking out a needle concealed in a pen.; a needle tipped with poison. He touches the man’s shoulder, only to find that, of course, it is just a startled ordinary man, not the foe he sought. He has to be dispassionate he chides himself and once again daydreams of cruelly killing Magneto.
Manhattan, two days later
In his hotel room, Adrian watches Nightline, one of the guests being J. B. Chambers, author of the book Adrian just read. Chambers explains his theories on mutants, stating that mankind must ultimately bear the responsibility for the proliferation of the mutant gene throughout the planet. Over the last several decades, they’ve introduced so many contagions into the environment, which have simply made their way to the human DNA structure, resulting in more mutant offspring. How can they blame mutants? It is analogous to blaming the grass when a weed takes root. So he’s comparing mutants to weeds, Ted Koppel asks. Chambers explains that he isn’t trying to turn this into anything ugly.
Koppel asks if Chambers’ bestseller isn’t a warning that mutants are closer than ever to becoming the dominant species. Chambers stresses that humans and mutants can coexist, a view that is not shared by Koppel’s next guest, Graydon Creed, founder of the Friends of Humanity. Koppel asks how Creed can claim that his organization is any better than the mutants he decries, considering the recent terrorist activities of alleged members of his organization. Creed claims those men were radical fringe elements of his organization protesting the fact that two mutant terrorists were not being charged for their crimes by a United States government too afraid of the mutant lobby to act decisively and blow the act out of proportion.
Chambers interrupts pointing out that there is no such thing as a “mutant lobby” nor do they have representation in any of the world’s governing bodies. Indeed, since Magneto’s disappearance last year, mutants do not even have a strong voice in their own affairs. Is he calling Magneto a statesman? Creed blusters. He is saying, Chambers continues, that just like the American founding fathers or Martin Luther King, Magneto’s was a voice to be heard above the protests of the majority and ruling classes. So was Hitler’s! Creed shouts.
Eiskalt switches off the TV set. So many sides to one man, he muses. How can that be? How can anyone see Magneto for anything other than what he truly is – a murderer?
The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Grand Central Station, Manhattan. Eiskalt is expecting a guest for breakfast, Gabrielle Haller. While polite, it becomes quickly apparent that Gabrielle is reluctant to be there and has only come because people she respects in both their governments, as well as those in the United States, have asked her to.
In what appears to be deliberately poor English, Eiskalt points out that their entire talk is merely hypothetical. They don’t even know if Magneto is alive. Gabrielle tells him not to patronize her. She knows what he is and, should Magnus be alive again, she knows what their countries want him to do. She waves away the waiter who offers her a menu. She won’t be staying long enough to eat, she informs him. Adrian expresses his disappointment. How can she ignore the threat of Magneto? She has been through much pain in her life, caused by men like Magneto, no?
Turning away, Gabrielle reveals that she supported Magnus’ goals because of her background. He was – is – a man of vision, of courage, of honor. What he seeks for mutants is not different from what her people built for themselves after the Holocaust. So she won’t help him? Eiskalt asks. She will assist only if his goal is to apprehend Magnus for the specific purpose of putting him on trial for his actions and thereby granting him the forum through which he can once again express his views. If this fool’s mission is to kill Magnus, the conversation is over. Kill him? Eiskalt asks innocently, images of Magneto being shot in the head fleeting through his mind. He assures her that his employers wish to capture him only. To martyr him would be to advance his cause.
She announces that she will make some calls and gather information but adds that he does not fool her. She can see it in his eyes. His motives are personal and, if he approaches this from a personal position, he is doomed to fail. Magnus is beyond such things. With a cold ‘good-bye,’ she leaves, while Eiskalt silently gloats that Magneto is hardly likely to be beyond life and death.
In the Atlantic, off the Key West Island of Florida, a yacht shipped by the latest incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - Toad, Pyro, Blob and Phantazia – awaits a rendez-vous. The men are arguing about whether they are at the right place, while Phantazia is engrossed in a book about astrophysics. Suddenly, she tells them to be quiet. Someone is coming. Taking off her sunglasses, she announces that the disruption of the electromagnetic field is like a slap in the face. Toad leers at her and Eileen tells him not to belittle her intellect, then she won’t belittle her greed. They are after all their two best features. Whoever arranged this meeting has arrived, she announces, as a maelstrom appears in the air and a glowing figure dressed in black, white gold and purple arrives calling himself Exodus.
He is the ferryman assigned to take mutantkind on a journey to a better place, he announces. What does he want with them, Blob asks. He? With them? Nothing, Exodus replies. What does he want, Toad demands impatiently. He offers a haven, Exodus explains, sanctuary. And he wants them to go live with him? Blob asks. Just Eileen, Exodus retorts pointing at Phantazia. Why her? she asks. Because she is the only one he has deemed worthy, Exodus states.
