Risen: Part 17
Disclaimer: Marvel characters belong to Marvel and
are used without
permission for no monetary gain.
Acknowledgements Go to Andy, my beta reader, and Peter, my editor.
guys both :)
Previous chapters can be found at
Matt Murdock shouldered his way through the throng of reporters that
clogged the steps of the courthouse, his mind filtering through the
barrage of smells and sounds and movement that surrounded him, searching
for any hint of danger amid the commotion. "Be alert,"
he muttered to Scott. "I doubt we'll have any trouble; but if
the press knows who you are and why you're here, you can bet Stryker's
more fanatical supporters do. If I find out that the defense
purposefully leaked it at the last minute...."
Scott carefully scanned the crowd; his body, used to countless
confrontations, automatically tensed. Beside him, Matt stopped and
turned, taking hold of the closest microphone.
"Any public statement at this time would violate the terms of my
client's arrangement with the court," he announced loudly.
"Future interviews may be granted, but *only* to those who do not
block our access to the building." He smiled as a path suddenly
appeared before them, the shouted questions growing more insistent.
"Works like a charm."
"Parker's here," Scott said in a low voice, glimpsing the
Daily Bugle photographer as they reached the top of the steps. He
paused. "And Reed Richards."
Matt raised an eyebrow, picking up the faint hum of the Fantastic Four's
hover car down at the street, the reporters growing more frenzied at the
surprise appearance of a celebrity and rushing to train their cameras
and microphones on him, Matt and Scott forgotten for the moment.
"Ladies, gentlemen, may I please have your attention?" Reed
asked, waiting patiently for them to quiet, his hands clasped behind his
back. "I will make my statement and then answer any
questions," he began genially. "I had planned to call a
press conference later in the week to disclose news of the temporary
leave of absence the Fantastic Four shall be taking from the city; but I
learned of your presence here this morning and felt compelled to combine
my own announcement with an brief statement from the team concerning
"We find anti-mutant prejudice, which is so prevalent in our
country now, to be as abhorrent as all other forms of bias and hatred;
but this trial is not about human mutant relations, or politics, or
setting an example. It is about one man, his actions, and the law;
and there is no doubt in our minds that justice will be done."
"I'll call you from Madison and let you know when I'll be back in
the area," Amanda promised. "I wish I could stay
Kurt pulled her to him and kissed her deeply. "So do I.
Still, this unexpected visit was rather...stimulating."
"That it was," she murmured, kissing him again.
"I'm going to be late."
"They can wait."
"No they can't," she laughed. "I'll be back before
you even miss me."
"Impossible," he protested, but he let her go and picked up
her carry-on. "Which gate?"
"D-3," she said, taking his arm as they weaved their way
through the packed terminal. "I hope you're not late for
court. I didn't think it would be this crowded."
"I have plenty of time," he assured her, slowing as they
passed a line of passengers waiting to board a flight to San Francisco.
She turned, clearly startled. "Kurt. Hi."
"Amanda, this is Natalie Ryan, a neighbor of ours in Salem,"
he began. "Natalie, this is Amanda Sefton, my girlfriend. You
didn't mention you were taking a trip, Nat."
"Oh, it was a last minute decision," she explained, tucking
her long dark hair behind her ears. "Just working out some
last things with my ex." She smiled. "It's a
pleasure, Amanda. Kurt's told me so much about you."
"He hasn't *mentioned* you," she replied icily.
"I must have."
"Well, I've got to be going," Natalie interjected
uncomfortably, her line beginning to move. "I'll see you around,
Amanda waited until the other woman was out of ear shot and then turned
to her lover. "I don't like her."
"Are you jealous?" he asked, more than a little pleased by the
"I'm serious, Kurt. There's something very...off about
He frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure." She shook her head, frustrated.
"How long have you known her?"
"Since March. She's been to the mansion a few times, we've
gone out for coffee and to a play with some of the others," he
said. "She can be flaky sometimes, but she's hardly
"I hope not." They reached her gate and she hugged him
tightly. "Be careful, hero of mine. I don't want to see
you get hurt."
The whispered rumors of a stranger in the Alley had preceded Sunder
despite his efforts at quieting them; and when he reached Callisto's
chambers he found her strapping on her weaponry, livid with rage.
"Who is he?" she hissed. "Why are you allowing him
to roam freely?"
"He's a mutant, Cal. Tommy invited him an' says no one's to
touch but her."
"You don't take your orders from *Tommy*."
"I know, Cal. There's somethin' funny about him. Wanted
to ask you first, 's all."
She threw herself back into her chair. "Bring him here,"
she commanded. "Alone."
"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth, so help you God?"
"I do." Scott lowered his hand and looked out over the
courtroom, the sight of his friends and colleagues doing little to
steady his nerves. What if he failed them?
"You may be seated."
