DISCLAIMER: All characters, contained
in this part, are the exclusive property of Marvel Comics,
with the exception of Preceptor. I am neither using them to
make me a profit or to bring down Marvel's particular heavens
with a crash. :)
Comments however are much appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org
as is any criticism, kvetches and bouquets, along with requests
for archiving. I won't say no. :) Um, this part is probably
a G, if I had to rate it. Otherwise, no romance etc... in
this one, merely a competiton between two masters of their
Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's
called the Hidden Paw-
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
Remy leBeau was a thief. He made no apologies for it, nor
attempted to disguise his pride in his skill. Would a master
painter be ashamed of a stroke of the brush, a poet a sonnet
or a composer an arpeggio? If his team-mates suspected that
he continued practising his own peculiar art, they said nothing.
It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, because they couldn't
have persuaded him to give up thievery. He would have left
the team before then, because it extended to the marrow of
his bones, the calcium which strengthened them and supported
them. It was the breath in his lungs, the iron in his blood,
the electric impulse in his nerves. It was him.
Now, the high council had acknowledged his ultimate achievement,
he thought with pleasure, the near-perfect heist of an original
Monet from a somewhat unscrupulous art affondiciado's private
collection by bestowing the title of Grand Master on him.
The first ever and the last, some wit had remarked. He grinned,
examining the thick gold ring he wore on his left hand as
mark of his status. (When he had first seen it, Bobby had
teasingly asked him who the special lady was. Remy had laughed
- beautiful, elusive Lady Luck was the only mistress he considered
worth pursuing seriously, courting her with each gift of stolen
goods and chance he took.) Formed by two deep grooves that
trisected the ring, the insignia of his home guild was carved
into the soft metal. He appreciated the rationale behind the
band - if a more junior thief was able to steal it, they deserved
the title of Grand Master more than he did for being so careless.
Still, the fame of such a position was enough to have earned
him some interesting employment opportunities, he mused as
he scanned his e-mail. Apparently innocent flirtation from
various women to the casual observer, names like Sukey, Cynthia
and Brandi masked a veritable who's-who of the criminal underworld,
asking him to perform such diverse tasks as steal diamonds
(too cliche, he decided, no style) or break into Interpol's
files and 'correct certain misconceptions' (He rejected it
out of hand - a Grand Master wasn't a janitor to clean up
incautious messes). He clicked on a mail from a Carol, having
not seen the name used before:
To: Macavity <email@example.com>
From: Carol <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: What's new, pussycat?
Great news. I have tickets for the
Valhalla concert. (Cost me a bomb,
but it'll be worth it.) It's a new
heavy-metal group that I hear is
fabulous. So indie as to be almost
top-secret. Unfortunately, their
security is strict, so it doesn't
look like I'll be doing any stage-
diving this time. LOL. Are you
interested in coming with me, Mac?
Disbelievingly, Remy reread the message. 'Carol' couldn't
be asking him to ... He shook his head. He didn't deal with
terrorists or provide codes to bypass a military installation's
security, contrary to what 'she' seemed to believe. Clicking
the reply button, he jotted off a quick response - friendly,
casual, perfectly normal by e-mail standards - and sent it,
secure in the knowledge that 'she' could never find anyone
as skilled as him to do the job for 'her'. Successfully, at
least. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans.
Dieu. Guess I saved de world slightly differently t'day...
"You do know, sweetheart, that it is possible to detach
yourself from that machine?" Jean Grey teased her husband
as she stood behind him in the War Room. Scott Summers smiled
sheepishly, his eyes fixed on the series of monitors that
broadcast news reports from around the world twenty-four hours
a day. In the midst of the minor and major tragedies and triumphs,
a map of the globe hovered, punctuated with red and gold pricks
of light. Latent and active alpha-class mutants. Occasionally,
in the world's rotation, a green spark flared among the rest,
indicating the rarest and most powerful kind of Homo Sapiens
Superior - omega-class - who the Beast had ironically dubbed
"I'm sorry, Jeannie, but I can't ... Not now. Cerebro
detected something that could have... potentially deleterious
consequences for us all."
