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
The following morning Scott, Ororo, and Jean met with Professor Xavier, Warren, and Hank to discuss how the six of them were going to face (and most likely forcibly apprehend) Jack O’Diamonds, who was already using his acquired mutant powers for robbery and plotting to further expand those powers. The responsibility would fall upon them to prevent Jack Winters from making himself an even greater threat to society, as well as further endangering the precious anonymity that safeguarded the existence of mutants everywhere.
“We will need to confront Winters at a nuclear facility located about twenty miles north of Omaha,” Professor Xavier told the group. “To this end, we will be relying on several resources that have been provided to us by Fred Duncan, none the least of which is a plane capable of high speeds and great stealth. He will also provide us with protective gear in the event that radiation exposure is incurred. Scott, Ororo, Jean: I will expect the three of you to make full use of those precautions.”
“The rest of us already have adequate protection,” Warren spoke up in explanation before any of the three could question or protest their being singled out. Then he gave a dry smile. “Besides, it’s a bit hard to find gear meeting my and Hank’s specifications.”
Hank gave a light chortle of agreement. “Touche.”
“And you, Professor?” Scott asked.
“Like Hank and Warren, I will rely on my own mutation to protect me from the ill effects of any radiation I encounter; each of us is uniquely equipped at the cellular level to do so,” he added in the way of further explanation.
Scott nodded. That didn’t explain the hows or whys, but Scott understood it was all the explanation they were going to be given at the moment. Professor Xavier returned his attention to the subject of confronting Winters.
“Our ultimate goal must be to apprehend Winters peacefully before he is able to enter the nuclear facility. Based on his history, however, I think it safe to assume that he will resist any such attempt, possibly violently. That can be to our advantage; we want him to remain outside the facility at all costs. The more his attention is focused upon us, the further removed he is from achieving his own goal.
“Scott, Ororo, Jean: to this end I would like the three of you to hang back from the initial confrontation. Scott, I think you, especially, will be a great asset to us in keeping Winters distracted.”
Scott gave a half nod. He made no argument, but all three of them clearly understood that their “diversion” of Winters was also meant to serve as a means of keeping them out of harm’s way while the professor, Warren, and Hank got down to the business of apprehending Winters.
The professor smiled in acknowledgment of their suspicions. “This precaution will allow us greater opportunity to assess the risk that Winters poses to us all, and hopefully we can utilize an element of surprise to quickly overtake him.
“Ororo, once we arrive at the facility we will need you to provide us with a power surge capable of disabling their security cameras, as well as any other security systems that may pose a problem for us.”
“Hopefully, we can keep Winters on the outside and deal with him there. Scott, if Winters does make for the building, it will be your job to use your optic blasts to block his way inside. Jean, you can use your telekinesis to that same end.”
The both of them nodded.
“Now,” Xavier’s tone became more serious, “in the event that our early efforts are unsuccessful and Winters is able to gain access into the facility and to fully irradiate himself, Hank’s research into his diamond form has indicated that our best point of attack will be at the molecular level.”
Xavier conceded the floor to Hank with a gesture of his hand.
“Precisely,” Hank continued. “His diamond composition makes Winters highly resistant to virtually all forms of physical attack. Our best option for defeating him would be to cause disruption to that form on a cellular level.”
“How could we do that?” Ororo questioned.
“Quite simply, really,” Hank responded. “As you know, the human body is composed almost entirely of water – which serves many fascinating purposes – but the one we are most interested in at the moment is the ability of water to protect the cell from detrimental concussive impact. With his physical form entirely composed of intractable diamond, if we can generate enough concussion to incite vibration at the molecular level, then it is possible that Winters’ diamond form would simply implode from the destructive pressure those vibrations would inflict upon his cells.”
“How much energy would it take to generate that kind of vibration?” Scott asked, clearly thinking of his own optic blasts.
“Hard to calculate with certainty,” Hank conceded. “Keep in mind that this is all in theory, but I believe I have created a harmonic device – an ultrasonic vibration inducer – which will be capable of generating the necessary degree of vibration.”
“Let us hope we do not need to use it,” Hank added quietly.”
“Scott, Jean: please, stay a minute.”
Each of them paused at the request, then returned to their seats facing Professor Xavier’s desk. Ororo looked back curiously before she followed Warren and Hank from the room. They all knew she wouldn’t go very far until Scott and Jean emerged from the impromptu meeting to join her.
I’ll be with you in just a moment, Jean.
