by Alara Rogers
Very few stories I read about this character going bad seem to actually be true to who the character is, and *how* he would go bad.
I am not completely sure where this evil little thing came from, except to say that Chris Campbell had a very similar idea, and when my exploration of this character made me wonder why he hadn't done this, I remembered Chris' story idea and thought this would be appropriately evil. :-) Also ripped off "Aubade for Gamelon", a novel by John Willett.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
It has been 20 years since my last confession. In that time, I have murdered three thousand, two hundred and seventy-four people, most of whom were innocents.
I did it because it had to be done, Father. Because someone had to take on the burden, and by the time anyone else realized it, it would be too late.
It haunts my every moment. My dreams are full of their screams, their pleas "why?" When I can be, I am merciful, and take them before they even know they are being murdered; but some of them are too strong for me, and live through the first strike. And then I need to explain to them, to tell them why.
It doesn't comfort them. I'm sure it wouldn't comfort me. But I need for some of them to know why. To know they are dying to save humanity, not because they've been randomly targeted by a heartless killer.
I don't think I've taken on the prerogative of God. Maybe I have. God gave me the power to do what must be done, and the ability to see what was needed. I have to think I'm doing God's will.
I think that in the end, even evil does God's will. I know my soul is damned for what I do, but it *must* be done.
Yes, I'll tell you why.
Many years ago-- twenty-five or thereabouts-- I was young and na´ve, traveling the world to see its wonders. And I met a man who was evil.
You see, I'm a telepath. I can read minds, and influence them, and kill with a thought. At that time, I never had; I would have considered it horrible, reprehensible. I still do, but of course, back then I thought I was a good man.
I met this other telepath in cairo. He was ruler of the underworld, a killer, rapist and enslaver. He controlled people to do his bidding. And when I would not join him, he tried to kill me. He failed.
That was the first.
I next traveled to Israel, where I met another man with powers. This man wasn't a telepath; he controlled magnetism. He was a Holocaust survivor, who had seen terrible, terrible things in his life, had been forced to *do* terrible things, and now he was trying to be a good man, trying to atone. He worked as a humble orderly in a hospital for mental patients traumatized by the Holocaust. He emptied bedpans, wiped bodily fluids from people's nether regions, washed hair, dressed bedsores; it was filthy work, but for him, a way back to sanity.
We used to debate. He thought that if people with powers-- "mutants"-- were to surface in the world, humanity would be terrified of their differences, and kill them. I believed, naively, that mutants could be trained to work for humanity's benefit, and then they could live in peace with humans.
Stop, Father, please. Listen to my story. I know what you're thinking, but I need you to hear my confession. Don't run.
After some time together, my friend and I parted company. I found him again, five years later. He had suffered a tragic loss-- the death of a good friend, a woman who might have become more than a friend to him, had they had time. And she was murdered because he had agreed to work for the government, tracking down Nazi war criminals, and he did his job too well. So he had become insane with rage. He had become completely corrupted by his powers, you see, and he told me-- he told me the only solution was for mutantkind to conquer humanity, hold it in an iron fist, perhaps even wipe it out, because we were the rightful next stage of evolution and we deserved to take control.
My friend had been a good man, who selflessly tended the sick, and now he'd fallen to this.
You see, I'd done a lot of thinking myself, about the problem. What do people do when they have an ability no one else has? What would most people do with telepathy? I knew it was a constant struggle in my own life to use my powers ethically, and really, *is* there any ethical use of telepathy? I healed a woman's catatonia, but to do it I tore her mind open, learned every little secret she would rather have died than reveal, and then ended up having sex with her. Did I imprint her, unconsciously, with the desire to sleep with me, because I found her beautiful? I don't know. I'll never know.
My friend was obsessed with how mutants could protect themselves from humanity. I was more concerned with how humanity could protect themselves from *us.* None of the Shadow King's victims had had any defense against him, when he could enter their minds and twist them at will. Gabrielle had no defense against me. And my friend confessed to me, while he was ranting, that once in a rage he had murdered an entire city street full of people, because none of them would help him save his daughter from burning. None of them had had defense against *that.* Who could?
Yes, Father, I know that some mutants can be killed by bullets, that mutants can bleed just like humans. I even know you yourself were almost killed by a mob before a young man with super-speed intervened. And I know that he was so bitter and enraged at how a mob had killed his sister and nearly him that he killed most of the men trying to kill you. The experience *you* saw as a sign from God that you were worth saving, that you should go into the priesthood, *they* saw as the last moments of their lives. Have you considered that, Father?
Of course they were trying to kill you. They were defending their children. They thought you'd murdered a small child. And really, if you had, what could any of them have done about it? The only reason you couldn't teleport away is that they'd already surrounded you too densely by the time you realized your danger. Had you been guilty, and thus prepared for attack, you'd never have *been* in any danger.
That's the thing. Our kind can commit crimes with impunity. We can call lightning down, or murder and then run to freedom with super-speed, or steal and then teleport away, or walk into minds and alter them. Ordinary humans can defend themselves against each other-- no one is so big, or so smart, that there is no realistic defense possible. But our kind changes the rules.
