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CHILDREN OF THE MIDDLE WATERS (7a/12 -- NEW) ensemble [Heyoka II] (take II)

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  • Minisinoo
    CHILDREN of the MIDDLE WATERS 7 [Heyoka II] Minisinoo http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/children7.html Notes: The ladies of Cyclops&Phoenix helped a GREAT deal
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 23, 2001
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      CHILDREN of the MIDDLE WATERS 7
      [Heyoka II]
      Minisinoo
      http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/children7.html


      Notes: The ladies of Cyclops&Phoenix helped a GREAT deal with this
      chapter. Thanks go also to Ann Marie Ritchie for legal info and
      Lelia for thoughts on Scott's power

      ----

      Logan watched Storm push the Blackbird to the absolute maximum speed
      she could manage -� half again the speed of sound �- even while
      alternating between prayers and curses that it couldn't be faster.
      Yet the only pilots able to fly this bird at the edge of her envelope
      were both in a hospital in Queens, one on the operating table with
      five bullets in his body, and the other trying to keep him from
      bleeding out as a result of them.

      "Perforated liver" was what they'd been told was killing the kid. A
      9mm bullet had ripped through his abdomen and compression damage from
      the force of it had torn liver tissue. Livers bled like crazy.
      Summers was lucky, McCoy had said, that it was just seeping damage
      and not a direct hit, or he'd never have made it to the hospital in
      the first place. Once they had him there, they could pump blood into
      him and hope they didn't run out of stock. Since he was O-negative
      -� the universal donor -� most hospitals had quite a lot of it, and
      Jean had more of his own at the mansion. Fat lot of good that did,
      miles away, but the stores had been sent for, and were on their way
      to the hospital by car in a cooler. The Blackbird was needed to
      fetch and carry a certain healer who could stop the bleeding
      altogether, or the kid was going to die before the sun came up, no
      matter how many pints they pumped into him.

      The problem, apparently, was that they no sooner got a tear
      cauterized than another started to bleed. Moreover, a second bullet
      had gone low into his thoracic cavity, nicked the edge of his lung
      and collapsed it, leaving him with a sucking chest wound. These were
      the critical injuries -� the life-threatening ones -� but there were
      more. They'd opened him up from windpipe to groin trying to get to
      everything fast enough. He'd flat-lined twice, though they'd brought
      him back. It ain't over till it's over, and Logan stubbornly refused
      to believe it was over until the third out in the ninth inning. Even
      Toronto had won a World Series. Logan simply wouldn't consider the
      possibility that Summers could die, and panic had never done anyone
      any good.

      At super-sonic speed, it took only one hour and fifteen minutes to
      cover the eighteen hundred miles from Westchester to western
      Minnesota, and every one of those minutes counted. The little Sioux
      girl was waiting exactly where she'd said she'd be: a fallow field
      belonging to a nameless farm off an exit of Interstate 90. After
      dark like it was, the Bird would be down and gone before anyone
      noticed, if anyone noticed at all. There were two Indian girls
      waiting by Gracie's green SUV -� one was Grace, and the other, the
      new recruit. She was a tall kid, and pregnant enough to be showing.
      Ororo set the Bird down and Logan got off, trailed by Victor
      Kills-his-Horse and three of Logan's trainees: John Proudstar,
      Warren Worthington, and Marie.

      The kids had come because they'd be driving back Gracie's car,
      dropping by Omaha on the way to talk to the Winnebago boy whom Gracie
      hadn't had a chance to see. Proudstar was the obvious choice, and
      Logan had already gathered that wherever John went, Angel-Boy wasn't
      far behind. Some interesting dynamics there. Logan had chosen Marie
      to keep an eye on them. She had more common sense than both boys put
      together.

      "Proudstar, Worthington, get the women's bags into the Blackbird,
      pronto." They jogged off to do as Logan had instructed, even as
      Grace ran to her brother.

      "Oh, god, oh, god, oh, god," she said, clutching at him. Logan
      wasn't sure if the litany was in panic over Summers, or in joy to
      have her brother out of prison at last. Probably both.

