The sun beat down on the Nevada desert, and Graydon Creed smiled back triumphantly.
He revelled in the knowledge that the final battle was his to be won, that no one could stop him. This time, victory would be his. And the taste of it was sweet.
The plan was flawless. He himself had worked out the details.
The End of mutant-kind was at hand.
And the beauty of it was that he himself need not soil his hands, and neither would any other human. That was unnecessary; and also, undesirable. Nothing must come between him and the Presidential seat in the next elections.
And right now, at this very moment, the next piece of the puzzle was headed towards him, engulfed in a crackling blue sphere of energy; gliding in his direction, looking so much the catalyst that it was going to be in the coming Armageddon...
... And Graydon Creed smiled once again, much as the devil must have smiled when he watched Adam and Eve cast out of Paradise, fully aware that he had been the cause of their misfortune...
Magneto lowered himself to the ground, bringing down his magnetic shields.
The wind caught up his cloak, billowing it around him, like a mystic figure out of some legend in the books. His face shrouded in darkness, his red eyes burning out at the enemy standing in front of him.
The contempt there was obvious. As was the hatred.
Creed dismissed it. What that criminal thought of him was unimportant; one day, humanity would thank him for his deeds. But for now, he was willing to suffer a little lack of appreciation.
He watched the man in front of him, smiling arrogantly. But below the surface, he boiled with hatred and disgust at the... the mutant in front of him. Had he been talking, he would have spat the word out. To him, the word mutant was the filthiest word ever known to man.
He could not remember the time when he had not hated mutants. They had tormented him throughout his life, ever since he realised why his mother had abandoned him in the orphanage. Because parents were mutants. His parents: mutants. But he had been spared that curse. And abandoned because of that blessing. From then, he had set his life's path: to obliterate the mutant race.
And now, he was close to his goal.
And he smiled with greater confidence at Magneto, Master of Magnetism. The man was a significant block in the upcoming holocaust; Creed would have to play his cards rights, or place the plan in jeopardy.
" Well Magneto, you did come after all." Creed feigned surprise. Inside though, he had known that Magneto would show up, that he would place the value of his progeny's blood above his own; that had been the very reason why he had used them in the first place. Success had been guaranteed to him using this method.
But time would tell whether it was failsafe.
Magneto neither moved nor did the expression in his eyes change. If he was angry, his voice did not betray it; instead, it was strangely neutral.
" Let them go, Creed." Those eyes continued to burn relentlessly into Creed.
And Creed just ignored them. There was something else he was concerned about. He had had hopes that Magneto would be so fretted about his children's safety, he would throw all caution to the wind. But things rarely came so easily, Creed knew. Magneto's expression told all: he was ready to sacrifice for his children, but not to the extent of abandoning his own common sense. Magneto would not be taken by trickery or persuasion.
But nonetheless, Creed had, to some extent, prepared for this eventuality. One could not hope too much, could one?
He continued with the farce. No use making Magneto suspicious now and further complicating matters. He did not have to do anything, his men knew what to do.
" I do not think so, Magneto," his voice softened dangerously.
" I would not have gone through all this trouble just to give you what you want the very minute you ask."
" Just what do you want exactly, Creed?"
" Just one very simple thing, really..." Creed reached inside his jacket and pulled a pair of dark glasses, putting them on.
Then, a sudden flash of blinding white light. For a full minute, it blanketed the whole group. When it faded out at last, the most powerful mutant on Earth lay unconscious on the ground.
" ... you..."
Graydon Creed smiled into the sun. Things were going according to plan. And he turned and walked to the plane waiting for him.
It was time to obtain the next piece of the puzzle...