Disclaimer: This is the first story in a series I have subtitled "MDR" (Marvel Done Right). The series will mostly use canon characters with a new spin, though a few originals will appear. Marvel Comics owns the copyrights, and special thanks to the Cody, Monster of Cookies.
The world came into focus all wrong. Color did not seem to exist, while light levels were merely a footnote. There was ... a crosshair. No, two crosshairs. They seemed to float in the air, distantly in line with his forearms. Informational text also floated in the air.
Central Processor, 100
Guidance System, 100
Plasma Generators, 100
Adaptive Defense Field, 100
Glasses. He must have been wearing glasses. His hands came up immediately to ... no. Nothing was on his face. That could not be. The air suddenly felt heavy.
"He's coming to," said a voice from just out of his field of vision.
Someone stepped in front of him. He was an older man, perhaps in his sixties. New text identified him as Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto. In parentheses was a familiar word: electromagnetism.
"Welcome to Avalon, friend. How do you feel?"
"That will pass," Erik informed him. The elderly man approached the side of what was apparently a hospital bed. "Do you remember your name?"
"Reynar Arkin. Ryan." Had Erik called the place Avalon? "Am I dead?"
Erik kindly smiled. "No. You are still quite alive, thanks to the Brotherhood."
If the name 'Magneto' had not rung any warning bells in the back Ryan's head, the word 'Brotherhood' did. "The terrorists."
"Such a harsh word." As the dizziness started to fade, Ryan was able to pick up on Erik's European accent. He sounded cultured and intelligent, not at all the hateful man the Media portrayed. "The truth is, young Ryan, that the Brotherhood of Mutants is simply a name for my kind. Ordinary humans who have been born with extraordinary Gifts. We are the future of mankind, and for that they fear us."
Erik sounded reasonable, but Ryan was no naïve enough to be swayed by a short speech. "What do you want with me?" That was when Ryan noticed his own voice. He sounded odd, almost mechanical. There was something odder going on than the fact that his vision looked like a scene from the Terminator movie.
"It isn't what I want," Erik explained. "The same people who fear the Brotherhood have taken away your humanity to turn you into a weapon. They probably disguised the procedure in the form of a routine checkup or a vaccination."
Ryan shook his head. That could not be. "I would remember being knocked out and having my innards repl ... Bastion."
The kind, elderly man's suddenly flashed in anger. For a moment, Ryan thought Erik would destroy Ryan and the entire room. Then the moment passed. "We have suspected he was the true enemy for a long time. Tell me, child, how do you know Bastion?"
"It was two years ago," Ryan recalled. His sophomore year of high school had been an emotional year, starting with his first pair of glasses. "He told me that if he implanted a prosthetic lens, I would have good enough vision to join the Air Force. I was unconscious for the entire procedure."
Erik glanced at someone else in the room, then turned his attention back to Ryan. "Bastion turned you into a hybrid of man and machine called a 'Prime Sentinel.' You are fortunate that I was the first Mutant you encountered. With my Mutant Gifts, I was able to prevent the Sentinel from over-writing your mind.
"Rest easy, child. For as long as you require, you are welcome to remain on Avalon. I built this island to serve as a safe haven for those that the world would cast out. Now, it is your home as well. If you'll excuse me, Toad will see to your needs." Erik left the room with a sweep of majesty that ended with a snap of his cape.
Toad was a green-skinned human who liked to crouch. The text named him Mortimer Toynbee. "You're the second Prime Sentinel we 'ave," Toad said in a cockney accent. "The Sentin'l CPU responds to thought commands, it does. Until you get used to thinkin' to the computer chip in your brain, it helps to say the commands out loud. T' switch off the CPU, jus' say 'Sentinel: Standby.'"
"Sentinel: Standby." The moment Ryan said the words, the room reverted to normal hues. He was seeing the world with human eyes. For the first time, Ryan noticed the room was made entirely of polished chrome. It was a strange sight. "Thank you." His voice was his again. Ryan would have leapt for joy, but it was all he could do to sit up.
