Four Armadillos and a Jelly Mould
By Thorne & Co.
Part Five

In the ice cream parlour, again.

Mystique tried to enter the spirit of the highland fossil whose appearance she had borrowed - “Och high, dennoo. It’s a braw bricht nicht tonicht. The best o’ Rabbie Burns nicht and his spider as weel,” – and failed in a feast of incomprehensible nonsense. However, despite the lack of any sensible communication, Larry seemed to accept this as the normal state of affairs with Mrs McClooney.

“Hey, lil Dudes, what’ll it be?”

Little Victor proceeded to recite the entire menu before Mystique stepped in to restore a degree of reality to the order if not the accent.

“They’d like a bit o’ evrything, laddie, aye, so they would, begorrah” she strangled.

“Hey, like, gotcha man. They’ll have the (deep breath) Chef’ s-Super-Deluxe-All-In-One-Bonanza-Mega-Taste-Explosion-With-The-Crunchy-Pist achio-Walnut-And-Hazel-Nut-Topping-And-Mapel-Strawberry-Double-Caramel-Sauce -Monster-Mountain!” They waited for a few moments while he leaned on the table gasping for breath.

“Um, yeah, okay,” said Mystique. “Och high, yer haggis,” she added quickly if nonsensically.

Larry, who had recovered by now, hastily scribbled on his note pad and set off back to the counter.

“Er, um, what about me … laddie?” asked Mystique.

“Like, no worries, man. I’ll, like, bring the usual.” He winked conspiratorially and disappeared behind the counter.

With Scott and party.

Scott was striding purposefully through the mall in a totally random direction with the rest trailing behind like the tail of an elongated kite. The end of the tail consisted of females and little Gambit, who had been ostracised by the male sector.

“Where are we going?” whispered Ororo to little Storm. This was rather awkward, given that Ororo was about two feet taller than little Storm and they were hurrying to keep up with the rest.

“I fink we’re twying to find the others,” said little Storm, her little legs almost running to keep up, “but I don't fink that Cycwops knows where he’s going.”

“Why don’t we ask someone?” suggested Ororo.

“No talking in the ranks,” snapped Scott. “This is important business! It can’t be delayed.”

“Well why don’t you ask someone if they’ve seen them?” pleaded Ororo. “We are getting bored back here.”

“Ororo, I don't know what's gotten into you lately, but we're going to have to have a long talk. Hey, everyone, I’ve just had a brilliant idea,” said Scott. “Why don’t we ask someone if they’ve seen our foes. They are pretty distinctive after all.”

“A superlative leap of intuition,” praised Hank.

“Indeed,” said both Bishops in unison.

“Permit me to initiate interrogative mode with a likely informant.” He spotted a small girl with a large lollipop and pigtails. “ Excuse me, petite mademoiselle, have you, by any chance, seen a small ensemble of garishly attired juveniles?”

She looked at him, pensively, and took another lick of her lolly. She appeared to be contemplating his question, unlikely as this might appear. “My nanny’s got a big spot on the end of her nose,” she offered, hopefully.

“I sympathise with her unfortunate affliction, my dear, but I wonder, during your perambulation of the walkways of this centre, have you, perchance, alighted upon a collection of extravagantly costumed diminutive individuals?” They held their breath for further disclosures.

The little girl creased her brow in intense concentration. She smiled. “My dog smells really bad,” she volunteered, “and he sometimes makes a mess on the carpet.” She beamed, convinced that this revelation was the information required.

“Oh, let me talk to her,” said Scott, pushing Hank out of the way. “We’ ll be here forever if we have to wait for you to come up with a comprehensible sentence. Now see here little girl, we need to find some small people very urgently. Have you seen any children dressed as if they were going to a party?”

She stared straight at his glasses. “I don’t like you,” she said.

“Never mind about that! Just answer my question. Have you seen them?”

“I might have.” She licked her lolly, slowly.

“Well have you or haven’t you?” Scott’s usually short fuse was almost at ignition point.

“You have to say please,” she told him, sternly.

“What!!?” 10, 9, 8,…

“My mommy says it’s polite to say ‘please’.”

