Title: CEREMONY OF INNOCENCE

Author: Marvelous (Marvel2019@aol.com)

Summary: Scott has a rough time of it at Alkali Lake.

Rating: R for adult situations, language, and rape in later chapters.

Notes: For everyone who wanted more Scott in X2. Events occur within the basic framework of the second movie, but extreme and gratuitous liberties have been taken with the plot.

Chapter One

Maybe if he lay perfectly still, the pain in his head would go away.

Scott Summers lay on his stomach on what felt like a cold cement floor. It hurt too much to think about it, but Scott had the distinct impression he wasn't supposed to be here. He tried to sit up, ignoring a fresh wave of pain ripping through his head, and discovered he couldn't move his hands. In fact, they were somehow pinned behind his back. With a growing sense of alarm, Scott tried to pull his wrists apart, and found they were secured by what seemed to be metal cuffs.

Scott blinked. Cuffs? There were so many things wrong with the present situation that he couldn't even begin to sort them all out. He rolled over onto his back with difficulty and struggled up into a seated position, then looked around his surroundings.

He was in a small, poorly lit, windowless concrete room. The furnishings consisted of a metal chair bolted to the floor in the center of the room and a bare metal table. Scott looked around the room at the sole exit, a closed and solid-looking metal door.

It was an interrogation room of some kind, Scott guessed. That wasn't a comforting thought. Scott forced himself to focus on whatever sequence of events could have brought him to this place. He and Professor Xavier had gone to visit Magneto in his plastic prison. Because it was best to come prepared whenever Magneto was involved, Scott had taken the precaution of wearing his X-Men uniform and visor instead of the sunglasses he preferred to wear in public. He was still in his uniform, he now saw, though his long coat was gone. His visor, of course, was still securely in place.

He had been attacked. Now he remembered. There had been a warning shout from the professor, locked in the plastic cell with his old friend Magneto. Scott had been ambushed, first by the two security guards, whom he had quickly neutralized. Then the woman had jumped at him, the beautiful, severely-dressed Asian woman, who shot him with what Scott guessed was a tranquilizer dart before launching herself through the air at him. Scott had a fragment of a memory of a long, elegant leg arcing through the air in the general direction of his head, and then nothing more before waking up in this dismal room. From the pain in his skull, Scott judged it was the kick more than the dart that had taken him out. Embarrassing, really.

He wasn't certain, but he suspected he had been drugged again, perhaps more than once, after he had been kicked unconscious. The foggy muddle in his head was hard to explain otherwise, and anyway, he had a sneaking hunch he had been asleep for quite a while. Long enough to transport him to this place, wherever it was.

Scott had no idea who was behind this. As a general rule, he was inclined to suspect Magneto whenever possible, but Magneto had succumbed as quickly as the Professor to the gas that had been pumped into his cell. Scott and the Professor had visited Magneto to fish for information on the recent mutant attack on the President. Was it possible they had inadvertently stumbled upon something important, and someone was now taking pains to make sure they were kept out of the way? If so, what was it?

Scott became aware of a commotion on the other side of the metal door. In no condition for a surprise ambush, especially since he couldn't use his optic blasts with his arms manacled behind his back, he focused on getting to his feet, preferring to confront his abductors in as dignified a manner as present circumstances would allow.

The door opened. The figure in the doorway hesitated, probably to make sure of Scott's whereabouts before entering. A soldier in plain fatigues, armed with an assault rifle. No nonsense.

Evidently he'd been detained by the military. Was this an official, government-sanctioned detainment? Scott didn't know if that was better or worse than a private abduction. Better in that there'd presumably be limits to what they could do to him. Worse in the long-range repercussions for the X-Men.

The soldier, a thick-set, muscle-bound kid a few years younger than Scott with a pale blond crewcut and a ruddy complexion, waggled his assault rifle in Scott's direction as a warning for him to stay put. What did the kid expect him to do with his hands bound? Head-butt him? Kick his shins?

Two other men entered the room. One was another soldier, not as husky as the first, yet, judging by his exposed forearms, in peak physical condition. He was older, too, probably a decade older than Scott, which would put him somewhere in his late thirties. Unlike the blond kid, he didn't seem to view Scott with any particular malice. In fact, he almost looked amused.

Scott's attention was drawn to the third man, who was middle-aged and portly. A senior officer, judging by his uniform. He smiled at Scott, a wide, friendly smile.

"Ah. Scott Summers. I wasn't sure we'd find you awake." The man's voice was jovial, with a tinge of a southern drawl around the edges.

The use of his name frightened and alarmed Scott. The man knew him, and not just as Cyclops, field leader of the X-Men. It implied he was here for a very specific purpose.

