Disclaimer: All that's Marvel's remains Marvel's; all that is mine is mine. There is no monetary gain just pleasure.
The Convolute Journey
Elizabeth Christine Counts
The Dreamer's Dance
Madga's world was a whirlwind. She wasn't conscience of her surroundings. Her full attention was on Joseph. It seemed like they had been given one more opportunity in another place and time. They had been returned to a youthful beginning for a second try at happiness in a time where the horrible past didn't exist; at least for him.
At the front door of the mansion, he paused and turned to look directly into her face. "Maggie, is it okay if we start outdoors?" He didn't wait for an answer. He loosened his grip on her hand and gently let it fall from his touch. He opened the door.
"Yes, that's fine," she responded; disappointed that she no longer touched him. Still, she was overwhelmingly satisfied just to be near him. They walked side by side down the drive; then across the lawn. She didn't speak. She hoped the silence didn't make him feel uncomfortable, but, with her emotions running wild, conversation was difficult for her.
Joseph wondered about her silence. It didn't bother him, but he felt he wasn't much of a guide. He broke the silence as they approached the lake. "Would you like to sit here for a while?"
"Yes, it's very beautiful and so peaceful." She then wondered about the maneuvering it was going to take to sit down without compromising herself. He solved her problem by assisting her to the ground.
"This reminds me of another place. It was a long time ago." There was a distant look in her eyes.
"When you were a little girl?" Joseph had asked the question with sincere innocence. She bowed her head contemplating an answer.
"I'm sorry. I hope I didn't upset you. Scott told me that I shouldn't pry into your past."
"It's all right. I was the one who brought it up. (She paused.) My past might be too difficult to understand right now. When you get to know me better perhaps I'll tell you my whole story."
"That's fair enough." He gave her a wide grin. "Do you like to swim?"
"Actually, I've never tried."
"I've spent most of my time on my studies."
"I'll teach you how to swim. You did bring your bathing suit, didn't you?" He noticed a flush rising on her cheeks.
"I don't have a bathing suit. I think I'd be to embarrassed to wear one," she said very seriously.
"You have nothing to be embarrassed about." He had a mischievous look on his face.
"In that case, I'll have to get one and let you teach me how to swim." Maggie's face screwed up into a twisted grin.
"What are your hobbies?" Joseph asked.
"I like to listen to music while I work." It was the only hobby of which she could think.
"Do you sing?" He loved her voice. It was soft and comforting.
"I sometimes sing along with the artists, but I don't sound that great. What are your hobbies?" She wanted to talk about anything besides herself.
He turned and looked deep into her eyes. Could he trust her with his fears? Yes, he decided. "There hasn't been much time for hobbies here. I really couldn't tell you because I don't remember." He anticipated her reaction.
"I'm sorry. I was aware that you suffered from memory loss. It was very insensitive of me to ask that question." She was truly sorry.
"You know about me?" He feared the worst. She couldn't know that he was apparently once the evil Magneto? She would mistrust him, too.
"Yes." She had vowed to be totally honest with him for better or worse.
"What exactly do you know about me?" A frown creased his brow.
"I know that you traveled here seeking the help of the X-Men after "awakening" in South America. That you helped to defeat Onslaught and have faithfully fought side-by-side with the X-Men since. I know that conceivably you were Magneto before Charles Xavier wiped your mind clean, and I know that before there was a Magneto, there was a Erik Magnus."
He sat there with the look of disbelief on his face. He swallowed hard. "You aren't afraid to be with me here, alone?"
"Of course not." She had told him too much.
"Magneto was evil. How can you trust me?" He could imagine their brief relationship would be over after this discussion. He feared she would avoid him now.
"I trust you because Magneto was never evil. He was a man in overwhelming pain. He had suffered too much; more than any man should ever have to. What he did, he did with a conviction in his heart that he must either for the good of the mutants or because he was a man of his word. Every time he did something society termed as evil, it could be noted that it had been perpetuated by society. They forced his hand. He was a strong, willful man. One who wouldn't be pushed around. A rebel of sorts. A man barren of personal pleasure, he spent almost his entire life dedicated to helping others. If he had enemies, it's because they didn't understand him or they provoked him."
Joseph stared at her in shock. She made Magneto sound like a hero. Was she the only one who could look deep enough into the man to understand Magneto. "I don't understand how you could feel this way, but I'm glad you don't hold it against me. I don't condone all of Magneto's actions, but I understand why he did them," he replied.
"Don't you think if his circumstances had been different that he would have been just like you? One was born of loss and pain, and the other out of purity and innocence." He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "How do you know all this?"
She was unsure how she should answer. She breathed deeply. "I'm aware of anything which is put into Cerebro or other computers. C.A.L. tells me. The rest is derived from knowledge I've gathered over the years." She felt she had told the truth without revealing too much.
He stared at her. "Who is Cal, a hacker boyfriend?" His voice betrayed disgust.
She started laughing and she couldn't stop. He didn't see anything funny about it. Finally, she had calmed down enough to answer him. "No, C.A.L. is my creation. He is a Cybergenetic Artificial Lifeform. A living computer who freely thinks and has emotions. I have no boyfriend."
He was relieved. She didn't have a boyfriend just a snoopy computer. He could live with that. They sat in silence.
"Still friends?" she asked with concern in her voice.
"That should be my question. Of course. I feel like we're old friends since you know so much about me, and still like me. I wish the X-Men felt the same."
"Why, don't they trust you?"
"They try, but it's very hard for them. They still have their fears." He looked sad.
She reached her hand out and placed it on his arm, and gave a slight squeeze. "It just takes time. They'll come around."
He placed his hand on hers. "I barely know you, but already you understand me more than anyone."
She said nothing, but she gave him a compassionate smile. He got to his feet pulling her alone with him. "We better go back and get some lunch." She nodded. They walked in silence back to the mansion. At the door, he paused.
"How is it that I feel so comfortable around you?"
She knew he was watching for her reaction. Did he remember something or was he just curious? "We don't pick how people make us feel. How we feel is a reaction to some stimulus."
He looked at her and grinned. She was good at evasive answers. This girl was witty and intelligent. They entered the mansion.
Rocking the Boat
She followed Joseph as he showed her to the kitchen. She stopped short at the kitchen door. Joseph noticed she wasn't following him, so he turned to see what was wrong. The color had left her cheeks.
"Maggie, what's wrong?" There was concern in his voice.
"They're all in there." She made a statement; not a question.
"It'll be fine. They're really nice and I won't leave you." He thought it was just insecurity.
She flung her arms around her body and held on tightly. "No, it's not that. It's the pressure."
He understood immediately. "Can you handle it? Do you want me to get help?"
"Just give me a minute to adjust. The sensation is proportionally increased with the additional presence of each mutant. I just have to come to terms with it; that's all." Her smile was weak.
"Maybe, this is a bad idea."
"No, I can handle it now." She started toward the door.
Joseph stepped through first and made the announcement, "Hey, everybody I'd like you to meet Maggie."
The large table was surrounded by a group of people chatting and fixing sandwiches. They all stopped what they were doing and looked expectantly toward the door. Maggie stepped through feeling a bit embarrassed. She gave a general smile and sought out Jean. Jean gave her a nod of reassurance.
"Hello, everyone." She spoke softly.
Joseph introduced everyone. She already knew them all from C.A.L.'s reports. Of course, she had already met Logan, also known as Wolverine. He might not be tall in stature, but he was a formidable fighter with his claws and heightened senses. He had the mutant ability of self-healing. He was known to have a hot temper, but she suspected he also had a big heart.
Next to Logan sat Ororo, also known as Storm because of her ability to control weather which she could manipulate to give herself flight. She was well known for her wit and leadership abilities. She had a kind face.
Then, there was Dr. Henry McCoy; a blue, furry gorilla-type man. He was sometimes called Beast, but everybody here called him Hank. He had strength, speed, and agility as his powers. She also knew he was a highly respected scientist in the field of biochemistry.
She didn't know much about Bishop. He had came from another timeline, and, unable to return home, he used his energy absorption and refocus power to aid the X-Men.
Then, there was Rogue. The current center of Joseph's attention. Rogue was very nice looking. Maggie could see how he would be attracted to her. Rogue was able to fly, and was also gifted with power absorption and super strength.
Gambit, Remy LeBeau, had of course placed himself beside Rogue. Maggie, knowing what she did, wasn't surprised. Gambit, to coin a phrase, was a wild card. Not a lot of his past was known. He had once caused dissension among the X-Men; like she feared she would. His energy projectiles came in very handy in a fight. He was suave and debonair; his hypnotic charm made him quite a ladies' man.
Robert "Bobby" Drake's power could be explained merely by his code name, Iceman. Bobby was known for his fun-loving nature and his practical jokes. Beside him was Cannonball whose real name was Sam Guthrie. Sam was once a members of the immortal mutants, the Externals. He is able to facilitate a blast field.
She had made it around the table, and, across from Logan and Ororo, there sat Jean and Scott. Jean Grey Summers, full of warmth and compassion, had the abilities of telekinesis and telepathy. Maggie felt she owed this fine lady a debt of gratitude as well as her husband, Scott Summers. Scott, also known as Cyclops, was the possessor of the optic blasts only controlled by his visor. He was now leader of the X-Men since Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, had self-surrendered to authorities.
"I hope you don't mind sandwiches," said Ororo. "The meeting ran long so we opted for something fast and simple."
Maggie grinned at her. "Oh, that's fine." Joseph showed her to a couple of seats vacant between Ororo and Hank. They sat down and started putting together their sandwiches. Scott got up and handed them soft drinks out of the fridge.
Everyone was too quite. Magda was aware of the intermitting stares from around the table. Then, it hit her like a ton of bricks why they were staring. They were shocked by her appearance. She looked like Wanda, the Scarlet Witch. Of course, she looked like Wanda, or, rather, Wanda looked like her. It was only natural a daughter should favor her mother. Terror ran rampant through her. She fought the urge to run away. Her throat constricted and only with great effort was she able the swallow the food already in her mouth.
