X-Men fan fiction
Chapter 1: Mayday
Chapter 2: Sunset Home
Chapter 3: Sunset Home, part II: Exam
Chapter4: Sleeping Rough
Chapter 5: The Bogarts
Chapter6: The Bogarts, part II: Glasses
Chapter 7: Xavier
Chapter 8: New Students
Chapter 9: Eve of Grey
Chapter 10: Grey Christmas
Chapter 11: Dilemma
Chapter 12: Confrontation
Chapter 13: Jack O'Diamonds
Chapter 14: Escape
High above the Alaskan wilderness, the day’s peaceful silence was broken by the sound of a small twin engine plane. The plane sputtered and stammered as the engines repeatedly lost thrust, cutting in and out erratically. United States Air Force Major and test pilot Christopher Summers normally took this kind of thing in stride – it was something that came with the job – but this was not a military test flight.
He glanced at his wife, Katherine, who had been acting as his navigator. At the moment, she was calling the Mayday while his hands were full trying to keep the de Havilland Mosquito in the air.
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is Centaur Polyphemus. We’ve sustained damage in an electrical storm. We are in distress and losing altitude. Engine failure imminent. Over.”
She repeated the call several more times before cutting the radio. Nothing but static.
“Is there anyplace you can land?”
He shook his head. Luckily they had run out of the storm that had done the initial damage, but he could see nothing but dense forest for miles in every direction, and they were losing altitude fast. There was only one option left.
“You’d better strap the boys and yourself into parachutes. I’ll hold her steady for as long as I can.”
Katherine Summers nodded numbly. This plane was her husband’s pride and joy; taking them up in it had been the highlight of the vacation for him. The fact that he was now calmly talking about ditching it drove home to her how much trouble they were in. The shock must have shown in her face because her husband’s voice lowered, taking on a deliberately calming tone that she had come to associate with her sons’ bedtime.
“Hey, Kitts. One step at a time, we can get through this.”
She nodded again, collecting herself, and she managed a smile before she turned to leave. Christopher grinned appreciatively. Katherine was the type of person who could take almost any catastrophe in stride, but her cool reaction to this particular crisis genuinely amazed him. He was at least somewhat prepared for this kind of thing.... Major Summers had been in a handful of crash landings over the course of his career and he was trained to handle these situations in a calm, methodical manner. It was his ability to function under this kind of stress, to maintain a level head and steady hands, that had enabled him and his crew to walk away after each of those crash landings. He had always taken pride in that fact, and, like many of the best pilots, his complete confidence in his abilities often bordered on arrogance. He swallowed hard. None of that mattered now; the only thing that mattered to him was getting his wife and kids back on the ground in one piece.
Christopher was listening for her footsteps, and he began extracting himself from the controls the moment Katherine returned. They didn’t have a whole lot of time left.
“I strapped the boys in. There’s only one parachute.”
Her husband’s head snapped around in surprise, but Katherine couldn’t bring herself to meet his eyes.
“Impossible. I checked them last night, they–”
“Were fine then,” she finished for him. Her face was white as a sheet. “The boys were playing in the plane this morning– I didn’t know. The others are no use to us now.” She swallowed hard and rushed ahead with her words, her eyes focusing on the treetops outside. “The harness was a tight fit, but even together they barely weigh a hundred pounds; it will hold them.”
Christopher sat back in the pilot’s seat. He had a hard time breathing. “I’m sorry, Katherine.”
She knelt down beside him. “So am I, Chris.” It was nobody’s fault, just a bad situation that had gotten a lot worse.
Suddenly new alarms were sounding.
Christopher cursed under his breath, but there was no anger or bitterness in his reaction, only a numb sense of disbelief. He didn’t understand how everything could have gone so wrong so quickly. A split second later his training had kicked back in, and his full attention was again focused on the plane.
