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Fic: X-V(1/3) OC(Joe), Jean, Raven, Erik [R]

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  • pphillips914
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2003
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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

      X-V (Part I)

      Joe had definitely picked a beautiful day to run away from home. It
      was early spring, and the temperature was very mild. Joe needed the
      jacket he was wearing, but not by much. That was good, since there
      was a good possibility he'd be sleeping outside until he could get a

      It was getting towards evening when an elderly couple dropped Joe off
      at a truckstop just south of Cheyenne. They were at the junction of
      I-25 and I-80. The older folks were heading eastwards towards
      Omaha. Joe was planning on going south to Denver.

      At the truckstop, Joe took care of a few details for the people who'd
      given him a ride. He cleaned their windows, checked the oil, and
      pumped gas for them. Really, he was pretty grateful. Wyoming was an
      old-fashioned part of the country, but not so old-fashioned that a
      young man hiking by the side of the highway could reasonably expect
      to be given a ride by a pair of old folks.

      Mr. Means helped his wife back into his truck -- she was barely able
      to get around with a walker. Then he held out his hand to Joe. They

      "Thank you for the ride, Mr. Means."

      "You're welcome, Joe," said the older man. Then, after a slight
      hesitation, "Are you sure about what you're doing?"

      Joe nodded, "Yes, sir. I'll spend a week or two in Denver, seeing
      the sights. Then join the Army. I'll be fine."

      Mr. Means squinted at Joe for a long moment. Then he asked
      quietly, "Joe, how old are you?"

      "Eighteen, sir. I just turned a few days back." The truth was that
      Joe was only sixteen. He didn't like the idea of lying to Mr. Means -
      - or to anyone for that matter. But it was necessary.

      The older man nodded slowly, obviously not sure about Joe's answer.
      Then he handed Joe a folded piece of paper. The boy automatically
      took it.

      "That's our phone-number back in Lander, Joe. We'll be back there in
      a week. If things don't work out for you in Denver -- say you have
      some trouble getting into the Army -- then I want you to give me a
      call. I'll be happy to come to Denver and give you a ride back... a
      ride to wherever you need to go."

      Joe was surprised and not sure what to say, "Thank you, sir."

      Mr. Means glanced back at his car. His wife was watching the old man
      and the boy with concern in her eyes.

      "We've got to get going Joe. Promise me that you'll call if things
      don't work out."

      "Yes, sir," answered Joe. Lying was getting easier. He'd been
      telling nothing but lies for the last few days.

      Joe waved goodbye as the Means' ancient pickup truck pulled away.
      Mrs. Means waved back.

      Hefting his backpack over one shoulder, Joe started walking towards
      the restaurant. He'd ask around and see if a trucker heading south
      would mind some company. Joe knew he would have to be careful -- his
      father was a trucker and he wouldn't want to meet up with someone who
      knew his dad.

      He'd have to tell more lies.

      He had a plan. Joe had helped-out his grandfather at the family
      ranch many times. He was both good with animals and a hard worker.
      When he got to Denver, he would check with the veterinarians, seeing
      if they needed a minimum-wage cage-cleaner and roustabout. If he
      could pay the bills for a while with that, then the Army would be an
      option when he finally turned eighteen.

      Joe knew that the plan was pretty weak. But at least it was

      Out of curiousity, Joe opened the double-folded piece of paper that
      Mr. Means had given him. To his surprise, there was a badly worn
      twenty dollar bill inside. Joe stopped in mid-stride. Mr. Means was
      a retired ranch-hand with next to no education. He and his wife
      could barely afford this trip to see their newest great-grandchild.
      There was no way they could afford to be giving him twenty dollars.

      But they were gone. There was no way to give the money back.

      Joe cursed softly and tucked the bill into his wallet. He was now
      all the way up to twenty-eight dollars and fifty-two cents. After a
      moment's thought, he put the phone-number in his wallet as well. He
      wouldn't be calling Mr. Means. But someday he'd be able to pay him

      From Joe's point of view, the truckstop was huge. He came from a
      small town of less than a hundred inhabitants -- and there were
      easily more people in the truckstop than lived in all of Indian
      Springs. Joe stood inside the front door, feeling more than a little
      overwhelmed and lost.

