The One Thing

August 08, 2015:

A small impromptu meeting is held in the office of the institute.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The reunion was short. Short in the sense that once Jean gets a glimpse of something that must be done, especially when it came from Scott, all considerations were put out of the window and then the massive debate was had. No one would ever see this in public, that debate. Finger pointing and reasoning, spoken in even tones not filled with anger, but each of them playing devils advocate against the other. About the two, cooler heads always prevailed and there was hardly ever a cup or a plate thrown in retaliation.

No. The only thing that was thrown was paper balls of sketches and etchings that don't quite fit. In fact, the entire day was spent speaking about that one thing.. the only silence from the two was a venture into the kitchen for a home cooked meal that was eaten, a rolled mat and pillows that were taken and back at it again.

Pencils were broken. Supply closets raided. They both were going to have to come out of pocket to replenish the supplies that were needed once school started again. Her desk was a mess, papers strewn across it with formulas that they came up with and didn't work (cause, they're not Hank), and in a moment of fun, there was even a little stick figure drawing of Scott with messed up hair and straight legged.

But the call was put out to the infamous three; Doug, Mike and Katherine, beckoning them to Jean's office as soon as possible yet sadly.. Doug himself was indesposed.

And when they approach the door? The urge for them to enter would be great (Jean's weird like that), and without knocking they'd enter into a scene of pure mayhem. Jean scratching out words as she sat in her chair but off to the side next to Scott, his own tablet punched and fiddled with; the rolled up sleeping mat in the corner with the pillow mashed against the wall (Jean tripped and fell on her ass cause it was there) and a strong smell of coffee and hour old bacon upon the table in front of them.

*SNAP*

The untouched ruler snaps due to a slight mental irritation as Jean tosses her pencil upon the desk, leaning back within the chair as her hands lift to lace fingers together which rest upon the top of her head. "That was the twentieth ruler that you snapped." Jean blames, easily. "I'm going to tell on you, Slim."

As Kitty enters the room without knocking - it's not just Jean's compulsion, on important meetings she just enters without a care - she raises an eyebrow at what she sees. "Uh, should I leave the two of you alone to ruin school supplies in peace?" she asks, a raised eyebrow meeting the pair of them.

The phasing mutant has not been at the Institute very much at all over the summer. There was that month where she was missing, then the weeks afterward where she was recovering and now she's been in Limbo and the Deadzone more often than not helping with Illyana and Zatanna. However, she gives a bit of a smirk and a toss of her pony-tailed hair over her shoulder as she surveys the scene and waits to be told what exactly it is that she was called here for.

Mike is infamous! Yes. Well. He's been working without his usual attempts at restraint and subterfuge to get the Red Team moved to their new digs, and it's been pretty precipitous, especially since he's had to deal with the city, and this isn't an emergency repair of damage by supervillains, so he's not able to cut the red tape with his usual laser cutter. Instead, he's been forced to pay a lot more attention to the details because he's had to have regular subcontractors, many of them not mutants, so he's had to be more, how to say it, careful to make sure that the work is not done shoddily, or short-shrifted.

A glance at the room and he says, "I'm sorry, but even though rulers are the result of technology, they're pretty much stand-alone wood, and I can't put them back together."

"That I snapped!?" Scott sets his tablet down. "No. No, no, no, even the worlds greatest telepath couldn't convince anyone that I would go around, snapping -"

The entrance of Kitty, and then Mike, stops his retort cold. The tablet is pushed aside, and Scott rises from his seat, moving over toward them. "Mike. Kitty." A pause, during which Scott draws in a deep breath that is answered by a genuine smile, something not often seen by the strict leader. "It is good to see you." There has been moments where he wasn't sure he'd ever see any of his family again.

The moment passes after a lingering beat. Scott turns and beckons them in. "Come on, don't mind the mess. There'll be plenty of time to clean it up later." He begins scooping papers and stuff from two chairs, hastily tossing it aside and 'out of the way', if such a thing were possible within the trashed office.

"There's something extremely important we need to do. Something we should have addressed years ago. Have a seat, have a seat."

There was a slight smirk upon her features as she reaches out with her bare foot, toes spread.. ready to plant them right on his cheek! But, as the door opens, that leg drops over the arm of the chair, her body immediately straightening as she offers a smile, yet says nothing.

