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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Faith and Dreams - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 04/26/2007 02:10:47 AM

Chapter 10

Dana sat a short ways off to the side, content to remain nearly invisible as she watched the growing collection of people in the room. Professor Xavier had referred to it as the "War Room", which she found to be an apt description. A large, oval conference table dominated the main floor. It was capable of seating a good eighteen or twenty people around it, and all of those chairs were now occupied. Others either stood behind the chairs or had taken up positions on the balcony that ran around nearly three quarters of the room. The fourth quarter was taken up with a giant projection screen. It appeared to be a single flat screen display, which Dana found rather astounding. The amount of power alone needed to run it must be huge. Currently, the face of a severe-looking red-haired woman was displayed, larger-than-life, on the screen.

The conference table’s surface was slick and black, and now held a display of its own. It was some kind of 3D tactical display which showed Earth with the moon in an appropriate location. Mixed in with the two spherical bodies were dozens of small symbols of various shapes, sizes and colors. Dana didn’t know what those were, though the blue ones, which congregated near the equator, she believed to be commercial satellites. However, if the rest of the dots also represented satellites, then the militaries of the world had a lot more intelligence capability than anyone suspected. There was a veritable cloud around the Earth and, as she watched, the images flickered and shifted slightly.

Dana felt thoroughly out of place, as well as somewhat overdressed. The men and women gathered around the table were, almost without exception, wearing heavy spandex jumpsuits in a riotous variety of colors and styles. They were surprisingly young to be soldiers, and that was the impression she was beginning to get. Only two men she could see were obviously older than Professor Xavier, and a fair number of the others were still in their teens. She was trying not to stare at the physical mutations, but several people continually drew her eyes. There was a man that was simply... huge. He was something like fourteen feet tall and perhaps twelve hundred pounds. He hunched down in a corner, trying unsuccessfully to cram his bulk in beneath the balcony supports. There was a woman who was covered in brown fur, who stood upright, but seemed a bit more feral than Hank McCoy. There was also another man with bright blue fur, but he was far smaller than Hank, with three-fingered hands and a long, prehensile tail that ended in a spade-shaped tuft. Warren Worthington’s wings were partially unfurled, surrounding him like a cloak of white feathers. He reminded Dana of a painting she’d seen of the archangel Gabriel.


Dana looked around and spied Jean at the table. She was seated beside her husband and dressed as strangely as the rest.

I’m here. She had a dozen questions about who all of these people were and where they’d come from. The ones she’d seen arriving had come up from the hangar level rather than coming in through the front door. But she forbade asking, in part because she couldn’t sort out what to ask first.

Jean caught her eye and smiled. Professor Xavier will be doing most of the speaking, so I should be able to answer questions for you as we go along. I’m afraid we’re dumping you into the middle of things pretty abruptly.

What kind of ’things’? Dana couldn’t help the suspicion in her voice. She was pretty certain Jean knew that she knew they’d been keeping things from her. Now, it sounded like Jean was offering to expose all of those hidden things. But in Dana’s experience, finding the truth was never that easy.

Jean’s expression became solemn. A war, unless we can somehow come up with a miracle. She glanced at Professor Xavier. But that can wait a moment. Tell me, Dana, do you know anything about alternate realities?

Dana was startled by the sudden change of topic. Alternate realities? I know something about the theory-I did my Master’s thesis on the subject. Why?

Jean seemed both surprised and pleased. Really? I had no idea. What did you decide in your research? Are alternate realities possible?

Dana weighed her answer carefully. Jean sounded too eager for her answer. Theoretically. But there has never been any physical evidence to support that conclusion. In fact, we don’t yet have the technology it would require to make that kind of experiment.

Jean was silent for a few moments, her expression thoughtful. Then, Have you been wondering how all of us, and she nodded toward the room at large, can exist without you or anyone in your government knowing about it?

