The Thread, Part 5: Over Your Shoulder

July 01, 2015:

Rachel Summers attempts to change the future. And boy does she. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson and Detective Mills have a mole in their midst.




NPCs: Luthor, Mills, Li, Lirianov, Perrin



Mood Music: Over Your Shoulder, Calexico

Fade In…

The Thread
Part 5
Over Your Shoulder


The asian man in the smart suit looks to his colleague, a white man with an angular face and appraises him quizzically. He's not sure why he's here, perhaps Ambassador Lirianov knows.

"You lady," says Ambassador Li in English with a heavy Chinese accent. "Perhaps you can tell us why we're here. I have been told by my staff this has something to do with DCI. If you could clarify, I'd be most appreciative."

The pair look across the large oak table in the meeting room of the Russian Embassy and eye Rachel Summers.


"How's he holding up?" asks Dick Grayson as he passes a cup of coffee over to his partner, Detective Mills. He means Perrin, the Chief of Staff for a Senator who was charged with murder, but is pleading out in order to finger the real culprits. At least so he says. And he only started saying that after someone tried to kill him.

The giant African-American sips at his drink slowly and shrugs. "Bout as well as you'd expect. I think when he thought he was going to snitch, he'd be placed in some swank pad with satellite television and a full bar."

Dick shrugs his shoulders, "He'll still get all that, as soon as the Feds find a spot for him."

"Well," Mills says between more sips, "Sittin' in a cell is of little consolation at this point."

"That's for his benefit, not as a punishment," Dick says. "He's a murderer and someone's looking to return the favor."

Rachel was dressed in a dark business suit with glasses on, deep down she was incredibly nervous to be here and actually starting the first steps that could leave to her kind having a voice or potentially just making things worse.

"I apologize for the secrecy surrounding this meeting. DCI has helped to arrange it, that is correct." As Rachel responded she reached out gently, probing the minds of the two ambassadors to see what they may have known and felt about the recent incident in Bahrain.

"You can call me Red." She slides a file folder onto the table towards the two, inside there are pictures printed that she took of the blown-up Quraci HQ in Bahrain, "Go ahead and take a look, those are photos of the aftermath in Bahrain."


"We're interested in your real name," Ambassador Lirianov says, making no move for the folder.

As Rachel probes their mind, she'll find that both men are secretly happy that the United States intervened in the Bahraini occupation. Qurac is a rogue nation, prone to chaos and terror, and avidly searching for nuclear weaponry. Their issue is how this new Sentinel Protocol gives the United States a new drone-type weapon that they currently do not have an answer for. US gets nukes, Russians and Chinese get nukes. US gets heroes, Russia and China gets heroes. Now that the Americans have this new technology, they are not sure how to proceed.


"So, theories?" Dick asks as he leans against the file cabinet.

Mills lets out a guttural sigh and shakes his head. "Some sort of political murder. Why? I haven't a clue."

"You got anything?"

"Just a couple of loose ends, really," Detective Grayson responds with a shrug. "Perrin wasn't workin' for that Senator too long. It'd be surprised if he'd have just jumped at the opportunity to go out and kill for the guy."

"So you don't think it's the Senator?" Mills asks. "Who else did he work for?"

"You name it. Perrin's out of Delaware and has worked for everyone from Kensington to Harrison to Ballard to Reid. Tomorrow Party, Progressive Party, doesn't matter," Dick says.

"Rachel Grey." She responded to the question, still sifting through the thoughts of the pair, "I understand your hesitation and trepidation in speaking to me." There was a faint bit of telepathic nudging in her voice, not directly trying to influence them but to make them more likely to want to speak to her, "I'm here to seek your help and offer my own aid."

A pause.

"Does the Sentinel Protocol mean anything to either of you?" She reached out again, this time searching the area for potential threats both physical and mechanical.


"Yes, of course," states Ambassador Li. "Anyone with an internet connection or a quarter for a newspaper could read my comments on it. While China supports the liberation of Bahrain, we worry that the Sentinel program represents an unwise tip to the scales of balance in world politics. We encourage the United States to disarm, or at the very least, be more upfront with the international community regarding this new project."

