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FIC: Jus Ad Bellum Part II: 3/4: MA: Rogue, others

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  • Jenn
    3/4 Predictability was something to be cherished--so it fucked with my head, fair enough. The concept that they d kept everything so much the same, that
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4 3:16 PM
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      3/4

      Predictability was something to be cherished--so it fucked with my head,
      fair enough. The concept that they'd kept everything so much the same,
      that screwed with me, but it sure as hell made my little game of detective
      simpler.

      --And what reaction would you have had to a radically different Mansion,
      honey?--

      I thought about that as I went to the elevator. Carol had a good point.

      --Yeah, I know--but I wouldn't feel so creeped out. If they're going to go
      to the dark side, couldn't they--I don't know, like, act like it? You
      know, live in dark corners, twist metaphorical mustaches, be carelessly
      vicious? Act--weird?--

      God, that sounded silly. It was true though--I didn't like that Scott was
      as friendly as always and shook hands, and I liked even less that Bobby was
      being so kind and so warm. I wanted black and white, and I wasn't getting
      it.

      Carol's low laugh wasn't comforting.

      --So you want a caricature of evil. Honey, it doesn't work that way. It's
      not often people think they are doing wrong when they are--trust me, almost
      everyone thinks they're on the right side. Those in power are the ones
      that get to *enforce* their vision of right. That's the only difference.--

      There had to be more to the right than that. It couldn't be just power.

      --How can they think this is right? There are *camps* and they are *using*
      people. Jean and Betsy tried to break into my mind. You're telling me
      they think they're *right*? This *wasn't* Xavier's dream, it never was.--

      --Dreams change.-- Slightly dismissive--arguing ethics with Carol was
      always an exercise in futility at best. If she and Logan in my head had
      one single burning thing in common, it was a highly-developed, bitterly
      cynical sense of self-preservation; fuck the right side. They'd never
      been believers in anything. --Now go. You don't want to get caught out in
      the sublevels, not when they're suspicious of infiltrators.--

      I had to agree to that, little thought I liked it. I took a moment,
      searching my memory and Kitty's until I came up with the right code
      rotations. With trembling fingers, I punched it in, half-expecting the
      alarms to go off.

      The doors opened with a decided lack of melodrama and I paused, almost in
      disappointment, before slipping inside and ducking into a corner, pushing
      in my level choice. I could do this. Be all secret-agent and so forth.
      No problem, I was Rogue. I'd dated premiere-thief Remy and I'd lived with
      premiere-thief Kitty and shoplifter extraordinaire Jubilee (all in their
      misspent youth, of course). I could do this.

      Shit, I was afraid though.

      When the doors opened, I slipped out and took a scent check--Scott and Jean
      and Logan had been upstairs, no problems there; I didn't smell the
      warm-furriness of Hank or the cool-fresh Ororo, but Lensherr was still
      unaccounted for. Breathing in the sterile scent of the tube-like hallway,
      I made my way down, glancing periodically at the doors to check for any
      other presences. The sheer lack of identifying scents was comforting--no
      one had been down this hall in at least a few hours.

      --I wonder if they still have Cerebro, now that the Professor is gone.--

      --I'd think so. They still have Jeannie.--

      I frowned a little.

      --Jean always said she didn't have the control to use it properly.--

      --She used it to find you on the Statue of Liberty.--

      I winced a little in memory--Jean had never talked about it, but Logan's
      memories supplied me with the aftermath of her desperate attempt.

      --Almost burned herself out too.--

      She'd been telepathically deaf for some time after that incident, though
      none of us had been aware of it, even me, not until years later when I
      overheard her and the Professor in an argument. She'd risked more than her
      telepathy though--I knew now that Cerebro could have destroyed her mind if
      she'd been just a little less determined, if her will had been just a
      little less strong. It took *a lot* of concentration and power to control
      Cerebro.

      --That was then. Those little stabs into your mind weren't light, darlin',
      and they were deliberately placed. She's stronger. You felt it
      yourself.--

      No shit on that one.

