Part 7: Welcome to the Revolution
Magneto seldom thought of himself as Erik Lehnsherr anymore. It was a human name, one given by a human father, celebrating the heritage of his human ancestors. He was not human, though. His name was Magneto, a mutant name that described him, not his lineage.
Looking around at the people gathered around him, he thought of them by their mutant names as well. There was Mystique, of course, his most loyal and most valuable follower. A shape-shifter by nature, she could impersonate anyone. She was the perfect spy, the perfect infiltrator, and an excellent martial artist as well. He wouldn't trade her for anything.
The young Pyro was nowhere near as experienced as Mystique, but he made up for that with sheer youthful enthusiasm. He had joined Magneto's side after the Striker affair and hadn't wavered since. Once he had only been able to strengthen and manipulate flames that were already there. Now he could start them, too.
Then there were the new arrivals. Of the many mutants who had joined him over the past few weeks, only a few were actually useful. Ages ago Magneto and his then-friend Charles Xavier had created a measuring system for mutant powers which they both still used today, even though they were on opposite sides now.
Delta-class mutants were those whose mutation was strictly cosmetic. Strange skin colours, maybe fur or scales, nothing more than skin-deep. These mutants were all but useless, only outward appearances separating them from the humans.
Gamma-class mutants had some form of physical mutation that made them stronger. Enhanced strength, toughness, better eyesight, things like these. These mutants were slightly better than humans and useful under certain circumstances.
Beta-class mutants had actual powers. Still mostly physical in nature, those were the ones who could lift tons, could run as fast as a car, or hear ants scuttle over the ground a block away. Actual powers, yes, but still just enhancements of basic human abilities.
Alpha-class mutants had something humans didn't have. The ability to manipulate the weather, to change shape, to shoot force beams from the eyes, to read thoughts, or control magnetic forces. Magneto himself was an alpha-class mutant, as was Charles, as were most of Charles' X-Men. These were the mutants most useful to the cause.
There was one additional class of mutants Magneto and Charles had created, one that only contained a single individual so far. To Magneto's knowledge there was but one Omega-class mutant in the world. Or rather, there had been. Sadly Jean Grey had died before she had ever achieved her true potential. Back in the day he had agreed with Charles to limit her powers, but today he regretted a missed opportunity.
Chasing those thoughts away, he considered his current inner circle. All of them were at least beta-class mutants. There was Callisto, once the leader of the mutant cell in New Jersey. She was a natural hunter, strong, fast, her senses enhanced, and possessing an almost superhuman tactical ability. She had quickly set herself up as the drill sergeant and field leader of what was becoming his army and she was perfect for the job.
The Blob (not the best mutant name he'd ever heard, but it fit) was a mountain of fat and muscle. His strength was incredible, but even more impressive was his immovability. Even mutants whose strength should have allowed them to lift even his gargantuan weight found it impossible to move him once he had himself set. Magneto suspected he unconsciously manipulated gravity to make himself heavier. If he could be made to harness that ability consciously he would be an even greater asset.
Avalance was a mutant who could cause vibrations in the ground, basically creating localised earthquakes. He was still learning to harness that power to its full potential, but even now he was quite adept at taking enemies off their feet.
Finally there was Caliban. At first glance he had seemed a mere delta-class mutant, his physical appearance quite inhuman and unsettling, but he had another, much more valuable ability. Caliban was a mutant blood hound. He could locate other mutants over vast distances and measure their strength. He had helped find more than half of the beta- and alpha-class mutants in Magneto's growing army. Though he was intellectually limited, Magneto had found his insights into mutant powers and abilities to be quite valuable as well.
"Two days from now the two presidential candidates will hold their debate," Mystique said. "Security is extensive, but nothing we can't handle."
"Good," Magneto said. "The debate will be televised nationwide."
"What are your plans?" Callisto asked. "Are we going to kill Creed?"
Magneto looked at her. In the few days he had known her, he had come to realise that Callisto was in some ways more animal than anything else. She was a lioness, a wolf, and she protected those she considered pack with a ferocity that was downright scary. She considered mutants her pack and Creed was the enemy.
"Killing Creed is an option, yes," he said after a moment's consideration, "but not our first one."
"Why not?" Blob asked. "The guy's gonna put us into camps. We should do him in!"
"I would like to avoid making a martyr out of him," Magneto replied. "If mutants kill an anti-mutant candidate for the presidency, more people will flock to his message. And though each and every single one of us is worth more than a hundred of the humans, they still outnumber us severely. I do not intent to unite them against us before we are ready."
"What then?" Pyro inquired. "We just gonna sit in the audience and watch as he badmouths us?"
"Quite the contrary. Our two candidates for the presidency will discuss the mutant topic extensively during their debate, I am sure. They will discuss it the way one discusses a disease, something distant, something that can't touch them."
Magneto balled his fist. "Creed fears us as an abstract concept. We will teach him to fear us in earnest. We will teach him that, even if he were to become president, he will not be untouchable. That we will be able to reach him everywhere, at every time. He will learn that, should he become president, his life is mine for the taking should he do anything to harm my people."
There was a moment of silence until the Blob interrupted it. "I don't get it."
"There are a hundred more like Creed out there, waiting to take his place, Fred," Callisto explained to him. "Magneto wants him to become president. A president shaking in his boots at the mere thought of doing anything to upset the mutants that could storm his White House whenever they feel like."
A smile bloomed on Blob's face. "We're gonna turn him into a scaredy cat!"
"Nicely put," Magneto said. "Yes, Creed will live unless there is no other alternative but to kill him. We will put the fear of... well, not god, obviously, but the next best thing... into him."
"What about Duke and his people?" Avalanche asked. "From what I've seen he isn't exactly one of your fans, Magneto."
Shaking his head, Magneto sighed. "Duke is an honourable man, I believe. His trust in human nature is a weakness, but he should not pay for that. Unless he gets into our way, we will do nothing to harm him or his people."
They talked some more about details before everything was set. Magneto left to prepare himself for what would no doubt be a strenuous day. He was one of the world's most powerful mutants, but he was also over seventy years old. He wasn't as spry as he used to be and needed his rest.
When Mystique and Pyro also left, Callisto addressed the others.
"We will follow his lead," she told them. "But should he falter... should his plan fail... should he allow Creed to live..."
Blob punched his fist into the palm of his other hand. "We'll squash both of'em."
TO BE CONTINUED