"Deleterious? You're becoming as bad as Hank,"
she moved closer to him, putting her arms around his waist
and resting her head on his shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"Magneto. His biosignature has just flickered out of
existence. One minute, he's there... The next," he moved
his hands apart, "Poof. He's gone."
Jean's forehead creased in concern, "Could he have learnt
how to disguise his biosig?"
"Possibly," Cyclops sounded dubious, "And
if he has, we have no way of keeping track of his movements.
Damn. He could be anywhere from Antarctica to New York and
we have no way of preempting him. SHIELD should be informed."
His flame-haired wife nodded her head in agreement, feeling
the tenseness of the muscles in his shoulders and side. When
Forge had developed a seemingly infallible way of keeping
tabs on the Master of Magnetism via one of the most complicated
mutant tracking systems on Earth, they had all been relieved,
seeing it as the end of the cat and mouse game they had always
played with him. Assisted by the sizable Mutant Underground,
it was possible for them to monitor his forays into various
cities and to ascertain his intentions. From Sao Paulo to
Stuttgard, eyes watched him, observed and remembered. Now,
they were reduced again to following a trail of cheese into
a certain trap and hoping that it would not snap shut. Jean
sighed, feeling tears of disappointment prickle like tiny
magnetic sparks in her eyes.
"I'll tell the others."
To: Carol <email@example.com>
From: Macavity <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Look at me, I'm Carol Dee ...
Sorry, cherie, but heavy-metal isn't
my scene. Valhalla, especially, from
what I've heard of them. I'm afraid
I'll have to take a rain-check.
Perhaps we can get together some other time?
The bafflement of Scotland Yard,
P.S. Shouldn't that be Sandra, belle? :)
The girl swore as she read the mail, turning from the monitor
to the pile of papers on the rough-hewn, stone desk. Her clear,
jade eyes were scored beneath by deep, dark circles, exhaustion
eroding hollows in her beauty. She rested her heavy head against
the cool marble, allowing her leaden lids to close as she
thought. She had hoped leBeau would assist her in breaking
Valhalla's network of security, as complicated and deadly
as an electronic spider's web. The only grandmaster to date,
he was notorious for his efficency and skill as much as his
No matter. Trained by one of the best, she would and could
do it on her own with more difficulty, but she would need
a computer slightly more powerful than anything Magneto had
available in his technologically primitive base.
So much foh all the rumors 'bout his Shi'ar tech,
she thought disgustedly, This stuff's more Stone Age than
Space Age. Else he's hidden it somewhere where no-one'd be
able ta find it ... Suspicious sonuva ... Now, who apart from
Bill Gates'd have a computer that was sufficently powerful
ta do more'n play Pong?
Drumming her fingers against the desktop, the girl ran through
a list of possible facilities, rejecting each of them as too
low-tech or too secure to be successfully infiltrated. Her
eyes searched the room, hoping for inspiration from a stone,
a drapery or ... she paused ... a shield.
Her limp body, blue and pinched-lipped with cold. Golden
hair, floating around her face like the tendrils of some sea-monster,
like sea-weed. Chest essaying breathing, but failing as the
gasps became lighter. The camera focussed on her mercilessly,
sparing the shocked audience no detail of the picture. The
chic newscaster had no need to say that, if she survived,
she would probably be brain-dead. Suddenly, time stopped -
the lips of the stylish woman stopped moving, the victim's
lungs were caught midbreath, the ambulance's sirens were silenced
- and moved backwards absurdly - her body was returned to
the deep like a flawed pearl and the paramedics walked away
from the tragedy. A calloused, hairy hand touched the screen,
trying to feel beyond the cool glass. The other was poised
on a remote control, endlessly rewinding and playing a cycle
"She's beautiful, isn't she?" Henry McCoy ran his
furred hand down the smooth glass that seperated him from
the holding pen below. In the middle of the blue steel floor,
a seemingly amorphous sac of skin pulsated, veins thrumming
in time to some unhearable tune. Two eyes, engulfed in flesh
as she blinked, were the only sign that the being might be
"Guessso. Might taste fingerlickinggood," the grotesquerie,
standing next to him in the laboratory, responded. His four
arms endlessly fiddled with the tools on the worktable, while
his tongue darted out of his swollen face to snatch the occasional
bug and rat.
