This is an ugly, horrible story. It is not appropriate for
children or sensitive readers, but does fit in with the current
Challenge. Unfortunately, little of this besides Rogue
Rogue and several other characters belong to Marvel. The story
belongs to me. It takes place after my story 'Tag',
which is archived at Luba's
site, and during the first expedition of the X-Men to
Many thanks to Tina S, Luba K, Suzie C, Alara R and Karolina
KP for their editorial assistance.
Other stories that I have written are archived at the sites
of Luba and Ro.
She tried to fly, above and away. After the flash, she fell,
hard, onto the concrete floor. As she lay there, stunned,
a bland little man in a priest's outfit told her that she
was no better than a human again. She was lying on a cold
concrete floor, naked.
The magistrates were quite efficient. After they had beaten
Logan into submission, they had handcuffed her wrists behind
her and dragged her to her feet. She barely noticed. There
were so many new sensations. The slow, dull ache of the bruise
on her left elbow. The raw, sharp pain from the abrasion on
her left knee, every time that she moved it. The feeling that
all of their eyes were upon her. Once it had been amusing
to watch the eyes, knowing that they could look but never
touch, ever. They could touch her, now.
An officer wearing a crimson beret approached her.
"Who are you? Where do you come from? Are your meta-abilities
mutant or technological in nature?"
She said nothing. There were no words. Not yet. Just watching.
They had Wolvie on his feet for a moment, but then he collapsed.
"Does anyone know who these two are or how they got
There was a general murmuring.
"Christ," said the officer. He pointed to the two
Magistrates holding her up. "You and you. Take her out
to the Centre. They'll deal with her there."
"The other one too?" said the one on her left,
pointing at the crowd of soldiers standing where Logan lay
on the floor.
"No," said the officer. "Best they go separately."
She was standing on her own now, dazed. Was it the after-effects
of the power loss? Physical or emotional? Emotional. No. Both.
She couldn't see Logan, but if they were all standing around
him then he was probably too badly beaten to fight back. If
she fought, she might be able to take three of them down before
they beat her senseless. Even then, she had no idea if she
was underground or in a tower, in a city or miles out in the
country. There had to be at least 30 soldiers in the chamber,
and most of them were staring at her. All of the men, and
some of the women. Without even trying, they were taking her
down. Her knees weakened, and she almost collapsed. Somewhere
from within, an inner reserve of strength snapped her almost
to attention. That scared her more than anything.
The two magistrates took her by the elbows and guided her
out of the chamber, down a long metal-lined corridor and into
a garage. They helped her into the back of a truck, and told
her to sit on the metal bench. They unlocked the cuff on her
right hand and transferred it to a large metal fitting that
allowed her to move more freely. Eight other men had come
after her, still staring. She had no chance among that many,
not until they were outside of wherever they were. In the
garage, it was their battlefield.
The two magistrates climbed into the front seat of the truck,
and drove down a long corridor towards a small circle of daylight.
A mile later, if she had the distance right, they emerged
from a heavy steel gateway and passed a row of concrete pillboxes.
The magistrates stopped at one of the pillboxes and presented
an electronic card, after which a final gate opened. It would
have been difficult to fight her way out of here with
power. Without, futile. Even Logan would agree with that.
She tugged on the cuffs. An hour before, the bench would have
come apart. Now, nothing but noise. The female magistrate
glanced back at her. She let her arm fall to her side.
The truck continued alongside a long concrete airstrip. Through
the rear window, she watched the tunnel entrance dwindle into
the distance. They passed rows and rows of what she recognized
as F-15s and F-16s, as well as a number of Russian anti-tank
helicopters. She suspected that Momma had had something to
do with the helicopters. As they turned onto a highway outside
the airfield, she noticed that the female one was glancing
at her from time to time in the rear-view mirror.
"You gone fruity, then?"
"Fuggoff. She looks cold back there."
"She'll have no worries soon enough."
"No. No worries."
"Going away for the weekend?"
"Yeah. Taking the extra day to go hiking in the mountains,
if all goes well."
"Won't go well. They always riot on the long weekends."
