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Fic: Winds of Change (Unexpected Occurrences 1/12)

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  • Mo
    Winds of Change (Unexpected Occurrences 1/12) This is war. Professor Charles Xavier said it calmly, but in a tone of great sorrow. He had joined the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2004
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      Winds of Change (Unexpected Occurrences 1/12)

      "This is war." Professor Charles Xavier said it
      calmly, but in a tone of great sorrow. He had joined
      the meeting last, wheeling in to take his place at the
      head of the conference table in the large living room
      at the Saskatchewan Outpost. The class had assembled
      there, looking subdued and a little bit wary, ushered
      in by Scott Summers and followed by Logan.

      Arthur had been on the other side of the room, seated
      on a couch by the fireplace with April, his
      four-year-old daughter. He continued to read to her
      as the class filed in. When the Professor arrived,
      Arthur turned April over to Adam Greenfield�s care and
      joined the group around the table. Adam, baby Ezra in
      the sling, had walked off with April, chatting about
      an excursion to the playroom as they left. Their
      cheery talk had contrasted sharply with the evident
      anxiety exhibited by the students remaining in the
      room. The Professor had begun by congratulating them
      on their success in the wilderness, but had quickly
      gotten to the point. Now Arthur and his wife Wendy
      were sitting on either side of the Professor, looking
      around the room at the students, clearly trying to
      assess how they were taking the bad news.

      It wasn�t going well. Several of the students around
      the table gasped at the Professor�s pronouncement.
      Jamie�s wide-eyed expression, Joe�s open mouth, Ruby�s
      soft sobs made clear that the news was coming as a
      shock. Some were talking among themselves, some
      looking to their teachers. The professor cleared his
      throat and there was instant silence. All eyes turned
      to him, except for Logan's and Scott's. Logan was
      frowning at Scott and Scott was trying to pretend he
      didn't notice, glad for once that he couldn't make eye
      contact.

      Professor Xavier continued in a calm tone, not
      minimizing the bad news, but offering reassurance
      where he could. "Canada is a safe haven for mutants,
      at least so far," he was saying. "The Martin
      government has categorically refused to join the
      United States in detaining known mutants, but we don't
      know how long they will keep to that stance. Canada
      is highly economically dependent on its southern
      neighbor, and under a great deal of pressure from the
      United States government to comply. Throughout the
      U.S., mutants are being imprisoned without trial and
      without charges, being treated as prisoners of war.
      We believe it is essential that the Outpost location
      remain secret, since we don't know what's going to
      happen in Canada. Right now it's safe to live openly
      as mutants in this country. Alpha Flight is still in
      operation, still an active department of the Canadian
      federal government. It�s comforting to see a visible
      and official mutant presence in Canada. But that�s
      only one part of the picture. There's strong
      anti-mutant feeling here as well, and polls indicate
      popular support among Canadians for joining the War on
      Mutants. Putting those facts together with the
      economic pressure the United States is bringing to
      bear, we can't know that Canada will continue to hold
      fast.

      "I'm sure you all have family and friends you want to
      contact back in the States. We do have methods for
      getting messages to them, saying that you are safe,
      but I'm afraid you can't contact them directly or let
      them know where you are. I hope those precautions
      won't be necessary for too long, but for now these
      measures must be enforced."

      "What happened? Things were bad but...war?" Kitty's
      plaintive question spoke for them all.

      The Professor turned to his Field Leader, who
      answered. "We aren't sure exactly what happened,"
      Cyclops began. "We'll get to the bottom of it,
      eventually. We know what the U.S. government is
      saying caused them to cry havoc and let slip the dogs
      of war, but we also know that what they are saying
      isn't true.

      "What is being alleged is that a mutant plot to take
      over the U.S. government was launched. It�s evidence
      of how strong and deep anti-mutant feeling is in
      America - and particularly within a group in Congress,
      led by Senator Marley - that the story has been
      accepted: by the president, by the press, by much of
      the public. The anti-mutant measures being taken by
      the federal government are being presented as
      defensive. We know what the government is claiming
      didn�t really happen, but we don't know what the real
      story is.�

      �How do we know it isn�t true?� Oliver asked. �What
      about Magneto�s Brotherhood? Could they have been
      behind a coup attempt? Just because he�s in prison
      doesn�t mean they aren�t still active.�

      �We considered that possibility, Oliver,� the
      Professor replied. �But it doesn�t fit the facts.
      Magneto�s gang is fragmented. There are few of his
      henchmen left and he hasn�t been in a position to
      recruit more. And what we�ve learned of the federal
      government�s allegations suggests that the mutants
      they are seeing as ringleaders are not associated with
      Erik Lehnsher. In fact,� he added solemnly, �some of
      them are associated with our school and with the
      X-Men. Among the mutants currently being detained as
      �enemy combatants� without trial or charges are two of
      our graduates: Marie Charbonneau and Tabitha
      Stanley.� A couple of students gasped. Logan�s angry
      glare intensified, mixed with alarm.

