The X-Men Regroup

April 17, 2015:

The X-Men come together to discuss recent developments and plan for their next actions.

X-Men HQ - New York City

Secured, warded, monitored and highly, highly secret, this is the
operatonal base for the X-Men, containing most of the high tech monitoring
equipment the organization possesses along with relevant specialized gear
for individual X-Men and mission ops. The facilities themselves include
living and sleeping quarters for the teams and guests (though not all of the
teams operate out of the base proper), a medical facilites, storage for
supplies and of course the hangar for the Blackbird.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: Springing Erik - Days of Future Past Soundtrack


Fade In…

A multitude of recent developments has prompted Cyclops to call together as many of the X-Men as he could. One by one they've trickled in, joining him in the largest of conference rooms the secret base has to offer. There's water, of course, a few snacks for those who may be hungry, even some beers and cans of soda in a micro-refrigerator over in the corner.

After giving the team some time to assemble and catch up, Scott rustles everyone together and claims his seat. "Thanks for coming, everyone. I apologize for my extended absences, there were some matters that needed my attention at Muir Island.

"On that subject, associates of mine alerted me to an attempt by the terrorist group, HYDRA, at kidnapping a number of mutants who'd been arrested for possession of this 'smooth' narcotic. Those who wanted help are being treated by Dr. MacTaggert at Muir Island. Shadowcat is following some leads on that matter, which… I'm going to assume is why she's running late. We were also able to locate some of the students who went missing months ago."

At this, he glances toward Calvin, hoping he might shed more light on that matter.

*

Lunair will quietly get a soda and a snack, before settling in to listen. The talk of kidnapping makes her tense and uneasy. But she does find a seat and listen, tilting her head. For now, Lunair is an audience member. Though, she seems to like sitting in the middle at the edge of a row. Rude!

*

Rose had no odea why she was here. Ask the man with the white streak in his hair is likely at fault. Entering the room the one eye of blue with its mate of a mechanical milky hue, shifts over those within, half her face a mask to wrap black over profile and encase the white. Slipping along the length of the desk heavily booted feet cadence the carriage of the whitee haired girl along its length to the snacks. A protein bar, a beer.

One in each hand she sticks the bottle beneath the servin table and catches it on the eave to pop it open. No seat taken, she leans just beside the table and partakes of her looting freebies and what is said, offering a tip of her head to Lunair.

*

"With the help of Magneto, we tracked them down to the island Santa Prisca." Cal says as Scott cues him. "A wretched hive of scum and villainy, they regularly trafficked in humans, including some mutants. The mutants were used for experimentation under the direction of a Nazi war criminal who had escaped justice. There was also at least one other supervillain sort and they created some kind of serum that bestowed powers on humans though so far the effect was temporary." He nods to Jean and Hank as he says "We brought them back here for care but some are going to need more help than we're capable of. Given their treatment, it wouldn't be safe to take them to hospitals."

*

Bobby arrives… stiffly. It's only been one night since he… ran into trouble in Harlem with assorted others. He's only been here… once. Most of the time when he's using X-Facilities they're the ones Roberto set up in the DaCosta Building. Still, Scott called and it sounded important, so here he is, sliding into a chair with some relief as he listens to the updates. Some of this he hears on the side but it'll be good to get a sense of what everyone else has been up to. Audrey and Lunair in particular (as folks he sees out more often) get nods as he comes in.

*

Nate arrives in time for the meeting, but goes straight for the snacks too. "And where is the coffee?" He mutters. Apparently someone forgot about the coffee. He will blame Scott, he decides. He offers a smile to Rose, though.

Otherwise he skips the whole sitting down thing to watch from the sidelines, leaning on the wall while munching sandwiches. Hydra, power drugs, kidnapped mutants. Business as usual for the X-Men. Except no giant robots for now. (Thank you, Ray). To say the truth he has not been a very good X-Men lately, the last month he usually came to the underground complex for the Danger Room Blackbird simulation. He only crashes half the times now.

*

Audrey has claimed a spot in a corner for herself, sipping at a bottle of water as she listens to the report. "Do we know where the smooth is coming from?" she chimes in, looking between Calvin and Scott. "It seems to be…everywhere lately."

*

Beast has stepped into the room and grabbed a soda and some snacks before sitting down. He has a notepad to take notes and barely takes a sip of the soda before he begins scribbling notes. He glances over at Calvin when Scott indicates his turn to speak. Apparently he's been treating kids for some HYDRA drug that they've been forced into taking, so he doesn't indicate that. "There have been a couple of side-projects with SHIELD as well as a few missions," that the X-men leaders would know about. Some details aren't his to give, not even to the X-ers. "I've been volunteering some at the clinic in Mutant-town…." but he trails off at Audrey's question. "I thought that it was something that HYDRA engineered and distributed? Or is that another drug?"

*

Jean was there. It wasn't sudden, but she was there before hand to help with the setup, as she usually would. The mention of the children being returned gives her a starry eyed look. "There were more children rescued who were almost imported to Santa Prisca." And.. that's all she really had to offer up, until Hank spoke up about SHIELD.

"I've also been planning to get into contact with SHIELD myself, to help with their efforts with HYDRA. Though the children come first, treating them is top priority."

*

The thermostat briefly went nuts when Storm arrived. She's coming in after blowing an afternoon watching some not-quite-ready for Broadway actors stumble their way through a definitely-not-ready for Broadway show on a lark; it took a little bit to properly suppress her annoyance.

Now, though, she's calmly sipping from a bottle of beer and listening to the meeting. Her hair still rustles a little in a breeze that never quite seems to make it to the rest of the room, but that's pretty much business as usual.

"Just what kinds of relationships are we comfortable with establishing," she wonders between sips, eye roving between Jean and Henry, "with SHIELD? Given their nature and aspects of our own."

*

Nodding his head in agreement with Calvin, Scott looks back to the rest of the group. "Professor Xavier has taken charge of those who were brought here, but Calvin's right. We don't have the resources to handle them all, and Dr. MacTaggart's staff is stretched as well. If any of you have any ideas, I'm all ears."

