Bring Back What Once Was Mine
Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men
Pain and Anger
The weather was cold, dark and rainy as fourteen-year-old Erika Lensherr, a young German Jewish girl, walked alongside her mother and many of her people through the muddy paths and into what would most certainly be their doom—concentration camps. World War Two had taken its toll on her homeland. Resources and lives were lost, there was little food, and to make things worse, Adolf Hitler, a Nazi, had risen to power and assumed control, destroying the peaceful and happy life that Erika and her family had once known.
Erika's father, Jakob Lensherr, had been a highly decorated war veteran of World War One, and deeply loyal to his country and family. He and his family had done nothing wrong, but in Hitler's mind, that didn't matter. They were Jews, they were different. And those like them had to be punished and exterminated. The Lensherrs had been hunted down, just like the rest of the Jews. They had fled their home, and just when they thought they were safe, they were betrayed to the Nazis. It had resulted in the death of Erika's beloved father and her cherished little sister, Ruth, and the current situation of Erika and her mother.
Erika tried to quell the fear she felt inside of her as she gazed upon her fellow prisoners. They were working and fulfilling terrible tasks. They wore the same style of clothing, right down to the dark thread. Their hair was all cut quite short, they were skinnier than Erika and her mother, a series of numbers were tattooed their left arms, and there was nothing but a dull pain in their eyes, as if they had given up completely or were in agony.
Unable to bear the sight of it any longer, Erika turned her head away from the terrible things and looked at her mother. "I'm scared, Mama," she whispered.
Her mother, Anya Lensherr, took Erika's hand and gave her a soft smile. "Don't be frightened, kleine. All will be well soon enough. Keep faith."
Erika just nodded as she bit her lip and tried to stay calm. Perhaps her mother was right. Perhaps she just needed to keep faith and all would be well soon enough, just as she said.
As soon as Erika and Anya reached the gates, Erika was pried away from her mother. She was placed on the other side, just as Anya was taken away, along with many others. But to where they were being taken, Erika knew not. She only knew that she was losing the only family she had left in the world. Anya kept crying out for Erika and trying to reach her, but to no avail, as the soldiers were stronger than her.
"Mama!" cried Erika, unable to restrain her tears. "No! Mama!" She could not, no; she would not lose the only family she had left.
Without thinking, Erika ran for the gate. She tried to reach it, as she thrust out her hand, only to be held back by the soldiers. The more she fought to get free, the more pain and anger she felt, and then a strange new feeling overcame her. Power surged through her and then suddenly, the metal gate that was keeping her from her mother, started to bend.
Erika managed to get through the soldiers, and she was nearly there, but she was then suddenly kept down by three or four of them and then she was knocked out from a blow to the head by another soldier's gun.
Within moments, Erika soon awoke and found herself in a bunker.
It was cold, dimly lit and filthy. Rows upon rows of bunk beds were everywhere. They were all the same—narrow and uncomfortable. There were many other girls in the bunker with her of various ages, but they were all in the same state of being. They were either ill or hurt and they were all marked. And worse still, there was no sign of Erika's mother.
Mama, where are you?
Erika barely had a moment to take in recent events before the soldiers came for her and after she was cleaned up, tattooed and given a clean set of clothes, she was taken to the head of the camp. He was a thin man in a dark suit, light brown hair with a thick mustache, grey eyes, and glasses, and apparently he had very fine and expensive taste, judging by the state of his quarters.
He was sitting at his desk and he gave Erika a small smile when she came in, but it was the kind of smile that made you feel ill and scared inside. Erika immediately both feared and disliked him, though she showed neither expression on her face.
"Guten tag, young lady," he said. He beckoned to the only other chair in the room. "Do sit down."
Erika knew better than to disobey, so she did as he asked. She sat down in the seat across from his wooden desk. Remembering her manners, she smoothed out her faded grey and black skirt and sat as ladylike as she could.
"Good afternoon. I am Dr. Klaus Schmidt. What is your name, fraulein?"
"Erika Lensherr, Herr Doctor," said Erika, slowly, keeping her eyes on her hands in her lap and not upon him.
"A pretty name for a pretty young lady," said Schmidt, in a tone that sent a shiver down her spine.
Erika said nothing, but finally looked up at him when he asked her to.
"Understand this, Erika, these Nazis, I'm not like them," said Schmidt, as he started opening a bar of chocolate. "I believe that genes are the keys to the future, yes, but the Nazi's goals are pathetic. I mean, really, blond hair and blue eyes? Pathetic" He ate a piece of the chocolate bar, before pushing it towards her. "Would you care for some chocolate, Miss Erika? It's quite good."