It simultaneously dawned on Scott that this man wasn't a complete stranger, either. It took him a minute to figure out where he knew him from, then he finally dredged up a memory from almost ten years ago. Raised voices in the foyer of the mansion. The professor, calm as ever, trying to soothe this man, who was shouting slurs against Xavier, against the Institute, against mutants. With effort, Scott came up with a name to match the face. "Stryker," he said. "You're Jason's father."

Jason Stryker. A student at the Institute, back when Scott and Jean were students themselves. Jason had a wild, powerful mutant ability to manipulate the thoughts of those around him, to implant bizarre and disturbing images that were indistinguishable from reality. He used his power with vindictive, imaginative glee, and tormented everyone in the mansion for several long weeks before the professor decided he was too much of a danger to the other students to continue teaching him. It was a decision Jason's father had not accepted peacefully.

The man chuckled. "Colonel Stryker, if you would be so kind. I've spent thirty years in uniform to earn the title, so I'd like to get some good use out of it." He smiled at Scott, full of down-home charm and friendly intentions. Scott felt chilled. "Good memory on you, boy. But then, you always were Xavier's pride and joy, weren't you?"

"What's this all about? Where's Professor Xavier?" Scott asked.

Stryker waved a hand. "He's nearby. He's fine. Sleeping peacefully. Don't concern yourself with him."

"I'd like to see him," Scott said. He was determined to keep the conversation civil and reasonable for as long as possible. He was aware of an undercurrent of malice emanating from beneath Stryker's genial demeanor. Best to keep that malice at bay while he could.

"Not possible, I'm afraid. But please, you don't really think I'd harm him, after all the trouble I've taken to bring you two here alive?"

"Why are we here?" Scott asked.

Stryker yawned. "Well, really, my main business happens to be with Charles. The fact that you came along is a lucky bonus." He gestured toward Scott's visor. "That's a remarkable power you have there, boy. We should be able to put you to some good use."

"What makes you think I'd work for you?" Scott asked. He was careful to make it sound like a genuine query instead of an accusation.

"Because you won't have any choice." Again, that friendly smile. "That sounds much worse than it will be. In fact, you won't mind at all. Oh, maybe some part of you might object a little - I'm not really sure how that works, truth be told - but most of you won't care one little bit."

"What are you talking about?" Impossible to keep his tone completely neutral on that one.

Stryker pursed his lips for a moment. "Perhaps it'd be easier just to show you." He looked toward the open door. "Yuriko, would you come in here for a moment?"

The beautiful Asian woman who had knocked Scott out back in Magneto's prison entered the room. She didn't spare Scott a glance as she walked over to stand at Stryker's side. She carried a small metal case. Her face was perfectly blank, though lovely; her most striking feature were her eyes, which glinted with a silver sheen.

"I believe you've already met Yuriko Oyama, my personal assistant," Stryker said. "A mutant as well, and completely loyal to me, at least under the right circumstances. Yuriko?"

By response, the woman turned her back to Scott. She lifted her thick, dark ponytail out of the way and bared her neck. Scott could see a small circular mark, like a burn or a scar, directly in the center of her neck.

Stryker tapped on the mark with one thick finger. "A small administration of a rather remarkable serum, and she becomes a most agreeable ally. It has a similar effect on all mutants." He looked at Scott. "As it will on you."

Yuriko straightened up and handed the metal case to Stryker, then stepped aside. Scott felt his stomach clench slightly at the woman's cold, mechanical movements. She seemed more like a zombie in her reactions than a flesh-and-blood human.

Stryker set down the case on the metal table and unlatched it. He withdrew an exceptionally large plastic hypodermic needle. It was filled with a cloudy yellow substance.

Scott knew he didn't want that needle anywhere near him. Without moving his face, he slid his glance toward the open door, thankful the red quartz of his visor hid his eyes from view.

The dark-haired soldier was leaning against the wall near the door, arms crossed in front of his chest in a very un-militaristic pose. He appeared relaxed and nonchalant as he openly appraised Scott. Scott wasn't fooled. Even though he had no visible weapon, this man would be more of a threat than the blond kid. And then, of course, there was Yuriko Oyama to contend with.

The blond kid was moving toward him now. He motioned with his assault rifle. "Against the wall, mutant," he said. When Scott didn't respond, he grabbed his shoulder with his free hand and turned him around. He pinned Scott to the wall with one hand pressed between his shoulder blades. Scott twisted his head to the side, and found the muzzle of the rifle about an inch from his nose. "Don't move, mutant," the kid said. Scott stared into eyes slitted in hatred, and saw no choice other than to obey.

A hand grasped the back of his hair and jerked his head forward to face the wall. Stryker stood behind him. The dark-haired soldier and Oyama had not moved from their positions.