      His best bet would be to find where the trucker's hung out and find
      somebody talkative. The smell of cooking from the restaurant made
      Joe's stomach rumble. He sternly told himself to wait.

      Then Joe spotted the three men.

      They were city fellows dressed in suits, standing by the coffee
      pots. He didn't like the way they were staring at him. And once
      they noticed that Joe was looking back, they all glanced away.

      Joe marked them as potential trouble.

      "Excuse me," said the woman.

      Joe blinked in surprise. She was talking to him.

      "Yes, ma'am?" Joe replied, trying not to stare. The woman was knock-
      down gorgeous. Medium-length, dark-red hair. An intelligent face
      with warm, alert eyes. And a body that was athletic, but definitely
      curved in all the right places. Joe estimated that she was in her

      "I'm having trouble with my car," she said with a devastating
      smile. "I was wondering if you would give me a hand?"

      Both common courtesy and teenage hormones demanded that Joe help. He
      followed her outside.

      "What's the problem?" he asked as they approached her car. Joe's
      eyebrows rose as he noticed that it was an expensive foreign sports
      car -- a model he'd only seen on TV before that moment. It was
      parked a fair distance away from any other vehicles in the parking

      "Well, you're going to laugh, but I think one of my brake lights
      isn't working. I was almost rear-ended today. I was hoping you
      could watch while I tested them."

      Joe told himself to stop bringing up mental images that involved this
      woman's rear-end.

      "Sure!" he replied.

      Both lights were working fine. The woman thanked Joe for his help.

      "I guess the problem is that other people just aren't looking for
      lights like they should. I had two incidents in a row where people
      didn't seem to notice until the last second that I was slowing down."

      "Sorry to hear that. Say, where are you headed?"


      "I'm going that way myself. Would you mind a passenger?"

      She didn't hesitate, "Sure. I'd enjoy the company."


      "But we've got to go right now. I'm running a little late," she

      Joe shrugged, "Hey, no problem."

      They climbed into her vehicle and she started it. Joe took a last
      glance towards the truckstop.

      The three men who had been staring at him inside the truckstop were
      now outside and standing around a small SUV. They were watching the
      sports car as it left the parking lot.

      What the hell was their problem?

      "My name is Jean Grey," said the woman as she expertly shifted gears.

      "Pleased to meet you. Mine is Joe Keene."


      Jean stole a glance at the boy in her passenger seat.

      Joe was tall for his age, almost six foot tall. He was strongly-
      built and had black hair and grey eyes. His coloring was dark --
      thanks both to a distant Indian ancestor on his father's side of the
      family and a young lifetime of summers spent mostly outdoors. His
      clothing was rugged and a little worn around the edges. He wouldn't
      attract a second glance in rural/small-town Wyoming. But without
      quite leaving his home state, he was already beginning to look a
      little out of place.

      "Why are you going to Denver, Joe?"

      He hesitated, "I'm going to visit for a while. Maybe look for work."

      Jean nodded to herself. She could tell that the boy didn't like to
      lie. He was keeping his responses very general to avoid that.

      "Do you have any friends in Denver?"

      "No, ma'am."

      "Call me Jean. There will be time enough for 'ma'am' when I'm an old

      Joe chuckled at the odd thought of this beautiful woman as a
      spinster, "You bet."

      Jean glanced at the rear-view mirror as she asked, "Where are you

      "A little town called Indian Springs. It's northwest of here."

      "Do you have family there?"

      Joe hesitated before answering, "Yes."

      Jean could feel the momentary flash of pain. Another outcast.
      Sometimes they were even younger than Joe.

      "Do you have a girl?"

      "Not any more." Joe's voice was more bitter than he intended. You
      didn't have to be a telepath to know that there was something painful
      behind his words.

      Jean glanced in the rear-view mirror again.

      They were definitely being followed. It was the three men from the


      Inside the SUV, the two men who weren't driving checked their
      weapons. The driver was making a cell-phone call, carefully giving
      the license plate number and a description of Jean's car.

