Authors Notes: This story includes four OC's of my own creation, all others are owned by Marvel. This doesn't follow any particular canon, but it does take place in the early days of the X-Men.
We Are The Dead
Part One- Mindscape
The city of Bayville was as picturesque as they came. A small town, like most others in the Midwest, scattered across the countryside. A pleasant, if not too exciting place to live. Or it used to be anyway.
Just outside the town there was a building formally known as Xaviers School for Gifted Youngsters, but it had become known as the X-Mansion among the inhabitants of the town, an object of rumors and urban legends. Mainly because it was now publically known as a school for mutants.
Mutants, the most recent addition to the lowest part of the pecking order of humanity. Due to fear, or hate or ignorance, whatever was your flavour, mutant-kind had become nearly universally reviled. Because they were… different.
But you probably already know all this.
Even at this late hour, several windows of the mansion were still lit up, the older occupants of the house being kept up by their own past ghosts, and even some of the younger ones.
Within his study inside the mansion sat the man known as Professor Charles Xavier, the worlds foremost expert on the subject of mutants, and secretly one of the most powerful psychics on the planet. And for once in his life, he hoped his powerful mind was wrong.
Jean, something has happened. He sent out a mental thought to his confidant, the beautiful redhead known as Jean Grey, though he suspected she had already felt it as well. Reaching his mind out through the mansion, looking for the warm, familiar mind of his most beloved student, soon finding her presence.
I'm here Professor. I know, I felt it too. It was a tremor of some sort?
Yes, a shockwave across the astral plane. Xavier sighed mentally. They had all barely recuperated after the debacle with the ancient mutant Apocalypse, the last thing they needed was another challenge of that magnitude. Only an extremely powerful psychic could have caused something like that. And… I felt something afterwards…
Jean nodded to herself. She had recognized the silent screams that had followed the wave. It was death… Despite herself, she couldn't help but remember a scene from the Star Wars movie she had watched with Scott.
It was like millions of voices cried out in anguish and was then silenced…
Yes Jean, but I hardly think that is the appropriate way to put it. The Professor frowned to himself, the implications of this new event could be very large indeed. It was either a new mutant entirerly, who's powers emerging could have caused a backlash, tat in itself wasn't uncommon, or…
Someone who did it on purpose… Jean finished.
Xavier nodded. Meet me in the Cerebro chamber.
Just a few minutes later, Xavier rolled into the large chamber in his wheelchair, the magnificent marvel of technology known as Cerebro standing before him. A machine created to track the energy signature of mutants, though only operable by those with mental powers. Jean was already there.
Merely smiling to her, Xavier moved over to the Cerebro control, a simple helmet, placing it on his head… and focused….
The astral plane was always enormous, but magnified through Cerebro it was absolutely endless. He could see everyone, feel everyone. Human minds were the most common, blue and chaotic, filled with needs, desires, wants. Mutant minds were becoming more plentiful every time he came here. Most were just infants now, their powers still nesting within their genes, but more and more became active by the day. He could feel their desperation, their sadness, their pain. As always, he felt a wave of sorrow flash through him, that he could not help them all. And he could see the world through the machine, the pulsing energy of life, the mental energies of all beings that dwelled upon the planet.
But there was something new here.
There was someone else here!
Very few people were powerful enough to reach this level of the astral plane without aid. He had only met one, the Shadow King, but this wasn't him…
He could see the presence like a shining beacon, a bright red energy pulsing through the mental world. And it spoke!
"Hello Professor Xavier… I knew you would find me sooner or later. I was afraid my little stunt would attract attention, but I really had no choice."
The presence knew of him!
"Who are you?"
The Professors expression started to worry Jean, he didn't usually look so pained when he used Cerebro. The look on his face was like that of a man under torture! She was about to try to contact the professor mentally herself when Cerebro blinked and wound down, Xaviers face returning to normal.
"Charles? Charles, are you okay? You looked like you were in pain!" Jean said, placing her hands around his shoulders.
"I'm… fine, Jean. But the force I encountered in there… "
Not finishing the sentence, Xavier shook off the residual pain, the presence having told him what he needed to know.
"Jean, call for Scott and Logan. We're going to look for a new recruit. And tell them to wear their civilian clothes"
"But… where to, Professor?"