      Hmm. I glanced around, trying to think of where I wanted to go. The
      computers first--the secured ones, the ones most likely to give me a crash
      history lesson on the war. Kitty's memories simply weren't enough. And
      while Bobby was an excellent source of information, I needed to know what I
      *should* know just as a survivor before I could start some serious
      interrogation, or I'd slip up and big time.

      So if I was right, there was a computer in Jean's lab, a computer in the
      Danger Room, and one in conference room, all of which were restricted
      access and had database control. Lab--bad idea. Danger Room--don't think
      so. The conference room was only used for conferences and most of the
      people that would use it seemed pretty busy on other projects.

      Conference room it was.

      I counted off the doors, passing Jean's lab and two storage rooms, then
      paused at the conference room. It wasn't locked--only sensitive areas down
      here would be--so I ducked inside, glancing around at yet another example
      of people with too-vivid memories and a seriously disturbing obsession for
      detail, lingering on the holoprojector and the screen before I turned to
      the desk and sat down, looking carefully at the keyboard.

      I dragged out Kitty's memories for her passwords and began to search the
      information available. Like all the computers in the lower levels, they
      were networked--Kitty had taken over the computer systems soon after her
      graduation in my world and explained the theory to me, and I figured it
      wouldn't be any different here. Sitting back, I peeled off my gloves and
      went to work. This was information, for the most part, that they wouldn't
      necessarily be trying to hide. Scott's love of detail--it would be here.
      Records, histories, everything.

      With the press of a few keys, I had the database and began my search. It
      wasn't exactly comforting.

      --Razing of Atlanta, destruction of fourteen government research
      facilities. Liberation of the Daytona camp, the Memphis camp--shit. Look
      at the list, Scott was leading most of these.--

      I could feel Carol peering at the information over my
      shoulder--metaphorically speaking.

      --Interesting. Look at the dates. Scott got out a little over four years
      ago. Once he was out, the war actually began and was over in a year and a
      half. He must have done the organization.--

      --If there's one thing Scott can do, it's this. He's a natural leader, a
      natural organizer. But I wonder...--

      --Wonder what?--

      Frowning, I tapped a few more keys, bringing up a separate screen. Took a
      long breath.

      --Look at the layout of the current internment camps and human-restricted
      areas--they're keeping the locations the same. Ghettos, where mutants had
      to live after the first revisions of the MRA. Where they have humans
      stored up--how efficient. Except the Salem camp, that's new.-- Frowning,
      I sat back, reading the beginning quickly. --Got it. The machine worked.
      I wonder what was different? Mutation of the world leaders at that
      conference and apparently portions of New York City were affected as well;
      panic in Washington, forcing through the MRA with even stricter provisions.
      Required genetic tests for work, college, licensing...shit, they were
      forcing us into poverty and powerlessness.-- It was easy to imagine
      Scott's reaction. He would have held off as long as he could, trying to
      find the legal way to do this, trying to find the loopholes.

      There wouldn't have been any, though. Prejudice was good at plugging up
      the loopholes.

      --All any war needs is a catalyst, Rogue. You said it yourself.--

      --Well, theoretical and practical application. I wonder if Scott and Jean
      knew they weren't just saving New York the day they rescued me--they were
      preventing a war.--

      --Not to mention saving you.--

      I grinned a little bitterly, leaning back into my chair.

      --I was more important in death than I ever could have been in life, Carol.
      Face it, my value is how well I can be used, always has been.--

      --You're not being fair to yourself.--

      I had to find that a little ironic from the woman who'd tried to kill me.

      --We're on the same side now--it's not as if I have a choice. I sink or
      swim on your survival.-- Carol snorted softly. --Keep reading. Maybe we
      can find something--oh God, Rogue.--

      I'd reacted seconds after she felt the information flood my mind, unable to
      tear myself from the cold facts scrolling across the screen.

      --Logan.--

      Carol faded a little as Kitty's memories catalyzed at my perusal of Logan's
      war record; a hundred scenes that Kitty had witnessed before she and Logan
      had escaped. All the filth a human mind could think of to do to a
      superhealer. I shut my eyes, but the memories played over in my head, a
      movie I couldn't turn off, and I heard my breath speed up, the hammering of
      my heart when I watched them hurt him in ways that had to have scarred his
      soul if not his body. A flash of black heat across one arm, the slice of
      something sharp across my abdomen and throat, collapsing in the grey-metal
      cell alone and waiting to see if they brought him back--oh God--God no....