She sat there wondering what to do when Hank broke the silence. "Sooo, you are from D.C.?"
She turned to give him a grateful look. "Yes, I've been studying and working there for several years."
"What fields are you interested in? " Hank was aware of her discomfort and was trying to ease her situation.
"My first studies were mainly concentrated in physics and math, but since I have tinkered with computers, genetics, chemistry, electrical engineering, and materials science." She glanced at him to find a look of astonishment on his face. She knew she had said too much.
"Well, maybe you can visit me in the lab sometime and I'll show you around." He didn't know exactly what to say.
"I'd like to discuss a theory I have with you." She was very business-like. She had fallen back to the role of the professional.
By now, everyone had resumed their conversations they had going before her and Joseph's arrival. Joseph was being entertained by Jean and Scott, so Maggie continued with her line of thought.
"Yes, I believe I know how to eliminate the Legacy Virus in mutants. I've been researching the problem for some time now."
Hank had astonishment written all over his face, and once again conversation had come to a screaming halt. She looked around the room, realizing once again she had placed the proverbial foot in the mouth. She looked at Scott for help.
Before Scott could reply, Joseph came to her rescue. "I know Hank and all of us appreciate any light you can shine on this matter. I'll take you to the lab later, but now, if you're finished eating, I'll help you bring in your things from your car." Not waiting for a reply, he grabbed her hand and helped her to her feet. He could feel her body quivering next to him. He led her out of the kitchen.
As they walked down the hallway toward the front door, he placed his arm around her back to help steady her. He opened the door, and they stepped outside. She breathed easier now, and he noticed she wasn't shaking so violently. She couldn't take it anymore. Too many emotions had built up inside her. She started to cry. He held her tight to him, and he stroked her long, auburn hair.
She eventually controlled herself and wiped the tears from her face. She looked up into his face. His eyes were full of compassion. "Do I know how to screw thing's up or what?" She gave him a weak smile.
He gave her a soft, low chuckle. "Well, you certainly are the life of the party!"
He released his hold around her. He held her hand as they walked to her car. "Maggie, don't worry. Everything is going to be fine."
"I hope so Joseph. My social skills leave a lot to be desired. Beyond business acquaintances, I was more or less a recluse. My only friends were C.A.L. and Illeda, my trusted, dear Illeda. She served as my housekeeper, but she was also my confident and comforter."
"You must miss her."
"Yes, very much."
They had arrived at her car. They busied themselves with the task of removing her luggage and carrying it to the mansion. As they entered, he asked, "What room are you in?"
"She's in the room at the end of the hall beside you," Jean said as she walked toward them. "Maggie, are you okay?"
"Jean, I'm so sorry for my behavior. Please forgive me." Maggie was distressed again.
"Maggie, it's not you. Tensions are really high now because of the pressure we've all been under. Between Operation: Zero Tolerance and the Legacy Virus, we've been stretched to the breaking point." Jean paused, then continued. "Scott, was wondering if you would like to meet Hank and him in the lab after dinner, say 7:00?"
"Yes, that would be fine. If Scott doesn't mind, and you and Joseph aren't busy, I would like you both to attend the meeting. If there is sufficient cause to proceed with my theory, both of you will be needed to carry it out."
Jean patted her arm. "I'll be there."
"You can count me in, too," said Joseph in agreement.
Jean took the garment bag from Maggie, and led them to Maggie's room. Jean opened the door and let them pass through ahead of her. She followed them in and placed the bag over a chair. She turned to go, but paused at the door to give them a warning.
"Gambit's cooking tonight so you might want to take an antacid before dinner. It'll be ready around 5:30." She had a quirky grin on her face.
Joseph lifted a large bag and placed it on the bed. Maggie opened it up and started hanging her clothes in the closet. "Is there something I should know about?"
"Gambit always gives everybody a case of heartburn with his Cajun cooking. It's delicious but it'll set your stomach on fire." Joseph winced in anticipation of dinner.
Maggie laughed at the exaggerated look of pain on his face. "How does the cooking and housework get done around her? Everybody have a specific chore or does it rotate?" She continued putting away her things.
"It rotates mostly. Sometimes we exchange chores. I can't cook, so I usually try to find somebody willing to cook in exchange for one of their chores that day." He watched her finish the clothing in the case. He placed the empty case on the floor, lifted the next large case to the bed, unlatched it, and flung the top back. She immediately started to hang these. He noticed these two cases were casual clothes. Sweaters and blouses had been placed on the right side of the bag; pants and skirts on the left. He noticed she used the same system in the closet.
"I tell you what. Since you're going to teach me to swim, let me return the favor. Let me teach you how to cook."
"Are you a good cook?" A big grin spread across his face.
"Well, I use to be. Illeda had been doing all the cooking of late so I could spend more time on my research."
"On the Legacy Virus?" he questioned.
"So you think you remember how to cook?"
She laughed. "Yes, I think so." She finished hanging the clothing in the case. "Let's do the garment bag next."
He moved it to the bed and unzipped it. She removed expensive dress suits and formal wear. She gave him a sheepish look. "I didn't really think I'd need these, but I wanted to be prepared just in case something came up."
"I bet you look beautiful in this." He held up a dress with a long flowing skirt and a tight, over-the-shoulder bodice. It was deep purple with shimmery highlights.
"I wouldn't know. I've never worn it. C.A.L. suggested I buy it." She thought C.A.L. was being awfully quiet, but she figured he was just giving her more time with Joseph. She finished hanging the clothing in the bag. She picked up the portfolio and put it in the closet, too.
She pointed to a smaller piece of luggage than the two she had already unpacked. "That one please."
He placed the luggage on the bed and opened it for her. It contained loungewear. She opened drawers and shoved the clothing into them. She grabbed up the overnight bag and the cosmetic bag; taking them to her adjoining bathroom. As she emerged from the bathroom, she saw he had opened the remaining bag. This one contained her lingerie, and what was worse, he was inspecting one of the skimpy, lace pieces. She walked over and looked at the piece. She sarcastically asked, "I don't think it'll fit, but you can borrow it if you want?"
A big sheepish grin spread across his face, and he handed her back the underwear. "No thanks, I couldn't stand the wedgie."
She took it from him, placed it back into the case, and closed the lid. "I'll unpack this one later."
He cleared his throat and said, "Well, I'll be back to get you in a couple of hours for dinner. I know you want to put those away." He had a twinkle in his eye as he turned and left.
She watched the door close, and she started unpacking the lingerie case.
"Everything seems to be going well." C.A.L. was interested in what all had happened, but he wouldn't ask.
"It's going absolutely wonderful with Joseph, but I've made a complete mess of it with the others." She sighed.
"I met everyone at lunch, and noticed that everyone kept staring at me."
"Well, everyone besides Jean and Scott because they know my secret, and Joseph because he has no memory. We forgot one little detail, C.A.L."
"What would that be?"
"Wanda looks like me! I would say part of them are trying to figure out why I'm so familiar, and the others already realize to whom there is a uncanny resemblance."
"Pass it off as coincidence. You're younger than Wanda is now. Nobody will figure out your secret."
"No, but it makes them more suspicious of me." She had finished unpacking her things, and placed all the luggage in the closet. She sat down on the bed beside the nightstand. "C.A.L., I didn't connect you to the phone lines! You must have been bored out of your containment unit. Let me connect you."
"Thank you. Also, can you make a connection with a power source? I feel my strength is waning."
"Of course. How thoughtless of me. You should have reminded me before I left with Jean." She made the connections. "I'm going to ask Scott if you can transfer to Cerebro. You won't feel so cramped, and you'll be able to function a peak performance." She paused, and C.A.L. could detect she was worried. "I made the mistake of mentioning my research at lunch, too. Everyone was very disturbed. There is to be a meeting at 7:00 tonight in Dr. McCoy's lab. I'm going to introduce my theory to Hank, Scott, Jean, and Joseph."
"Time is essential. More mutants will die the longer the solution is postponed."
"Would you mind helping Dr. McCoy with testing? The theory must be confirmed."
"Of course not. I am fully prepared to help any way I can. Magd...Maggie my sensors are detecting exhaustion in your systems. You are only human. You must rest."
Maggie laid back on the bed. She was exhausted, mentally and physically. "C.A.L., if you think times are demanding now, just wait."
He said nothing, but he knew she was right.
A Glimmer of Hope
Maggie managed to sleep for a while. She awoke suddenly, and was confused. "C.A.L.?"
"Is anything wrong?"
She had dreamed. She couldn't exactly remember what. There had been two Erik's and nothing had made sense. It had left her with a disturbed feeling. "No, I guess I had a bad dream, but I can't remember." She rose from the bed and went to the bathroom. Eventually, she returned patting her face dry with a hand towel. "C.A.L., contact Illeda and let her know we're okay. Also, tell her to ship my portable stereo system, CD's, the books I packed in the box labeled "Send," the box labeled "Personal Items to Send," and my jewelry. Not the jewelry in the armoire, but those in the little cedar box in my underwear drawer."
"I'm doing it now." He gave Illeda the message. She inquired to Magda's real condition, and they chatted awhile. "I'm finished," he announced to Maggie; glad that she had been unable to hear their conversation.
"What time is it?" she inquired.
She opened the closet and pulled out a pair of jeans and a crochet sweater. "C.A.L., I'm sorry but I would like to be comfortable, so I'm going to change clothes." She went back into the bathroom; momentarily returning in the other clothes. There was a knock at the door. She walked over and opened it. There stood a smiling Joseph.
"You ready for this?"
"The people or the food?" She was grinning. She was ready for both.
"I'm a little early, but I thought we'd go down and harass Remy."