      "Let's get you on the plane," Kills-his-Horse said as he picked her
      up bodily to carry her aboard. Now that she had someone to lean on,
      she appeared ready to pass out and pressed her face into his
      shoulder. It hurt Logan to see her, but he pushed that aside. She
      had her brother now to look after her, and Logan had other things to
      concern him -� namely one lost little pregnant girl.

      Approaching, he set a hand on her shoulder. "How you doin', kid?"

      "I'm all right, Uncle." She wouldn't meet his eyes. Not shyness, or
      guilt -� simple manners. One didn't look an authority figure in the
      face. It was cheeky. "My name's Dani Elk River."

      He smiled and patted her shoulder. "Good to meet you, Dani; and
      we'll take good care of you. You can call me Logan." He didn't
      bother to explain that 'Grandfather' would probably be a more
      appropriate honorific for him. John Proudstar had approached with
      both sets of bags and the girl had switched her attention to John in
      any case �- not even sparing Worthington a glance where he hovered a
      step behind, though Worthington was usually the one who drew female
      notice.

      "You got the keys?" Proudstar asked her.

      "I think Grace left �em on the seat."

      "Gotcha. I'm John, by the way, codename Thunderbird. Campe Verde
      Apache. Nice to meet you." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.
      "That's Warren, codename Angel." Then he half-turned to point back
      to the SUV. "That's Rogue by the car. She's just . . . Rogue."

      "Oh." The Indian girl was still staring at Proudstar, eyes wide.
      "I'm Dani. Northern Cheyenne."

      "What's your power?" Proudstar asked her. "Mine's cougar strength
      and senses."

      She blinked, glanced away quickly. "I dream people to death."

      Proudstar blanched and Logan turned the girl towards the plane, gave
      her a little push. "Get on board," he said, and for just a moment,
      he thought she might protest or say something else. But she just
      shook her head and hurried up the Blackbird's access ramp.

      Logan focused his attention on Proudstar and Worthington. "Keep your
      noses clean," he told them. "This ain't a holiday. Don't get any
      traffic tickets, and do only what you were told to do. You guys try
      to be heroes and get Rogue in trouble, and I'll kick your ass into
      next week. We clear?"

      A bit apprehensive, both nodded, and without saying anything more,
      Logan turned to board the plane. Ororo had them off the ground
      almost before he was back in his seat.

      It was a tense ride back. Equilibrium somewhat recovered, Grace
      asked about Scott's wounds, needing more details than McCoy had been
      able to provide in brief over the phone. Logan gave a run-down of
      what had transpired in Queens. "The initial stand-off was picked up
      by a local news station. Kids caught it on TV and Xavier got moving
      on it right away, got permission to send in one of our own to talk to
      the boy." It had required some string pulling and the calling in of
      favors owed. "I don't know all the details of that, but the upshot
      was the NYPD permitting us to send people to negotiate. Cyclops was
      the obvious choice. The prof tapped Scott's friend, too -� that EJ
      -� to help." Logan was pretty damn sure that Xavier's choice had
      been part of his on-going campaign to enlist Haight on the X-staff,
      but there had been a logical reason for it, as well. Couldn't have
      the delegation appear too white bread since the mutant boy in
      question hadn't been. Apparently, EJ wasn't just in on the fact that
      the mansion had some futuristic lower levels. He knew all about the
      X-Men, too, and what they did.

      "Why'd the police let them into the building without kevlar vests?"

      Logan shook his head. "They had on vests when they went in." This
      was the point that really pissed him off. "The police suited them
      up, standard." He recalled their arrival in Queens at the site of
      the stand-off. The police had been less than happy to send in
      civilians who weren't official negotiators, and even less happy to
      deal with a mutant. Summers hadn't concealed his mutation. The
      whole point behind his choice, the reason they were letting him in at
      all, was that he had the same mutation as the cornered boy.