Xavier stared blankly for a moment
"Bedlam Hospital… Graysville"
Neither Scott nor Logan had been particularly happy about being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night to go recruitment hunting, but Xavier had assured them that it was an emergency. While he had been frustratingly sparse with the details, the fact that the professor was worried had been enough to convince the two.
The X-Wing was loaded up and ready, and the small group was soon on their way towards the small town of Greysville, deep within rural Tennessee.
Scott, more commonly known as the mutant Cyclops, had manned the controls, as usual not one to question Xaviers plans, but Logan had been a little more vocal about it.
"Look Chuck, if you're gonna drag me out to look for new meat, atleast you could tell me what we're after?" Growling slightly, the feral-like Canadian never liked being strung along for anything, not surprising considering his past.
"I'm… not sure what we're going to find in Graysville, Logan. Both me and Jean picked up a large psychic tremor a few hours ago, something that resulted in several deaths, and when I used Cerebro to search for the source I encountered… something on the astral plane. All it would tell me was this location."
Logan frowned, mysteries of this kind usually didn't end up well in his experience.
"So, what, we're just rushing headlong against this thing? Shouldn't we have brought more students along for backup. If this is another mutant, perhaps Rogues powers would come in handy…"
Xavier merely shook his head. "No Logan, whatever we're going to find down there, I fear it might be dangerous. I only asked you, Jean and Scott along because you are the most experienced and capable. I don't want to risk the safety of the other students. I'm not sure if the presence I encountered is hostile, but if it is… Then we have to contain it, at any cost."
The rest of the flight passed in grim silence.
Graysville had never been a large town, if you could even call it a town, it barely had 1500 inhabitants. Though judging from the large amount of ambulances outside the infamous Bedlam Asylum, that had probably dropped several notches now.
They had put the Blackbird down in a field outside of town and used the cloaking device to keep the plane from being spotted, the hospital dominating the skyline in the distance. The citizens would most likely be even more hostile now than they would have been otherwise, and that would be saying something. As they approached the large building, Xavier let out his mental barriers, easily picking up the distressed surface thoughts of the onlookers.
"They all just died!" A female voice said.
"Told him it was wrong!" A male voice this time.
"What WAS that?!"
"They said they were just going to chase him away"
That sharp thought tore through all the others like a hot knife, both Jean and Xavier gasping in pain at the intensity.
"Jean, I think that was our recruit"
Jean merely nodded somberly, her first encounter with the angry presence leaving her reeling. She had never encountered a psychic that powerful. Scott was the next to break the silence.
"Professor, are you sure about this? If this guy is as powerful as you say… I mean, something bad has gone down here." He eyed the dozen or so body bags that the personnel had gathered up in a row by their trucks.
"I know Scott, but nonetheless, from what I picked up from the crowd, he is not safe here. Or rather, THEY are not safe here."
The small group had managed to mix themselves with the crowd now, in their civilian clothing they blended in fairly easily. The crowd was obviously in a state of near-panic, and the X-Men could pick up the rumors passing around.
"They say he just looked at them and the whole mob just fell over, screaming and clutching their heads, and they… they were like bleeding from their ears!" One young woman said, the same who's thoughts Xavier had viewed earlier.
"I say we go in there and get him ourselves!" An older man said, an angry look on his unshaven face. "No mutie is going to pull something like this off in our town and get away with it!"
"Yeah, great idea Frank, you want to get your brains scrambled as well?" The mans companion, dressed in what could only be called redneck attire. "I say we burn the place down, cook the fucking freak!"
Logan gritted his teeth, feeling the familiar urge to pop his claws out and shred the bigots in two, though Xavier merely reached into his mind with a calming effect.
"Don't be foolish, Logan, the last thing we need is another violent outburst, I think this place has seen enough of it for one night."
As Logan slowly turned away, Scott walked up to the group, having managed to get some information among the wild rumors.
