A Test of Power
The people have always some
champion whom they
set over them and nurse them into greatness...
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant
springs; when he first appears he is a protector.
The Republic ca. 390 B.C.
It was an absolutely beautiful morning with a rich azure
sky. He admired the bucolic panorama, uncharacteristically
savoring the view and this rare moment of tranquillity. A
slight breeze caused the tops of long blades of grass to gently
sway in unison on a hilltop overlooking the Genoshan coastline.
Golden beams of sunshine shown down warming his face allowing
even the "Master of Magnetism" to relax, if only
for a moment, before his scheduled encounter. Hardly the place
or setting one would expect for a meeting of two of the most
powerful men on the planet.
Magneto sat in one of the two high backed wooden chairs that
his Acolytes had placed here with his specific instructions
on how they should be positioned. His own chair was at the
top of a gradual incline that allow would him to look down
at the eventual occupant of the other chair. He considered
this a small psychological advantage, maybe even petty, but
nonetheless something he deemed necessary.
He allowed his thoughts to drift for a time in quiet contemplation
on just who he was meeting with, but was by no means
oblivious to his surroundings. He still remained vigilant
by monitoring the local electromagnetic spectrum and any changes
that would signal the arrival of his guest.
Mr. Sinister, he mused. Certainly a strange name,
even for a mutant designation which usually described an ability
or an appearance. He assumed that this was a self-ascribed
moniker which might just in itself indicate a good deal about
this mysterious scientist. He had compiled an extensive file
on Mr. Sinister, much of the intelligence gleaned from the
X-Men's own database. But while the file was somewhat voluminous,
none of the information it contained was definitive enough
for Magnus's liking. There was just too much supposition and
not enough hard facts.
Although Sinister's activities gave one the impression that
he was just another mad scientist, Magnus believed that this
was deliberate deception on Sinister's part, and Sinister
had some unknown purpose in mind. And as comfortable as he
was with his ability to deal with anything out of the ordinary,
he preferred to enter any new situation as prepared as possible.
He had never met Sinister himself, which was not that unusual
when one considered Sinister's reported nature. He seemed
to prefer the shadows and operate behind the scenes through
other people, many times unknown to the people themselves.
He came and went as he pleased, his true motives never revealed.
The array of his documented abilities was extremely impressive
but was also inconclusive concerning their source. It was
rumored that he not a mutant at all but a centuries-old mutate.
Magnus was somewhat doubtful of this. If he was a mutate,
he was by far the most powerful mutate yet conceived. But
the mutate process he supposedly underwent was performed by
Apocalypse -- an even stranger and more mysterious individual
if that were possible. (1) And
anything was possible with the alien science that Apocalypse
seemed to employ.
His brief moment of serenity was interrupted by slightest
disturbance in the local electromagnetic field. He would not
have detected anything this subtle if he was not specifically
monitoring this small an area. The disturbance was unlike
any other he had experienced, and he catalogued that particular
information for analysis at some other time.
Mr. Sinister stepped out from what appeared to be a brightly
lit rectangular doorway that had appeared from thin air in
the small clearing. He paused, remaining motionless for a
moment, and seemed to be assessing his surroundings, but oddly
did not look in any particular direction at first. He seemed
completely at ease and slowly turned his head in Magnus's
direction, an unreadable expression on his face. Magnus was
impressed despite himself.
Physically, Sinister was an extremely large man, heavily
muscled -- handsome even. But over the years Magneto had come
across a great number of superhumans and mutants who were
much larger than even the largest human being. No, it was
more his bearing than any physical trait that made an immediate
impression on him. It was the way Sinister carried himself:
arrogant, aristocratic, regal even -- and none of it was feigned.
Magnus could easily tell the difference. He had been in the
presence of men of power before and could tell, after the
first few seconds of seeing Sinister, that Sinister was in
a category all by himself.
"I am most appreciative that you have taken the time
to grant me this audience and provided me with such comfortable
accommodations," Sinister said, gesturing broadly to
his surroundings. "I am aware that you are currently
engaged with establishing and securing your new position.
