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5412Fic: X-V(3/3) OC(Joe), Jean [R]

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  • pphillips914
    Oct 31 10:20 AM
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      Happy Halloween!

      Title: X-V

      Author: Pat Phillips

      Summary: In this very dark AU, a powerful
      conspiracy is not merely persecuting
      mutants -- it's slaughtering them.
      Normal humans are being treated almost
      as badly.

      Rating & characters:
      Rated R,
      Jean, OC(Joe), Raven, Erik

      With the exception of Joe Keene, I don't
      own any of these characters. Instead,
      they are the property of Marvel Comics.

      As a firm believer in property rights,
      it's only reasonable that I specify that
      my use of these characters should in no
      way be interpreted as a threat to Marvel's
      ownership of them.

      All of my fan fiction, including this story,
      is a not-for-profit venture. After all, when
      you get down to it, who would pay for this

      Instead of a sports car, Jean was driving an old Chevy pickup truck
      this time. It fit into the back-roads of Colorado a lot better than
      some extremely expensive piece of Italian engineering.

      "What do you know about mutants, Joe?" she asked him once they got
      onto the highway.

      "The usual stuff that you see on TV or read in the papers."

      "So give me some details. What does the TV say about mutants?"

      "Hmm. Well, the world first really noticed them -- us, I mean --
      back in the mid-eighties. Of course, there's a lot of evidence that
      mutants have been around for a long time before that. Once everyone
      knew about us, people started to get crazy about the whole thing. In
      a big part of the world, being a mutant will get you killed in a

      "But here in the US, the government fought that. There was a big
      effort to convince everyone that we weren't a bunch of bad guys. It
      worked for a while. But for the last ten years or so, things have
      been going downhill. There's been a lot of ugly things happening --
      mutants who seem to get off on robbing, hurting, or killing normal
      folks. And its been getting steadily worse. Now, every time they
      take an opinion poll, more and more people say that mutants are a
      threat and something has to be done."

      Jean nodded, "That's pretty good, Joe. You've been keeping a close
      eye on things."

      Joe shrugged, "I did a paper in school a year back."

      "Did you know you were a mutant back then?"

      "No. By then, I was hearing voices from the earth every now and
      then. But I didn't know what that meant."

      Jean gave Joe a troubled glance before going on.

      "Do you know who convinced the Reagan administration to try to make
      mutants a part of the system, instead of declaring war on them?"

      Blinking in surprise, Joe said, "I never heard it put that way. I
      always assumed that no one man was responsible -- except for maybe
      President Reagan."

      "Oh, a lot of people made some good decisions back then -- that's
      true. But there was one man in the government who made all the right
      arguments to all the right people. He was the one who convinced the
      President and the Congress to give mutants a fair chance. His name
      is Charles Xavier."

      "I've never heard of him," said Joe with a shake of his head.

      "Most people haven't. He's one of those guys who always gets
      appointed to one job or the other by whoever happens to get elected
      President. Administrations come and go, but Charles always seems to
      have an important job."

      "You talk like you know him."

      "I do. In fact, I've known him ever since I was a girl."

      "Does he have something to do with the school?"

      "Good call. He and Professor Lensherr put the school together about
      a year ago."

      "Who's Professor Lensherr? I mean, besides the headmaster of the

      "A very, very wealthy man. A billionaire. He made a fortune in West
      Germany and the US in the years after World War II. After he
      retired, he got a Ph.D in Economics and started teaching. He and
      Charles have been working together for decades."

      "Are they mutants?"

      "That's another good call. You're a smart guy, Joe. Yes, they're
      both mutants. Pretty powerful ones, as a matter of fact."

      Joe nodded. It made sense.

      "So why do you suppose things broke down, Joe?" Jean
      continued. "After all, about ten years ago, things were looking
      pretty good. Mutants were more-or-less accepted. There were mutant
      soldiers, police officers, teachers, businessmen, firefighters,
      actors, writers, musicians, and construction-workers. Things seemed
      to be working out and nobody was gunning down mutants in the
      streets. So what do you suppose went wrong?"

      Shaking his head, Joe said, "Hell, a lot of things went wrong.
      Things like that mutant terrorist gang in Europe. Or those
      telepathic crooks who swindled all of those banks out of existence.
      Or that mutant serial killer up in Oregon. There was just one damn
      thing after another every time you turned on the news. People saw
      that sort of thing on the TV day after day and decided that mutants
      were bad."