Audrey is next to earn his attention. "I have no idea." He shares a look with Beast. "From what I've been told, HYDRA isn't involved with 'smooth'." The way Scott talks about the drug, it almost feels like a D.A.R.E. class. He's never had direct exposure to narcotics, after all. "It's a street drug, dangerous one, and it has a more potent affect on the mutant X-Gene, am I right?" At this, he looks directly toward Lunair. Lunair he knows has had some exposure to the epidemic, and Kitty he'd tasked directly with an investigation related to the drug. Where is Kitty, anyway?

Hank, Jean and Storm all mention things related to SHIELD. He's certain that everyone is aware of the recent nuclear missile crisis, which has President Pershing on a diplomatic effort in Paris, so he won't expound. Anyone who acts dumb about it will likely receive a private scolding around not keeping up with current events.

"During the recent missile crisis, the call was put out for assistance from anyone who could offer it. It came from Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, himself." Nick Fury doesn't have that kind of a reputation, so the way Scott speaks of this particular development comes with a touch of amazement. "We responded. I had a conversation with the Director, and the two of us have something of an understanding. So long as we don't do anything out of line, I have his word that SHIELD will keep their eyes off us. Beyond that? I'm not sure how comfortable I am giving in to our secrets."

Scott isn't exactly going to forbid anyone from having contact with SHIELD, but… well, the suggestion is pretty clear. Tread carefully.

*

Lunair smiles at the headnod from Rose, nodding back. There's a Nate! She is listening and nods to Bobby, too. There's a moment, where she noms and listens again. She seems happy enough to see people, until things turn serious. As she's looked at, Lunair fidgets a little. She nods. It does!

"It messes with people's powers, and helps some control it, which is why a few REALLY got hooked on it and it went south when they got off it." Well, partially. Lunair's all up in that investigational grill like a hot dog at a bbq.

*

"Shouldn't Red Team handle the business with SHIELD?" Asks Nate. "Not that I am reluctant to work with them, they seem decent folks for government types," he adds. But Nate is not good with secrets. "Contrarily to Stormwatch. Those creeps are going to give us trouble sooner or later."

*

"I know the Red Team has worked with SHIELD as well." Cal says as Scott finishes. "I don't see that we need to give them any secrets but I favor a working relationship with them as well as other groups. I've personally worked with the Justice League Avengers on a couple of issues and am thinking of making it a more formal thing if they're agreeable. I have no intention of leaving the X-Men so they'll have to be okay with that. I think more mutant exposure - of the good kind, of course - can only help our long term goal."

*

"It only affects Mutants." Bobby supplies. He lives in M-Town and he's had a front row seat to the sudden, violent resurgence of the drug. It's been one of several things troubling District X, along with a resurgence in Purifier and Friends of Humanity activity. "Highly addictive, suppresses mutant powers and effects." Some folk take it for the one, some for the other. The result always winds up the same.

"I hadn't heard who's involved with it either way, but there is a lot of it out there." He thinks for a moment. "Might want to contact Angelo DiLucci from the Avenue C Clinic. Outside of Doctor McCoy…" Hank gets a deferential nod here. "I can't think of anyone I know of more familiar with mutant biology and issues. And he has SHIELD contacts, so that helps too." Another pause.

Bobby doesn't deal directly with SHIELD but X-Red does thanks to arrangements Berto made months ago. Sounds like Scott has rather significantly expanded those options. Good to know. "We certainly can if you need. I'm comfortable talking to them on anyone's behalf or arranging for messages and the like. Whatever you need. Berto's got a staff of folks to help handle it and lawyers to keep folks honest. Breathe in the Irony there."

*

Kitty's running late. "Crap crap crap crap," she mutters to herself, running down the hallway to about where the conference room should be. She passes through walls and through the door only to find it to be…storage. "Triple crap." Then, she looks down at the floor. Oh, wait, she may have gotten the floor wrong. Peeking her head through the floor, she sees everyone gathering below her.

Waiting for a point in Scott's speech where it would make the least disturbance, she drops through the floor of her room and the ceiling of the conference room. She lands behind the snacks table in a crouch. Snagging a drink, she attempts to moves to grab a seat, smiling sheepishly at Scott and mouthing, "Sorry!" for her tardiness.

*

Hank McCoy looks over to Storm, "SHIELD probably has more information on us than we'd prefer. They knew who I was even before I ever had a chance to ever say anything and it seems to be well-known throughought the organization. It might just be me, however, and they haven't tried to contact me here." As far as secrets are concerned, he just shrugs, "I'm fairly convinced that SHIELD is like the CIA — secrets aren't kept from them. Whether or not they act on those secrets is the key."

He then looks to the others as they describe 'Smooth's' effects. "If they need control for their powers that training here…or with a mentor can't give, there may be another solution."

He looks back at Cal and Nate, "I'm hesitant about too many organizations knowing about us. HYDRA knows where we are — they attacked here once. I'm sure others know and may not be saying. The more groups we work with, the more we're going to be found out."

*

At the mention of it being a street drug the beer comes away from Rose's lips rather slowly, a swift sweep of her tongue across them and she is setting the alcohol aside to slowly peel the wrapper of the protein bar away from the nasty powdery wanna be excuse for chocolate and nougat inside. Taking a bite she mulls over what is going through her mind, parsing it for phrasing to keep it rated G…

Not gonna happen though, not even Disney can pull -that- off anymore.

"So basically we got called to help, but will be treated like dogs on a leash. Coming from a governmeny, 'but not government agency', color me not surprised. Fury sounds like another government dick with a script already written." Pause. Sip.

Nate gets a small smile in return, a twitch at one corner of her lips that fades when he mentions Stormwatch, and as Lunair speaks about the drug, Rose perks a brow. More control huh? "Where's the drug more prevalent?" Always a double edged sword.

*

"I don't mind dealing with SHIELD either," Audrey chimes in with a nod to Bobby. "Whatever sort of spies they call themselves, there's a lot of military in the way they function," she shrugs. "I know how that works." Looking around the group, she grimaces slightly at the tone of the conversation. "Isn't it sort of our goal to not have to hide? At some point?"