"Didn't at Christmas."
"Hate it. Such a waste of fucking time."
"Get overtime- shit."
A loud clunking sound starting coming from the engine. The
truck pulled over at the edge of the highway.
"What is it?"
"Bloody motor's shot to hell. Told the sergeant it was
fucked. Made me take it anyways."
Both magistrates went around the front of the truck and disappeared
under the hood. There was some muffled cursing. The female
returned and opened the back door of the truck, not making
eye contact. It seemed that they needed some tools.
The magistrate looked up from the toolbox distractedly, then
fished out an old blanket from behind a spare tire.
"Sorry, love, it's all we've got. We'll have you there
soon enough. No worries."
"Take me where?" she asked, wrapping the blanket
around her. It was a difficult task, with only one hand free.
At least there was nothing for anyone to stare at, now.
The magistrate gave her a pained smile, then vanished around
in front of the truck again. The blanket did not make her
feel any warmer.
They were driving down Motorway G towards Hammer Bay, or
so the overhead signs told her. The traffic affirmed something
that she knew from somewhere or someone: 1 in 5 Genoshans
worked in some capacity for the Ministry of State Security.
At least 1 in 3 of the trucks and cars on the road were painted
green and had official pennants flying off their aerials.
Of the remainder, half were expensive European and Japanese
cars and the rest were old trucks filled with thin, tired
looking people that she identified as guest workers. In spite
of all of the success the Genoshans had in cloning their Mutates,
there were never quite enough to supply the three that were
supposedly guaranteed to every Genoshan citizen. Africa and
Asia were ready, as always, to make up the difference. Their
people lived in the guest quarters, as they had been for the
last 250 years. On slow news days one of their frequent riots
might make a 10-second spot on the evening news.
From somewhere, from someone, the information came to her.
She had heard some of it from Momma, some of it from that
boring old thing that Charles had had in to talk to them,
and some of it off the two soldiers she had touched in the
vault where they had arrived. She wasn't able to recall exactly
where she had heard each part from, and that was scary. Losing
her power had rattled her, and she was having trouble with
her focus. This was bad. Very bad. At least her head was clearing,
She went over the inside of the truck one more time. It was
intended for carrying prisoners, and built in the good old
US of A. Force One Inc, McMinnville TN. The decals on every
exposed surface told her that. She knew from Logan that this
was one of the better built ones. You couldn't beat the truck,
only the occupants and possibly your restraints. Her lockpicks
were back in her uniform wherever that was, and her hair was
useless. Sometimes, if she twisted a strand out hard, it would
take on the consistency of a stiff wire, perfect for a pick.
Not now. She went over the interior, carefully again. No wire,
no useful trash of any sort, and the toolbox was out of her
reach. Regulation clean. The only way out was to talk her
way out, and the odds were against that. The two in the front
seat looked like lifers. If they had both been straight males,
she would have had a good chance of making a getaway, but
that thought frightened her even more. She drew the blanket
tighter around her.
Swearing erupted from the front seat as the engine started
making sputtering noises again.
"Why the fuck couldn't they have bought Japanese?"
the male cursed, and began drifting onto the shoulder.
"Not here," said the female.
"Rebel activity. Ambush just round the bend there, last
"Christ. What then?"
"Drive into town. Get a new truck."
"Not our orders."
"Getting shot up by apos isn't part of our orders, either."
They exited the motorway and drove some distance into what
looked like one of the nicer parts of San Francisco. The truck
engine died as the towers of the centre of town came into
She looked at the open hood, listening to the curses as they
worked on the engine. She always liked playing with engines.
She felt a strong and ridiculous urge to get out and help
them fix it. Instead, she looked out the window, at the row
of small stucco bungalows along the street. The lawns were
perfect, the shrubs in bloom. A bent old woman was walking
a poodle down the street towards them, followed by a slight
figure in a shimmering green bodysuit. The poodle stopped
to do its business, and afterwards the figure in green scooped
up the refuse in its hands. The mutate's hands glowed with
a faint pink light, and then its hands were empty. She snorted.
As the small company passed the truck, she smiled at them.
