"The Player on the Other Side" (WIP, CH.4) Scott [PG-13] X1 and X2
- Ch. 4 con't.
"I don't believe you. Isn't that what they said about the slaves?"
"Fine. Fine. He's an American citizen who happens to be a terrorist."
"Yeah, but we only detain foreign terrorists. That's what the
Military Order says. Right?"
Tyler put his head between his hands. Everybody's a lawyer, he
thought wearily. "Look," he said, "Summers is here to be
rehabilitated. Right, Dr. Yates?"
Both majors turned and glared at Yates, who had most wisely
maintained silence during the argument. She avoiding meeting either
set of eyes and said to Tyler, "That's the plan. We're firing up the
Cerebro in less than a week now, and he's first in line."
Lyman leaned back in his chair and bit back a smile. That was good.
It saved Tyler the trouble of smacking it off his face.
Kraski scowled. "Those kids should be first in line. This is
"Strategically it's the way to go," Yates said sternly. "I have the
mutant-most-wanted deck in my office and Summers is the King of
Spades, all right? Neutralize him and he won't have any more
credibility with his kind. He'll be nothing but a car mechanic in
"We're not arguing with the Secretary's decision, Kraski," Lyman said
mildly, "are we?"
Lyman certainly had a way with women. Tyler wondered if the guy had
ever managed to get laid in his life.
"Yeah?" Kraski snapped. "You wanna tell me how this car mechanic
won't manage to kill us all before he's cured? The guy is supposed to
be able to blow up a mountain, Lyman. And we're holding him in a cell
under a dam?"
Tyler shifted. He had felt he had no choice but to share his
information with his headquarters commandant. But obviously it was
causing her as many sleepless hours as it was causing him.
"The visor is inoperable," Lyman said flatly. "General Stryker
decided it was safer to seal it on the mutant's face than to try to
remove it and tape his eyes shut. The aperture is completely
contracted and capped -- You understand how the visor works?"
"It's a prosthetic device," Dr. Yates said, before Tyler could
reply. "The mutant can't control his own mutation, not without a
prosthesis. I've never heard of such a situation. He has no natural
ability to stop himself from firing his optic beams. He's a, uh, a
"Next you'll be telling me the son of a bitch is collecting Social
Security Disability," Lyman snapped.
"Don't give him any ideas. What was I saying? The visor. It's
ingenious. Modeled after an old-fashioned manual camera." Yates
whipped a notebook and pencil out of a pocket of her lab coat and
began jotting indecipherable diagrams. "It's got an aperture that
dilates and contracts to control the diameter of the optic beam. And
there's a shutter -- it opens and closes to control the length of
time the beams escape his eyes. Now the visor control -- the dial is
here, by his right temple. The outermost ring is like an f-stop ring
controlling the aperture -- and this is the shutter release, and the
shutter speed control. The manual dexterity required to --"
"The visor is capped with adamantium," Lyman interrupted loudly, "and
the shutter is closed. And the dial is covered. And there is no
fuckin' way he's getting his hands near his face. I've got him
completely immobilized." He looked at Yates. "And Suzy here is
spiking his orange juice, ain'tcha?"
With an irritated look back, Yates pocketed her notebook. "Like I'd
share my ration of orange juice with a terrorist. Fifty milligrams of
Thorazine by injection, three times a day. Dr. Stryker says he's
trying out some experimental drug on him, but he isn't sharing his
research and I'm not taking any chances. The Thorazine'll run out in
fourteen days but I have a stock of sedatives and tranquilizers to
fall back on."
"Do I want to know why the base clinic is stocked with this shit?"
Tyler growled, temporarily distracted.
"You haven't been through a winter at Club Alkali, have you,
Colonel." Yates smiled ominously. "Just wait."
Tyler prudently decided to return to the problem before him. "What
about the kids? The kids are too young to be a threat, right?"
"Maybe, maybe not. We've got them under guard. Their mutations
haven't manifested yet, and I emphasize the word yet, except for a
few physical deformities." Yates made a face. "But for the most part,
their disease is not evident. Genetic testing was required to
diagnose their condition."
