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


Time stood so still, even the nano-seconds felt as if they’d just done a double marathon and slumped around refusing to move. The X-people had little perception of being. Other than a vague uneasiness. An expectation of something about to happen. Something out of their control. In places they’d rather not be.

Somewhere else.

In the void. The four sat round a card table. A shaded light shone bleakly from above. They peered under their green visors, which fitted poorly due to their pointy heads. Only wrinkled sticky-tape held two in place, but what did they know about sartorial elegance?

The first scratched briefly under its arm, flexed its paws and took a card. A smile, if that’s what you call a slight elongation of the mouth and protrusion of several sharp teeth, cracked its face. “Rummy!!” it exclaimed triumphantly. “Scott’s mine!” It reached into the centre of the table and picked up a figure frozen in time, placing it proudly before him with the other two already won.

“Doh!!” said the fourth. “I really wanted him. I had such plans.… Still, I got Ororo, so I’m not complaining.”

“Right, what shall we play next?” asked the second.

The third glared pointedly at the first. “And we are NOT playing ‘Twister’ again. I still haven’t fully undislocated the last four vertebrae of my tail. …. Dice. I’m good at dice and I want Maggie.”

The cards were thrown into the jelly and white bone dice appeared. “Whose turn is it to start?” asked the first.

Some time later around the table, though in the same instant for the X-people, the four sat back and contemplated the small figurines assembled neatly before each of them.

“Well, that’s all of them,” said the first. “Not an unfair distribution. Now the fun begins.”

“Shall we all start together?” asked the second.

“I rather think it would be more fun, and prolong our enjoyment, if we proceeded one at a time,” said the third. “Then we can delight in the misfortune of every single victim.”

“Then it is agreed,” they all agreed.

Is it really? Part 1

Through a dreamy haze came a voice. At first he tried to ignore it. He hadn’t had a good lie-in in ages.

“It’s time you were all up and about.”

An English accent? Turn over and ignore it.

“Come on. I’ve made breakfast and it’ll get cold if you’re not up soon.”

Breakfast made? Things were looking up. Hot breakfast? That might even be worth getting up for. What time was it? It was light, so it couldn’t be too early.

“You’ve been in the VRM all night. Let’s get you unhooked!”

VRM? Scott felt a tugging and opened his eyes to see a middle aged woman removing something from his head. She seemed to be enormous. A veritable giantess. She leaned over him. Her face was a severe skeletal apparition, made slightly worse, if possible, by a short bristly moustache. Her hair was scraped back from her face and gathered into a bun resembling a miniature cannonball fixed to the top of her head. “Come on Edwin,” she barked like a sergeant major. “Let’s sort you out first. It always takes you longest to brush your teeth and have a good wash, not forgetting behind those ears. We don’t want potatoes growing back there, now do we?” Suicidal as it seemed to question this gorgon, Scott said, “I’m sorry madam. Please say that again?” At least that was what he tried to say; it came out as “I’m thorry madam. Pleathe thay that again?”

“Sssorry. Sound your S’s Edwin, boy. Remember Sssammy Sssnake!”

“Thammy Thnake?!! What are you talking about?!” demanded Scott, leader of the Blue Team, teacher’s pet to Xavier and husband of Jean Grey-Summers.

She stared severely at Scott/Edwin, who quickly backed off. “Oh dear me. You’ve been at that Virtual Reality Machine too long, young man. What was it this time?” She removed a disc from the machine. “ ‘X-Men meet the X-Babies’ again! I suppose you want to be called Cyclops all day? Well it’ ll soon be time for nursery, so chop chop, hurry up and get dressed! Come on the rest of you lazy bones. Wakey wakey. Rise and shine.” She proceeded to uncouple the four remaining children from the machine and marched out, humming a military march to herself.

Scott looked down at himself to see the body of a four-year-old. A cold chill ran down his spine. It didn’t take very long, having such a short distance to travel. A second soon tobogganed after the first as he suddenly realised that he wasn’t wearing glasses. No powers?! The others in what appeared to be a large bedroom were reviving. Who were they? Where was he? What had happened? He vaguely remembered something about an ice-cream parlour, lots of X-Babies and even more mess. How had he got here? In the bed next to his, a boy of about ten was stirring.

“Er, ecthcuthe me. … Could you tell me your name?”

The boy rubbed the sleep from his eyes, tried aimlessly to part his mop of hair, and looked at Scott/Edwin. Then he looked around. Then he looked down at himself, wide eyed. This gave Scott a degree of comfort. The boy smiled, which didn’t.

