Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. Thanks to everyone who reviewed "The Children's Crusade". Hopefully you'll follow the trend with the sequel.
(Author's Note): This story is a sequel to my fic, "The Children's Crusade. It's probably better if you read that one first so you can find out what exactly is going on.
He couldn't hear the sirens or the voices of the men standing over him. William Trent Kline couldn't even see them. He was lost in his own world. At first, the world was nice and bright. It was full of light and warmth. Trent believed he was in Heaven but then the warmth turned to scorching heat and the light became eternal darkness. That was when Trent began to scream.
"You thinkin' PCP or acid?" asked one of the detectives. The question could barely be heard over the howls of terror and incoherent ramblings coming from the only person the paramedics hadn't taken to the hospital yet.
"Won't know till we get a tox screen," replied the other detective, "Whatever was in that Kool-Aid must've been damn tasty because he definitely wasn't the only one guzzling it down." The detective looked over to the makeshift podium and the banner that hung behind it.
"What're you thinkin', Manheim?" asked his partner.
"Door's busted open," replied Manheim, "Either these kids did it through the power o' Christ or somebody busted in. Considering these people were part of the Stryker Crusade, I can give you some guesses on who would've busted in."
Trent didn't hear any of this. The voice that Trent heard in his head was much louder and more authoritative, more demanding.
"You have let them defeat you, Trent!" bellowed the voice, "You have let them corrupt your holy mission."
"Father?" asked Trent in a bewildered voice, "Is that you, Holy Father?"
"Do not let them win, Trent," ordered the voice, "I gave you the power to fight them."
"How?" asked Trent, "What power?"
"Kid's losin' it over here, Manny," stated Manheim's partner, "Better hope the EMTs get back with another gurney for this loon. Maybe a straightjacket too while they're at it."
"You know what you must do with the power," assured the voice. Trent could feel something inside him suddenly bubble up and radiate out from his body.
"I understand, Father," assured Trent.
"Call SHIELD!" ordered Manheim as he felt everything around him suddenly begin to change, "Call them now!" Trent knew what he had to do. He would find the mutants who did this to him and he would use the power God had given him to slay them.
One Month Later
Megan Gwynn looked out on the city of Seattle from her vantage point atop the roof of a warehouse. She flexed her wings, delighting in the freedom to do so. While she was at work, Pixie had to wear a jacket and keep her wings down. She didn't mind that but she really enjoyed it when she could stretch them out.
"You look nervous," stated Mercury as she looked at her teammate.
"I'm always nervous when we do this," replied Pixie. It wasn't exactly true. She did get nervous when she had to put her life on the line with the rest of her friends. However, that wasn't what she was currently nervous about.
"Understandable," agreed Dust. The three girls were waiting for a shipment to come in. Someone was moving illegal arms into Seattle. The New X-Men's standard procedure was to break up into two or three groups and comb the city. Hellion, Surge, and Pixie had cell phones and while they weren't the com-links like the X-Men had they were better than nothing. Mercury watched as Pixie's wings unconsciously twitched again and wondered whether it was just tense nerves or if the younger girl had a problem she was unwilling to reveal.
"You can tell us if something's bothering you," reminded Mercury. Cessily was an only child but she had quickly learned how to deal with siblings upon arriving at Xavier's. When things turned bad in a fight, the team looked to Hellion or Surge but when someone had a personal problem Mercury was always the one to handle it.
"I think I might've done something bad," explained Pixie. All three girls diverted their attention to the fact that a truck had just pulled up to the warehouse they were watching.
"Now would not be the best time to discuss this," advised Dust.
"We'll talk later, Meg," assured Mercury, "Right now, we have to do our thing."
XgirlAlani: hey, Meg, haven't seen you in awhile
FairyQueenMeg: hey, Lani, sorry I haven't been online much lately
FairyQueenMeg: you know, work and stuff keeps me busy
XgirlAlani: how's the radio thing going these days?
FairyQueenMeg: same old same old. How are things going over at CampHammond?
XgirlAlani: lol, same old same old
XgirlAlani: I'm sure Josh would say hi if he was here right now
FairyQueenMeg: what's he been up to lately?
XgirlAlani: I dunno, they put him on the fast track ever since we signed up. I heard that Mr. Gyrich said he had a lot of potential
FairyQueenMeg: you don't worry about what they might make him do?