“But!!” 7, 6, 5, …

“Butt is a rude word. If I tell my mommy you said that, she’ll ground you, without cartoons!” Horrified gasps came from the assembled X-Babies.


“Listen up, you little…..”


“Uh, Hank? He be goin’ red again,” Remy couldn’t decide whether to be worried or elated.

Little Wolvie could. “He’s gonna blow, Bete!” he enthused.


“Oh my stars and garters, I do believe you’re right,” the scientist frantically searched his brain for a way of preventing the inevitable.

“ Bobby, make ice, post haste!” he yelled, grabbing the X-Baby and holding him at a precarious angle over Scott.

“Whu…. what’s going on?” the stunned Icecube spluttered.

“Just do it!” yelled Hank. Ice pops flew.


Scott sat up under the pile of melting fruit flavoured ice around him. “Ugh,” he said. The X-People looked at the scene, as did quite a few passers-by, trying not to laugh. Jean wasn’t having too much trouble not laughing; she was too concerned for her ‘darling Scottypoos’.

“Oh honey, are you all right?” she cooed at him, half strangling him with a hug.

“Errrk. What happened?” Scott peered dazedly at what he was sitting in. “Hank, have you been experimenting with Bobby’s powers again?”

While Hank hastily explained, little Cyclops sulked. “Great, big, nathty, bothy….” he mumbled, wincing as his Jeannie, fluttered her eyelashes at Scott. Little Gambit put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder.

Remy took little Wolvie to one side. “You know what ‘bete’ means, right?”


“An’ your Hank doesn’t, right?”


“An’ our Hank doesn’ either.”

The pair grinned evilly.

“Let’s keep it dat way, ‘kay?”


Scott got soggily, though tastily, to his feet. “I …”

“…have a cunning plan,” announced little Scott.

“It’s not that ‘Run’ plan again is it?” groaned little Rogue.

“Oh, no,” groaned the X- Babies, collectively.

Scott gave them the ‘Don’t be tho thilly; of courthe I have more than one plan’ look. And Rogue gave him the ‘Oh, yeah, ah’ll bet’ look in return to which he replied with his condescending ‘Jutht watch thith, lady’ glare.

“My plan ith thimple, but brilliant,” said little Scott, immodestly. “What do all X-Babies like better than anything else in the whole world?”

Pause while Jean looked adoringly at Scott, Rogue swooned in Remy’s direction, little Gambit smiled at Rogue, little Wolvie yearned towards Jean, little Bishop and big Bishop sighed in Ororo’s direction.

“That’th right!! Ithe cream!!!”

Reveries broke and ..

“Er, … yeah, right,” they chorused.

“Tho we athk thomeone where the ithe cream parlour ith,” he concluded.

“Perhaps I’d better ask, in the interests of clarity,” suggested Scott.

With a minimum of further fuss the group were directed by a friendly security guard and set off in the direction indicated.

As they rounded the corner, Scott saw a small crowd headed in their direction. He was so busy observing the angry throng that he failed to notice a small but swiftly moving little Magneto dashing blindly in his direction, looking back over his shoulder to see how close the pursuing crowd were.

“OOMPH!!” said Maggie.

“ERK!!” complemented Scott.

They both fell in a heap and bowled over most of the rest of the kite tail bustling quickly after Scott.

Back in the ice cream parlour.

Mystique waited nervously, wondering what on earth her ‘usual’ might be. She didn’t have too long to wait. A few moments later Larry returned with a large tray. He placed it on the table. There were three of the most enormous bowls of ice cream any of the four had ever seen.

“Like, here you go, little dudes. Enjoy!!” enthused Larry, beginning to hand out the goodies.

“But, erm, there are only three, er och aye, don’cha know, laddie,” said Mystique, the latter somewhat half-heartedly in the circumstances.

“Hey, like, nice one, Mrs McClooney, dude.” As the three gigantic portions were grabbed by the boys, an eggcup sized dish of brown ice cream was revealed in the centre of the tray.

“Here you go. Like, take your time; this is the strongest yet, dude.” He placed the dish with great care in front of Mystique and stood back in anticipation.

Mystique peered into the dish and as the fumes hit her nostrils she felt like someone was blowtorching the inside of her head. She rather liked it. She breathed in again. She really liked it. She didn’t recognise the smell as the finest (not to mention the strongest) Scottish malt whisky, but she knew when she smelled something she liked.