Dana frowned as she mulled the question. She had been wondering that, though only as a nagging concern in the back of her mind. If there had only been one or two of these exceptional mutations, she could have believed that they had hidden themselves from government notice. But now, as more and more mutants continued to pour into the War Room, she found it almost impossible to believe that this secret could be kept. The physical evidence was simply overwhelming. But that led to the conclusion that the government must know about these mutants, yet was allowing them to move freely about, and that did not fit with anything she had seen in her years on the X-files.

The beginning of their conversation came back to Dana, and she turned a disbelieving stare on Jean. Are you suggesting that this is an alternate universe of some kind?

Jean smiled. Yes, I am.

Dana turned to scan the room again, her thoughts whirling. Could she really, rationally, believe that she was on an alternate Earth? It was a scientific plausibility-that she accepted. But the chance of such a thing actually occurring was so... remote that it became a practical impossibility. And yet, what other explanation was there? The evidence did not support the idea that her government was simply allowing these people to roam the country freely.

She could be in the thrall of a psychotic episode, possibly. The sudden thought was both amusing and somewhat frightening. Still, the psychological and emotional impact of the last two weeks couldn’t be dismissed. She could be subconsciously creating a delusion in which it was possible that Mulder was still alive, as a mechanism for dealing with her grief. She could, in fact, still be in her apartment, with all of the events from Remy and Jean knocking on her door until now happening entirely inside her mind. From her current vantage, of course, it didn’t seem likely, and was inherently unprovable anyway. She smiled at her own subjectiveness. Besides, she didn’t feel crazy.

So what was left? That Jean was telling the truth? That she had somehow stumbled on what could easily be the most significant scientific discovery of the century?

"Thank you all for coming so quickly. I know you must be wondering what has happened." Professor Xavier’s voice interrupted her thoughts. She was surprised by how quickly the room grew silent.

"As you’ve no doubt observed, we have some visitors." He motioned toward the 3D display of the Earth.

Visitors? Dana thought. She didn’t like the implication that sprang to mind at all.

"Where is your data coming from?" The gruff question came from the oldest member of the group. He was obviously a long-time soldier, with a star-shaped tattoo around one eye and a very advanced prosthetic arm made of metal. He was one of only a very few who were obviously armed, though the monstrous rifle slung across his back looked like something out of a Star Wars movie rather than a real weapon.

"A Shi’ar scoutship that was hidden in orbit until just recently left us a cloaked transmitter piggybacked onto a commercial satellite."

Dana heard the words, but their meaning didn’t sink in until a moment later. A Shi’ar scoutship...? She turned to Jean, who nodded slowly.

I told you we were dropping a lot on you in a very short time.

You are talking about a... spaceship?

Yes. The Shi’ar are an alien race that we’ve had contact with for the past few years. Her reply was so matter-of-fact that Dana found herself at a loss for words. But, a quiet voice in the back of her mind asked, if this is an alternate universe, couldn’t there be aliens in it? She stifled a sudden desire to laugh. It was all so fantastically unbelievable that she just didn’t know what to think. Feeling slightly giddy, Dana crossed her arms and settled back in her chair.

"There are a total of twenty-two ships currently in orbit," Professor Xavier said. "They belong to a race called the Racth’zai." He folded his hands in his lap. "Interestingly enough, this race has been extinct in our universe for more than three centuries. The beings now circling our planet have come through an interdimensional gate from another universe entirely."

Dana sat forward abruptly. Another universe? She stared at Jean in burgeoning outrage. You aren’t going to try to tell me that these... aliens... are from-

Your universe? Jean arched one eyebrow. I’m afraid so.

"For those of you who heard about Rogue’s disappearance last summer," Xavier nodded toward the young woman, "this is the universe she was transported to. Unfortunately, in our search for her, we managed to draw the attention of the Racth’zai who, we believe, are primarily interested in cloning mutant genes and combining them with their own to create a hybrid race. This appears to be a kind of forced evolution of their species."