XgirlAlani: this isn't like it was at Xavier's, Meg. We get all the training we need but we don't have to deal with people kicking in our doors and trying to shoot us. Trust me, CampHammond is probably the safest place in the country right now.
Danielle Moonstar remembered her brief career at Camp Hammond with mixed emotions. Teaching some of the Initiative's new recruits was the good part. Dealing with Gyrich and the politics of the place was the bad part.
"Last time I checked," said Dani as she leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs while giving Henry Peter Gyrich an icy stare, "I was fired by you for . . . 'spreading liberal propaganda' was the phrase I believe you used."
"Considering that your former star pupil is dead," reminded Gyrich, "I don't feel we need to discuss our difference of opinion on his handling. I'm not offering you a steady job, Miss Moonstar. We here at Camp Hammond simply need you for a . . . 'consultation' of sorts."
"You have another child you want me to help turn into a weapon?" asked Dani skeptically.
"He's into his twenties and even if he was still a teenager I wouldn't call him a child," replied Gyrich, "We found him a month ago when some cops in Seattle called us. He developed a rather interesting reaction to an unidentified hallucinogenic substance found in his bloodstream."
"Mutant?" asked Dani with a slight amount of hope in her voice.
"He's X-factor positive," assured Gyrich, "Whatever that stuff was, it kick-started his powers. He's an illusion-caster."
"I'm not going to train him to be a soldier," stated Dani.
"You're not going to train him at all," assured Gyrich, "I just need your 'expert' opinion on his mental stability."
"I'm not a therapist," reminded Dani.
"I know," replied Gyrich, "You should see the poor saps the federal government sends in though. They're woefully unqualified to deal with super-powered types and they're prone to misdiagnose them. It would be a shame if something horrible happened all because I took their assessment when I could've had one from someone like you who has special qualifications and will probably give me a much more accurate diagnosis."
"Is that a threat?" asked Dani as the ice in her stare reached new levels of sub-zero.
"I'm merely asking you to think of the children," said Gyrich with a smirk, "Did I mention this young man's first manifestation of his abilities resulted in the death of one of those police officers who called us about him?"
"If I say he isn't ready for the field?" asked Dani.
"He'll stay right here and continue with his training and you can re-evaluate him a few months from now," assured Gyrich as he extended his hand, "Deal?"
"We have a deal," stated Dani as she got up from her chair and headed for the door, "I trust someone can show me where he is."
XgirlAlani: you live in Seattle right?
XgirlAlani: have you heard the stuff that's been going on there lately?
FairyQueenMeg: what stuff?
XgirlAlani: something about some group of x-men or something
FairyQueenMeg: oh that. That's probably just a bunch of kids being stupid
"Do you think we're going about this the right way?" Hellion looked at where Anole's voice came from. It always unnerved him when Victor turned on his cloaking power.
"What other way is there to do this?" asked Hellion.
"We could get registered," reminded Anole, "I mean would it really be that bad?"
"I don't trust Stark or his people," stated Hellion, "Maybe they had a good idea at first but now it's become a big mess. These days it's like we spend more time fighting each other than we spend fighting the real bad guys."
"Point," admitted Anole. Hellion turned his attention to what was happening across the street. He knew what was going on in that building. The place was a haven for drug dealers but the police, for one reason or another, refused to do anything to shut it down.
"I've seen him on the streets," said Hellion as he gestured to a man going into the building, "He's definitely a dealer. Do you need any more proof?"
"I'm not a cop," reminded Anole, "I think that's part of the problem that registration is trying to solve."
"The cops haven't done jack to shut that place down," reminded Hellion as he motioned for Anole to take point, "That's what makes us different from them, Vic. Instead of getting in slap-fights with each other, we actually stop what needs to be stopped."
"The classic argument," replied Anole with a sigh as he vaulted from his perch on the side of the building and landed on the other side of the street in front of the drug house. He quickly jumped and clung to the wall of the building, turning his cloak back on before crawling through a broken window. Hellion calmly crossed the street and walked up to the doorstep of the house. The door glowed green before an unseen force kicked it in. This was Julian's way. He didn't need warrants, he didn't need probable causes, and he didn't need the system. It wasn't as if that system had been kind to him and his friends in the past.
