Note: For intro and info, please see Teaser
Also, if I posted this chapter twice, please accept my apologies (my
Scott pulled the car up onto a side road about half a mile from the
location that Charles had pinpointed using Cerebro. They had no
idea what they were heading into, and they needed a plan.
"Kurt, can you do a little reconnaissance for us?" Scott spoke in a
hushed tone, as though he was afraid someone would overhear, even
from this distance. Taking his cue from their leader, Kurt nodded
silently and padded away. Scott and Hank checked their surroundings
and made sure that there was no one on the perimeter, before
relaxing against the car.
After a moment, Hank picked up on their prior conversation. "I
appreciate that you see a difference between my research and Colonel
Stryker's. As a scientist, I have always believed in the primacy of
objective knowledge, based on rigorous experimentation. The subject
of that experimentation has never been a concern of mine before.
However, I am beginning to see that the experiences of experimental
subjects might in and of themselves be an important area of
consideration." He sighed. "I would very much like to turn my
attention toward helping people such as Logan recover from the
traumas they've suffered."
Scott looked at the other man, a bit surprised. Hank was the newest
addition to the team, and he'd been quite reserved thus far. He was
unfailingly polite, an excellent doctor, and a passable if a *bit*
boring teacher, but the depth of emotion the bestial man could
feel suggested that there was much more to this man than his self-
identification as a scientist would imply. "I think that's an
incredible idea, Hank," Scott replied finally. "God knows there's a
need for it." Hank offered him a smile.
They sat in silence for a moment more, and then Kurt appeared at
their side in a halo of blue smoke. "There is a warehouse, just
over that rise," he said, indicating the direction with his
hand. "It has some very sophisticated technology, but it appears to
"Abandoned?" Scott was surprised. Why would they go to the trouble
of taking Rogue and Jubilee all the way out here, only to
leave? "Well, let's check it out anyway. We might be able to find
something. Kurt do you think you could get inside?" Kurt had
been practicing teleporting into spaces that he had not seen, trying
to hone his natural sixth sense for spaces. He thought for a
moment, and then nodded. "Okay," Scott said, straightening
up. "Let's go Hank and I will keep a lookout while you try to
infiltrate the building. Hopefully, you can find a way to bypass
their security and we can get some clues as to what's going on
here." The others nodded in agreement, and they headed out.
Rogue would definitely not be her first pick for a driving
instructor, Jubilee decided, watching the other girl racing down the
highway, but you had to admit she was determined. Jubilee still
wasn't convinced that heading back towards a military base where
people had threatened to kill them was a good idea, but she could
understand why Rogue would want to be a part of the action. It was
a lot better than sitting around the school wondering if everyone
was going to come home in one piece.
She looked out the window as the trees whipped past them, thinking
back to five months ago, when the Brotherhood had attempted to
attack the school. Professor Xavier had asked all the students to
go to the gymnasium and stay there until one of the teachers came
and told them otherwise. They'd sat and waited, bored and
confused, for almost two hours before Storm appeared to tell them
they could go back to their dorm rooms. None of the teachers were
anywhere to be seen; they, and Rogue and Bobby with them, were all
down in the medical lab. A couple of the students had tried to get
in there, but Storm had quickly ushered them out. After a while,
Logan had come out, looking a little more grim than usual. Jubilee
really liked the older man, but she was a bit afraid of him; she
hadn't approached, and he'd disappeared toward the garage without
saying a word.
After that, well
Professor Xavier only let as much information
trickle down to the students as he thought they needed to know.
They were told that Logan had run into some trouble, and the X-Men
were going to help him out. They were told that Professor Xavier
needed to concentrate in Cerebro and that he was not to be
disturbed. And, of course, they were told to behave themselves.
But no one had told them what had happened Jubilee had resorted to
grilling Rogue for details later, after they'd all returned. She
had to admit she had been more than a little bit jealous she'd
wanted to be an X-Man ever since she'd arrived at the Institute.
But now that she was actually *doing* it actually going into some
messed up situation to help save somebody she wasn't so sure she
was up to it.
"So let's go over this one more time, okay?" she asked
anxiously. "We're going to drive back to the warehouse, and we're
going to do what?"
"We're going to help Scott." Rogue kept her eyes on the road as the
wound around a somewhat sharp curve.
Beside her, Jubilee nodded in understanding. "Right and what if
Scott's not there anymore?"