*

Jean's gaze falls upon Ororo as she enters, a slight nod given with the hopes that the message was received. On this one, she'll hold her tongue for now. But the mention of Stormwatch was clear and prevalent. Nate, was right. Trouble would be brewing soon.

"I mind dealing with SHIELD." Jean finally speaks up, leaning forward. She had her own reservations but wouldn't bring that little tidbit to the group, not yet. "At some point, yes. Audrey. However, with the attacks upon us so high as it is we have but no choice but to hide in order to survive. For now."

*

"If there are, indeed, eyes peering at or searching for us from the shadows," Ororo observes, attention still floating between Jean and Hank, "then hiding will only encourage them to work that much harder to find - and perhaps even expose - us. That said, I'm still in favor of treating SHIELD cautiously; I just think that Calvin may have a point about controlled exposure. Positive attention, whether in the public sphere or otherwise; SHIELD could make for a very worthwhile ally."

Her gaze briefly and curiously lingers on Jean before she turns her attention fully towards their fearless leader; the message was certainly received, even if now isn't quite the time to deal with it.

*

All of the talk about SHIELD has Scott narrowing his eyebrows in a speculative way. Too many people offering to work with them has him feeling about as uncomfortable as he felt dictating terms to Director Fury. Granted, they were offering help to save the world. Fury was listening. It's apparently a rare thing, but, the eyepatched bastard had given him his word, and that would have to do.

"Contact with SHIELD must be reviewed by your team leaders before it happens, then," he decides. "Look, I'm all for developing these relationships, but… suffice it to say, it's gonna take a lot of work and a lot of patience."

Then, Scott smirks a bit. "For what it's worth, I don't think they're at all interested in making enemies with us." There are, after all, at least four people in this room who could singlehandedly bring down a Helicarrier on their own.

Scott gives Kitty a pointed look. Nice try sneaking in. "If you come from below, I might not notice," he quips. "What did you find in regard to this street narcotic?" That's next on his agenda, now that a decision has been made regarding SHIELD.

He'll come back to this business regarding Stormwatch. That one might be reserved for a more private setting.

*

There's something to be said for having exposure on one's own terms. By doing it voluntarily the X-Men at least get to control some of how it happens which means it doesn't all happen on someone else's terms. Which is often… problematic. That said, Bobby knows that you can't make people feel safe or comfortable and some people in the room have decent reasons for not feeling so. He does agree with Audrey but there's no point in belaboring it. The ice nerd just glances over to her and lifts his shoulder in a small shrug. They can talk later about how to approach that. She's staying with Red, right?

Mmmm, he doesn't remember. He'll have to ask.

Further note to self. No shrugging with recently cracked ribs.

"Kitty's been ivestigating smooth?" He asks that more out of interest than to get an answer. Clearly she has. This he has to hear.

*

"No one's suggesting we invite them over for tea." Cal points out. "Utmost care needs to be taken that no one - no one else - learns about the school or base. If anyone we're working with needs a way to contact us, it should go through the Red Team since they're already public." Hearing that Kitty's been looking into the drug, he looks to her.

*

The talk about SHIELD makes Lunair look into her snack. She's not so sure about it. But Lunair will think. She's one of the undecided X-people, content to work on her own and such. She even patrols M-town and stuff! Lunair looks sympathetically at Bobby. She is a pile of secrets (not fedoras). She watches the reactions of the others, and takes a big bite of snack, looking like a chipmunk for a moment.

*

Rose sked her question and awaits the answer from one or the other… Or none. She can get it here - the easy way. Or on the streets… The other easy way, thouh, this way served her beer and powdery dry nougat. Speaking of… All eyes are on Kitty.

The SHIELD thing… She doesn't have to have stocks there, they come in, she ninja vanishes. Smoke bomb, like The Foot and all. "If I wanted to be known there's plenty of newspapers I can run to or a cakewalk I can take witht he rest of the protestors, activists, and hippies." Pause, sip. "No thanks."

*

Audrey crosses her arms over her chest, sinking a little more deeply against the wall as the edict for secrecy comes down again. When Bobby looks over, she rolls her eyes slightly, but she doesn't argue. Audibly. She's tried hiding. It didn't work out very well for her. But she's still too military to argue about it in the middle of a meeting. The sulking is new, though. Progress! Sort of.

*

"Yeah, but I wasn't below, I was above. Not about to drop three stories just to come up one. I was already running late," Kitty tells Scott the sheepish grin still on her face. She hides it behind a sip of her can. When she's immediately called on, she glances about her, face turning serious. The topic deserves that.

"I have," she nods in response to Bobby. "What I know basically just leads up to a lot more questions. I've talked to a few people who are in the know and also been checking a lot of the digital backchannels. This Smooth stuff is spreading like wildfire through the mutants in Gotham and it's making it's way to M-Town. We've got to figure out a way to stop the supply. I think identifying and targeting the dealers is the best way to both figure out where this stuff is coming from and hopefully stopping it. A contact of Jericho's named Shift seems to be a big key in figuring out what's going on, but no one's been able to find him for weeks. Our last big lead turned up in pieces in Paris."

*

Nate usually had an opinion for everything, but this time he is keeping them for himself, acknowledging he is still just a newcomer into this world. In fact… "looks like there is a bunch of ongoing business. Let me know if you need my help, either as telepathic snoop or for heavy lifting." Not for with the rescued kids, though, unless they need immediate patching up, doesn't sound like they do.

*

"Not all of us have the luxury of being easy in the public's eye," Beast points out. "Some of the students here feel the same way and the Professor and I have talked about this at length. We aren't ready to be public. The fact that SHIELD know of us without our permission doesn't sit well. While the Red Team -is- a public face of mutants, it's still not the public face of the school or the kids we're trying to protect here."

He falls quiet for a moment before he offers, "What if we offered something else? Something that's more stable…something that we can control and something that won't harm those mutants seeking control from the drug?"

*

There was nothing more of importance for Jean to add, really. But everyone was casually watched, eyes flitting towards one after the other as they spoke their peaces and offered up information that was needed. There was even a silent purse to her lips at Ororo's comment, her head nodding faintly, hand drawin up to press lightly against her temple as her fingers brush idly and thoughtly against her cheek.

