Mister Sinister’s origin?

Mister Sinister debuted in the title Uncanny X-Men, first being briefly mentioned by Sabretooth during the Mutant Massacre crossover as the leader of the Marauders who had sent them to slaughter the Morlock population.

Figure 01_UX212_MrSinister

In the following issue, the X-Men member Psylocke picks up a shadowy mental image of the Marauders’ “Master” from Sabretooth’s mind.

Figure 02_UX213_Flashback

Mister Sinister finally appeared on-panel in issue #221.

Figure 03_UX221_Sinister1stappearance1

The character plays a major role in the Inferno crossover, where it is revealed that Sinister cloned Madelyne Pryor from Jean Grey for the purpose of having her conceive a child with Cyclops, their son Nathan; Sinister also reveals to have manipulated Cyclops’ life since early childhood. After a battle with the X-Men and X-Factor, the villain is apparently destroyed by Cyclops’ optic beam.

Figure 04_XF39_Mister Sinister dies

Months after Mister Sinister’s apparent death, Claremont pens Classic X-Men #41–42 (December, 1989) detailing the role he played in Cyclops’ life at the orphanage in Nebraska where Scott was raised.

Figure 05_CXM41-2

The story features a boy named Nathan who is obsessively fixated on Cyclops…

Figure 06_CXM41

…and whom Claremont intended to actually be Mister Sinister.

Sadly though Claremont was removed from his beloved X-titles before he could firmly establish his above planned origin; and future writers would go on to reveal Mister Sinister as a Victorian era geneticist obsessed with evolution named Nathaniel Essex who made a pact with the ancient mutant Apocalypse, leading to his signature look and longevity…

Figure 07a_FACP03Figure 07b_FACP04

…that eventually turned sour, prompting him to work behind the scenes where he manipulated the creation of Cyclops’ son Nathan (who became the time-travelling soldier Cable) to destroy Apocalypse.

A further layer to this origin was added in recent years where we discover the reason he made his initial pact with Apocalypse was to gain knowledge which would enable him to merge with the Dreaming Celestial and use its power to turn hundreds of thousands of people into doppelgangers of himself as part of a plan to bring about “Alpha Day” early whereby the Celestials would return to Earth, eradicate all life, leaving only his perfect clone-race to rebuild the planet and become its dominant species.

Figure 08a_UXM02Figure 08b_UXM02Figure 08c_UXM02

And fans had the audacity to accuse Claremont’s initially proposed origin as complicated!?

Okay, so let’s go back and delve a little further into Chris Claremont plans for the character.

In 1995, in interview with Tue Sǿrensen and Ulrik Kristiansen for Seriejournalen.dk Claremont reveals:

“Scott’s boyhood friend (Nathan) in the orphanage was an eight-year old kid he’s always been an eight-year old kid. He ages one year for every 10 of everybody else. So, he’s a 50-year old guy in a 10-year old’s body and boy, is he pissed! That’s why he works with clones. It’s the only way he can deal with the adult world because he is not gonna be an adult for another 50 years, at the earliest! And that’s why he takes a long view of things because he’s going to be around for a 1000 years give or take a few at least!”

So he conceived Mister Sinister as a new villain for the X-Men, after feeling “tired of just going back to Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and the same old same old”, further recalling in an interview on Comixfan.com:

“Dave Cockrum and I were over ideas and what we were coming towards was a mysterious young boy – apparently an 11-year-old – at the orphanage where Scott (Cyclops) was raised, who turned out to be the secret master of the place.

Figure 09a_CXM41

In effect what we were setting up was a guy who was aging over a lifespan of roughly a thousand years. Even though he looked like an 11-year-old, he’d actually been alive since the mid-century at this point – he was actually about 50 […] He had all the grown up urges. He’s growing up in his mind but his body isn’t capable of handling it, which makes him quite cranky. And, of course, looking like an 11-year-old, who’d take him seriously in the criminal community? […] So he built himself an agent in a sense, which was Mister Sinister, that was, in effect, the rationale behind Sinister’s rather – for want of a better word – childish or kid-like appearance. The costume… the look… the face… it’s what would scare a child. Even when he was designed, he wasn’t what you’d expect in a guy like that.”

Figure 09b_CXM 041

While this addresses his origin for the child-like mutant (Nathan) who is obsessed with Scott, he is appropriately vague in the abovementioned Classic X-Men story with regard to Mister Sinister, such that nothing presented in those issues appeared to get contradicted too much by how later writers went on to develop him.

Or so it would seem at a cursory glance!

But I would posit that while these issues on first glance provide no scenes that directly suggest just what Claremont’s original intent for Mister Sinister was, when considered with scenes he had seeded outside of this particular story the hints have been RIGHT THERE… and yet none of us saw it, but how in the hell could we have MISSED it?

So now it’s just a matter of working out how, if Claremont had remained, his planned origin for Mister Sinister might have played out in-story?

Well we know from Claremont’s interviews young Nate had been secretly running the Nebraskan orphanage for years, and was responsible for Scott being transferred there…

Figure 10b_XFAC39

…after his parents were abducted by D’Ken (though why he let Alex be adopted out is a mystery to this day).

Figure 10a_CXM41

In the Comixfan.com interview above Claremont recalls that young Nate “built himself an agent… which was Mister Sinister” as a way to convince the criminal community to take him seriously…

Figure 11_XMF07

…since despite his being 50 years of age he knew they wouldn’t take orders from somebody in the body of an 11-year old.

