Part 2 of the Go Tell The Spartans Arc.
|Dates run:||April 30, 2004 - May 3, 2004, August 16-20th, 2004|
|Read the logs:||Horse|
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him...
When Nathan is recaptured by Mistra, he is reconditioned and turned against his friends. But the X-Men are nothing if not persistent, and what began as a horrific ordeal for Nathan becomes a road to freedom.
At the end of April, Nathan received a message from an old instructor of his from Mistra, Colin MacInnis. In the IM conversation that followed, MacInnis used an old post-hypnotic trigger to ensure that Nathan would come alone to the meeting they arranged in New York, rather than bringing Pete with him as planned. When Nathan arrived at the bar, MacInnis confessed to having been working against Mistra for years, claimed that he had tried to help Nathan and his family escape - and then drugged him. Apart from some disturbing fragments including a fight with Mistra operatives and being restrained during some sort of psionic manipulation, Nathan then 'lost' the next two days, only returning to his senses when he woke up back at the mansion. Moira established that he had been heavily drugged, while Charles attempted to repair the damage done to his mind and Pete tried to investigate MacInnis and the events of the weekend.
What really happened would not become clear until nearly four months later. Moira, returning from Columbia University after a meeting with Dr. Stephen Strange, was kidnapped by a team of Mistra operatives. Their leader, Timothy Morgan, called Nathan at the mansion, telling him that unless he traded himself for Moira, he would kill her. Fortunately, Charles was 'listening' in, and convinced Nathan to let the team accompany him, so that Moira could be safely retrieved without him needing to sacrifice himself. With the X-Men, he went to the address Morgan had given him. They managed to get Moira quickly out of the area, and Nathan and the team engaged the Mistra team which had been guarding her. The scales of battle were tipped when the Mistra team's telepath triggered Nathan's conditioning, allowing Morgan to order him to bring the warehouse roof down. Morgan, Nathan, and a number of the Mistra team escaped, leaving the X-Men to dig themselves out.
The Mistra team stopped for a time at a safehouse in Calgary while they waited for transport back to their home facility. Nathan, though heavily drugged, managed to escape briefly and make it to a pay phone to call Moira before Morgan and his people caught up to him, taking him back into custody. He discovered that his former comrades wanted him back for entirely different and much more personal reasons than the Mistra directors; they claimed to need him, although what they meant by that would not become clear for some time.
At the Mistra home facility, Nathan's conditioning was repaired and his link with Moira broken in an hours-long session of what could only be classed as torture at the hands of several telepaths and empaths. Although they restored his obedience imperatives, they left a portion of his awareness free, able to understand what had happened to him but unable to do anything but rage in confinement. The Mistra directors warned their newly reconditioned field leader that any further episodes of disobedience would not be tolerated and then returned him to service.
Their plans were derailed when one of their conditioning telepaths reported seeing images of MacInnis in Nathan's mind. Concerned by this, as MacInnis had indeed been opposing their operations with some success, the directors chose to send Nathan out on a mission far earlier than they had planned. In an attempt to both test him and force him to break his remaining ties with the outside world, they ordered him to kill Charles Xavier.
Nathan attempted to do so at an art exhibit where Xavier had taken a number of students on a field trip. Charles took shelter with the students and tried to find a way to incapacitate Nathan telepathically, only to discover that attempting to do so would trigger a telekinetic explosion that would wreak havoc in the middle of New York. Nathan was intercepted by Pete, who fought to keep him away from his target. Fighting his conditioning, Nathan tried to goad Pete into killing him, and although Pete tried, he was unsuccessful. Only Amanda's intervention, with a sleep spell, stopped the fight before it could go any further.
An unconscious Nathan was transported back to the mansion and restrained in the infirmary, where Moira and a number of his friends discovered that his mental state was precarious. He alternated begging them to let him go or kill him with raging at them for not stopping this from happening. MacInnis contacted Xavier with news that he could help Nathan, but when he and his colleage, Sharon Kritzer arrived, their explanation was far from satisfactory. The previous May, they had implanted a psionic Trojan Horse in Nathan's mind, a worm program that would destroy his program when triggered and then use his telepathy to jump to every other Mistra operative within range. The telepath on Morgan's team had been one of their people, and had been intending to trigger the Trojan Horse when Nathan was taken back to the home facility, thus freeing all of the Mistra operatives in one shot. His death in the collapse of the warehouse had derailed that plan, and MacInnis and Kritzer attempted to convince Xavier, Moira, and Pete to send Nathan back to Mistra. Pete reluctantly agreed, Moira was vehemently against the idea, and Charles was deeply suspicious. Under his probing questions, Kritzer admitted that triggering the Trojan Horse fully would kill Nathan; it would destroy his conditioning without harming him, but when his telepathy transmitted it, the feedback would damage his mind irreparably. MacInnis, who had been completely in the dark about that wrinkle in the plan, was furious with her, and over her protests, gave Charles the trigger phrase so that the Trojan Horse could be used in safe, shielded conditions and free Nathan's mind without doing him any further damage. He and Kritzer departed the mansion immediately.
Charles triggered the Trojan Horse using MacInnis's trigger phrase - a particularly apt verse from an old folksong, 'Minstrel Boy'. He succeeded in destroying Nathan's conditioning, but then had to coax his traumatized consciousness out of hiding. Nathan awoke to the knowledge that his mind was his own, fully, for the first time since childhood.
Trivia and Meta
The breaking of his conditioning did a great deal of damage to Nathan's mind, destroying his natural mechanisms for controlling his emotions. To aid in his recovery, Xavier implanted a post-hypnotic suggestion that led him to fall asleep anytime he became upset. So, for a few weeks after the events of this plot, Nathan was effectively narcoleptic.