*

A nod of agreement is given to Calvin in regard to SHIELD. Rose is studied for a moment… good candidate for Blue Team. He arches an eyebrow. Audrey's sulking is also noticed, and behind the visor, Scott glances toward Bobby. The eagerness is good. The rolling of the eyes? Also, in a way, good… but he's going to need to meet with the two of them, separately. Not here.

Kitty's report gets Scott's full attention. A grimace forms when she talks about the lead in Paris. Turning up in pieces is never a pretty sight. "So, there's a chance that this could become the next 'big thing'. Something on the scale of the heroin epidemic." He turns away for a moment, calling up a file on his computer and reading through it as he goes. "It… affects people without the X-Gene as well, but the 'power-inducing' effects are specific to X-Gene carriers. That's what it says here, can anyone confirm that?"

He turns to Hank next. "I'm not sure, Hank. Something to control the manifestation of genetics… any trace of it gets in the wrong hands, we could be looking at a weaponized way to shut down mutant powers. Granted, if HYDRA is involved with the proliferation of 'smooth', then that might be just what they're trying to do." He chews his lip for a moment or two, then looks around the room.

"I need volunteers to look into confronting drug dealers and tracking down the source of this narcotic." He nods toward Jean and Hank. "The three of us should visit Muir Island soon and determine what progress Dr. MacTaggart has made there. I'm much more interested in getting these people off the narcotic. Conventional methods to master and control X-Gene manifestations is far more preferable than finding a way to medically control them."

It sounds as if the meeting is winding down. Scott waits a moment to see who will volunteer, and also, this is a prime time for anyone to pose any questions or concerns they may have for the group.

*

Cal just looks at Hank but doesn't comment. He knows what the mad scientist created for his own use. "Gotham again." he says instead, getting back to smooth. "Most of the mutant kids came from there too and it was a regular port of call for the ship. Follow the money, Kitty. If you can do that, it'll let us know who's profiting." To Scott, he says "Don't forget Nancy's power to nullify powers. She's still out on that farm?" he asks Bobby.

*

Being a HYDRA creation, this is all quite terribly awkward for Lunair and she looks it. Fidget. Fidgetfidget. Not to mention whatever's going on in her HEAD and brains and - yeah. "May I talk to you or someone later?" Hey, why not? She'll try. Lunair looks uncertain. But she'll give it a try. Lunair does glance to Rose and the others, perhaps trying to stir her brain.

*

"I live in M-Town anyway." Bobby mentions. Well, sometimes he does. He splits it. "So I'll be happy to do that. Any help would be real, real welcome. Uh… I should probably mention we've had some real nasty Purifier run ins there recently. So if you do go, heads up." Bobby glances around the room. Things do seem to be winding up but he might want to talk to Scott, Audrey, Kitty if any of them look like they're sticking around. Rose… Rose is new. He thinks? He's not sure. He'll talk to her soon too.

Scott's look also gets a shrug. Something's on the guy's mind, clearly. "She is, Cal. I can get a message out to her if you'd like."

*

"Yeah, count with me," repeats Nate, "I'll check the files you have over this Smooth thing. A drug that suppresses mutant abilities is going to be used against us sooner or later." Addictive effects apart. "I will be around more often," he offers, heading out.

*

"I can talk to dealers," Audrey volunteers, straightening up just a little bit. "And if we're worried about Bobby or I being seen doing it, I can take care of that, too," she adds before anyone can protest on the grounds of secrecy. "We don't have to look like us. And I know who some of the usual dealers are in Gotham, and where they operate." Granted, she knows from avoiding them, but it's still useful information. "And if I get hit with it, I can still take care of myself."

*

Rose got her answer from Kitty. She knew Gotham, has visited M-Town, and all of the little clubs in between. In fact one may havehad to be victims of stolen data so it did not hit youtube. Girls and their binders!

Anyway!

The beer gets knocked back and the empty bottle thrown into the small trash can beside the table, the protein bar eyed, wrapper tucked over the bitten end and stuffed into the inner pocket of her leather jacket.

"The drugs, dealers, and clubs is right up my alley. I'm on it." That is what Rose was…Is, parts of her still in pieces and fragments, even more scattered since her rift-oral import. But now she has a purpose and a reason in this building, even if she has to put a few lines up her nose. … I mean make sacrifices for the good of the team!

Tugging kets from her pocket she swings them around her finger and catches them in her palm, pausing by Lunair and glancing back towards Nate. "I am going to go gear up and change for a night or few out on the town, if you want to join me…"

Walkign out the door Rose catches Bobby's look and smirks, givin him an up-down of those mismatched eyes.

"I'd break you in one night." Blowing him a kiss she finger wiggles and exits stage right.

*

"As I'm already starting to look into this, I'm in." Kitty tells Scott. "I think I know where to start, too. Or, well, who to ask about where to start." She smiles at Bobby and then nods at Nate and Rose. "If they're going to be tracking the dealers, I can keep digging into the source of where it's all coming from."

At the look thrown her way by Bobby, she nods and doesn't look like she's going to be leaving immediately. She leans back in her chair, returning to sipping her drink.

*

« Ororo, Hank. »

The message was sent out to the two as Jean slowly pushes out her chair, her hands pressing upon the table to assist her into standing. If their attention was grabbed by the mental message alone, she'd toss her head towards the exit. Whatever conversation that needed to be held would be done in private.

"It was nice seeing you all again.." The gaze she gives to all was met with kindness, though a lingering one upon Rose's back, and a quick glance towards Nate. She needed to speak with them as well. But if they were hitting the pavement.. it all could wait.

She reaches out to give a squeeze of a shoulder to Scott, then draws away completely, heading out of the headquarters and into the mansion proper.

*

"I'd be happy to help put the fear of Goddess in them," a faintly smiling Ororo offers after another sip.

Before the bottle goes all the way down, her eyes are drawn to Jean again, and then to the door; following the redhead's lead, she slides her chair out and heads towards the exit. "Not now, but soon," she amends. "It was good, catching up; we'll have to do it again as soon as we're able."