With this in mind young Nate had to ensure his agent for interacting with criminals/ supervillains was someone that scared the willies out them.

So Mister Sinister’s presence had to be damn creepy, something perfectly achieved by the alabaster skin, jagged teeth and “Uncanny valley”/ “Frank-N-Furter” get-up!

As for an appropriate name, he chose one with the gravitas of Doctor Doom!

And a form that could physically intimidate even villains like Sabretooth.

Figure 12_UXM221_Mr. Sinister

But how!

Well Claremont’s X-Men Forever #7 furthers the earlier hint that young Nate “built” Mister Sinister, showing the supervillain’s body among a group stored away that had been constructed from synthetic materials.

Figure 13_XMF01-03Figure 11_XMF07

This pretty blatantly suggests Claremont intended Mister Sinister to be an android that young Nate had built.

In addition the placement of the red gem on Mister Sinister’s forehead/ sternum seems further inspired by the design of Marvel’s most famous android, the Avenger called Vision whose solar jewel – on his forehead – provided him with the power required to function and manifest a range of energy powers.

Figure 14_A102_Vision

A further clue to Mister Sinister being an android occurs during Claremont’s original run in Uncanny X-Men #241 when Madelyne Pryor, in her guise as the Goblyn Queen, demands Jean Grey’s demonically transformed parents bring her his heart, and he boasts that, regrettably, he has no heart. While most would read this to be the boastful claim of a cackling supervillain, I’d suggest in Claremont’s case it was an extremely subtle, veiled reference to the fact he intended him to be a synthezoid, and not an enhanced human.

Figure 15_UXM241

But hold on a minute, Mister Sinister demonstrated a range what appeared to be psionic powers, including the ability to a) take instant control of the minds of other persons, b) establish mental blocks in the minds of others thereby preventing them from striking against him, and c) to project his mind onto the astral plane!

Well yes he did and I’ll get to this further below, but first recall that at the time Claremont introduced Scott’s boyhood friend (Nathan) in the orphanage, mutants only had a primary mutation, not a secondary unrelated mutation, and psionics do not have a connection to retarded ageing which was obviously the mutant ability Claremont intended for young Nate. And there is evidence to suggest a range of Mister Sinister’s superhuman abilities are derived from other sources. For instance, in X-Factor #39 Louise Simonson maintains Claremont’s idea by having Mister Sinister admit that the job of controlling Scott’s powers in the orphanage were “technically difficult”.

Figure 16_XFA039

This may suggest his ability to take control of other minds is not derived from his mutancy.

So what if the ruby gem worn by the “Mister Sinister” android does not absorb solar energy to provide the needed power for him to function like the Vision (he lived in the secret high-tech catacombs of the Nebraskan orphanage which was closed off from outside sunlight), but instead absorbed psionic energy from mutants within his vicinity?! Was this perhaps the real reason behind young Nate being intent on keeping Scott around? That is, as Scott’s ability developed young Nate finally had a powerful enough mutant around to fuel the jewel on his android. So did young Nate need Scott in the same way Ahmet Abdol needed his brother Alex?

Figure 17_MTU69

And did he create the Ruby Quartz glasses because he couldn’t have Scott expelling and wasting all that energy; the ruby quartz keeping it contained so young Nate could then absorb it!? Might this then suggest the gem was also composed of ruby quartz!?

I’ll come to this further down, but first…

Once Scott fled the orphanage, young Nate would need to find a replacement if he were to continue in his guise of Mister Sinister so perhaps expanded its operations to begin procuring mutant babies (between Classic X-Men #41-42 to X-Factor #35 operations had certainly scaled up)…

Figure 18_XFAC35_Pods

…all the while intent on getting Scott’s powers back somehow.

So does he continue his development of synthezoids, using them, along with clones, to conduct his activities in the “adult world”; including procuring Jean’s DNA to create Madelyne Pryor, a “brood mare” who would conceive a child with Scott that he could then have transferred to the orphanage to become a substitute to energise his gem given he was likely to never get Professor X’s golden boy back!? He then manipulates the formation of the Marauders to abduct the child and return it to him at the orphanage. However, knowing the infant’s powers won’t fully manifest for some time, (which he’s not overly impatient about as shown in Uncanny X-Men #239 when as baby Nate floats in his stasis chamber he declares that “time, as always, is on my side” given his retarded aging)…

Figure 19_UXM239

…so he uses Malice in the interim, a mutant of pure psionic energy. But while Malice is disembodied her energy is dispersed, the same problem he faced with Scott’s release of optic blasts. So he convinces her that she requires a host, manipulating her to bond with Lorna Dane, her psionic energy thereby contained and his gem then able to absorb the required amount.

Figure 20_UXM239

So now the question left is where young Nate procures the “Ruby Gem” that powers his Mister Sinister android?

To determine this, I would posit that we need to look back at just what abilities the gem powering Mister Sinister could be enabling him to manifest.

And so I return again to Uncanny X-Men #241 which not only hints that Mister Sinister is a sythezoid, but perhaps also the origin of where his wide range of other superhuman abilities might be derived from. When Madelyne calls him “devil”, he replies “The devil perhaps I am” and while again this could be read as the boastful claim of a cackling supervillain, after he further boasts to Madelyne that he has no heart, he also states that neither is he about to be bested in his own “sanctum sanctorum”.