      Jean looked at Joe for a brief moment and then looked back to the
      road, "That terrorist gang only had a few mutants in it -- and they
      were fall-guys. The guys who gave them their orders never got
      captured or even identified. And that telepathic bank-fraud
      conspiracy that the news media reported so loudly? There's no real
      evidence for it. Instead, there's just a lot of wild accusations and
      strange stories. No telepath has ever been arrested, or even
      accused, in connection with a bank fraud case. And the Green River
      Slayer? Oh, they found a dead mutant in a Portland apartment that
      was packed with plenty of evidence indicating that he killed all of
      those poor girls. But the FBI noticed pretty quickly that something
      was wrong with that theory. The dead guy was living in Florida when
      at least five of the killings happened."

      Joe stared at the side of Jean's face, "What are you saying?"

      "Ten years ago, something happened. Somebody very powerful and very
      ruthless made the decision to convince everyone that mutants were a
      problem and had to be destroyed. And then they went to work."

      "Who? The government?"

      Jean seemed to think that over, "No. Not in the sense that you mean."


      After several hours on the road, they stopped at a cafe in a small
      town in the mountains of northern Colorado. Jean bought dinner for
      them and they both ate in silence. But once they were done, Jean
      made no effort to leave. Instead, she looked out the window at the
      sun, judging the amount of daylight left.

      Jean held up her cup. A waitress immediately approached with a
      coffee pot.

      "You may as well get comfortable, Joe. We've got some time to kill,"
      she said.

      "How much time?"

      "Until nightfall. Things will only start happening once the sun is

      They talked about inconsequential things. Joe had a second piece of
      pie. Eventually, the last trace of daylight was gone and Jean said
      it was time to go.


      The worked their way further up into the mountains on winding, two-
      lane roads. Then they broke out into an open valley between two high
      peaks. The valley contained patches of sparse woods and large areas
      of open grassland. There were occasional ranches and farms.

      Eventually, they pulled off onto a dirt road and drove for another
      dozen miles.

      The scene they came upon wasn't terribly unfamiliar to Joe. It was a
      parcel of isolated rural property, consisting of a cluster of
      structures that ranged from twenty to over a hundred years old.
      Vehicles were parked on the side of the road and in the open area
      between a decrepit farm house and a modern steel-frame barn. He'd
      seen this picture many times back home -- at a cattle or foreclosure
      auction, a rural wedding, or a co-op meeting. It looked like a
      snapshot of the common cycle of life in that part of the world.

      Except that it was night. A cool, moonless night.

      Incongruously, a limousine was parked on the unmowed grass right next
      to where Jean had pulled the pickup off the road. A chauffer in full
      uniform was leaning against the hood, smoking a cigarette while he
      patiently waited for his boss to return.

      A deputy sheriff was idly talking to the chauffer. His cruiser was
      parked just ahead of the limo.

      Two men were standing in the road between them and the farmhouse.
      They were only partially visible in the darkness, but they were
      obviously armed.

      The deputy walked slowly towards Jean's pickup.

      Jean glanced at Joe, "Remember everything I told you. If you do as I
      told you, we'll be fine."

      Joe nodded, and then blinked in surprise as Jean put a possessive
      hand on the back of his neck, gripping him lightly. Her thumb
      lightly tracing the muscle on the side of Joe's neck.

      Jean lowered the window with her other hand.

      The deputy examined them closely.

      "Can I help you, ma'am?" he asked.

      "I have been granted permisson to attend the auction," said Jean.

      The deputy nodded, "Your name, ma'am?"

      He consulted a leather-bound notepad in his hand. Jean concentrated
      and plucked information from the deputy's mind. It was the name of a
      guest who had not arrived yet. A guest that the deputy had never met

      "Isabelle," said Jean.

      The deputy nodded and took a pen out of his shirt pocket to check-off
      Lady Isabelle's name from the list. Before he could do so, Jean
      concentrated and the man suddenly paused. What name had he just
      checked off? He couldn't quite remember. For that matter, what was
      the name of the woman he was talking to? She had told him, but he
      couldn't remember what she had said. He could only remember that she
      had provided a name and that it was on the list...

      "Is everything in order?" asked Jean quietly.

      Looking at the notebook in his hand, the deputy licked his lips

      Jean psionically twisted that part of the deputy's mind that was
      utterly terrified of who and what he worked for.

      "Well!?" she demanded, her voice silky and dangerous.

      The deputy nodded jerkily, put the notebook back into his jacket
      pocket, and opened the door of the pickup for Jean.

      "Come along, Joseph," Jean said quietly, dropping the hard edge from
      her demeanor. She slid out of the truck, pulling Joe along with
      her. She didn't even bother to look at the deputy. Joe followed
      Jean out the door of the pickup. But as soon as his boots hit the
      ground, he froze in shock.