*

Bobby, Nate, Audrey and Rose, all joining in the effort to combat the smooth epidemic. This is good. Scott looks to Nate and Rose with an appreciative smile as they depart. Ororo, however, gets a pair of raised eyebrows. "I pity them," he remarks, while smirking. "Bad choices they've made." Yeah, those drug dealers are in for a good scare, with Ororo on board.

Jean earns an appreciative and meaningful smile when she squeezes his shoulder. "Thanks, you three," he says to Jean, Hank and Ororo. "We'll be in touch."

With that, he rises and crosses the room, claiming a beer for himself. The others who remain will have his full attention. Let's see who speaks up first?

*

Oooh, Ororo. Lunair really wouldn't want to be a drug dealer about now. Granted, she's loathe around drugs thanks to a heaping helping of them early in life in hospitals. She is one of the ones staying, smiling and waving to people who go. Especially those she seems more familiar with. She waves to Jean. Wait. She'll have to ask later. For now, Lunair sips her soda and looks thoughtful.

"Umm… well… I - can wait a little if someone had something urgent." Was what happened to her urgent? Or she's shy about saying what happened?

*

As Scott opens the fridge, Cal reaches over and a bottle of beer floats over to his hand. He's a superhero, he can be lazy in his off hours. "It was good working with Magneto again." he says. "I'm glad this version isn't the extreme villain that he could be." That he is in some other realities.

*

Bobby glances back at Kitty with a grin. He'd been meaning to ask her more directly about Smooth and things he might do to be effective that aren't just roughing up the local dealers. The ice nerd gets up to move a bit closer to the head of the table… gingerly. Lunair knows why. He sets down and watches the others for a moment, glancing first to Cal and then to Audrey and finally to Scott. "So what's up Scott?" He'd seen the look. He's not worried, so it's a cuasual 'what's up' and not a challenging one. Not that Bobby really has a challenging 'what's up.

*

Audrey can at least pick up some snacks. Or something. She picks up a can of soda for herself, before she looks back to Scott and Calvin as she opens it. It's clear she has something to say, but she also has a lifetime of biting her tongue behind her. She can hold. And for the moment, she does, waiting for the answer to Bobby's question first.

*

Kitty's already said quite a bit. She'll let someone else do the talking for at least the start. She leans back in her chair, glancing about the room at who is left, giving each a bit of a smile. Her eyes drift from Bobby to Lunair, expecting one of them to continue the conversation. She'll answer any questions about Smooth that she can, but she's not sure anyone could really qualify her as an expert.

*

"He's a very smart man," Scott agrees with Calvin. Magneto also respected Scott's lead, which was something he hadn't entirely expected, even though it seemed… difficult for the Master of Magnetism at times. "Can't help but wonder what went on in those barracks, though." He frowns, thoughtfully.

Is Scott so different? In North Dakota, he'd been told by Director Fury not to hold back. They'd all been told that. They were stopping a nuclear holocaust. Armies have killed for far less. The thing is… Scott didn't have a body count. He'd lost count. He's just been too busy to think about it, but there is a small part of him that feels like a murderer. Is that very much different from whatever Magneto may have done to those people, those torturers in Santa Prisca?

Rather than take the lead, however, he turns toward Lunair and Audrey. "No, that's alright. We'll come back to this 'smooth' business. What's on your minds?"

Lunair gets a more pointed look. Audrey wasn't shy. Lunair, well, she needs a little prompting. "Speak up."

*

Weeeelll… a few memories travel through her head. Kidnapped, small Nazi problem, hanging out with SHIELD… She tries not to wince too much. Worst. X-man. Ever. Except that guy with the weird rapey powers. He was worse. BUT SHE'S CLOSE BY GUM.

She rubs the back of her head. "I've been up to a lot, but if we're not on a team and we help SHIELD sometimes… Do I just tell you?" She asks.

*

"I don't want to know." Cal answers then admits "I don't really care, under the circumstances." What they found in the lab deserves a certain response and he's left a very large trail of bodies behind him over the realities. "That would probably be a good idea, Lunair, whether you're an active team member or not. If Fury mentioned you the next time Scott talked to him and he had no idea about this, that would be… awkward."

*

Audrey can be patient. And she waits patiently, taking a sip of her soda. Best to let Lunair take care of her procedural questions before she goes around stirring up trouble. Or arguing. The talk of barracks gets a look, though, wary.

*

Bobby shrugs. He suspects Audrey will, eventually, address the concerns they both have. "Berto covered for her the last time she was involved in anything big, I think." Pulling Lunair in under Red's legal aegis. "Said he met with her and an 'Agent May'." Not that he knows who that is. Well, he's met her actually but doesn't know who he met.

"Just the usual concerns Scott. We've gone round the table on this one before. Or… well I don't think you and I have…" Bobby doesn't talk to Scott a lot. He's not often at the School or the Base. Usually he's out in Red's facilities or in M-Town or at the Nest. Or working. "But I think you know my feelings on the matter. We're never going to be 'ready' and things aren't ever going to be perfect for us to come out." Which is why Red is out already. Someone has to be, or at least they feel so.

"Kitty, I also wanted to know if you had anything… more specific. I mean I can deal with drug dealers but they'll just get replaced. Do you know anything that might slow them down more? If we can get the right kind of thing we might even be able to use Red's official connections to pull actual law enforcement into this."

*

Kitty glances between everyone talking, listening to what each of them have to say before adding anything of her own. Bobby's own questions about being 'out' to the public is one that she has mentioned before to others, but has not actually brought up lately. She's interested to hear Scott's reply.

As to the specifics of Smooth, she shrugs her shoulders. "I know it to be incredibly addictive. HYDRA is involved somehow - which is the connection we are hoping to track down through whoever this Shift person is. The dealers have to be getting it from somewhere. If we can find out where and trace that back, it's all got to lead to somewhere. It always comes down to Nazis, doesn't it?"

*

Calvin gets a rueful smirk. "Beyond awkward," Scott agrees. "Out with it, Lunair." A pause. "Just tell me."