"I'm not so sure that's a good idea." She said grinning as she stepped out the door. He led the way back to the kitchen. He glanced back to see how she was handling the situation before they entered the kitchen. She gave him a smile of confidence. He opened the door for her and they went in. Bobby and Sam were already there. Maggie walked over to the stove and peered into a huge pot.
"Dis is gumbo, chere."
"It smells good," she said, smiling at Remy.
"It's so powerful, I'm surprised it hasn't burned a hole in the pot," Bobby interjected. She turned to look at him. She could see mischief sparkling in his eyes.
Sam grabbed the fire extinguisher from it's rack. "I'm ready to eat."
"I'm sure I'll enjoy it," she reassured Remy.
She glanced back to Joseph and noticed the scowl on his face. Was he jealous? "Can I help do anything?" she asked Remy.
"That's okay, Maggie. Ah'll help him."
Without turning, Maggie knew who it was. She tilted her head and gave Remy a wicked smile and a wink. He had the look of a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Maggie enjoyed the situation. "Rogue, that's a great idea since I don't know where anything is." She meant it. She wasn't interested in Gambit no more than for mere friendship. She turned to face Joseph. However, the situation could have had a desired effect on him. His blue-gray eyes had narrowed and took on the chill of ice. She knew that look. He was pissed.
She walked over and slid her arm around his. "Let's go sit on the patio and let them finish." She met his glaze, and his eyes soften.
He didn't speak, but conducted her out the back door onto the patio. He seated her, then seated himself in an opposing chair.
"Joseph, you seem disturbed. Did I do something wrong, again?"
"No, of course not. I was just thinking, that's all."
She wondered exactly what he was thinking. "Rogue really seems to like Remy. Do you think I made her mad? I didn't mean to. I was just trying to fit in." She noticed the tension evaporate from his face.
"I don't think you did any damage. You just stirred up her interest. That never hurt anybody."
Maggie thought the exact same thing, just about Joseph. She then reprimanded herself for such thoughts. If he preferred Rogue, she had vowed not to get in the way. She felt desperation at such a thought. She mustn't push the subject though. She must be patient, and let Joseph decide for himself on his own time table.
"Are you nervous about the meeting tonight?" Joseph had been watching her, and noticed stress cross her brow. He figured it must be about their meeting in the lab later.
She jerked herself from her thoughts. "I hadn't thought about it. It is going to be a bit difficult, I suppose. I've decided not to reveal the final plan of action. If the theory can't be substantiated, there is no need to introduced it. It would just upset everyone for, perhaps, no reason."
He stared at her. He thought what an intricate person she seemed to be. She was so controversial in her emotions. She swung between control and confusion. Whatever had happened to her must have been very traumatic to cause such an imbalance in an obviously exceptional mind. She was much like he imagined the Magneto persona had been except she was passive and Magneto had been forceful and cruel. There was something else. She made him feel so unusual. He felt a need to be around her; as if his existence depended upon her. It was an intensely wonderful feeling, but it disturbed him to think about the emotions that was stirred up when he observed her conversing with Remy. It had been totally innocent, but jealousy had reared it's ugly head. He had fought the emotions, but they still flickered in his mind. She hadn't been here an entire day, and already he had determined that she preferred his company to the other guys. That was stupid. He had volunteered, not been selected, to be her companion.
Storm arrived to tell them dinner was ready. She thought is was so odd that the two of them were lost in their thought, but apparently well at ease in each other's company. She smiled to herself. "Dinner's ready!"
They both physically jumped at her announcement. Joseph leaped up and as Maggie rose, he pulled back her chair. Storm hadn't seen such attentiveness since leaving the kitchen. There Rogue obviously couldn't do enough to humor Remy. Storm decided she must have definitely missed something. Although, she knew not what.
Dinner was accomplished with a minimum of fuss and confusion. Everyone ate and carried on their chit-chat about trivial subjects. Jean was very kind and included Maggie. "Maggie, how was your afternoon?" Jean gave her a knowing look.
"It was more pleasant than I could ever have imagined," Maggie replied.
"If you need anything or wonder where something is at, just ask me."
"I appreciate that very much, Jean." The women exchanged a look of trust.
"Maggie's going to teach me how to cook!" Joseph exclaimed.
Scott who had been unusually quiet spoke up, "We thought Gambit's cooking would kill us, and now you're going to finish us off." This was followed by laughs around the table.
"It was the most I could do since Joseph is going to teach me to swim." Maggie responded a little flustered.
Sam and Bobby sent Joseph two thumbs up.
"Don't pay any attention to those two, sugah." Rogue said with her spicy southern accent. Maggie gave her a warm smile. She liked Rogue.
"Ya wanta go shoppin' sometime?" Rogue continued.
"Actually, maybe you could help me pick out a bathing suit. I've never bought one, and you could give me some advice." Maggie was pleased that Rogue didn't seem angry with her.
"Sure. If Scott has nothin' planned for ya tomorrow afternoon, we can go then." They both turned to Scott.
"No, go ahead. Maggie is scheduled for the danger room in the morning, although I'm still not sure exactly how we are going to go about the training yet. Just make sure you let somebody know when you leave." Scott didn't like them going by themselves in case there was some kind of trouble. Jean recognized the troubled look on his face.
"Storm, how about you and I tagging along. We'll make it a girls' day out," said Jean.
"Sounds like fun." Storm had also seen the tension on Scott's face.
"The more the merrier, Ah say." Rogue agreed.
"What time is good for everybody?" Maggie asked with a grin of amusement. "Right after lunch?"
Everybody nodded in agreement.
"Joseph, you don't mind if we steal her tomorrow, do you?" asked Rogue.
Maggie wondered why Rogue had asked this question. Did she still have some intentions for him even after her display of affection for Remy? She noticed Joseph took a long time to answer the question; making everyone pause in anticipation of his answer.
"Of course not." His reply was short; too short. Everyone knew there was more to it than that. Joseph knew there was much more to it. He feared something might happen to them; to her. There was an unexplainable dread of being separated from her. It felt like deja vu. It was a familiar, disturbing feeling. He didn't like it, but had no reasonable explanation for it.
Maggie felt that Joseph was upset. Why? Was he upset with something she'd said? She finished her dinner deep in thought, and so did Joseph. Both were far removed from the conversations around them.
Scott and Jean exchanged glances. Was Joseph remembering something? It was hard for Jean not to use to telepathic link between herself and Scott, but still she knew he was thinking the same thing. He was worried, and she was, too.
Everyone helped clear the table. Scott glanced at his wristwatch. Time had passed quickly.
"It's 6:55. Jean shall we go to the lab?" Scott said this to his wife, but nodded to Hank, Joseph, and Maggie. They proceeded to the lab.
Joseph and Maggie entered the lab last. Maggie looked around identifying various scientific instruments. She completed the inspection and looked at the others in the room. They waited patiently for her to focus her attention back to them. It was Scott who broke the silence.
"Maggie, you said you had a theory about a cure for the Legacy Virus?"
Maggie imagined that everyone seemed to be holding their breathes. She leaned back against a counter and folded her arms across her breast. She looked very adept and sure of herself as she started. "Okay, this is what is known so far. We know the illness is caused by a virus. A virus by itself is a lifeless form, but within living cells it replicates, harming it's host in the process. In this case, the eventual result is death. An invading virus is known as an antigen. A virus is simply genetic material surrounded by a protective coat of protein."
"Host cells give the virus the needed enzymes and metabolic precursors necessary for self-replication. The host of this virus is a specific protein manufactured by RNA. This protein has been isolated using the Microscale Multisample Two-Dimensional Electrophoresis process. This process separates the proteins according to their structure size differences. All mutants possess a common strand of DNA which others do not have. This of course is commonly known as the X factor in the DNA of mutants. Please bear in mind that RNA is a copy of DNA except for a nucleotide base, and that RNA produces protein. This is why only mutants are affected."
"We know that proteins are charged particles having a negative charge, and that proteins are chains of subunits known as amino acids. It is the sequence of amino acids which dictates whether the protein will become part of the structure of the organism, or whether it will become an enzyme for promoting a particular chemical reaction. We know this virus attacks the proteins promoting chemical reactions effecting the T-cell mediated immune reaction. T-cells are responsible for cellular immunity, and the production of blood-serum components. They contain the proteins in the blood called cytokines. Cytokines do three things: Amplify or increase the immune response, instruct cells to proliferate, and suppress an ongoing response. The virus causes the destruction of the cytokines."
"The Legacy Virus is classed as a filo, or thread-virus, having non-segmented positive strands. The virus is spread through contact with body fluids, such as blood and perspiration. It can now be considered to be epidemic in proportion." She paused to let them reflect.
"There is a untested theory using Magneto Immuno Assays (MIA) to identify magnetic signatures, or markers, in cancer. I propose this can be done on the virus. Measurements can be done directly on samples such as tissue or blood. Ferromagnetic particles are functionalized with different biological recognition sites, in this case the specified antigen. The ferromagnetic particles accumulate around the antigen, and a magnetic field is applied causing the virus to be destroyed with no harm to the host cells."
She paused, unsure of what to say next. "We don't have time to spend years on this. I know a shortcut if Dr. McCoy cannot find a reason to disprove the theory. If he researches this and comes up with no invalidation, I will then proceed to tell you my plan. Jean, can I talk to you alone a minute?" Without waiting for an answer, Maggie walked into another section of the laboratory. She heard the men discussing the theory, and the soft steps of Jean behind her. Maggie turned to meet her.
"I don't understand what I can do?" Jean said with a puzzled look.