The woman stared straight ahead, features rigid, seeing everything
but the truck. The mutate walked past with a look of blissful
contentment on its features, not seeming to see anything at
all. They bred them from cloned embryos, she recalled the
old man at Westchester saying. Or was it Momma? She tried
to sort it out as the truck drove off towards the city.
The truck drove into a huge concrete building with the symbol
of Genoshan State Security on the facade and parked in its
courtyard. The female guard undid the cuffs and locked her
wrists together as a small crowd of heavily armed men gathered
and watched. The magistrate folded the blanket and laid it
over her shoulders.
"Lean forward, otherwise it'll fall off."
She did. The magistrate rummaged around in the back of the
truck and found a length of twine. She felt it wrapped around
her body, just like what she had felt when Steve and her had
played bride and groom when she was six-
Not her. Someone else. Or hers? A real childhood memory,
playing house, where?
"Nice dress," said one of the onlookers, chuckling.
No. Concentrate. These men weren't dressed like the guards.
They were less heavily armed, and had light blue instead of
brown shirts. Their epaulets were different. Police, probably.
They led her down a long hallway into the building, and sat
her down on a metal bench which was the only furniture in
the yellow-painted room. The cuffs came off, and the female
guard chained her to the bench. The male magistrate left them
both alone in the room. As the magistrate lit up a cigar,
she discretely felt the fitting that the cuffs were attached
to. Solid steel, anchored fast in concrete. Before, she could
have pulled out and embedded them in the wall opposite, or
in the guard for that matter. She had done worse. For now,
her only hope was to get the guard to let her go. She put
on her very best smile and set to work.
"Excuse me," she began.
A shrill bell started ringing , somewhere just behind her
head. A claxon began sounding out a signal. Three long blasts,
followed by a short one.
"Jesus fucking Christ."
Her guard put out the cigar, checked the cuffs, and left
the room, rifle at the ready.
Hope filled her. Perhaps it was the others coming to rescue
her. An attack of the apos, whoever they were. If she survived
it, she might be able to escape with them. That was the benefit
of companionship. Your comrades in battle would never desert
you. Shared spilled blood was the strongest bond.
Twenty minutes later, the only sound that she had heard was
a distant thump, probably some sort of explosion. No footsteps
in the hall, nothing else. She had been working away on the
handcuffs the entire time. There was nothing to use as a pick,
and the fixture would wear away from the rubbing in perhaps
a year. If she had been Kitty, she could have done that old
Ninja trick that would have allowed her to slip her hand right
out. Invulnerability had prevented her from doing it before,
her muscle and skin strengthening as soon as she tried to
dislocate her thumb. She tried to recall what Kitty had done,
but failed completely.
She looked around for anything that might be useful as a
tool for the thousandth time. Her eyes always stopped on the
metal sign posted to the wall, just out of reach. It was white,
with a black cross like the one on the Swiss flag inside of
a black circle. Beneath it was written GOD IS WATCHING YOU.
She knew that it was important, and she knew that she didn't
know what it meant. If she wanted to know, she would have
to go underneath, and find out. It would be dangerous, but
if she let them out only for a short time, she would have
a much better chance of escaping and freeing Wolvie. There
really was no choice at all.
To prepare, she cleared her mind as Xavier had taught her
to. She thought about Berlin and everything she knew of it,
then stared at the sign and began to free associate.
Black circles of ash left after the holy burning circles.
The burning circle is a major ceremony of worship in the
Apostasy was permitted under the General Law of 1961.
Of the 5,650,000 citizens, less than 1 in 100 are apostates.
It is impolite to call an apostate an apo.
Members of the Dutch Reformed Church were 1st degree apostates.
Anglicans are 2nd degree apostates.
Jews, Moslems and Hindus are irredeemable apostates.
Anyone who refuses to abase themselves before an all-powerful
deity is not human.
Irredeemable apostates must register with the state and wear
an identifying badge on their clothing.
Genosha was called Hammer Bay Territory until the Act of
Union of 1910 with South Africa.
Genosha was called Hammer Bay State until the Unilateral
Declaration of Independence in 1960.