Now, when Bobby brings up Agent May, Scott turns to look at him with a frown. "May." He had a certain respect for her style, but… "I met her once. She removed my glasses. Didn't want to give them back." He shakes his head slowly. Clearly, there hadn't been an incident, but it had come damned close. Good thing, too, or he'd have likely blasted two unlikely compatriots into oblivion. Jericho was there.

"Reed Richards. Also known as 'Mister Fantastic'. Some of you were there when he offered his help with the most recent - well, I suppose not most recent - but that virus plague that was aimed at wiping us out? He knew about us. We have official ties, in some capacity now, to SHIELD and the 'Fantastic Four'. This is all a part of us 'coming out'." He pauses, a nod of his head given to Bobby. "The Xavier Institute isn't at all a secret. It's a publicly acknowledged and accredited school. There's a filing with the New York Secretary of State. People know we enroll metahumans and have specific curriculum for them."

He lifts a finger then. "What nobody knows about is the X-Men base. Sure, there are probably some clever people who suspect it exists, but nobody knows where, or to what capacity. That is the secret we have to maintain. Keeping its existence separate from the school is paramount to everything we do." He leans back, smirking. "In that regard, Nick Fury can kiss my ass."

Another look is given to Audrey. This is certainly a test of patience. He knows she has something to say, and he wants to hear it. However, Kitty has posed something important, and brought up an unfamiliar name again.

"HYDRA. Kitty… what can you tell me about this… this 'Shift' character? What's his play in all of this?"

*

Lunair is trying to figure out where to start, really. Lunair tilts her head. "Okay. Because sometimes I do tell Agent May things since I've had a pretty bad HYDRA problem and people here have their hands full. I also patrol M-town and help with groceries." Pause. "Also I kinda got kidnapped and woke up somewhere drugged. It's all a bit weird."

As for Shift? Lunair finally looks pained. "Shift is a friend of mine. I've been trying to find him. he HATES Smooth and fought really, really hard to get rid of it the first time it came out. His recent behavior makes NO sense. I even told him what he did and he seemed confused. He mentioned something odd in Paris. I'm really worried about him because he's not a bad guy."

*

"And the Justice League now." Cal adds then says "In my reality, the X-Men were completely out. Nor our real names but we didn't hide. There was no anit-mutant prejudice to speak of and all superheroes were regarded by the public as being near royalty. And even there we made sure the school wasn't directly associated with us. Even if there was no threat, we didn't want tourists coming by to see the superheroes in training as if we were part of a Hollywood celebrity tour." Drinking his beer, he listens to Scott and Lunair and then quirks a brow at the latter. "What do you mean his 'recent behavior'?"

*

"Wait, what?" Audrey turns back to Lunair, setting down her soda. "Lunair. I got kidnapped and woke up somewhere drugged is not 'a bit weird,' it's a big deal. Where did you wake up? What kind of drugged? Do you know who did it? Do you know why? Where were you kidnapped from? How? Getting kidnapped and waking up drugged isn't like oh, hey, I woke up with a zit this morning." Yelling at Scott can wait. Apparently it's Lunair's turn.

*

"Shift's a mutant. I worked with him a bit back when M-Town was first flooding with Smooth." Bobby volunteers. "He always seemed pretty big on protecting 'his people', but I haven't seen him in months."

Bobby nods at the steps that Scott and the X-Men have been taking to have a more public presence. Good things, he thinks, but he wonders how many of the other Xers the team leader will have to drag into it kicking and screaming. Old habits die hard here, it seems.

"Uh…" Lunair's words sink in and he seconds Audrey's sentiment. "Were you going to mention that? Someone should probably look at you."

*

"Honestly? I have very little clue about this Shift guy. He's got a pretty violent past andis notably anti-Smooth." Her gaze quickly shifts to Lunair. "Wait, you saw him in Paris? Did he mention anyone called Richard Dackleman? That was the last lead I was looking up with Jericho. Apparently that guy was the head of bad news bears. According to my source, he started this whole Smooth thing and then went into hiding. Apparently he was living as a socialite in Paris, which is where he ended up decorating the walls. If this Shift guy was in Paris, I think that all may be connected." Then, she blinks, realizing she skipped over something in her focus. "Wait, what, you were kidnapped?"

Everyone else seems to have more information about who Shift is than Kitty does, she lets them talk about how they know him. Personal experience is a bit better than what little she can glean from digging into different files.

*

Scott's brows furrow at the way Lunair delivers her news. Audrey's lambasting of the odd one is echoed in the way Scott frowns; the younger Audrey is saying a lot of what's on his mind right then and there. Lunair's words about 'Shift' aren't ignored, they're noted, along with those of the others, but Bobby's right.

"You need to be checked out," he agrees. "I'll have Hank and Jean take a look at you. This isn't optional."

Welcome to the X-Men, Lunair.

*

"…" Lunair does not like hospitals and doctors no she does not. "… okay." Lunair was aboooooout to argue but there's a weight to it all that feels futile. And maybe it IS a bit worrying that she uses being kidnapped as a form of transport. She does answer the Shift questions, "Yes, he's a friend of sorts. He's kind of rough and probably does stuff I didn't even know existed but he's never just up and murdered people or gotten in with Smooth. He vehemently HATED Smooth. A hate-on, if you will. She frowns. "But when I asked him about the attack on the tattoo artist, he was confused and couldn't remember.

At Audrey's concerned, she looks confused. "On the side of the road. I have no idea. Yes. No. I was in the Centennial Park. Giant robodog shook me like a maraca and smacked me around." It happens… right? She looks uncomfortable, sinking back down a bit.

*

Cal just listens to what Lunair has to say. When she's done, he tells her "You need to write out a full report of just what hapened with Shift since what you're saying isn't making sense in bits and pieces. You imply he attacked the tattoo artist?" Without waiting for an answer, he continues with "You also should write out a complete report on just how, when and where you were knocked out and kidnapped. Don't leave out any details." To Scott, he says "More training."

