“You needn’t worry about those unsophisticated implements,” Magneto gestured towards my tools.
“What, these?” I held up my laser torch and hydrospanner. “How else am I going to build our rocket?”
“I am Magneto. Mine is the power of magnetism.” The mutant clenched his fists and waves of magnetic energy radiated out across the piles of rocket parts. Metal creaked as the pieces shifted and lifted into the air.
With a whirl and a twirl, Magneto guided the pieces together with incredible precision. Like a 2 ton puzzle noisily coming together, each rocket part fit into its space then was in turn covered by another piece of metal or wiring until a fully assembled rocket capsule stood in front of us.
“Wow,” I whistled. “It’s all metal though, we’ll burn up on reentry for sure.”
“I will see to it that we do not, Human Jan. For luminous beings are we, not some crude matter like you see before you.”
Where have I heard that one before? “OK, but how are we going to get up to the space station?”
“I shall be your propulsion,” he announced regally. “Get in.”
We both climbed in and I strapped myself into a seat. Magneto stood with his arms outstretched and concentrated. Not surprisingly, the craft lifted free of the ground and flew into the skies above Ice Station Zebra.
“Impressive,” I whistled again. “Are you sure you can keep this up all the way to the space station?”
“Do not worry about me, little child,” Magneto cooed. “This endeavor will not tax my powers.”
“Watch it with the ‘little child’ bit, buster,” I stuck my finger near him. “I didn’t pick you for a partner and I don’t need to hear your condescending tone on this race.”
“Aha you have spirit!” Magneto’s eyes lit up. “You may not be Homo Superior, but I can feel the latent greatness within you. You truly are much more than meets the eye, Human Jan. And I apologize for my tone, that clearly was not my intent.”
“OK,” I nodded. OK now what? “So uh, can I get you anything? Drink of water? Somtehing to eat? I have a protein bar in my cargo pocket here.”
“No thank you, I am quite fine as I am,” he replied. “Tell me, what brings you to this race?”
“The money,” I shrugged. “Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound very principled but I’m an Intergalactic Aviator and money’s tight. It’s a tough gig out there flying the space lanes, hauling cargo, taking jobs as they come. One time my so-called partner was trying to stick it to me so I wound up dumping him out in an escape pod. Nice idea right? Well except when you don’t make your payday and you’re out one escape pod.”
“Truly your endeavors are the makings of a great story,” he replied. I couldn’t quite tell if he was being condescending now or not. “Mine is a nobler goal: to win this race and lead mutants to victory against the human oppressors. To throw down the shackles of tyranny and bring about an era of peace for all mutantkind.”
“Yeah, without humans, right?” I snorted.
“Many will be spared,” he replied. “You for instance, I would take as my consort. Your life would be one of luxury but you would never taste freedom like you do now. Such is the tragic irony of my benevolent rule.”
“Your consort? Don’t even--!” I spat. “Wait, I thought you didn’t like women.”
“Of course I like women,” he responded. “I am a Homo Superior, not a homosexual.”
“Yeah but your pink helmet and cape,” I replied. “It’s like you came right out of a gay bar on Gay Planet.”
“What this?” he scowled. “My helmet is not pink. Say no more of this nonsense; I thought you were above such paltry, ill-humored observations. Bother me no more as I must concentrate as we approach the space station.”
I slumped back into my seat and crossed my arms. This guy’s getting on my nerves to no end. And yet, I feel this attraction to him. Maybe I’m made out of metal. Ha ha, Jan, good one.
We made it to the station in silence but once inside we huddled together to decide which challenge to take.
“I don’t know who’s out there,” I said looking out to the alien craft looming near. “But I know a lot of alien species. Maybe we could speak with them and be diplomatic. They may understand what’s happened to their ship.”
“No, Human Jan,” Magneto replied. “The bigger threat to this world is from that Symbiote clinging to the side of this craft. Our mission must be to capture and quarantine this creature.”
“Yes but we’re going to have to merge with it according to what the Professor said,” I replied. “If this creature is so dangerous, it would be foolish for us to go after it.”