Perhaps I may be of some assistance."
The portal closed around Sinister. He leisurely walked the
ten feet to the chair, his footsteps not making the slightest
sound, and gracefully sat down. His expansive cape automatically
retracted, disappearing into his body.
Another thing was made immediately evident to Magnus now
that they were face to face: He did not like Sinister. He
felt an almost instant loathing to the very core of his being.
Perhaps it had to do with his knowledge of some of Sinister's
ventures that had jaded him to some degree before actually
ever meeting him. His reputation for experimentation on
mutants was almost common knowledge. Also, his central role
in the "Morlock Massacre" and affiliation with the
Marauders would alone earn him the disgust and animosity from
even people like himself.
But the feelings he had for Sinister became much more palpable
upon actually seeing him. The man exuded a malevolence that
was almost tangible. And something about this man,
reminded him of other men he had known -- callous,
pitiless men. Individuals who would kill just to learn a fact
or test a theory. Men, women, and even children were considered
expendable to these butchers, all for the pursuit of scientific
gain. He had killed people before and had no qualms about
killing again, but that was out of necessity or self-defense.
Somehow he got the definite impression that it was quite different
At another time, he would have considered it a poor strategy
to let an adversary see and hear his emotions. But he saw
no reason to withhold his feelings about Sinister. He almost
felt it would be inappropriate. This was his island, his world,
and his people. He was master here.
"Spare me your platitudes, Sinister," Magneto said
contemptuously. "Before we go any further, your reputation
as a manipulator of events and people is intimately
known to me. I warn you, I am not someone who can be coerced
or compelled to do anything that I do not wish to do. Attempt
any subterfuge or participate in any skullduggery against
my country or its people, and I will track you down and kill
you. I know you are a self serving leech. I assure you, none
of your sleight of hand will work with me. I also know the
information you sent me to gain my interest was nothing more
than bait. If this is a trap, it is a poorly conceived one.
What do you want?"
Sinister let out an exasperated sigh, like a man who was
used to being repeatedly misunderstood. "I would think
that even you would agree what a poor stratagem it is to conduct
this meeting on your 'home turf,' if I may use the vernacular.
I am also aware of the several mutants and their abilities
that have me currently surrounded. I believe three telepaths
is a bit excessive. I am not sure whether I should be insulted
or flattered. This is hardly a trap of my making."
Magneto was again impressed, and he was certainly not an
easy man to impress. Despite his rather confrontational speech,
he was extremely wary of Sinister and the damage he might
be capable of in Genosha now and in the future. His abilities
were nothing short of astounding. As a precaution, he had
blanketed the surrounding area with a low-level EM pulse the
instant Sinister had arrived, in the hopes that it would render
any electronic devices that Sinister would have on his person
inoperative. Certainly, EM shielding was possible but effective
EM shielding for any electronic device was usually somewhat
cumbersome. A scientist of Sinister's caliber could certainly
have developed better and less intrusive shielding, but he
could detect no electronic devices whatsoever -- neither active
nor passive. He was also in constant communication with three
of his best telepaths, who he had assumed were well-hidden
in the surrounding tall grass. They were on guard for any
telepathic activity. They had reported none. How Sinister
was aware that any of his Acolytes, let alone who they were
and what their powers were, he did not know. What he did know
was that Sinister was not someone to be trifled with.
"State your business quickly so I may return to my home
and wash the stench off my clothes."
Sinister's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. "As you
wish. The disk I sent you is a memory recording the time traveling
mutant named Bishop who is currently a member of the X-men.
It is a chronicle of his experiences in an alternate reality..."
"I am familiar with this so called "Age of Apocalypse,"
Sinister's eyebrows rose slightly expressing mild surprise.
"You are not the only one who values information."
"Of course," Sinister nodded.