"Russia feels the same, Ms. Grey," echoes Lirianov. "Yet, I'm curious, young lady. What does an associate of DCI care about international politics?"


"How high do you think this goes?" Mills asks and Dick is shrugging before he can even finish the question.

The young detective gives an upwards nod to the television in the corner. On it, is Lex Luthor, Presidential candidate giving a speech in New Hampshire about the economy.

"You think baldy there has a chance?" asks Dick with a snort.

"He does if Upton decides not to run."

"You could call me something of an activist." Rachel replies vaguely, "History is an ever turning wheel. The last time my nation had an advantage like this in terms of technology, you are both aware they did not hesitate to use it. I'm referring to the nuclear bomb of course, the cold war that followed lasted decades. Now everyone has the bomb, it's no longer a big deal. Next we have every country scrambling to create teams of powered individuals and now, even the most third world nation can put together a small army of them, like we saw with Qurac."

She smiles at the pair, "Now the United States has 'The Sentinel', something nobody else has. I've seen what they can do first-hand and there is not a weapon on the planet that can counter them currently. Not even mutants and metahumans as was shown in Bahrain."

"My goal and your goals are the same. I want the United States to disarm the Sentinel program or at the very least be held accountable for what they are doing and make it visible, for the international community." She reaches out to brush against their minds gently again, gauging their reactions and searching for any potential clues that could help turn the pair to her side.


"We already feel the same way as you," Ambassador Li says, shaking his head. "It does not seem clear how it is you intend this to come to pass, Miss Grey."

Indeed, the two men and the two nations already felt the same way. Rachel can feel confusion in their mind, and anger towards DCI with wasting their time with this.

And then she finds it. The embassy is bugged. Two small bugs, eavesdropping upon their and every other conversation.


At a small office complex, a chubby intel worker is pointing at his computer and takes off his headset. "You get that? Who in the hell is Rachel Grey?"

The other worker shakes his head, "I dunno, but it's a code red. See if we can pick her up as she's leaving. Let me put in a message to the boss."

"I wonder if we nab this chick if we'll get promotions. Domestic terrorists working with the Chinese and Russians. Shit man, we'll get a raise at least."


"Seems crooked to me," Dick replies

"Who isn't these days?" Mill adds, before leaping up.


Dick takes one look at his partner and bounds back towards the cells.


Another shot rings out, echoing in the hallway.

Both partners keep running, trying to get to the cell block, but inside Dick already knows who has been shot.

Rachel is frustrated with herself for not discovering the bugs sooner but it was her own fault for not being more thorough at first.

Looking between the pair of Ambassadors she says almost in a whisper, "Please don't be alarmed."

Using her telekinesis, Rachel begins to pick out the components before activating a skill among Psionics known intuitive aptitude to pull the devices apart.

Of course, this has the unfortunate side effect of causing a blue-gold phoenix emblem to briefly appear over her left eye.

"Were either of you aware that the embassy was being bugged?"


"She's a mutant!!! SECURITY!!!" both Li and Lirianov stand up and back away in horror. Despite the sometimes bad reputation that America has for mutants, it is nothing comapred to what happens to them in dictatorial nations such as Russia and China. Tolerance is something that's put out there to look good on a national stage.

As soon as Rachel begins to manipulate the bugs, the self-destruct mechanisms begin to activate, covering the bugs in acid and melting them away, leaving only small holes in the wood of the wall.

Security bursts through the room, armed with machine guns which come to aim upon Rachel.


"Holy shit! The whole thing is falling apart!" exclaims the chubby NSA agent. "Get a team there, now now now! Anyone! We gotta pick her up. Confirmed mutant, confirmed mutant terrorist."

"Should we call the Pentagon?"

"What are they going to do?"

"Well with the Sent—"

"That's for international use only."


Dick reaches the bars first and slams his fist hard enough against them to nearly break them. Inside, Perrin, their one link to breaking this case lies dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Lying elsewhere in the cell, is a uniformed policeman who went by the name Hughes, with a large hole in his head that blood still spills out of. Both are dead.