"Sugarman, her value far exceeds the nutrional,"
McCoy said in exasperation, "Candide here can act as
a psionic filter, blocking out the mass of petty thoughts,
desires and emotions that govern so many humans, sifting the
wheat from the chaff as it were. Consequently, our dearest
Preceptor - relatively feeble psion that he is - can function
on the level of an Omega Class telepath."
"Sooperdooper," sarcasm laced the other's voice,
"What's in this for me, DarkBeast? In other words, giveme
a reason I shouldn'tkillyou."
McCoy snarled at the use of the hated nickname. He had always
considered it demeaning, insulting to his significant intellect
and culture. The Dark Beast was someone who crawled in the
dust on all fours, who hunted prey and lapped water at streams.
McCoy was someone who could splice genes and play Wagner on
the piano. A man of culture and brilliance. Realizing, however,
that the Sugarman had intended to provoke him, he forced himself
to remain composed.
"Simplicity, obesity ... If you thought beyond the next
meal, you might realize that the ability to perceive the most
private contemplations of all but the most powerful psions
would be somewhat useful."
The Sugarman's grin grew broader, revealing yellowed stumps
of teeth. Piggy eyes, almost lost in a pocket of flesh, were
filled with greedy speculation and suddenly keen intelligence.
"Did I mention," McCoy said smoothly, "That
she also tells me when an assosciate plans to double-cross
Extending his four hands, the other laughed nervously, turning
towards the energy weapon that McCoy was holding. Devastating,
despite its size, it could have easily removed small armies,
let alone the other's bulbous head from his shoulders.
"You wouldn't do that to an oldpal, wouldyou?"
The Dark Beast grinned, relishing the upper-hand before holstering
it, "I would, but you are unfortunately a vital component
of my plan."
"How?" he scowled.
Tenderly, Mystique pulled a rough, woollen blanket over her
daughter's wiry shoulders. The girl's head was resting on
a heap of files, streaked chestnut hair flowing down them
like a fall of silk. Asleep, the flush of her cheek and the
half-smile on her lips lent her the look of a fevered child.
Beside her, a screen indicated that a file had been uploaded
into SHIELD's extensive data-banks as well as those of sundry
other international government facilities. Curiously, Mystique
typed in a command for the computer to recall the last sent
file. Next to columns of personal information, the face of
a lovely, young red-head appeared on the screen. Her grey
eyes, luminous in her pale face, lessened her similarity to
the sleeping girl, but did not disguise it completely. The
header identified her as an Yvonne Montgomery, while the rest
of the information indicated that she was an expert on terrorism
and that she worked for the Western European Security Trust.
Mystique grinned appreciatively - that was typical of her
daughter's sense of humor, half-a-truth disguising an absolute
Still, Rogue had been sloppy in places, giving information
about 'Montgomery' that a somewhat inefficient government
agency, such as WEST, would never know. Of course, the child
couldn't be blamed - Raven had trained her to assume that
all security forces were as lean and deadly as she was, that
they could see through any chink in a cover story as if it
were cellophane over a gift. She called up the file and quickly
altered aspects of it, moulding it into something more plausible.
She gave 'Montgomery' a few minor vices, blotted the exemplary
academic record with the inability to do calculus, omitted
all but the most obvious of personal information. Finally,
satisfied with her handy-work, Mystique sent it via Magneto's
satellites into the same computer systems where it appeared
to have existed for years.
She would tell her daughter the next day of the changes,
she decided, loath to wake her. Together, she thought, they
would practise every gesture and inflection until they became
Rogue's own. Until she was more Yvonne Montgomery than herself.
Raven smiled, anticipating once more the forging of a weapon.
Macavity, Macavity, there's
no-one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
Continued in Chapter
* The two verses quoted are from Eliot's 'Old Possum's Book
of Practical Cat's. Once more, quoting them doesn't mean I
* Up next:
- Crew ASKEW?
- Mothers and Daughters
- Nick Fury and Katherine Pryde, Agents of Shield
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