"So why should the information on that disk interest
me?" Despite his comments, Magnus was completely fascinated
with the data on that disk. He had indeed obtained information
concerning the M'Krann Crystal, Xavier's son David, and the
repercussions that Charles' death had on this reality. But
what he had obtained could not compare to what Sinister had
provided him --an actual memory recording of someone who had
lived in that universe -- who had fought alongside him
--and the X-Men, who he led against Apocalypse.
It was incredulous, but he had managed to corroborate enough
of the data on the disk to conclude that it was indeed authentic.
"You felt that because of my past, my personal history,
that I might find particular portions of the disk disturbing,
disturbing enough to help you defeat Apocalypse as you stated
in your initial transmission to me."
"Ah yes. You must be referring to the camps," Sinister
said in serious tone. "The death camps he will institute
will be like nothing ever seen on this earth. Billions of
humans and mutants will be exterminated, fodder for
his processing plants. Any future reality where Apocalypse
has realized his dream, is a dead reality, devoid anything
you would define as a future. I can assure you that this is
what Apocalypse has planned for this reality. There
are others with shall I say, more sterling reputations than
mine that can attest all of my claims. Cable is one such individual
who has had some first-hand experience with a future molded
by the hand of Apocalypse."
Magnus snorted. "Yes I will consult Cable to vouch for
the veracity of your story as soon as we conclude our meeting.
You almost sound concerned. Even if I did trust you -- and
I do not -- I will not need your aid in ridding the world
of Apocalypse. I know the potential exists that someday I
might have to confront that madman, but I will not need your
help. And as far as your request for my aid, the answer is
Sinister rose from the chair, a menacing gleam in his eye.
"I am not the diplomat I believe myself to be."
Magneto immediately rose in response, gathering his energies
around him and alerting his Acolytes to move into a more offensive
"I will nonetheless transmit the time and location of
our little tete-a-tete with Apocalypse. I will also leave
you with this little bit of information which is known only
to myself. You may wish to add this to your own extensive
knowledge of mutants and it may aid you should you ever come
into conflict with Apocalypse. I will let you determine its
"Apocalypse is a mutant gifted with extraordinary abilities.
Some of these abilities are obvious, while others are not.
One of his mutant powers that is not visible to the naked
eye is his ability to recognize and also gauge the power of
a mutant, latent or otherwise." Sinister's tone changed
ever so slightly, becoming a bit more malicious. "You
might not be familiar that one of your former lapdogs Bennet
Du Paris ... Oh, you know him as Exodus, is one such example.
(3) He was able to see the quiescent
power that he possessed and trigger it. He has done this to
a number of individuals over the years, many times using life-threatening
situations as a kind of catalyst."
A portal suddenly expanded about Sinister. Magnus immediately
strengthened the magnetic force bubble around him and attempted
to probe the interior of the portal for any sign that something
else might be coming through. He could sense nothing, not
even the interior of the portal itself. It was if his powers
abruptly ceased to function right at the threshold of the
"How is your family Magnus, your son and your daughter?"
Sinister asked with a look of mock concern.
Magneto gathered more energy, the air crackling about him
and rose into the air with a disgusted look on his face. "So
the leopard finally shows his true spots. What should one
expect from someone who chooses to call himself Sinister."
"Nothing more than a bit of healthy self-recrimination.
You should try it sometime. I find it rather good for the
soul," Sinister said with an evil glint in his eye.
Magneto ignored Sinister's last comment. "If you seek
to threaten me through my children, you are sadly mistaken.
Surely you must know that they live their own lives, the lives
of heroes and would oppose me at every turn. But I
find the presumptuousness of your implied threat an offense
none the less."
A cloud of irritation passed over Sinister's face. "I
wasn't threatening your children, but there is somewhat of
a link. Weren't you at all curious about my little lesson
on Apocalypse's abilities?" Sinister inquired, seeming
Curious, Magneto said curtly, "Conclude your gibberish
and then we will find exactly how malleable that body of yours
Sinister continued, not seeming at all intimidated or concerned
with Magneto's threats. "I told you Apocalypse can see
men of power with his own innate mutant ability. One of the
most powerful mutants this earth has ever spawned would stand
out on a seashore like a beacon of light on a moonless night."