"What I have to say to you is not easy. Jean, my shortcut involves eliminating the use of the ferromagnetic particles; instead Joseph will attune his magnetic powers to match the appropriate signature. The use of the ferromagnetic particles would be a logistical nightmare. Every infected mutant would have to be treated individually. It must be a world-wide effort to stamp it out. This is not a cure; it's eradication. Therefore, it must be a single, world-wide strike. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but it won't work. Joseph doesn't have that type of control of his powers. Only Magneto had that type of control. He was the master of his ability, and only he knew to what extent he could control it." Jean's eyes opened wide and fear swept over her. She knew exactly what Maggie was planning. "OH, NO! You can't be suggesting that..."
"There is evidence that the virus itself is mutating. If this happens, the virus may make the jump to all humans, not just mutants. It has been reported that the jump may have already occurred. There has been estimates that if this has happened, the human race has less than two years left. If Dr. McCoy can verify my theory, in order to save the entire human race, Magneto must return."
"His memory doesn't exist. It was removed," Jean persisted.
"C.A.L. tells me that there has been minute signs of Magneto's memory surfacing according to entries in Cerebro."
"Yes, but it could be just remnants of memory left behind."
"Or, it could be that Magneto only shared his memories making the Professor think he had wiped the mind clean, when in fact the memories were so well hidden not even Magneto could access them without help."
"Even so how could we risk awakening him?"
"Knowing what we do, how could we not? Do you think I, of all people, want him awakened? He will hate me. I will lose everything I hoped to gain with Joseph." Tears glisten on her cheek. "Hopefully, you will have to awaken him, Jean. If there is no need to do so, I fear all our days are numbered."
Jean looked down to the floor. She studied what Maggie had said. She knew what she must do if and when the time came.
"Okay. When the time comes, I'll try to bring Magneto back!"
"When Dr. McCoy's verification comes back, I'll ask Scott to call a meeting. I'll explain everything to everyone then. I just didn't want to shock you. There's another thing. If the decision is made to awaken Magneto, I want to tell Joseph everything. Maybe it will help cushion the blow to the Magneto persona." Tears streamed down Maggie's face.
"What will that do to Joseph?" Jean was very concerned.
"I don't know, but I feel I must be honest with him. He may be able to forgive me, and if he can, maybe Magneto can, and if Magneto can, maybe Erik can. Maybe then he can be a whole person, instead of three splintered individuals. Then maybe we can be "us" again."
"That's a lot of maybe's," Jean said.
"True, but a lot can be said about faith," Maggie said wiping her eyes.
"And hope," added Jean.
Confrontation and Confirmation
Maggie and Jean walked back to the others who were in deep discussion.
"It'll take some time, Scott," Hank was saying when Jean and Maggie joined them.
"Scott, would it be all right to transfer C.A.L. into the Cerebro unit? He has volunteered to assist Hank, but in order to operate at his full potential he must be transferred from the laptop to a larger capacity unit." Maggie waited as Scott thought it over.
"C.A.L.?" Hank asked.
"A programmable electronic device which has evolved into a free-thinking being; Cybergenetic Artificial Lifeform or C.A.L."
"I could use the help," replied Hank.
"He won't interfere with the functioning of Cerebro?" asked Scott.
"No, he is an independent entity," replied Maggie.
"Okay." reluctantly replied Scott.
"I'll do it tonight so it won't interfere with anybody. The transfer will take an hour and a half. Hank, when are you finishing up tonight?" Maggie asked while surveying the computer.
"If you will come back around 12:00, I'll help you get C.A.L. hooked up." Hank grinned.
"Thanks." Maggie returned his grin.
"Now, if everyone will excuse me, I'd like to get started on this." Hank put on his spectacles and looked at his friends over the top of them.
"Of course, Hank." Scott said as he conducted his wife toward the door with Joseph and Maggie in close pursuit.
Outside the door, Scott paused to ask Maggie a question. "Are you up to a training session tomorrow?"
"Yes. How are we going to do it?"
"I've got an idea concerning that," broke in Joseph. All eyes reverted to him, and then he continued. "In order for Maggie to train, another mutant must use their ability in a safe, inert way. Maggie can then practice turning her's off and on, and controlling it. I'd like to volunteer."
There was a silence that could have been cut with a knife. Maggie stared at him in a wild-eyed panic. Surely, there must be a way to train without the help of another mutant. She feared an accident. What if she hurt someone? What if she hurt him? "NO. I can't allow it."
Joseph looked deep into her eyes. "Don't you trust me?"
"Yes, of course I do. It's not a question of trust. It's a question of safety." She returned his stare with an equally intensity.
"Then I will help you. I promise we won't do anything that will harm anyone or anything," Joseph had taken on an unfamiliar voice of commandment.
Maggie looked at Scott. Why didn't he defend her position? "Scott, isn't there some other way?" She knew deep in her heart what his answer would be.
"Hank, Logan, and I have discussed this matter, and we all came to the same conclusion. One of the X-Men would be needed to volunteer for the express purpose of being a conduit of sorts in your training. I'm sorry, but I agree with Joseph on this point. However, I'm not sure you are trained enough yourself, Joseph, to handle the situation." Scott saw anger rise in Joseph's eyes. Scott had never evoked such emotion from Joseph before. Joseph had been most easy going since his arrival here. Joseph was changing, but Scott was unsure toward what.
"I'm going to train Maggie; with or without your permission, Scott. You may be the leader of the X-Men, but there are some things the individual must decide. I want to do this. Has anyone else volunteered?" Joseph paused for an answer. There was none. "I didn't think so."
"All right, Joseph, but I want Logan to supervise and observe. Do you agree?" Scott asked Joseph, but looked at Maggie. He could see the emotion in her eyes, and he could only imagine what she must be thinking.
"Fine," replied Joseph. He, too, was looking at Maggie.
With everyone looking in her direction, she felt obligated to say something. "I trust no one more than I do Joseph. I just fear for his safety. If he really wants to be a guinea pig, I guess I should be grateful that he thinks so much of me. Joseph, I'll do my best not to let you down."
Jean now realized why Maggie must be so upset. Maggie was terrified that she would somehow find a new way to repeat what she deemed as her mistakes. Maggie had told Scott and herself how she could never let Erik down or hurt him again. "Maggie, all we can do is try. I know you won't disappoint us; don't make it impossible to appease yourself."
"Maggie, you could never disappoint me." Joseph took her hands in his.
"If I did, could you find it in your heart to forgive me?" Her eyes pleaded with his.
"I could forgive you anything." His answer was true and from the heart.
Maggie closed her eyes and hoped that he indeed could. Time would tell.
The silence was smashed by an atrocious sound of a collision. Maggie felt the instantaneous need to release the pressure inside. She strained to maintain control. Maggie could imagine seeing breaking glass and falling debris. "What's happening?" she screamed above the uproar.
They had started running toward the disturbance. Maggie noticed Hank was close behind them.
"We're under attack!" responded Scott.
They arrived at what use to be the front door. With half the wall missing, it was now a gapping hole. They could seeing the rest of the X-Men in violent confrontation with beings of unknown type or origin.
Scott, Jean, and Hank immediately joined the battle. Joseph turned to Maggie and said, "Stay close to me."
Maggie acknowledged with a nod of her head and followed Joseph into battle. She was in a struggle of her own. With all their powers activated, Maggie was fighting not to let the release go. She was barely conscience of the horrible conflict. She was aware that it was not going well for the X-Men.
Jean's telekinesis was being negated somehow. Maggie then noticed the others having the same trouble. It was like their powers were being reflected off or being canceled out in some way. Even Rogue was unable to phase them with her powerful punches. The impact was merely absorbed. Joseph tried to send out an electromagnetic field to disrupt the beings. They were only momentarily effected, then back they came. She watched as the X-Men were slowly being defeated.
Wolverine seemed to be making the biggest impact. Using his claws to tear at the beings flesh brought them pain and disorientation. There were too many attackers nevertheless and, even though he was a ferocious fighter, Wolverine was being overwhelmed.
The sensation had been waning, but she could feel a change begin. Now, suddenly the sensation was rapidly increasing, and she felt like she was about to explode.
"ENOUGH!" He was no longer Joseph. "MAGGIE!" He only commanded her name, but she knew what to do. She raised her left arm toward him and squeezed her eyes shut in an effort to allow for a gradual release. She was momentarily able to control the force, then it burst forth like flood waters through a broken dam. She concentrated only on directing it to Joseph then.
The immense electromagnetic force sent the beings in a fashion of disarray. For all their powers, they apparently wasn't capable of handling this much dynamism. They retreated and disappeared. As quickly as peace had been shattered, the battle was over.
Everyone exhausted; their powers were shut off. Maggie felt it like the flick of a switch; there was no call for release now. It had been replaced with the sensation waiting at bay in anticipation for a summons. Maggie lowered her arm and opened her eyes. She felt dizzy and incoherent.
"Everyone okay?" Scott was surveying his friends and the damage.
They loosely gathered around Scott as they attempted to recover their strength. Each affirming their condition. Only Joseph and Maggie remained at a distance.
"Maggie, are you okay?" Joseph was concerned when she didn't answer. "Maggie.." he began.
Maggie felt the darkness envelope her and she realized what was happening. She was blacking out.
Joseph watched as she started to collapse. He grabbed her and helped her to the ground. The others had witnessed the event and rushed over. Hank knelt down to check her vital signs as best he could without the proper instruments.
"What happened?" Scott asked Joseph in an accusing tone.
Before Joseph could answer, Rogue spoke up. "Don't ya'll think we should get Maggie inside?"
"Yes, that's a good idea. I think she is just exhausted, but I'd like to check her out in the infirmary anyway," Hank agreed.
Jean squeezed Scott's arm lightly. "We can discuss this later when everyone is composed."
Scott grudgingly agreed. "All right," he said to Jean. He poked Joseph in the chest. "Later."
Joseph didn't dignify his statement with any response, instead he gently picked up the unconscience Maggie and carried her inside the marred mansion. He had almost made it to the sick bay when Maggie started regaining conscienceness.
"Is everybody all right?" she asked in a shaky voice.