“Och, would yer nae leave me alone with the boys. Ah’ll need to savour this a wee while to fully appreciate it good and proper, so I will.” Was it the fumes or was she getting the hang of this accent?

“Hey. Like, go steady there, dude. We wouldn’ wanna, like, get the paramedics round again twice in the same week. The boss was, like, majorly bummed last time.” He skated off thinking; duuuude, that is one brave lady.

The boys had been too busy devouring to notice this exchange and had already made major inroads into the heaps in front of them. For a few minutes they ate in blissful silence. Then Sabretooth weakly dropped his spoon into the empty bowl.

“Erg,” he groaned, “I don’t feel so good, Mystique.” He looked over at his girlfriend. She was smiling vacantly, her eyes trying desperately to point in the same direction. They gave up and she vainly tried to focus on one and then the other.

“Wash dat you shed?” she slurred.

“I said I don’t feel so good. Hey, are you OK?”

“I will be fine when you shtop whirling round like that. You’re making me dizzy. Hicc!!”

“Hey, fellas,” said Sabretooth. “Something’s up with Raven.”

Juggernaut was almost down to his last spoonful. “What’s the matter, Mystique? What have you been eating?” He reached over and lifted the small bowl. He jerked back quickly after a brief sniff. “Wow!! What is that stuff?”

“I dinnae hae the foggiest ken, me-laddio,” she intoned direly “but it’ sh won'erflul.” Mystique sighed and giggled happily to herself. “If shomeone would get a hold of the room and shtop it shpinning round sho quickly I would be perfickly fine, hicc!!” Her head slumped into her arms and a sound like a demented buzzsaw could be heard shaking the table.

The others watched in alarm as Mystique slowly began to revert to her normal blue self as the shape of Mrs McClooney faded.

At this moment Larry glided back towards their table.

“Yeah, like totally knocks you out, dude. It sure is something … else …?” He peered at Mystique as she slowly lifted her head and the last of Mrs McClooney disappeared before his eyes. “Like, ur, like you … you .. woah, dude. I, like, knew it was strong but it’s never done that before. Like, cool!!”

Another waiter glided by and caught sight of Mystique. “Hey, dude! Like, who’s the blue chick, man? Hey Jo! Come and scope this out, man!”

A small crowd began to gather around the table, leaving the boys increasingly more uncomfortable with the attention. Sabretooth poked Mystique, frantically.

“Psst, Raven, quick, think of something. We’ve got to get out of here!”

Mystique’s dynamic response was to slump from her chair into a heap on the floor and lapse into loud snores once more.

“Right,” said Juggernaut to Sinister, “Looks like you’re in charge. What do we do now?” Sabretooth grinned hopefully and expectantly in the direction of the scientist.

The attempted front of decisive leadership was somewhat hindered by the dribble of strawberry ice-cream dripping from Sinister’s chin and the glob of pistachio staining the front of his costume. He wiped his cuff across his mouth, drew himself up to his full three foot two and took a deep and masterly breath.

“Urgghhhhh!!!” He was promptly sick all over the table. Everyone jumped down or back to escape the torrent. (Mystique was in the best place, protected by the tabletop.)

“Yuck!! Dude!! I hate when that happens,” said Larry. “Like, anybody got a bucket?”

“Man,” said Jo. “Like, the boss is going to totally freak! Hey, Moose dude, quick. Like, get rid of the crowd.”

“Too late, dude,” said Moose. “Like, the big cheese is heading this way!”

Back with the tangled heap.

“Will whoever has his foot in my ear please remove it immediately!” requested Scott, thinking ‘happy thoughts’ in an effort to remain calm.

“And I would be eternally grateful if the individual whose appendage is tickling my, well, I’d really rather not elaborate, would desist at his or her earliest convenience,” pleaded Hank.

“I bud, iv itth bine, bud I’ve go’ thomone’th elbow up by dothe,” moaned little Scott.

“And I don’t know whose hand that is but if it is not removed immediately, its owner will be regretting its loss very shortly,” said Ororo.

The heap cautiously disassembled itself.

