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Beta Time

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  • Mo
    I m looking for a few good betas :-). Folks on these lists have come through for me before and been wonderful betas, who have greatly improved the stories.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2006
      I'm looking for a few good betas :-). Folks on these
      lists have come through for me before and been
      wonderful betas, who have greatly improved the
      stories. I'm grateful for that help and I thought I'd
      try again now.

      I mostly write story series, with each story being
      from 1500-4000 words. My series have ranged in length
      from 4 stories to 18 and from 12,000 words to 55,000

      My fiction is X-Men movieverse and I'm currently
      writing an X2-based series. For readers of my previous
      fiction, it is the third and final series in my
      version of the Phoenix Saga. It bears little
      resemblance to the Phoenix story within the comics,
      but is a "Jean comes back from the dead" series and
      uses some phoenix imagery as a nod to the comics. The
      first two series were called "After the Fall" and
      "Returning Spring." The working title for this one is
      "Summers in a Sea of Glory."

      I've written about 7000 words so far, in three stories
      and expect this series will be around 8-10 stories and
      around 20,000 - 25,000 words when finished. It's
      NC/17 slash but it is not focussed solely on sex and
      relationships and it's not devoid of heterosexual
      characters and heterosexual relationships. There's an
      X-Men adventure/action plot that's the public story
      and a Scott/Logan/Jean triangle story that is the
      private one.

      I like process betas, who will read stories as they
      are written and answer questions like "What do you
      think happens next?" as well as do the more
      conventional proofreading and copy editing. This
      helps me to see whether my foreshadowing is too
      heavy-handed, too subtle, or just right. I ask
      questions about how the beta is reacting to the story
      and what s/he'd like to see happen or done
      differently. I don't always take that advice but I
      profit from it. I'm looking for the kind of impact
      the stories have on a few readers. It's not required
      that you have read my previous stories.

      I don't usually post WIP, but I'm posting a draft of
      the first story in this series, to give a sense of
      what you'd be getting yourself into. Of course, if
      you've ever beta'ed for me before, you know what
      you're getting yourself into, and I'd be happy of your
      help again.

      First story follows my signature. It is followed by
      the questions I would ask betas to answer for this
      story. If you are interested in beta'ing, write me
      offlist. Thanks in advance for your attention and


      I was going to tell Jean. There was never any
      question about that. Not in my mind, anyway. And
      there shouldn’t have been any in Logan’s, either. I’d
      told him – long before anything had happened between
      him and me – that Jean and I didn’t keep secrets from
      each other. I would have told her about Logan and me
      even if we’d just been fuck buddies. Which, of
      course, was all we had been when it started.

      Now it felt like we had something a lot more than
      that. I’d told him I was in love with him and I’d
      meant it. And I’d believed him when he told me he
      felt the same.

      I’d thought Jean was dead at the time, thought that
      we’d had an imposter in our midst. I’d since found
      out otherwise, now knew that she had been invaded or
      possessed or something. Whatever had taken over her
      body and her mind was gone now. Jean was back, really
      back this time.

      That didn’t change anything. Not for me, not for my
      feelings for Logan. I’ll always care about Jean, I’m
      sure. We’ve been friends since we were kids and we
      were lovers for years. We’d planned on marriage. In
      some sense I’ll always love her, but I’d known for
      some time that I wasn’t in love with her anymore.

      I wasn’t going to try to live a heterosexual life
      again. It had taken me some time to clearly
      understand that the relationship Jean and I had tried
      to build was a mistake, but I did understand it now.
      It never would have worked, I realized. I hadn’t been
      true to my nature. Now that I was in love with a man,
      I’d learned something essential that had always eluded
      me before. Now I understood that deep love and
      intense desire could have the same object, and it was
      a life-changing realization. It was very clear to me
      that there was never going to be anything but
      friendship between Jean and me. This was information
      Jean had a right to know and I was definitely going to
      tell her.

      Still, it was something I needed to do carefully, not
      just blurt out. Jean was in no condition to hear news
      like that without some preparation. Logan should have
      understood that. He knew what had happened to her.
      Well, as much as any of us knew, which wasn’t a whole

      I’d called Charles as soon as I could, as soon as we
      were sure that *thing* was truly gone from Jean. As
      soon as we’d established that the inhabitants of the
      Vermont house it hadn’t killed were safe and well, as
      soon as I was sure the house was secure. I’d
      explained to Charles what had happened to Jean and
      about the deaths of the FBI agents assigned there. I
      don’t know what he’d told the G-Men’s superiors, but
      he assured me that Jean would not be arrested for
      their deaths. Then he and Hank joined us in Vermont,
      to run interference with the FBI as needed, as well as
      to try to get a better sense of what had gone on there
      and to formulate a plan for what to do next.