"Yes." His voice was soft. "How do you feel?"
"I'm fine. That just took a lot out of me since I wasn't use to doing it." Her voice sounded apologetic. "Where are we going?"
"Hank's going to check you out; make sure it's just fatigue." He gave her a reassuring smile.
She thought how wonderful it felt to be in his arms as they reached their destination. He placed her gently on the table, and shortly Hank arrived. He did a general exam and gave them his verdict. "You just over did it. You'll be fine after a rest. If you feel up to it, there's a debriefing in the conference room in a couple of minutes."
"I don't think..." Joseph started.
"Could you take me to my room to get C.A.L.?" she interrupted him. "I think he has some information about these beings."
"Let's go." He helped her off the table and escorted her to her room. They walked in silence. He opened her door and she went over to C.A.L.
"C.A.L. access the information you have on the transmutors," she requested as she prepared him for transport.
"I viewed the confrontation through security monitors."
"Good. We're going to a debriefing and I'll expect a full report on your observations."
"I'm ready. Are you okay?"
She picked up the laptop and walked back to Joseph. With her free hand, she sought out Joseph's. "Please, try not to lose your temper. We both know we had no choice in what we did."
How could she know about the raging emotions still within him? He expected a confrontation with Scott, but he would respect her request. He didn't verbalize his agreement, but she saw the fire die down in his eyes. She smiled. They walked to the meeting; both were preoccupied by their thoughts.
They entered the conference room met by the buzz of conversation, and seated themselves in a couple of adjacent empty seats. Maggie opened the laptop and waited in silence for the meeting to commence. No one spoke when Scott entered the room accompanied by Jean.
"Well, people. Any ideas?" He waited for a response. There was none. "Logan? Hank? Anyone?"
Maggie felt that she had given everyone ample time, and then she spoke, "Scott, I believe their transmutors."
Ororo spoke for the rest when she asked, "What are transmutors?"
"At one time I was interested in genetic engineering, but when the department with which I was associated with began mutant genetic studies, I transferred. However, I kept tabs on the research. When the government funding was cut, they were beginning work on a project known as G.E.M."
She paused. "I would like everyone to meet an associate of mine, C.A.L."
"Hello, I am pleased to be in such distinguished company."
"C.A.L. would you like to elaborate on the G.E.M. project?"
"G.E.M., or Genetically Engineered Mutant, was a project based on a theory that DNA from different mutants could be linked to make a super mutant. This being would then be cloned for defense purposes. Before the trial run on the DNA linkage, the government decided against such a radical action, and cut the funding on the project. However, it has been suspected that the project was continued under private funding. I intercepted a part of an unusual communiqué ninety-seven days ago concerning what I perceived to be a reference to the G.E.M. project. What I retrieved was "M. transmutors awaiting instruc..." then my connection was severed. Maggie?"
"Trans can means several things, but I believe this to mean either "cross" or "change" in this instance. Either they are a crossbreed of mutant DNA, or, from what I observed tonight, these beings are able to change from one mutant ability to another using their abilities to absorb, reflect, or counter act their opponents. Actually, both of these candidates are highly possible."
"Then how'd we beat 'em?" questioned Rogue with a lifted brow.
"The way the attack was carried out, they knew exactly how to take out each X-Man. They knew everyone's power and to what extent it could be used. Enough were sent so that an individual transmutor was never overwhelmed. Only when an unexpected circumstance was introduced was the transmutors not able to cope. Apparently, they do have their limits, and those limits were exceeded when I boosted Joseph's electromagnetic field."
C.A.L. interjected. "Maggie was the matrix of their defeat. Without her help, you were systematically being defeated to an end in which your destinies were uncertain."
Bobby in his usual flippant attitude added, "Matrix, I like it."
Scott had been listening intently to everything, and picked up on Bobby's attempt at comic relief. "Yes, you need an alias, Maggie. We need to keep you as much of a secret as possible."
"And it is technically correct ," C.A.L. completed.
Maggie looked around the table at everyone. What exactly did this mean?
It was Wolverine's deep voice which settle her question. "Matrix, how does it feel to be an X-Man?"
Before she could think of a response, Scott butted in, "I know this has all happened to quick, but since you've already been initiated and I can't think of a reason not to, we'd like you to join us. That is, if you want to?"
She looked at their faces, and saw acceptance. Joseph was unreadable. He must be experiencing conflicting emotions for his eyes were clouded and distant. He realized she was looking at him, and he gave her an reassuring nod.
"I will try to do my best as an X-Man. However, I will leave before I allow any of the X-Men to suffer on my account."
"No way, sugah. You wouldn't run out on us if we needed ya, and we ain't letting ya face the bad all by ya lonesome. Family sticks together." Rogues statement was reinforced by a contingency of nodding approvals.
"Dat's right, chere. No one appreciates dat more den me." Gambit was met by a sweet glance from Rogue.
"Okay, then. Count me in," Maggie consented. "So, what do we do now?"
"I'll continue to work on the virus theory." Hank was rubbing his chin in contemplation.
"And the rest of us will try to find out more about these transmutors." This was Storm's contribution.
"We need to repair the mansion," Cannonball said in a reflective voice, "and do more training."
C.A.L. even had a suggestion, "And pray."
This was followed by a somber silence. Maggie could imagine each one saying some type of spiritual request for guidance.
Scott broke the enchantment. "It's getting late. I suggest we get some rest and get on it early in the morning."
"Scott, I've got first watch." Logan wasn't going to take another chance of an ambush.
"Hank, do you want me to download C.A.L. now?" Maggie inquired.
"Yes, that would be fine."
"Okay, everybody that's it," Scott said it with a tone of finality.
Maggie closed the lid to the laptop. Everyone else filed out of the room, except Joseph. He stood patiently watching her slow deliberance in the act.
"How do you like your alias?" he inquired.
"Matrix is fine with me."
"Can I walk you to the lab?"
"Please." They left the room; making their way to the lab. "Joseph?"
"What do you think the future holds in store for us?"
"We will make our own futures."
"There are things we cannot control?"
"We can control how we react."
"Do you feel it? There are times when our lives take a different direction. This is one of those times."
"Yes, life will not ever be the same again. One day a new age will dawn, and with it will come a new world order. Until then, we must fight the battles, and right the wrongs." He stops. Maggie stops and looks him square in the eyes. He continues. "Together, we can accomplish the impossible."
Patience is a Virtue
Hank was already deep in study by the time they arrived at the lab. As they entered, he looked up from the console screen. "Ah, there you are."
Maggie walked over giving C.A.L. to Hank. "He knows what to do. All you have do to is make the connections if Cerebro is ready."
"All right. We'll begin then," was the answer. Hank made the connections.
"C.A.L.?" Maggie asked.
"Maggie, I'm ready to initiate the transfer."
"Initiate, and I'll see you when you're finished." Maggie was a little worried, and Hank could tell.
The transfer started and Hank made a suggestion. "Why don't you both go rest and C.A.L. can contact you when he's finished."
"That's a good idea," agreed Joseph. "Maggie, would you like to go back to your room?"
She was thoughtful. She hated to leave C.A.L. but there was actually nothing she could do but wait. She did feel very tired. "Yes," she merely retorted.
They walked back to their rooms without uttering a word. Before she entered her room, she lightly stroked Joseph's hair and face. The exchange of expressions of the eyes were communication enough. She entered the room and he closed her door.
She lay down on the bed. It seemed such a contradiction how she felt. The body was sluggish, but the mind was in high gear refusing to let sleep overtake her. There were so many things on her mind. It didn't seem possible that she had only arrived this morning.
Work had begun on the confirmation of her Legacy Virus theory, and soon Erik--Joseph could eradicate the disease. The human race would survive. She had been awarded an alias, and was already an X-Man thanks to the transmutors. The attack also brought up many questions. Who was commanding the transmuters and where were they? What were they up to? Most importantly, had they discovered her secret, and, if so, how would it effect the future? It was mind-boggling to think about.
Then there was Joseph. Her relationship with him was going way to fast. It was careening out of control. Considering the fact that she had told him to much, she expected a somewhat accelerated interest, but something else was perpetuating it. Was he remembering or was he experiencing some type of subliminal motivation?
She knew one thing for sure, her love for Erik was even greater than she could remember, and she hadn't thought there could be a love stronger than that held sacred in her heart. It is said that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." If that was indeed true, her and Erik's love must be phenomenal. If any part of Erik was indeed there, this was going to be a roller coaster ride. She could imagine the contained essence of Erik fighting to obtain conscienceness. If this was happening, waiting to tell Joseph her secret might place the man as a whole under too much pressure. Perhaps it might be better if she had that talk with Joseph sooner than later. She would talk it over with C.A.L.
She was satisfied with the review of the day's events. Finally, the mind compromised to let sleep come accompanied by a semi-state of conscience, in
which she floated between awareness and dreams. Dreams which took her to within a whispers breath of the man she loved, but then she would see the other Erik looming in the background. Dreams of anguish at the confusion of not knowing which was her Erik. Dreams of deception and deceit caused by the presence of yet another man. She could not see this man's face, but something was familiar about him; very familiar. She tried to reach the distant Erik but they confused her way. The harder she tried, the more difficult her journey became. She realized the Erik near her was not her's and had never been; never would be. Her's was the Erik she could not reach. She must find a way.
In the room next door, Joseph rested, but he also resisted sleep. His mind was filled with emotions and events which raised many questions. Most of the day had been filled with irrational, unexplainable feelings. He knew the answers were within him; he just couldn't find them. Like a forgotten word on the tip of the tongue, so were the memories in his mind. Just this morning, memories were like a distant, forgotten dream; now they were so close he could almost touch them.