"Ah.. I'll.. just.." Alright, she was embarrased. The position was compromising in the fact that she was being silly when any other time? Firm. "..clean this mess up for you gu-.." And then the papers were tossed, which gains a cut look from the redhead to the ruby-gazed, her jaw tensing as she steps out of the room for a moment to retrieve a broom and a dustpan, and a bigger waste-bin.

Kitty looks between Scott and Jean with an amused smirk. To Scott, it turns far more sincere, though. "It's good to see you," she tells him softly. She only heard about his incarceration a little while ago - basically just in time for him to leave. But, knowing that he was imprisoned while she was not there was a difficult thing to hear for her. She nods at Mike with a smile and then turns back to Jean and Scott.

"Well, then I guess we should figure out what that is and why we're here to help you out with it," she grins at Scott. It's pretty much assumed that she'll help if she can. f

Mike looks over at Kitty and shrugs. He does that thing where he appears to sit in a chair, but actually, he's covering up for having a heavier construction than human normal by levitating slightly. He wonders how Colossus does this.

"You know, you don't have to mess up your work in progress," he says unnecessarily. Because that helps.

"I'll be blunt." Scott looks between Kitty and Mike. "Incarceration was enlightening. In many ways. Namely…" He finds one drawing, which depicts a stick-figure Cyclops inside a pink cube. "A ruby quartz prison designed to contain me, and some kind of telepathic dampening field strong enough to block Cerebro." He shakes his head. "Beyond that, Rachel and I came dangerously close to unwillingly exposing how close this school is to the X-Men." He looks between the two with a severe expression. "That is something we've largely overlooked, and we can't afford to do it anymore. Try as we might, some day, this school will come under scrutiny, and we have to be prepared for that."

"And of course.." Jean continues as she enters into the door, kicking the wastebin inside and closing the door behind her. One hand lifts to press a finger against her temple, as she drops the dust pan upon the floor and begins to sweep. "I think it's absolutely mental. And impossible. No matter what figures -I- tried to come up with, it just doesn't work." Perhaps, the imagination wasn't there. Or Slim has gone truly mad.

"It's fine Mike. Its.." She gestures around the room. It was just madness. But the sleeping dog laid for nearly a month. The mind was truly working then.

"Coffee? Do you have the proper chasis for it, Michael?"

Kitty doesn't sit just yet. She's too busy listening and surveying the strange drawings that either Scott or Jean have made. She can't assess either of their drawing abilities and so she'll just assume that Scott is the terrible artist.

At Scott's words, though, Kitty looks upwards, eyes widening and then narrowing. "Overlooked?" She doesn't take her eyes off of Scott, though she has no idea if he's looking at her or avoiding her eyes. "You and I talked about this before. I told you months ago how it was dangerous to have the X-Men here at the school." She's not quite so petty as to bring up the hows and whys that conversation came about, but she crosses her arms as a clear showing of her annoyance at his words. "There was supposed to be a meeting, but I didn't actually hear of one."

As for Jean's assurances she frowns. "I'm not sure there's a way to dampen a system as powerful as Cerebro. I'd have to get an in depth look at it's programming and hardware in order to figure out how and why it works in order to counteract it. And even then, I'm not sure Doug and I could come up with something. There's, certainly, protective things we can look into, though. Things we can do to protect the school."

Though not specifically invited, Betsy shows up more or less of her own accord. She'd been busy, too, albeit in her own way; struggling with the voice of reasoned restraint and calculated fury. It had practically come down to Jean on her left shoulder, Emma on her right, shoulder angels with a swapped color palette.

The door opens without her touching it, the doorknob twisting and clicking with nary a sound. Turning dogged stubborness at her temporary disability into an advantage, she'd started using her telekinesis for the sort of fine motor tasks she normally could barely focus on.

"Good evening, everyone," Betsy says, taking in the assorted menagerie with a diffident wave. Clad in yellow and black, she looks a bit like a daffodil or bee, her purple hair a hue closer to lavender today. She eyes Jean's distressed apperance critically, but doesn't say a word. Aloud, anyway.

Moving to a high-backed chair, she moves a pile of papers aside to the floor and seats herself quite primly, flicking the seam of her slack straight on her knee and scissoring one leg over the other.

"I-told-you-sos aren't terribly useful, Katherine," Betsy tells Kitty. Her eyes slide sideways to Jean and Scott. "The last thing they need is a smug 'I told you so'. And smug it would be," she says, looking down at her expensive manicure, "because tell you so we most certainly did."