" to tell the truth, Rogue really didn't have a plan. She had
courage and, after a few missions, enough confidence to believe that
she could hold her own, but she'd always left the strategizing to
the older members. Part of her agreed with Jubilee that they should
have stuck to the original idea and gotten back to the mansion as
quickly as possible. But another part of her was burning with fury
at the thought of Logan in the hands of the military. When he had
given her his healing powers, some of his memories had also been
transferred. She'd seen clearly what lay just beneath his
consciousness. The things he could only access in dreams, the
fleeting images that haunted him, she had seen in living color. The
thought of him facing something like that again filled her with a
rage she couldn't explain.
"Uh, Rogue?" a small voice shook her from her thoughts. She spared
a glance for the young woman beside her. Jubilee's face had gone a
little green. "Could we please just slow down, just a little?"
Rogue glanced down at the speedometer, surprised. Without knowing
it, she'd been stamping down on the gas pedal, lost in thought.
"Sorry," she backed off, willing herself to calm down. ~You can't
help Logan if you kill yourself in a car crash, ~ she reminded
herself sternly, surreptitiously checking to make sure Jubilee was
wearing her seatbelt. She took a deep breath, and planted her eyes
back on the road.
Logan had plenty of experience with pain. Despite not having any
recollection of his previous life, however long that had been, he
was pretty sure he'd been in pain more than the average guy was
and definitely more than anyone should have been. He'd been
stabbed, shot, poisoned
but nothing was quite like what he was
experiencing now. He gasped for air, feeling like he might get sick
at any moment. Sabretooth watched him impassively from across the
After what seemed like an eternity, Logan found the strength to lift
his head. "What what's happening to me?" he whispered
hoarsely. "What are they doing?" The soldiers had returned to
their cell very briefly, and had injected something into Logan's
spinal column. At first it hadn't really done anything, and then
suddenly it felt like he was burning from the inside out.
The other man's eyes glittered dangerously. "They are hoping to
salvage some scrap metal," he replied.
"What the hell does that mean?"
"The metal on your bones, Logan," Sabretooth spoke slowly, as if to
a child. "They want it back. Since they can't remove it in its
solid state, they're trying to return it to its liquid form. "
Logan gasped against the pain, which did, indeed, seem to radiate
through his muscles from his skeleton. "Why?" He ground the word
out, hoping that talking with Sabretooth would help keep him from
focusing too much on what was happening in his body.
"Because Adamantium is incredibly difficult to collect," Sabretooth
replied. "They want Adamantium, and the largest known source, now
that the Alkali Lake base is underwater, is you."
Logan panted, twisting in his chains in agony. "But why - why take
it from me? I thought I was their weapon."
Sabretooth laughed loudly. "You were," he replied. "But did you
really think you were Stryker's only weapon? Ha. You were the
first one. After the experiment with you failed, Stryker decided
not to try putting Adamantium into anyone for a little while. He
conducted other experiments instead." There was a creaking noise
and the large man shifted in his chains. "Obviously, someone has
decided that it's time to bring the team back together."
"What team?" Logan's vision was blurring. He felt something dripping
down from his hands and he looked up, fully expecting to see blood
seeping through his skin. He was shocked to find that the fluid
seeping out of him, sliding out from under his fingernails, was
silver. He hissed in pain.
Sabretooth quirked an eyebrow. "Looks like it's working."
Charles looked at the expectant young faces surrounding him and felt
a wave of sadness. He sometimes forgot that these were just
children; they loved and trusted their teachers in the innocent way
that children do. There was no fear on the faces before him, no
recognition except in Kitty's eyes of how serious their
situation might be. There was only trust that whatever it was,
Professor Xavier would make it all right. He would keep them safe.
Charles cleared his throat. "I realize that you are confused about
why I called us all together like this," he started, half-surprised
at the calm, steady voice that came out of his mouth. "I hope that
I will be able to answer all your questions." He picked his way
through the day's events carefully, not telling the children any
more than they needed to know. He could not, however, avoid
telling them that Logan, Rogue, and Jubilee had been apprehended,
and that they were likely now in prison.
"We have to go get them!" Bobby exclaimed from the back, standing
up. "We can't just leave them there!" His agitation poured off him
like sweat. Charles stayed quiet a moment as he sorted through the
jumble of emotions the younger man was projecting fear, anger and
love as he thought about Rogue in the hands of the military.
Charles held up a hand for calm. "Scott, Kurt, and Hank are already
on their way to find the girls," he replied. "This is a very
dangerous situation, Bobby, and it's important that we all stay
calm. Please believe me, I will not let them come to harm."