      Two more grim-faced FBI agents showed up shortly after
      Hank and Charles, looking almost exactly like the ones
      who had died. They interviewed us all and took
      extensive notes. Neither of them betrayed any
      emotion, even when Logan and I described finding their
      colleagues dead, hearts pulled from their bodies and
      placed neatly on the hall table. Logan and I
      exchanged glances when they muttered about satanic
      cults and ritual murder, but didn’t try to correct

      The G-Men left with the bodies of their fellow agents,
      and no local law enforcement showed up. I checked
      local newspapers as long as we were in Vermont, and
      nothing about two gruesome deaths interrupted the
      articles about school funding and ski tourism.

      We stayed on for a few more days, in order to look for
      clues as to what it was that had taken over Jean’s
      body, and in order to interview our Alpha Flight reps
      and Cassandra, our Mutant Protection Plan resident.
      They were the people who had been on the spot and knew
      best what had happened. Logan and I had come into it
      too late to have the whole picture. Both Sasquatch
      and Cassandra had been attacked by “Jean” and we hoped
      we could find out more about the being that had
      invaded her from them.

      Sasquatch was no help to the investigation. We’d
      found him unconscious, but without a mark on him. He
      awoke a couple of hours after Jean became herself
      again, but with no memory of anything that had
      happened that day.

      His memories before jibed with the rest of ours, but
      added nothing. He’d noticed a difference in “Jean”
      from when he’d first arrived in Vermont to work with
      her. She had seemed changed, unlike the woman he’d
      known for years. He and Northstar had compared notes,
      speculating that she might be an imposter, a
      shape-shifter taking Jean’s form. That she was Jean
      but possessed by some inhuman entity had never entered
      their minds.

      By contrast, Cassandra’s memories were clear and
      complete. She was able to tell us exactly what she’d
      experienced. Her mutant power for predicting
      catastrophe had warned her that she’d be attacked by
      Jean. As soon as she had the vision, she’d tried to
      escape, planning to return to Westchester. Jean had
      tried to stop her and Cassandra had taken refuge in
      the panic room. We’d had to coax her out of there
      afterwards. It took some doing to convince her that
      Jean hadn’t really been the one who attacked her, and
      was no threat to her now.

      After we’d learned everything we could on site, we
      returned to Westchester. We brought Cassandra with
      us, and also Ethan Leeds. Charles had asked him to
      take a few days off to join us. We needed his
      expertise and his established therapeutic
      relationships with both Cassandra and Jean.

      Hank examined Jean carefully and did pretty much every
      test modern medicine had available to assess her
      physical and mental state. Charles examined her
      telepathically, and assessed her mutant powers with
      Cerebro. Ethan Leeds interviewed her at length,
      bringing his professional expertise, his experience
      with mutant psychology, and his long professional
      relationship with Jean to the table. The three of
      them were a formidable team. If anyone had been able
      to figure out what had happened to her, it would have
      been that trio. Still, with all the expertise,
      intelligence, and mutant power brought to bear, we
      weren’t clear on just what had invaded her body or
      what that being had done to her. We were referring to
      the invader as “the Phoenix” – a reference to the
      fiery, bird-like shape that seemed to be coming out of
      her body when Jean became Jean again. But giving it a
      name wasn’t getting us any closer to figuring out who
      or what it was.

      As far as they could tell, Jean seemed physically
      unaffected by more than a year of having her body and
      mind under Phoenix control. It also seemed that it
      hadn’t diminished her mutant powers at all. If
      anything, it seemed to have intensified them. Her
      telekinesis was exponentially stronger than it had
      been. And Charles said her telepathy was now so
      strong it was rivaling his. It wasn’t clear how that
      had happened. Had possession by the Phoenix had an
      intensifying effect on her gifts? Or was it a natural
      progression that had just coincidentally happened at
      the same time as the possession? I tended to think
      the latter.

      Ever since we’d fought Magneto at Liberty Island
      Jean’s powers had seemed to be growing by leaps and
      bounds – growing faster than her ability to control
      them at first. During more than a year of Phoenix
      possession, perhaps they continued to grow, and to
      stabilize, so that she was now in better control, now
      that she had her body back.

      So, physically Jean was perfectly well, surprisingly
      so. And her powers were stronger than ever. Still,
      that didn’t mean she was emotionally healthy. It
      didn’t mean she was ready to take what was bound to be
      hard news without some preparation.