Unbidden memories flashed through Dana’s mind. Every time Mulder had been convinced they were on the trail of discovering the truth about alien contact, they ran into whispers of genetic experiments and cloning. To hear those concepts run together so easily now was unnerving.

"We believe that this race has made some kind of contact with the American government and perhaps several others in an attempt to gain the genetic material they want without revealing their presence." He gestured in Dana’s direction. "From what little we know about their modus operandi, I find it highly probable that they have succeeded." Concerned, thoughtful and even angry frowns decorated the faces around the room.

"Charles, f’r certain there’s little love lost between mutants an’ the world governments, but I am nae sure I believe they would dare t’ do such a thing." The woman on the screen spoke with a thick Scottish accent that did nothing to blunt the severity of her demeanor.

"Not on a large scale," Charles agreed. "But with the current political climate, that day might not be too far off."

"If ya ask me, that day’s already here." Logan reclined in his chair, legs outstretched, but the expression in his eyes belied his casual posture. "Every one a’ us knows that mutants go into government custody an’ sometimes don’t come out again."

"An’ ye truly believe the government’s selling them to an alien race f’r genetic experiments?" The woman on the screen was disbelieving. "That would nae be any different from selling them to Sinister."

The temperature in the room plummeted at her words. The gathered mutants all stared at each other in muted horror. Dana had become familiar enough with their odd jargon to realize that Sinister was a person. She had met a few mad scientists in her time, so it was not hard to envision an apparent geneticist who would call himself "Sinister". But the image she conjured was chilling.

The silence stretched uncomfortably, until a Native American man cleared his throat. He, too, wore one of the advanced prostheses-in this case, a leg. "What do you suggest we do, Charles?" His voice was surprisingly calm, and held a richness that spoke of the wisdom of a spiritual man. Dana found herself liking him immediately.

Charles steepled his hands on the top of the futuristic yellow wheelchair he’d produced for the meeting. Dana hadn’t yet decided what kind of hover technology it was using. "That is one of the things I am hoping we will decide today. For the moment, the Racth’zai operate in secret with the cooperation of some parts of our governments. However, the Shi’ar have analyzed the disposal of their ships in orbit and have concluded that they are preparing to attack us. Lilandra has already returned to Chandilar to raise the Imperial fleet, but she is uncertain how long it will be until they return."

Even Dana was startled, and she heard the collective intake of breath of the people around her. Charles simply nodded. "Yes. Now, we have always been able to counter these kinds of invasions in the past-including both the Phalanx and the Brood-but I am afraid that this situation will be different. After talking with Lilandra, I don’t believe the Racth’zai have any interest in occupying Earth. Our Earth." He glanced at Dana. "Lilandra pointed out that for the Racth’zai to have reached Earth in their home dimension, they must have gone through all of the races between their point of origin and Earth. Her speculation is that they successfully incorporated those races into their own, thereby destroying them. So, in their own dimension, there are few or no technically advanced species left to challenge them in this portion of the universe."

The small blue man with the tail sat forward. "So you think they are planning a blitzkrieg, Herr Professor?" His tail lashed back and forth beneath his chair.

Charles’ expression was grim. "That is my guess. I think they will try to strip as much as they can from our Earth and retreat to their own dimension before the Shi’ar and their allies arrive."

"So why all the sneakin’ around up ’til now?" Rogue’s Southern drawl sounded oddly out of place among the other speakers’ more cultured accents.

A man standing at the far end of the table shrugged. He was unshaven, dressed in a long black duster, and reminded Dana of Remy for some strange reason. "Well, as Gambit would say, it’s easier t’ steal something than t’ fight for it."

The comment earned him a round of dirty looks, and Dana was fairly sure she saw a young woman at the end of the table kick him lightly in the shins.

"Ach, man," the woman on the screen sent him a withering stare. "Haven’t ye ever heard a’ the word ’tact’?" She shifted her attention to Charles. "How is Remy?"

Dana kept her surprise to herself. So Remy was also called "Gambit", apparently. Just like Hank was referred to as "Beast." The conclusion she drew from that was rather funny.