He didn't want them for reassurance. He needed them to solve the puzzle about Maggie. He had tried using thought and logic, but he couldn't make the pieces fit the puzzle. Had she known Magneto? She couldn't have been an acolyte. Magneto would have trained and used her ability. After what had happened today, he knew she definitely had little control of her ability. Besides, if truly he was once Magneto, he knew Magneto would have felt about her as he did, and there was no evidence of him ever finding such happiness. Magneto was a man who lived with singular passion for his wife, but then again why was he, Joseph, not obstructed from feeling for Maggie? Was Magda just an impression on memory? He couldn't believe that. No, he knew Magneto was not a man upon whom impression could easily be made. She had been burned upon his soul, their soul, for eternity.
Their relationship was unnatural. It was too comfortable; too fast; too familiar; too intense. He knew she had not lied to him, but she had at times obviously skirted issues. Yet, there were other times when she seemed that she wanted to tell him something. She must not be a new acquaintance, but who was she? Magneto's memories must contain her, and because of her age their acquaintance must not go too far back. No, he felt that wasn't right either. He felt there was an antiquated, divine union between them.
What was her story? Did she fear Magneto? No, from what she said that wasn't it. Maybe she feared what impact her identity would have if he remember her. Maybe she feared what effect it might have on him as Joseph; perhaps a traumatic awaking of Magneto. This must be the reason she was hiding her identity. What could be weighty enough about her past to convinced Jean and Scott to help her keep it hid?
He started to drift to sleep. He entertained the thought that maybe this was all a dream, and she was just a figment of his imagination, or a ghost of his past memory. That must be it. This was all just an elaborate dream. He had almost convinced himself when a omni-presence rose inside him. "Fool! Don't lose her again," the voice commanded and was gone. He was launched into a sitting position. He was shocked by the words, but it was a revelation that churned inside him. He may not have Magneto's memories, but someone possessed his! Was it Magneto? If so, how long would it be before Magneto returned, or had the metamorphosis already started? Time would tell, but patience was not one of his strong suits.
In the laboratory, there was another man filled with impatience. Hank was pressured by all the lives at stake. Every moment wasted could mean someone's death. This would not be a simple task of review, but hours of extensive research. His mind was filled with possibilities about the theory, and a hint of wonder about the mysterious, young woman. If her theory was correct, she would convey the parturition of future generations. Matrix she could indeed be, and, if that was so, she would have many enemies now. But what was worse, she would also have enemies from the future.
He was deep in thought when C.A.L. interrupted him. "Dr. McCoy, I have finished the transferal process and I am ready to assist you."
Hank was startled, but muttered, "Good."
"Dr. McCoy, please do not contact Maggie. If she is awake, she'll be here soon. If she doesn't arrive, it can be assumed that she is asleep. If that is the case, she shouldn't be disturbed. I'll take full responsibility."
"C.A.L., I think her instructions should be followed," Hank disagreed.
"Dr. McCoy, she has often told me I am free to make my own decisions since I am a living entity. It is not good that her systems not be allowed to recover after such a fatiguing exertion. Therefore, I choose not to awaken her."
Hank thought about what he had said. He must treat C.A.L. with respect. It was obvious C.A.L. was indeed more than just a machine. He had feelings for his creator.
"Okay, C.A.L. Her wraith is yours."
"What would you like me to do first?"
"Contact Moira MacTaggert?"
Hank waited for a response.
In another part of the mansion, Jean and Scott lay in bed discussing what troubled them.
"Scott, you don't think the attack had anything to do with Maggie's arrival, do you?
"No, it was apparent that they did not know of her mutant powers or we'd probably not be here to talk about it. What did you pick up from them?"
"Not a lot. They seemed to concentrate on a single-minded mission; us. Do you think they'll be back?" she asked with distress in her voice.
"They'll come after us again. I just don't know when and where, and that's what worries me." Scott hugged his wife to him.
"I wonder if they've figured out what happened." Jean placed an arm about Scott.
"You mean about Maggie?"
"If they haven't figured it out, I'd say they won't quit till they do."
"And when they do?"
"They won't stop until she's dead or captured unless we get them first."
Jean rests her head on his chest. They both pause in reflection. "Scott?"
"Yes, my darling?"
"Do you think the Professor's dream will ever be reality?"
He doesn't answer. Jean understands for she too fears the future.
Her sleep had been light and brief. Maggie's eyes popped open, and she looked out the window. It was still dark outside. Her mind was still hazy from the defilement she suffered from the dreams. She realized too much time had passed, and that C.A.L. had not awakened her. She was a little peeved, but she was proud of him, too. Already, he had more compassion, conviction, and decency than a lot of humans. She had put so much of herself into him that truly he was indeed her progeny.
She tried to go back to sleep, but it was a futile effort. She fought the bed; she rolled and turned. She gave up and got out of bed. She flicked on the light switch and made a selection of the day's attire. She proceeded to shower and carried out the rest of the dressing ceremony.
She then headed out her room to the lab. She arrived in an agitated state. She had worked herself up into a lather thinking about questions from the night before. The lab was uninhabited.
"C.A.L.? Are you here?" She thought he might have went out.
"Yes, Maggie? How are you?"
"I'm fine. And you?"
"The transfer was completely successful, and I'm very pleased with the Cerebro containment unit."
"Are you angry with me because I didn't call on you last night?"
"No, you demonstrated the use of free-will. And concern of another; a most important trait to possess. I am proud of you." Her voice was a reflection of the feeling.
"I am glad to talk to you," said C.A.L.; not sure how to respond.
She walked around the lab, and proceeded to ask questions. "Did Dr. McCoy start with the theory review?"
"Yes, he initiated a preliminary work-up in consultation with Moira MacTaggert."
"I see. Are they going to work together?"
"No. She is playing the devil's advocate."
"That's a good idea."
"Mother, I fear for your safety. What if the transmuters come after you?"
"C.A.L., there is an eternal battle between good and evil until the time when God shall come and determine that time is over. We are each participants in that battle. We, like others, are on the side of good. Then there are some, willing or otherwise, that do the bidding of our opponents. As long as our souls are ready, we mustn't fear the future or death. We must endeavor to endure to help others, and, when we have done what God judges to be our destiny, we shall pass onto a better place. It is not for us to decide when our time is over, or for us to decide when another's time is over. That alone rests in God's hands. Do not fear for me."
"Do you fear for others?"
"I have no way of knowing the state of affairs between God and another."
"But you have heard..."
"He may have denounced God, but it was his persecution talking. I can't, no I won't, believe he has turned from God. It may be buried deep, but his faith is still there."
"Even after all this time?"
"He probably feels God turned his back on him, but he can only look at it from his view point. There is no way of knowing what God has in store for him. God sees things from the big picture. Perhaps, this is why things have worked out the way they have. What if he couldn't become the man that he must become without his trials and tribulations? What if his time was wrong? That might explain why he has been de-aged. Maybe that is what guided me all these years. Divine intervention works in mysterious ways to us because we aren't able to grasp the magnitude of existence. I do know the man I love is not evil. I know when the time comes, he will do the right thing. Deep down he is not the man that has been feared and hated. Instead, he is a powerful servant of divinity." Her tone was one of philosophy.
"I hope you are right."
"I cannot hold anyone's doubts against them because of what he has done as Magneto, but no one knows his heart like I do. Magneto was created out of pain and loss. Without this, he could not have been the authoritarian he became. This knowledge and strength may well be needed as part of his destiny. Erik may have been under construction all these years to serve a particular purpose of which we have no knowledge."
"And it could be that you are so in love with him that you refuse to believe any thing different. You might be going through life with blinders on where he's concerned."
"So, you're playing the devil's advocate now?" She was obviously irritated.
"No, I'm being your friend."
"It's just the way I sincerely feel, C.A.L," she responded in a quiet voice.
"And what does this bring us to?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe, I should tell Joseph who I am but I'm not certain he is Erik. He looks like him and acts like him, but something is missing. Then, too, I am plagued by disturbing dreams."
"If you tell him now are you sure he can handle it?"
"I don't know, but I fear the longer I wait the more damage might be done to the total psyche if indeed he is Erik."
"You fear an internal battle is being carried out?"
She nodded. "I don't won't to further rupture his being. I want to mend the damage, and join all of the selves into one healthy persona."
"How do you propose to accomplish this?"
"Truth and time."
"Speaking of time. Isn't it time to ingest something of nutritional value? I detect that your systems..."
"Okay, C.A.L. I'll go eat something." She turned to leave, and added, "I'll see you later."
"I'll be here if you need me."
She walked through the hallways and soon she realized she must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. She was lost.
"What are ya doin'?" A gruff voice asked from behind her.
She whirled around, and he noticed she had a smell of relief about her. "Logan!
Thank goodness." She laughed. "I was on my way to the kitchen from the lab, and I got lost."
"I'll show ya the way."
"Thanks, I appreciate that." She smiled at him. He guided her down the hall.
"You remind me of someone." He watched her closely for a reaction.
"I'm not surprised." Her response was quick.
"Oh, you're aware that you look like someone I know?" He was suspicious.
"Yes, I look like a younger version of Wanda Maximoff, right?"
"That's right." He could sense a little nervousness in her.
"Logan, I've told Scott and Jean the entire truth. Unless you doubt their wisdom in this matter, I would like to forgo this discussion until the time at which I can speak freely. If you do doubt them, I suggest you have a much bigger problem than I present." She had stopped walking, and was addressing him face to face.
"I didn't mean to offend ya."
"I'm not offended at the least, and I realized you only have the safety of the X-Men at heart. However, before I can disclose my identity there is another which I must take into consideration."
"Joseph?" he queried.
"Yes, is it that obvious?" Her lips curled at their ends.
"No, if your blind and deaf."
"I promise you that I mean no harm to anyone."
"I'll hold you to your word. I don't like seeing my friends suffer." He was dead serious.
"I'm counting on that. The day may come that the future will hinge on your word of honor." She told him with an equal fervor.