      The spirits of the earth were screaming in utter hate and outrage.
      Joe had never felt anything like that before. Until then, he'd never
      even been able to hear the spirits unless he had bare skin in contact
      with native ground.

      Jean covered for Joe by curling her arm around him, running a hand
      down his cheek, and kissing his ear. The deputy acted as if nothing
      unusual was happening. After a second, Joe looked in Jean's eyes and
      nodded slightly to indicate that he had recovered. He and Jean began
      walking down the road.

      They passed the two guards in the road. Both men were wearing long
      jackets that were bulky enough to conceal body armor. They were also
      carrying submachine-guns.

      The guards bowed slightly to Jean as they passed.

      Jean ignored them as well. She was no longer clutching Joe to her,
      but she was keeping a tight hold on his hand.

      *What happened to you?* she asked Joe telepathically.

      *There's something wrong here,* answered Joe. *There's something
      dead wrong. The spirits are madder than hell.*

      Jean still wasn't sure what to make of Joe's talk about "spirits".
      But Joe certainly believed in what he was saying and this was
      definitely no time to discuss that matter. So she let it slide.

      *The next part will be pretty bad, Joe. You won't like what you'll
      see in the barn. Don't do anything foolish. If it's too much, just
      hold on to me. And you don't have to watch if you don't want to.*

      Joe nodded.

      Another pair of guards were waiting at a side door to the barn. One
      was wearing biker leathers. The other was another deputy sheriff.
      The deputy was carrying a shotgun. The biker had a submachine-gun
      like the guards in the road. Neither guard bowed, but they quickly
      got out of Jean's way and the deputy opened the door for them.

      Beneath his boots the spirits screamed even louder. Their rage had
      no words. They simply wanted this obscenity removed, destroyed,

      Joe's eyes met those of the biker who was standing next to the door.
      His face had been heavily burned at one point and his skin was a
      mixture of ridged scars and smooth, transplanted flesh. One eye was
      missing. He had complex facial tattoos -- which clearly postdated
      the day his face had been mutilated. The tattoos were a mixture of
      Nazi and twisted Christian themes. He smiled at Joe and touched the
      tips of two fingers to his neck. Joe noticed that the man's neck was
      also heavily scarred, but those scars didn't look like burns. He
      didn't have a chance to look closer.

      All Joe could think to do was nod in response. The biker chuckled

      They entered the barn. Joe's boots encountered concrete and the
      voices of the spirits abruptly ceased.

      Inside, Joe heard the steady cadence of the auctioneer and the buzz
      of a crowd. And for a moment, it was just like home. Just like the
      cattle auctions he had attended with his grandfather. And then Joe
      looked around and saw the kind of cattle that was being sold in that

      The auctioneer declared the latest bidding closed. A naked teenaged
      girl, her body emaciated and striped with whip marks was dragged
      weeping off of the sales platform. Her new owner, an utterly normal
      appearing middle-aged man in an expensive gray suit, calmly attached
      a leather collar to the girl's neck and used it to hook her to a
      length of chain that included another teenaged girl and a
      prepubescent boy.

      Joe stared in disbelief.

      *Easy, Joe,* Jean said to him telepathically, putting her arms around
      his shoulders and moving him away from the door.

      A boy no older than Joe appeared under the hot lights illuminating
      the sales block. He appeared to be stunned and dazed as he was
      shoved onto the platform. He lost his balance and feel awkwardly to
      his hands and knees. The auctioneer gave him a disgusted look and
      kicked him until he scrambled to his feet.

      *I'm sorry, Joe,* said Jean.

      Next to Joe, a nude woman lay curled on the hard floor. She was
      beautiful. Her eyes were open and staring at nothing. Her long,
      blonde hair was tumbled around her head. For a second, Joe wondered
      if she was dead. Then he saw her breasts gently move. She was
      breathing, but evidently drugged. She was at the feet of her owner,
      a beautiful Asian woman who was staring at Joe with some interest.

      "He's very pretty," she told Jean with gentle courtesy.

      "Thank you, but he's not for sale," Jean told the woman. The Asian
      woman nodded politely, still smiling at Joe.

      *I'm so sorry, Joe. Please forgive me.*

      Joe looked around him, his face cold and utterly expressionless. He
      thought of his ancestors who had fought for both the North and
      South. His family had always honored the courage and sacrifice of
      those men, no matter what side they had fought for. But there had
      never been any question in his family as to who had been on the right

      *Nobody believes until they see this, Joe. I can explain, and
      explain, and explain. But nobody believes until they actually see

      Joe looked at Jean. The fear she had felt in him before was still
      there. But it was now being drowned by a tide of disgust and hate
      that was quickly turning into cold rage.