Toad angrily calls Magneto an arrogant self-righteous pig who has bedevilled him all his life with his conceit. Why aren’t they all worthy, he asks sarcastically. Because there is no place in Avalon for mutants like him and Frederick – people who lack vision and potential. Pyro might have been another matter – had he not become tainted…. Without bothering to explain, he asks Eileen for an answer. Hesitating Eileen refuses. Exodus tells them farewell and hopes their coming deaths will be painless.
The Toad blusters shouting out How dare he?! Pyro cynically curses both Exodus and Magneto, clearly shaken by Exodus’ hints that he is tainted in some way. He reminds the others that they still have an afternoon meeting, where they can make some nice money with no strings attached. Who needs Magneto anyways? Eileen, looking sadly at the ocean, doesn’t answer.
A little later, Eiskalt returns from his meeting with the Brotherhood, having noticed they were quite in the mood. He notes to himself to never try and match the Blob shot for shot. Especially with Tequila.
In his room, he looks at several snapshots showing Magneto in different situations. Toynbee was more than happy to offer him information for cash. He assumes that, since Toad lacks the courage to exact revenge on Magneto himself, he is more than willing to assist anyone that does. What must it have been like for Toad to have been an indentured servant to such a monster? Such a dichotomy between the Magnus of old and the more recent man, he muses. From abusive genocidal demagogue to tweed-dressed school headmaster and sympathetic spokesman for the mutant cause. He reads a brochure of Xavier’s School with Magneto as principal on the cover. How does one predict the actions of an opponent who is so adepts at being unpredictable?
More pictures: The original Brotherhood, Magneto facing the Avengers, Ka-Zar and Zabu. Magneto reduced to infancy by Mutant Alpha. Magneto and his children facing off against the West Coast Avengers. Magneto at the trial in Paris …
He started as the antithesis of Charles Xavier, Eiskalt thinks. He recruited a band of young mutants, who would pursue the achievement of his own dreams. Dreams of conquest and superiority. Time and time again he attempted to force his world view down the collective throats of the planet’s people. Time and time again he was stopped. From the depths of the Savage Land underneath Antarctica to being reverted back to childhood by one of his own creations, from secret bases in the Caribbean of ancient myth and fantasies to principal and nursemaid to the children of Xavier’s dream. Magneto has found every which way conceivable to advance his own political and genetic agenda. When he finally allowed himself to be placed before the world court, he was found not guilty of crimes against humanity. And then he started all over again.
This time the next generation of pawns were, ironically enough, his first generation as well: Pietro and Wanda Maximoff – the children of Magneto, both of whom had served the cause of humanity as members of X-Factor and the Avengers. When Magneto allegedly perished, he died a failure in the greatest sense of the word, for he was a man unable to make his own children see the justness of his cause, much less a species or an entire planet. How ironic indeed.
How did he do it, Eiskalt wonders, as he gulps down some Jack Daniels. How could he have come back time and time again always with a new method of conquest. One ridiculous attempt after another. And how could anyone have believed that simply having his asteroid home incinerated while entering Earth’s atmosphere would actually kill this man. He was once reverted to infancy and still found a way to regain his adulthood. What makes a man like that continue to believe in himself. Eiskalt listens to the audio interview made with the Toad.
The Toad describes how frightened he was of Magneto, how he was constantly abused. Why did he stay with him for so long then, Eiskalt asked. He was younger then, Toynbee replies, Magneto had a way of keeping you under control and not just through the threat of physical punishment… but through sheer force of will. He believes so strongly in himself that, no matter how ludicrous some of it sounded, you actually believed he would accomplish his goals.
How did Hitler rally his country around him? Through the incredible allure of his confidence. Magneto was much the same way in that regard. For all his bluster, his ill-tempered treatment of him and his comrades, they stayed because he made them believe what he believed himself… that he was superior to them all and by staying they were ensuring their place alongside greatness.
And as much as he hates him today, he still believes he may have been right…
Eiskalt stops the tape, asking himself again how. This either indicates a completely delusional sense of self-worth or the unshakeable belief in the correctness of his way. Knowing which could make all the difference when the opportunity arrives to kill him …
In the administrative building which houses the Mossad, Israel’s security service, Gabrielle Haller is calling Moira MacTaggert via a video conference. They both briefly reminisce about Charles Xavier, the man they both once loved, before Moira states that Gaby wants to talk about Magnus, doesn’t she? Gaby adds that she needs help in finding a way to… neutralize him. Isn’t he dead, Moira asks, shocked. Gaby just reveals that recent evidence calls that into question.