After that, Xavier spoke first to Scott. Are you going to be okay with all of this?
Scott nodded, a little confused by the question. He had already committed himself to the professor’s plan, and he didn’t think he had shown any signs of faltering during their earlier discussions. He certainly wasn’t going to back down now.
The professor smiled. I’m not questioning your commitment, Scott. I simply want you to know, I understand that many elements in all this may be difficult for you.
Scott understood more from his thoughts than his words. There were concerns about old baggage from Scott’s previous dealings with Winters, and Xavier’s worries also touched on other memories that had been brought near to the surface of Scott’s thoughts. That gave Scott a shudder.
I can do this, he said determinedly, in reflex against the fear... much like the hours he had spent years ago sitting in a cockpit simulator.
Xavier didn’t question him again. Luckily, he continued, I have experience as a pilot from my time in the military– nothing extensive, he amended in response to Scott’s surprise over that bit of previously unknown information, but serviceable skills. If you like, the two of us could take some time to thoroughly familiarize ourselves with this plane beforehand.
I would like that, Scott agreed honestly, and a bit too quickly for someone who was merely interested... but then neither of them believed that anything about that particular experience was casual for Scott. Thank you, he amended, grateful for the professor’s understanding, and his faith in Scott’s resilience.
I’ll meet you in the lower levels, outside the infirmary, Xavier offered an easy dismissal. And Scott nodded in acceptance. He knew there would be later contact relaying the time of the meeting, and as he stood to go he abruptly remembered that they were not alone.
Jean sat patiently waiting her turn to speak with Professor Xavier, and for a moment Scott couldn’t help but wonder what her own talents might have revealed to her about his and Xavier’s conversation. Then Jean smiled at him.
Scott smiled back, and as he walked out the door of Xavier’s office Scott felt like nothing on the face of the Earth could possibly be worth worrying over.
Jean listened to the door close behind Scott before her smile faded and she fixed her attention fully upon Professor Xavier. Is everything all right? she asked him cautiously.
She knew better than to eavesdrop, even though the desire to do so was beyond tempting, but she did register the basic flow of the conversation from their emotions. Much like reading body language and nonverbal cues, she got an overall impression of what was being discussed without absorbing any of the specific details.
Meaning, with Scott, the professor offered intuitively.
Jean blushed but made no attempt to confirm or deny her obvious concern for him.
Scott and I have a few issues to address, nothing he can’t handle, Xavier stated with calm confidence, which is also why I wanted to talk to you, he finished, neatly changing the focus of discussion.
The simple fact is that you and I, Jean, have an advantage that the others don’t have. With the proper focus and concentration, mental strengths can be utilized regardless of the user’s relative proximity to the object of attention. So, I have a choice to present to you, and you may base your decision on whatever you find yourself most comfortable with. You may go with the rest of team as they physically confront Winters, or remain with me as I monitor the situation from a separate location – presumably from aboard the plane, he amended. That way I can also make ready our timely exit.
Jean took a deep breath. She knew the professor was right. Her skills, like his, could easily be utilized from a distance, especially considering that Xavier would be there to help guide her – and that idea provided more than small comfort to her. She bit at her lip over that thought. Jean didn’t know how effective she would be under these circumstances. She didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in her telekinesis and even less in her telepathy (the latter, she had barely begun to develop; truthfully, she was completely satisfied with its lack of development – as long as all those voices stayed out of her head, she actually had a decent shot at concentrating on her telekinesis), but even for the sake of her greater comfort, she would not deprive Scott and Ororo of the relatively smaller comfort of her presence standing beside them as they faced Winters.
Xavier was fully aware of her hesitation, and that it was the strength of the tie Jean felt to her friends which eventually won out over her own self-doubt. That gave him hope that Jean’s determination would also be sufficient to overcome her doubts, in time.
I promised Scott and Ororo we’d do this together.
The professor nodded appreciatively, and Jean was reassured by the feeling that he understood, and even approved of, her decision.
If you need me, Jean, I’ll be with you. I’ll be with you all, he reassured her.
Jean realized that he meant that literally. Mentally, Xavier had the power to be almost anywhere he wanted to be, and for a moment it was eerie for Jean to think that she had that power too. Omnipresent. She shook the thought away, uncomfortable with the nearly limitless power it implied, power far beyond her limited control.... Right now, the only place Jean wanted to be was standing beside her friends.