"Okay, this is what I managed to find out from the ambulance personnel, apparently there were some rumors that one of the patients at the mental hospital was a mutant, and someone drummed up an anti-mutant mob that tried to lynch whoever it was. Apparently, the only survivor is that guy"
Scott pointed over to a pitiful figure being loaded into an ambulance, an overweight man wearing what seemed to be the robes used by the hate group Friends of Humanity, his unmasked face stained with blood still slowly dripping out of his nose and mouth. His blank stare and slacked jaw told a disturbing story: the man had been lobotomized.
The X-Men gave eachother a nervous look, whoever the mutant inside was, he obviously didn't pull any punches. Slowly the group began to make their way around the hospital, in the search of a way inside.
"Logan, Jean, you two go inside, me and Scott should remain outside in case the crowd decides to form another mob." Xavier instructed his students before letting Scott wheel him back to keep a closer eye on the crowd.
Logan smirked. "Well Red, guess it's up to you and me." He chuckled and popped his claws out with a soft "snikt" for effect.
"Let's just be careful Logan, the patients in there are probably pretty scared after what happeed earlier, the last thing we need is for them to panic as well"
"Mmm" Logan merely nodded and began to edge around the dark building, searching for a way in. Most of the windows were too high up, and the ones that weren't were locked. Eventually however, he managed to find one that wasn't, and motioned to Jean to come over to him.
"Alright, this one is open. Cant see anything inside though, but it doesn't smell like there's anyone inside." Logans nose flared, his powerful sense of smell picking up even the smallest scents.
"That's strange… I cant seem to find any of the patients in there with my powers either… other than…" Jean could feel him too, the pulsating red presence of the mysterious mutant inside. She winced again, other than the overwhelming power of his mind, she could also feel… unbridled fury.
"Hrrm, guess I'll have to talk some sense into him." Rubbing his claws together, Logan pushed himself up and climbed in through the window.
The hospital was in complete darkness. The place was little more than a ruin, worn down furniture and medical equipment littered the halls, the walls dark and faded. Logan snorted, picking up the scents of mildew and decay. Death.
Turning around, he stretched himself out and helped Jean climb in as well, the two slowly gaining their bearings of the place as their senses adjusted to the darkness.
"Alright Red, now wh-"
"Welcome my dear X-Men. I'm glad you managed to avoid the filthy rabble outside."
The voice seemed to echo through the empty halls, even though both of them knew it was only in their minds. Jean reached out with her own mind, her mental voice smaller and more timid in comparison.
"We're here to help you, but we have to find you first. Where are you?"
"I doubt I need your help, but if you insist… follow the corridor from the room you just climbed in to, and take the stairs down to the recreation room, I will be waiting for you"
And then the voice was gone. Slowly the two managed to find the corridor, even more run down than the other room, a narrow passage with a few doors leading to patient rooms, and a staircase leading down. Something that had once been a mural on the wall was now little more than a splattered stain of faded colors. Jean glanced into one of the rooms, seeing only an unmade bed and some childrens toys scattered on the floor. None of the patients were in their rooms, which seemed… disconcerting.
Jean rubbed her arms without noticing it, the frightening feel of the place weighing down on her. Logan didn't seem to mind much, even though he seemed a little wary as well as they made their way into the darkness. Logan kept his claws out, though he doubted he could do much if the psychic was hostile, it made him feel a little safer.
The staircase was even worse, in the dark it was hard to walk down the narrow pathway, especially since the steps were withered and missing chunks. Jean even tripped once but Logan managed to catch her before she fell. She sighed a breath of relief when they finally reached the ground floor.
They found themselves in a large, open room with four pillars in the middle supporting the upper floors. The lights from the cars and spotlights from the outside shone in though the panoramic windows, giving the area an eerie illumination.
In the middle of the room sat a strange figure in a wheelchair. The creature had spindly, emaciated limbs, twisted and deformed as though it had atrophied, like a scarecrow. The figure's emaciated head lolled uselessly to the side, it's hair wild and uneven, standing out at all sides, the mouth hanging open like a silent scream. The lights from the outside gave his twisted face an eerie shadow.
The figure's eyes glowed red.
"Greetings Jean Grey and James Logan… I am no one, but you may call me… The Brain"
Authors Note 2: Graysville is an actual small town in Tennessee, I chose it as setting for this chapter since it is located in Rhea County, which is infamously conservative and bigoted, so it seemed like mutant hatred would be pretty common there in the Marvelverse.