"What kind of fabrication are you weaving Sinister?"
Magnus was extremely curious to where this was leading, knowing
that Sinister had a definite reason for all this preamble.
"Weren't you listening to what I was saying before?
A life-threatening situation, severe emotional trauma. These
are the sparks that can ignite the flame of mutant powers.
I imagine threatening a loved one, a first born child could
certainly qualify as a catalyst."
Sinister's form suddenly changed. Magneto incredulously was
looking at himself many years ago, clothed in a rust colored
suit and slacks, a white shirt and a green ascot. He hadn't
worn that ... been dressed like that since the day ... that
Even more shocking was that he heard his voice issue from
Sinister's facsimile, his own panic-stricken voice, as he
must of sounded those many years ago. "Innkeeper! My
wife, my child -- Where are they?!! (4)
The air now seethed with energy and was permeated with the
smell of ozone. Magneto subconsciously reached for a 10-ton
iron/nickel deposit that he sensed easily, freeing and lifting
it from the ground. It rose into the air, dirt, rocks, and
grass, cascading off the huge mass as he positioned it 10
feet above Sinister's head.
"How could you have ... you dare?!" Magneto's voice
shook with rage. "How did you obtain this ... this information,"
Magneto shrieked. "Did you somehow pull it from my mind?
Tell me now or I'll rip your arms and your legs from your
Sinister reverted back to his original form. "Even I
cannot overcome your resistance to telepathy. I was simply
there," Sinister said calmly. "Apocalypse was
there. He orchestrated the experiment."
Blood thundered in Magneto's ears. "Experiment? Experiment!!
Why I should believe you? Magneto screamed over the raging
energies that he was now employing. "Show me some proof!"
"You shall have your proof." Sinister's appearance
changed to that of a terrified little girl, close cropped
brown hair and brown eyes. She wore a simple knee-length brown
dress. "I am scared Poppa! There's a fire in my room,
Poppa, I can't get away! I'm scared Poppa -- Help me!"
"Impossible," Magnus whispered. "Anya...?"
Her appearance, her voice, her expression, her words, were
exactly as they had been on that fateful day ... exactly.
Despite the emotions that he was now exhibiting, Magnus was
not oblivious to what Sinister was trying to achieve. He knew
that Sinister would use any means convince him to do his bidding.
He had prepared himself to deal with possible threats, blackmail
and the like. But he never believed that anything Sinister
would say could hurt him. Nothing could have prepared him
for this. Truth be told, no single moment in his life, not
the horrific experiences in the camps, the estrangement of
his wife, the enmity of his children, Pietro and Wanda, the
betrayal of Control (5), could
even compare with the death of his beloved Anya.
The memory and emotions came unbidden, flooding his soul.
She had been everything to both Magda and himself, an angelic
picture of trusting innocence. After all that they had been
through, she was the only medicine to heal their scarred souls.
She had redeemed him ... for a time, washing away many of
the things that were done to him and the things he had done
in order to survive. During the time after her birth, world
issues and mutant affairs were things off in the distant future.
Overnight he had wanted to change the world only for her,
to make it an easier and safer place. She was to be the receptacle
for all their dreams and aspirations. She had given him back
his humanity, gave Magda the ability to love him again ...
gave them back everything they thought they could never have
or feel again ... everything the camps had taken away.
He had never forgotten that day ... could never forget. The
sounds of her voice pleading for him ... her father to rescue
her from the burning house. She had leapt to her death because
of the terror, the pain ... The image of her charred body
at his feet, the sickening smell of burned hair and flesh
... all that remained of his little Anya. The memory, the
unending grief, brought such pain to his heart and mind, even
now it threatened to overwhelm him.
Even with all these emotions raging through his mind, he
steeled himself. He knew pain and loss better than any man
... and had survived. He also knew that this is what Sinister
did ... that this was his true power over people. But
he was not other people. Sinister would have no hold on him.
He would not allow even this to affect his judgment. But what
Sinister had shown him was so real, down to the most minute
detail. Were his claims actually possible?