High above the Nebraska landscape, Hank McCoy finished his final preparations before landing. The protective suits had been unpacked and given once last inspection; as soon as the plane set down and the group geared up, this mission would be off and running. Satisfied that everything was in place, Hank returned to his seat and strapped himself in. Jean Grey followed his lead.
While Scott and Ororo had spent the trip in the cockpit getting a tutorial from the professor and Warren (who were acting as pilot and copilot), Jean had been passing the time in discourse with Hank. Their conversation had eventually come around to the question of why the protective suits were necessary for some but not all of their group.
Hank prefaced his answer with the story of his own mutant origins. His mutation, much like Winters’, came as an unintended result of radiation exposure.
“My father worked at a nuclear power plant, and he was once involved in an exposure incident. No long-term harm came to him,” Hank amended, “but he always suspected himself to be the cause of my mutation.”
Jean winced at the regret and guilt that sounded in his voice, but Hank followed up with a familiar congenial smile.
“But I was his only child. Even if I was born different, with unusually long limbs, and unusually large hands and feet – in addition to a rather vast intellect – he and my mother thought I was perfect.”
Jean smiled back at him. She also had an appreciation of how crucial parental support could be. Her own parents had stayed by her side night and day, refusing to give up hope when her powers had manifested to disastrous results... and no one had understood the cause. Years later, despite their fears and reservations, Jean knew that they, along with Sarah, would always be there to support her, in both her uniqueness and in her aspirations for achieving a “normal” future.
“Then you were as you are now, from birth?”
“Physically, yes, but as is usually the case, my mutation further manifested itself during adolescence. In this instance, providing me with greater strength and agility, as well as resilience to injury. Being young and naive, I tried, perhaps foolishly, to use my newfound abilities to better fit in, and quickly found that I could excel at various forms of athletics. Success soon became rather predictable, and I attracted the animosity of my fellow students as well as others at the school and in the wider community who objected to anything out of the ordinary, and who found my presence threatening in particular.”
“What did you do?”
“Luckily, my parents were able to finish my schooling, with the help of private tutors who were well-paid for their time and their discretion. Eventually I completed my formal education and went on to find work as a research scientist, holding several specialized degrees in biology and organic chemistry. But my personal and private research, at the time, focused entirely on genetics and mutation. Seeking first and foremost to understand myself, I made several significant discoveries. Most pertinent to us at the moment, is the fact that my initial mutation made my molecular structure exceedingly resistant to the expected detrimental effects accompanying further exposure to harmful radiation.
“Charles came to my aid when my independent research inadvertently landed me in the middle of an international spying incident. After that, we remained in communication, sharing common interests in research in general and mutants in particular. When he offered me the chance to be a teacher at his school and to have the financial resources of the Xavier Institute, as well as Worthington Industries, behind my scientific investigations, it was the sort of opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up.”
“What about Warren then?” Jean asked, again remembering the starting point for this conversation. “Was his mutation also a result of radiation exposure?”
“Warren possesses a highly increased metabolism in fitting with the avian aspects of his physical structure. As a result, his body can readily repair most forms of degenerative disease well before they would become incapacitating to the average person.” Hank shook his head, laughing lightly at Jean’s evident confusion. “Surely you didn’t think those wings of his were intended to support a normal human of his size.”
“I guess I never gave it much thought,” she confessed.
“You should, Jean,” he admonished lightly. “It’s a fascinating subject, mutation.”
She nodded thoughtfully, as a matter of politeness. Truthfully, Jean preferred to spend the vast majority of her time avoiding those kinds of questions... what made her different from everyone else, and why.
“And the professor?” Jean persisted.
“Ah, his mutation, and his protective mechanism, is based purely within the constructs of his mental abilities. As you know, Charles is able to create enormously powerful mental shields, shields capable of deflecting all manner of psychic attack.”
“But the effects of radiation exposure are a physical phenomenon, cumulative, and occurring constantly on a molecular level. How can the mind, even one as strong as the professor’s, combat that?”
Hank only shrugged. “Charles’ father was one of the preeminent nuclear scientists of his time, and Charles, himself, is an expert in the field of molecular biophysics. It seems to me that if he can stem the cascade of neural activity – stun a mind into unconsciousness – with merely a thought, perhaps it is possible to do the same on a cellular basis: stop the flow of regenerative activity until the cells of the body cease to be impacted by harmful exposure to radiation.”
Jean stared at Hank with her mouth agape for several seconds. But she was spared the need to formulate a coherent response when they each felt the plane set down.