*

"Shift came with us when we went after the Centurions," Audrey adds belatedly on that topic, before she looks back to Lunair, grimacing faintly. "I'm not- I'm not yelling at you. Not exactly. I'm just saying that I got kidnapped shouldn't be an everyday thing. It shouldn't be something you just wave off because it's going to happen. Which is my point all around," she turns back to Scott. "We shouldn't have to be afraid all the time. We shouldn't have to hide. SHIELD knows who we are? What are they going to do about it? SHIELD, the army, HYDRA, scientists. They keep treating us like we're guinea pigs, like we're experiments. Like they're going to put us on a leash and use us. And we keep acting like it's the natural order of things, like we can't do anything about it. But it's not, and we can."

*

Lunair is certainly going to take a lot of work. Scott knows this. Does it frustrate him? Certainly. However, he's never given up on a mutant, and he's not about to start. Calvin gets a look of agreement, even a nod, but there's empathy in the way he does it. Nobody can see it in his eyes, but the way his mouth is twisted just so? He doesn't like to see anyone shrinking down in their seat.

"Calvin's right," he tells her. "I know it's difficult, but… I need details, in chronological order. All of those things Audrey asked you. I'll have Calvin and Audrey write down their questions if they have to, Lunair, but this is important." His tone may be stern, but there is a certain and intentional sympathy in each word, specifically for her benefit. Scott seems to understand that it isn't easy for her.

Audrey's opinion is next to receive the leader's full attention. She represents one side of the coin that is the X-Men. It's not surprising that many of the newer, younger members are bold like her, where some of the older ones are more conservative. The older members had more experience. But sometimes, experience can be blinding. What is it they say about 'Old, Rich White Men in Congress'?

"Then lets do something about it," he answers Audrey. "Let's get out there, find out what the hell HYDRA is doing with this narcotic, and shut it down." He looks between the others. "I don't think I need to tell any of you what to do. We all know these drug cartels are complicated. Have been for years. Complicated and hard to follow? That's right up HYDRA's alley. You've got a starting point." The mercenary that all of them have apparently had run ins with.

*

Lunair is a piece of work. But a generally well meaning one. "Okay. I'll do it after you talk about other stuff," Lunair promises. She doesn't want to hijack the meeting. "Sorry, it's a lot," She admits. "People were busy and…" She shakes her head. But she appreciates the mercy in the words, at least. Lunair looks to Call. "Okay. He did. It involved bugs in the dude's lungs and Shift NEVER did that before." She frowns faintly. "Wait, what kind of training?" Her eyebrows lift. Lunair powers good!

She looks to Audrey. "I see."

*

For a change, Cal's the one frowning where Scott is being the diplomat. "You know, I'm not going to let that pass." he tells no one in particular but he's looking at Audrey. "No one is accepting anything and just because we're not leaving a path of destruction behind us in retaliation doesn't mean we think being preyed on is acceptable. And point of fact, we /did/ leave a path of destruction behind us in Santa Prisca. Their operation was decimated, their facility destroyed and I don't know how many of them died. But no one who was not involved saw anything and it can't be traced to us. We're not the Brotherhood to start an armed conflict with the government or even an open one with Hydra. We have to be the heroes, twenty four seven, in any and all ways in order to win the good opinion of the humans. It's not fair and it sucks but I've seen the concentration camps that not just mutants but anyone with power have been put in and that must not happen here."

*

"I'm not talking about leaving a path of destruction," Audrey rolls her eyes at Cal. "But we don't have to lie down and take it, either. You said you came from somewhere where we were just…people. Don't you want that? Aren't you tired of being afraid? Of watching every word you say. Stepping carefully everywhere you go. Watching your back. Guarding…everything."

*

Bobby for his part looks genuinely worried, He knows Lunair has been in trouble with HYDRA for some time and he has been teying as best he can to keep an eye on the younger woman. "We dont make a very good case for ourselves most of the time. And until recently most of the public only really knew mutants from the brotherhood." He shrugs. "Time was when I almost left myself." His ties to the X Men are a lot looser than most. "But working with people is a good step. One i dont think was even being considered when I got here." Beat. "Also I think we make it look worse than it is. Most of the time I feel pretty safe out and about." Couse he hasnt had to run like Lunair or Audrey.

*

"Bugs in lungs?" Eeeew. Kitty wrinkles her nose at the prospect of that. The argument with SHIELD and the government is met with a tilt of her head, taking in both sides curiously. Her own opens fall somewhere in the middle of what everyone is saying, leaning more toward wanting to ensure mutants don't feel like they need to hide.

"It's definitely a balance," she offers. "And most likely a slowish process. But, we can't just hide forever. Sooner or later people are going to figure out where some of the X-Men are based from and we've gotta be prepared for that."

*

The X-Men had also left a path of destruction in North Dakota. People were killed, a flirtation with their general 'No Kill' rule. No killing except in the most extreme of circumstances, and both North Dakota and Santa Prisca were just that. The most extreme of circumstances.

Scott knows that this is a dangerous path. Everyone present that day would have thought of the X-Men as heroes, fighting alongside other heroes, to save the world. Nobody would bat an eye at the kill count. And yet, to some who consider mutants a threat, the actions in Santa Prisca would be fuel to their fire. The actions of both teams were admirable, and with good intend and good reason. Not only mutants were saved in Santa Prisca, but homo sapien as well, in far greater number too.

"This is why being an X-Man is such an important thing, for all of us," he says quietly, with sobriety in his words. "This is why Professor Xavier's dream is not easy. We will walk the line. We will make mistakes. But if we hold each other accountable, we'll learn from them. Perhaps minimize them."

He looks over toward Calvin for a moment or two, considering the mutant's experience with an alternate timeline version of the X-Men. There's certainly something going on in that mind of his, but… that conversation will simply need to be private.

*

It may well be funny or sad that Lunair just sort of got used to periodically killing groups of HYDRA to get them to leave her alone. Sort of like trimming the hedges, washing windows, taking out the trash. It happens. Really. Lunair is quiet, though she nods at Kitty. "I can give you the full story soon. I didn't want to take over the meeting and I know people don't want to be here until they get old and shrivel up." Lunair's Seen Some Things(TM).