At the prosecutorial table, Michael Forrester stood, consulting with
Matt briefly before turning to Scott. "Will you please state
your name and occupation for the record please?"
"Scott Summers," he said. "I'm a pilot."
"You lead something of a double life, do you not, Mr.
Scott suddenly found himself unable to speak, discovering that he could
not give up the separation that existed between Scott Summers and
Cyclops so easily, fearing that if that line was crossed he would no
longer have the strength he felt as Cyclops, the confidence, and he
would be left as he was before, insignificant and alone.
~Scott, we believe in *you*. ~ Jean said, her mind brushing delicately
against his, soothing him. ~*You* are the one who leads us and
inspires us. Not a name.~
"Yes," he said slowly. "I am a mutant. I have
been a member of the X-Men since the team's inception nine years ago;
and while on duty I use the name Cyclops."
Michael turned to Judge Hartman. "Your Honor, the prosecution
would like to remind the court that Mr. Summers is appearing as part of
an ongoing federal investigation into the Stryker Crusade; and, per his
arrangement with the FBI, he is not required to answer any questions
concerning the X-Men that do not pertain directly to Reverend Stryker."
He nodded. "Continue."
"Mr. Summers," Michael asked, "where and when did you
first encounter the defendant?"
"On November 29th of last year, Professor Charles Xavier - who is a
close associate of the X-Men - participated in a live, televised debate
with Reverend Stryker at the ABC news studios," Scott explained,
choosing his words carefully. "I accompanied him, as did a
fellow X-Man, Storm."
"Did you speak with the defendant at that time?"
"No, we left as soon as the interview ended."
"Before the defendant?"
"I believe so."
Michael stepped back, reaching for a file that Matt had held up,
frowning as he opened it. "Mr. Summers, I have here a police
report that states that Charles Xavier's automobile was involved in a
serious accident at the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park Drive,
shortly after leaving the television studio. The car, known to
have been carrying Xavier, yourself, and 'Storm', was completely
destroyed, and three bodies were found inside, burned beyond
"Objection," Tracy Elder said hotly. "A traffic
accident has absolutely nothing to do with the charges against my
"Your Honor, we are trying to establish the defendant's character.
I assure you, this is relevant."
"Thank you." He turned back to Scott. "*Were*
you in the automobile at the time of the accident?"
"Yes," Scott said, "but it wasn't an accident."
"Oh?" Michael said, feigning surprise. "What was it
"An attack," Scott said firmly. "The car was hit by
some kind of explosive device, causing us to crash. The Professor
was knocked unconscious. Storm and I attempted to pull him from
the wreckage, and I was shot with what must have been some kind of
"You lost consciousness?"
"When you regained consciousness, where did you find
"In a laboratory of some sort, attached to a machine, next to
Storm. The Professor was also there." He swallowed
hard, the memory painful. "They had put him into a sensory
deprivation tank and were torturing him by feeding the pain they
inflicted upon us into him. I don't know how they did it," he
added, the guilt of lying overshadowed by his need to protect Charles.
"Who is 'they'?"
"Reverend Stryker and a man he called Phillip. I believe he
was a doctor."
"You recognized the defendant immediately?"
"What did you do?"
"We were restrained...we couldn't *do* much of anything,"
Scott said. "We did ask him why he was doing this to us, when
we had done nothing to him."
"What did he say?" Michael asked softly, looking over his
shoulder at Stryker, who seemed to be on the verge of losing his
supernaturally calm exterior, his eyes blazing, clasped hands trembling.
"He said, and I quote, 'Because you exist. And that existence
is an affront to the Lord'."
"Was that all?"
"No. He told us how he came to feel that way."
Stryker was visibly agitated now, his counsel trying to prevent him from
speaking. "Objection," Tracy interjected. "I
object to the witness fabricating stories damaging to my client."
"You haven't *heard* the testimony yet, how can you possibly
object?" Michael asked incredulously. Judge Hartman raised an
"I agree with Mr. Forrester," he said. "Explain
yourself, Miss Elder."
"It's very simple, your Honor. This witness imagines himself
to be something of a hero, and my client the villain who confesses all
his dastardly deeds to him, like a movie cliche. It's utterly
"It may be ridiculous," Scott commented, "but you'd be
surprised at how often it happens." There were stifled laughs
from the gallery and Matt shook his head sternly, biting back a smile.
"The witness will refrain from addressing opposing counsel,"
the judge said, turning to Scott. "Can any of what the
defendant allegedly told you be verified by independent sources?"
"Then the prosecution may continue."
"Thank you," Michael said. "Please tell us
everything Reverend Stryker told you, Mr. Summers."
"He said that it began thirty years ago, when he was a professional
soldier in the United States Army Rangers," Scott began quietly.