“Wow, what’s happened?” He looked hard at Scott/Edwin. “Who’re you, squirt?” he demanded of the smaller boy, squaring up his shoulders and trying to look tough.

“The woman jutht called me Edwin but my name ith, well I think my name ith, or wath, Thcott.”

“Hey, you shrunk Scotty!” He beamed. “Does that mean that I get to be in charge for a change?”

“No it thertainly doeth not! Who are you anyway?”

“Well, if I can’t be leader, maybe I won’t tell you. Figure it out for yourself if you’re so clever. Anyway, I’m bigger than you, so if I decide I’m leader, what’re you going to do about it?”

“Lithten mithter. Thith ithn’t funny. Thomething awful hath happened and the thooner we get out of here the better.”

By this time the other had gathered round.

“Scott? Is that you?” said a thin blonde girl of about ten, peering at the small boy as if trying to see through him.

“Now come along or we’ll be here all day and no-one will get to school,” ordered the woman returning with a pile of clothes in her arms. She dumped them on the nearest bed. “Gwendolyn, help your brother sort out the little ones and I want to see you all downstairs in ten minutes on the dot. Now do come along!” With that, she marched out again.

“Gwendolyn!?” shrieked the girl. “No! How did she know?! I’ve never told anyone! There is no way I can be called Gwendolyn. I don’t mind this cool new body … but I refuse to be called that!”

A six-year-old with mousey hair looked around the group with a mixture of worry and confusion vying for room on his features.

“Something weird’s going on here, right?” he asked uncertainly.

They all turned to him.

“Bobby?” they chorused.

He brightened. “Yeah. How did you know?”

“It was a lucky guess,” said the remaining little blonde four-year-old in deadpan tones.

“Look! I demand to know who you all are before I’m prepared to give my name. We need thomeone to get thingth organithed here.”

“But Scotty, sugah, we all know who you are.”

“Razzle, frzzle, mumble mumble, thtupid lithp,” grumbled Scott.

The ten-year-old boy interjected “Well, it wasn’t the lisp, really. It was the way you always try to take over everything. Plus the fact that you’ ve already told me your name!”

Scott’s face lit up like an electric beetroot and more grumbling ensued.

“Anyway, I’m ….,” he looked at Rogue/Gwendolyn with a horror stricken expression, as the words of the woman ran through his head (Gwendolyn help your …) , “I’m … your … brother.”

“Oh for goodness sake. I’m Sinister. What is your name?” the cute four-year-old with the blond curls and gingham pyjamas demanded.

“Should have guessed,” commented Rogue, eyeing up Sinister’s night attire.

“It’s bad enough being your brother, chere, without telling you who I am.”

“You never were that smart, were you Remy,” smirked Sinister to Remy’s dismay.

He put his head in his hands, his lower lip trembling. “What’s happened to us? I don’t want to be Roguey’s brother. It’s not fair.” He sulked.

“Pull yourthelf together!” ordered Scott. “And you thought you were leadership material. I leave you in charge of the mansion for one afternoon and look what happenth! I end up ath a lithping four year old called Edwin!!! Well thank you very much.!!!”

“Looks like an improvement to me.” Sinister rolled his eyes.

“Hey, it wasn’t me in charge. Well, it sort of was, but not me me. It was that big girlfriend stealing …. person.”

“So you’re little Remy,” concluded little Rogue, “and you must be the big Scott.”

She tried unsuccessfully to suppress a chuckle, which Scott did not find amusing.

“So if you’re him and she’s her and they’re him ….. am I still me?” asked a worried Bobby.

“You’re the only one who has hardly changed at all,” said Rogue.

“Well, if we’ve now ethtablished who’th who, perhapth we might conthider how we got here and, more importantly, how we’re going to get out.”

“I think we can speculate on the former,” said Sinister, loftily. “If my recollection is the same as yours, we were all in my ice-cream parlour when you (he looked pointedly at Scott) and your associates burst in and started causing a fracas. Then, when we started using our powers, there was some sort of nexus created and we were all pulled into a rift in space/time. How we come to be in a different reality with strange bodies and no powers I cannot say.”

“Remindth me of my honeymoon,” muttered Scott.

“It could be something to do with that virtual reality machine back in the garage,” said Rogue.

“Hold on a minute,” said Scott. “Hank’th virtual reality machine arriveth yethterday morning and thoon after .. well .. thith happenth. That lady thaid thomething about a VRM – Virtual Reality Machine. Maybe it’ th all connected.”

“He is useful on occasions, isn’t he,” said Sinister, surprised.

“We mutht go down thtraight away and tell the lady of our predicament. Maybe she can help.”

