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FIC: Once More Unto the Breach (Summers in a Sea of Glory, 8/10)

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  • Mo
    “Cabinet meeting in my office – immediately.” The voice was Charles Xavier’s. The words landed directly in Scott’s brain, with no need for
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2006
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      “Cabinet meeting in my office – immediately.” The
      voice was Charles Xavier’s. The words landed directly
      in Scott’s brain, with no need for telephones, or ears
      for that matter. It was the most efficient way to do
      it. Given that Charles was calling a meeting with no
      notice at 2:00 a.m., it was clear that he thought
      efficiency was important. Charles’s tone in Scott’s
      brain felt slightly apologetic under the urgency,
      though. Cyclops took the apologetic grace notes to be
      an acknowledgement of the fact that it had been a full
      day of classes followed by a mission he had only
      returned from an hour before. Scott had barely fallen
      asleep when the voice in his brain woke him again.

      “I shouldn’t have bothered to get undressed,” Scott
      thought to himself, pulling on a uniform and grabbing
      his visor. Charles hadn’t said what the meeting was
      about, but he knew chances were better than even that
      a cabinet meeting called in the middle of the night
      would lead to a mission before the night was over.

      Hank had beat him to the meeting, Scott saw when he’d
      sprinted to Charles’s office a couple of minutes
      later. The two men were seated by the fireplace, tea
      set out on the end table in front of them. Hank was
      sitting on the couch, blue fur blending into blue
      upholstery. Charles was in his accustomed place by the
      end table – the carpet slightly worn on the path where
      his chair had rolled from behind the desk to that spot
      over the years.

      Hank’s bedroom was nearer to Charles’s suite, so it
      was no surprise he was the first to arrive. Or maybe
      Charles and Hank had already been together, drinking
      tea, when whatever event happened that had prompted
      the meeting. They were dressed as they had been when
      he’d last seen them here, when Scott had done a brief
      post-mortem on the night’s successful mission, before
      heading off to what he thought would be an
      uninterrupted night, not that he ever counted on that.
      “What’s up?” he asked as he sat down on the couch
      next to Hank.

      “Let’s wait a minute so we don’t have to do this
      twice,” Charles replied.

      “Oh, is ‘Ro back from Washington?” Scott asked.

      “No, Storm and Nightcrawler are not expected back
      until Wednesday.”

      As Charles said it the door to the office opened again
      and Jean walked in, in uniform, pulling her long red
      hair back in a ponytail as she sat down in the
      armchair facing Charles. “Welcome back to the
      cabinet, Jean,” he said, smiling at her.

      “Thank you.”

      “We were just having tea. Would you like some?
      Scott?” he turned to Cyclops as he included him in the
      invitation.

      “None for me,” Scott replied, but the china closet
      opening and a cup and saucer floating over to Jean’s
      waiting hand indicated her acceptance of the offer.

      Xavier’s smile vanished and his face and voice were
      all business as he turned to the reason he’d called
      the meeting. “Northstar has activated the homing
      device,” he said.

      “Where are they?” Jean asked it first.

      “Vermont. Peru, in fact.”

      Scott looked surprised. “Near our house there?”

      “*In* our house, as far as we can tell,” Charles
      answered. “We can’t pinpoint quite as precisely as
      that, but it seems most likely.”

      “No one’s there now, right?” Scott asked. “I know
      none of our people are, but not any Alpha Flight
      operatives, either?”

      Hank spoke for the first time. “That is correct. The
      auxiliary X-Men venue in northern New England has been
      closed and padlocked since we departed. Given the
      unfortunate eventualities ensuing as a consequence of
      the occupation of your corporeal being, my dear,” he
      inclined his head slightly at Jean in a courtly bow,
      “and how central the Vermont domicile was to that
      whole episode, we haven’t been inclined to employ
      those premises lately.”

      ”And the whole Mutant Protection Plan has been on hold
      since then,” Charles added. “So there has been no
      need for anyone from either the X-Men or Alpha Flight
      to be there. I’ve already called Mac Hudson to make
      sure he doesn’t send anyone to Peru until further
      notice.”

      Scott nodded his approval. “So we’re in a good
      position. We know Magneto’s there, and I think we can
      presume he doesn’t know we know it. And no one is
      going to show up unexpectedly. Except us. He has no
      way to know about the tunnel from the clearing we dug,
      so we have a way to take him by surprise, too.” He
      paused. “Good thinking on Jean-Paul’s part to steer
      Magneto there. Or did you instruct him to do that?” he
      asked, turning to Xavier.