From the cockpit, Scott Summers watched the plane settle smoothly to the ground in a clearing that Fred Duncan had recommended for this purpose. It left them a short distance removed from the nuclear facility, and the plane was conveniently shielded from sight by the surrounding forest.
Scott unstrapped himself from his seat, behind Professor Xavier in the pilot’s position, and gave a sigh of relief at being back on the ground. Even with Xavier’s attempts to make Scott more comfortable with the flight, the experience of being back in a plane again had been more than a little dicey for Scott. He wasn’t a superstitious person, but still, Scott kept expecting something to go wrong – like somehow the fates would find a way to finish him off this time after his narrow escape from them the first time.
But instead of letting himself sit idly, worrying, he had faced his fears head-on; Scott had remained in the cockpit for the duration of the flight, pouring all of his attention into soaking up every bit information pertaining to the plane’s operation. And while grateful to be back on the ground, he also had to admit that being in the air was an exhilarating experience, one he was sure he could quickly grow to love once the initial shock of it wore off.
He got the feeling Ororo also shared his sentiments about soaring high over the earth. She sat alongside Scott, behind Warren in the copilot’s seat. Warren was an amateur pilot, and he had kept a running commentary for Ororo throughout the flight, explaining how an extensive knowledge of atmospheric conditions could be utilized in piloting a plane.
“Or even yourself,” he had added with a mischievous wink.
Ororo had grinned widely, determined that she would test that theory at a later date.
Scott led Ororo and Warren into the small passenger hold where Jean and Hank awaited. By the time they had moved into the hold, Hank and Jean had already unstrapped from their seats, Jean was suited up, and Hank was waiting to get Scott and Ororo into their protective suits. Scott picked up the suit Hank had modified for his use; he’d added a ruby quartz window to the otherwise clear protective visor, and incorporated a side access panel so Scott could still activate his visor by touch.
And sitting there on an empty seat beside Hank was the harmonic device, the ultrasonic vibration inducer, their last ditch option, a device capable of breaking apart diamonds. Scott shivered, remembering Hank’s earlier hope that his invention wouldn’t be needed. Scott hoped that too.... Winters might deserve whatever he had coming to him; if anyone did, Winters did... but Scott didn’t want anyone’s death on his conscience, even Jack Winters’.
The professor rolled in behind them just as Scott and Ororo were suited up. “All right,” he prompted them assuredly, “everyone knows what they’re expected to do. Our goal is to confront Winters and to keep him detained outside the facility until we can safely capture him.”
Everyone nodded in response, including Charles Xavier.
“Good. Take care of each other out there,” he added quietly.
Scott, Ororo, and Jean walked down the boarding ramp and made their way toward the nuclear facility on foot. Warren and Hank also made their way toward the facility – Warren from the air, and Hank from the trees. Once they were near to the perimeter, Ororo was able to conjure up a thunder head and knock out the security system with a well-placed bolt of lightening.
Good work, Xavier acknowledged after confirming with Warren and Hank that security was down from their locations as well. That sentiment was seconded by smiles from Scott and Jean. Scott then narrowed his optic blasts down to a fine beam which could be used to cut through a section of the perimeter fence, which Jean was then able to catch and peel aside.
Very good. Your path is clear. You’ll find Winters approaching from the north.
Scott nodded. “Let’s go,” he said to Ororo and Jean.
The three of them made their way up to the facility and intercepted Winters, as expected. If Winters was surprised to be found here, he gave no indication of alarm. In fact, he went out of his way to greet Scott.
“Well, look here. If it ain’t my old pal, Slim....”
“No, it’s not,” Scott answered sharply. “I haven’t been that guy for a long time.”
Winters only smiled at Scott’s rebuff. “And here I thought maybe you’d come back to join your old partner.” He took notice of Ororo and Jean, who stood to either side of Scott. “I guess not,” he conceded.
Jean and Ororo listened warily to the exchange, while also remaining aware of what else was happening around them. It came as no surprise to either of them that they disliked Winters immensely. He spoke to Scott in a voice that veiled malicious intent beneath razor-thin congeniality... like a bully who knew he had the upper hand. Jack Winters was someone accustomed to subjugating those around him, and he was not above using violence when simple intimidation failed to ensure instantaneous obedience.
“See you brought along some friends. That didn’t work out so good for you last time, Slim.”
