Title: The Player on the Other Side
Characters Ch. 2: Scott, Stryker, OC
Summary Ch. 2: The commander of Alkali Base locks horns with William
Summary WIP: A popular officer is framed for the destruction of
Alkali Base. His friends band together to ruin the mutant they
Rating Ch. 2: PG-13
Note Ch. 2: Anything Stryker says about U.S. domestic policy on
terrorism should be taken with a grain of salt. A sack of salt.
A whole salt mine, in fact.
Author: Rachel Martin
Archive: Archive anywhere.
Disclaimers: The X-Men belong to Marvel and 20th Century Fox. No
copyright infringement is intended and no money is being made.
Feedback: Feedback is welcome. Critical comments will not be
misinterpreted as a flame.
Colonel Sam Tyler lifted the receiver of the telephone on the
wall beside the vault-like door to the Alkali Base Operations Center.
He dialed no number; the phone had no dial, and no keypad. He heard
no dial tone, and no ring.
After a moment of silence, a voice asked, "Name?"
"Tyler, Sam." He was the only Tyler on Alkali Base, which marginally
simplified his life.
Pause. The voice said, "Nine thousand."
Tyler did a quick calculation in his head. "Eighteen-twelve."
Tyler hung up the phone and turned toward the door. He listened for
the click that would mean the locking mechanism of the door had
disengaged. He didn't assume it would.
Sam Tyler had stopped assuming a lot of things since reporting to
this godforsaken place in the Canadian Rockies. He had stopped
assuming he had access to every room in the labyrinth that was the
converted dam complex. He had stopped assuming his password would
open every file in the network. Just this morning he had stopped
assuming that he knew the identity of every person who entered or
exited the facility.
Tyler took a deep breath and only moderately succeeded in calming
himself. William Stryker might be the lead researcher on the Cerebro
Initiative, but Sam Tyler was the commander of Alkali Base. And Sam
Tyler fully intended to wrest control of Alkali Base from the Cerebro
Initiative. Dr. Stryker might have managed to intimidate the previous
base commander, but a new sheriff was in town.
"Open the pod bay doors, HAL," he muttered.
He hauled the heavy door open and strode through.
Tyler was unsurprised to find Stryker in Lyman's office. Major Lyman
was the leader of a platoon-sized element that reported through
Stryker directly to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,
Technology, and Logistics. It had been made abundantly clear to Tyler
that they did not report to him. Tyler knew little about
the "Republican Guard," other than the fact that they all carried
higher security clearances than he did. More disquietingly, they were
the only personnel on base who routinely wore sidearms. Even the
military police who guarded the dam were required to return their
weapons to the armory at the end of each shift.
A noticeably reduced number of Lyman's men were swaggering about the
complex today. Tyler had in fact observed (with a sense of quiet
satisfaction) a number of distinctly battered-looking individuals
limping about. Stryker and the Republican Guard had pulled a
vanishing act seven days ago, returning from their mystery mission at
about oh-four-thirty, according to the watch officer's log. Had
returned with unexpected guests.
Pacing about Lyman's office, apparently in conference with
Stryker, was Dr. Yates, a Cerebro contractor who doubled as the base
physician and surgeon. It'd be a cold day in hell -- or a warm day in
Canada -- when Tyler went to the bitch for so much as an aspirin. At
least Stryker's aide, the creepy Japanese broad who wore those
vampirish blue contacts, was nowhere in sight. Tyler, who spoke
Japanese fluently, had yet to engage her in conversation, and hoped
to avoid doing so for the remainder of his tour of duty. He didn't
figure it'd be difficult -- he'd never heard the woman speak to
anyone on the base at all, in any language, though presumably she
spoke to Stryker.
And yes, Stryker was wearing a uniform again. Someday, Tyler thought,
the pathetic old fart was going to have to come to grips with the
fact that he was retired.
"I'm fully occupied at the moment, Colonel." Stryker glanced at his
watch in a dismissive gesture as Tyler stalked in.
Tyler ignored the hint. Placing his hands flat on the desk, he leaned
over and said conversationally, "What is Scott Summers doing at
If he had hoped to startle an honest expression out of Stryker, he
was sadly mistaken. Stryker didn't miss a beat. "Please don't expect
me to know the name of every cook and bottle-washer assigned to this
"I don't have any personnel who are mutants. And nobody but a mutant
has to wear a contraption like that on his face. And that uniform
he's got on sure as hell isn't U.S. or Canadian. I know who the guy
is, Dr. Stryker. The mutant you brought in this morning. Cyclops,
that's his code name, right?"
Silence. Stryker wasn't staring at his wristwatch anymore.
