Everything Has a Price
By Mari Rose
X Headquarters, Dream, X, Monday, 12:45
Her first impression when entering the room was always 'red'. The sheer redness of the room never ceased to surprise her. The room wasn't all red like a mad artist's hideout or a mass-murderer's signature, in fact, the dominant color ought to be white. For some reason, maybe her perspective, maybe the way her brain translated the color reflections, it was red.
Red as fresh blood.
Maybe the color had simply become so familiar to her that she saw it everywhere. It would not surprise her, if it was so.
They had been forced to remove Erik Magnus Lehnsherr from Genosha.
For the first time, that she could remember, all following Xavier's Dream had worked together. There were many of them. Powerful. A good deal of them ruthless. Lehnsherr had not stood a chance, despite his considerable amount of power. They were many, he was one. They were, for all intents and purposes, soldiers under the command of one. His people had worried more about themselves than about their leader. Of course they had won.
He hadn't died.
But he had left Genosha and gone into hiding. She didn't know where.
Genosha had been left without a master.
They had changed that.
It wasn't Genosha anymore. It was X. Recognized state by the UN and the EU. Ruler: President Scott Summers. Vice-president: Jean Grey-Summers. Population: 12,8 mill. 78 per cent homo superior. Coin: 100 cent/dollar.
vice-president Jean Grey-Summers of X.
Strange how soon that had ceased to amuse her.
Lehnsherr's return probably had something to do with that. He wanted Genosha back. He wasn't alone this time. He had allies.
They believed X was wrong. That Lehnsherr was right in his demand that Genosha was returned to him. They had sided with him. In a way. They were neutral. They would not fight for X, but they would not fight for Lehnsherr.
Six months Lehnsherr was gone.
Eight months she has been ruling a country.
She still thought of X as Genosha.
The room was circular. A dome. It was designed to impose power. To make her appear powerful. She didn't like it.
The United States were behind them. Supported them. She knew why, even if the world puzzled over it.
There were mutants in USA. Homo superior. USA preferred there weren't. They thought it impossible to support Lehnsherr. Too chancy. They feared him. They didn't fear her husband. They didn't fear X.
She hardly ever laughed any more.
Her husband worked from 6 AM to 11 PM. She didn't see him much. She didn't see him at all outside of work. She missed him. She knew he missed her.
She talked shop over the breakfast table.
She sat down behind her impressive desk and went to work. There were several piles of paper on the desk. Simply her signature on a piece of paper could save a life.
Or destroy one.
They had a dinner today. Official. Delegates from USA, UN, EU, Japan and Australia were there to meet them. To meet him.
She knew what they wanted.
She knew they would get it. They couldn't afford to say no. They couldn't afford to alienate them. The military would be under constant surveillance. They might not fear X, but they were still suspicious.
She wondered, briefly, as she looked over the education systems plans for the year, if they would ever not be.
Her eyes fell on a post it form yesterday and she was reminded of todays execution of Fabian Cortez.
She would have to make an appearance.
X' vice-president Jean Grey-Summers did not like her life.
Abandoned warehouse in Phoenix, X, Tuesday, 20:54
Nate Grey was being sneaky. For the first time. Ever. That he could remember. He hadn't simply waltzed straight in, done what he thought needed doing and waltzed out again.
No. He was undercover.
Exasperation. He was exasperated. Must they all behave like children?
Now he was doing it too.
He was often tempted to wash his hands of the whole mess and go shake up the Austrian cult who were attempting to find the holy sun. Whatever that was. He wasn't too clear on that.
But they were family.
Not that he'd ever admit it.
He knew exactly what they were thinking.
Exasperation was a frequent emotion these days.
One bearing the Grey-Summers gene allied with Magneto. Sacrilege, he was sure.
He had altered Lehnsherr's mind.
He had no intentions of ever letting the man know that. History told him Lehnsherr had a tendency to bear grudges. He did not need the master of magnetism against him.
He was more useful as an ally.
Which was why he was here now.
He didn't need to be here.
He was telepath of omega class. He could destroy worlds with a mere thought. He didn't need to be here in order to relay orders and information. It calmed the contact.
And there he was.
Nate Grey stepped out of the shadows and told the contact that Lehnsherr could continue with the next step to their plan.
People would die.
Blood would flow in rivers.
He saw no other way.
Military Complex, unknown, X, Wednesday, 09:26
She aimed to inspire all three, and knew she did.
She was a major.
She lead hundreds of soldiers. She made decisions that might get them killed.
Responsibility. Weight heavy on her shoulders. Back straight. Eyes clear and piercing. Seeing everything.
Her country was at war.
A civil war in a way. She knew civil wars. She knew the cost of lives were unavoidable.
She knew she supporting the right cause.
She knew X would be victorious. With or without her. And her soldiers.
