Disclaimer: I don't own any Marvel characters or situations that may appear here, they belong to - oh, wait - Marvel, even Dino Manelli, Jr. who makes a minor appearance in the Helicarrier level of the first Ultimate Alliance game.
"Sons of Liberty"
By J.T. Magnus, 'Turbo'
SHIELD Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat
Upper New York Bay
Thirty Minutes Later
12 Minutes After Departure/6 Minutes To Destination
Still high on adrenaline, Lance's mind wasn't on what they had just done, nor even his problems with water, but strangely on one of the times he had bothered to pay attention in class; American History, a movie was being shown and unlike the teacher's lectures or the work from the book, the movie had managed to reach something inside him and spark a sense of kinship between a high school troublemaker and a rebel of a different sort. He didn't know why, but a song from one of the movie's key moments came to mind.
With a strange smile on his face, Lance leant back with his hands behind his head, closed his eyes and began to hum.
After a moment, one of the other passengers recognized the tune that he was humming and began to sing along,
"Plant the seed in our homeland, boys; let it grow where all can see; feed it with our devotion, boys; call it the Liberty Tree. It's a tall old tree and a strong old tree and we are the Sons, yes we are the Sons, the Sons of Liberty," Kitty sang, "Save it from the sword, boys; water down its roots with tea; then the sun will always shine on the old Liberty Tree."
This time, Fred and Todd, Tabitha and even Sam joined Kitty in the chorus as Lance continued humming along, "It's a tall old tree and a strong old tree and we are the Sons, yes we are the Sons, the Sons of Liberty!"
As the kids continued singing, Sean shook his head good-naturedly from behind the wheel, "Americans..."
If any of the boat's occupants had cared to look up, they would have sworn that the patina-covered and time-worn figure towering over the Upper Bay was smiling down at them.
Manhattan Island, New York City
20 Minutes After Departure/Destination Reached
Jubilee couldn't believe what they were being expected to travel in, "A moving van?"
"Box truck," came the correction from, surprisingly, Todd, "Can you think of anything someone would pay less attention to? I mean, how often do you actually look at a box truck?"
Tabitha was unconvinced, "And you have, Froggy?"
"Yep! One day I counted almost fifty of them in three hours, most of them just plain unmarked white," Todd remarked, "And that was Bayville, think how many more there's gotta be here in the NYC, yo."
"More than enough," the SHIELD agent wearing a moving company uniform, standing next to the truck itself, answered, "Like he said, no one ever looks at a box truck. You'd be surprised at the kind of stuff that gets moved around in plain white box trucks and eighteen-wheelers."
"Oh, ye be quiet, Junior, an' start th' bloody lorry, would ye?" Sean complained, "I'd like ta get this matter shut o' before th' dawn."
"Aye, Agent Cassidy," 'Junior' answered, opening the back of the truck, revealing not the empty box most present expected, but rather a well-built compartment with benches on all three sides, one-way windows to see out and overhead lighting, "If Mister... Dukes, was it? If Mister Dukes would be so kind as to sit at the far end next to the cab and the rest of you follow in, we'll be on our way to the safehouse."
Fred looked at the height of the back of the truck from the ground, "Uh..."
"Sorry," 'Junior' apologised, "Forgot this."
'Junior' reached up and inside the truck to press a button, causing a lift to fold down and out from underneath the truck and settle onto the ground in front of Fred.
"Nice," Fred remarked as he got on the lift and rode it up until he could get into the truck. While he went to the far end and got settled, 'Junior' lowered the lift back down halfway to the ground so that the other mutants could get in as well.
The last one in, Kitty paused and looked down at the agent, "Um, you didn't tell us your name... or you can't tell us your name?"
"Oh, sorry, bad manners on my part," 'Junior' winced, "SHIELD Agent Dino Manelli, Junior, Ms. Pryde. Until this mission, Colonel Fury had me assigned to observation on Fort Wadsworth. He pulled me to provide extraction support for you and your team."
Kitty realised something, "You're the one that found out they were there."
Manelli nodded, "Yes, ma'am. I reported it to Agent Cassidy as per my orders and was instructed to stop observation and prepare your evacuation route."
"I guess we all should thank you," Kitty remarked.
"No, Ma'am," Manelli denied, "It's the job."
"Oh, please," Sean groaned, "Do we have ta go though this 'how-do-ye-sir' shite right now? There be a safehouse waiting for us ta get outta these damned monkey-suits..."
Manelli rolled his eyes and muttered, "Crotchety old goat."
Kitty pressed the button to stow the lift away and reached up to grasp the door's handle, "So... I'm stopping this now before it gets out of hand, okay?"
Bringing her hand down, she firmly shut the door, cutting off the discussion, before taking her seat next to Lance, leaning against him and dropping her head onto his shoulder.
"Hold me," was all she said.
Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
Bayville, New York
Later That Morning, 0728EST
Charles Xavier sat in his wheelchair facing one of his associates in front of the Institute, "Logan, I cannot stress how much I disagree with this course of action. We know nothing about what has happened to the students and going after them ill-prepared could simply make the situation worse. What we need to do is gather information and establish the facts of the matter before taking action."
Logan snarled, "An' by the time we've gotten off our asses, who knows what'll happen to those kids. Forget it, Chuck, I'm going. There's still people that owe me favors and if they don't know, they'll either be able to find out or know someone that can. Like it or not, I'm going."
Walking over to his bike, Logan swung his leg over the saddle and onto the kickstart. Before he could start the bike however, the sound of a different kind of engine got the attention of both mutants as a midnight blue Blackhawk helicopter came into view over the tops of the trees surrounding the Institiute, turning to show a white stylised eagle painted in a circle on the side as it descended to the ground and landed.
