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
Ororo raced hard toward the spot where she had seen Warren tumble to the ground after getting clipped by one of her wind gusts. He had hit hard and finally come to a halt, rolled into a cocoon of sorts, with his wings folded against his sides and wrapped tightly around his body. She wasn’t sure if the defensive posture was meant more to protect his wings or his body from the impact.
“Are you all right?” she questioned as she dropped to the ground to kneel beside him.
Warren nodded, slowly got to his feet, then flexed his wings like most people would roll their shoulders or stretch their arms.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Ororo released a sigh of relief. Warren extended a hand to help her up, and each of them turned their attentions to where Hank was fighting the flames. He had pulled over a water reservoir, which he was now using like an oversized bucket to douse the last of the flames. Once the fire was safely extinguished, Ororo looked around suspiciously.
“Where are Scott and Jean?”
They’ve gone inside, the professor answered.
Warren stifled a worried curse and jumped into the air with a powerful flap of his wings. He was the only one of the three able to follow in Scott and Jean’s path through the smouldering debris that now stood in front of them. But as soon as he got into the air he could see there was no getting into the facility the way Scott and Jean had gone. As if to underscore that fact, part of the roof gave way, caving in under its newly unsupported weight. Warren dropped back to the ground and turned his back on the collapse, using one massive wing to shield himself and the others from the accompanying dust storm.
You three will have to find another way inside.
“And Scott and Jean?” Ororo demanded.
I will assist them from here. Now go.
“I’ll scout the building from the air,” Warren told Hank, “stay close, and see what you can find on the ground.”
“Agreed,” Hank said. Then he and Ororo set off after Warren, scouting the building’s perimeter.
Inside the nuclear facility, Scott and Jean had been slowed considerably by the lack of power. There was only emergency lighting available, and most of the doors had locked themselves from the inside. Scott silently hoped this would be the worst of their problems.
Scott had known that it was a bad idea to chase Jack into territory that Jack knew and Scott didn’t, but Scott had taken that risk anyway. He had chased after Winters blindly, determined not to let him get away... and Jean had stayed right behind him. They came to a halt at a fork inside the darkened facility. Scott listened for a moment but could hear nothing except for the sound of his own breathing.
“Jean,” he asked, “can you tell where he went?” She was quiet for a moment; only the slight change in her breathing betrayed her concentration.
“I can sense that he’s still here,” she finally admitted, “but figuring out how to get to him, that will be harder.”
Then they each heard the professor’s voice in their minds. I can guide you, but you must hurry.
The professor led them through the facility, extrapolating images from Winter’s own mind for use as directions. They could each feel the accompanying sense of urgency in Xavier’s thoughts as they progressed deeper into the facility.
Hurry! Xavier said again as they reached the last door.
Scott saw the image of Winters’ barricading the door from the inside, and Scott blasted both door and barricade aside with one calculated burst of energy from his visor.
“We’re too late,” Jean cringed.
Winters had already entered the reaction chamber. Alarms began to blare as the system came on line.
“Not if I can help it,” Scott gritted, and he rushed for the controls.
She saw the professor’s unheeded mental warning to Scott. Winters had expected Scott to pursue him, and had set a trap.
“Scott, no!” Jean yelled.
Even knowing that it was a trap, Scott had no intention of stopping. All he cared about was getting close enough to hit the emergency kill switch before Winters could absorb the full dose of radiation... but Winters had anticipated that move.
He had bypassed the standard electric grid, using the emergency power grid to start the nuclear reaction, so there was no easy way to cut power to the reaction chamber. Once the reaction chamber was engaged, the nuclear reaction could generate enough power to support itself independently, and it could not safely be shut down until it reached the end of its reaction cycle.
But Winters had done more than simply ensure that they couldn’t stop him. His tampering with the emergency override (which normally shut down power to the reaction chamber and simultaneously sealed the reaction chamber off from the rest of the room) had activated an additional safety override that would seal off the control area as an added precaution. This way anyone who was in the control area to monitor the reaction – or, in Winters’ case, trying to stop it – would find themselves sealed off from the rest of the room.
Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t necessarily be dangerous to the controller, but these were not normal circumstances. Winters intended to peg the chamber, purposefully overloading the system in order to expose himself to as much radiation as possible: more radiation than the safety systems could fully contain. Thanks to Winters’ adjustments, anyone who was trapped in the adjacent control area was going to be exposed to the same dangerous radiation Winters was exposing himself to within the reaction chamber.