"Yes, thank you," Mike says. "I'm worried that they have a working telepathic dampening field. That's really not a good thing. That's three steps away from a full-on power-damper, considering that my scans have been showing most mutants with on-demand powers have a psionic activation effect, even when they're not actually psionic energy once they're working."

He has no opinion about the foolishness or otherwise of having a school near the X-Men. After all, X-Red is now located at JFK International Airport, which puts them RIGHT THERE where PEOPLE CAN SEE THEM. Especially in that building with all the glass. And yes, Mike's been going slightly insane putting in sensors of various kinds all over the place — to the extent that someone driving by and feeling a hostile emotion towards the people inside, has a 2/3 chance of triggering a spy tracker watching them. And is logged.

For a long moment, Scott seems to stare at Kitty with lips pressed together thinly. Elizabeth's arrival is welcomed, and he looks away from Kitty to nod in Betsy's direction.

"Cerebro runs on electricity," Scott tells Kitty. "Just like everything else in the world that is mechanical. All you have to do… is pull the plug. Without a telepath behind the wheel, Cerebro is a glorified microwave oven."

When Mike verbalizes his concern, Scott looks toward the technomancer in agreement, but he offers nothing verbal to support it. They are all smart enough to understand the gravity of the situation.

"Charles intended for us to operate near the school, because this is our home. Protecting, nurturing, and inspiring those young men and women is equally important to what the X-Men do. More important, even. I would 'pull the plug' on the X-Men long before pulling the plug on Xavier's Institute. We can't bury this school. Not for any reason."

A pause.

"But if it ever came down to it… we can bury the base. Cerebro. The Danger Room. We can bury it all, and that's why -" He nods to Mike and Kitty. "- I need your help."

"Half of the people who are on the teams are -employed- at the school. Yourself included. Would you have wanted to give up enlightening minds or the team itself?" Jean asks of Kitty, then lays the broom aside to move towards the tray where the coffee was kept. "One sugar, or two?" She sighs then, and nods. "Someone must have figured out a way. Even without Cerebro, Charles wasn't able to locate him nor Rachel. And the links were just gone, as if they were dead. If someone can create something as powerful to stop a mind that Charles has.." She leaves the sentence hanging.

"Whatever we do, it has to be invasive. The school is a public entity and completely legal. Short of firing you all, I'm at a loss." She was ready to continue with her thoughts and ideas until Betsy enters, and.. promptly throws more papers upon the floor. This gives Jean pause. A huge pause. And a look at the papers on the floor and up again towards Betsy, her further words causing a slight tick to grow within her left eye which was soon steeled with a press of her hand to keep her lid closed.

"With that said, Michael, if you need me as a test subject then you have me. Just give me advanced notice." Jean practically bleeds psionic energy, especially given her new power that has still gone unexplored. She snap points at Scott as he speaks, then begins to move around the room to gather the papers from the floor, shifting through one after the other, then leans forward to drop at least three sheets of the design Scott had created onto the table for the three to see.

Betsy's entrance is met with a nod before Kitty gets back to business. "The problem is that what is being asked for is a counteraction to Cerebro. Should people manage to get a telepath of comparable power, they would be able to suss out everything here. The best way to counteract that is to basically make a generally working anti-Cerebro." However, the ability to do such may be beyond them.

Technical specs aside, she frowns for a moment, going more personal. "Yes, and I also went to this school ," Kitty tells Jean, not giving a quarter. "As did many of the people in this room. That doesn't mean that the students here now should be in danger because there is a base of people attempting to help the cause operating underneath said school of children attempting to learn how to control their birthright." She sighs. "I'm still here because the Institute is home. I've said before that operating a secret base underneath endangers the safeness of the school. The easiest solution is just moving the base away from the Institute. The school is here, the X-Men operate elsewhere. It doesn't have to be in the open, like Red is, but that'll keep the school out of the X-Men's business."

"Not all machines need to run on electricity," Mike says. "This chassis, while I use electricity for convenience, actually has carbon nanotube muscle and nanomachine blood. And we can and should be using other forms for the concealed base that I deduce you already have… hm. It has to have proximity to the school to protect the students. That's the organic outgrowth. So probably under the lake or cove or whatever that thing full of water is. Unless there's a cave system you could adapt. And the high-speed train tube should be upgraded to use non-electrical if we can. Also, get Magma to redirect things slightly so you have a working geothermal tap."

