Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
Originally Posted by Byrd Man
"What do we want?!" Graydon Creed's southern drawl boomed through a bullhorn.
"Justice!" The crowd in front of him yelled back.
Creed stood on the steps of the Michigan state courthouse. A hundred or so followers were gathered at the foot of the steps, many of them holding signs that condemned baby killing, abortion, and mutants.
"This man," Creed continued, "He tampered with at least two dozen unborn babies. Why? Because he could. He killed two babies in the name of science. And make no mistake about it, friends, he did in fact kill those children. They were unborn, but they were alive. And our government isn't charging him with murder. They're charging him with lesser charges. Does that sound right to you?"
"No," the crowd roared in unison.
"If this man has been out there for God knows how long, poisoning our youth, how many others have their been? How many more murders is it gonna take before our government realizes what's going on? That the truth is, this doctor is the first wave on an oncoming invasion. A mutant invasion! Make no mistake, my friends, their a full-scale invasion going on throughout this country. Mutants threaten our very way of life, and this doctor represents their beliefs and their values. If he doesn't die, then the mutants will have won. It'll be the first step in an age old process. A process called extinction. Human extinction. Is that what you want?!"
"Then stand with me, friends. Stand here on these steps day and night and show the government. Show them that we will not back down, we will not be moved, and we will stand together. We may be the Friends of Humanity, but we are also its defenders. Will you stand with me?!"
Creed threw his hands up in celebration while the crowd roared their approval. While his supporters cheered, a group of on-lookers watched from across the street.
"This is the same guy we fought back in Mutant Town?"
Metamorpho asked with an arched eyebrow.
The X-Men and Xavier were inside a minivan parked across the street from the courthouse. They watched as Creed took a bow and proceeded to walk down the courthouse steps.
"What gives? A few months ago, this guy was like the guys in Deliverance. 'I don't reckon I like them thar mutants! Now, who wants to watch me play mah banjo?!'"
"Perhaps it was a speech pre-written by another person and he just memorized."
"Or he could have taken a public speaking course. The Y offers them for very reasonable rates."
"It's not either,"
Xavier said from the driver's seat of the van. "During the speech, I reached out to his mind. There's something in his mind. A block, a barrier. Something."
"A block means that he's been in contact with a psychic."
"You can't tear through it just like you did with the government agents and Adler?"
"I'm afraid not. This block is stronger, stronger than the one that was in Adler's mind, and much stronger than the one the government had in its operatives. If I try to break through, the psychic backlash could cause brain damage to Creed, or even myself."
"Look at that,"
Jefferson said, pointing towards the crowd. Creed had emerged through the throng of people and approached a beautiful blonde woman who was standing at the edges of the group.
"Wow. Maybe there are perks to this whole being a mutant hating bigot thing. Is it too late to change sides?"
"I think now would be an excellent time to try out your telepathy abilities, Jean. If we can't read Creed's mind, we can try to read his friend's. Try it."
Jean looked at her teacher and then over to the boys, who were all looking at her. She let out a breath, licked her lips, and then closed her eyes. Jean felt her consciousness floating out of her body and drifting towards the courthouse. Her abilities zeroed in on the blonde woman and her mind. Jean began to probe the woman's mind when she recoiled back in pain. The only thing she could see was diamonds. A wall of diamonds.
a condescending voice said in her head.
Jean shouted in alarm. "That woman is the telepath."
The group turned back towards the courthouse. Creed and the blonde woman were hurrying down the street away from the courthouse. Creed was shouting, pointing towards the van. His followers turned from the courthouse and began walking towards the van.
"Oh, my stars and garters..."
"If, umm, if anybody happens to have the mutant ability to kick a hundred people's asses all at once, now would be a good time to use it!"
Muttering to himself, Charles started the van and pulled away from the parking spot in a hurry, a few of Creed's followers attempted to give chase, but they were unable to keep up with the speeding minivan.
As the van sped away, a young woman in the crowd watched the car disappearing from sight. She began to walk away from the group, pulling her red hoodie up around her face. Putting her hands into her pockets, Wanda Maximoff disappeared down a side alley.
The X-Men, in their civilian clothes, were in a hotel room watching TV. Jean sat on the edge of one of the room's double beds, Scott on the other one. Jefferson and Rex sat in chairs on the right side of the room. Hank was upside down, watching the television while hanging from the light on the ceiling. The news from judge presiding over the trial of Doctor James Bradley had only come out an hour earlier. Bradley was sentenced to serve life in prison for the two dozen counts of human experimentation that he had been charged with.
While the students watched the pundits discussing the sentencing, Charles sat on the bed behind Scott. He had a laptop resting on his legs. Cables and wires ran from the computer to an odd metal helmet that was resting on Charles' head.