“It’s over, Jack,” Scott stated, ignoring Winters’ attempts to put him off balance by bringing up the past. “This is the last of your schemes, and we’re here to make sure this one doesn’t work.”
Winters laughed; only Scott recognized how dangerous that sound was.
“You and what army, Slim?” he threatened.
Scott put a hand to his visor when Winters turned toward the building, but he felt a nudge from Jean, followed shortly by the professor’s indication that they should wait. And he became sharply aware of the fact that Jean and Ororo were still standing beside him, ready. Scott’s fingers flexed in nervous response. He didn’t want to let Winters out of his line of sight; but he didn’t want to foil their overall plan by acting too soon.
Winters only got another half step before Warren came out of nowhere, knocked him to the ground, then was gone again. But in the next split second Hank had dropped down from his overhead perch, planting both massive feet across Winters’ shoulders before he’d had the chance to get back to his feet.
Winters wasn’t done though. He grabbed one of Hank’s massive legs in his own massive grip and, with a twist of his arm, sent Hank sprawling to one side. Warren came back for another pass but had his work cut out for him in avoiding the diamond encrusted fists intent on knocking him from the air. With Winters occupied by a cat and mouse game with Warren, Xavier got involved. Winters shook his head as though suddenly sluggish, then seemingly understanding that he was under attack, Winters yelled in rage.
Jean winced and stumbled back a half step when she felt Winters block Xavier’s psychic attack, flinging that energy back at Xavier. Both Scott and Ororo had seen enough. Winters was stronger and more resistant to attack they had expected him to be. If they didn’t manage to get him subdued quickly, the whole plan was in danger of collapse.
Scott fired off a couple of shots, mainly to gain Winters’ attention and to give Xavier and Jean a couple of seconds to regroup. Then, before Winters had the chance to really focus on Scott’s position, Ororo created some fog cover, allowing the three of them to close the remaining distance to the facility unseen.
Xavier responded with approval; he could still coordinate the attack while Winters was left guessing how and from where it would next come. The fog began to clear as Hank and Warren tried another, combined, assault, which Xavier aided. But, again, Winters overpowered them to free himself, and this time he wasted no time in making a break for the facility’s entrance. Xavier slowed him down, and called out to Scott, but Scott needed no encouragement; he had already opened fire on the door Winters was racing toward.
Winters reached the door within seconds of its collapse and quickly began digging with both hands. When he came across a live electrical line in the debris, he pulled it free and connected it with a nearby metal frame. Sparks shorted everywhere, and flames began to spread. Winters ignored the new destruction and continued digging his way into the facility.
Ororo waved her hands over her head, hastily producing storm clouds to douse the flames, but a bit too hastily... the accompanying winds fanned the flames further. She tried redirecting the winds away from the building, only to have her actions inadvertently knock Warren out of the air as he was moving in fast after Winters.
After that there was nothing short of chaos. Horrified that her mistake might have caused even greater harm, Ororo raced toward the place where Warren had fallen. The flames were still spreading, though more slowly now that the winds had died down. Hank laboriously pulled a nearby water reservoir close enough to extinguish the flames, while Jean was able to telekinetically direct the stream of water. Scott tried frantically to find Winters again in the smoky landscape.
Jean, can you see him? he asked, not even sure where Jean was at the moment.
A mental image from Xavier warned Scott: Winters was still digging his way into the rubble, but about to break through.
Scott sprinted for the place where the door had been before he had blasted it, and he cursed when he saw nothing there but rubble; Winters had already gotten inside. Scott hardly thought about it, and he didn’t slow his pace in the least. Running right at the solid wall adjacent to the destroyed door, he blasted a second hole and darted inside before the unsupported wall could collapse. Only then did he realize that Jean was right behind him.
“You alright?” he demanded, grabbing her arm to pull her further inside. Scott’s makeshift entrance shifted into further collapse behind her, combining with what was left of the entrance to form one huge heap of rubble.
Jean nodded, momentarily unable to speak. Her face was smeared with soot, and she was out of breath, coughing slightly from smoke inhalation. But she was otherwise unharmed.
Scott sighed in relief before turning to take inventory of their surroundings. The room they were in now was completely dark, all the lights had been shorted out. Further inside, a backup generator lit the halls dimly. Scott scanned the hallway, his hand at the ready by his visor. There was no choice now but for the two of them to go further into the facility after Winters.
He communicated that to the professor, who reluctantly agreed, then offered the assurance that the rest of the group would catch up to Scott and Jean as soon as they could find or make a way inside.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004