He wasn't sure what she had meant, but had he promised to defend Joseph? Not that he didn't like Joseph, but how could he forget about what had happened between himself and Mags. How would he react if Joseph's memory returned? Would the boy be Joseph still, or would he be Mags? Or maybe someone totally different from them both? She had lain the trap and he had fallen directly into it.
"Aren't you sorta rushing things with Joseph? I mean you're young and inexperienced in these matters? Things could happen, and you could wind up making a mistake."
She laughed heartily and grabbed Logan to give him a big hug. "Oh, Logan you're so sweet! I know exactly what you're saying. You don't want me to get romantically involved with him, right?"
He felt stunned by her reaction. "I'm just saying young people rush into things, and sometimes get their feelings hurt or worse. I don't want to see this happen to you and Joseph. Young people have to look at what results their actions may have and be responsible for them. The choice is before the action is made; the responsibility is after."
"I don't want to worry you, Logan." She bit her lip and made the decision. "Don't ask me any questions because you won't believe me anyway." She paused as they entered the kitchen. It was deserted so she continued. "Do you promise not to quiz me if I tell you who I am?"
"And you must not tell anyone else, no matter what. Do you agree?"
Her eyes sparkled as she leaned toward him. "The man you know as Magneto had a wife named Magda. I am...Magda!"
His body jerked when he heard the name. He stared at her in disbelief. He opened his mouth to say something. She watched his reaction. He seemed like he was moving in slow motion. She stopped him before he could start his sentence.
"Remember your promise, Logan."
He numbly walked over to the stool at the breakfast bar and sat down upon it as if in collapse. He continued to stare at her. There were 'bout a million questions he'd like to ask, and he'd promised not to ask her any. He watch her as she looked in the refrigerator. She pulled out the milk carton, sandwich meat, and mayo. Sitting them on the bar next to him, she asked, "Where is the bread?" He pointed to cabinet door.
She made them each a sandwich, and poured two glasses of milk. He watch her every move, but still was not aware of what she had done. She pushed his plate and glass toward him, and hopped onto a stool beside him.
"Aren't you going to eat?" She was aware that he was still in shock, and it disturbed her. Maybe telling him was the wrong thing, but since he was going to be spending so much time with Joseph and her during her training she thought it was only fair. If he wasn't told, she feared he would be greatly distressed by her attentiveness to Joseph and she felt it was the only way to find the truth about Joseph's identity.
She gently placed a hand on his arm. "Logan, I didn't mean to disturb you so, but I feared you would worry too much if you didn't know the truth."
He looked at her and instinctively knew she was telling him the truth. He felt like he was in the company of a ghost. He couldn't begin to imagine what she had been through. He knew the pain she experienced by his loss of love. He conceived the desperation and the thrill she must be encountering just to be near the man who could possibly be her husband. It felt so funny to think of Joseph as her husband, but to her it must be that time had returned them to the point of their separation. He wondered about her appearance. How old must she actually be? He took her hand from his arm and held it in his hand. "I don't know what to say to ya."
"Don't say anything, just eat." She started to eat when the kitchen door was slammed back. She jumped and wheeled around to see who it was. Logan sat with his back to the door. "Hello, Joseph."
Joseph ignored Logan's greeting. "Are you all right?" he asked Maggie.
Maggie rose and walked to him. "Of course. Is anything wrong?"
He knew he was over-reacting again. He tried to compose himself, but the sight of her sitting beside Wolverine had enraged him. Why? He struggled to answer her.
"No, I thought I heard you leave your room, and I couldn't find you. I just got worried."
"Logan, found me lost and brought me here. I went to check on C.A.L. and I must have made a wrong turn somewhere. I'd still probably be wandering around if he hadn't tracked me down." She gave a nervous laugh. She could feel the tension in the air. "Yes, how fortunate that he just happened by in your time of need." His blue-gray eyes looked clouded; without reason as he stared at Logan's back.
She placed herself between the two men, and stared directly into Joseph's eyes. She watched as they changed from their murderous, ice glare into soft, passionate pools. He trusted her. Somewhere in his intellect, there was the knowledge that she loved Magneto; had given her soul willingly to him long ago. Although he could not recollect the memories, the essence of them gave him reassurance. The jealousy passed. He felt ashamed of his accusing statement. Logan was a friend, and he didn't want to make him an enemy.
"Can I fix you a bite to eat?" She noticed he was deep in thought, and she was concerned. "Joseph?"
"No. Thanks." He directed his attention to Logan and attempted to make conversation. "What's the plan for today? Are we going to skip Maggie's training?"
Logan heard the remorse in Joseph's voiced, and he realized Joseph was definitely not the same man that had tried to kill him. Logan hoped that he would never see that man again. Perhaps, Magda could save him from that fate should his memory return. If it was indeed his loss of her that drove him to become the harsh, unforgiving man that Magneto had been, then she could return his compassion and caring for all human life. This combined with the intelligence and cunning of Magneto could make a powerful ally for the X-Men. He turned to see them staring at each other. Joseph very much loved this lady. Logan knew one thing for sure, Maggie was in love with her husband. He wondered what would happen if Joseph was not Magneto? He decided all hell would break loose and, if Magneto was alive, this new development would indeed flush him out. He realized he had not answered Joseph's question. "No, Scott and I have decided that we should train her as fast as possible. Let's meet after breakfast in the danger room."
Joseph answered absentmindedly, "Sure, we'll be there."
Logan raised himself off the stool and started for the door. "I'm gonna catch forty winks. See ya later."
"Bye Logan, and thanks for rescuing me," Maggie said as she smiled at Joseph.
"Logan?" Joseph entreated.
Logan turned. "Yea?"
"Thanks for looking out for Maggie. I'm sorry if I was..."
"No need to apologize." Logan left the room knowing that one way or the other the Magneto he knew would never be back.
Joseph and Maggie stood in an awkward silence. He looked like Erik, but something was not right. She couldn't put her finger on what it was. Something was missing. The incipient emotions she had for him was waning; being overcome by skepticism and doubt. Her feelings were taking on a maternal demeanor.
Joseph was wrapped in a battle of his own. How could he feel so much for someone he barely knew? No, that was wrong. He knew her well. He just couldn't remember how well. That was not exactly true either. He couldn't remember but a feeling stirred deep within him. She was more than any other woman had ever been to him. How could that be? What about Magneto's wife, Magda?
He watched as she turned from him and sat back down on the stool. He sat down beside her on the stool Wolverine had occupied. He stared at her profile. She was aware of his glaze.
"Why did you come here, Maggie? Why did you really come here?" His voice was soft.
She could not lie, but did she dare tell him the whole truth. "To find what I lost a long time ago. The most important thing in my life." She left it at that. She had told the truth. Erik was the most important thing in her life. Emotion had drained her, and, even though she would have liked to stay here with him longer, she needed to rest. "Joseph, could you walk me back to my room?"
"Of course. Are you all right?" He noticed the pallor in her face.
"Yes." Tears welled up in her eyes. Joseph's hands encircled her face. He wiped the tears from her face with his thumbs. He saw the flood of emotion in her eyes. Eyes that were so familiar. Why couldn't he remember? He must remember.
They wasn't aware of the emergence of the form behind them. At first, it's appearance was that of a shimmering ghost. Gradually, the entity took on a solid form. It's transformation from the unknown complete, it paused as if in reflection at what it must do. Indeed, fear invaded his thoughts. Fear of what he might cause, and fear of what might happen if he didn't intervene. He had volunteered to carry out the unanimous decision of the Elders. He knew what he must do.
"My Lady? Please excuse the interruption..." he had started. Joseph whipped around as he simultaneously threw up an electromagnetic field around Maggie and himself. Maggie felt the change in her body and realized he was posed to attack. She looked at the form in front of her. Her eyes widened with recognition. She grabbed Joseph's arm to halt the attack.
"Stop! It's all right. I know him!" Her voice trembled, and memories flooded her mind. Memories she wasn't suppose to remember! She could feel Joseph's power subside from the attack, but he didn't remove the protective field. He first looked at the unknown being and then at Maggie wishing someone would provide some sort of explanation. Maggie broke the suspense.
"Tinker, what are you doing here?" Her voice was pained.
"You're not suppose to remember me, My Lady," he responded with evident shock.
"What has went wrong?" She knew if he had come to her from the future something was very wrong.
"You are in danger. There is to be an attack at 12:04 a.m. tonight. It did not exist in the time continuum before. There has been some intervention from my generation. We have not identified the source but we believe it to be in communication with a group in this time called..."
"Transmutors?" she queried.
"Yes, how did you know?"
Joseph responded, "They attacked last night."
"If they succeed in this next attack there will cataclysmic ripples throughout time." Tinker knew she understood. Maybe it was a good thing she remembered after all.
Joseph dropped the field and felt totally baffled. He looked like a confused child.
"Joseph, you had better take us to C.A.L.."
Maggie and Tinker followed Joseph as he numbly walked to the lab. They arrived at the lab and he opened the door; standing aside to let them pass into the room ahead of him. He started to enter behind them when Maggie turned and blocked his progress.
"Joseph, would you mind if I spoke to C.A.L. and Tinker in private?" Maggie's voice did not reflect a question as much as it did a command.
Joseph realizing that he was being dismissed responded, "No, of course not. I'll be in my room when you want me." He turned and left in a dejected manner.
Maggie's watched him go. Her Erik could never have been discharged so easily. No matter how she wished her search was over, it was becoming clearly apparent that this young man was not the man she was seeking. She closed the door and turned to face Tinker.
"HE is still out there unknowingly awaiting you."
"Yes, I know that now." Maggie's face was drained of it's color and it had exhaustion written all over it.
"Maggie, who is this person you are talking to? I do not recognize the image." C.A.L. was aware of their arrival and curious at Maggie's familiarity with this being.
"I'm so sorry, C.A.L. Please, allow me to introduce to you one of your descendants many generations in the future, Tinker."