Figure 15_UXM241

I would posit that when Mister Sinister refers to his secret base as his “sanctum sanctorum”, Claremont is dropping a huge hint. That is, in the Marvel Universe this term only tends to be used by sorcerers when referring to the base from which they conduct their mystical activities (e.g. Doctor Strange in Strange Tales #125, Baron Mordo in Strange Tales #132 and even Claremont’s very own Illyana Rasputin in New Mutants #44).

Figure 21a_Strange Tales 116, 125,132Figure 21b_NM44

This all appears to be driving the point home that young Nate is akin to another of Claremont’s mutant villains, Selene. Recall Selene was shown over time to be not only a mutant but a powerful sorceress possessing a wide range of superhuman abilities (the extent of which are outlined by Claremont in the scenes below), it never being clearly defined which of these was her mutant ability and which were skills derived from magic or other sources.

Figure 22a_NM10Figure 22b_UXM184Figure 22c_UXM184Figure 22d_UXM184Figure 22e_UXM189Figure 22f_UXM189Figure 22g_UXM189Figure 22h_UXM190Figure 22i_UXM190Figure 22j_UXM191Figure 22k_UXM208Figure 22l_F4ANN1999Figure 22m_UXM454

I’d therefore suggest this was the same for young Nate, who possessed the genetic mutation of retarded aging, while the wide range of superhuman abilities Mister Sinister showed were skills derived from the ruby gem he wore. And the ruby gem powering young Nate’s “Mister Sinister” android enabled him to access a range of mystical abilities.

As further evidence of this, Uncanny X-Men #241 provides even more hints. That is, in this issue Mister Sinister casts energy at Madelyne which results in her being bound by chains around her legs, arms, waist and neck, and engulfed in flames. He tells her that her struggle is useless, explaining that his defensive systems simply turns her energy back on her, using them to bind her all the more tightly. Even her ally, the demon N’astirh abandons her and teleports himself to safety when he sees Mister Sinister begin cutting loose with his powers.

Figure 23_UXM241

The only reason a demon of N’astirh’s level would flee would surely be because he realised he was in the presence of a sorcerer more powerful than himself.

But aren’t mystical villains left to the mystical corners of the Marvel Universe (i.e. Doctor Strange) and not the X-titles you ask!

Well, leaving aside the Margali Szardos, Belasco, Kulan Gath, Selene and the Adversary, there is precedent as far back Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s X-Men #12 which introduced Cain Marko who became transformed into Juggernaut, the human avatar of the mystical entity/ demon Cyttorak, by the Ruby Gem of Cyttorak which empowered him with the power of the crimson bands of Cyttorak.

Figure 24_UXM12

Juggernaut was always an odd concept to introduce into a title about mutants, what with his creator, Cyttorak, being a character more at home in the corner of Doctor Strange. However, I always wondered whether there might have been a plan by Kirby to reveal Cyttorak as somehow connected to the mutant world; after all he did provide Cain with a “psionic helmet” capable of protecting him from any telepathic attack!?

Figure 25_UXM13

I once theorised back in the 1980s that Cyttorak had recognised the psionic potential of Charles and lured him inside the ancient temple to transform him into his avatar on Earth, but Cain’s bullying bravado prevented this occurring. However, I have since become attached to the alternative idea that Cyttorak foresaw that one day Charles Xavier would become a threat to the mystic dimensions and Juggernaut was created as a protocol against mutant psionic threats! I mean how coincidental is it that his step-brother gets turned into an avatar able to withstand “psionic” power, the very foundation of Charles’s abilities?! Could this mean it would have been revealed there had been previous Juggernauts that had the specific purpose of putting down psionic threats throughout Earth’s history? But no you say, not during the Lee & Kirby run, since Charles seemed to believe mutant powers were caused by all the radiation their parents had been exposed to at the nuclear research centre before he was born (cf. Uncanny X-Men #12)…

Figure 26a_UXM12

…and Beast had a similar theory when he explained his father was an ordinary labourer at an atomic project (cf. Uncanny X-Men #15).

Figure 26b_UXM12

However, was that meant to be the bland origin but as time went on it would be revealed that mutant powers had a much greater history, one that would lead to a huge destiny in the MU (akin to that hinted at by Claremont in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11)?

Figure 27_UXN Annual 11

Could the introduction of Juggernaut have been intended as the first major hint that put into question the Atomic Age as behind the origin of mutant powers? Recall just the issue before the Stranger appears on Earth to study mutants saying his people are greatly interested in their emergence. This issue it is also revealed that there are mutants on other planets; and whereas the Collector has a wider-brief for his collection obsession, the Stranger says his people primarily focus their interest on collecting mutants from planet to planet.

Figure 28_UXM11

Yet we’ve not really had mutants introduced from other worlds in the MU (except perhaps Warlock from the Technarch). So could the Stranger’s introduction have been the start of an eventual story to reveal a longer history of mutancy, and the Juggernaut was the first example of dimensions beyond ours establishing protocols to defend their realms from the threat of mutants (so in essence Juggernaut was a Sentinel of the mystical dimensions)? Perhaps if Kirby had stayed on this could have been the direction they headed in!? What I like about this is it makes what previously appeared as non-mutant characters like the Stranger and Juggernaut having a legitimate reason for appearing in the title by properly tying them directly into the mutant mythology.