Toad did a regular checkup and took note of Ryan's systems data. The 98 integrity was, Toad explained, because the CPU had lost the capacity for mind control. Ryan's damaged auto-repair system would still let him recover from any light wound, but it was incapable of fixing any damage to his nervous system. In other words, he would heal faster than an ordinary person – though he would not be able to recover from a wound that would kill or cripple a human.
The Adaptive Defense Field worked something like the Borg shield in Star Trek. Ryan only had to be exposed to a Gift once to become immune to it – if the gift did not kill him.
His other system, the Plasma Generators, powered an offensive beam weapon. The floating crosshairs meant he would have incredible accuracy, once he learned how to use them.
"Can the Plasma Generators doing anything else?" Ryan had to ask. He wanted to be more than just a living weapon. Sure, he had been about to become a fighter pilot. There was a lot for pilots to enjoy beyond combat, such as flying. That was why he had applied to the Academy in the first place.
"Some Prime Sentin'ls can fly," Toad mused. "The Plasma Generators might be the part that makes it possible, but I'm the wrong bloke to ask." He paused, unsure what to tell him. "I suggest you speak to Ginny Mahoney. You can find her with your Guidance System. Jus' say, 'Sentinel: Power On.' When the Guidance System is active, locate Sentinel Unit #1301."
The steel castle's outer wall served as a walkway for the occupants' enjoyment. Few scattered towers were stairwells, rather than defensive turrets. On one side of the wall was the Atlantic Ocean. On the other side was a bailey that appeared to be a wooded village, the suburbs of Avalon.
Ginny was a leggy brunette who loved the sunset. The orange light glistened off her skin as she leaned over the railing, as attractive as she found the view. Waves crashed against the wall with a sound that was muted by Avalon's unnatural architecture.
"So you are #1301," Ryan said, allowing his eyes to wander. When she turned, he was sure to make eye contact. "I'm Ryan."
"Number 1327." At Ryan's raised brow, she added, "I learned how to bypass the CPU and directly access my Gifts. Over time, you will, too."
"That's not it." Ryan's attention wandered to the sunset as he tried to put his thoughts into words. "It's just strange to have my identity boiled down to a number." As he spoke, he remembered that the Government had done the same thing. At least a Social Security Number was longer than four digits. Not that it mattered. Bastion worked for the same Government, and he had effectively stolen Ryan's life. The United States would never again be his home. He could never trust a place that betrayed him to such an extent.
"I know how you feel." Ginny propped herself up on the railing and gave him a wistful smile. Her eyes revealed a story that was even more painful than Ryan's. She kept that story to herself, for the time being. "Ms. Voght is our resident therapist, if you need someone to talk to. It is ironic that Mutants like her understand what we went through better than most humans."
Ryan wanted to ask Ginny to explain, but his only reason was to maintain the conversation. The truth was that he would rather not think about the past – or the future, for that matter. "Would you like to go for a walk?" he asked, instead. Before she could answer, he added, "I need the company."
She studied his face before she answered, even though she had already decided. His emotions interested her. Curiosity, and maybe something else, filled Ginny as she hopped off the rail. "Of course," she said, only compassion in her voice.
Ryan turned away and started to walk along the castle wall. Every fiber of his being was focused on the moment. He desperately needed to forget everything, and the presence of a pretty woman was a big help. So long as he did not look at or speak with her. He took comfort in her company, up until they came full circle and reached the spot they had met. Ginny excused herself and left; she must have finally lost patience with the kid who was too numb to speak.
Everything he had learned up until that moment told Ryan that the pain would never go away. He was always going to hate Bastion, and he was always going to hate the country of his birth. Ryan scoffed; it was almost as if he wanted the hate to just go away. Regardless, the world continued to turn. He just had to figure out how he was going to live with that.