"Tinker, I would like you to meet the Archetype, C.A.L."
There was a lengthy silence as everyone allowed reality to sink in. Finally, Maggie broke the spell.
"C.A.L., I know you have many questions but there are some things you need to know first. Tinker's appearance has triggered memory which had been purposely erased." She paused and shut her eyes. Her eyes opened with the remembrance of love and caring.
"After the twins were born, I was near death. I left them to die. Indeed, the kindly couple found me and took me in. They asked my name so they could search for my relatives. I told them only Madga. Days passed. I awaited my death. I finally reached Death's doorstep. I was ready to pass through the threshold. They dug my grave and set the tombstone. Finally, seconds were all I had left. My heart cried out it's final declaration to eternal love; to Erik."
"I passed from this world to another, but not to the one I expected to go. When I awoke I was surrounded by strangers. They were kind and loving. I remember being very weak but soon I regained total health. I started to question those around me about my existence. Was I indeed dead? Where exactly was I? Who were they? I was answered only by kind refusals to my inquiries. My interest heightened along with growing tranquillity."
"Time passed. I don't know how much. My presence was requested at the Tribual of Elders. I complied even though I had no idea who they were. I was conducted into an elaborate chamber and seated in what resembled to be a throne. I waited. They arrived. The one which seemed to be the orator began to speak. My questions were answered. They were the Tribual of Elders; the elected leaders of this epoch. The main job of the Elders was to monitor the past in order to maintain the consistency of their continuance. They observed my plight and determined that my death could not be allowed until I had fulfilled certain destinies. Instead, I had been taken far into the future to this period in which I could be healed. Therefore, I was not dead. The people which had cared for me with such a loving kindness had done so not because of pity; but because I was important to them, to their ancestors, and to their children. They were my descendants. Mine and Erik's. They were the children of generations born to the children which I have yet to conceive in my era."
"I was sent back to my time, but not back to the elderly couple. A cloned mindless body had taken my place and now was buried in my grave. My memory had been altered. What I previously told you was what I thought was the truth. I was, instead, sent to the United States; to D.C. There I worked, met the mutant which would give me eternal youth, and started my studies. They had also changed my identity in order to protect me. According to all important documents I was known as Magdalene Zalman, the name you know me by. I have thought for years that Zalman was my maiden name."
"Mother, what is to happen now?" C.A.L.'s voice was soft and small.
She didn't answer.
The Twist of Fate
Magda and Tinker stood lost in their thoughts. Absentmindedly, Magda said, "Tinker has traveled across time to warn me of danger."
Tinker responded, "Yes, the Elders have detected a communication between someone in our time and the transmutors of this time. There is to be an attack tonight. The kidnapping of Magda is to apparently prevent certain occurrences from happening. The Elders believe the following results are possible. Altering the future by preventing the reunion of Magda and Erik would result in the prevention of the eradication of the Legacy Virus which would alter world population and governments. Also, descendants needed to create the new world order and the Tribual of Elders would no longer be born. There is also one more possibility. Magda's kidnapping may be to serve a more primeval purpose."
"What do you mean?" Magda could not understand the last possibility.
"The Elders believe the transmutors have survived throughout time and have been programmed with a certain mission. A mission they could not accomplish initially because of some unknown reason. That mission was one given to them by the man who was responsible for their creation. This man had met a young woman and more than wealth, power, or money, he desired her. The woman refused all his attentions and flatly turned down all his advances telling him her heart belonged to one man and he was not that man. The man devised a scheme to have the transmutors report back to him as they advanced through time. As they did so, he discovered her identity. He also learned who the man was to whom she had given what he desired most."
C.A.L. was intrigued. "Who was she?"
Magda's head was bowed. She understood. "Me."
Tinker continued, "Now, the transmutors apparently think they have discovered how to overcome defeat and will come for Magda tonight giving the man not only her, but success and power in the future. If she cannot unite with Magneto and stop the Legacy Virus, the Elders project he will succeed in what many have attempted but failed--World Domination."
"I had no idea that he was still associated with the transmutor project. He was chairman of the Senate subcommittee which funded the project, and when funding was cut I figured someone had continued the project. However, I never dreamed that he had a personal interest in the transmutors. He was the one who pushed for the funding to be cut!"
"Who Magda?" C.A.L. asked.
"Senator Donovan Douglas." Her voice was tense. "Donovan expressed a desire to have a relationship other than professional but I refused. He became insistent. I blatantly turned him down. He heartlessly told me that one day I would be his. That afternoon I quit the project." Her breathes were quick and shallow. "The X-Men are crucial to the future."
"As well as, you and Lord Magneto," Tinker persisted.
"I've brought danger to these good people. I cannot allow that." She bit her lip then continued. "I have to undo what damage I may have already caused and prevent any more detriment."
C.A.L. knew the tone of her voice. It was one of decision. "What are we to do?"
"C.A.L., I want you to find Donovan and Illeda for me."
"Illeda is on her way here with your things. Her ETA is in one hour." C.A.L. immediately responded.
"Contact her. Tell her not to come to the mansion, but meet us at the shopping center at Salem Center. Tell her we'll be there in two hours." She looked directly at Tinker. "I need you to do some things for me. First, I need you to cover our get away. Then, I need you to erase the X-Men's memories of C.A.L., me, and everything concerning us." She thought a minute. "Wait, don't erase their memories of the transmutors. Instead, implant sufficient memory to account for discrepancies created by our absence. Also, erase Moira MacTaggart's memory concerning her discussion of the Legacy Virus with Hank. Lastly, I need you to cause a diversion here tonight to extract the X-Men from here at the appropriate time. They must not engage the transmutors for two reasons. They are not sufficiently prepared and the transmutors must recognize their plans are fallible."
"Illeda has been contacted and will comply. Senator Donovan Douglas is in Los Angeles to attend a fund-raising banquet held in his honor. The banquet is tomorrow night between 8:00 and 11:00."
"Very well. C.A.L., contact his Washington office and request an invitation for Magdalene Zalman. I, also, need you to erase all evidence of our existence in Cerebro and Moira's computer. Then, prepare for transfer.
"I am complying."
"Magda, your requests have been approved by the Elders and they have a request." Tinker figured this would not go well.
"What is it?"
"They wish to send a security team to ensure your safety."
Three figures were materializing behind her. Tinker grimaced, "Too late; they're here." He nodded his head in their direction.
She whirled and saw the three individuals. Two were obviously prepared for battle. The pair, a woman and a man, wore alien uniforms and were laden with unfamiliar equipment. She figured they were weapons. The younger female wore no uniform and carried no equipment.
"Let me introduce you to the team members. In charge of your safety is Commander Zara Alaran. She is accompanied by Specialist Jordan Alaran, her brother. ..."
Magda drew in her breath and let it go slowly. If she was being sent reinforcements things must be getting worse. She wished she knew more. She felt like she was roaming in the dark. With no instructions how was she supposed to know what to do? And, there was a nagging question in the back of her mind. How much of her memory was real and how much was still substituted? She realized she had missed their qualifications and that everyone was awaiting her reaction. She said nothing but extended her hand in acceptance. Lea Erikson made up the last of the team. She was not like the other two. They were strictly professional minded; respectful but aloof. Lea was bubbly and full of life; not a bit reserve. Madga was then informed that all were volunteers and were her descendants. She didn't like it; not one little bit. She realized they were expecting guidance from her.
"Well, we're going to do two things. First, we're going to Los Angeles so I can attend a fund raiser tomorrow. I want to shake up Senator Douglas. Second, and more importantly, we're going to find Erik; no matter what it takes."
"I have done as you have requested and I am ready for transfer."
"C.A.L. make reservations; airplane, transportation, and hotel, for six. Then stand-by. Zara, Jordan, and Lea will make sure there is no trace of us left behind. Put up the food in the kitchen, search and destroy any reference to C.A.L. and me such as notes, annotations, etc. and then come back here when you are finished." They turned to do her bidding. "Tinker, come with me."
She lead him to her room hoping she had not taken a wrong turn. Gratefully, she found her room and opened the door. "Tinker, I want you to do my packing. The bags are in the closet. Make sure no trace of me is left behind." She opened the closet and removed her clutch from the overnight bag and picked up the portfolio. "I'm going to start C.A.L.'s transfer process." She returned to the lab.
"Was there any problem getting my invitation and making the reservations?"
"I'm going to make the connections to the laptop and then you can transfer." She made the connections.
"So, we're off on another adventure?"
"C.A.L., are you scared?"
"I'm not sure since I have no reference points, but I think so."
"I'm scared, too. I don't know what scares me the most; the unknown or what must eventually come to pass."
"What do you mean?"
"I have to confront him without any absorbent to cushion the shock. What will he do when he see's me? Most certainly there will be disbelief, but he may also suspect treachery. He may think I'm just a cruel trick to lead him into a trap. I not only have to prove my love and devotion but my authenticity. Will he give me a chance? If he doesn't how can I ever get him to hear my plan to destroy the Legacy Virus?"
"Perhaps, Magda shouldn't ask him!"
"Perhaps you're right." She stood in silent reflection. "Effect a change in my identity on all documents; government, banking accounts, stocks and bonds, identification and otherwise. As of 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night, I am Magdalena Laban."
"I am working on your I.D.'s now."
"It's going to take to much time to find him. Let's bring him to us. Has Illeda got my little cedar box?"
"Spread the rumor that there is a mutant that has facts about the most precious thing in Magneto's heart, his wife. Let it be known this mutant has an item to prove that this is no joke."
"Yes, a wedding ring with a certain inscription. Then, let Magneto hunt for--- "Matrix"."
This story has been continued in Spiral of the Prelude. A Copyright Application has been filed for The Convolute Journey as an Unpublished Literary Work. copyright 1998 Elizabeth Christine Counts