So could Cyttorak be an anti-mutant force here…

…and Claremont had picked up on this, and therefore intended the gem that powered the “Mister Sinister” android to be a fragment of the Ruby Gem of Cyttorak, and N’astirh fled his “sanctum sanctorum” upon seeing a demonstration of his powers because he recognised it as the power of the crimson bands of Cyttorak?

Now, as earlier promised, to explain how the source of his wide range of superhuman abilities Mister Sinister demonstrated is the Ruby of Cyttorak, and not his mutant ability…

When first introduced in X-Men #12, the giant glowing ruby which Cain Marko picked up in the ancient temple which he had fled inside to avoid being shot while serving in the Korean War had an inscription that read “Whoever touches this gem shall possess the power of the crimson bands of Cyttorak!”

Figure 29_UXM12

If the ruby gem which powers the “Mister Sinister” android is a fragment of it, this would seem to suggest his abilities are all applications of the crimson bands of Cyttorak.

How so?

To answer that question we need to go back to the Marvel Universe’s definition of them.

The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak were initially introduced in Stan Lee & Steve Ditko’s Strange Tales, where they were shown as a binding spell that sorcerers used to encase their victim in a circle/ cage of red bands that could not be easily broken out of (e.g. Strange Tales #125, 126, and 128)…

Figure 30_Strange Tales 125, 126, 128

…then Doctor Strange called on them to reveal where his Cloak of Levitation and amulet, the Eye of Agamotto, had been hidden (cf. Strange Tales #143). This alternate use for the crimson bands has never been resolved, and seems inconsistent with its earlier applications.

Figure 31_Strange Tales 143

But might the answer lie by looking more closely at the superhuman abilities Mister Sinister put into application!

In Uncanny X-Men #243, the epilogue to Inferno, Jean begins experiencing a psychic attack after integrating the Pryor clone’s memories, putting up a telekinetic barrier around herself to protect the rest of the team in fear that it might be Madelyne intent to use her powers to cut loose against them.

Figure 32_UXM243

To break through Jean’s telekinetic barrier so they can help her, Psylocke forms a bond with Cyclops, Wolverine and Storm to psi-shift their astral selves inside her mind.

Figure 33_UXM243

While they are observing her mindscape, finally getting close to pulling back the veil of Madelyne’s origin, Mister Sinister’s fist shatters through the mindscape and begins shattering one memory shard after another.

Figure 34a_UXM243Figure 34b_UXM243

While this might not seem connected to Cyttorak’s power at all, recall the Crimson Bands bind because they are unbreakable!

And given they’re unbreakable, this is likely how the power of the Crimson Bands, granted to Cain Marko by Cyttorak’s gem, transform him into an unstoppable physical force (since whatever he motions against effectively “shatters”).

Figure 35_UXM13

So does this firstly explain how Doctor Strange was able to call on the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak to reveal where his cloak and amulet were in Strange Tales #143? That is, if you extend “unstoppable force” to a person’s willpower, then was Doctor Strange able to find out where his cloak and amulet by calling on the Crimson Bands to empower his will so he could break through the spell concealing them? It would seem “Most likely”!

Now onto how the source of Mister Sinister’s wide range of superhuman abilities are derived entirely from the Ruby of Cyttorak, I would further suggest that when the ANDROID is able to launch what would appear to be a psychic attack on Jean, and start shattering her memories, is not the result of young Nate possessing any mutant telepathic ability, but rather the ruby gem powering Mister Sinister android with the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak which enable the android to “exude waves of force” to break through psionic shields.

I would further posit evidence to support that the psionic powers are not possessed by young Nate, but that he instead requires the “Mister Sinister” android to exert control over the minds of others on his behalf comes in Classic X-Men #41, when another boy at the orphanage, Toby Rails, upon beating up Nate and teasing him, suddenly finds himself in the clutches of Mister Sinister when heading back to his room. Sinister gloats that he “must now be dealt with… as he most richly deserves”, and the following day Rails, not seeming in control of his faculties, makes his way to the orphanage roof and jumps off, falling to his death.

Figure 36a_CXM41Figure 36b_CXM41

If all of the above hasn’t yet caused you to face fully front true believer, compare the signature energy colour of Mister Sinister’s power, on display during Inferno below (particularly the last panel scene where he releases energy which forms as bonds, tying Cyclops’ hands behind his back from X-Factor #39), with that of the “crimson bands” on display in Strange Tales #124, 126 and 128 above.

Figure 37a_UXM241Figure 37b_XFA39Figure 37c_XFA39Figure 37d_XFA39

So the truth behind Mister Sinister is that he is not a mutant, but rather a synthezoid built by a young mutant; and powered by the Ruby Gem which provide him with a wide range of superhuman abilities derived from the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak.

As for Mister Sinister’s motives cloning Jean Grey; and then manipulating events so this clone would become his “brood mare” and seek out and conceive a child with Scott Summers, might this suggest that Cyttorak wanted control of the Phoenix power. Earlier in Uncanny X-Men #239 “Mister Sinister” claims that young Nathan Christopher Summers will help him win a long-range game. Is this game perhaps with other mutant sorcerers, including Selene, and being run by Cyttorak in a bid for supremacy of the higher dimensions?