The movement to re-name had started with the development
of the mutate technology at the Hammer Bay Veterinary College
in the late 1950s.
Genosha leads the world in the development of mutate technology.
Since 1980, mutates can live up to 10 years, though seven
was the average.
The Church was founded by Germaine Van Der Valk, the Father.
The Father had been called by God at an early age.
The Father had been committed to a hospital by those who
did not understand, but was ransomed by his family and sent
In America, the Father learned many things at the theological
colleges of western Michigan.
The Father taught that Genosha is God's Country. Americans
and Iranians are wrong about this.
She had written all these during the rote lessons at school.
If you could learn by rote and pass the examinations, you
could be admitted to the upper echelons of Genoshan state
security. Otherwise, you would stay in the lower ranks, keeping
the guest workers in line. She prayed every morning for the
day when there would be enough mutates to send the guest workers
home. They would be so much happier back where they had come
He didn't learn by rote, and hated working with a religious
fanatic who was so obviously on her way to becoming an officer.
There were too many damn women in the Magistrates, and if
he had done any worse in the exams he would have ended up
in the police or the prison service. Most police officers
and warders were men, and usually never amounted to much of
anything. He hadn't done well enough on the exams to be sent
to the University after three years, and would have to do
his full seven years of service before he became a citizen.
Still, seven years of Magistracy should get him a good job
in a bank or in the Mutate program, both of which still were
run by good men. It wasn't that he had anything against women,
of course, but if the last book of the Father was interpreted
literally, women of childbearing age should have been secluded
for 5 to 10 years after childbirth, and he would be facing
much better prospects in his career. Still, the Church had
never accepted that book, probably because it also forbade
non-negroes from taking on the top roles in the Church. He
woke up every morning thanking God that he hadn't been born
in America. They didn't have circles there. He enjoyed the
burning circle. Every Easter, Christmas, and Halloween, his
family would throw together a nice circle of brush, take ten
percent of their material possessions and throw them into
the flames. Some people used it as an excuse for spring cleaning,
others deliberately bought an extra ten percent worth of goods
each year to burn so that they wouldn't lose anything that
they truly valued. He took his responsibilities more seriously
than that. He had an itemized list of his possessions and
picked ten percent of them by value each year, randomly. He
had lost a car that way, but it had burned nicely. Even better
were the times when they found those who harbored heretical
books and music. Those circles were wonderful, because you
could give all of their worldly possessions to God, and God
was very pleased with circles like that. Rumor had it that
they still threw the odd apo into the circles up in the hills,
but they didn't do that in town anymore. No, they did that
out in the desert where the free apos and escaped guest workers
sometimes hid, waiting. Still, it was his duty to take the
prisoner to the terminal for the train-
-the train that was yellow, and followed a precise schedule.
It ran under the gray, occupied part of the city. When it
did, it slowed in every station as if it wanted to stop, and
the gray men on the platform would stare at it with contempt.
It would then speed up and leave and go back to the walled
city, where everyone was free. Berlin.
She blanked her mind and fought to get her breathing back
under control. The city had saved her again, as it had so
many times in the past. It was the anchor that she could always
flee to. Xavier had taught her how to use it to re-assert
her personality, but it had always been hers, even before
Momma and Nana.
To her, Berlin was Paradise. It was the walled city, inside
of which everyone was free. Everything was perfect and organized
when it needed to be, and totally chaotic when it didn't need
to be. It was a place where there were no rules, and you could
dance all night and touch anyone you wanted to, any way you
wanted to. She knew that the real city wasn't like that at
all. What she knew about it had come from little bits and
pieces that she picked up from Nana and Momma or that she
read about in books. She hoped that she would never had to
go there outside of her dreams.
Her head was together again, and so it was worth trying to
think of what she had learned. It hadn't been all that useful,
except as a warning of danger. She was never one for religion,
which always mystified anyone who heard her speak. They always
assumed that because she spoke on that way that she was some
sort of religious airhead who listened to country music and
lived on parts of animals that no-one north of Mason-Dixon
thought of as food. To her, after many years of living in
Washington, the South was just a set of excuses for bad behaviour.