Exasperated, Kraski interrupted, "What if some idiot tries to mess
with that visor thing?"
"Can't," Lyman said curtly. "I'm telling you, it's inoperable. Mutant
X106 can't operate it and nobody can operate it for him. The only
person capable of restoring it to full function is General Stryker."
"Yeah? What if the visor just falls off his face?"
"Can't. It's screwed into his skull now. Two titanium pins, one above
each ear." Yates spoke briskly. "I performed the operation myself."
"Yeah? Yeah, I heard," Kraski said tensely. "Everyone in the goddamn
base heard. Is that why I had to make up some bullshit story about
playing a movie too loudly in my room?" She looked at Tyler. Tyler
looked away unhappily.
"Christ, all this touching concern for a terrorist," Lyman growled.
"Of course we attempted to anesthetize him, Major." Yates sighed
gustily. "As we explained to the Colonel. His mutant physiology
simply didn't respond as yours or mine would. You really do think
we're Nazis, don't you?"
Lyman got to his feet and scowled at the other major. He appeared to
have decided to put his pursuit of Kraski on the back burner. "Look,
I've taken every precaution to secure Mutant X106. Satisfied?"
He stalked off without waiting for the undoubtedly scathing reply.
Kraski got up out of her seat and followed.
Tyler watched them go.
And he wasn't satisfied with Lyman's precautions. Nothing less than
isolating the mutie in an igloo about five miles away from the dam
would satisfy him. Summers might be blind, chained, and high as a
kite, but according to his information, Summers was also supposed to
be some kind of mutant General Schwatzkopf. And Tyler knew that
Stormin' Norman on his worst day was a better strategist than Sam
Tyler on his best day.
"Charming, isn't he?" Yates commented.
Tyler turned to her. "Why the fuck don't we just kill the bastard?"
he demanded, low-voiced.
"Which one? Stryker, Lyman or Mutant X106?"
"The mutant, for starters."
"Ah, don't worry about him," the doctor said gloomily. "I don't know
if he's even gonna make it till the Cerebro comes on line."
He stared questioningly at her.
"Stryker and I are having a little difference of opinion. I'm the
physician but unfortunately he's the boss."
"You want to explain?"
"Stryker won't let me take him outdoors. He thinks X106 can survive
on ambient electromagnetic energy, you know, the kinda shit they give
off." She pointed up at the overhead fluorescent lights. " Me, I'm
thinking, keep him out of the sun long enough and he'll drop dead."
"The mutant's metabolism appears to be fueled by solar energy. I
think his physiology may be similar to photosynthesis." Her eyes
fairly glowed with excitement. "Not like I've had much chance to
study him -- I've only conducted two experiments, but -- Jesus, I
could win the Nobel prize -- " She recollected her situation and
added bitterly, " -- if Stryker wasn't such an ass."
"You're -- experimenting on him?"
"Oh, here we go again." Yates rolled her eyes. "I drew a couple of
tubes of blood, all right? That's what I experimented on."
"Do I need to pay a visit to Summers?" Tyler asked slowly.
"You can't," Yates said curtly. "You can't access Charlie deck
without a Level Nine clearance."
Tyler felt his face get hot with embarrassment. He could almost feel
his blood pressure rising. Yates eyed him and apparently decided to
soften her rhetoric.
"For heaven's sake, Colonel. He won't be a mutant much longer. We've
got to study his mutation before it's neutralized. The military
applications are incredible."
"Yeah, as you very well know. Mutant X106 is the most energy-
efficient weapon ever created. Think about it. He absorbs a few
pennies' worth of solar energy through his skin, and somehow his body
converts it into a concussive force beam that could bring down the
World Trade Center all over again. If I could figure out the process,
I'd be richer than Bill Gates."
At the casual mention of the World Trade Center, Tyler gritted his
teeth. He got to his feet and strode toward the door of the mess hall
without a word of farewell.
Tyler wondered how many more gray hairs he was going to collect
before the Cerebro came on line.