      The man in the back seat put his automatic pistol back into his
      shoulder holster. Then he checked to make sure that the shotgun was
      fully loaded.


      A car from the Colorado State Patrol pulled behind Jean's car with
      his lights flashing.

      Jean took her time pulling over, mentally weighing the situation.
      This seemed way too public for any kind of trouble. The amount of
      traffic on this part of I-29 was considerable. And it was still
      daylight -- although not for long. Surely they wouldn't try anything

      She noticed that Joe was now wearing a ballcap that he had pulled out
      of his backpack. He pulled it low, so that when he tipped it
      downwards, the brim would conceal his eyes. It wasn't a bad
      improvisation under normal circumstances. But it would probably
      actually attract the attention of any competent police officer.

      Jean read the mind of the patrolman as he walked towards them. He
      had been ordered to stop them, keep them busy, and wait for backup
      from a State Patrol plain-clothes team. He was puzzled and a little
      irritated at the lack of information. He was also completely
      innocent -- just a cop doing his job.

      "Can I see your license and registration, ma'am? I clocked you going
      ten miles an hour over the speed limit."

      Jean handed him her identification.

      The patrolman stared at it in surprise. You didn't often see ID for
      a CIA agent.

      "This is a matter of national security, officer. Please let us go,"
      Jean said crisply. Then she leaned into the patrolman's mind,
      willing him to give in to her demand.

      Joe stared in surprise.

      The patrolman stood frozen in indecision. If she had been granted
      just a few more seconds, Jean would have been able to influence him
      sufficiently to let them escape.

      But they ran out of time.


      The SUV pulled off the road, directly in front of Jean's car. In
      between the patrol car parked just behind them and the car in front,
      they were trapped.

      "Joe, get down!" Jean screamed. Three armed men were getting out of
      the SUV. They were projecting thoughts that indicated that they had
      every intention of murdering both of them.

      Jean telepathically struck the patrolman, pushing hard to shut down
      his higher thought processes. She was partially successful. The
      officer would have collapsed, but Jean used her telekinesis to hold
      him upright as she pulled his handgun from his holster with her left

      She released the patrolman and he fell to the ground. Then, without
      hesitating, she leaned out her open window and used her off hand to
      empty the automatic pistol into the first man coming out of the SUV.
      He screamed and was slammed back against the vehicle as he absorbed a
      half-dozen bullets.

      Joe bailed out of Jean's car just before a shotgun blast exploded the


      Joe hit the ground and stayed down. His ears were ringing from all
      the gunfire. Looking underneath Jean's car, he could see the
      collapsed patrolman on the far side of vehicle. Joe began crawling
      backwards, keeping an eye in front of him as his hands frantically
      scrabbled at the loose broken rock that overlay the ground just off
      the shoulder of the road.

      One of the men came around the front of Jean's car. He was the one
      with the shotgun. He grinned when he saw Joe.

      He said something that Joe couldn't make out because of the ringing
      in his ears. Then he leveled the shotgun.

      He shouldn't have wasted that precious second. Just before the
      gunslinger pulled the trigger, Joe's frantically digging hands
      finally got through the crushed gravel and found the soil and native
      rock of the land.

      There was a timeless disconnect from reality that only Joe could
      feel. His vision darkened and the nature of sound changed. The
      local spirits of the earth paused their slow, rolling, millenia-long
      conversation and immediately gave Joe what was rightfully his.

      Joe changed just before the shotgun roared. He changed into
      something manlike, but definitely not human. The pellets from the
      shotgun blast bounced harmlessly off him. The stony figure that was
      now Joe climbed to his feet and strode relentlessly forward.

      The man with the shotgun screamed and fired again. The second blast
      had no effect either. And then Joe was on him and the screaming
      became animal-like as bones began to break and splinter.


      Jean had barely managed to duck underneath the dash of her car in
      time. If she had been a split-second slower...

      Then the man with the shotgun began screaming. It was so horrible
      that Jean almost froze.


      She psionically attacked the last gunman. Dazed, he staggered
      backwards. Then Jean popped-up in her seat. Fragments of safety
      glass from the shattered windshield that had been covering her body
      sprayed in all directions. The small .45 automatic that Jean kept
      under her seat was clutched in both of her hands.