"He was married, his wife pregnant. On a trip to visit his
family in Arizona, he lost
control of the car and crashed. His wife went into labor and he
delivered his son." He paused, not taking his eyes from Stryker's.
"He told us that the child was a monster, an abomination, that he
had to kill him; and when his wife asked for her baby, he broke her
neck, put both their bodies into the car, and lit a match."
"I love it when you sketch me," Kitty confessed.
"It makes me feel beautiful."
Peter looked up from his paper and smiled. "You are
"Hardly," she blushed. "But thanks."
"You are," he insisted. He turned his drawing pad
"Nope," she said obstinately. "Very pretty; but
nothing like me."
"You dare insult my talent?" he asked, mocking indignation.
She giggled and darted out of his reach as he grabbed for her.
"I'm not insulting your talent, I'm wondering if you need
"My eyesight is perfect," he said, lunging forward and
catching her about the waist. "And so are you."
He bent and kissed her, and she wrapped her arms around his neck,
feeling small and perfect in his embrace. She moved her hips
against him, almost unconsciously, trying to get closer, wanting more
but unsure of how to make it happen; and then he broke away, his hands
on her shoulders, keeping her at a distance. "Katya...we
cannot do this."
"Why not?" she demanded, ashamed to find she felt like crying.
"And don't you dare tell me I'm too young. I'm *not*.
I'm smart and responsible and mature and I risk my life almost every
day, fighting; and no one's going to
tell me I'm not ready for sex --"
"You are *fifteen*."
He sighed. "Nothing would make me happier than to make love
to you; but I do not want you to do something you will regret."
"I won't regret it, Peter. I know I won't. I love
There was a knock at the door and he looked up, his resentment at the
interruption softening when he saw it was his sister. "What
is it, Illyana?"
"They're reporting on the trial from outside the courthouse,"
she explained. "Thought you might want to watch. We've seen
Dr. MacTaggert and Mr. Cassidy so far - Roberto thinks he saw the
Wasp, but no one believes him."
"I wish I had been allowed to go," Kitty lamented.
"What Scott's doing is just so...amazing. The Professor
should be giving him a medal, not kicking him out."
"No," Peter disagreed. "Scott is being very
foolish. This could be disastrous."
"We're trying to change the world, Piotr," Illyana reminded
him. "You can't do that if you never take a chance."
Stunned silence filled the courtroom, all eyes fixed on Stryker who
stood, his fists clenched at his sides. "You *lie*," he
seethed, ignoring his lawyer's attempts to quiet him and the loud, rapid
banging of the judge's gavel.
"Miss Elder, your client will control himself or he will be removed
from the courtroom."
"Yes, your Honor," she replied, furious, pulling Stryker back
down into his seat, urgently conferring with him.
"Please go on, Mr. Summers."
"He said that he felt lucky that his wife and son had been burned
so badly that they were no longer recognizable, because it meant no one
would ever discover his shame," Scott continued, leaning forward as
he spoke, "but he couldn't forget what had happened. After he
was discharged from the Army for excessive fighting and drinking he
happened upon a magazine article written by Charles Xavier. He
said that it was then that he knew God had chosen him to rid the world
of all those made in the image of Satan - mutants like the two children
brutally murdered in Westport Connecticut last year, like his son."
"Like the X-Men?"
"And how exactly did he learn of the X-Men, and their association
"Xavier founded the original X-Men team under the auspices of the
federal government," Scott explained. "FBI Agent Fred
Duncan was our liaison. Stryker told me that one of his most devoted
followers, an official in the bureau, gave him all the information they
had on us. After reading the files, he said he became convinced
that Charles was the Antichrist; and he tracked our movements until he
found an opportunity to attack us."
"I want to go back for a moment, to the attack on your automobile,
and the three bodies found within the wreckage," Michael said
thoughtfully. "Do you have any idea who they were?"
"No; but I am certain that they were placed there to convince our
fellow X-Men that we were dead."
"Did it work?"
He looked at Logan. "No. They came looking for
"Where did they find you?"
"With Storm, moments from being thrown into the Stryker Building's
incinerator," Scott answered flatly. "The Reverend
thought he had killed us. We were revived by Magneto."
"Objection. The witness has no way of knowing what my client
"I'll rephrase," Michael conceded. "Mr. Summers, do
you believe that the defendant believed you were dead?"
"And Magneto's actions came after he saved Officer Pyfer's
"Interesting." Michael turned, looking at the jury.
"Haven't the X-Men fought Magneto on a number of occasions?"
"Yes. We disagree vehemently with his methods and
"And yet he saved you that night? After he had saved a
"Yes." He paused. "Magneto has committed
horrible crimes, no one here disputes that. I would *never* defend
his past actions - they hurt too many people, including ones I care
about deeply. But I no longer believe he is the soulless demon the
defense is portraying him as."
"He is not typical of all mutants, is he?"