“Electrical malfunction in the aft section,” Christopher reported, and he shook his head furiously. “I won’t be able to keep her up much longer.” He was already fighting against the controls. “Get the boys out now. Tell them– I love them.”
Katherine didn’t hesitate this time. She quickly pulled herself to her feet, her hand on Chris’s shoulder.
“Katherine–” He glanced back, caching her eye for only a moment. “I love you.”
She knew it was a goodbye, in case– she didn’t let herself think about that. She bent down to kiss his cheek and whisper an “I love you” in return. Then she hurried from the cockpit.
Katherine’s hands were shaking hard as she rechecked the straps one last time. Christopher was a thorough pilot under any circumstances, and when it came to his family he didn’t take chances. They practiced this drill every time he took them up; she had never given it a second thought. She never imagined she’d have to do this for real.
“I’m counting on you to take care of your brother, Scott. Stay together, no matter what, and wait for help to come.”
Scott nodded back at her, so like Christopher.... She had no doubt he could do what she was asking of him. Scott was older than the sum of his years, and more observant than any child she had ever seen. He heard her omission as clearly as he heard her instructions.
“Don’t worry about us; we’ll find you once we’re all on the ground.”
“Once Daddy crash-landings the plane,” Alex chirped happily.
“Yeah, baby.” She willed herself not to cry as she ushered them toward the crew hatch.
This was an exciting development for Alex. It was the first plane ride that he was old enough to remember, and now he got to be in a real crash landing instead of the ones he played at imagining. Alex was too young to understand that something was very wrong. She was glad for that. Scott knew otherwise. She could see it in his eyes, and that was breaking her heart. But at seven years old, Scott was his father’s son in near-perfect miniature. He knew this was bad, a lot worse than she was letting on in front of Alex, but he wasn’t going to panic. He was a trooper; Scott would do what he was told and he would take care of his baby brother.
Katherine still wanted to hold on to her son and reassure him... but there was no time, and, honestly, there were no reassurances to be given. She and Christopher would do everything in their power to save their sons’ lives, but the boys’ lives would never again be sheltered from the harsh realities of the world.... Katherine had lost her own parents early in life. She understood the way that loss left a hole that could never completely be filled, even under the best of circumstances. That was something she had hoped her children would never have to learn firsthand, but she couldn’t let herself focus on the negative; she had to hope for the best. Scott and Alex would make it through this, not unblemished, but intact. They would be taken care of, and the two of them would have each other.
Chris Summers had always loved flying. From his earliest memories of his father telling him stories about his brief career as a pilot in WWII, Chris had known there was nothing else he wanted to do with his life. He loved everything about flying planes, he even loved crashing them. He had a way with wind currents, like a sixth sense, and he could almost make a game of riding them out... but the ruined plane stubbornly defied his every attempt to utilize the currents that might keep it steady in the air.
They were going down. It was a matter of minutes now, and there would be no walking away from this crash. It was a bitter pill to swallow. He had always thought himself prepared to die doing what he loved, if it ever came to that. But he had never intended to take his family with him. From the moment Christopher had become a father, everything else in his life had taken a distant second to his family; his wife and children were the most precious things in his life. His only comfort was that his sons would survive this....
He smiled as he thought of Alex, who had inherited Katherine’s fair hair and sunny disposition, along with her fearless and contagious laughter. And Scott, his firstborn son, virtually a carbon copy of Christopher. Scott was smart and outgoing, and he had inherited his father’s love of airplanes as certainly as he had inherited his looks and disposition; Chris couldn’t keep him out of the cockpit, but that had never been a problem. Scott could sit still for hours, watching, learning, soaking in everything that was happening around him. Christopher blinked suddenly blurry eyes and ignored the tears that splashed down his face. He had wanted to spend the rest of his life watching his boys grow up, seeing their adult lives unfold.