Figure 38_Cyttorak

And of course just as Claremont suggested, in his Seriejournalen.dk interview with Ulrik Kristiansen and Tue Sǿrenson in 1996, the story of a young boy using the Ruby of Cyttorak to animate superhuman clones and manipulate heroes into battle with them was rejected and suddenly came up a few years later, starting with Avengers West Coast #64 where a young boy, Stevie, found the gem and gained various mystical powers without becoming the Juggernaut.

Figure 37_AWC64

Post-script: The question remaining is where a child scientific genius with expertise in the fields of cloning and robotics acquired the knowledge to build a highly-advanced android. Could he have inherited his scientific genius from a parent… and if so, which one? By Claremont’s estimates young Nate had been alive since the mid-20th Century so it would need to be one who was old enough to conceive around that time.

Acknowledgements: Thanks go out once again to fnord12 of the Marvel Comics Chronology and the Ancient One of Alvaro’s Comic Book Message Boards for tracking down some hard to obtain images and last of all Kirby historian, Richard Bensam (of Estoreal) for being a patient sounding board on my Juggernaut as “Cyttorak’s protocol against psionic mutants” idea.

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…Magneto’s resurrection after X-Men #3?

This fix, contributed by Paty Cockrum, ex-Marvel artist and colourist, and wife of the late Dave Cockrum, creator of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, takes place sometime after X-Men #3, Chris Claremont’s last issue on his first run which saw Magneto and the Acolytes sent on a fiery fall and proposes a more intellectually-satisfying way he could have been brought back as opposed to the one plotted for the execrable Fatal Attractions…

After realising his views and those of his friend Charles Xavier were incompatible, the mutant calling himself Magnus went on to became the infamous master of magnetism, Magneto. As he increased the usage of his mutant abilities, Magnus began to suffer brain seizures that would lead to debilitating pain wracking his whole body. His lover, Isabelle, before her death, theorised that manipulating the Earth’s planetary magnetic field through his body, specifically his central nervous system, could very well be affecting his brain via the seizures. During the time Magneto was regressed to infancy, Dr Moira MacTaggert attempted to modify his genetic matrix in an effort to eliminate the unstable overload of energy and prevent a progressive degradation that would affect the electrochemical balance in his brain. Some years following his restoration to adulthood and after he had broken his ties with humanity, Magneto finally discovered that Moira had performed said procedure on him in an attempt to save her own son. Believing his primacy of judgement had been compromised, and thus his reform period was not the result of free will, Magneto took Moira captive and forced her to perform her procedure on half of the X-Men, pitting them against their teammates. But the fight ended as the suborned X-Men regained their true natures. The revelation that Moira’s procedure was a failure because every use of a mutant’s power restored that person’s “default” state came too late for the master of magnetism. The toll of the recent battles he had waged left Magneto seemingly dying, his last act being to maintain Asteroid M’s structural integrity to enable the X-Men to escape, after which it exploded in space. As for Magneto… the self-styled master of magnetism is Missing-In-Action and presumed dead… unless you know him well…

DEEP PURPLE

by Paty Cockrum

The sea was a piece of red glass fading, on the eastern horizon, to a deep purple as night approached.

“His colors,” thought the scarlet clad woman in the small rowboat.

She maneuvered the boat towards the ancient and oddly carved jetty. The rocks were encrusted with old, dead deep sea detritus and had a weird, thrumming sensation under her gloved hand. After attaching the rope from the bow to a weathered ring, she clambored onto the large slab that led to the front gates of the citadel.

From her vantage point on the jetty, she surveyed the island. It wasn’t big, and most of it was taken up by an immense citadel of outrageous proportions and esoteric design. No human hand built this citadel.  Theory amongst the superheroes she interacted with was that it was a forgotten race of giants that constructed it. It had vanished under the waves long ago and had only been raised by her father a few years ago. He had made it one of his fortresses… his hidey holes. He had been missing for some time now, but if he were still alive, he might just be here.

She looked out to sea. Tonight it was like glass, with only a few shallow ripples to pick up the westering sun’s crimson and gold light.

“False calm…” she whispered to herself. She knew the sea was a bit more turbulent outside the electromagnetic shield that safeguarded the island… through which she had passed a short while ago. Even with a hurricane howling outside the shield, the waters herein would have only moderate waves and breezes. Her father’s doing. And obviously his devices were still active. No unsynchronized or unshielded mechanical device could operate within the shield. The Avenger’s yacht had cut out when it crossed the boundary… and had to be maneuvered back to the outside of it while they still had momentum. The Vision waited there for her, keeping the boat well clear of the shield interface.  She had had to row to the island… and would have to row back, she assumed… but this mission was too important to her to abandon it.

She looked up at the gold and crimson spangled walls. Something was different from the last visuals she had had of the island.

“Foliage!” she muttered to herself. “There’s plants all over the walls!” That was odd, for, even though the island was situated in the Bermuda Triangle and was tropical, it had gone for years without much, if any, foliage softening its exterior and lending a feeling of life and warmth to the eerie coldness of the stones. But the island, this night, was lush with tropical growth. Greens fading to blue in the shadows, reds deepening into the rich purple that reflected the sea’s deep swells. Golds that flitted like fireflies across the rich tropical growth that hung on the walls and dangled from overhead parapets and walkways.

She strode up to the towering and heavy gates and placed a scarlet gloved hand on the alien metal. It vibrated at her touch, and a darkly robed and cowled figure appeared just inside its ornamental grille.

