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

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  • Minisinoo
    Continuing direction from part 12a/12.... ... Fence check. Cleared? Cleared hot, Cyclops. Continue. We are clear for take-off. ETA, forty five minutes.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2001
      Continuing direction from part 12a/12....


      "Fence check. Cleared?"

      "Cleared hot, Cyclops. Continue."

      "We are clear for take-off. ETA, forty five minutes. All go

      Scott was using cryptic language that Jean had never heard from him
      before �- probably because the rest of the team wouldn't have known
      what he was talking about. But the man in the co-pilot seat beside
      him had taught it to him in the first place. Jean watched them move
      together through pre-flight check as if they'd been doing it all
      their lives, though this was the first time. She wondered how often
      Scott had done this in his dreams . . . and how often Christopher
      Summers had.

      Overhead, the basketball court began to slide back as swivel turbofan
      engines -� Jean only knew what they were called because Scott yakked
      about them incessantly -� roared into full spin. Slowly, Scott took
      up the plane. A textbook liftoff, and Jean looked around at the rest
      strapped into seats. Every spot was taken, and some sat on the bench
      at the rear. She was surprised they'd let her tag along at all, but
      the professor had come down on her side. A telepath and doctor might
      prove essential, even if she'd been forbidden to put herself in any
      physical danger. Reasonably. She wouldn't risk her son.

      Logan appeared a bit anxious, but he hated to fly; and relegated as
      she was to a second-row seat, Ororo didn't look much better. It
      wasn't that she cared so much about being co-pilot, but she hated
      enclosed places and the plane felt more enclosed without the viewport
      in front of her. EJ was still trying to get used to his uniform,
      which the professor must have had commissioned as soon as he'd agreed
      to stay. God knew, the man would never fit into any of Scott's
      uniforms. He was working out the creaking stiffness of new leather
      in the jacket arms and shoulders, and Grace was doing something
      similar with the fingers of her gloves. She seemed remarkably calm,
      but like Jean, she wasn't likely to see combat. As she was fond of
      saying, she preferred to heal bruises, not to give them. Jean did,
      too; but if someone were shooting at her, she didn't mind knocking a
      few heads together, telekinetically.

      It was the final member, dressed in an old uniform dredged out of
      storage, who seemed the most nervous of all. Francesco Placido.
      From the moment Xavier had called them from the dining hall, he'd
      insisted on tagging along, although he hadn't been an X-Man for four
      years. "This is the pivotal moment, the pivotal event. I am
      coming," he'd said, and that was that.

      The pivotal moment that might stop or start a global crisis. Seven
      X-Men and one retired USAF colonel off to save the world.

      "Stranger things have happened," Chris Summers had remarked on their
      way to the plane.

      "Perform a slip to lose altitude."

      "Dad -� I didn't start flying yesterday."

      "Okay, okay. I'll shut up."

      "Thank you."

      Jean grinned behind her hand. Christopher Summers -� Corsair, to
      give him his pilot's call sign -� had been a backseat driver all the
      way to Nebraska and Jean suspected that Scott seriously regretted
      taking him at all. So much for the joys father-son first-time

      As soon as the plane was down and settled in an obscure field on
      Winnebago land, they dropped the hatch and waited for Rogue to arrive
      in Grace's car. She'd given them the landing site, apparently
      suggested by her charge. Nothing like a native guide to say where
      they might hide several tons of Blackbird. In the air, especially at
      night, it was almost invisible with its radar-reflective skin, but on
      the ground, it was hard to hide. Coming off the ramp, Scott
      muttered, "Everyone remember where we parked."

      "You watch way too much 'Star Trek,' man," EJ told him. "Too bad you
      can't scare us up a convenient cloaking device."

      "That's a bit outside current technology," Colonel Summers replied.
      "Now where is this girl who's supposed to meet us?"

      Even as he asked, they could hear the approach of a car, rumbling
      over rough road, and caught the glare of headlights cutting through
      moonless dark, glancing off an imperfect cover of snow. Then Rogue
      was pulling up to park, and she and the boy hopped out. She ran
      right to Grace and threw herself into the Indian woman's arms. That
      certainly surprised Logan. The rest of them gathered around to hear
      her story, which poured out like a waterfall of words. But she was
      just a trainee on her first mission. What should have been simple
      routine had turned out anything but when her two teammates had
      decided to disobey Logan's direct order and play detective.

      Three days ago, after spending a week in Omaha convincing the parents
      of the boy -� whose name was Thurston -� to let him come with them,
      the three junior X-Men had headed north up I-29 to I-90, instead of
      taking I-80 due east. The ostensible reason had been so that
      Thurston could bid farewell to his relatives on the reservation, but
      Rogue had later discovered the real reason was so that Warren could
      attempt to bribe information about the Koinonia compound out of white
      locals. He'd foolishly thought enough greenbacks would buy him
      compliance, and hadn't figured on the insularity of mid-western small
      towns and their suspicion of strangers with too much money. With
      Thurston's help to make the proper introductions, John had gotten a
      bit further among the boys on the res. But not far enough. They
      simply hadn't *known* much, except that members of Koinonia still
      passed time beating up on Indians if they couldn't find enough
      mutants. The Indians were closer, and in greater numbers.