Scott's words make her go quiet and she looks thoughtful. "There are good reasons to hide, and good reasons to be out. It's all about what works for you, I guess." But Lunair is definitely on the side of 'hide'. At least until she gets bored and gets the nudity ray. Then some lucky Wall Street investor is glad he invested in little black bars that attach to people's naughty bits.

*

"Of course I do." Cal says quietly. "There's nothing I'd like more. Which is why we're trying to change it by working with SHIELD and the Justice League and why the Red Team is so important. But we need to step carefully because it is exactly like walking through a minefield. If you'd like to see what failure looks like, I'll be happy to show you." The Professor's seen it when Cal first arrived but probably few others, especially since he wasn't a telepath then. As Scott says similar things in different words, he sits back and adds "Fortunately, several warning events that I believe lead to that path don't seem to have happened here so we're not doomed."

*

"I just…" Audrey sighs, dropping into a chair. "I'm tired of running and hiding. I didn't join the X-Men to keep doing that. I did it so I could stop. And of course I'm going to be careful. I'm always careful. I just…want to know that this isn't more of the same thing. More of the hiding. More people afraid someone else is just going to make a tool out of them."

*

"I wont be hiding, Audrey." Bobby says quietly bur firmly. In or out of the X-Men. Whatever it takes. She's not alone in that sentiment and most of Red shares it. That really is his final answer on that one.

"Oh… before I forget, speaking of missing people… someone needs to find Peitro and let him know we found his sister. I tried to get her to come in but… no dice. She really could use a visit from him. Thinks he's avoiding her because he 'doesnt need her anymore'."

*

At Scott's words, Kitty takes another drink. Maybe it's not supposed to be easy, but she bets talking about it will help. All she does is smirks at Calvin's words. "Oh, well, that's good at least." At Audrey's words, she tilts her head. "But, you don't have to run and hide," she tells Audrey. "Red Team is public. I think it's just trying to make sure that each mutant can either be public or not of their own volition. We can't make that choice for them. Having the Red Team operate somewhat separately helps that out."

As for Pietro's sister, Kitty nods. "I saw him recently. I can talk to him."

*

"Next time we have dealings with SHIELD?" Scott is looking at Audrey. "You're in. You want a piece of that pie, you've got it." Lord knows they've berated her enough on being cautious, and she's ex-military. She understands that respect, and Scott couldn't have phrased it better than Kitty.

With that, Scott drinks the last of his beer. He crumples it up, tosses it in the air, then fires a single optic blast that pegs the can, sends it across the room, bounces it off the wall and into the trash can.

"Let that be a reminder of what proper training gets you." With that, Scott stands up. "I'm going to get some shut eye. We've got our work cut out for us, so, I recommend rest." A pause, then a smirk. "Unless you plan to go dealer-hunting in the clubs with Rose and Nate."

Scott won't be caught dead in a club ever again, thanks to Betsy Braddock.

*

Lunair pauses at talk of Pietro's sister. "Miss Witch? I am making sure she has a room and is okay," Lunair murmurs. "I'll try to help," She ofers to Audrey. Lunair's SHIELD dealings are mostly her own. She blinks a bit. Hmm. "Well, I'll let you know. See you." She waves. Lunair isn't much for clubs, so she'll probably go do her thing. Which she seems to do a lot.

*

"You're on the Red Team, Audrey." Cal reminds her, agreeign with Kitty. "You're the cutting edge of the X-Men not hiding." He can't help but frown though at what Bobby says. "You ran into Wanda? What's she like here? Is she inclined to join the Brotherhood? She can be extremely dangerous so tread carefully around her."

*

"I'm going to check out the clubs," Audrey nods, pushing up out of her chair and picking up the abandoned can of soda. Waste not, want not. "And yeah, I'm on the Red Team. That was terrifying at first. I've been somebody's secret since I was thirteen. But the longer I'm out, the more I feel like it's the first time in forever I've actually been able to be me. To breathe. To have a few minutes where I'm just not afraid. I just don't want to see some sort of policy change and lose that, is all."

*

Bobby stands up, slowly and with a wince. "I dont have to go that far to find dealers. Which is a good thing since Im fairly sure Im waaaaaaay too nerdy to get into any club ever." He chuckles wryly.

"She's… hurt and lonely. Homeless amd she talks to voices… but knows things that are true somehow. Im not entirely sure tue voices arent real. She's been battling some kind of… clockwork king. She needs a home. And she needs her brother. Lunair getting her a place to stey will be a good start if it takes. I tried to get her to stay with Red before. She always wanders off." Beat. "Audrey if you decide to hunt in M Town let me know. Actually, any of you." He thinks probably Cal, Lunair or Kitty are most likely.

*

Lunair is not on a team. But that's okay, she likes helping. A nod nod at Cal. Then she shakes her head. "She was way too nice for Brotherhood stuff. We talked! She really gets me, I think." Oh no. "But she's a bit odd. I'm kinda worried. I think she's homeless." Lunair frowns. "But she did like the idea of a room of her own." Smile. "And she wants to see her brother, so I'm going to help." Lunair really does have a good heart beneath all the murder. She genuinely loves and cares about a good number of folks.

And sometimes she even helps crustaceans. "I

"I'll keep an eye out," She nods. "We'll see." Lunair is thinking her career prospects over. She usually just follows people around.

*

Before departing, Scott gives a long look to Audrey. Good sentiment. There's a reason why he likes the kid. Lunair also gets a long look, but… it's really just because he's wondering if she made that 'eye' comment on purpose.

"Be safe out there," he remarks, before leaving.

*

Kitty watches the can soar into the trash can, rolling her eyes at Scott's quip. She's had it relatively easy in comparison to other mutants: coming to Xavier's before high school, but she nods at Audrey's words. She doesn't have a say in the matter of policy changes, so she can't actually make any promises…not that actually stops her from assuring, "There won't be."

As for the state of Pietro's sister, she frowns, nodding. "I'll…I'll be sure to tell him."

*

"By all means, woo her over to our side if possible. She'd be an asset just like her brother. And I'd much rather see them with us than with Magneto." Finishing his beer, Cal floats the bottle over to the recycling bin and stands. "She'll be very powerful. And on that note, I'm out of here too. Call if you need anything."

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