Do you people all have codenames? she asked Jean.

"He is recovering," Charles answered the woman on the screen. Dana saw a few expressions around the room shade into relief. She got the impression that Remy drew some rather mixed reactions from these mutants. That didn’t surprise her. She hadn’t liked him much herself on their first encounter.

Jean caught her eye and smiled. Yes, we each have a codename. Her expression hinted that she understood how silly it sounded.

Including you?

Jean’s smile deepened. My codename is Phoenix.

Is that because of your hair? Jean had one of the most beautiful manes of red hair Dana had ever seen. It gave her a twinge of jealousy at times. Dana’s hair was a similar color, but she had never had the patience to maintain that kind of luxuriant style.

Jean laughed inside her head. No, but it’s a very long story.

"Pete has a good point," Charles said, and Dana realized suddenly that her conversation with Jean had taken only a fraction of the time it would have taken to speak the words aloud. "The Racth’zai may very well hold off their attack for a while if their presence is not widely known."

Charles slowly scanned the room as Dana struggled to orient herself. She’d gotten distracted by her aside to Jean. "As I see it, we have three options." He ticked them off on the fingers of one hand.

"One, we can wait for the Shi’ar and hope that they will arrive swiftly, but otherwise do nothing." He smiled slightly at the unhappy muttering that broke out around the room.

"Two, we can go after the Racth’zai quietly. Most likely, our actions will be viewed as a nuisance at best and mutant terrorism at worst, but we would be less likely to spark a full scale assault on the Earth." He looked around the room as the tone of the low muttering of conversation changed, becoming more speculative.

"And three, we can make the Racth’zai presence public knowledge." Several heads turned sharply to look at him in surprise. "That would bring our armed forces into the picture and perhaps place the brunt of the responsibility for defending Earth on government agencies instead of on us. Considering the technologies that have been developed to deal with mutant threats, I think it is an option that bears consideration."

A young girl up on the balcony grinned and popped her gum. "Yeah, I like that. Sic the Sentinels on ’em."

The room exploded into a dozen conversations all at once. Dana couldn’t separate the various discussions very well, particularly once she realized that several of them involved telepathy, but she did get the impression that opinions were strong and varied widely. Charles seemed content to let them talk it out. He sat back in his chair, watching the room.

Dana wondered what she should think. It was difficult enough to accept these people and their situation as reality-granted, an alternate one-and far more difficult to try to understand the consequences of the choices Professor Xavier had laid out before them. Dana turned what little she understood about them over in her head, wondering what she would do. It was more of a mental exercise than anything else. In her heart she was not entirely convinced of what Jean had told her, but the scenario was fascinating and she found herself drawn into it. The second option seemed to her like the one they would choose, and she wondered, what would it be like to wage a silent war? To battle a little-known enemy with limited resources and the intention of keeping the general populace from ever knowing what was happening? She paused, stunned by the churning wave of emotions that swept through her at the thought. That was a very good description of what it felt like to work on the X-files. Never knowing if the enemy was the government, or aliens, or even if there was a real enemy at all. Never able to gather enough proof to know the truth, let alone expose it. Never able to tell people about the things she had seen and experienced because they wouldn’t believe her.

A slow anger began to build inside Dana. She stood slowly, propelled by a conviction that she couldn’t quite name. The mutants in the room noticed her in phases, their conversations dying off as they looked curiously at the stranger in their midst.

"My name is Dana Scully," she said quietly, her gaze sweeping the room. "I am a Federal agent from this other Earth you have been talking about." She wasn’t exactly certain why she had decided to believe Jean’s explanation, except that the reality of these people’s situation touched a raw nerve inside her.

"For the last four years I have been involved in a project called the X-files. My partner and I were responsible for investigating unexplained phenomena." She took a breath, amazed at what she found herself saying. "I believe that on a number of occasions our investigation led us to this government conspiracy of cooperation with an alien race, though we have never been able to gain any real proof." She thought bitterly of the cancer in her head. No real proof.