“Who goes there?” A deep and vibrant challenge.

“The Scarlet Witch… Avenger…” a slight pause, and then she added “…Magneto’s daughter!”

The gate swung silently open a few inches… enough for her to slip in. “If you are truly our Lord’s daughter, then you are welcome here.”

She slid into the inner courtyard and heard the gate clang shut behind her.

A flash of white sparkled under the purple cowl of the imposing figure who had granted her admission.

“Father?”

A vibrant chuckle as the tall mutant rearranged his enveloping wings that had looked so much like robes and cowl. “No, Magnus daughter… if that is who you are…” the iridescent blue/purple veined and leathery wings fell back and she saw the shock of white hair that shimmered from a scaled head and tumbled in soft waves down the mutant’s back.

“Oh, sorry… the hair…”

“Often a side effect of mutation, I believe.” He turned from her to greet a diminutive figure approaching. “Greensleeves, this woman says she is Wanda, our Lord’s daughter. Speaks she truly?”

The diminutive figure, clad in purple and red samite, stretched out a hand that was opalescent in its beauty. Fire red and shimmering greens played across its surface like mother of pearl. “May I touch you, lady? It will not harm nor hurt you, but if you have our Lord’s gene structure, I will know it immediately… it is my power to know all living things… and to command some of them.”

“I thought my father had everyone else’s power turned off on this island.” Wanda removed one of her scarlet gauntlets and held out her hand to the faerie like creature.

A cool, almost icy touch, like a snowflake, and the tiny woman sank to her knees and bowed her head. “Mistress Wanda… I bid you welcome.”

The tall, dragon-like gatesman sank to one knee,  bowed his head and rumbled “I bid you welcome, Magnus daughter.”

“Oh for God’s sake… get up!” Wanda shook her head. “Stop all this bowing and kowtowing… is my father here?”

“Sadly, no.” the giant flowed like purple water to his full height of well over seven feet. He stretched the iridescent bat like wings above him and the crimson light of the sun made them glow with jewelled color.

“Then what are YOU doing here?”

“We were not on the satellite when it fell. We heard about it… and decided that if Magneto survived, he would come to one of his other strongholds. We knew of this island, so we came to make it comfortable for him if he should choose to come here. Your father is a survivor, Mistress, we do not think he died in that fiery fall.”

“Nor do I… which is why I am here.” Wanda frowned, then looked around her. “You have done a good job… the place is lovely, what I have seen of it. It used to be so… stark. He’ll be pleased… he likes green things. There were so few living things in Auschwitz.”

“Thank you my Lady.” the crystal like voice of Greensleeves danced merrily. “I have fashioned the gardens specifically for him… although, until he comes, we enjoy them too. They provide color and food to sustain us here. Will you bide a while with us even though your father is not here? It would be our greatest pleasure to serve you.”

“I think not.” Wanda shook her head and smiled at the two. “But I thank you for the offer of hospitality. I guess you don’t get many visitors out this way, do you?”

“Not hardly…” Dragon rumbled. “I almost never get to say ‘who goes there?’ It was kinda fun…”

“I have to get back… the Vision is waiting for me in a boat outside the shield wall. Night is coming and it’s a long row out.”

“You do not wish to try it in the dark.. You can get lost on the sea at night… and it is dark of the moon. Bide here with us this night. and we will have one of the merfolk tow you to your boat.”

“If daddy dearest isn’t here, I should get back…Vision will worry.” Wanda smiled wistfully.  “But thank you anyway…”

“Dragon, go fetch Fishface while you can still find him… I will let her rest herself in the temple and see that she has some refreshment. Go on… hurry up… you haven’t much light left.”

The dragonesque creature with the flowing white hair sighed deeply. ” He’s going to be out to sea… you know how he is with a storm coming…”

“Try.”

“My Lady…” a bow to Wanda and the incredible wings spread and he lifted into the sultry air, shimmering iridescently as he rose into the stronger sunlight.

“Wow… couldn’t he have just towed me out?” Wanda watched the flying man disappear almost straight up.

“Nah… he hates flying over water. He will go straight up and look down for Fishface. Come, let me show you the gardens.”

Greensleves led down a pathway towards an interior area that, because it was sheltered by the walls, was beginning to go blue and mauve with the fading sunlight.

Lush greenery spread before Wanda in generous profusion. Shimmering walkways cut through the verdant green like multicolored brick roads. All paths led to a round, Grecian temple in the center of the gardens, where a small light flickered in the growing shadows.

“How lovely… did you do all this?”

“Only the plants… they grow at my command.  Granit did the stone…” the tiny lady sighed deeply… “Granit was one of us. He actually knew our Lord… for a short while. He worshipped him and built the temple for him. It contains a resting place for his body if we should find out that he has died.  Beside it is a tomb for the remains of his wife, Magda, which we brought here to rest beside him.  Granit died making the temple and we interred him there, to be near the master he so loved. We keep vigil there praying for the return of our Lord… one way or another.”

“Dear God! You do this for…Magneto?”

“You do not understand what he means to us, dear.  He is our guiding light, for he is right about many things when it comes to mutants and humans. We know you and your brother may not believe this.  It is, however, a truth that the prophet is never respected in his own house.” she chuckled.  “Familiarity breeds contempt… happens in every family, don’t you know?”

“Right… uh… who is that?” Wanda pointed to a monk like figure, clad also in deep purple robes, entering the temple.