The plane gave another unwelcome shudder, demanding his full attention. That electrical malfunction aft coupled with the plane’s distinct lack of maneuverability could only mean one thing: they were going down in flames. He leaned forward and scanned the horizon hopefully. Their altitude was still okay and the descent was as controlled as he could possibly make it. By now Katherine should have had time to get the boys away, and safely. They had done all they could. Christopher Summers sat back in the pilot’s seat, took a deep breath, and started to pray. That was all he could do now for the multitude of things that were far beyond his control.
Katherine repeated the final instructions one more time. She wanted them to be fresh in Scott’s mind when he needed them. Then she kissed her sons, told them that she and their father loved them more than anything, and pushed them out. She stood there watching them fall, praying that the winds and the altitude were right, that they’d slow to a safe descent before reaching the ground, that Scott would pull the chord on time; she was counting....
He did, and she laughed when the chute popped open, tears streaming down her cheeks. She turned on her heel, immediately anxious to get back to Christopher. She wanted him to know that the boys had gotten away safely. But a split second later her heart stopped. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a chunk of debris from the plane falling toward the much slower moving parachute.
“No!” she screamed in vain, turning back in time to see the burning debris tear through the fabric and the chute begin to catch fire in its wake. After that there wasn’t time enough for shock or grief, or even time enough for one last, desperate hope that the parachute might still hold together... just long enough to do its job. The plane lurched violently toward the ground, trees rising up swiftly beneath it, and then there was nothing.
Scott held his brother tightly and murmured reassurances. That was all he could do. Having only his body and his voice to use to protect the little boy, he kept telling Alex it would be all right, and not to look down. The ruined parachute had completely given way, and without it the ground rushed closer with frightening speed. Scott watched with a mixture of horror and denial.
Alex opened his eyes, and screamed his brother’s name.
“I’ve got you, Alex. Don’t be afraid.” Scott kept staring at the ground, his mind racing as he prayed for some way, any way, to slow their disastrous fall. But he was helpless to prevent the coming impact.
“Scott! Make it stop! I don’t like falling. Please– make it stop.”
The wind stung his watering eyes. “Just hold on, Alex. I’ll protect you, I swear.” Alex clung to him tighter. His eyes smarted painfully as the wind tore at them. Scott couldn’t even blink. He stared desperately at the ground closing in on them, only seconds away.
Then a thick, red fog blanketed his vision, obscuring the ground below and the trees that were reaching for them. A split second later his head recoiled. Scott felt the twin jarring impacts of something violently slowing their fall and causing them to ricochet backward.
He held on to his brother for all he was worth, and then there was nothing.
The uncontrolled force of Scott’s optic blasts slowed their momentum enough to save their lives, but it also slammed the back of Scott’s skull into a tree. The violence of the impact jarred both boys, plunging their worlds into darkness.
One week later.
Alex woke up looking around for his brother, like he always did. The two of them had rarely been separated, and Alex was immediately relieved but anxious to see Scott lying in the bed next to his.
Doctors and nurses had tried to explain to the four-year-old that Scott’s brain had gotten hurt when they fell. He needed rest to fix it. That’s why he was still sleeping, and sleeping so soundly that nothing woke him.
Alex sniffed back tears, trying hard to be brave. He still remembered falling, falling. He remembered his brother curling around him as they fell faster and faster, promising him it would be all right... but they had continued to fall until something suddenly stopped them. Alex had gasped when he saw a red beam of energy gouge into the ground below them. Terrified, he had closed his eyes and buried his face against Scott’s shoulder. That was the last thing he remembered before waking up here.
Their parents were gone – dead in the plane crash. Alex wasn’t real clear on what dead meant, but that was what the adults kept calling them. He understood that dead was not here. Dead was far away, and the adults got sad whenever he asked where they were and when they were coming back for him and Scott. He wished that Scott would wake up so Scott could explain it to him.