      Psychologically – well, it would take time to know
      just how badly hurt she was, but she had clearly been
      traumatized by the experience. Ethan reported that
      she was suffering from acute anxiety – trouble
      sleeping, having panic attacks, nightmares when she
      did manage to sleep. And the way she had clung to me,
      shaking, when the Phoenix finally left her body didn’t
      leave me thinking that it was a good time to tell her
      I had a new lover. A man. A man she’d thought had
      been in love with her, thought I’d been jealous of.

      Jean certainly knew something was up. In Vermont
      she’d been assigned a room by herself. She’d looked
      at me questioningly when Walter said he’d show her
      which room was hers, but said nothing. When we
      returned to Westchester, she asked Ororo where she was
      staying, not looking at me. ‘Ro took her to the room
      that she’d lived in – under Phoenix possession – for
      the last several months. All of her things were
      already there. She had no need to come back to our
      room, and didn’t. I wasn’t finding myself alone with
      her. If I’d wanted to explain about Logan and me –
      and I really didn’t think it was a good idea to do so
      yet – I’d have needed to ask to talk to her privately.

      She didn’t spend much time with me, in general. I saw
      her at faculty meetings, in the dining hall, at team
      meetings. She didn’t sit with me and she didn’t look
      at me.

      It wasn’t to me that she turned to find out what had
      happened while she’d been possessed. She gave an
      overview of her experiences of the past year at the
      first team meeting after her return. Or more
      accurately, her non-experiences. “It feels like I
      fell asleep at Alkali Lake and woke up the next
      morning in Vermont,” she said. “I know over a year
      went by, but I only know it intellectually. I have
      some moments of memory – at Xavier’s and in Vermont –
      but it’s like little bits of a dream. Incomplete,
      hazy, only barely remembered. I’ll look to you,” she
      added, turning from me and towards Charles and ‘Ro,
      “to fill me in on what I did during the time after I
      came home.” She shrugged. “I hope none of you will
      hold me responsible for my actions.”

      Everyone quickly assured her that she was in no way
      responsible for her Phoenix-controlled behavior.
      Charles added, “We’ll do our best to fill you in on
      what happened while you were with us, Jean. It’s also
      possible that Ethan and I can help you fill in some of
      the time before you showed up here.”

      “How? I’ve really tried to remember. I know that may
      well be the key to finding the Phoenix, or at least
      figuring out what its intentions were. But there’s
      nothing there, no matter how hard I try.”

      Dr. Leeds weighed in. “It’s possible there is
      something there, just not accessible to you. Maybe
      the experiences were too traumatic to remember. Maybe
      the Phoenix has walled off the memories, hidden them
      from your conscious self. Maybe both are operating.
      I think that with a combination of hypnosis and
      telepathy, Charles and I may be able to help you
      recover them.” He paused, as if unsure whether to
      continue. “It wouldn’t likely be a pleasant process.
      Ultimately I think you’ll find that the more you know
      the better, but revisiting trauma is never easy, and
      can often be re-traumatizing.”

      “I want to do whatever I can to get answers,” she’d
      replied without hesitation, “for all of our sakes.”
      She smiled weakly. “I’ll count on you to pick up the
      pieces, if necessary, Ethan.” As always, I admired
      her courage, persistence, and commitment to the team.

      I tried to talk to Jean after the meeting, following
      her to her office. I began by expressing that
      admiration for her fortitude and telling her I wanted
      to do what I could to help her. I told her to let me
      know when she felt ready to rejoin the team, but that
      she shouldn’t feel under pressure to do so right away.

      She didn’t say anything for a long time. When she
      spoke, it wasn’t in response to what I said. “It’s
      over, isn’t it?” she asked.

      I nodded. “I’m sorry.”

      She shrugged, smiling sadly. “Nothing to be sorry
      about. We always knew it was a long shot.”

      “Jean, I’ll always –”

      “Don’t, Scott. Don’t finish that sentence. I don’t
      think I can take hearing that right now. Maybe some
      day.” She turned her head away. “I think I need to
      be alone now.”

      How could I have told her then?


      1. If you have not read the series that precede this,
      could you tell what was going on? What, if anything,
      was confusing? If you have read the others, was there
      too much recap? In particular, it's essential that
      the reader understand who Cassandra and Ethan are,
      since they will be major players in this series. Is
      there too much info about them, not enough, or just
      the right amount?

      2. How do you think Logan has been behaving towards
      Scott during this period?

      3. Why is Scott so defensive about his decision to
      not tell Jean about his relationship with Logan yet?

      4. What do you think happens next?

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