“You’re back,” said Remy, grinning at Ororo. "The effect must have worn off."

“I was not aware that I had been away,” said Ororo straightening herself and glaring at Bishop, who cleared his throat and looked innocent.

"Eric darling are you okay?" Little Storm fussed over their tiny arch-nemesis. Scott picked up little Magneto. “Now, are you going to give us any trouble or are you going to lead us to you friends?” Baby Ororo sulked off, grey clouds appearing on the horizon.

“They’re not my friends. They left me behind and then those people…” He waved vaguely.

The crowd who had been in pursuit of Magneto had decided that the odds were no longer in their favour and had rapidly dissipated.

“And my helmet…” He looked around in panic.

“Is this what you’re looking for?” Hank held up the battered piece of metal. He applied powerful fingers to it and it was soon returned to something vaguely recognisable. He handed it back.

“Thank you!” said Magneto, his little face a picture of glee. A scheming vengeful look crossed his features. “My … ‘colleagues’ are over there.”

As the group set off someone called from behind.

“Hi people, like, whassup?” Jubilee emerged from a music store, her arms laden with numerous packages.

“Hey, we don’t have one of those!” said Bobby, eyes wide.

“I can positively confirm that in the negative,” enthused little Hank, beaming.

“Er, right, okaaay,” said Jubilee. “What’s with all the little guys?” she asked Remy as they headed off towards the ice cream parlour.

“It’s a long story, petite, and we gotta find deir ‘friends’ ‘fore t’ ings be gettin' outta hand. I give you de details later. Come on.” They increased their pace as Scott was getting into full stride, now he knew where he was going.

" Bossman seems pretty mad, what's eating him?"

" I t'ink de pressure been gettin' to him. His head nearly exploded couple o' times."

"No way! Kewl!"

They arrived outside the parlour doors, where Scott and Baby Magneto struck poses and the others stood around in a huddle trying to look interested.

In the ice cream parlour

The ‘big cheese’ was not amused. He ran a tight ship and everyone aboard followed his orders to the letter, including the customers. If necessary he had no hesitation in making miscreants ‘walk the plank’ from his parlour, never to return. The crowd parted before his anger like the Red Sea. And now, back to dry land!

“What is the meaning of this outrageous behaviour? Get back to your seats!! I am not running a cattle market!!” The crowd melted away like ice cream on a hot stove. “Now … who is responsible for such unacceptable commotion?” He glowered at the miscreants around, not to say under, the table before him.

Three mouths fell open and one pair of bleary eyes from under the table suddenly became much more focused and threatened to leap from their sockets for a closer look.

“What?!! How?!! But…!!!” the Baby X-Bad Dudes spluttered in shocked amazement. Mystique recovered first, probably because the effects of the ice cream meant that she was only in a state of mild shock rather than the gob-smackedness of the others.

“What are you doing here?! You should be out in the world…. Doing things!

Interesting sinister things. Not running an ice cream parlour!”

Sinister, for it was he, pink gingham frilly apron and all, experienced a roller coaster of emotions.

Surprise – where had these miniature X-people come from, including his own tiny alter ego, who was looking exceedingly put out at the moment.

“Yeah!!” little Nate frowned in disapproval. “Why aren’t you busy taking over the world? Or doing complicated genetic experiments? Or anything cooool? We do have a reputation to maintain, you know!!” he tsk-ed.

Embarrassment – Essex looked at the floor and shuffled his feet. “Well, it’s just that .. you know,” he flustered. “It isn’t easy being a super villain mad scientist, you know. People don’t understand the hours of hard thought and labour that I have to put in. Threatening the world’s genetic evolution every day is a really stressful business.”

Despair/self-pity - “You put up with it for so long, you know, for the cause. But in the end it gets to you. You wonder if anyone really understands. Will my work ever be appreciated? Doesn’t anyone comprehend my subtle allusions? Does no-one care?” He slumped, dejectedly onto a stool at the next table, his head in his hands. Little Nate cleared his throat, contritely. “Erm, I didn’t mean ..”

Whistfulness – “This place – it helps you unwind – gets you away from the hassle of everyday domination and genetic experimentation. It’s so smooth. Ice-cream. Ahhh. All the flavours – the textures – the toppings – an unending myriad of varieties and combinations …..”