“We’d better dress first. I’ll not be long in the bathroom,” said Rogue, grabbing a handful of clothes and making a dash for it.

About half an hour later Sinister managed to persuade her to vacate the room and make way for someone else. Approximately five seconds after that there was a piercing scream from the bathroom and they all dashed to the door to investigate the cause of Sinister’s distress. The lock on the door was slowly pulled back and a distraught figure appeared. Sinister’s mouth hung open. A look of panic contorted his face. Even Scott showed a degree of concern.

“What’s the matter, sugah?” asked Rogue still annoyed that she’d been vacated before she’d fixed her hair..

“I …. I … I’m …. I’m a …..”

“Oh get on with it,” said an exasperated Scott.

“Quiet! Can’t you see he’s upset?” said Rogue, prepared to give up her grudge to be motherly. “Take a deep breath,” she patted Essex on the head. “There now. What’s the problem?”

“There’s … something missing.”

“What do you mean?” asked Remy. “How can you have lost something when you’ve only been in there a minute?”

“No. I mean … You know.” He nodded in the direction of the floor.

“Does anyone have the faintest idea what he’s talking about?” asked Bobby.

Everyone shook their heads, catching Bobby by surprise.

“Oh, cool,” Bobby grinned.

“I didn’t notice earlier,” stumbled Sinister. “You know, it was a new body anyway. You don’t expect that sort of thing. And then I needed to go to … you know … and …”

A dawning comprehension lit up Remy’s face, followed by a totally unsympathetic grin.

“What?” asked Rogue, seeing his face. “What is it?”

Remy’s grin broadened and was in danger of metamorphosing into a guffaw. “Don’t you get it? The blonde curls? The pretty blonde curls. The high voice. The cute pink gingham pyjamas? With daisies on?”

Sinister bushed deep scarlet and dashed back into the bathroom.

The dawn spread to them all, even Bobby, and there was a ripple of giggles quickly followed by a tidal wave of howling derision. From inside the bathroom came a furious “It’s not funny!!!!!” and then a sob.

Rogue tried to compose herself. “No, of course it’s not.” And then the image of their arch enemy - scourge of humankind, leader of the marauders, manipulator of innocent DNA (and pompous ass) - clad in a pretty pink dress and bunches was too much. She collapsed in a heap with the others, laughing till tears rolled down her cheeks.

Eventually the others got dressed without further revelations, other than the fact that Scott\Edwin was unable to do up his buttons or put on his clothes the right way round.

They trooped downstairs shortly afterwards.

“Ah, you’re all here at last,” scowled the Nanny. “ Now, Gwendolyn and Sydney sit down there.” Remy ground his teeth. “Humphrey and Edwin, here and here with little Flossy in the middle. Now Flossy, don’t look like that. They’re perfectly good boys, aren’t you?” She glowered. Bobby and Scott nodded furiously. She strode out, returning immediately with porridge – thick goopy, grey porridge. “Now you get that down you. It’ll really stick to your insides and set you up for the day. I remember when I was a lass – porridge every day and look at me now.” They looked, which convinced them that the last thing they needed now was to eat the slimy concoction. “And no sissy honey or sugar. Salted porridge. That’s the only way to eat it. Now eat up! That’s all there’s time for because you took so long getting dressed,” she scolded.

Each of them reluctantly picked up a spoon and tried their first mouthful.

“Ergh!!!” spluttered Scott. “I really mutht protetht, madam. There’th been a terrible mithtake. We really are the X-Men ...”

“And Babies,” put in Bobby, helpfully.

“And Babieth… And have thomehow found ourthelveth in bodieth which motht thertainly are not ourth …”

“You can say that again,” said Sinister with deep feeling.

“Tho we mutht try to find thome way of getting back to our own reality ath thoon ath poththible.” His diction did not help his soliloquy.

“That’s quite enough of that, young man. My patience is wearing very thin with this games machine. Every time you come out of it we get this ‘I really am an X-Man’ routine. You spend far too long in there and this is the result. I’m banning you all for a month. Now eat up and I want to hear no more about it. By the time you come back this afternoon I expect there to be no more talk of these confounded X-Men!!”

They ate in silence until they were led off to school.

“FINGER PAINTING!!! My fingerth are nearly worn out.” Scott held up his hands to show his grubby digits. If we’d been meant to finger paint we’d have had brithleth at the end of our fingerth inthtead of nailth!” He hopped up onto the sofa next to Bobby, who looked just as dejected.

“At least you didn’t have to play kiss-chase with some icky girl called Gertrude,” he complained, scrubbing vigorously at his face, where slobber marks were still in evidence. In the corner, resplendent in cute frock, Sinister/Flossy was trying to get a brush through his tangled hair. “Huh! I spent the entire day trying to avoid a vicious gang of horrid little boys trying to pull my bunches out,” he moaned, and went back to brushing.