      Killing the man she had just telepathically blasted was more of an
      execution than self-defense. But that didn't make Jean pause even

      The man Joe had grabbed was mercifully dead by then.

      Jean climbed out of the car, more shards of broken safety glass
      spilling from her hair and clothing.

      Insanely, traffic continued to whiz by on the Interstate. From
      inside the passing vehicles, faces stared at the carnage on the
      shoulder of the road.

      And for a long second, Jean Grey considered the boy she had picked up
      back at the truckstop.

      He was gone. In Joe's place, wearing Joe's clothes, was a manlike
      entity of reddish stone. Patches of lichen and craggy protrusions of
      jagged rock spotted his surface. His clothing was torn and ripped in
      spots, and he was covered with the blood of the man he had crushed to

      Joe dropped the man he had killed. The body hit the ground with a
      squelching sound. Jean had seen a lot of hard things during her
      eight years in the CIA, but she couldn't quite bear to look at the
      misshappen body laying at Joe's feet.

      Jean cursed and strode for the SUV. It's engine was still running.
      With any luck, they would be able to get to the next exit without
      further trouble.

      "Joe, we have to leave," she said urgently -- not even sure if he
      could hear in the same way as normal people.

      The entire upper portion of the stony figure bobbed in what passed
      for a nod. Joe began slowly turning back to normal as he retrieved
      his backpack and jacket from the sportscar. By the time he got into
      the SUV, he was almost entirely back to human.


      They drove to the nearest exit. By then, night had fallen. Then
      they took a series of backroads until Jean found an isolated spot
      where they could abandon the SUV. The vehicle would eventually be
      found, but not immediately.

      Then she and Joe were walking down the side of a two-lane road. Joe
      hadn't said a thing since the fight.

      Jean reached out and took the boy's hand in her own. Joe still said
      nothing and Jean was silent as well. She knew that Joe came from a
      part of the world where men and boys were trained not to cry. But he
      was taking advantage of the dark to bend that rule.

      He gripped Jean's hand very hard. She ignored the sticky, drying
      blood that covered his hand. He was ignoring the itchy residue of
      broken safety glass on hers.

      Jean waited until the time was right.

      "They would have killed us, Joe. You did the right thing," she said

      "Who were they?" Joe replied after a long wait.

      "Somebody who hates our kind. They spotted you back at the
      truckstop. I was hoping I would be able to get you away from them
      without anyone getting hurt."

      "But who were they?"

      Jean shook her head, "They were thugs and traitors to the entire
      human race -- human and mutant alike. And they don't warrant a split-
      second of sympathy or regrets from you or anyone else. Joe, I know
      this is asking a lot. But can you please trust me for just a while
      longer? I promise to explain as much as I can once we have the

      "You said 'our kind', are you a mutant too?"


      They walked a hundred more yards while Joe absorbed that.

      "Where are we going?" asked Joe.

      "I've sent a signal for someone to pick us up. They'll meet us at a
      road junction that's a mile up the road."


      They hid in a small stand of trees just off the road junction. Two
      State Patrol cars went through the junction in the half-hour they

      It was cooling off quickly. Joe had long since put his jacket back
      on. When he noticed that Jean was shivering, he pulled a sweatshirt
      out of his pack and handed it to her. She accepted it gratefully.

      "You're a hell of a shot," said Joe. "Is that your mutant power?"

      Jean smiled, "No. The CIA taught me how to shoot. Actually, I'm a
      telepath and a telekinetic. But I'm a lot better at telepathy than

      "Oh... Um..."

      "Please don't be embarrassed, Joe. Every straight guy I meet thinks
      the same sort of things you do. I'm used to that by now. And thank
      you for bothering to notice my face and eyes. The typical man
      doesn't ever get above my chest."

      Eventually, a sedan pulled up to the corner and waited at the stop
      sign, it's engine idling.

      "That's our ride, Joe."

      They ran from the trees to the car. Jean got in the front while Joe
      took the back.

      The driver was a young girl, very pretty and blonde, apparently only
      a few years older than Joe.