      The Professor continued. �Marie � many of you know
      her as Rogue � graduated from Xavier�s a couple of
      years ago, and often goes on X-Men missions with us.
      She�s a student at George Washington University, or
      was until recently. Tabitha is, of course, our best
      known graduate and a world-renowned scientist. Both
      Rogue and Tabitha have been active in the founding of
      the Mutant Rights League and both have been very
      public about their mutant status. We know that
      neither of them had any intentions of disrupting the
      government and that the League is committed to working
      within the system to improve the lot of our people.
      We don�t know what evidence was used to deem Tabitha
      and Rogue enemy combatants, and the government isn�t
      presenting any.

      �What we do know is that a number of Senators and
      their staffers became suddenly and seriously ill,
      shortly after Senate hearings that were attended by
      several members of the Mutant Rights League, including
      Rogue and Tabitha. The first casualties were among
      those senators and staff who had been meeting
      privately with league members at the Mutant Rights
      League office just before the MRL members were
      questioned at the hearings. News reports said none of
      the MRL members themselves had gotten sick. By the
      time the first of the deaths occurred, the media were
      saying that the Senators and their staff had been
      poisoned by the MRL. The illness - whatever it is -
      has been spreading rapidly since then. It�s often
      fatal. Fifteen thousand dead in Washington, twice
      that in Baltimore, new cases as far south as
      Tallahassee, as far north as Boston. And not one
      confirmed mutant casualty. It seems that not only are
      none of our people dying, they aren�t even getting
      sick.

      �Within days, the hysteria was out of control. The
      rumors went from poison to an infectious agent, one
      planted by mutants and to which mutants are immune.
      It was said that the Senators were purposely infected
      first, with the plan that they would spread it to
      other government officials. The Senators who met with
      the MRL were scheduled to attend a state dinner two
      days after the meeting. It was alleged that the MRL
      had planned to infect the President and Vice President
      through those Senators. A law was quickly passed
      allowing the detention of all mutant citizens without
      trial and seizure of all mutant property. The Mutant
      Detention Act suspends normal arrest and judicial
      procedures, making it nearly impossible to get
      accurate and complete information. We don�t even know
      how many mutants are in detention.�

      "The school?" Oliver asked, turning to Scott. "What
      happened? Who got out?"

      The Professor smiled reassuringly and answered the
      question. "We were able to evacuate the entire
      school, I'm glad to say. The Mutant Detention Act was
      rushed through Congress in a closed session, but we
      were alerted just in time. We did have to split up
      into a number of groups, though, since we would not
      have been able to get over the border - or even out of
      Westchester - en masse, without attracting attention.
      Some of your classmates and teachers are on their way
      here, some are with Alpha Flight members and in other
      safe places in Canada, and some are still trying to
      get out of the States." His smile vanished and he
      continued. "We haven't yet heard from all of our
      students and faculty, and don't yet know for sure that
      they are all safe. We are also trying to contact
      former students and staff. Names of detainees are not
      being released, so we can't know for sure that some of
      our people � beyond the two we know of - aren't in
      custody."

      "In custody? Detained?" Joe sounded outraged.
      "What�s going on? Are they just going quietly? What
      kind of mutants are they? I wouldn't let them take me
      like that. Why aren�t they fighting back? Why aren�t
      *we* fighting this?"

      Wendy jumped in. "We are fighting it, in every way we
      can, Joe. But it's not that simple. We're a small
      population and fragmented. Not organized. And they
      have the force of the government and the law behind
      them."

      "Law? What kind of law? One that locks our people up?
      That blames us for some sickness we had nothing to do
      with?" Joe was practically yelling now.