Erika shook her head. She couldn't eat. She felt completely and utterly sick to her stomach as she was desperately worrying for and missing her mother. Perhaps, if her mother was still alive, she could persuade him to let Erika see her?
"Nein, danke, Herr Doctor," she said, softly. "Please, I just want to see my mother, Anya Lensherr. Please, sir."
Schmidt just took the chocolate bar away and licked his fingers before placing a coin on the desk. "As I said before, genes are the key that unlock the door to a new age, Miss Erika. A new future for mankind. Evolution. Do you know what I'm talking about?" When she shook her head, he continued. "It's a simple thing I ask of you. A little coin is nothing compared to a big metal gate, is it?"
Erika swallowed painfully, trying to ignore the fear she felt. She wasn't entirely surprised he was asking this of her, but she didn't even know how she'd done what she had to the gate. How could she do it again? But she had to try and so she did. She reached out and tried to move the coin the same way she'd bent the metal gate, but her efforts were fruitless. The coin remained where it was on the desk, much to Erika's dismay and Schmidt's disappointment.
"I'm sorry, Herr Doctor," she said, hanging her head. "I tried. It's impossible. I-I don't…I can't…" her voice wandered off. Perhaps she was mistaken in thinking she had any power. Perhaps the incident with the gate had been something else entirely.
But Schmidt seemed to take an entirely different approach on Erika's inability to replicate her previous actions.
"The one thing I can say for the Nazis is that their methods produce results," he said. "I'm sorry, Erika." He then rang a bell, causing her head to jerk up and then her mother was dragged in by two of the soldiers. Her mother was still alive!
"Mama!" cried Erika.
Her heart was pounding with relief and joy as she leapt out of her chair and ran into her mother's arms. The two women were crying as they held each other close, but then Erika was pried away from Anya once again. Anya was held by the two soldiers while Erika stood by Schmidt's desk.
"Here's what we're going to do," said Schmidt, as he pulled a gun out of his desk drawer. "I'm going to count to three, and you're going to move the coin. If you don't move the coin, I'll pull the trigger on your mother, understand?"
Erika felt scared once again as she shared a quick glance with her mother before she tried to move the coin and Schmidt started counting. She had to make the coin move, for her mother's life, she had to! But the coin would not move.
"Mama, I love you," said Erika, as she looked at her mother once again. "I'm trying."
But there was no fear on Anya's face, only faith and love, just like always. "I love you too," she said. "You can do it."
Erika kept trying and trying. She concentrated as hard as she could, but for all her trouble, she couldn't make the coin move.
Anya was released by the soldiers, who stepped back. "Everything will be all right," she said. "Keep faith, my darling."
Erika's eyes filled with tears, as she tried yet again, but to no avail. The coin remained on the desk.
"Three," said Schmidt. Then his gun went off and there was a thud.
Without even turning around, Erika knew her mother was dead. Schmidt had killed her, because she could not move the coin. Grief overwhelmed her, but even stronger than her grief, was her anger. Fury and rage for those who had taken away her life and loved ones, threatened to consume her as she felt a strong surge of power.
Without thinking twice, Erika started screaming and lashing out. Everything that was metal that she sensed or saw, obeyed her will. The bell on Shaw's desk flattened, the metal chest of files twisted like dough, the metal tools and tables in Schmidt's medical lab either flew around the room or became nothing. A metal bar even flew from the lab and whacked Schmidt hard on the head, but Erika took no notice of this.
Instead, being weary from lack of sleep and food, and being overwhelmed with anger and grief for her mother's death, Erika collapsed to her knees before crying into her mother's body, which she clutched to her chest, unable to let her mother go.
"I failed you, Mama, forgive me," she sobbed. If she had just been stronger, her mother would still be alive. It was all her fault. Or, no, it wasn't. It was Schmidt's fault. He'd done this. He was to blame for the unnecessary tragedy. He and the rest of his kind had done this because of her weakness.
Erika looked up when Schmidt placed a hand on her shoulder. Surprisingly, he bore no mark from the blow Erika had dealt him. In fact, he looked quite pleased at Erika's accomplishments, which made her hatred for him increase.
"Because of your outstanding work, I'll allow your mother to have a decent burial," he said, as he placed the accursed coin in her hand. "Now I know how to unlock your gift—anger and pain." He smiled. "I've a little secret to share with you, Erika. I am like you. I have a gift. Just imagine what we'll achieve with our abilities combined."
Erika said nothing as she turned away from him, trying not to think of what he meant and instead, imagining herself free of Schmidt and being somewhere safe. The next few months would be eventful, but no less difficult, of that much she was certain. She would be become more powerful and one day, she'd be the strongest there ever was. At that moment, she felt more afraid and angry than ever.