She commanded the wind and the weather. She belonged to the sky. Free.
The complex had been shut down. Locked shut.
Two hours ago.
No one could get out. No one could get in.
She was locked in her room. Alone.
The room was bright. Light shone down from myriads of spotlights. Green plants decorated the room. A lovely purple flower on a small ornate table. Pictures on the wall. A deck of cards left on the coffee table. A chess game sat up on the corner of the table. Bookshelves filled with books and figurines. A big bed with a collection of pillows and teddybears. Rabbits.
She was curled up on the couch.
A card held tightly in one hand.
A toy rabbit in her other.
There were no windows in her room.
The walls were closing in on her.
She was powerful. Very powerful. She was one of the most powerful mutants on earth.
The ceiling came closer.
No one would come to get her.
Eyes tightly shut.
She would die alone.
His friends were dying.
He had only now realised what was really going on around the country.
His friends were dying.
They were in war. Again. Last time they were Genoshans. This time they were Xers. There was no difference.
He had joined the X army to impress Lilja.
He had the X gene. He was faster than a normal human.
Yesterday his mother had told him that Lilja had been killed in an air raid.
His commanding officer was gone. Disappeared.
Sweet, sweet Lilja with the big blue eyes and catching laughter was dead.
He looked down and closed his eyes to hide the tears.
He was here to meet the CO's replacement. He was out of uniform. His CO would be too. Less conspicuous. He didn't know why the CO wanted to meet him personally.
Major Munroe hadn't.
But then rumors said Captain Grey was somewhat eccentric.
A tear rolled down his chin.
He wiped it away and opened his eyes. His CO could appear any minute. He couldn't be found crying like some child.
Chanson Bar, High Town, Madrijpoor, Friday, 01:56
Fingertips traced the scar on his forehead.
The whore with the fiery red hair and the hard green eyes whispered a question.
He avoided it, pressing his mouth against hers.
In a country half a world away, another woman with red hair and green eyes would soon be killed. Because he refused to interfere. Because he thought they should learn that their actions had consequences. They had ignored him when he had said so. They were so innocent. Naive. In many ways.
He'd heard of the executions.
Not so innocent any longer.
The whore told him she had a room. Would he join her?
Hard green eyes.
"Don't even think about it."
Brown eyes. Cynical. Mischievous. Framed by short black hair.
He let the whore climb off his lap. Ordered her a drink as a consolation. A brief smile in return for the gallantry.
"Just got off the phone. Domino says all hell is breaking loose down there. Cable is trying to mediate. Can you believe that? Cable - the mediator?"
He couldn't believe it either. He said nothing. Waited.
Times are a-changing.
Change. Not always such a bad thing, but not necessarily a good thing either.
He wondered if her eyes have turned as hard as the whore's.
"Says Storm has disappeared. Gambit is frantic. He's brought in the Guild. Marrow is dead. Colossus and Rogue are leading the army."
She paused, looked down in her beer. Frowning.
"Domino thinks someone working for Magneto has infiltrated the army. I don't see how. What with all the telepaths... He or she would have to be resistant. Ain't too many people, that. And ever that would be suspicious. They're searching all of those though."
He finished his beer.
"What about very powerful psis?"
She looked up, eyes clear.
"Nate Grey is in the X army."
He looked at her. Proud of who she's become. Street smart. Intelligent. Honorable, in her way. Loyal.
Her eyes were wide. Surprise. Horror.
"Magneto and Nate Grey against Summers et al..."
"They don't stand a chance."
She finished her beer and got up of her chair.
"I'm going to call Domino again. She might not know."
Main street, Illusione, X, Saturday, 15:31
She's a bodyguard today.
A cyborg bodyguard with extensive weaponry.
You'd think she was the mediator. Not his bodyguard.
A quick smile at the thought. Serious again an instant later.
The last three days have been hell.
Ororo. Disappeared. Gone from the complex when she came to get her out.
Alex. Disappeared. One minute he was fighting Magneto's forces, the next he's gone.
Sarah. Dead. The shelter was bombed.
Peter. Dead. One of Magneto's men saw to that.
Paige. Dead. Caught by surprise.
She knew there were more. Many more. Too many.
Pete was in England. She knew. Domino had told her an hour ago. Logan and Jubilee were still in Madrijpoor. They refused to be included in 'this mess'.
She was here to mediate a peace.
To guard the mediator. Pointless. Play for the gallery.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Captain Grey walk towards Scott.
The mediator turned immediately and walked quickly over to them.
A quick, heated exchange of words between the genetically identical men.
Captain Grey nodded, stepped back. His uniform turned into one she recognized from Magneto's generals.
The mediations have begun.
Jason Hotel, Calidh, X, Sunday, 06:22
Nothing is solved.
They are still at war.
But there is hope.