Apoplexy – “And then … some … little … sad .. pathetic . excuse-for-a-mad-scientist’s-baby-clone comes in here and spoils it all by barfing all over my nice clean tables!!!!!”

Sinister’s thermostat was about to blow, so good was his impression of Cyclops. His temperature soared and his colour was rapidly approaching that of his visored foe, quite a feat considering Nathaniel’s normally pasty (to say the least) complexion. Just as the mercury was about to exit the tube, a commotion at the entrance to the parlour demanded the attention of them all.

“Everyone stay exactly where they are and no-one will get hurt. We know the Babies are in here and we just want them to come quietly.” Scott thought he had struck just the right tone – firm, in control … He revised this opinion as a dozen hysterical parents with about two dozen screaming children headed for the door at the same time. They seemed to be choreographed to reach the spot on which Scott was standing at precisely the same moment. They did. Scott went down under a stampede of buggy wheels, feet, bags and old nappies (delete the last item as my co-writer thinks that ’s too mean, even for Scott**). The rest of the X-people, old and young, who had sensibly stepped back out of the parlour immediately after Scott had begun to speak, peered cautiously round the door as the dust settled. Jean and Hank helped their squished leader to his feet and brushed him down. The others made their way in to the parlour, now deserted save for their quarry. Sinister, still in apoplexy, exploded, “That’s the last straw!! Now I’ve no customers, my table’s still ruined, I’ve lost my cool, and worst of all, there are not one but two Scott Summers whose whining I’ll have to put up with while I’m experimenting, and …”

The spoonful of strawberry ice cream, which little Wolvie had thrown with great accuracy, stopped Sinister in his tracks as it completely filled his mouth.

“All right! Bullseye!!” said Wolvie.

“You projected the missile with a perfect directory,” congratulated little Hank, ambiguously, grabbing wafers and ice cream from a table.

“We’ll get you for that!” growled Sabretooth and threw the remains of little Nate’s ice cream in the general direction of Wolvie.

“Yeah,” yelled Mystique, aiming nowhere in particular as her earlier ice cream hadn’t fully worn off yet.

Scoops flew like a fruit flavoured blizzard. Bobby joined in with his own brand of icy perfection. The adults tried to stand above it all but ended up cowering beneath the table, which was slightly more dignified than being covered from head to foot in fruity frosting.

At last the ammunition began to run out. “Hey, guys,” yelled Wolvie, ducking a Pineapple Surprise which unfortunately took little Cyke by its namesake, “This aint no fun. Hows about we get down to some real action?” Snikt!!

Somewhere else.
(You’ve been here before but nobody seemed to understand why.)

The four stretched their armoured bodies and then peered intently at the images in the jelly-like substance.

“It’s happening,” said the first.

“Any moment now,” said the second.

“I told you the little crazy one would start it. You owe me a fiver,” said the third.

“Doh!!” said the fourth.

Back in the parlour

Little Wolvie charged. Juggernaut charged. Little Rogue charged. They all charged!

“Oh dear,” said Scott, raising his visor towards Sinister.

“Oh, *****,” groaned Sinister, raising his arms. And then, as the adults joined the fray, all the powers in the room were unleashed. The storms blew, fireworks flared, cards flew, fur flew too!!!

The feeling of disconnection rippled through the parlour, just as it had in the van. But this time, the combined effects of all the mutant powers accumulated and grew in the centre of the room, rippling through the whole spectrum and beyond before the rush tore the fabric of the world and the X-people were sucked through.

*The meaning, other than animal, for the word ‘bete’ in French is 'silly', which is probably why 'Marvel France' decided to call Hank ‘Le Fauve’ over there. This means that Remy has been in fact calling Henry "Mr. Silly" the whole time! Of course, I could be wrong. As to how lil' Wolvie found out, well, it just strikes me as the sort of thing he would know.

**Once again, I must apologise for Co. He is a little (okay, very) crude at times. Please just ignore him. I usually do!

One last thing before I leave you in peace. Happy birthday to Renner for the 19th May. Her nagging is the reason I finally got this part out. Oh, and 'Spock rules!!'

Still to be continued…

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