      The professor shook his head. “No, I didn’t, and I’m
      not sure that it was Jean-Paul’s idea, either.”

      “Then how?” Jean asked.

      “Erik knows about the Vermont house. It’s a good
      hideout and a good place to work on rebuilding his
      mutagenic machine, if that is the plan. I agree that
      it’s fortunate for us that we know where he is and we
      have an access point that we can use unannounced.
      That’s why I called this meeting – so we can figure
      out how best to use that advantage. I’m sorry to get
      you out of your beds, but I think we will probably
      need to act quickly.”

      “Of course,” Scott said. “What does Magneto know
      about the house, and how?”

      “Yes, it’s important you have that information to plan
      and lead the mission. I was remiss in not telling you
      earlier, but it never occurred to me he’d use the
      house in Peru. I’d forgotten he knew about it,
      actually.” The professor took a sip of his tea. “It
      was a long time ago.” The somewhat faraway look in
      Xavier’s eyes signaled Scott to let down his mental
      shields. He assumed the other two had done the same
      as a picture of a much younger Erik Lehnsherr entered
      his brain, driving up the dirt road approaching
      Xavier’s ski house in a convertible looking like it
      dated from the 1950s.

      Scott was seeing the scene from Charles Xavier’s
      viewpoint. It wasn’t a new experience for him.
      Charles had often used telepathy to recount some event
      he wanted his field leader to know about, as it was
      both a thorough method and an efficient one. This
      time, though, there was something different about the
      mental picture and Scott wasn’t sure what. It was
      nagging at him a little, distracting him from the
      scene he was experiencing, wondering what felt “off”
      about it. He couldn’t quite figure out why everything
      looked so different from the way the world usually
      looked when he was seeing out of Charles’s eyes. It
      all became clear to Scott, though, when Lehnsherr
      parked the car, leapt out of it, and ran up to
      him/Charles. As he felt young Magneto’s arm clasp
      him/Charles around the shoulders and heard a greeting
      in his/Charles’s ear, Scott realized the angle was
      different. They were both standing.

      “Yes,” Charles said, responding to Scott’s
      realization. “It was before my accident.” He looked
      down at his legs, then continued. “Erik and I built
      the first prototype of Cerebro at the Peru house.
      Here,” he added, and the other three saw through his
      eyes again.

      The young Erik Lehnsherr ran into the house, Charles
      Xavier following. “Where is it?” Lehnsherr asked
      excitedly.

      Charles showed him a door off of the kitchen and
      Lehnsherr opened it and ran down the stairs to the
      basement, Xavier following him. Scott tried not to be
      distracted by the thought of a mobile Charles Xavier
      and paid attention to his surroundings. A large room
      was set up as a workroom – electronic equipment on
      benches along one wall, building materials in the
      center, what looked like a chemical lab along another
      side.

      “I had no intelligence about this subterranean
      laboratory,” Hank said, almost accusingly.

      “I didn’t even know there was a basement,” Jean added.

      “It’s big,” Scott weighed in. “A whole extra floor
      downstairs. It’s nothing like that, though,” he
      added, referring to the image that Charles had just
      placed in all of their brains. “I’ve only been in the
      basement a couple of times. We’d considered having
      the tunnel come up there, but Logan decided against
      it. He had me blast a small hole in the basement
      floor as a test, and water seeped in.” Scott felt
      strange talking about the time he and Logan had been
      in Vermont together, particularly with Jean there. It
      felt like an oddly intimate recollection, although he
      was only talking about the mission they’d accomplished
      there together. His shields down to let Charles in
      made Scott feel slightly vulnerable, as if his
      thoughts and emotions were on display more than he
      would have wanted in this company.

      “What does the basement look like now?” Charles asked.
      “Is it suitable for Magneto to work there? I haven’t
      been down there since... well, since I could walk down
      the stairs,” he added.

      “It’s mostly empty. There are some things stacked by
      the walls – furniture, boxes of stuff. I didn’t open
      any of them when we were down there. Maybe old
      equipment. The floor’s dry – it was only when I
      blasted it that water came in. The lights didn’t
      work, but we put new bulbs in and they did. Yeah, I’d
      say he could make a workroom out of it for his
      mutagenic machine. If that’s indeed what he’s doing.
      If we don’t stop him first.”