Pressure on the back of his head forced him to bend forward until his neck was fully exposed. Scott felt Stryker's fingers pushing down the high collar of his uniform jacket. When Stryker spoke, his face close to Scott's ear, his voice had finally lost the affable just-folks quality.

"Because in a minute you're not going to have sufficient control over yourself to care about such things, I want you to know this now, that this - everything that happens to you from this point on - this is all Xavier's fault. Jason was ruined because of him, it's only fitting I ruin his golden boy. Biblical, almost, if you want to look at it like that."

There was a burning pain at the base of his neck. Not the expected sharp pain of a needle, but a fierce acid burn. Helpless, Scott struggled uselessly, held in place as the acid ate into his skin.

His vision shifted and blurred. His world, which was always washed in a perpetual red hue owing to the necessity of his visor, became softer around the edges. He felt acutely nauseous. His knees threatened to give out, and he broke into a cold sweat. For a moment, he was sharply disoriented. Not only was he not quite certain where he was any more, he was having trouble keeping track of who he was as well.

Then, just as quickly, his world became clearer again. He was himself, Scott Summers, Cyclops, and he was currently in a very dangerous situation. No time for nausea or confusion; he needed to find a way out of this, to rescue himself and the professor.

He remained perfectly still. The hand released the hold on his hair, but he didn't stir, resting his forehead against the cool concrete wall. Instinct told him not to move until he had figured out the situation.

Unexpectedly, the blond kid released him and backed away. Scott still didn't dare straighten up. His heart was beating faster than it should; remembering the eerie composure of Oyama, he concentrated on taking deep, slow, even breaths.

"Scott." Stryker's voice was oddly gentle now. "Turn around and look at me."

Wordlessly, Scott straightened up. He was aware of the soldier at his side, ready to restrain him if he made any sudden moves. He turned around slowly, his face perfectly composed, and looked at Stryker.

The visor was useful for many things. With his eyes thus obscured, Scott knew it was difficult for people to gauge his reaction even under the best of circumstances. Stryker frowned as he studied Scott's blank expression. Scott merely stared back.

After a moment, the corners of Stryker's lips curled up in a careful smile. "Good. Very good," he said. He motioned toward the blond kid. "Undo his handcuffs. But watch him."

The soldier looked like he wanted to protest. He hesitated, then produced a set of keys from a ring hooked onto his belt. He moved behind Scott, grabbed his wrists, and unfastened the cuffs. Scott felt a surge of adrenaline. He focused on taking deep, slow breaths so as not to betray his emotions. When his wrists were free, he let his arms drop freely to his sides. This was much better.

The dark-haired man was still near the doorway. Thankful again that his eyes were obscured, Scott slid his glance over to him. The man still seemed relaxed, almost bored. He was staring directly at Scott. Even though Scott knew it was impossible to see his eyes, he had the uncomfortable feeling the man knew he was looking at him, like he wasn't fooled by Scott's zombie act. He'd be a problem, though the biggest threat was Yuriko Oyama. Scott didn't take the blond kid too seriously, though he seemed awfully fond of waving his weapon around.

Oyama first, then. With a movement he had practiced until it was swift and seamless, Scott brought his hand up to the side of the visor, pivoted, flicked the dial with a touch of his fingertips, and shot a thick blast of pure concussive force at the woman. Remembering how quickly she had recovered from his blasts in Magneto's prison, Scott didn't hold much back. It slammed her into the wall, which cracked around her.

Before the blond soldier had time to react, Scott's next blast flung him across the room. Ignoring Stryker for the moment, Scott turned his attention to the dark-haired man.

Only to find that the man had already crossed the distance between them. Even as Scott turned, he found himself caught from behind. Muscular arms closed around his arms and jerked them down, preventing him from using the visor. "Nice try, baby," the man hissed in his ear. Scott crouched down and tried to throw the man off of him.

The dark-haired soldier was having none of it. Before Scott could get him off the ground, he released his hold on Scott. Scott turned quickly, raising his hand to the side of his visor. And found himself facing the snub muzzle of a pistol. He froze.

Oyama was on her feet now. She seemed to have suffered no ill effects from having just smashed apart a concrete wall with her body. Wasting no time, she slid behind Scott and wrestled his arms behind his back in a neat, effective armlock. Even with the dark-haired man still pointing the gun at him, Scott struggled against her grasp. It was useless. His arms were restrained as securely as they had been in the cuffs.

Scott cursed himself mentally. His instincts had warned him to watch out for the dark-haired man, and yet he had still ended up underestimating him. As for Oyama, she was out of his league entirely. His mistake. Scott wondered what it would end up costing him.

Stryker had remained in one place during the brief attack. His face grew scarlet with fury. He strode over to Scott. "Goddamn it! Why didn't it work?" He shoved the dark-haired man to one side, raised one large hand, and backhanded Scott across the face. Scott instinctively shut his eyes until he was certain his visor had remained in place.