      And they'd despised him for it. Logan had seen plenty of mutant
      hate, but he'd wanted to slug the man who'd spat at Summers' feet.
      The guy had pretended he was just spitting tobacco, but it hadn't
      fooled anyone. Summers' lips had thinned and he'd paused in buckling
      on the kevlar, but hadn't responded more than that, just turned away.

      It had been Haight who'd responded -� black man to black. He'd
      gotten right in the other's face. "You dissing my friend, brother?"

      "Just spitting juice." But the guy had grinned, taunting Haight to
      touch him -� give him an excuse.

      Haight hadn't. "Sure you was. And I'm Denzel Washington. Next time
      you think it's open season on mutants, why don't you go sit in the
      back of the damn bus."

      Pissed, the policeman had jabbed EJ in the chest. "Fuck you,
      motherfuckin' mutie-lover!"

      "That's enough," the lieutenant in charge had said, but with an air
      that had suggested he'd have preferred to let it run its course.

      Logan didn't tell Grace any of that.

      "Scott and EJ went into the building," he went on after a moment.
      "Kept in touch with Xavier telepathically, so I don't know what all
      was said. Chuck wasn't sharing. But I do know that the new kid
      wasn't inclined to trust them. He thought they were setting him up,
      trying to get him outside the building so the sharpshooters could get
      a bead on him. Cyclops asked the kid if he'd surrender if he took
      off his own vest and went out unprotected, too. Fool. Brave, but
      still a fool. The kid surrendered. You saw the rest on TV. He
      tripped coming out and police opened fire, took out both of them.
      Wasn't the sharpshooters, though, who hit Scott. EJ swears one was
      the guy who'd spit at him earlier."

      "There's going to be a police investigation, ain't there?" Grace
      snapped.

      "There always is in a shooting case that involves the death of a
      suspect," Kills-his-Horse reminded her. "But it happened pretty
      fast. I doubt anything could be proved."

      "Then they should take it to court," Grace said.

      Victor shook his head, and Ororo spoke from the pilot seat, "We shall
      have to wait and see," which was clearly a dismissal of the topic.
      Logan could think of a good dozen reasons, off the top of his head,
      for this matter never to make it that far, first and foremost being
      that discretion and public ignorance were the school's two best
      protections, and a high-profile discrimination case would blow that
      sky high.

      There wasn't a good place to land the jet near the hospital without
      attracting a hell of a lot of attention, but with Scott's life
      hanging by a thread, Ororo wasn't inclined to play it safe. They
      decided to bluff it and pretend that Gracie had military transport
      with a little help from Xavier who left an impression in the minds of
      those watching that they were seeing Air Force markings on the plane.
      Ororo landed on the helipad, dropped Logan, Grace, Victor and the
      new girl Dani, then lifted up again before the illusion could be
      shattered. Xavier's talents were stretched almost to their limit at
      the moment.

      While still aboard the plane, Logan had put a white lab coat on
      Grace, borrowed from Jean's stack. "You're a vascular surgeon with a
      specialty in the hepatic region," he told her now. "McCoy has called
      you in on a consult. Bogus credentials, but it don't matter."

      "That won't last two seconds once I get into the operating room," she
      said as they moved from the landing pad towards the ER doors. Her
      face, Logan noticed, had gone very pale and she was sweating. Her
      brother had a hand under her elbow, almost holding her up.

      "You okay, *wichinchala*?"

      "I don't do well in hospitals. But don't worry about it, just get me
      and Vic to Scott."

      "She can feel it all -� the pain of everyone in the hospital," Victor
      elaborated from her other side. He was frowning. "I can block it
      mostly."

      "I can block it, too," Grace ground out.

      "Not so well."

      Logan wondered if he should worry, but they didn't have time for
      worry. He hurried them both through busy hospital halls up to the
      operating room on the second floor, where Xavier was waiting for them
      outside the double-doors. Grace's first words were, "Is he �- ?"

      "Still alive," Xavier answered her. "I've just informed Hank that
      you're here. He'll meet you in the scrub room." He pointed and she
      started off, dragging Victor after by the hand, but then paused to
      come back and lay a palm on either side of Dani's face -� wordless
      question.