      Yesterday afternoon, John and Warren had decided that they weren't
      finding out enough to suit them �- or at least, not enough to get
      forgiveness for doing exactly what they'd been told not to do -� and
      had decided on a middle of the night excursion, after swearing Rogue
      to silence. But that was the last the girl had heard from them.
      Since none of them had thought to set a definitive end to the
      mission, Rogue hadn't been sure how long to wait before calling the
      mansion. That she should have called the minute those two idiots had
      hared off on their own was immediately impressed on her by a furious
      Logan, but it was a little late for 'should have's.

      Armed with information from Rogue and the boy, Scott, his father and
      Logan cobbled together a quick plan. At least Rogue had chosen a
      landing place at the eastern edge of the Winnebago res, not far from
      the Koinonia compound. It lay just across the field, over a state
      highway at the boundary of res land, through a creek, and past an
      electric fence. "We split up," Scott said. "Logan and Frank, you
      come in from the south; Logan can cut through the fence. Dad, you
      and Ro go north and she can fly you over. EJ and I will head due
      west. Jean, you, Rogue, Grace and Thurston stay with the plane
      unless I call for you. We're not making any assaults until we scout
      it out. Clear? Radio silence unless something's life or death. I
      don't care how secure we may think our transmissions are, the people
      in that compound are probably paranoid to the nth degree and if
      they've caught our boys sneaking around, they'll be on high alert."

      They hammered out a few more details, including a rendezvous, then
      took off, leaving Jean and Grace on the ramp to wait. The two women
      said nothing, just stood together facing west, wrapped up in thermal
      blankets against the winter chill.

      It was exactly fifty-two minutes later that Jean received a mental
      call from Scott �- no radio. His 'voice' was tight and full of rage.
      *Jean, get Grace in the SUV and get over to me, ASAP. Leave Rogue
      and the boy with the jet. They don't need to see this. And call in
      the other teams, if you can reach them. Tell them to converge on my
      position. I've found Warren.*

      Fearing what, exactly, he'd found, Jean grabbed her jump bag, slung
      it in the SUV and explained Scott's orders to Grace and Rogue as she
      moved. In the car, she and Grace had to go around the long way, and
      almost got lost. It took them half an hour. Finally parking the
      vehicle by the side of the road, they clambered over the half-frozen
      creek �- not easy for Jean with her bag -� and then climbed up
      towards a chain-link fence that Scott had cut through with his optic
      blasts. Metal had curled in from the force of it. "Careful of
      gopher holes," Grace whispered to Jean as they made their way along
      the edge of the field towards that place where Jean could feel Scott
      waiting. Grace moved a little ahead of her, not depending on her for
      direction. Apparently, the Indian woman had some kind of bond with
      Scott, too, and Jean suppressed a spike of jealousy. This wasn't the
      place for it, and well past the time.

      Coming nearer to Scott's position, Jean could see people bunched
      together around what looked like a cross. "My god," Grace breathed,
      "what have they done? He's just -� " She broke off and started
      running. Jean tried to keep up, but her boots weren't made for this
      terrain and she came trailing in several seconds after Grace.

      They'd cut Warren down and laid him out flat on his back �-

      -� which they could do because the sons of bitches had cut off his
      wings, cauterizing the stumps. The wings themselves were still nailed
      to the bar of the cross, spray-painted black with a big red "Mutie
      Demon" written on them, one word per wing.

      "Goddamn," Jean hissed.

      Grace was already working over Warren so he had to be alive, and Jean
      knelt beside him on the other side, checking his vital stats. Weak.
      Very, very weak. He must have lost a tremendous amount of blood in
      the amputation -� which she was sure hadn't been done with
      anesthesia. Jean started to drop into synch with Grace, but she
      heard Logan hiss, "Someone's approaching � across the field."

      Immediately, Scott, Ororo, EJ, Chris Summers, and Logan took up
      defensive, protective stances around Grace, Jean, and Frank, too.
      "Now," Frank was muttering. "It comes now." He had both his palms
      pressed against his temples and his face was all scrunched up as if
      he were in agony.

      Still on her knees, Jean looked between Scott and EJ at the lone
      figure staggering across the field. He stopped about fifty feet
      away. "Who are you?" he called. "Who's there?" It was too dark for
      him to see more than their shadows, or for them to make him out
      either, but Jean recognized his voice.

      John Proudstar. "Is he alone?" Scott whispered to her. "Can you
      sense anyone else in ambush?"

      Jean reached out, but found nothing aside from a terrified and
      hurting John. "He's alone," she replied.

      "Come on, John," Scott called out to him. "It's us. We've come to
      take you home." And Scott switched on his flashlight, raising the
      beam to John's bruised and battered face.

      Before anyone could move, Frank exploded to his feet and ran out
      between the line of X-Men and John Proudstar. "NO!" he shouted.
      "That's *HIM.* That's the boy in my vision!"

      "Frank, what are you talking about?" Scott said. "That's John
      Proudstar. He's one of us �- one of our new trainees."

      "And if you touch him, he will kill you."

      "That's fucking ridiculous -� " Logan began, but John's voice cut him

      "He's right. I can't get near you. I overheard what they said about
      me. Cougar hearing. Cougar strength and cougar senses. They didn't
      count on that. I am carrying some plague they call Legacy. It was
      created to kill mutants. If I get too near any of you, you'll catch
      it from me."


      Whew! It's done at last!!!

      Feedback is doted upon . . . even if it's just to throw tomatoes at
      me for the cliffhanger. <g> minisinoo@...

      Yes, obviously, there's a third story planned: IN THE SPIRIT OF
      CRAZY HORSE. No, I don't know when it will be written. I have a
      couple other projects I must finish first.


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