Higher Than Hope
|Higher Than Hope|
|Dates run:||September 10 - October 14, 2014|
|Read the logs:||Higher Than Hope|
"And I am very interested in hearing your views, once you've acquainted yourself further with our aims here," the Archduke finished smoothly. "But for now, I would like to have your response - would you like to show us what you are capable of? Or have we made a mistake in considering you for our program?"
Hope Abbott has the opportunity of a lifetime. Too bad it's not what it seems.
Amy Wright, CJ Ward, Ian Archer, Suki Sato, Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Forrest, The Archduke's children Maria Sophia, Joseph and Karl, Charles Xavier
Amy Wright emails Hope Abbott about a forum she's discovered called the Foundation for Genetic Harmony - an online group that advocates for mutants to use their gifts to help humanity. Over the next few weeks Amy and Hope become enraptured by the group and are invited into several password-protected chats. They're offered internships with the organization in Europe, and Hope goes home to Michigan to help Amy convince her mother to let her go (with Laurie Collins acting as an escort, as Hope doesn't feel safe after the events of the summer before).
It falls apart, however, when Laurie meets Sarah Ryall, the public relations person for the organization, and recognizes her as one of the mutants who'd been with Magneto on Avalon. With her cover blown, Sarah and Azazel kidnap Laurie, Hope, and Amy, taking them back to their headquarters.
Once they reach Ksavia, Hope's connection to the X-Men is revealed. Amy acts betrayed, and Hope tries to convince them all that she isn't there as a trap from the X-Men and Laurie was just a friend looking after her for the visit home. The Archduke makes his appearance, and he explains that some of the members of their group came to them after criminal pasts and he doesn't want the X-Men or the Brotherhood to destroy the good they are trying to do. He makes a deal with Hope that she can attend lessons, serve in the internship while Laurie is kept somewhere secure. Once he can be sure it isn't a trap and Hope is willing to decide to stay of her own free will, he will release Laurie unharmed, with a minor telepathic fix to protect his people. His reasonable tones and promise that she won't be harmed is enough to allow Hope to agree, although later some of her fellow candidates express distrust about her and are close to outright threatening her to fall in line and not ruin this chance for them.
As soon as the mansion realizes their disappearance a team is sent to Michigan to investigate, while the Professor takes to Cerebro. He is unable to find them though because of Shieldo and Shielda hiding them away. As very little clues have been found, Doug joins the search with his own skills, tracking Hope’s online activities. Garrison works through the official channels of the FBI and other agencies.
Over the next several weeks, Hope throws herself into the training, determined to outdo the others and earn the trust of the Archduke. The training is deliberately designed to weaken the teens mentally so they will accept the teaching they are given. Short nights are combined with physical training and powers training to keep them physically tired, while intensive classes in mutant superiority philosophy, mutation and genetics and a study of how mutants are discriminated in the world. Combined with a wide variety of intellectual exercises and scenarios, both in their area’s and their own, this keeps their mind too tired and busy to think much on what they learn. They also never know when to expect something. Over all of this hangs a simple system of rewards and punishment, the last being in the hands of Goose.
Laurie is first kept in comfortable surroundings, but after a failed escape attempt she is kept in a cell, outfitted with a system to keep her too drugged to use her abilities and interrogated with goals of both converting her, but also to gain information. Hope (both as a reward and a test) is allowed to visit Laurie occasionally, often seeming to argue the Lensherr philosophy with her as a new convert, while secretly telling her to wait for an opportunity. The Archduke and Scanner also show Laurie on video several times as prove they are keeping their side of the deal.
Hope's steady acceptance of the attempts to indoctrinate her shatters when they delve into Genosha and paint a picture so skewed that it offers support for extreme retaliation against humans, but she keeps this hidden in order to protect Laurie. She does make the step in trying to start more actively looking for a way out.
During their first coming out event, attended by some of the Archduke's supporters, including several Hellfire Clubs. During the event she comes across an abandoned purse in one of the ladies room and she finds a stash of antidepressants and sedatives in them. Somewhat familiar with them from her mother’s education, she takes them, hides the purse and fakes a minor illness to get back to her room and hide the drugs, returning party soon after. Meanwhile, X-Force, following a tip from the London Hellfire Club attacks the end of the party. They don't know it is connected to Hope's disappearance, but the name The Archduke has been floating around several mutant slavery and organ harvesting organizations; the end destination of those who don't buy into the philosophy.
Hope and the others are spirited away as the fight overflows and discussion in the group turns toxic as they believe someone has betrayed them. Hope is forced to defend herself from accusations and angrily turns the tables on them, using the kind of social manipulation her mother perfected to turn them all against each other. It is then she realizes that she could easily become the same woman.
Not long after, Hope takes a chance, drugging Shieldo and Shielda, as well as the guard in front of Laurie's cell. Laurie makes a break for it while Hope goes into Astral Plane to warn the Professor. The X-Men mobilize, first to find Laurie who is being hunted by several members of the group and then Hope. The X-Men hit the complex just as Hope is being savagely beaten and interrogated for her part in Laurie's escape. At this point, many of the mutants see her as nothing but a traitor, and happily fight the X-Men. Several people manage to escape, but Ian and CJ are contained and Shieldo, Shielda and Goose are captured and turned over to the authorities. Maria Sophia takes over her father’s throne.
Trivia and Meta
The events of this plot still occurred in Phase 2, but specifics, such as which characters were involved, remain fuzzy for the purposes of not breaking the world. ;)