Moira glumly states that she’s beginning to believe the man can’t die. Gaby should have seen his eyes after he had been reverted to childhood by the Mutant Alpha he had created himself. He was a beautiful child and Moira thought she could change the way things were meant to be . She studied him top to bottom inside out. As if, by seeing what made him tick genetically, she could alter the man he would turn into, maybe raise him right, help him harness his powers for good. She knew she was wrong from the start, but she thought she could give him a chance, the chance her own son Kevin never had.
Gaby tells Moira she needn’t explain herself. Her own son, David, lies in a vegetative state in a hospital cot in Moira’s faculty. She just wanted to help, Moira states, and if Magnus is alive, then his fury, his renewed hatred of humanity will be Moira’s fault. Gaby asks Moira to help them. Help find a way to stop him before he has a chance to carry trough on these passions. She doesn’t want to see him sanctioned either but, unless she can provide the people who have asked to organize this posse with an alternative, what choice will they have? And Moira is the key – she has the answers, doesn’t she? Moira looks aside, considering.
Three weeks later, Eiskalt meets Gabriele at the Genetech bio-research facility in Sayville Long Island They spent the last two days at the research lab, as Walter Rosen, the head of the company, shows them the fruits of his labors. He points to a suit telling them that, as unbelievable as it may sound, he really thinks this has a good chance of succeeding. Eiskalt silently admires the simple design. This will allow him to kill him man to man – as it should be. Rosen continues talking about complications, to which Eiskalt replies that that will be his concern, Rosen’s job is simply to fully prepare him to tell him all he needs to know to stop this… man.
Rosen calls up a file, explaining Magneto’s physiognomy, something that wouldn’t have been possible without Moira’s data. He explains that Magneto is quite simply the single most powerful being on Earth. And, if anything, they have only borne witness to a fraction of his powers. He is a force of nature, tied, literally, to the planet’s electromagnetic field. How can they stop him? How did David slay Goliath? Think small. One man, completely cloaked. One chance to bring him down.
Rosen continues talking about slipping through Magneto impregnable electromagnetic forcefield, of capturing him by repolarizing that field for a moment and he talks some more. But Eiskalt stops listening. He knows the spirit of what the other man is saying. That the cancer can be surgically excised. And that he can be the scalpel…
Two more weeks pass in preparation, as rumors of Magneto’s return increase. Finally, Rosen presents the result of their work. He shows Gabrielle and Eiskalt a helmet – a bioelectric mask, meaning that Magneto cannot see the wearer – at least in an energy wave sort of way. The mask allows the wearer to perceive all bio-electric readings, while the computer registers all ambient signals in the vicinity and the baffles built into the mask disperse the wavelengths around the receivers. So, Eiskalt interrupts, if he cannot see me with his own eyes, he will not see me at all.
Over the course of the next two days, his body is measured and a skin sheath suit is developed. For all intents and purposes, Eiskalt will be invisible to Magneto. And that’s their only hope of bringing Magneto down. Indeed, Eiskalt agrees, adding that perhaps it would be time to work on David’s slingshot.
The “slingshot” is an enhanced taser gun, all parts of which are made completely of plastic, with a fibreglass needle and a nylon tether line for firing.
Eiskalt familiarizes himself with the weapon’s inner workings. Like all guns, it is designed on a beautiful pattern of logic and simplicity. The parts fit together. How often can one say that in life? Ironic that he can only find such order through a tool of death. But the gun is only meant to stun.
As Rosen explains, if Eiskalt can fire the needle into the base of Magneto’s skull, piercing the medulla oblongata, the taser will disrupt Magneto’s bioelectric field, scrambling his neural synaptic interface of his power for a two hours time period. Enough time for a team from the American Vault penitentiary to capture him.
As if it will come to that, Eiskalt silently scoffs. As if he would allow the monster to walk away. He holds the guns and has but one though – yes … it can be modified …
Things get uncomfortable for Eiskalt, as Rosen brings in a publicity crew to photograph what they have been calling the Fugue Armor. He feels Genetech will prosper if the world knows the equipment that captured Magneto was developed here. Eiskalt doesn’t care about that. Once again, he daydreams of killing Magneto. This is about revenge. For what Magneto did to his brother … for what he did to Adrian Eiskalt himself – Magneto will die. Simple as that.
Under the streets of Washington D.C. lie the offices of the Commission on Superhuman Affairs. Yesterday, an electromagnetic storm ripped across the eastern seaboard, scrambling all mechanical and electronic systems over an eight hundred square miles perimeter. Gaby Haller and Eiskalt received a code blue alert and were brought there where they were joined by National Security Liaison Henry Peter Gyrich, X-Factor administrator Doctor Valerie Cooper and Alexei Vazhin, the head of mutant affairs for the Russian States Service.