“That is Regis. He came here one night and we allowed him to stay because he had the mark.”

“The mark?”

“The mark that identified him as a Holocaust survivor… the numbers tattooed on his arm. He said he knew Magnus in the camp. He doesn’t sleep well at night, so he takes the night-time vigil to tend the flame. He is a sad man.”

“Ah… is he a mutant, too?”

“Not that we can tell… He has an aversion to being touched, so I have never scanned him. The mark is his passage and instant acceptance here. He is a quiet man. I cannot imagine what he and our Lord went through in that horrible place when they were children!”

The diminutive woman led Wanda to the temple. ”  There are benches to sit and rest and meditate here.  The light is always burning, so please rest and I will fetch you some refreshments while we wait for Dragon and Fishface to come. Regis may or may not speak with you.  Don’t push him, he is frail and mostly silent… and I think he waits for death to release him from his body and his memories.”

“How tragic… I will not disturb him if he does not wish company. I’ll just sit here and rest. This whole building is Granit’s work? He was a genius and an artist.”

The faerie smiled sadly. “He was only twelve.”

“Dear God… and he did THIS? For my FATHER?”

“Yes…” and she was gone, disappearing into the twilight like the magickal creature she so closely resembled.

Wanda sat and looked at the glistening sheen of polished marble. Pearly white and shimmering black and green marble. Cascades of sparkling amethyst crystals clustered and grew around the foot of a greater than life-sized figure of her father.  What love created this beauty? What effort from a child, done to please someone that she, his daughter, considered arrogant and overbearing and sometimes crazy!

“What did you see in him, I wonder…” she murmured to herself as she contemplated the artistry before her. She looked around and saw the old monk seated in the shadows. Maybe he could explain the dedication these people showed the very memory of her father. She didn’t want to bother him… but… he would have an outsiders view of everything. She had to ask… to try to understand.

“Excuse me, sir… I don’t want to intrude on your meditations… or prayers… but … um… you knew my father?”

“As well as anyone…” the voice was almost a whisper but had once been a pleasant one, Wanda thought.

“You were in Auschwitz…?” She didn’t know quite how to proceed.

“Yes… a hateful place. You do not want to hear of it… even if I could bring myself to talk about it.”

“Ah… no… I have studied the history books and photographs. It is better left to the dead…”

“But not forgotten… If it is forgotten, it will happen again… to people like you.. and your brother… and the children who keep this island .”

Wanda gulped… might as well ask… “What was he like… my father? What do you remember of him? You sit here every night and look at that statue and it must mean something to you… what?”

The man gathered his robes around him and shrank deeper into the shadows and Wanda thought she had gone too far… pressed too hard…

“They think of him as a God. He never wanted to be thought of as a god… only as a man. He… wanted to die so many times… but he knew it would happen again… and he had to survive to keep it from happening again. He never wanted to rule the world… his power just ran away with him. Do you understand?  He couldn’t control it when he needed to in Auschwitz… and later, it grew so big that it nearly killed him every time he used it. But he still had to use it because he feared it would happen again.” The old man drew in on himself. “All he tried to do was to save his people.”

“He did it the wrong way. He was arrogant and treated those beneath him as things to use and throw away. My brother and I…”

“He did not know who you were, did he? Your mother saw to that. He did not know you existed. Family was the most important thing in his life… because he had none. He lived only to help his people. And his vaunted power ate him alive.” The man’s whispery voice was almost a sob in the darkness. “He didn’t know you were his children. When he found out, he wept… both for joy, at the miracle of your existence… and for sorrow, at his treatment of you in the days of his madness.”

Wanda was silent for a moment. “His madness… the backup of power that made him act insane. Moira MacTaggert corrected his gene anomaly and opened the floodgates of his power. Why did he hate her?”

“It was not what she did… it was how and why she did it. She experimented on him to see if she could help her child. It wasn’t done for him… the benefit to him was a by-product of her experiments.  Do you know how much that smacks of Mengele? Of experiments performed on him before he was a sonderkommando? Before he had the relative safety of that hated position?” the voice was stronger now… low and growling… a voice with outrage and pain in it.

“I can’t even imagine what you… and he… went through in Auschwitz.  I do know it warped him terribly.”

A low chuckle. “Warped? Yes, maybe you are right. But the same fires that destroy can temper, too. So many died. Weaker willed men bent and were not as… warped… as the strong ones. But the weaker ones are all dead, now… some of them from suicide… some from the infirmities that broke them. Not your father. He may have been warped, but he knew he had to survive… to fight…”

“You think he is alive?”

Silence.

“Look, if you know him so well, and you think he is alive, can you tell me where he is or might be?”

“Why would you want to know? You and your brother have written him off as a mindless terrorist…”

“I just… need… to talk to him… to see if there is any glimmer of intellect there that I could reach… because I think we have found out what may be driving him crazy these days.”

“And you would like to give him this information? A man you consider arrogant and insane? A terrorist? Why would you do that?”

It’s not that simple. I have to talk to him… to gauge if what I know could be used wrongly. It would give him so much more power… and if I  couldn’t be sure he would use the knowledge wisely…”

“More power? The power he has now drives him mad at times… even with MacTaggert’s tampering. What could possibly be the benefit of giving him more? Do you want him to go totally insane?”