“The Professor said?” the mutant answered with a chuckle. “Young woman, I am the greatest mutant that has walked this Earth or any other. I have been destroyed time and again only to rise up again more powerful than before. I command the very forces that hold this universe together and I will not succumb to the whim of some half-sentient puddle of matter.”
Magneto launched himself out of the airlock without even putting on his space suit. I sealed the helmet on my own suit and quickly dove after him. I could just barely see the outline of a bubble surrounding him, keeping him alive within his own miniature atmosphere. He floated with arms outstretched towards the alien creature then landed gently on the side of the space station, his magnetic powers held him tight to the surface. With a flourish of his cape, he stretched his hand out towards it, beckoning.
“Come to me,” he whispered. “We shall be as one.”
Using the jetpacks on my suit, I maneuvered my way next to Magneto, then activated my gravity boots to stick to the surface with a clang. The creature congealed and slid forward towards us slightly. Inky tendrils reached out as if probing us with some unseen sense.
“Come,” Magneto repeated sternly but invitingly.
The thing stretched towards him, then hesitated for just a moment. With unbelievable speed, the darkness leapt at me instead. Coating me, covering me, speaking to me.
“Oh my God,” I said in awe as I felt it all around me. I grabbed my chest. “I have breasts. I’ve never had them like this before.”
“No!” my mutant teammate shouted in protest. “You were not supposed to merge with her, you were to merge with me!”
“We do not like you,” we replied. “Our kind feeds on passion, on desire. You are all boastfulness and arrogance. She, on the other hand, has got moxie. We like moxie.”
“You’ll not have me, then you shall pay,” Magneto growled through his teeth. He stretched his arms towards us and I could feel the very iron in our blood shift and move, scattering in different directions. We will not let him do this to us.
“We will not let you do this,” we announce as our tendrils shot out and covered his face. I could feel them pushing deep into his throat as the mutant gasped for air. “Now perhaps you feel the power that we possess.”
He gurgled and gasped and finally sputtered into silence. We knew that this creature was not dead – not yet – so we carefully enveloped him and took him back into the space station.
“We should destroy you all!” we growled as the technicians aimed their stun weapons at us. They hurt. They hurt us but we would not be stopped. We hurled Magneto’s lifeless body at them. They dove for cover, but his body crashed into them and sent all hurling towards the control panels. Not feeling satisfied, we picked it up again and carried it to the reactor core of the space station. With our tendrils, we opened the reactor and prepared to hurl Magneto into it.
“No…” he mumbled weakly.
“Oh yes,” we hissed back. We tossed him into the reactor core and slammed the containment door closed in satisfaction.
“Our enemy is gone, we are pleased,” we said.
Wait, not we. It. It was pleased that we were causing this destruction. This creature was causing this, but this isn’t what I want. I had to stop this.
No! I felt it call out to me. We are as one and we are powerful. Do not end this!
“Sorry, Charlie,” I said back as I pulled it off my face. Ah air. Nice fresh, space station air. “One of us has to go and it won’t be me.”
The creature did not give up easily. It promised me power and strength. It offered me the chance to live forever with it as one. It flat out refused to let go of its hold on me.
“This is gonna hurt you more than it’s gonna hurt me,” I growled as I picked up a sonic weapon and aimed it at my chest. The creature screamed and slid off me, melting away from the pain. I seized the opportunity and grabbed the creature, scooping its semisolid form into my arms. It writhed and attempted to get away from me, but it couldn’t in its weakened state. I opened the containment door and threw the creature in. I slammed the door shut, feeling a little smug satisfaction at stopping the thing and slapped my hands together in a job well done.
I then turned around and saw Professor Xavier sitting in his chair staring at me.
“Jan, can I ask you where the Symbiote is?” he asked.
“In there,” I pointed back at the reactor with my thumb. “That thing tried to take me over and kill Magneto so I had to kill it myself.”
“Of course,” he answered slowly and carefully. “And where is Magneto?”
“Uh… he’s in there,” I pointed into the reactor again. “Do you think he’s all right?”
Professor Xavier didn’t respond. He just grabbed the side of his face and slowly shook his head.