“When will Rogue and Gambit be back?” asked Scott, “We need to talk about thith. There ith no way I’m being Edwin for the retht of my life.”

“But what if the nanny lady was right. What if this is really real?”

“But we all remember our other liveth. Thith can’t be real. What about the otherth, what about Jean?”

“But she said the machine took time to wear off,” Bobby insisted.

“I think it’s more likely that we are in fact in a VR Machine right now. One which is creating this reality for us,” put in Essex.

Bobby blinked as comprehension struck him. “Er….Right! Or maybe, we’re in this reality machine that’s creating another reality in which the other reality we were in was created and then inside that one there was this other machine that …….” He blinked again. He was saved from further mental strain by the entrance of Rogue and Gambit.

“Urrrrrrrrrrrgh. You would not believe the day we have had.” The two slumped down next to Essex, Rogue retrieving the brush he’d thrown down in disgust and absently raking it through the squirming four-year-old’s blond hair. “For starters, Remy totally flunked the spelling test, there is no SH in actually!” Remy pouted at her.

“Acshually I though I did quite well for someone who has English as a second language.”

“That’s another thing which suggests this is our reality. Remy and Rogue ’s lack of accent.” Sinister pointed out, now a safe distance from Rogue and the brush. Rogue continued. “You can’t use that as an excuse, English is your first language. You’re an X-Baby, remember. You can’t even speak French!”

“Humph,” said Remy. “Well, at least I didn’t think that Madeira was a cake!”

“It is a cake!”

“Not in a geography lesson it’s not!”

Rogue scowled at him. “Anyway, then…….”

“We don’t have time for all thith!” Scott cut her short. “We have to figure out what’th going on!”

They were silenced by the arrival of the Nanny. “Right then everyone. Tea will be ready in half an hour so go and get washed, and make sure you look presentable! And remember, no one is to touch that Machine!”

They trooped off in silence.

As soon as they reached the bedroom they headed straight for the VR Machine.

“Thith hath got to be our betht hope of getting out of here,” said Scott.

“But we don’t know what it’ll do. Maybe it’ll create a false reality within this false reality. It could be dangerous,” cautioned Bobby.

All eyes turned to him. “Do you have a better plan?” Rogue asked.

Bobby looked doleful. “I only meant….”

“We have to do thomething!” Scott repeated.

“So try it then,” prompted Sinister.


“The four of you. Someone has to stay here to make sure everything’s alright,” he explained.

Scott’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “ Why don’t you want to try it. Do you know thomething we don’t?”

“Yeah,” put in Rogue, “those blond curls of yours don’t fool us! You’re still the same Essex underneath! Well maybe not exactly the same……underneath that is.”

Sinister blushed prettily. “Look, it doesn’t have to be me! I just think someone should be available in case of emergencies.” He had a point.

“I hate to thay it, but I agree with Thinithter.”

After much squabbling, they decided to leave Rogue (complaining) on watch and the others prepared to link up to the machine.

Scott had retrieved the instruction manual from a pile in the corner. “Thith lookth thimple! Put on helmetth. Plathe dithc in machine. Lie back and switch on.”

They did.

After what could have been a few moments, or much, much longer, the four opened their eyes and closed them very quickly. It had been a mistake. Maybe Rogue would be able to pull them back. Before it was too late.

Rogue watched the four relax. Then their bodies stiffened in unison. A moment of panic. They jerked once, then relaxed again. But this time it was different. They were too relaxed. They weren’t even breathing! It had all gone wrong!

Somewhere else.

The four chuckled and rubbed their paws together.

“Even better than I expected,” crooned the first.

“Most entertaining,” agreed the second.

The third chuckled. “I liked the bit at the nursery with Sinister, the frog and the pint of paper glue.”

“I was particularly pleased with ‘Flossy’,” the fourth grinned.

“My turn next, I think,” said the second.

They sat back to watch.

Hi. Sorry this part took so long, and thanks to Sunset for telling me to get a move on. I hope that this part wasn’t too confusing, we rewrote a lot of it. I think it’s ok but if anyone’s lost, feel free to ask.

The original concept used in this was from the hilarious comedy ‘Red Dwarf’ (end of series five I think.) Some of the lines may be similar. Still, imitation, flattery and all that! Anyway, we’ve actually got something of a plot together (Shock! Horror!)finally, so the next instalments shouldn’t take quite as long. Thanx for reading.

To be continued…
(Don't worry, be happy!)

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