XgirlAlani: have you thought about registering?
FairyQueenMeg: Lani you know that I don't wanna do that
XgirlAlani: it's not bad at all Meg I promise
XgirlAlani: I mean CampHammond is just like Xavier's except it's so much safer
FairyQueenMeg: if registering doesn't change the way things work then why do it in the first place?
XgirlAlani: it's the law
FairyQueenMeg: it's a sucky law and I don't trust the people behind it
Danielle Moonstar could think of at least a hundred different things she could be doing at this moment. Meeting potential students was always tricky, especially when they were "disturbed".
"Do you prefer to be called 'William'?" asked Dani.
"Trent," corrected Trent, "I haven't thought of a codename yet." Dani nodded and took a seat, her eyes scanning the cell that passed as Trent's room. The boy had a bed, a desk, and another room that looked like a bathroom.
"Have you had a chance to run drills with the other kids?" asked Dani.
"Not yet," replied Trent, "Mr. Gyrich and the doctors say I'm a special case so they let me train alone mostly. I guess that's why they brought you here."
"I was a mutant too," admitted Dani, "I was an illusion-caster like you, Trent. I heard you had a rather violent 'first time'."
"Yeah," agreed Trent as he gave Dani a sad nod, "They told me I killed someone. Honestly, I can't remember it. The medication they give me here helps me keep reality and fantasy separated but it leaves my memory a little fuzzy. The whole night is a blur."
"I read your history," said Dani, "You were a member of the Stryker Crusade?"
"I no longer acknowledge myself as part of that group," assured Trent, "I have . . . different beliefs now." Had she been the one running the session, Dani would have pressed that issue slightly further. Unfortunately, Gyrich was running the show and he would consider Dani's exploration of those "different beliefs" a waste of time.
"You have a bit of latent telepathy?" asked Dani.
"So I've been told," replied Trent, "It gives my illusions a more personal touch."
"What would you like to do with your powers?" asked Dani.
"Help people," answered Trent, "I believe God is calling me to do that."
"I'd like to see what medication they're giving you," explained Dani. Trent nodded and grabbed the bottles from the desk. He stared at them for a moment before handing them to her.
"I believe I may have found a name," said Trent, "Serotonin."
"Not exactly accurate," admitted Dani, "Serotonin controls moods and emotions. Still, it has a nice ring to it."
"Our perceptions are controlled by our emotions," countered Trent, "What we view around us and how we perceive it is colored by our mood isn't it?"
"How do you perceive yourself?" asked Dani, deliberately not answering Trent's question.
"Average I suppose," admitted Trent, "I did something terrible and I'm taking steps to make sure it never happens again."
"I'd say that's healthy," agreed Dani as she handed the bottles back to their owner, "Do you mind if I ask for a demonstration of your powers?"
"I'll try my best," assured Trent. Dani watched his eyes begin to cloud over in a strange, otherworldly way. She felt the world around her suddenly ripple. Dani saw posters appear on the wall. The desk in the room became nicer and suddenly sported a computer. A bookshelf sprouted from nothingness as well as a stereo system. The entire room changed into the bedroom of a twenty-something-year-old instead of the jail cell of a twenty-something-year-old.
"Very impressive," admitted Dani as she touched a piece of furniture that wasn't real yet it certainly felt real, "You've got visual and tactile perception down."
"I can do auditory too," assured Trent without moving his mouth. Dani nodded in approval of the boy's skills.
"How long can you hold them?" asked Dani.
"Working on that," admitted Trent as the image suddenly flickered and began to fade back to reality, "I'll get that figured out eventually."
"I'm sure you will," agreed Dani, "You seem to already have a very high level of skill. I should go talk to Gyrich."
"I hope you give him a good evaluation," said Trent, "If you'll excuse me, I need to take my pills."
"I wouldn't worry about Gyrich," assured Dani as she moved to the door, "Goodbye, Trent. I hope we see each other again."
"I'd like that," said Trent as he watched Dani leave. He took the pill bottles with him into the bathroom. Trent wasn't stupid. He knew there was a camera in the top corner of the main room that was constantly monitoring his actions. He could fool the human eye with his illusions but he couldn't fool a machine.