"What about Professor Logan?" A young voice piped up from the front
row. Charles shifted to look down on William, the young boy who
never slept. "He's he's been in a military prison before. They
weren't very nice to him."
Charles was surprised. "Did Logan tell you that?" he asked. He'd
had no idea that Logan had been forthcoming with any of the children
about his past.
William nodded. "Yeah, when I asked him why he had so many
nightmares. We're not going to leave him there, are we? He'll get
scared." William's words were echoed by a number of other voices.
Charles shook his head. "We're not going to leave anybody behind,"
he replied, "But getting our friends back is only one part of what
we need to do." He sighed, scanning the room. There were nearly
forty children at the mansion now. Was he about to ask the
impossible? "Because of what happened at the mall today, the
Ministry of Education has decided that they need to do an inspection
of the school. Now, I know we have always told you that this is a
safe place to use your powers, but just for this visit, I need each
and every one of you to be very careful and not use your powers at
all while the Ministry officials are here."
Puzzled faces met his. "But why?" asked one student. "You always
told us that mutants shouldn't have to hide who they are from other
"Yeah, but sometimes you have to be careful," another student
answered before Charles could even open his mouth.
"Well, that's not fair!" A third one exclaimed, and suddenly the
room filled with noise as the students bickered back and forth with
"Children, please," Charles said, but they took no notice of
him. "Children." He sighed. "Be quiet!" he finally exclaimed, and
the room quieted immediately. No one there could ever recall a time
when Professor Xavier had raised his voice before. They looked at
him, a little shocked. "I'm sorry," he apologized, "but these are
very special circumstances. You must do as I tell you, and not ask
questions. You must not use your powers while the Ministry
officials are here. You must not tell them that Logan is a teacher
here. If they ask about him, say that he only stayed for a few
days, when he dropped Rogue off. If they ask about Rogue, Jubilee
or Kitty, you must tell them that you didn't know they were
mutants. You thought they were merely gifted students like
yourselves. It is very important. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Professor," meek voices rang out around the room, and Charles
saw that all the students were nodding back at him. All but one,
that is. Bobby was glaring at him, and if he'd had the ability to
freeze people simply with his eyes, Charles was certain he'd be a
block of ice by now.
"Then you're dismissed," he told the rest of the room. As he
expected, Bobby stayed behind as the other children filtered out and
once the last was gone, the young man strode up to the professor,
his hands clenched at his side.
"Your plan sucks," he seethed. Charles said nothing, letting the
young man speak his piece. "Basically, you're letting the
government know that Rogue is a mutant. You're selling her out!"
Charles gazed at him steadily, his eyes full of compassion. "Bobby,
I'm very sorry," he said quietly. "But at this point, I do not
believe that Rogue was able to evade capture. If she's been taken
then they already know that she's a mutant."
"But we should be protecting her!" Bobby's voice wavered between a
shout and a wail. "And that's another thing, am I an X-Man or not?
Because you act like I am, but then when there's trouble, everyone
else gets sent off, and you leave me here like one of the kids.
What's up with that?" His face betrayed his emotions, tinged red
Charles took a moment to consider the boy's comments. He hadn't
even considered contacting Bobby when he realized something had gone
wrong at the mall he'd just operated out of habit, working with
Storm and Scott and letting them coordinate the team. "You're
right" he apologized. Bobby looked surprised. "I should have let
you know. I'm not saying that you would have necessarily gone on
this mission, but you had the right to be made aware of what was
happening. I won't do it again."
"Thanks," Mollified, Bobby sat down. "So
now what do we do?"
Charles thought about it a moment. "Well, as a matter of fact,
there is something that I need done, and you may be just the man to
Kurt took a deep breath, concentrating. He had successfully
teleported into rooms he couldn't see a few times, back at the
mansion, but they'd always been places he'd at least seen before,
which made it easier. This time, however, he had nothing to go on
but his instincts. He tried to visualize what the inside of the
warehouse must look like. It was a fairly large building, so he
guessed it must have a main room of substantial size. Picturing
other warehouses he had seen, he created the image of a warehouse
floor in his mind. "Okay, I'm going in," he whispered into the
microphone he wore.
"Good luck." Scott's voice came back to him, tinny over the radio.
Kurt closed his eyes, muttered a quick prayer, and teleported.
Bamf! He reappeared in the middle of a large room, all right but
about six feet off the floor! With a strangled cry, he crashed to
the ground. Before he had a chance to get to his feet again, he
found himself face to face with the barrel of an automatic
weapon. "Get up!" A voice demanded, and Kurt looked up to see two
soldiers with their guns trained on him. It was the nearer of the
two that had spoken.