Sinister was reputed to be hundreds of years old, his master
Apocalypse, thousands of years old. Could Apocalypse have
been aware of his existence and had sown the emergence of
his mutant powers? He had to know more, needed to know more.
One thing he did know was that he would kill Sinister, he
swore that to himself.
"If you were there, tell me more," he said menacingly
but surprisingly in a calm tone of voice.
"You have regained a certain measure of composure. I
applaud your control over the recounting of such a tragic
event," Sinister said without any trace of mocking in
his voice. "I will give you the proof or allow you to
arrive at the truth yourself. Think back to that day. The
men holding you, restraining you from attempting to rescue
your daughter. You were in an understandably hysterical state
and yet these men -- actually only one held you, easily. Surely
you are familiar with the strength that normal human beings
are capable of during times of extreme stress. Five such men
could not hold an adrenaline-fed father from getting to his
child. How was this one man able to accomplish this?"
This immediately struck a chord in Magnus bringing him back
to the events of that day. It was something that had perplexed
him that he had never been able to reconcile. The fact that
the events of that day were so overwhelming had allowed
him to put it into the back of his mind, but he had never
There were two men who had first grabbed him to restrain
him. He had thrown one of them to the ground easily. But the
other man ... a single man had stopped from going to his daughter.
He had been held -- not held, but rendered completely immobile.
He had struggled like a crazed lunatic but had not been able
to move, not even fractionally. He remembered the man's face
... expressionless, soulless eyes, studying him. The man hadn't
even been straining. He could even now feel his crushing grip
around his wrists. He had felt like a small child in those
hands. "How...?" He looked back at Sinister.
Instead he saw a man dressed in a long blue coat, a short
brown club in one hand, a fur cap with a single white star
that denoted him as an officer of the state. The man who
had held him from Anya those many years ago. The form suddenly
changed into a blue hued giant with metallic skin and the
hideously terrifying face of..."Apocalypse!" Magneto
growled through clenched teeth.
"Better to teach this dog some new tricks, Dimitri,"
Sinister said as he returned to his true form. "Those
were the words that Apocalypse spoke as he beat you, were
Magneto descended to the ground to a spot ten feet in front
of Sinister and dropped his magnetic shield, but the rock
still remained suspended in the air over Sinister's head.
"It has occurred to me that this person that you claim
was Apocalypse could have just as easily been you," Magnus
said with a terrible quiet anger in his voice.
"I knew that possibility would occur to you, and it
is and was certainly in my ability to impersonate any of these
people. But I would not threaten the life of any child in
"That is your defense?!" Magnus exclaimed in disbelief.
"This coming from a man who had innocent mutant men,
woman, and children murdered. Do you think I am unaware
of your hand in orchestrating the massacre of Morlocks?"
"A necessary evil," Sinister said with a placid
expression on his face. "I am sure you have had to make
similar decisions because of your power and position. But
let us dispense with talk of my past actions. It is impossible
to provide you with any further proof. You only need to meet
at the coordinates I will provide you and you may ask Apocalypse
yourself. I assure you he will answer and substantiate what
I have said."
"It makes no difference. Both you and Apocalypse had
a hand in murdering my daughter. You both deserve to die,"
Magnus said with pure venom in his voice.
No, no, you misunderstand me. I never said anything about
murder. As a matter of fact, you owe me a great debt of gratitude.
Apocalypse transported Anya out before the collapse
of the house. He of course did not care for the life of the
child -- after all, another child needed to be used in
order for the experiment to be, shall we say, effective.
I actually convinced him that the offspring of such a powerful
mutant as yourself could certainly result in another
"What ... what are you saying?"
"Apocalypse placed her in a stasis chamber ... alive
and completely unharmed. Although I never did get the opportunity
to examine her. He and I had a bit of a falling out,"
Sinister said with a small smile on his face. "But I
assure you, the Celestial technology used is unfailing and
can easily function for thousands of years. Help me and I
will return your daughter to you."
Anya alive -- This is inconceivable, Magnus thought.