      "You're wasting time," Dani said to her, and Grace took off again.
      That left Logan with Dani in the hallway facing the professor.
      Medical personnel passed to and fro, ignoring them as if they didn't
      see them. Maybe they didn't. Logan wasn't sure just what kinds of
      illusions the professor was maintaining, but one included convincing
      eight people in the OR that the chief surgeon wasn't big, hulking,
      and covered in blue fur. It was no wonder if Xavier seemed somewhat
      distracted, as well as tired and drawn.

      Despite the gravity of the situation, he'd focused his attention on
      Dani. "Welcome to New York, my dear. I wish I had time to speak
      with you at greater length."

      As she had with Logan, she kept her eyes respectfully lowered in the
      professor's presence. "I think you got other things to worry about,
      besides me."

      "Yes," Xavier replied, smiling faintly -� his 'I approve' smile.
      Then he turned his head somewhat as if listening to something only he
      could hear, and finally returned his attention to Dani. "Jean is
      going to take over for a moment. I think it critical that I have a
      look at your grandfather's protections." What remained unsaid was
      that he couldn't turn loose an alpha-class psion in a hospital full
      of vulnerable people without knowing how dangerous she might be.

      The girl seemed to understand and without being asked, knelt down in
      front of him, lowering her head. He laid a palm on her brow and
      closed his eyes. An odd look passed over his features, almost pain,
      almost astonishment -� like the child who has touched a stove burner
      only to discover that it really is hot -� then he was pulling his
      hand back. He blinked twice. "What is in place will, for the
      moment, stand." His gaze flicked to Logan. "Would you show her to
      the waiting room for ICU? That is where Scott will be transferred,
      when they finish." Then to Dani, "There are some other students here
      from the school -� an impromptu vigil. Last I heard, I think half
      the student body had arrived." The faint smile crossed his face
      again, but sad at the edges. "Mr. Summers is a popular teacher."

      "How is he really?" Logan asked. They'd been gone two and a half
      hours; a lot could change.

      "Holding his own," the professor replied. "He is a stubborn man, and
      Jean is there to contribute what she can. She isn't a surgeon, but
      she and Scott have shared thoughts often enough that he is able to
      sense her presence and respond to it, even when unconscious. She is
      holding him to life."

      Logan nodded as he watched a nurse come barreling down the hall
      carrying more blood bags in both hands. With one hip, she pressed a
      metal button on the wall about eight feet away, and the doors parted
      as she approached; she disappeared inside. "You eaten, Chuck?" Logan
      asked.

      "My place is here until they finish. I can best maintain the
      illusions that must be maintained if I am in closer proximity."

      "That wasn't what I asked. I asked if you'd eaten."

      "No, I have not."

      "I'll bring you something from one of the vending machines after I
      get Dani here settled. You prefer limp-bread chicken salad or
      limp-bread egg salad?"

      The professor actually smiled. "Either will do. And tea or coffee,
      if you can find any that is not too vile."

      "You got it." And Logan ushered Dani away. She was trying to look
      in ten directions at once, seemed in awe at the size of Jamaica
      Medical and Logan wondered if she'd ever spent time off the
      reservation. ICU was, fortunately, on the same floor, so they found
      the waiting rooms with only a couple false turns. The professor
      hadn't been kidding about half the school having showed up. There
      were two main rooms and the kids had all crammed themselves into one
      of them, where they were watched over by Haight and a few older
      students �- Drake, Allerdyce, Jubilee. There were couches and chairs
      in calming blue, and yellow lamplight spilled from end tables -�
      cosier than flourescent overheads. There were pillows and blankets,
      boxes of institution tissues, copies of NEWSWEEK and PEOPLE, and a
      coffeemaker with packets of creamer and sugar and styrofoam cups.
      The kids had brought a bag of Cheetos, some doughnuts from Krispy
      Kream, and left-over candy canes from Christmas. Most looked hastily
      dressed and only half awake, and Haight was still a mess: dried
      blood on his jeans, his face, and the shaved skin of his scalp. He
      was wearing a school sweatshirt that someone must have fetched as a
      change of clothing, but otherwise, he didn't look to have cleaned up
      much. As soon as Logan appeared, he leapt to his feet and
      approached, barely sparing the new girl a glance before launching in
      on Logan. "Is Grace here? Is Scott okay? Is he out of surgery
      yet?"