      “We will. And I think it very likely that is his
      plan. Why else would he need a gorilla with Rogue’s
      powers? I suppose I should applaud his decision to
      sacrifice an animal rather than a human this time.”

      “Given the knowledge we’ve amassed of Magneto’s
      character,” Hank interjected, “the choice of a
      non-human primate as subject to expire as a result of
      the execution of this endeavor was most likely a
      decision borne of expedience rather than a newly
      emerging value placed on the lives of mutant humans.
      An assault upon the zoological gardens was undoubtedly
      easier to plan and more likely to result in the
      preferred outcome than one upon our own premises.”

      “Yes, Hank’s right, I’m afraid,” Scott said to
      Charles. “Magneto knows how well defended we are
      here. Anyway, no point speculating now. We need to
      get moving on this mission. We can’t know whether
      we’re right about Magneto’s plan or not, but we need
      to plan the mission without that information. A good
      plan executed today is better than a perfect plan
      executed at some indefinite point in the future.”

      “Right you – and Patton – are. And the difference
      between a good naval officer and a poor one is about
      ten seconds,” Charles quoted back at him. “A
      principle that applies equally to X-Men Field Leaders.
      Now, whom will you take on this mission?”

      “Beast.” Scott turned to Hank. “You’re best able to
      evaluate how far he’s gotten with the rebuilding of
      the mutagenic machine.” Hank nodded his agreement and
      Scott turned to Jean. “Do you feel up to it? I can
      use your powers. We don’t know who Magneto’s got with
      him, or even how many. I need a telepath. Unless you
      want to come, Charles?”

      Xavier shook his head. “I think it’s better if I do
      not. Erik Lehnsherr knows me too well. He has used
      that knowledge to our disadvantage before.” He turned
      towards Jean. “Do you feel ready for a combat
      mission?”

      “Definitely.” Her voice was clear and confident.
      “Any more?”

      “Yes, I think one more. Not more than that. We want
      a small team, since we need to take them by surprise.
      And we’ve got Jean-Paul on the spot.”

      “Pyro, too,” Hank interjected.

      “I hope so, but I’m not counting on him. I’m not
      saying he’s gone over to Magneto again,” he added,
      seeing Charles’s expression, “although I wouldn’t
      totally rule that out. Still, he doesn’t have the
      combat experience or even the experience under my
      command to leave me feeling like I can count on him.
      And – like I said – I don’t know how many Magneto’s
      got there. I want to be sure we can take him, whoever
      he’s got with him. I’m taking Wolverine, too.”

      “Is that wise?” Charles asked. “Maybe you’re better
      off with someone else. The metal skeleton makes him
      particularly vulnerable.”

      “No, I want Logan with me.” Jean was looking at Scott
      as he said it, but he didn’t meet her glance. “You’re
      right, Charles, that he can’t take Magneto, but I’ll
      handle him myself. I need a team that can take on
      Magneto’s henchmen. Logan knows that house better
      than anyone but you – he not only was foreman when we
      built the tunnel, but supervised all the security
      enhancements. He’s best able to get us in without
      setting off alarms, so we can take them by surprise.
      Besides, Logan’s the best fighter I’ve got. I need
      him for this one.”

      Xavier nodded, closing his eyes briefly. “Wolverine’s
      in the Danger Room. I’ve told him there’s a mission.
      He’ll meet you at the Blackbird.”

      Jean stood up, saying, “I’ll go now and brief Logan on
      the mission. Meet you at the hangar in a few
      minutes.”

      Hank stood as well. “I’ll don appropriate clothing
      for this mission and be prepared to depart in five
      minutes.”

      Scott stood up to leave after them, but Charles
      stopped him. “Just a minute,” he said.

      “Additional instructions?”

      “I didn’t want to say this in front of the others.”
      He hesitated a minute. “Scott, I don’t know all that
      is going on between you and Logan, but... your
      feelings are strong. That was clear when your shields
      were down. I know there are unresolved issues. This
      is a dangerous mission. Are you sure you want him
      along? You could take Colossus, Iceman...”

      Scott shook his head. “I need him for this one. He’s
      the man for the mission. I don’t let personal
      feelings interfere with a mission – my feelings or
      anyone else’s. You know that, Charles. I wouldn’t
      have stayed alive this long – or kept the rest of them
      alive – if I did.”


      Mo
      Mofic Website: http://mo.fandomnation.com/fic/
      www.livejournal.com/users/mofic

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