Kurt nodded, holding his hands up disarmingly. "Lord, help me," he
intoned in quiet, prayer-like fashion, hoping Scott would
"What the hell is this?" the soldier exclaimed at nearly the same
time, ripping the microphone away from Kurt's head. The blue mutant
blanched. This was not going to be good
Just then there was the sound of wrenching metal. "Someone's
breached the perimeter fence!" Kurt looked up to see a third soldier
stationed behind a series of video screens. In grainy black and
white, Kurt could see Scott and Hank hurrying through a hole Scott
had obviously just blasted through the fence. Then there was a loud
crashing sound, and one of the exterior walls came tumbling down.
Kurt scrambled to get out of the way as debris flew all around him.
"Scott, look out! There are guards
" Kurt's cry of warning was cut
off as one of the soldiers grabbed him, jamming the barrel of his
gun against Kurt's head.
"You move and I'll kill the elf," he growled. Scott, who had
stormed through the hole he'd created, ready to blast the hell out
of everything and everyone, stopped dead in his tracks. Hank pulled
up short behind him.
"Okay, take it easy," Scott help up his hands. The soldier who held
Kurt nodded to his compatriots and they trained their weapons on the
other two mutants.
"Let's put them in the holding cell, come on," one of them indicated
the way with a sharp nod. The others agreed.
"Move," Kurt's captor ordered, tapping his weapon against Kurt's
temple for emphasis. Kurt started walking, trying to determine
whether he could teleport fast enough to disarm both the guard
watching Scott and the one watching Hank before either of them could
pull off a shot. He'd done such a thing in the White House, when
Stryker had been controlling him, but he'd never pulled something
like that off on his own power. He prayed silently for a sign.
Just then, screeching tires announced the arrival of a vehicle, and
seconds later, an army jeep careened into the building through the
hole Scott had created. Jubilee jumped out of the passenger side,
sparks flying from her fingers.
"Argh!" The man holding Scott cried out, throwing his hands up to
his face. Jubilee had skidded to a stop only a few feet away from
him, and he'd been blinded. Kurt saw his opportunity and took it.
He teleported quickly to Hank's side, knocking the soldier guarding
the blue man aside with his tail, even as Scott raised his hand to
his visor and took out the man that had been guarding Kurt. The
blinded soldier had already been dispatched by Jubilee, who'd
followed her pyrotechnic display with a well-aimed kick to the
"Ta-da!" she announced, grinning, when it was all over. Kurt
Scott scowled. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he
shouted. Jubilee's smile disappeared and she took a step back,
uncertain. "You could have been killed! This is a dangerous
"It was my idea," Rogue had stepped out of the jeep and now stood
beside her friend. "I couldn't just drive home and hide like a
little girl, when Logan needs my help."
"That's precisely what you should have done," Scott countered, still
flushed with anger. "When you act impulsively like that, you're a
liability to the whole team." Jubilee's lip was trembling now, and
even Rogue looked a little uncertain. They'd never seen Scott so
"Why don't you take a walk, my friend," Kurt suggested, coming over
to diffuse the situation. "It is done now. Besides, while it may
have been impulsive, Ms. Jubilee here may have saved our lives."
Scott took a deep breath. "You're right. I'm sorry." He nodded
his head at the two girls and walked away. Hank drifted over to his
Kurt turned his attention back to the two girls. "It's all right.
You did well. Scott's just worried about Logan. It's his job to
protect all of us; he's the team leader." Rogue nodded in
understanding, and Jubilee offered him a little smile.
"Hey, what's that?" she asked, looking over his shoulder. He turned
to see that she was pointing at the video screens the third guard
had been watching.
"It's a security station," he replied.
Jubilee tsked at him. "I know that, doofus," she replied. "I mean,
what's that?" She jabbed one finger at the screen furthest on the
left. "I wonder where that tunnel goes."
Kurt regarded it thoughtfully. "Indeed," he replied. "Scott?
Hank?" The other two men came and joined them, and soon all five of
them were contemplating the image.
"I don't know," Hank finally said. "It's just a tunnel."
Scott nodded absently. "Yes. But here we have a warehouse where
we know Rogue and Jubilee taken that seems to have very little in
it, aside from this station and a holding cell. So where is the
military base that these guys operate out of?"
"At the end of that tunnel," Kurt replied, catching on.
"Exactly. How much do you want to bet that wherever that goes is
where they've got Logan?"