      Wendy answered him calmly. "Nobody's arguing with
      you, Joe. It's unconscionable what's happening. I'm
      just saying I can understand why some didn't fight
      back. We're not just mutants, you know. We're
      regular people; we're citizens. We're accustomed to
      thinking that the law is there to protect us, not to
      persecute us. And it's true that was changing for
      some time in the States, well before this crisis. The
      Mutant Registration Act, laws limiting mutant
      immigration and travel to the U.S., restrictions on
      mutant participation in the professions and commerce -
      the signs were all there. We know that. It�s
      certainly clear in retrospect that this is the
      culmination of a pattern of increased and increasingly
      institutionalized antimutantism that has been going on
      for years. But it's not always clear what to do, how
      to resist. A lot of us thought that if we just kept
      on with our lives, cooler heads would prevail
      eventually and things would get better."

      "And we had plans for if things didn't happen that
      way, which is why you're here now," Arthur added. He
      paused and then said, "And it's not true that everyone
      went quietly. There were mutants who fought back.
      Some were killed resisting arrest. We have powers
      that normal humans don't - that's true. I hear yours
      are the same as mine,� he said to Joe, directly.
      "Super strength, right? And sure, you and I could
      take on a whole lot of normal humans coming after us.
      If it comes to that, we�ll fight as long as we have
      breath. I want you there with me, fighting on my
      side. But I don�t want it coming to that, because we
      can't take on a whole army, no matter what our powers.
      If we're going to save our people, that's not going
      to be how we'll do it."

      Joe didn't reply. None of the other kids said
      anything. Charles Xavier took the silence as an
      opportunity to bring the meeting back under control.
      "Wendy and Arthur will show you to your rooms now," he
      said to the assembled members of the wilderness
      survival class. "We're in pretty tight quarters and
      it will likely get somewhat more crowded. At least we
      hope so. We'll do what we can to give you chances for
      solitude, but there are a lot of us in a pretty small
      place. There isn�t going to be a lot of privacy. So,
      let's work on getting along together. Any problems
      are to be reported to the floor supervisor.

      �I want you all to compile lists of people you want
      contacted - names, phone numbers, email addresses,
      whatever information you have. We will have to get
      word to them circuitously but we will tell your family
      and friends that you are safe and well." He smiled
      reassuringly. "Dinner is at 6:30. Oliver, please
      show everyone where the dining hall is." The students
      got up to leave, following Wendy and Arthur out.
      Logan started to stand up, too. "Just a minute,"
      Charles said. "Cabinet meeting before dinner. 5:00
      in the Command Center. Scott can show you where it
      is, Logan." He wheeled out the door, leaving Logan
      and Scott alone in the living room.

      "So I'm in the cabinet?"

      "Of course you are," Scott answered. "You've always
      been a key member of the team."

      Logan changed the subject. "Where's Rogue? Where are
      they holding her?"

      Scott sighed deeply. "We don't know yet. We hope
      she's okay but we don�t know anything. We�re going to
      find out. We�ll get her out of there. Tabitha, too."

      "So why am I hearing this for the first time with the
      kids? I'm in the fucking cabinet and I don't even
      know there's a war going on until now?"

      "I'm sorry, Logan. I should have told you earlier."

      "I don't want to hear you're sorry. I want to know
      why you didn't tell me. What, did you think I'd tell
      the kids before we got here? I know how to keep my
      fucking mouth shut."

      "I know that. I don't doubt your discretion. Ever."

      "So why?"

      "There wasn't time. The kids were there - I didn't
      have a chance to talk to you privately."

      "Don�t give me that shit, Cyclops. We had time to
      ourselves. You spent it sucking my dick, not telling
      me what the hell's going on."

      "It's hard to talk with your mouth full." Logan's
      angry countenance made it clear the joke had fallen
      flat. "I'm sorry. I thought we had enough to deal
      with out there." He paused, wondering whether to say
      more. "And I didn't want to think about it, okay? I
      didn�t want to believe it�s come to this. It felt
      like as long as you didn't know, it wasn't really
      happening. I wanted that for one more day. I was
      wrong. You deserved to know. I was being selfish."

      Scott turned to walk away, but Logan pulled him back,
      wrapped his arms around him. "I'm sorry," Scott said
      again, right in Logan's ear this time.

      "It's okay." He disengaged and stepped back, arm's
      length from Scott. "Don't fucking do it again," he
      added.





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