Without the rotors slowing, the door on the side slid open and Fury stepped out of the chopper and took his cigar out of his mouth, "Gotta admit, Logan, not 'xactly the kinda place anyone'd expect ta find ya... Bit too high-class fer my tastes, ta tell ya the truth. But, hey, whatever blows yer skirt up."
Logan got off his bike and walked toward the SHIELD Director, "What do you want, Fury?"
"Aw, now ya gone an' hurt my feelings, Shorty," Fury snickered at Logan, "Seems some of my boys found something ya lost, about three somethings, ta be 'xact. Here I was tryin' ta be 'Mister Nice Guy' an' bring 'em home fer ya an' whatta I get fer it? Send 'em out!"
Bobby stepped into view in the door of the helicopter, battered and embarrassed, looking around until a sharp shove from Jubilee made him step out onto the ground, followed by the girl herself, looking just as tired. Sam was the last to step out, standing straight and walking normal, but a look at his face would show that he was no more immune to exhaustion from the previous night than the other two.
Xavier rolled up to where the others were standing, "I don't believe we've been introduced, mister...?"
"Yer right, we haven't," Fury gave Xavier a quick glare and turned back to Logan, "Keep 'em at home, will ya? Might not be able ta help next time."
"Oh, don't worry," Logan folded his arms and glared at the three New Mutants behind Fury, "They won't have any energy left to pull stunts like this for a while. For starters, I think we'll have a nice double session in the Danger Room and a quick three-mile run to warm up for it."
Bobby couldn't stifle a groan.
"What's that, Icecube? You want to make it five miles? Get your stuff and get in the van. Enjoy school, kiddies, because when it gets out, your tails belong to me," Logan jerked a thumb towards the mansion, an instruction that all three followed quickly, running for the safety - albeit minute - of the building.
"Same ole Logan," Fury remarked as he put his cigar in his mouth and turned back to the chopper.
"I'm afraid I can't let you leave without answers," Xavier insisted, raising a hand to his head.
"I wouldn't try it," Fury remarked without turning, "Be bad fer yer health if ya know what I mean... Goes fer tryin' it on those kids, too."
"I'll vouch for him, Chuck," Logan told the telepath, "I've known Fury a long time and he means what he says... If he says you don't want to try anything, then tryin' something's a bad idea."
Fury put his hands on the sides of the door and one foot on the floor of the chopper, "Ya should listen ta him, Xavier - you'll live longer."
As soon as the Director of SHIELD pulled himself into the chopper, it lifted off. The SHIELD transport was over Bayville and headed for the Brotherhood's Boarding House before anyone spoke again...
"Not bad, team... It'll take a big band-aide ta cover up, but SHIELD's PR boys're already earnin' their pay. News'll say it was minor damage from an averted terrorist attack, which ain't that far from the truth. Ya done good today, but the next un's gonna be harder than that, ya can bet on it..." Fury took a slow draw from his cigar, "If yer up fer it, that is."
The Brotherhood glanced among each other in silent communication before Lance spoke for them...
"Yeah, we're up for it. You've got your team, Fury," the geokinetic nodded.
Fury nodded back, "Glad ta hear it. Irish'll contact ya next mission we've got fer ya. Might be a while since I don't plan on bringin' ya in on just any mission."
"Good," Tabitha answered smirking with a sideways glance at Pietro, "We love challenges."
"Hey!" The speedster exclaimed when he realised that his teammate had co-opted his catchphrase, causing the rest of the Brotherhood to begin laughing.
"This is gonna be..." Fury muttered around his cigar before he trailed off and sighed as the chopper circled a couple times before making its landing approach to the Boarding House's lawn.
Brotherhood Boarding House,
Bayville, New York.
They would be late for school, but for once not a member of the Brotherhood had any intention of skipping - if they did that they'd miss any chance of seeing the expressions on the Institute students' faces. Fortunately, they had retrieved their belongings from the safehouse and brought them back with them on the chopper, so all they had to worry about was changing for class and making it before they missed more than homeroom. For decency's sake, after the first night Kitty had claimed a room for herself - with Tabby in Mystique's former room, that had left Rogue's old residence open for the former Institute student - and she had headed there as soon as they were off the chopper, but instead of going inside, she was standing in the doorway...
Kitty slid her bag off her shoulder and caught it by the straps to use as a weapon if she needed to, "Who are you?"
The white-haired man tilted his head, a gesture that struck Kitty as oddly familiar, "Someone you'll never meet, Katherine Pryde. You may not have known it at the time, but you've altered the course of history - future history - with your recent actions."
Kitty frowned and blinked, "What do you mean, I changed 'future history'? Just who are you?"
"Name's Cable. The short version is when you joined the Brotherhood, you changed things, some for the better, others for the worse, only time itself will tell."
"How does my joining the Brotherhood mean we'll never meet?"
"Oh, we'll meet again, Kate Pryde, but I'm now a paradox - a man who doesn't exist in the timeline. My parents have different opinions on you in the Brotherhood that they'll never reconcile. It happens. Don't worry about me, I have my ways of surviving."
"Different opinions on..." Possibilities ran through Kitty's mind, but only one seemed possible as improbable as it seemed.
"I can't tell you that," Cable cut her off before she could say any names, "I shouldn't have told you what I already have."
"Then... what are you here to tell me?"
"That you're attracting a lot of attention," Cable reached for a small cube that extended from his metal arm and raised it in the air, "And not all of it is good, Kate Alvers. Bodyslide by one."
Two rings appeared around Cable's waist, splitting to travel up and down his body as he faded away.
Author's Notes; With this, case complete... until next time. My apologies to Disney for the useage of the Sons of Liberty song from the movie 'Johnny Tremain'. Special thanks go out to Dan Briggs, Rollin Hand and the rest of the team at IMF for serving as technical consultants on this little adventure.