He tips his head. "And that's solving problems you haven't recognized yet. More brains for brainstorming, hmm?? You need defenses? Are you thinking of weapons? I … try not to do weapons."

"To be perfectly blunt, the Xavier Institute employs a dozen fugitives, vigilantes, and terrorists," Betsy points out, hands layered neatly atop her thigh. Her voice, calmly cultured, carries easily without needing to force any volume to it. "And that many again live or work here. I'm quite certain my personage alone is wanted in connection with illegal activities from here to Madripoor. As much as we espose a noble cause, it would take little to no effort to tie the X-teams to the Institute's neck and let them both sink under the water."

"I'm hardly a barrister, but it seems that if the X-teams were compromised; or, more seriously, the Institute facing serious criminal or civil charges; we would all hang collectively. The ruins of Cerebro or the base would still be quite damning evidence at our collective trial."

A beat, while Betsy checks her thoughts with herself, her poise emphasizing her control of the conversation for a moment longer. "Frankly, X-red might have shown us the way, here. If we continue to operate in secret, it's inevitable that we'll be found out, and when we do the association with the Institute will not take long for dedicated individuals to winkle out."

The design, when revealed, is crude. It does, however, depict the lights within the X-Men base being shut off. It depicts demolition explosives being used to collapse the tunnels, the hidden entrances, the crew quarters, everything save for the Danger Room and Cerebro. It depicts tiny machines scrambling about, evacuating high tech material, such as the medical equipment from the infirmary and the research material in the lab. Finally, it shows the Blackbird leaving New York, with a long arrow pointing across the Atlantic toward the Isle of Scotland.

"Not beneath," Scott gently corrects Kitty. "Not anymore. About three point seven miles that way." He points in the direction of the X-Men base (editor's note, because the writer is too lazy to dictate a direction).

"This is a total evacuation protocol, to be used only in the most dire of circumstances. Unfortunately, such circumstance could be as short as… three days from now." He doesn't intend to explain why three days was the chosen example, but the tone of his voice suggests there is a reason. However, he moves right along, speaking with a sternness that commands attention.

"The tunnels are collapsed, most of the base demolished, save for those assets that simply can't be rebuilt. Cerebro. The Danger Room. The demolitions must be designed to be absolutely unnoticeable. We need machines designed to destroy the construction materials, recycle them into whatever compounds we can. Dirt, rock, grass, disintegrated into vapor and transported elsewhere, so long as a full scale investigation turns up nothing. X-Men operations are temporarily re-routed to Muir Island, where Hank's original Cerebro and Danger Room mechanics are collecting dust."

Scott looks to Betsy. "You may be right, and that's an entirely different problem that needs to be addressed. There may be no pure solution for it, but… that will take time."

To Mike, he smiles. "Good ideas, but any upgrades we choose to make must fall in line with this protocol. It's my assessment that this evacuation protocol can be designed in far less time than it would take to locate, survey, and rebuild the base up to the sophisticated standard that we have today."

"Yes. I'm aware of that fact. And this has nothing to do with the base being beneath the school for the simple fact that we, as soon as we're unmaske and are revealed, are going to be a danger to the children no matter what. Two of us were already on television 'at work'. It's all a simple solution in theory, but my problem is, are all of the X-Men are going to be on board with this type of measure, since we're essentially cutting everyone off from their second 'home'."

Betsy had a point, but there was no way Jean was going to come out of the proverbial closet. Not in a million years, their little mishap was enough for her to back down and stay out of the public eye for a while, any public eye. Desk duty for her. But once the idea was put to the rest Jean just cops a seat where Kitty should have sat and shakes her head. "That's too far away from the children. In my opinion. Calvin can only do so much and only be in so many places at once. If the school itself is attacked again, what ensures our method of travel for those who cannot fly to react quickly?"

Mike shrugs about the transportation. That's the easiest part to accomplish, because there are so many different ways, some that don't require using mutant powers at all (at least, not at the time of escape.) He looks at Scott directly.

"You know, if you need it demoed that thoroughly, I can provide you some nanotech that will do the job. I'll have to custom-design it to the situation, and we'll need to discuss safe activation protocols because it will completely homogenize all the material in the base, mix it with nanoparticles of rock from another location, glue it into a solid mass, and then expire. But it'll take 15 minutes to completely do the job."