"He isn't even typical of the majority."
"So the defense's position that Anne Rutherford, whom they allege
was a mutant, deserved to die because she was undoubtedly as purely evil
as Magneto does not carry much weight with you?"
"None," Scott replied. "Magneto is an individual.
His belief that all humans are as evil as Reverend Stryker is every bit
as reprehensible and false to me as the Reverend's blanket views on
"Objection," Tracy said. "The witness is stating
"No one said he wasn't," Michael retorted.
"Objection sustained," Hartman declared. "Mr.
Forrester, please make sure your questions deal with fact, and not
"Your Honor, with all due respect, the defense made this entire
trial about opinion when they chose to ignore the *fact* that Anne
Rutherford was a human being," Michael pointed out. "It
is a *fact* that the defendant murdered her - it is their *opinion* that
it shouldn't matter."
"Withdrawn," Michael grumbled, scowling at Tracy.
Judge Hartman rapped his gavel twice. "Mr. Forrester, you're
in danger of being found in contempt."
"I apologize, your Honor," he said stiffly. "It
won't happen again."
Wisdom flexed his fingers defensively as he followed Sunder, Morlocks
seeming to melt out of the shadows, trailing them through the tunnels.
"In here," the giant said abruptly, pulling aside a large
metal partition and stepping inside.
Tommy gave him a small, nervous smile and squeezed his arm. "Callisto
isn't so bad, George. I'll wait for you."
"No, my dear, you'd best run along. I shall find you when I
have finished," he told her. He hesitated and then leaned
over to kiss her forehead. "You are a lovely young woman,
Thomasina. Remember that." She blushed and he hurried
after Sunder, the door sliding closed behind them, a knife pressing
against his throat.
"Let's begin by finding out who you really are, 'Lord',"
Callisto growled, growing apprehensive as she felt her captive's lack of
hostility. "Explain yourself!"
"Bloody hell, woman, I came here to tell you who I am," he
replied calmly. "Let's say you let me go, we sit down, and have a
nice chat with no weapons."
"I'm supposed to take your word that you're not armed?"
"There's a revolver under my jacket," he admitted.
"I'm not carrying anything else."
She took it roughly and tucked it into her own belt, then patted him
down. "What are your powers?"
"I shoot heat out of my fingertips. What about you?"
"You can go, Sunder," she said, giving Pete a dirty look, her
short black hair falling over her good eye. "Keep the others
away from here. Especially Tommy."
"Are you sure, Cal?"
"Yes." She waited until he had gone to sheath her blade.
"Who are you?"
"Isn't this better?" Pete inquired politely, taking a pack of
cigarettes from his shirt pocket. "Smoke?"
"No." She didn't like this man. At all.
"I'm not going to ask you again, upworlder. *Who are
"Name's Wisdom," he said as he lit a cigarette for himself.
"March 18th - a ten year old British boy died in the men's loo at a
subway station over on 3rd. I have a picture," he added,
pulling a small photograph of Adam from his suit and handing it to her.
"There was evidence that the boy did not die alone; and his father
- name of Dr. Nathaniel Essex - hired me to find out who was with him.
My investigation led me here. There was no mistaking the
"You're an assassin?"
"No," he chuckled. "I'm a more of a
"What are you trying to negotiate?" she asked, moving past
him, her hands on her hips as she considered his words.
"A meeting." Pete raised an eyebrow. "Do you
know who killed the boy?"
"How do you know it was murder?"
"Be quiet, upworlder," Callisto reproached. "Let me
Pete shrugged and took another drag on his cigarette. "Essex
wants to meet with whoever saw his son last. Find out what really
happened, get some closure."
"As far as I know. Look," he continued. "He's
human. Early 50's. Brittle and depressed. I don't
think you'll have a problem defending youself. I'm more worried
about *his* protection."
"It wasn't murder," she said after a moment. "It
was an accident. One of my people surprised the boy, and he fell.
You can tell your man that."
"I will; but I guarantee it won't be the last you hear from
him....he's an important man...would hate it if he used his influence to
bring the police down here...."
"One meeting," she spat. "He comes alone."
"Three armed bodyguards."
"Two with minimal weaponry."
"Fine. Next tuesday good for you?"
She nodded reluctantly. "I'll leave escorts at the northwest
entrance to the tunnels at twilight."
"Tommy was right," Pete smirked. "You're not so
"Tommy is an idiot," Callisto said sharply, "but she is
one of my people. You could've sought me out directly but you chose to
play on her ignorance and with her feelings, and that's
"Tommy gave me a chance to get to you without blood and severed
bits becoming a factor," he retorted. "I needed
"I don't want your excuses, upworlder. Just know that if I
ever see you again I will tear your insides out and make you eat
them." She handed him his gun, and the photograph.
"You have your meeting. Now leave."