Magneto has returned, Gyrich curtly announces, and Eiskalt tenses at his words. Is it because of fear or anticipation, he wonders.
Gyrich explains how Magneto made his return in a rather dramatic fashion. Having appropriated and modified the remnants of an orbital space station first discovered by SHIELD a few months ago Magneto brought his new home, dubbed “Avalon,” through Earth’s atmosphere, to interrupt the memorial service of a small mutant child affiliated with the brood of Charles Xavier. He offered these children of the atom the “opportunity” to participate in his self-proclaimed quest for a haven – a mutant heaven. Convincing only one of Xavier’s people to accept his offer, Magneto returned Avalon to a geo-synchronous orbit high above the planet.
Avalon’s cloaking systems have been re-engaged, Gyrich finishes. He is completely hidden from them. How are they expected to reach him then, Vazhin inquires. Val Cooper points out that Magneto has used an emissary called Exodus to recruit mutants to Avalon. Perhaps if they were able to follow or capture him?
Neither Exodus nor Magneto has harmed anyone yet, Gyrich scoffs. Does she believe their superhuman will engage either in battle just because they ask?
Maybe they shouldn’t actually do anything, until Magneto does instigate a problem, Cooper suggests. Eiskalt gets impatient with all the talking but says nothing. Vazhin decides that the very fact that he exists, hovering above them, is cause enough for any action they may take. They all agree that Magneto must be stopped. That still leaves them with the how, Val states. If Magneto is divorcing himself completely from humanity as he claims and they can’t get up to where he is, how can they truly expect him to come to them?
This gives Eiskalt an idea. If he is prepared to abandon his past, there may still be one place where he will go…
Wundagore Mountain :
Dressed in the Fugue Armor and armed, Eiskalt waits hidden among the trees. This walking force of nature… this failed man who would strive to be a god… returns seeking absolution from the one source left to remind him of his lost humanity. Indeed, Magneto strides through the night, greeting the cow-woman, Bova, and bidding her not to be afraid. He is merely here to say good-bye.
He strides to the tombstone of his wife’s memorial, stating how differently it could have been for both of them, perhaps for the entire world, if only she had stayed by his side and if he had been a more forgiving man than a vengeful monster. Eiskalt takes aim. One chance. One bullet.
Magneto kneels down before the headstone. As he gets rid of the weeds on it, he has taken off the helmet and a tear falls from his eye.
Pointblank, Eiskalt thinks. For all the pain you have caused. All the misery. All the anguish and fear.
A final fantasy of Magneto dying.
For my brother Ute. My brother you so … Eiskalt begins to shake.
… callously … killed…
Eiskalt’s mind flashes back to the way things really happened during their encounter with Magneto.
Ute Eiskalt didn’t know what he was doing when he fell over Magda’s grave. He did not listen when Magneto asked them to leave this very private place he held so dead. Ute did not care when Magneto told him this was not a place for violence and never would be.’
Stupidly, he drew a gun, spitting out words of rage and prejudice and fired at Magneto with a murderous rage, point-blank right at his head… and was caught in the backlash, as Magneto simply gestured to protect himself in a magnetic cocoon.
Ute Eiskalt died when his own bullet ricocheted and pierced his thick skull, when he had forced Magneto to break a vow of honor to the memory of his wife. And maybe, just maybe, he might have been ultimately responsible, in some small way, for setting Magneto upon the course of his life.
Eiskalt sees Magneto’s grief and respect.
Ute … my brother; a simple, stupid man… not a symbol for a cause… but a frightened lamb who sough to strike back at the wolf… the wolf who was doing what it was meant to do -- being what it was meant to be… not a monster, not a villain, not less than a human… but more… for he denies himself a human life in order to make the lives of others safe from the kinds of pain and hardship he has suffered. He is more than me … more than all of us.
Whether it is through indecision or because he has chosen not do it, Eiskalt drops the gun and Magneto hears the noise. Seeing his would-be assassin, he says nothing and rises up, knowing he was just a weakness away from dying, just as Eiskalt is aware he was just an act of compassion away from being killed. He lives because of an act of humanity on the part of the creature he has called inhuman.
He takes off the helmet and sinks to his knees, tears falling from his eyes, as he berates himself for his utter failure. He failed himself, failed Ute, failed the world. Or did he fail in something more important? For wanting to kill a man named Erik Magnus Lehnsherr for all the wrong reasons could he have failed humanity itself?
He holds the weapon to his own head but, then exhausted, drops it, just sitting there shaking. Either way, he has lost everything he wanted and everything he believed in, lost not because he was weak but perhaps because he was strong – strong enough to know that, after all is said and done, he lost very little, because he had very little to lose in the first place… because all he ever really had was hate…