Thus Winters had ensured that when Scott hit emergency kill switch, Scott would be irradiated along with Jack. Seemingly, Winter believed that once his and Scott’s fates were the same, he would regain control over Scott – and his enhanced mutant powers. Jean saw all of this, in a single instant of Winters’ thoughts and memories, relayed to her by Professor Xavier. She reacted just as instantaneously, jerking Scott back out of harm’s way, and only a split second before the emergency override kicked in.
A series of heavy, lead-lined doors sealed off the reaction chamber and its control area from the rest of the room while new alarms began to blare. Their warning betrayed the fact that, inside the chamber, radiation was already reaching unsafe, and possibly uncontainable, levels. Another heavy set of lead-lined doors sealed off the room’s exits. But neither Scott nor Jean had noticed any of that yet.
Scott was out of danger from radiation exposure, but Jean’s overreaction had sent him flying across the room like a loose pinball. He hit the wall with crushing force and slid, stunned and unmoving, down to the floor before Jean could race across the room after him.
After a couple of seconds Scott hesitantly lifted a hand to his face, securing his visor beneath protective gear; suddenly he felt a lot more grateful to be wearing a radiation suit. Assured that his visor was still properly in place, he opened his eyes. Jean was leaning over him.
“Scott. Are you alright? I’m so sorry.”
“I’m okay,” he answered quickly, reflexively.
She gritted her teeth, wincing. “Your shoulder.” It was obviously dislocated, maybe broken.
“I still think I’d rather be out here,” he admitted dryly.
Both of them looked back toward the thick emergency doors that had sealed them off from the reaction chamber and its control area, and for a moment there was only the blaring of alarms and the pounding of their own hearts.
“Is he still alive in there?” Scott finally asked.
“Yes,” both Jean and Professor Xavier replied. And getting stronger, the professor warned. Be ready.
The room fell eerily silent when the alarms finally stopped. Then a heavy pounding of unbreakable rock meeting intractable metal caused both Scott and Jean to jump. An instant later Scott struggled to his feet, with Jean holding on to his good arm for support.
The ominous pounding continued until the unfortunate metal gave way, allowing Jack to force his way out of the twice-sealed chamber. He was now completely encrusted in diamond form.
Professor, Scott called mentally, is there any way to know the extent of his mutation, his vulnerabilities?
Xavier answered back quickly, frustration evident in his voice. No. In this form, he’s impervious to my mental probe, and to any form of psychic attack. I’m sending the others to you.
“You heard that?” Scott asked, glancing toward Jean.
She nodded, and Jean’s hand tightened on Scott’s arm. If Xavier could do nothing to stop him, what chance did the two of them have?
Then there was a new pounding sound as the man who had been Jack Winters – but had exited the reaction chamber as the fully irradiated mutant, Jack O’Diamonds – set his sights firmly on the two teenagers. Scott and Jean watched him steadily closing the distance between them as he took one slow, heavy step after another, and with each new step forward he pounded one hand into his open fist; it sounded like the grating of pulverized glass, and each impact produced a fine spray of dust-like shards.
Scott took a half step forward, trying to place himself between Jean, who was still holding tightly onto his good arm, and Winters. The motion was instinctive but the situation was not unfamiliar. Jack Winters was a mutant. Scott hadn’t known about the existence of mutants before, and Jack had never been able to control the powers that he occasionally manifested, usually in moments of violent anger, but Scott knew firsthand how Jack had been able to use those powers to his advantage.
“Now,” – Pound – “if I remember correctly,” – Pound – “you and me got an old score to settle, Slim.”
Scott swallowed hard and placed his hand to his visor.
“I don’t think so,” Jean answered coldly.
She moved forward slightly, standing beside Scott once more. Her hand stretched out in front of her like a stop sign, face determined, her brow furrowed in concentration.
Winters’ face showed confusion when Jean stopped his forward momentum, but after a moment Jack continued to come.
Jean struggled harder. “Scott, I can’t hold him.”
The strain that sounded in her controlled voice immediately galvanized him from shock into action. Scott fired, repeatedly, each time increasing the power behind his optic blasts, but his blasts did little more than give Winters a moment’s pause before he came forward again.
“That the best you got, Slim?” Jack taunted.
Jean sagged with fatigue, her arm dropped to her side, and she placed a hand to her brow as though dizzy. Scott slipped his arm around her waist to help steady her.
“Aw,” Winters cooed in mock sympathy, “looks like I wore your little girlfriend out.”