"Even if I believe you, how do you know she is still
alive?" Magnus could not help the sound of desperation
that had crept into his voice.
"Oh I didn't mention that, did I? I have seen her ...
as recently as six months ago. She is in the exact same stasis
chamber and in perfect health. She has not aged a day since
she was acquired. I have developed ways to keep track
of Apocalypse as well as ways to visit him -- unobserved and
unannounced of course.
"You may not be aware of this, but Apocalypse has already
visited Genosha ... during the recent change in government,"
Sinister said with a smile. (6)
"Judging by the level of death and carnage you've managed
to generate, you may have already earned his favor."
"Tell me where she is, you unholy bastard, or I swear
I will devote my entire life to killing you." During
his conversation with Sinister, Magnus had not been idle.
He had continually attempted to form a magnetic force bubble
around him, had his telepaths attack him psionically -- even
telekinetically. All of it had been to no avail. He was no
longer even sure that Sinister was really even there.
"And what would you do if I gave you this information?
You could not get within a mile of one of Apocalypse's strongholds
without his knowledge. The defenses are so far beyond your
comprehension that you and your entire mutant following would
be killed instantly without any need for Apocalypse to even
involve himself. You also would be unable to revive your daughter
without my help. I respect your scientific abilities, but
the Celestial technology is alien in nature and perhaps on
the order of billions of years ahead of what is considered
the current standard. (7) It would
be completely incomprehensible to you and is safeguarded as
well. During my tenure with Apocalypse, I have come to understand
this technology to a small degree, and have used and operated
these very same stasis chambers. Only I can restore
your daughter to you safely. But since you can not be convinced
-- or what was one of the words you used ... 'coerced' --
to help me, I will take my leave." With a sweeping gesture
from Sinister, the doorway suddenly closed and he was gone.
There had been no battle. The meeting had transpired in the
place of his choosing. Sinister had come alone while he had
the full support of several of his most powerful followers.
Yet without raising a hand, Sinister had accomplished exactly
what he had set out to do and had soundly beaten him in every
respect. The impudent pig. Sinister had indeed successfully
manipulated him. He would most assuredly make an appearance
at the appointed time and place to battle Apocalypse. Sinister
was an overconfident fool, though, if he thought that he could
be controlled. I will do this only because there is a chance,
no matter how small that what he says may be the truth and
Anya ... Best not to think of Anya, better to think and plan
of how to kill Apocalypse and Sinister.
Sinister collapsed in his lab. The energy he had expended
to maintain the open doorway had almost killed him. What Magnus
had not known was that Sinister had never closed the dimensional
doorway after his arrival. He had never really stepped out
of tesseract space but only closed the doorway enough to conform
to the size and shape of his body. (8)
What Magnus also did not know was that the physical laws in
tesseract space were completely different from the laws in
this universe. Things like gravity, magnetism, and even time
would not operate the same in this strange environment, rendering
all his attacks against him ineffectual. Sinister had spent
a better part of the last century studying and defining all
the scientific laws of tesseract space in order to use this
wondrous milieu to his best advantage. Recent breakthroughs
on his part had expanded how he could use tesseract space
to maybe aid him to defeat Apocalypse. He needed to rest and
recoup his mutant energies. He was pleased in the manner his
plans were progressing, but there was so much more that needed
to be accomplished.
Sinister struggled to his feet and slowly walked over to
a large vat of gelatinous blue liquid. He immersed one hand
into the pool and proceeded to literally pour himself, completely
dissolving into the restorative bath. A small ripple on the
surface of the viscous fluid was the only trace left of the
man known as Sinister.
Continued in Chapter
 The Further Adventures at Cyclops and
 Magneto Rex #3
 The Black Knight: Exodus
 Classic X-Men #12 - subsequent dialogue
also quoted from that issue.
 Classic X-Men #19
 Magneto Rex #3
 X-Factor #50 - First time Apocalypse states
that he capable of using technology taken from "Ship".
 X-Men #34 - use of tesseract space revealed.
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