      "What the hell happened?" snapped the girl.

      "Something unexpected," replied Jean. "I bumped into this young
      fellow. He's just newly emerged. Unfortunately, three ghouls also
      spotted him. They were going to kill him."

      "We're not supposed to be picking up strays. It's a security
      problem. The Professor is pissed."

      "That's too bad," said Jean with a distinct lack of concern in her

      Jean looked back at Joe, "Joe, this is Raven."

      "Howdy," said Joe.

      "Fuck you, hick," hissed the girl.

      "No thanks. Maybe later. I don't happen to have a condom with me,"
      replied Joe irritably.

      The driver blinked in surprise. Jean looked at Joe in amazement.
      Then she burst out laughing.


      They got back on the Interstate.

      "We're headed north," said Joe.

      "Hey, he can read a sign," growled Raven.

      "I have my reasons for leaving Wyoming," Joe said to Jean, ignoring
      the younger girl.

      "We have a safe place in Wyoming, Joe. A school. There are others
      there like you."

      Joe thought that over. It wasn't as if he could simply demand to be
      let out of the car. The police probably had a description of him.
      And on the first day after he'd left home, three gunmen had promptly
      appeared out of nowhere and tried to kill him. That definitely
      suggested that maybe he shouldn't be on his own.

      Also, the thought of being with other people who were the same as him
      was appealing in a way he hadn't imagined even just a few minutes ago.

      He leaned back with a sigh. Suddenly, Joe was exhausted. He wanted
      to sleep, but he knew that if he tried, he was far too wound up to
      actually doze off.

      "Are you a runaway, Joe?" asked Jean. She already knew the answer to
      that question, but it was better to get Joe to talk about it as soon
      as possible.


      "Why did you leave home?"

      Joe shrugged, "I got into a fight with another guy. He knocked me
      down and I changed into... into what you saw me turn into. A good
      chunk of the town saw it happen. They didn't like what they saw. I
      tried sticking it out. But then things started getting weird.
      People started avoiding me. My brother got beat up. And then some
      jackass tried to burn my folks' house down. That's when I figured
      that I'd better leave home."

      Neither Jean or Raven had anything to say. The truth was, they'd
      heard it all before.


      It was early in the morning when they drove through the gates of the
      school. It was located about half an hour's drive north of Cheyenne.

      The three of them got out of the car. The temperature had dropped to
      the high thirties and it was a beautiful, cloudless, moonless night.
      The Milky Way was clearly visible.

      Joe shut his car door and glanced at the two women -- and blinked in

      Raven was no longer a pretty teenager. Now, she was a six-foot tall
      woman with blue skin, oddly shaded red hair, and angry yellow eyes
      that were watching him closely. And except for a light,
      strategically-placed dusting of fine scales, she was naked.

      She was obviously waiting to see how Joe would react to her
      transformation. Her face wore an amused expression.

      Unfortunately for Raven, Joe's strangeness meter had been pegged much
      earlier that day. Removing his jacket, Joe tossed it at her. Raven
      was surprised, but still managed to catch it in mid-air.

      Raven noted with interest the strange shredding of Joe's shirt. It
      looked almost as if he had been hit by a shotgun.

      "Don't you have enough damn sense to bring a coat on a night like
      tonight?" Joe growled at her, then he turned to follow Jean.

      Unseen by anyone else, a slight smile flickered over Raven's face.
      But she didn't put on the jacket. Cold didn't effect her as much as
      it did other people.

      They walked towards the main building. The school was an old ranch
      that had been recently renovated. Looking around, Joe felt more than
      a touch of home-sickness for his grandfather's ranch.

      On the porch of the main building, backlit by a single light bulb, a
      seated figure was waiting for them.

      As the three of them approached the porch, the man rose to his feet.
      He was elderly, yet looked quite strong. His hair was pure white in
      color and his eyes a striking shade of blue.

      "Professor, this young man is named Joe Keene," introduced Jean.

      The older man extended his hand and Joe accepted it automatically.

      "A pleasure to meet you, Joseph," said the older man in an accented,
      cultured voice. "My name is Erik Lensherr. I am the headmaster of
      this school."
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