"We would need it destroyed, utterly," Betsy confirms for Scott and Jean, nodding at Mike. "We all might still hang for our actions, but we can ensure that future generations of the X-teams, in any incarnation, can at least know that Cerebro in particular has not been compromised. It's an invaluable tool, but frankly in the hands of anyone but Charles, it could be turned into a weapon of incalculable power. Not to mention the files on ourselves, allies, enemies, resources…" Betsy gestures vaguely. "A burn vault is standard practice for any covert operation. It stands to reason we should equip ourselves with one, too."

She purses her lips, thinking, and looks back at Scott and Jean. "With respect to our friends, no one was forced to be on the X-teams," Betsy points out. "The Institute is our home, and the X-teams exist to help us protect it with asymmetric means. This doesn't legitimize what we do. I've readily accepted the fact that the day may come when I have to seek asylum abroad. It's an inevitability in any covert line of work. A 'scatter plan' might be wise, too," she suggests after a moment of digging through Kwannon's other memories. "If someone's identified publically, we can set up avenues of escape to a non-extradition country. Muir Island comes to mind; there are other European demi-nations that might work."

There was a very good reason why Scott specifically asked for Mike to be here, and the technomancer just verified why. He meets the metal man's gaze and answers, quite simply, "Correct."

There is a pause, before he expounds. "The evacuation protocols would incorporate a program that would clearly instruct anyone within the base with what is going on, including such disclosures, and countermeasure protection programs to assure that nobody could hack into the system and stop the proverbial self destruct." He looks to Kitty, simply ignoring her silence and brooding. "Which is where you and Doug come into play."

To Betsy, Scott nods his head gravely. "This is privileged information, but those files are already backed up, periodically, to Muir Island. Doug would need to devise a programs to wipe them out at our Westchester base, without chance of recovery." He listens to her wisdom, nodding his agreement as she proposes a scatter plan.

"Beyond that… put bluntly, I don't need to ask for anyone's permission to implement the design of this protocol. But…" He looks back to Kitty and Mike. "I do need someone to willingly help me develop it, discretely. If anyone else has a problem with it, they can bring it up to me after the base is erased."

Finally, Scott looks to Jean. "Muir Island is proposed simply because it already exists, and can handle us logistically. It would be nothing more than a base of operations; we have a series of safe houses spread through the states. Texas, North Dakota, Georgia, Oregon… the strategic deployment of our 'mutant resources' would be fluid, in flux, and capable of dispersing as needed. Again… it's not an idea situation, but if we ever find ourselves in such a dire circumstance, ideal situations have already become a distant memory."

"Yeah. Figure out how much space you want to commit to it and I can also provide some escape pods. Of course, hardlight shields would help a lot," Mike says. "And I don't have those, but I can figure out how Trent's work."

Stolen technology is the best kind. Information wants to be free. Or at least, to be Mike's friend.

"I'll handle the dispersal protocols," Betsy tells Scott. "General and individual. The general evacuation plan will cover most contingencies I can think of, and the individual plans will handle a situation like Rachel's where we need to move someone out of the United States until a situation calms down. I can work out specific cases next week." It goes quite unsaid what happens 'next week'. If all goes well, Betsy will have plenty of time- if not, then the general evacuation will need to be ready much, much sooner.

"It's… not something I know how to handle," Betsy admits, twitching at that admission, "but we should have plans in place for an exigent circumstance that might threaten the Institute. We have students here who would be otherwise remanded to state custody or into the adoption system." She drums her fingers on the soft arm of the chair. "It might be worth asking the students in our custody if they have a friend here with whom they'd be comfortable staying if the Institute was closed, and ask them to write the parents. Or reach out to allies who've retired from field work to have families; they might be willing to take in one or two and help find a long term solution."

There is a heavy burden upon Elizabeth, something only she and Scott are aware of. He hasn't mentioned the threat Emma Frost poses, simply because it would be a distraction, and he needs his team to focus upon tasks they can actually handle. Still, a heavily veiled, but meaningful look is given her way. "Good, and thank you." That's one less detail Scott will need to face.

"I know all of the students quite well," he tells Elizabeth. "I'll get started on that tomorrow." A brief look of apology to Jean; she wants him to rest. Truthfully, though, such an endeavor will be relaxing to him. It won't involve optic blasts, or federal agents, or the Attorney General.

"Get your designs ready," Scott instructs Mike, with a subtle note of gratitude in his voice. "Soon as the others are on board…" He casts a meaningful look toward Kitty, "we will build it."

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