Jean shook it off, fixing a deliberate gaze on Winters. I’m okay, Scott. Take him out!
Scott increased the power and fired again, this time meeting Winters’ advance with a constant flow of energy from his visor. Once again, Scott was able to slow Winters down, for a time, but he soon found that without Jean’s efforts to aid his, Winters was advancing on them even more quickly.
Scott abruptly changed tactics, aiming at the floor in front of Winters, blasting a deep gouge in the reinforced metal. Winters teetered on the edge, trying in vain to balance his awesome mass, but just when it seemed he might successfully pull back, Scott fired again, taking the floor from under his feet and sending Winters toppling into the void.
Winters immediately gave an angry howl and started trying to climb out, crushing the metal floor under his fingertips in the process.
“That was a good move,” Jean breathed in cautious approval.
“But it won’t hold him for long,” Scott finished her thought. Professor, we need help here, he called mentally.
Xavier continued his own efforts; he had hoped that perhaps, once Scott and Jean could weaken Winters, something would give – but Xavier’s mental probe still proved unable to penetrate Winters’ diamond form. In response to Scott, he made contact with Warren, Hank, and Ororo.
Hang on, Scott, he replied a moment later.
Scott knew from the accompanying mental image that help was close-by, and he also got a glimpse of the new plan Xavier was setting into motion. But it was neither of those things that caused Scott to smile unexpectedly. A breeze rustled through the enclosed room, almost before Hank had successfully forced open one of the heavy doors.
“Let’s see if you can walk through this,” Ororo challenged as she picked up the assault, directing gale force winds directly at Winters. She was able to slow him significantly, twice causing him to topple backward into the breach Scott had created. But soon she too had to concede. Winters continued to come, and her efforts were causing too much damage to the rest of the room.
For a long moment the three of them stood together against Winters’ advance. They had no more resistance to offer, but that was okay. They no longer needed to slow Winters down.
“All clear, Warren,” Hank called. Then Hank turned his attention to the mutant, Jack O’Diamonds. “Surrender yourself, Mr. Winters. This confrontation can still end peaceably. We have no wish to harm you.”
“Harm me?” Winters scoffed at Hank’s peace offering. “You people can’t even stop me. ”
“Don’t be a fool. Save yourself, Jack. Surrender.”
“Worry about your own hide, Slim. You and me is just the first in a long line of scores I been waiting to settle. And now–” Winters held his hands up like they were boxing gloves. “Ain’t nobody stoppin’ Jack O’Diamonds.”
Warren sailed into the room at Hank’s prompt, buzzing around Winters once, ignoring the diamond-encrusted man’s clumsy attempts to turn and swipe at him. Winters never saw Warren drop the harmonic device into the breach behind him. Then Warren was gliding between Winters and the three teenagers, pausing only long enough to order Scott, Ororo, and Jean to get behind Hank.
They retreated as ordered, gathering around the spot where Hank stood in hallway. After a brief consultation between the two men, Warren took off again, leading their way down the narrow hall, presumably in search of a suitable exit. Scott glanced behind them. He wasn’t surprised to see Jack still pursuing. But the sight gave Scott a sick feeling in the pit of his gut that hadn’t been there before. The harmonic device was able to do what Scott and the others had failed to do; it provided constant resistance to Winters’ every movement. And as before, Winters resisted. Scott knew how this was going to end.
“This is your last chance, Jack,” Scott yelled. “Stop where you are. Surrender peacefully. Or be destroyed.”
Winters made no response other than to continue moving forward at his heavy, lumbering gate. However, his momentum was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. Winters knew something was different but, seemingly assured of his indestructibility, he continued to come for them, his own movements further compounding the concussive effects of the device.
Scott was watching in spite of himself, in horror. It had to be a terrible way to die... basically shaken to pieces... but Winters had left them with no other choice. There was one thing Scott knew very well about Jack Winters: Jack was never content to settle for less, not when he thought there was a way to get more. He’d never been one to listen to reason and concede his losses. He always did get his way, eventually. And nobody told him no.
Then Hank grabbed Scott and pulled him in front of Hank. Scott winced at the sudden motion, but the pain in his arm was forgotten a second later when a high-pitched vibration rang out, followed by what sounded like a muffled explosion. Hank used his own body and thick hide to shield them from the blast and the resulting shrapnel-like diamond projectiles.
Scott looked back for a second time once everything was again quiet. Nothing remained of Winters’ diamond form but a scattering of dust and fine debris.
So Let it Be Written Publishing © 2004