In one sudden movement he threw back the covers, raced to crawl into Scott’s bed, and buried his head against his brother’s shoulder, begging him to wake up. But Scott didn’t wake. His big brother could do anything, and he always took care of Alex.... Alex worshiped Scott, and Scott adored his little brother in return. Alex knew that if there were any way Scott could answer him now, he would. For him to keep lying here, so silent and still, it was horribly wrong.
Alex cried himself to sleep. He was frightened his brother would be gone too.
It was shortly after midnight at the County General Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska when a man approached the receiving desk. The on-duty nurse looked up, then did a double take. She found herself staring at an odd-looking, mousy little fellow dressed in suit and tie. She quickly consulted the clock on the wall, looked back at the visitor, then scowled. His dress and mannerism strongly reminded her of a lawyer, but what business brought a lawyer to the hospital at a quarter past midnight?
“May I help you?” she inquired.
“I understand you’re currently treating two minor boys who were rescued from a plane crash.”
“Then I can’t release any information. We’re still searching for any relatives who might come forward to claim the children.”
“That’s why I’m here, in fact. My name is Pearson, but I represent Mr. Nathan Milbury, owner of the State Home for Foundlings in Omaha, Nebraska. He has authorized me to take custody of the two minors in question.”
The nurse stared, open-mouthed. Completely out of the question! Hadn’t she just told him they were still waiting for family to come forward. It was far too soon to even consider shipping two injured children to an orphanage halfway across the country.
“Exactly what does a Nebraska orphanage want with these two boys?” she asked instead.
“Mr. Milbury has his reasons, something about an old debt to be repaid. Actually he is quite insistent on having the Summers boys at his facility.”
The nurse looked confused for an instant, then her expression went blank.
“You’ll find the boys in room 206, down the hall to the left. If you’ll sign this paperwork they can be released into your custody immediately.”
Mr. Pearson signed the forms he was given. “Very good. I will also need complete medical records, including blood samples, on both boys. Dr. Essex likes full records on all of his kids from the very beginning.”
The nurse nodded, but she was appalled. She would do no such thing. “Release of full medical records. Of course,” she agreed instead, and began preparing two sets of medical release forms.
“Very good,” he murmured and, paperwork in hand, the mousy little man walked away.
The nurse shook her head. Something wasn’t right about that man. She placed her finger to a button on the intercom. Security would sort all this out. But before she could press the button she had already forgotten the man. All she remembered was a thin figure dressed in a dark suit. There was a blue tie... with the shape of a red diamond at its center... the rest of his appearance faded into shadowy darkness. A few minutes later she had returned to her work, and had no idea where she had seen that red diamond set against the blue background.
State Home for Foundlings. Omaha, Nebraska. One Year Later.
It felt like he was falling. Scott remembered falling... falling... staring helplessly at the ground rushing toward him, unable to prevent the coming impact. His eyes smarted and a thick, red fog clouded over his vision. Then a sharp, crushing pain radiated from the back of his head, and he was plunged into blackness. He opened his eyes and found himself in a dimly lit room where he was surrounded by medical equipment.
“What happened?” he whispered.
“You were found injured in the Alaskan wilderness, suffering from exposure, a skull fracture, and brain damage. You’ve been in a coma since then. I’ve been treating you.”
Take care of your brother, Scott. Stay together... we’ll find you once we’re all on the ground.
“I remember a crash. What happened to Alex?”
“Your parents and brother died in the crash. Now lie still, and don’t talk unless I tell you to. You’ve been asleep for a long time. I need to check your condition thoroughly.”
Scott paid little attention to the doctor after that. After only a few waking moments, what little he remembered of the crash was reduced to fuzzy images and echoed voices... like pieces of a very vivid dream. But intense pain and guilt remained.
Dr. Nathaniel Essex examined his patient without thought to the boy’s emotional or physical needs. The child could have used a good meal, some fresh air, someone to confide in... he would find none of those things in Essex’s care. But Scott was too distressed with grief and burdened by survivor’s guilt to truly care about his own needs. That was a characteristic the boy would carry with him for years to come.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004