|Dates run:||July 15-23 2009|
|Read the logs:||Fiddler's Green|
Nathan's the plan, although right now he doesn't remember that.
Mariana Machado contacted the mansion, asking someone to come to Brazil to speak with her, presumably in relation to the events of the previous fall. Jean and a small group of X-Men flew down to the main New Dawn ecovillage, where Machado finally revealed why Taygetos had been after her.
The previous August, not long before the events in Central Park, a friend of her, a telepath, showed up on her doorstep with four tattooed and apparently mute preadolescents, begging her to give them shelter. He left again almost immediately and disappeared, never getting in touch again and leaving her to assume the worst. Jean recognized the conditioning in the minds of the four youngsters, and Machado revealed that she had recently been contacted by Taygetos, with a promise that if she gave them the information, they would leave her and the children alone. At the time, she had no idea what information they wanted, but that soon changed.
Sitting down with Jean, she allowed the telepath to scan her mind to verify her story; her friend had actually implanted a block in her mind (with her consent). It was due to dissolve a year later if he didn't return. The blocked memories involve a set of files he left with her, with instructions to see them conveyed to Charles Xavier if he wasn't able to come back and do it himself. Machado then presented Jean with the files, which contained something that disturbed the X-Man. Jean returned to the mansion with the youngsters and the documents, where she revealed to Nathan that the files included information on a new Taygetos sub-program, meant to breed and train telepathic operatives to serve as controllers for the other. She and a quietly devastated Nathan then departed for the boathouse to discuss the information further.
A few days later, Machado herself arrived in New York to check on her children. She met with Xavier and someone from SHIELD, then set up a lunch meeting in the city with Nathan. There, she broached the possibility that one of Elpis's DDR programs might benefit the four youngsters, but seemed ill at ease and made some ambiguous comments that made Nathan wary. Eventually, she revealed that she knew the significance of the information in her friends' files about the Trojan Horse.
While still working for Taygetos, her friend had become disillusioned (rather like Colin MacInnis). He'd made contact with an old friend in the government and gotten his hands on copies of Sharon Kritzer's notes on the Trojan Horse. After some study, however, he'd come to an alarming conclusion. The Trojan Horse, if reverse-engineered by a psi able to wield both telepathy and empathy (like Kritzer herself), could potentially be used to make the Taygetos conditioning less vulnerable - in fact, close to bulletproof.
Machado apologized to Nathan, telling him she had no choice if she wanted to protect the children and her people, and a Taygetos team promptly sprang a trap. They took Nathan captive and swiftly retreated, before the team of X-Men that had been running flight exercises near the city could arrive. The team took Machado back to the mansion, where she and Jean headed for the Cerebro room, where Ororo and Scott were waiting with the Professor. There, Xavier took down the memory blocks in the minds of the three non-telepaths, revealing that the whole thing was a set-up planned by the six of them, designed to get Nathan (who had the same mental blocks) inside Taygetos. The blocks were necessary, due to Trask's involvement with Taygetos; only those who could absolutely prevent her from jumping into their minds could know the truth about Nathan's capture. Restoring the blocks, Charles went back to searching for Nathan, while the others drew up plans for a rescue mission.
Nathan was taken to a facility in Greenland and left in the hands of a telempath, who set about breaking down his resistance so that she could study the Trojan Horse in detail. Already injured after his capture and the 'softening up' ordered by Alpha on the flight to Greenland, Nathan's reaction to the psionic torture was the reemergence of the 'Cable' tactical personality, which actually struck back against the telemapth, injuring her and earning himself even more brutal treatment.
Charles finally located Nathan two days later, and Jean led a rescue team to Greenland. There, she revealed the nature of the plan, and sent Kyle in with psionic camouflage (so that he would blend in with the other operatives) to deliver the trigger phrase for Nathan's blocks and free him. Nathan refused to leave without the information he came for, and he and Kyle jumped the telempath together so that he could extract the location of the current Taygetos safehouse. It turned out that all the young operatives and senior staff had been brought to a single facility in Wyoming. Incapacitating the guards (in an excessively brutal fashion) and triggering the Trojan Horse against the young operatives, Nathan headed back to the Blackbird with Kyle to give Jean the information and set the ball rolling on the next part of the plan. Though he was taken to the infirmary upon arriving at the mansion, Nathan refused to be left out, as the Trojan Horse was vital.
The X-Men departed for Wyoming after arranging to meet a SHIELD response team. The plan was for a small group, including Nathan, to infiltrate the shielded facility so that he could trigger the Trojan Horse and thus take out most of the resistance. Then, the X-Men would take care of the rest and hand the Taygetos staff over to SHIELD for trial and the children for therapy. While Nathan, Jean, Garrison and Lil successfully entered an unused part of the facility, the Trojan Horse did not work. The culprit was Trask, forcing a subconscious response from the children's conditioning to resist its effects - and driving them into a homicidal frenzy reminiscent of the scorched-earth tactic at Youra in a deliberate attempt to buy herself time to escape. The X-Men were forced to move in and engage the children hand-to-hand while Jean sought out Trask on the astral plane and Nathan continued to try and force the Trojan Horse to work. The fighting was difficult, as none of the X-Men wanted to harm the victims they were there to help, but also needed to defend themselves. In the chaos, Alpha was killed by three operatives specifically directed to him by Trask, an event that Shiro witnessed but chose not to stop, a decision that would later trouble him. Jean finally defeated Trask on the astral plane, destroying her astral form, and the Trojan Horse met no further resistance. In a startling twist, however, Trask's manipulations actually blunted its effects. Instead of obliterating the conditioning (and the children's minds) it merely undermined it. A great deal of therapy would be required, but on the whole, the prognosis for the children was much better than anticipated.
The team returned to the mansion, where an injured Nathan remained in the infirmary to recuperate. Two days later, however, Jean and Moira were called in by SHIELD to consult when another, smaller Taygetos facility was found. A creche, it held babies at the beginning of the conditioning process. Nathan insisted upon going along, despite his injuries, and was shocked to discover, upon their arrival at the facility in Northern California, that Carly Alvarez was working with SHIELD.
Jean and Moira assessed the half-dozen infants, establishing that their conditioning had been started (but was not very far along), and that the Taygetos staff had been carrying out dangerous genetic experimentation upon them. During the assessment, however, another helicopter arrived, carrying John Lense and a number of hired mercenaries.
Jean helped the SHIELD team handle Lense's men and provided cover while Moira began to evacuate the babies to the Blackbird. Nathan and Carly, meanwhile, went after Lense; Nathan to distract him, Carly to take him down telepathically. Their plan went badly awry when Lense lashed out at Carly instinctively, killing her. Realizing who she was drove him into even more of a rage, and he and Nathan fought, both severely injuring the other. Lense wound up on the losing side, however, and the backlash of his own powers killed him. Nathan was critically injured, but after a near-death experience, was rescued from the ocean by Jean.
Trivia and Meta
After the events in California, the six genetically-altered babies stayed at the mansion for a few days for further tests before being transported to Muir.
The title for the plot came from the cavalryman's poem, Fiddler's Green.