      *Stop. There's nothing we can do. There are too many of them.*

      Joe swallowed hard and nodded in agreement.

      The Asian woman reached down and pulled her slave to her feet. Once
      standing, the blonde woman weaved slightly, obviously only barely
      aware of her surroundings. The Asian woman ran the fingers of one
      hand through the woman's long, straight hair, while her other hand
      touched the naked woman intimately. Then she buried her face in the
      woman's neck. The blonde gasped. An escaping trickle of blood
      flowed down her neck and over one of her breasts as the vampire fed
      on her.

      For a split-second, the blonde woman's eyes cleared and there was a
      terrible fear in them. She looked at Joe desperately and he felt his
      guts twist. Then the woman suddenly gasped again, closed her eyes in
      ecstasy, and wrapped her arms around the beautiful, beloved predator
      that was draining her.

      Jean gently lead Joe from the barn, taking another door than the one
      they had entered by. Behind them, the auctioneer finished the sale
      of the young boy. Joe flinched and softly grunted as they left the
      building and he was once again walking across bare earth.

      There were a number of benches near the back of the building. Most
      were occupied with vampires enjoying their new toys. Jean led Joe
      towards an isolated, empty bench and they sat down.

      *Lean up against me, Joe. And put your head on my shoulder.*

      Joe put an arm around Jean and did as he was told. Jean rested the
      side of her face against his hair. She could feel him trembling.
      Part of it was fear. But most of it was anger.

      *We can't leave too quickly. It would be conspicuous. We'll wait
      here for a while. If anyone starts paying attention to us, I'll have
      to pretend to...*

      She couldn't quite finish it.

      Joe nodded slightly in response. He understood.

      Together, they waited for a very long half-hour.

      From inside the barn, the sound of the auction went on and on.


      The deputy opened the door to the pickup for them. Joe got in first,
      with Jean immediately following him. They then pulled back onto the
      gravel road and left.

      Behind him, Joe thought he could hear the faint echo of the earth
      itself raging and protesting.


      Inside the pickup, it was silent for a long time. Jean let Joe think
      it through as best he could.

      "How the hell are they keeping this secret?" Joe said finally.

      Jean sighed, "They've been doing this for a long, long time. They're
      old, Joe. As near as we can tell, they first came into existence in
      Egypt, when the Nile valley was still ruled by Pharoahs. Some of
      them have been walking this earth for almost that long. Think about
      that -- thousands of years of continuity, of purpose, of planning,
      and of experience. They have strange powers. Everytime we think we
      understand everything that they can do, we find something new. And
      usually somebody has to die to figure it out."

      "They're wealthy beyond belief and exercise power and influence
      that's damn near impossible to resist. They can offer money, drugs,
      power, slaves -- almost anything you can imagine or desire. And they
      can offer immortality, Joe. Even the most honest people will do
      almost anything for a chance at immortality."

      "You asked me earlier if the government was after us. I said no, but
      you may have noticed that I hedged a little. They aren't the
      government. They don't run everything. But they are just about
      everywhere. People who work for them, directly or indirectly, are a
      part of anything that can give them any shred of influence.
      Governments, businesses, labor organizations, churches, charities,
      political parties, organized crime, street gangs -- the Vampires
      penetrate and use all of them for their own purposes."

      "As near as we can tell, the only reason they don't run everything is
      because they're always fighting among themselves. They're divided
      into groups -- bloodlines that they call clans. Those clans
      compete. And within the clans, individuals and groups scramble for

      "Where do we fit in?" asked Joe.

      "We're not sure. But there's something you should understand: like
      them, we aren't creatures of science. We aren't 'mutants' in any
      scientific sense of the word. There is no scientific explanation for
      what we are or what we can do. Some of us break a half-dozen laws of
      physics by simply getting out of bed every morning. And once you're
      facing the incredible, and science can't explain it, what's left?"

      "So why are they after us?"

      Jean rubbed the bridge of her nose, "I think it's because we're a
      threat to them. We can do things that normal people can't do.
      They've got normal people pretty much figured out and under control.
      But we're a problem. We're harder to fool. Harder to control. They
      can't figure us out, so they're killing us."

      Joe thought about that for a long time.

      "We're here for a reason," he said after a while.

      "What?" asked Jean.

      Joe looked out the window and into the mountainous darkness, "You're
      right, we aren't about genetics, or evolution, or any of that other
      stuff that people talk about. It's the spirits. The spirits created
      us. They want this to end. They want the vampires destroyed. And
      they brought us into existence to do that."

      Jean glanced at Joe, and then back at the road. She was silent for a
      long, long time.