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"Devastation" (Grail Diary 1)

by Minisinoo

[Story Headers]


Ideologues are never detail men.

When William Stryker tricked Charles Xavier into assaulting the world's mutant population telepathically, he gave no thought to the consequences to non-mutants. Likewise, when Erik Lehnsherr reversed the process, targeting non-mutants, he didn't stop to think about consequences, either. As a result, an estimated 11 million are dead worldwide, over 70% of those in industrialized countries. And that doesn't count the maimed and wounded.

Cars, trucks and buses collided on highways, interstates and autobahns. Some pileups were so massive, it took days, not hours, to clean them up, with fatalities hitting triple digits. Planes fell out of the sky or crashed into runways, killing hundreds at once when their mutant or non-mutant pilots lost control. Heavy machinery chewed up life and limb. The injured and ill and elderly succumbed to heart attacks or strokes. Hospitals filled, and rescue workers and EMTs couldn't possibly get to everyone in a disaster of such magnitude.

No doubt Stryker or Lehnsherr would have called all that "collateral damage," anesthetizing human loss into meaninglessness.

Third-world countries fared best, and maybe it's time they got a break, but the simple fact is that falling on the ground for five minutes of encephalic agony when herding sheep or cattle is rather less catastrophic than seizing at the wheel going sixty miles an hour down Interstate 95. Chance had a great deal to do with who lived and who died.

So what's one more death in all of that? What's one more empty bed? Perhaps I should have felt solidarity in grief, but I just felt dwarfed in my loss.

On the upside, we could avoid explaining exactly what had happened to Jean. Police departments were overwhelmed, and they took my report that she was missing and had been on the road at the time, and added it to their pile. Meanwhile, we ran one of the mansion cars off the highway, through a guard-rail, and down a bank into the Hudson. I got a call three days later that her car had been found, but no body. They'd keep looking, however . . .

I played along. I'm a pretty good actor when I have to be, and I was still in a state of shock that wasn't fake. The whole scenario wouldn't have held up under normal circumstances, but these days were anything but normal, and there were a lot of white crosses on highways. Even without the body, the case was shunted aside and regarded as closed, informally. They had too many cases, and no reason to suspect this one was anything but what it appeared to be. Certainly no one at the mansion was telling them to look at the bottom of a lake on the other side of Canada.

The most tangled aspect of the whole worldwide disaster involved who to blame. Almost every government was howling for blood, and while William Stryker made a conveniently dead scapegoat, there was still the matter of just who'd authorized Stryker in the first place? The U.S. and Canada both wound up on the block since Stryker had been U.S. military but his base had been Canadian. Many apologies were made, a number of Pentagon and white house functionaries lost their jobs, and at least one U.S. army general's career went down in flames.

It still wasn't enough. The U.S.'s world reputation sank further while Canada's barely stayed afloat, conspiracy theorists had a field day, people all over the world still suspected mutants, and President McKenna essentially gave up all chance at re-election.

I'll vote for him anyway. Why? Because he made the hard choice -- he took it on the chin and prevented a mutant pogrom by concealing the damning truth. There are some things the public doesn't need to know. I guess that makes me an elitist, but my general experience has shown me that people shoot first and ask questions later when they think they're threatened (whether or not they actually are). McKenna had a choice -- rise to the occasion and be remembered as a great man in retrospect even if he sacrificed his political career now, or play the coward, try to save himself, and wind up with a lot of innocent blood on his hands. So far, he seems to be trying for the first option, which makes him a president worth having, in my books. Too bad most of the public can't know, and won't for a good long time if we're to avoid civil war.

In none of the trials, debates, or international media circuses has mention of the professor or the school -- or Magneto -- come up. It's known that Lehnsherr broke out of prison, but he hasn't been connected with the attacks, and Stryker's assault was explained as a "machine," intended to target mutants, that malfunctioned. Stryker's own paranoia has worked in our favor. Only a handful of trusted operatives knew what he was actually up to, and most of them died at Alkali Lake. The three who didn't have had their memories erased.

In fact, a number of people have had their memories tampered with, at least marginally. Anyone whose discretion isn't certain no longer knows enough about the school to be a threat -- that includes parents and siblings, maintenance people, and even the UPS man. The professor may be an idealist, but he's a pragmatic idealist. After all, his school hides the base for a mutant strike force -- not usual operating procedure for an ideologue. He's not Stryker, or Lehnsherr, and he pays attention to details and collateral damage. Soldiers may have attacked us once, but they damn well won't again, and whatever face he turns to the students, however reassuring he tries to be, they don't know how he sits in a dark office after the sun goes down, staring out the window at ghosts. He may know intellectually that he was forced to do what he did, but that doesn't change the fact that he caused those millions and millions of deaths, worldwide. And he feels it. That's why I'm still here -- because he feels it.

But I'm not talking to him unless I have to -- because he didn't force Jean to get back on the plane.

Understand -- it's not that I'd (romantically) rather be dead with her than alive without her, not if the cost would have been everyone else trapped there, including the kids. I'm not stupid, nor sadistic.

No, what makes me so mad I can't see straight is that she didn't have to die. There were options. She ignored them, and Xavier let her.

If she could power the plane from outside, she could have fucking well done it from inside, too. If she could pick up several tons of titanium and steel and hold it in the air until the engines cut in, then her own one-hundred-and-thirty-eight pounds wouldn't have made a spit of difference. If she could hold off a goddamn tidal wave, splitting it like Moses, then she could have managed to hold it for another few seconds while Wagner teleported her to safety. Xavier tells me all that's hindsight, that she made the best choice she could at the time, people don't think straight in a crisis, and I shouldn't let my grief take away her bravery.

But dammit, I thought of those things. The truth is that she locked me up in the plane like I was three instead of almost thirty and didn't let me command because she didn't want to survive. That's the choice she made. And I seem to be the only one who's willing to speak the truth.

Jean didn't 'sacrifice' herself.

She suicided.

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Fandom:  X-Men
Title:  "Devastation" (Grail Diary 1)
Series Name:  GRAIL: a novel of resurrection
Author:  Minisinoo   [email]   [website]
Details:  Series  |  gen  |  7k  |  02/15/05
Characters:  Scott/Cyclops
Summary:  "Ideologues are never detail men." (From Scott Summers' personal journal)
Notes:  This tale contains ADULT situations and imagery .

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