      Logan held up a hand. "Grace is here." God knew, they needed a
      little grace right now. "We'll see, on the rest."

      Haight's jaw tightened and he rocked back slightly, as if accepting a
      heavy burden. "How long till we know?"

      "I have no idea."

      Drake had come over, too. "With Dr. Grey, it didn't take that long"
      �- the night that Grace had constructed a medicine wheel to heal Jean
      Grey. "At least, it didn't feel like it took long."

      "This is different, kid," Logan said. "Gracie can't just waltz in
      there and fix him up good as new �- even if she had that kind of
      strength." She wasn't the strongest mutant. She'd saved Jean on
      spit and a shoe string, and a good guess from Cyclops. "But at least
      he has a fighting chance, and I've never known Summers to turn down a
      fight." He grinned with teeth; Drake echoed it. Haight didn't. He
      just ran a hand over his scalp and stared out the door at people
      passing, his posture all antsy like a fine greyhound who wanted most
      to slip his leash and run. As with his friend Summers, as with Logan
      himself, Haight was a doer. Being forced to wait, helpless, was a
      special circle of hell.

      Reaching back, Logan got hold of Dani's arm and tugged her forward,
      gently, pushed her at Haight. "This is Dani Elk River, the girl Grace
      was bringing home. EJ, you and Bobby introduce her around, eh? I'm
      going to get something for the professor to eat."

      And he headed off to find that sandwich, bring it back to the man
      waiting outside the doors of OR -� just as helpless, for the most
      part, as the rest of them. "They are having some success," Xavier
      said before Logan could even ask. "But it remains touch-and-go.
      Nonetheless, Hank is optimistic."

      Logan nodded, then hung around for a while, not saying much. Pacing
      mostly. Jesus, he hated hospitals. At one point, Xavier said, "You
      could go outside, Logan, and have a cigar. I shall call you" -� he
      tapped his head -� "if anything changes." Pushing away from a wall,
      Logan would have headed off . . . except that Ororo Munroe picked
      that moment to appear from around a bend in the hallway. She'd taken
      the Blackbird back to the mansion and returned by car �- must have
      just arrived. "On second thought," Xavier began, "stay a moment. I
      have an assignment for the two of you . . . . "




      "Where the hell did you learn to pick a lock, darlin'?"

      Ororo glanced back at him with a faint smile on her face. Her white
      hair, along with the rest of her, was hidden beneath a form-fitting
      navy blue bodysuit that left only her face bare but not much to the
      imagination. Deep blue blended better with shadows; black was too
      distinct. Logan was dressed similarly. They made two dark ghosts
      sneaking into the Queens' County Morgue by a rear entrance, to steal
      a body.

      Anything to get out of the damn hospital.

      "Do not assume that you know too much about our pasts, Logan," Ororo
      warned him. "I have done many things to survive. This assignment is
      . . . almost insultingly easy." The amusement on her face slipped.
      "But I would have preferred it had the professor let us wait to see
      -�"

      "Middle of the night's the time to do it. You know that. Chuck said
      he'd let us know, if anything happened."

      She just nodded and returned to the lock. Logan hadn't avoided
      saying "if Scott dies" to spare her feelings. He just found he
      couldn't say it. He'd been back in Westchester four months and
      couldn't imagine the place without Cyclops �- not to mention what
      losing the Boy Scout before their baby was born would do to Jean.
      They didn't have to be lovers for her to be scared out of her skull.
      Earlier that night behind police barriers, when he, Xavier, and Jean
      had seen Scott fall, Jean had been moving almost before he'd been
      able to catch her. But he'd held her back, kept her from racing out
      into that no man's land where all the guns had still been pointing.
      She'd bit him. Hit him and bit him and kicked both his shins,
      cursing him six ways to Sunday. But he hadn't let her go until he'd
      seen the gun muzzles go skyward. In fact, he hadn't let her go until
      he'd seen Summers' leg kick convulsively from behind where Haight had
      dove down in front of him, trying to protect him with his own kevlar
      vest. Logan had wanted to spare her from being the one to declare
      him, but when he'd seen that the kid was still alive, he'd let her go
      play doctor.