"Maybe when I'm free I'll drop by," muttered Trent as he took out the amount of pills he was supposed to take and dropped them into the toilet. He flushed the toilet and then turned on the sink to get a drink of water. He only took the pills every so often. They helped his control but he didn't need them influencing his perceptions. Trent knew he had to get out of this compound so he could get revenge on the mutants responsible for his predicament and make them suffer.
XgirlAlani: it's you isn't it Meg?
XgirlAlani: you and some of the others are the ones people are talking about in Seattle
FairyQueenMeg: Lani you know I wouldn't do something like that
FairyQueenMeg: I mean with all the stuff we went through do you really think I'd do this again?
XgirlAlani: Meg you'd tell me if you were doing it right?
FairyQueenMeg: sure I would
XgirlAlani: I really don't believe you
FairyQueenMeg: Lani I'm one of your best friends
XgirlAlani: yeah and I'd expect you to tell me the truth
FairyQueenMeg: I can't trust you
XgirlAlani: omg you are doing it
XgirlAlani: you totally wouldn't have said that if you weren't doing it
FairyQueenMeg: fine Lani we're doing it okay?
FairyQueenMeg: we're the ones who are running around Seattle tagging bad guys with X's every night
XgirlAlani: you're going to get in trouble
XgirlAlani: you're breaking the law Meg
FairyQueenMeg: nobody knows it
XgirlAlani: how are you getting away with it?
FairyQueenMeg: we've got it covered
FairyQueenMeg: you can't tell anyone Lani. I'm really serious about this
XgirlAlani: . . . I can't make that promise
FairyQueenMeg: then we'll go to jail and it'll be your fault
XgirlAlani: I need to go
FairyQueenMeg: Lani wait
XgirlAlani: I need to go
FairyQueenMeg: you can't tell anyone Lani. Please promise me you won't tell anyone
Dust, Mercury and Pixie looked around the warehouse at the unconscious bodies of the smugglers who were dealing in illegal arms. Those that were still awake were lost in a daze created by Pixie's hallucinogenic dust.
"You wanted to talk about something?" asked Mercury as she looked at Pixie.
"Now's not really the place," reminded Pixie nervously.
"We got a few minutes before we call the police," assured Mercury. Pixie's wings unconsciously twitched as she looked at the ground.
"I think I did something really bad," admitted Pixie as she looked at the two older girls.
"How bad?" asked Dust.
"I think I got us thrown in jail," explained Pixie quietly.
"Your assessment?" asked Gyrich as Dani stood in front of his desk.
"The medication seems to be working for him," admitted Dani, "I would consent to letting him train with the other recruits."
"Field missions?" asked Gyrich.
"I have my reservations," stated Dani, "I think he still needs more time."
"You're being too cautious with him," said Gyrich, "Stark promised a fully operational superhero team in every state, Miss Moonstar. We can't deliver that without new recruits."
"What Stark promised the American people is none of my concern," retorted Dani, "I suppose he could handle street-level crime but I wouldn't put him into combat with another super-powered individual. I think the stress of that situation might cause him to snap."
"Your opinion has been noted," said Gyrich as he slid a piece of paper across his desk, "There's your compensation. Talk to my secretary about what forms you need to sign." Dani took the check and walked to the door.
"Alani," greeted Dani as she looked at the former student of Xavier standing outside in the waiting area, "You look nervous about something." Alani looked up from where she was sitting with her drill instructor, Gauntlet.
"Hey, Miss Moonstar," replied Alani, "Sorry . . . I have this personal thing going on." Gauntlet gave Dani a look that said she shouldn't press the matter further.
"I'd like to talk to Josh Foley if he's available," said Dani as she looked at Gauntlet, "I have some paperwork to fill out first."
"I'll see if someone can find him," replied Gauntlet as he stood and ushered Alani into Gyrich's office.
"Miss Ryan," said Gyrich as Gauntlet motioned for the girl to take a seat, "Is there something I can help you with?"
"Tell him what you told me," urged Gauntlet.
"Well," began Alani hesitantly, "Have you heard the news about a group of X-Men or something in Seattle?"
"Yes," replied Gyrich, "Do you know them?"
"I know one of them," explained Alani, "They're unregistered, Mr. Gyrich and . . ."
"Say no more," assured Gyrich, "You did the right thing for your country, Miss Ryan. You should be proud of yourself."