The wires and cables psychically connected him to the computer, that then connected him to an array of satellites that were in geosynchronous orbit with the Earth. With the satellites, he could reach out and touch every living person on the planet with his psychic abilities. The machine, dubbed Cerebro by its co-creator Erik Lensherr, gave Charles the ability to find and locate mutants. It was with Cerebro that he found the five mutants that were in the room with him now. The government had been pushing to locate and map out the locations of all the mutants in the United States, but Charles had not so politely refused. If the government saw the map of mutants, they would know the truth about the mutants. And then, what he feared most might come to pass.
Charles' eyes fluttered open as he closed the Cerebro program. Closing the laptop, he put it on the nightstand beside him and stood.
"I have some news to report,"
he said, walking towards the TV. "The woman who was with Creed was in fact a mutant, Cerebro was able to confirm that. There is also more. She wasn't the only mutant at the courthouse today. There was another somewhere in the crowd with Creed's followers and one inside the courtroom with Doctor Bradley. Sitting where Doctor Bradley sat during the sentencing hearing."
Jean started. "That means..."
Hank said, flipping down to the ground. "Why else would Bradley be so passionate about trying to create mutants if he himself was not one?"
"What about that other mutant, Professor?"
"The scan seems to indicate they left soon after we beat our own hasty retreat from the area."
"So what's our next move? Creed's here and his has a mutant helping him, a very hot one at that. But do we confront him or what?"
"Creed is a hate monger, but he hasn't done anything wrong. I want us to continue to keep an eye on Doctor Bradley. He's being moved soon. If Creed and his Friends of Humanity are going to make their move, that's when they'll strike."
"Well, we need to move sooner than later,"
Scott said, nodding towards the TV. "They just said they're moving him to a federal prison in Indiana today."
The crowd gathered around the courthouse's back exit. They yelled and booed as Bradley was led out in chains by six police officers and baillfs. He looked at the angry mob and their signs and smirked.
"I'm a monster?" He yelled over the din. "Look around, you goddamn knuckle draggers! You're the monster! I'm an agent for change! I'm the future! You're obsolete!"
The security escorts continued to march Bradley towards a reinforced prison van. Amongst the protestors, the X-Men walked. They kept their civilian clothes on, two of them adopted radical disguises. Rex's multi-colored skin was replaced with the skin of a normal Caucasian male, his bald head now covered in a thick crop of blonde hair. He had managed to change his outward appearance. Even now, only minutes into shapeshifting, he was having trouble concentrating and keeping his form.
Hank, meanwhile, looked like a normal, stocky young man with glasses and dark hair. His change in appearance was due to the small device on his belt. The holographic image shifter, a top of the line camouflage Hank had "liberated" from the government was able to hide his furry form behind a thin layer of hard light.
Scott said through the team's telepathic link. ~Keep an eye out for Creed and his pal. Look for anything odd. Suspicious behavior, familiar faces.~
~Wow, this chick is hot. I wonder if she'd like to take a ride on the ole--~
~Dude! We just heard all of that!~
~Get the hell out of my mind, you pervs!~
~We're not in your mind. You're broadcasting out like you've got an antenna in your forehead.~
~I believe the solution is to quite literally keep your more scandalous thoughts to yourself.~
~C'mon, focus. We've got work to do. Jean, try a psychic sweep and see if you catch anything.~
Jean reached out to the people around her and began to read her thoughts. She flinched a bit as so many voices filled her head. Dozens of voices droned in her head loudly. She gritted her teeth and focused, honing her telepathy down to just a few voices. The volume in her head went down and she began to focus her telepathy on just a few people at a time, reading their minds and moving on.
~So far, I'm not getting anything. There's the usual hate and fear, but nothing out of the ordinary.~
~Tsk, tsk, tsk,~
a feminine voice said in a British accent. ~You just need to try harder. Here, sweetie, let me help!~
Jean felt a click in her head. The thoughts came racing back into her head. She head them all. All their thoughts, all their hopes, dreams, fears, and fantasies. The collective thoughts of nearly a hundred people all filling her head at once. Jean fell to her knees, pulling at her hair. She screamed and threw her head back. In her rage and confusion, she let out a telekinetic wave that sent the people around her off their feet and to the ground.
~What the hell just happened?!~
Scott asked the rest of the team. A loud feedback noise hit the rest of the team and made them flinch.
The backlash caused Rex to lose focus. His shape shifted back to his regular form. The people around him screamed, a woman pointing at him angrily. "MUTANT!" she shouted. "MUTANT!"
Rex said, holding his hands up. "Would you believe I was framed?"
The crowd seemed to turn their attention from Bradley towards Rex. Looking around nervously at the encroaching mob, he chuckled and squeezed his hands. gas poured out of his skin, filling the air with tear gas. They began to scatter and run away. Meanwhile, the police and guards rushed Bradley into the armored van.
Scott reached into his jacket pocket and pulled his visor out. He slipped it on and turned around to see a diamond-clad fist hurling towards him. The blow hit him in the chest and knocked him to the ground.
Gasping for breath, he looked upwards through the ruby filter and saw the sparking, diamond-covered woman standing over him with a raised fist.
she said with a snarl. "I really hate busybodies."