"You gotta be shittin' me," says Mills, huffing and puffing as he catches up to Dick.

This was not supposed to happen like this. It was the main thought going through Rachel's head as what should have been an opportunity for a peaceful resolution escalated through the roof quickly.

She wanted to try and talk this through but reaching into the minds of those she was meeting with, she quickly realized that her luck could not have been any worse; she was dealing with mutant haters.

Why? Why was it always hateful people?

When she was younger, she would have lobotomized them in a second and turned them to her cause if it meant protecting mutants but she wasn't sure that would accomplish anything now.

A brief amount of telepathic energy is expended to try and confuse the minds of the security guards momentarily, she would have to deal with them later hopefully.

Ethereal flames flare to life around her body along with the blue-gold phoenix symbol around her eye as she begins to expend her powers fully; erecting an invisible telekinetic forcefield in case she gets shot.

Reaching into the minds of the pair of Ambassadors, she does something she did not want to do; something that she probably should not have done…

Rachel began to use her abilities to modify the memories of the Ambassadors, finding the key events and thought patterns that lead to them hating mutants and altering them to love mutants and metahumans and want to cooperate with Rachel Grey.

It was not a nice thing to do and was likely slightly painful for the pair of Ambassadors and would no doubt, have lasting consequences for their own mental health in the future if she wasn't able to fix them.

"It was a misunderstanding, please call the security off. I was only destroying the bugs, the americans placed in your embassy." She hoped it had worked and deep down, she knew; leaving here was going to be MUCH harder.

The memories of the two ambassadors are expunged and changed at Rachel's beckoning. But with DC SWAT encircling the embassy, it's not clear if she'll be able to clean out everyone in the building's memory in time before being caught.

In all, 14 paddy wagons come, with between half a dozen to a dozen armed personell. They begin to set up tri-pods, pointing at the exits of the compound, while others scale the wall.

Sensing the impending doom beginning to surround her in the form of what must have been a hundred plus SWAT and police Rachel decided it was best to get the heck out of dodge for the time being.

She left an impression in the pair of ambassadors minds that they needed to get Rachel Grey a meeting with someone in a position of authority who was sympathetic to mutants in the United Nations and not let anyone know about it, leaving a sense of gravity to it; like it was now the most important thing in the world.

As she flees through the embassy, she uses her power to become a psychic shadow to drift into the very shadows themselves while trying to find out where the security servers were. She would use the same trick she had with the bugs, using intuitive aptitude to try and destroy the servers.

It was unlikely a description of her could be given, but she wasn't going to take any chances.

She would make her way to the rooftop next, having the power of illusion and flight would hopefully make her escape easier.

Unfortunately for Rachel, all of the security information is backed up elsewhere, and in several places. Apparently, they've seen a lot of action movies.

When the door to the roof opens up, Rachel is shot at with several volleys of machine gun fire. These men know they're dealing with a superpowered terrorist in their midst. Use of lethal force is authorized.

There was no way that Rachel could fool all of these people here, she knew that even if she did; recording devices would still capture what was really going on and in the end that was a problem.

She no longer bothers with the illusions because there was no point.

Her full efforts are focussed on the telekinetic shields that will protect her from gunfire, but with the mass of it being tossed against her even that was an effort.

The strain is so much that she can't even subconsciously disguise the claw like Hound markings on her face as she begins to levitate away from the rooftop still under fire.

To the police officers below and anyone watching she was likely a spectacle, a woman wreathed in golden fire; shrugging off machine gun fire as she flew into the air.

Rachel prayed she wouldn't have to deal with helicopters or fighter jets, but with the way her day was going she was almost expecting it.

"Oh my god! Look at that!" exclaims one of the gawkers across the street and raises her cell phone to get the spectacular image of Rachel Grey's escape.

Not even the paranoid NSA thought to bring helicopters or jets. The DC SWAT team thinks of it, but by the time those planes and choppers are fueled and in the air, Rachel is long, long gone.

But not forgotten. Her face will be plastered all over the 6 o'clock news. In every town in America.


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