      Now, the door lock clicked and Storm pushed it open, peeked inside.
      "No guards."

      "I guess they figure their clientele ain't going nowhere."

      "Have I ever told you that you have a very crass sense of humor,
      Logan?"

      "That's me, darlin'," he replied as he followed her in. "Crass and
      caddish to the end."

      He caught her smile before she turned away.

      With only a skeleton night staff, the lights at the rear entrance
      were out, hall lights on only near the main exam rooms, glowing like
      a beacon. They made their way forward in the dim. It was eerie, but
      he supposed any sterile room after dark with low lights would be
      eerie. Death held little horror for Logan. He was far more nervous
      of what could be done to him while he lived. In her rubber-soled
      shoes and skin-tight suit, the Storm Queen moved ahead of like a
      professional thief, and she was checking all the right places for
      security, impressing Logan in spite of himself. "You done some
      breaking and entering before," he whispered. It wasn't a question.

      Once again, she shot him an amused glance and spoke so softly that
      only his animal hearing permitted him to hear. "Let us say that I
      have had some practice at getting into places where I was not
      welcome. Logan, where are the staff and how many �- use signals, not
      your voice."

      He scented the air and listened. Only two people in the building,
      both in the exam room. He could just hear their conversation over
      the noise of the air conditioning, but doubted Ororo could. He held
      up his had for two, and then pointed down the hall. She nodded,
      spoke again in that sotto voce whisper that only he could hear. "I
      will create a diversion. You will have approximately three to five
      minutes to find and retrieve the body and meet me back outside."

      He waggled his eyebrows in question but she just shook her head,
      slipping off. He waited. A few minutes later, he heard scratching
      like a cat and then a startled �- and very convincing �- meow.

      "Was that a *cat*?" one of the night staff asked.

      "Sounded like one to me," said the other.

      "How'd it get in the building?"

      "No idea. We got us a little cat burglar."

      "Ha, ha. I'm gonna go check it out. Might have snuck in a window
      left open."

      "Unless it's black. Then maybe it rode in on a broom."

      "Shut up, you clown."

      "Fine, man. Go rescue your freakin' cat." And Logan watched from
      the concealment of a doorway as the man left.

      *Well, Stormy -� that's one down. How you plan to get rid of the
      other, darlin'?*

      There was another cat noise in the distance, and after less than a
      minute the second man exited the exam room. "Hey, Ron, wait up.
      I'll help you find it."

      Logan grinned to himself. Heebie jeebies must have gotten to the
      guy, though Logan wondered if that was just luck on Storm's part.
      Didn't matter; Logan had an empty exam room and a body to fetch out
      of the icebox. He made his way down and slipped in, kept to the
      shadows in case the guys gave up on their mystery 'cat.' The drawers
      in the refrigeration unit were labeled by date, so it wasn't much
      effort to find the latest. Three dead in one day in this morgue
      alone. Then again, this was New York. The boy who'd been shot by
      the police earlier was in the second box, toe-tagged and ice-cold.
      Bullet-ridden, he wasn't a pretty sight. Logan unrolled the body bag
      that they'd brought and lifted him out of the drawer, got him into
      the bag and zipped it up, then shut the drawer and made sure that
      everything was exactly as it had been before slipping back out of the
      room.

      Three minutes and forty seconds. Not bad. But now came the fun part
      �- getting the body out of the building and safely away. It was a
      bit hard to 'sneak' carrying a hundred pounds of limp, dead boy in a
      bag.