"Professor Xavier is right. These people-the men in your governments-have every intention of selling out the human race for their own ends. I’ve seen some of what they have done." She remembered her sister Melissa, and her anger blossomed into tightly controlled fury that was reflected in her voice. "They kill with impunity, without either fear or remorse. They twist people’s lives to suit their own needs. They violate every tenet of moral and ethical behavior-simply because they have that power. They live in shadows, terrified of being forced into the light where their inhuman actions will be exposed. Mulder-my partner-believed, and I do as well, that this secrecy, this impenetrable blanket of silence that surrounds their actions, is the only thing that allows them to continue." She looked around the room again, searching for any sign in these strange faces of understanding and agreement. "No matter what you choose to do, these people must be exposed and held accountable for their actions."

The room was silent as Dana finished. She wondered suddenly if her outburst was appropriate, but then just as quickly decided that she didn’t care. She turned to look at Charles and found him watching her with a thoughtful expression. But then he shifted his focus to the gathered mutants.

"I think this threat is far more imminent... and more dangerous than we believe. We must act."

The man with the star over his eye nodded and crossed his arms. "If even half of what she was projecting is true, then I don’t think we have any choice." He stared at Dana until she began to feel uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny. What did he mean by "projecting"? she wondered.

Cable is a telepath as well, Jean answered her unspoken question. You were projecting your thoughts and emotions.

Dana felt a stab of something akin to terror. I was?

Jean nodded. Non-telepaths who spend any significant amount of time around telepaths will develop psi shields that keep them from projecting most of what they think and feel. It’s a kind of reflex. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t take you very long. Your mind has good structure.

Dana mulled that assessment as the men and women around returned to their debate. The various groups seemed to be divided on the best course, though Dana couldn’t tell exactly who was in each camp. She was encouraged that the conflict was entirely about what to do and not whether to do anything at all.

Finally, Charles raised his hands and the room quieted. "I would like to ask for a vote, by teams. What should we do?" He turned to the man Jean had named Cable. "X-Force?"

Cable’s expression was grim. "War," he said tersely, and the clipped syllable sent a shiver down Dana’s spine. "You can’t win anything else."

Charles nodded and looked up at the woman on the screen. "Excalibur?"

The woman frowned and shook her head. "Nae, Charles. We cannae take the risk a’ harmin’ so many innocents. ’Tis mutants they want. Let them focus on us an’ leave the rest a’ the planet alone."

One-one, Dana thought as Charles turned to the Native American man. "X-Factor?"

The man was silent for several long moments, but then sighed softly. "We will give the Racth’zai an overwhelming advantage if we allow them to remain invisible." His expression was sad but resolved. "We, too, vote war."

The room grew very still as Charles turned to Scott, and Dana realized that this must be the final vote. "X-Men?"

Scott rapped his knuckles gently on the table top, his brow furrowed over the red visor he wore. "We don’t exactly have a history of cooperation with the government, which makes me wonder if we wouldn’t be creating more problems than we’d be solving by bringing them into this." He gave the table a final tap and then laid his hand out flat on it. "But, I see one major flaw in trying to win this without any other support." He glanced up at the intent faces around him. "We mutants don’t have the power to clean out the Racth’zai influence from any of our governments. Only the governments themselves can do that kind of housekeeping. I think that, if we want to drive the Racth’zai away from Earth entirely, we’re going to have to take it public. If that means a full scale war-" he paused and frowned, "then we have no other choice."

Dana could feel the silent assent that filled the room. She was both gratified and frightened by the decision. These few people were going to change the course of their world, if anything she had heard today was true. It was the fulfillment of Mulder’s dream, she realized in sudden amazement. The truth, exposed for the entire world to see and know. She thought back to the sliver of hope Hank had offered her that day in the medlab when he’d shown her a perfect replica of Mulder’s body, and made herself a solemn promise. If it was possible in any way, she would make certain that Mulder got to see his dream.


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