And we're *not* any more advanced. Maybe after humanity advances to the next stage in *emotional* evolution, in philosophical evolution, we'll be ready for these powers. But we're still primitives full of evil thoughts who do things for personal gain, misusing whatever abilities we might have.
Very well then, some of us don't, but we have the potential to. All of us. Even those of us who think we are good, are not, not at our core. The potential for evil is only a step away, and all of us have much more ability to achieve it on a grand scale than anyone else.
This is what I saw when I saw my friend's madness. I'd already thought about the issue, long and hard. And as soon as I realized that he planned to go to war on humanity, to pre-empt the attack *he* thought they would make on mutants by conquering them first, I knew what I had to do. My heart went cold; I begged God, silently, to show me another way. But He did not. As Magnus ranted and explained his plans, I realized that this *was* the only way. I played along with him, and agreed with his theories, and gathered my energies, and when I was ready I struck.
The first strike didn't kill him. He lay on the ground, paralyzed, a weak force field between him and me so I could not hit him physically, though what good he thought it would do him I don't know. He was the first one to ask me "Why?"
"I'm sorry, Magnus," I whispered to my old friend, once my best friend. "You're right-- we can't peacefully co-exist with them. It was naive of me to hope we could. Because they're weak, and venal, and will try to scapegoat others for personal gain, and they're full of hate and they destroy what's different... and *we* are no different from them. But we have far more power to see the evil within us come to fruition.
"I see us consuming the world in a Holocaust that makes the one you suffered through look tame by comparison. I hear your plans to murder innocents to save people with superpowers, and I wonder, if my good friend Magnus could fall this far from the corruption of power, what of men who were bad men in the first place? How can humanity possibly protect itself from people like you, and me?
"We are as human as they are, and no more deserving than they are. If we are the ones that live, we'll tear each other and the planet apart with our powers. If they're the ones that live, maybe they won't destroy each other completely, right away. Maybe they'll have time to evolve mentally and emotionally, as well as in terms of power, so that they can live in harmony with each other. But they'll never get that time if we take control first. We're no more advanced than they are but every one of us has an atom bomb in his personal possession-- how long before we wipe out everything there is?
"I do this as much for your sake as humanity's, Magnus. I know, if your powers hadn't driven you mad, you wouldn't want to be responsible for a second Holocaust. I know this is the only way to save your soul, to end your life before you can do the horrible things you intend.
And I killed him.
Since then I have hunted mutants all over the world. I've found that there's a specific telepathic signature that mutants give off, which I can identify from a distance. I've even built devices to help me hone in on it, to identify my victims more easily. It's a long, long task. More mutants are born every day. Sometimes I can identify them in the womb and simply abort them; that's the best way. Better that they die when only their parents will mourn them than that they grow up and make friends who'll suffer at their deaths. But most of the time I have to kill them after their powers have manifested, in their teens or in adulthood if I didn't get to them for long enough. There are some that I miss for quite some time.
There's no use trying to teleport, Father Wagner. I've suppressed your powers and your control over your voluntary muscles. I don't expect you to give me penance, nor do I expect it would do any good. No amount of penance could ever save my soul from damnation, after what I've done and what I will do. But I needed to tell you.
When I was young, I always believed priests had the ear of God, that whatever you spoke to them, God would hear more clearly than if you simply prayed alone. I've prayed to God asking Him to take this burden from me, to make me colder and harder so I can bear it more easily, to kill me so I don't have to do it anymore. He doesn't seem to hear, or perhaps, just doesn't intend to do any of those things. Perhaps it's only right that if this needs to be done, it should be done by someone who will suffer for doing it. That's the only bright spot I have left on my soul, the fact that I hate what I'm doing. I know it won't be enough to save me from damnation, but I just want to make sure God knows. If there is a God. I'm not entirely clear on that anymore, either.
When I'm finally done with my work, when there's no more mutants left alive on Earth, then I can finally end my own life. I know suicide is a mortal sin too, but after so many deaths on my conscience it would be wrong to be a hypocrite about my own. Actually, maybe what I'll do is turn myself in to the authorities. If there's any justice, they'll hang me or put me in front of a firing squad or in the electric chair. And then I can finally rest, if Hell can be called rest. Then I can finally stop. I know it's not much comfort to you to know that I will be my last victim, once my work is done. But I never wanted to be evil. I still don't. It's just that someone has to do it; someone has to kill the innocents, to save the rest of them. Mutants would destroy the world if we were allowed to proliferate and breed. I have to. I'm sorry.
Father, forgive me for what I must do.
No, I didn't expect you could. And I don't really expect that He will, either. But thank you for asking Him to.
Father Kurt Wagner was found in the confessional, having suffered a fatal stroke. His parish was stunned, and greatly grieved-- Father Wagner was a young man, full of passion for God and compassion for people, and despite his unusual appearance the members of his church had nothing but praise for him.
It was assumed that his mutancy might have contributed to his premature death-- stroke was a common early killer in mutants, and the medical establishment believed that, just as most mutations in nature had negative side effects, the side effect of the X-factor mutation was to make its carriers tragically susceptible to stroke.
No one remembered that an American named Charles Xavier had been the last person to see the Father in the confessional. No one, in fact, remembered that Xavier had been on the scene at all.
No one ever did.
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