“It’s not like that. The Vision and I have been doing some research… and if what we think is true, it would explain all the aberrations of his behavior.  It could let him control his power… and power he hasn’t even dreamed of. I just don’t know if I can trust him with the power that the knowledge would open up to him. I have got to know how he really IS. I have to know how he thinks and what he thinks… and what he really wants to do.

“He wants to save his people from another Holocaust… that is what he wants. He is not Emperor of the World material… it would bore him silly.”  The monk slumped back into the seat from which he had almost risen. “His people, his followers, know what he wants. That is what this island… this shrine… is all about. They may treat him like a god… but they know he is not one. They know your father better than you will ever know him… because your heart is hardened against him.”

“His own fault…”

“Possibly true… but you still see him as more than he ever wanted to be… and less than he is.”

“You like him, don’t you?”

“I respect what I know of him… what I understand of him…”

“OK… let me run this by you… but you have to promise that no matter what, you will never tell him. I have to be the one to do that…OK?”

“He will never hear a word of what passes between us from me in any way shape or form. Are you sure you wish to tell me this?”

“You might know how he would react… whether I SHOULD tell him what we found out… or not.” I just don’t know what to do with it… that’s why I wanted to talk with him.”

“I understand your quandary. If this information is as potent as you say…”

“You tell me.” She heaved a great sigh. “The Vision and I did a graph to find out what might possibly  influence Magneto’s rampages… social factors, laws against mutants, you name it, we looked and looked to no avail. I believe some wanted us to succeed so they could use the information to set a trap for him.  Long after others had written off our studies, we found it. Simple, really, if you consider his basic power. Wonder is that no one thought of it before…”

The man shuffled listlessly… striving for a comfortable seat on the cushioned granite. It seemed as if he didn’t really care if she told him or not.

“So simple… my father’s power is to channel and use the magnetic flux of the earth.”

“This is well known…”

“But every once in a while, he goes off the deep end… we thought at first it was emotional trauma from Auschwitz. Making him go nuts and trip himself up… put roadblocks on his own power…”

“That could well be… Auschwitz traumatized many beyond all measure…”

“No… it has everything to do with the nature of his power. If there is too much of it, it backs up and causes an overload… a short circuit of the mind, as it were.”

“Yes… and this causes him to lose control and act irrationally.”

“Exactly. Moira should have fixed that… the flow of the earth’s magnetosphere is steady and strong… no great surprises there…”

“So why does he still go crazy at times?”

Wanda smiled. “Sunspots! He’s drawing power from the sun and when the sun flares in those huge magnetic storms called sunspots, they overload him.  He doesn’t know he can draw power from the sun… y’see? If he did, he might be able to control how the sunspots affect him! He might be able to know when one of them is going to happen and adjust his ability to deal with it or channel it. But that’s a lot of power… and to let him know he could possibly do that… you see my problem?”

Silence.

“Yes… you DO see my problem. What do I do when and if I find him? How can I judge whether to clue him in to this potential solution to his problems? Or do we just let him run around like a nutball and never understand what he could DO … or control? Is it better for him to be less powerful with no control or more powerful with control of all that power?”

Silence.

Was the old guy even awake? “Uh… Mr. Regis…?”

“I am here…”

“So what do you think?”

“I think you have a very difficult choice to make when you find your father.”

“You think he’s alive?”

“Yes…”

Wanda slumped where she sat.  “I just don’t know what to do. I am almost glad he wasn’t here. I don’t know if I’m ready to face him with this… y’know? I am afraid he would roar out BWAHAHAHAHA and go dancing around like a demented loon! He’s done that, you know…”

A small chuckle from the shadows. “Yes… I know…”

“You know, sir, you have been a great help to me… even if you haven’t said much. Sometimes you just have to get things out on the table…and when you explain them to others, you see them a lot clearer yourself. Thanks.”

“For what?”

“For just being here and letting me sort this out in my own mind.”

“And when you find your father, what are you going to do? What will you tell him?”

“That will depend on him, won’t it?” She looked up to see Greensleeves hurrying towards the temple in the deepening dusk. Beside her was an even smaller figure. “I think my ride is here. It was nice talking to you, sir. I could wish my father was as gentle a person as you are. I wouldn’t have a problem then, would I?”

“Who knows… it was nice talking to you, too. You have brightened my evening.”

“Wanda, this is Fishface…”  Greensleves glided in as if she were walking on air… and a wet, very fishy appearing youngster sloshed beside her. “…he will pull your boat back to your yacht, so you don’t have to row. You’d best come along…it is already quite dark… but that won’t bother Fishface any… he already knows where your friend is waiting and watching for you. He will have you there in no time… and I have some fruit and something to drink for you to take with you.”

“Thank you Greensleeves…” she turned to the shadowed figure on the other end of the marble seat…” and thank you, Mr Regis for your help.”

“I did nothing…”

“You listened. Your promise…?”

“Not a word from my lips.”  She smiled and turned to leave with Greensleeves and Fishface. Soon they were all lost in the deep purple haze of evening.

The monk got up, stretched and walked to the front of the statue. He adjusted the brazier so that it would not go out in the middle of the night. He swept the concealing cowl back from his face and looked up at his own marble visage.

Magneto smiled to himself. “Bwahahahaha, indeed.”  He settled back on the cushioned slab… He WOULD sleep tonight… and tomorrow, he would greet his newfound compatriot… the sun.

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