Stryker stood in front of him, breathing heavily. Eventually, he appeared to regain his composure, though his cheeks were flushed with spots of bright color above the sides of his beard. "So it appears Cyclops is resistant to my little potion," he said. "How disappointing."

His mouth twisted into a mockery of a smile as he regarded Scott, who was still held in place by Oyama's unnatural grip. The dark-haired soldier had reholstered his weapon and once more leaned against the wall, still vaguely amused by the scene in front of him.

"Not to worry. We'll have to make sure the next application is a little stronger. In the meantime, however, I think we'll keep that dangerous little talent of yours under more careful control."

Stryker turned away from Scott and rummaged through the metal case on the table. Scott couldn't shift his position enough to see what he was doing. Oyama's grip on his arms was unyielding. If he struggled too much, he'd probably end up dislocating his own shoulders.

Presently, Stryker stood and approached Scott again. Scott saw that he held a thick metal hoop, a collar of some kind. He shrank back against Oyama as Stryker approached him.

Stryker smiled at his reaction. "Don't be frightened. This will only hurt a bit. At first, at least."

"What the hell is that?" Scott asked. He hated the note of fear that crept into his tone.

Stryker didn't answer. "Hold still," he said. With one hand, he held Scott's head in place by his hair. He pulled the collar open by a hinge and circled it around Scott's neck. Scott caught a glimpse of two slim inch-long metal prongs on the inside of the collar. The sharp tips of the prongs touched the bump on the back of his neck where his spinal column connected to the base of his brain, right below the acid burn mark. Stryker's fingers felt the back of Scott's neck and made a minute adjustment to the position of the collar.

The prongs were plunged into Scott's neck with one quick, forceful push. Scott was prepared, but he still couldn't help jerking away in pain. Stryker smiled briefly at that, then snapped the collar shut. There was a slight mechanical whir; Scott realized the collar was automatically adjusting itself to his neck.

"It's hooked into your nervous system now," Stryker said. "I wouldn't try removing it by yourself. You'll only end up giving yourself a whole lot of pain."

It was already causing him a fair amount of pain. The inch-long prongs were fully embedded into his skin, probably somewhere in the general area of his pineal gland. Or did he mean the pituitary gland? All he knew for sure was that he didn't care to have people shoving sharp objects into his brain. At least Stryker seemed to know what he was doing. Scott could have ended up paralyzed. Or lobotomized.

Now that he had a moment to think about something other than the pain from the prongs, Scott knew what the collar was supposed to do. The ever-present pressure behind his eyes from his optic blasts, the pressure he had felt every moment since his mutation had developed at adolescence, was gone.

Still, it was more than reflex that made him shut his eyes tightly when Stryker reached up and removed his visor. "Open your eyes," Stryker said, in a tone that left no room for argument. Scott could tell from his voice that, whatever Stryker expected to happen, he had stepped prudently to the side, out of Scott's line of sight.

Seeing no alternative, Scott opened his eyes and viewed his surroundings with his natural vision for the first time since he was fourteen.

Everything considered, if given any choice in the matter, he would have picked vastly different surroundings for this auspicious moment. Even seen with the full color spectrum instead of the endless shades of red the visor limited him to, the concrete room was dingy and depressing. It was small consolation to Scott that at least Stryker could see the unmasked hatred in his eyes. Stryker didn't look intimidated.

"Ah! Success at last!" He chortled at Scott's expression. "Don't look at me like that, boy. You should thank me. You could almost pass for human now." He reached around to the base of Scott's neck and fingered the collar thoughtfully. Scott winced as Stryker pressed lightly against the prongs. "A careful snip or two in the right spot, a few minutes with a scalpel, and you could be free of your mutation forever."

He smiled. "But I think we'll hold off on that. I still have hopes of using that power of yours. In the meantime..." He turned his attention back to the case. He picked up what looked like a small rectangular box made of some dull metal and held it up. Scott tried to see what it was.

Stryker slid his thumb along a flat dial on the box. Instantly, a burning electrical pain ripped down the length of Scott's spinal cord and moved through his nervous system, spreading to his very nerve endings. The jolt made Scott lose all ability to stand on his own. Only the fierce grip of Yuriko Oyama kept him on his feet.

Just as immediately, the pain stopped. Stryker smiled at him. "As you can see, it just became a little easier to keep you in line." With another wiggle of his thumb, he twisted the dial.

Being prepared for the pain didn't make it any better. Scott's knees gave out on him. At a nod from Stryker, Oyama released her grip on him. Scott felt himself tumbling forward.

As everything around him went to red, then black, the last thing he was aware of was the cold feel of concrete against his face.