      A minute or so later, Storm reappeared at the rear door by which
      they'd entered. "Meow," he mouthed soundlessly at her and her face
      split in a grin. She listened at the door a moment, then glanced to
      him and tapped her ear, meaning for him to listen. He did, and
      hearing nothing on the other side, shook his head. She cracked the
      door, peered out to check, then slipped through. He followed her
      into the alleyway.

      To get the body back to the car, Logan had borrowed a page from
      history. Outside the back door, he'd left a Persian carpet, taken
      from one of the mansion hallways. Now, the two of them unrolled the
      fabric and then re-rolled it around the body. So had Cleopatra of
      Egypt smuggled herself into the presence of Julius Caesar. Slipping
      on dun-industrial overalls atop their navy suits, they picked up the
      carpet and carried it out of the alley towards the jeep. They met
      with no one, which worried Logan a bit. A covert job shouldn't be
      this easy. Then again, no one really expected them to be stealing a
      body out of the morgue, and he wasn't inclined to look a gift-horse
      in the mouth.

      "Tell me again," Logan huffed as he moved behind Ororo, "why this is
      so fucking important to do tonight? I understand we don't want them
      mutilating the kid's body as research, but �- "

      "We cannot have anyone suspect what precisely this mutation is," Ro
      interrupted, breath short, too, from the effort of hauling her end of
      the carpet. "That means we cannot permit them to begin an autopsy.
      The boy has Scott's mutation or one very like it, and Scott
      metabolizes sunlight, converting it into energy very, very
      efficiently: human photosynthesis. You, yourself, have been a
      victim of experimentation. Scott is a potential alternative power
      source -� valuable to a clientele ranging from bio-engineers to
      specialists in solar radiation. Can you imagine what a government �-
      any government -� or industry would pay to recreate what his body can
      do? What they would pay for his very person, in order to learn the
      secret of his mutation?"

      Logan blinked at that. Xavier hadn't really had time to explain why
      they were stealing the body, but now, the implications were
      staggering.

      "But, if he could be an alternative power source . . . . "

      "Hank and Jean have both attempted to document what, precisely, his
      body does, how it absorbs solar radiation and how that energy is
      converted into force. It would, indeed, be an invaluable gift if it
      could be offered to the world. Unfortunately, since Scott's power is
      unable to be controlled, they are unable to conclude their
      experiments. They could do so only if he were dead."

      That shut them both up. They didn't want to talk, just now, about
      Scott dying.

      "And you want this boy's body," Logan said, "so Hank and Jean can
      find out from it what they can't from Scott."

      Halting abruptly, Ororo scowled. "That is not why we are taking the
      body. We are taking it to bury it. This child" -� she laid a hand
      on the carpet with the body inside -� "gave no consent for
      post-mortem scientific experimentation. He is not Scott, who has
      given that permission, insisted on it, in fact. We are here to see
      to it that no one violates a child's remains merely to satisfy their
      curiosity. And we must do so before said curiosity might lead
      someone to make a discovery that could, in turn, put Scott in mortal
      danger."

      "If we're going to protect Summers, we'll have to shred the hospital
      records on him, too," Logan said.

      Ororo nodded, somewhat absently. "Actually, as Jean is his primary
      physician. She controls his medical records, and can falsify them at
      need. As for the records of tests and other matters that she cannot
      falsify, none of them will likely reveal critical information about
      the exact nature of his mutation. But if they should, then yes, we
      will have to eliminate that as well."

      Finally back in the car, they loaded the body and then themselves,
      buckling up. Logan asked, "So how long'd we take?"

      She glanced at the clock on the dashboard. "Twenty-two minutes,
      total."

      "How long we been gone?"

      "Forty-five."

      "And no word yet."

      "No. No word yet."

      "That's a good sign."

      "Yes, it is."

      "They were shooting at Scott, y'know," Logan added after a moment,
      the anger working briefly free. "Not just at the kid."

      "I don't doubt it," Ororo replied, voice tight.

      ----

      Continued DIRECTLY in part 7b/12 ....


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