      {--he was collapsed at my feet, and blood was making my hands slick when I
      tried to close the ruin of his abdomen, feeling intestines move under my
      fingers, and he should be dead, please let him die, please don't let him
      survive this, but it was healing, he was *healing* even *now*, but never
      enough, never all the way, God, they had his collar and they were....}

      --Rogue?--

      The voices were faint, far away, and I stumbled to my feet, knocking the
      chair away and grabbing for the edge of the desk, trying to draw a clear
      breath, seeing everything Kitty had watched them to do him.

      Feeling everything they did to her, condensed into a brief moment that
      sucked the air from my lungs.

      Hate. Pure, unadulterated, rushing through me with a force that was
      energizing as I marked each face in my memory--if they weren't dead--if
      they weren't dead yet....

      --That is the way of it.-- Carol, stronger, and distantly, I felt her and
      Logan work together, pushing back the tide, blocking it in my psyche until
      the images slowly faded from their burn into my soul. --That is the way of
      it, honey. That's how you become a believer. That's why there are camps
      and that is why Erik Lensherr runs an ideology, why a mutant Kelley runs a
      country, and why Scott runs a parody of Xavier's dream. Hate.--

      Shivering, I grabbed for the chair, the rush of adrenaline fading and
      leaving me cold. I blinked away the memories, finding my breath before I
      began to hyperventilate.

      --They tortured him.-- The realization, the *fact* of it was coating my
      mind. The difference between theoretical and practical. I didn't want to
      know this. --All of them. Kitty, Scott...this is what they went
      through.--

      Carol's mental voice was unexpectedly gentle. She could easily understand
      this. --Yes, they did.--

      --I can't forgive--can't forget that.-- I wanted to find them, hunt them
      down one by one. Let my memories guide me on my method of execution, slow
      and harsh and long, days and days I could drag it out, that was the way of
      it--

      --That's the way of it.-- Logan's voice was rueful, even
      nderstanding. --That's how you build a lie, Marie. Just believe it's
      true. That's all there is to it. Revenge is never pretty, it's never
      satisfaction, it's never peace. It's a way to get yourself as dirty as
      they are, it's bathing in filth and letting it cling to you. It scars you
      and changes you and it's never worth it. It'll never feel as good as you
      think it will. It's only good as long as the heat lasts, and it never
      lasts, darlin'.--

      This was a man who could hold a grudge for half a century.

      --You're not me. And I don't lie to myself 'bout what I'm doin'--I don't
      fool myself into believin' taking out those who fucked me over will do
      anything but lessen me.--

      --If it were me--in those images...-- I trailed off at the rush of raw
      rage, staggering against the chair and closing my fingers over the edge,
      almost blacking out from the pressure in my head.

      --Every fucking one of them. Just like you said.-- A pause, and slowly,
      too slowly, it began to cool and I could straighten again. --But not their
      wives and kids and parents and friends. Not the people who went to school
      with them and deliver their mail. Not their species, not their world.--

      I let myself back down in the chair, residual tremors shaking my hands as I
      clasped them tightly in my lap.

      --Here...here you did. Their wives and their kids and their friends and
      their world. You, the X-Men...--

      Killers. I bit into my lip and felt the skin almost break under the
      pressure.

      --And that's not something I'm taking much comfort in, darlin'.--

      I nodded my blank acceptance--the emotional highs were leaving me drained,
      exhausted, utterly undone. I wanted to crawl into my bed and think--oh God
      no, I wanted to run and stop thinking--I wanted to--I wanted to--

      --That's not you, darlin'. Not this. Not them. Not a killer. Never.--

      I had believed that--now, I had to wonder.

      --Finish reading.-- Carol told me softly. --Finish up, honey. You've got
      a mission to complete. Let's do it and get out of here.--

      I nodded, numbly turning back to the computer to finish my history lesson,
      learn about the people who'd been my friends--how my death had created
      this.

      *****

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