"You've been in the Genetics Monitoring database?" Stryker asked
softly. "How did you obtain access? That database requires a Level
Nine security clearance."
Tyler sidestepped the question. He had not been able to crack the
database. He did, however, have a far-flung network of battle buddies
and a secure satellite telephone.
He bluffed, "I'm the commander of this facility and I'll open any
file in any database maintained here. So let's talk about Cyclops."
"Mutant X106, you mean?"
"I'm talking about the guy with the nuclear eyeballs, okay?" Tyler
fought not to shout. "I'm talking about the mutie freak who's
supposed to be able to punch a hole through Cheyenne Mountain. So I
don't suppose Alkali Dam would be much of a challenge for him." Okay,
so, he was shouting. "Why'd you bring him to my base and when were
you planning on telling me?"
Stryker settled back in Lyman's chair. He sighed, as though the base
commander were boring him. "Mutant X106 was picked up in a raid by
the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He pretends to be a shop teacher at a
private school near New York City. The school is actually a cover for
a terrorist training camp. If you've read the mutant's file, you know
he's been linked to Magneto and the attack on the world leaders'
summit. There's clear evidence he's working with al Qaeda. And while
I agree he's earned an all-expenses paid vacation in Cuba, I
persuaded the Secretary of Defense to detain him here instead."
Stryker stared impressively at Tyler. "Rehabilitation, not revenge,
Colonel. It's the only lasting solution to the mutant problem."
Tyler hesitated angrily. He'd served in the Far East since before
September 11th, and didn't know much more than the man on the street
about "homeland security" or mutant activism. He didn't know the
players, had merely a basic grasp of the issues, and didn't know the
applicable laws. He'd seldom even read any English-language
newspapers while overseas. He realized, to his chagrin, that he
simply didn't know enough to punch holes in any story Stryker might
Much later it would occur to him that this had probably been the
deciding factor in his selection as commander of Alkali Base.
"What about the old man in the wheelchair? And the pack of kids? Who
the hell are they?"
"The old man is a member of the Board on Army Science and Technology
at the National Academies. He's here to monitor and evaluate the
first clinical trials of the Cerebro, which, I am happy to say, are
only days away. As I'm sure you noticed, his health is precarious. He
needs his rest and I'll thank you not to disturb him." Stryker rolled
his eyes. "The children were scooped up with Mutant X106 in the raid
on their so-called school. Mutant X106 is their legal guardian,
believe it or not. A sad commentary on our social services, wouldn't
you agree? Part of the terrorist recruitment strategy -- the adults
adopt or foster young mutants and train them up."
"So what the hell are the kids doing here? Why weren't they placed in
foster homes back in the States?" Tyler snapped.
"The President personally ordered them to be taken into custody and
interrogated." Stryker shrugged at Tyler's incredulous look. "Young
as they are, these mutants are in violation of the President's
Military Order. Obviously they're not going to be charged, but
they're in possession of intelligence vital to the war on terror."
Dr. Yates interrupted. "For heaven's sake, Colonel, these so-called
kids are little terrorists in training. Their mutant powers could
manifest at any moment. Do you think foster parents are fighting over
them? New York State can't even find a prison willing to take them.
It'll be months before they can be placed." She shrugged. "What
better place to detain them than at Alkali Base? This is the Mayo
Clinic for mutation disorders."
"Whoa," Tyler said slowly. "Whoa there. The Cerebro -- you said
you're ready to start clinical trials. That's what you just said,
isn't it? You're not -- you aren't going to experiment on those kids,
are you? Is that what you brought them here for?"
"Excuse me, Colonel, if I don't appreciate the comparison to
Mengele," Stryker said haughtily. "As you know, the Cerebro
Initiative is concerned with developing a means of suppressing or
neutralizing mutation disorders. Now those who funded this project
did so with the goal of eliminating a terrorist threat to North
America. But my own goal has always been the rehabilitation of
mutants and their re-integration into mainstream society."
Stryker fixed Tyler with a stare of religious fervor. "Mutant X106
could be the first to benefit from the Cerebro Initiative. With my
help, this alienated young mutant could be returned to his former
productive life as an auto mechanic. And those children? They need
never manifest their mutations at all. They could become normal
children. Adoptable children. Would you deny them that opportunity?"
"Well, no -- of course not -- I didn't mean --" Tyler floundered.
Dammit all to hell. How had he wound up on the defensive?
Stryker got to his feet. "If that's your idea of experimentation,
Colonel, then I am proud to be guilty."
Stryker regally swept toward the door of Lyman's office. Tyler meekly
stood aside and let him pass.
Sam Tyler felt like a complete idiot.