Exposure to Sam Guthrie had cured most of the X-Men of their
ignorance of the region, but that hadn't stopped Kitty from
buying her a Shania Twain CD on the last Xmas they had spent
together. She liked Black Flag and KMFDM and Sex Pistols,
and sneaking out to dark tiny rooms where the noise obliterated
everything and you could scream and thrash, and as long as
you were tightly covered so you didn't touch anyone, no-one
would notice. She traded in Miss Twain's disc to cover part
of the cost of an imported Therapy? CD that she found in Manhattan.
She shook her head. CDs? She didn't have it together as she
thought. Not good. The past was useful, as long as it was
hers, as long as it helped her get Logan out of this. She
forced herself to think about what she had found out while
Underneath. This country was some sort of religious state,
just like home. They had always laughed about that, everyone
except Fred. Momma and Nana thought it was ridiculous that
any state could claim to be blessed by a God, unless it would
be willing to allow them to marry. Dom believed in God in
some weird way that didn't make him any happier, and involved
amulets and hand signs to ward away evil eyes. St. John had
a million stories about stupid and evil things that devout
Americans had done and said in Vietnam during the war, and
seemed to be some sort of Buddhist in a very quiet, private
way. Fred was always sad, because he alone believed that it
was God's country and that it was Hell. She had never been
in a church in her life, and never had felt the need to. It
was just something that would distract her in her search for
the Good Thing.
The Good Thing was something that she could find in Berlin,
but in the real world it was very, very rare. Before Momma
and Nana, she was sure that she had never known it, but in
the house on U St. you could catch sight of it, if you watched
carefully. Once, she had become tired during the day and had
fallen asleep in a closet. When she woke up, she could see
Momma and Nana through the louvres on door. It was close to
their anniversary, when they always became very sad, even
though they tried to hide it. Nana was curled up in Momma's
lap, crying. Even Momma looked sadder than usual. They didn't
say anything to one another, but then Nana had gotten up and
just looked at Momma and Momma had looked back, and the Good
Thing was there. There was a four-letter word for it, that
was used as an excuse for people to sell bits of paper to
each other. Sometimes, the others had looked at her with the
Good Thing in their eyes, like when she was able to hug Momma
for the first time. It took Nana over a year to teach her
how to accept being touched. Three weeks after that, something
terrible had happened and Momma had never touched her again.
Nana had said that it was something that happened to some
little girls when they reached a certain age.
There was more of the Good Thing at Westchester but much
less of it in the Desert. When it was scarce, the power helped
her find it. She would fly up into the sky, as far as she
could go without blacking out, and look down on the planet,
imagining that somewhere down there, there were two people
looking at each other with the Good Thing in their eyes. She
didn't have the power now, and she knew that people with God
on their side really had no place in their lives for the Good
Thing at all.
A loud thump brought her back to earth. A short, balding
man in a blue uniform had opened the door and was staring
at her. The blanket had fallen aside and exposed her. She
drew it back around herself, huddling.
"Who the hell are you?"
Opportunity. A name? Which name? No.
"I don't know."
"Where are your clothes?"
"I don't know. I lost them somewhere."
The man rolled his eyes, and turned back to talk to someone
in the corridor.
"Will! Got any idea who left the nutter in here?"
There was an incomprehensible response. The man entered the
"Let's see your I-94."
She looked at him, widening her eyes and letting her features
go slack. It was an expression she knew well from the times
in the tunnels, before the Massacre.
"The paper they gave you when you were brought in."
"Paper?" she said querulously. "No-one gave
me a paper."
"Well, maybe they put it in here."
His hand slipped beneath the blanket. She recoiled. He drew
back, flushing, and looking away.
"Not in there," she whispered.
"Did you eat it?" he said, grinning uncomfortably.
"Why would I do that?" she asked.
"It's happened. Are you on any medication?"
"I don't like the pills," she said petulantly.
"If you don't take the pills, this is what happens,"
She responded with what she hoped was a hurt look.
"Look, we'll get this all sorted out. You picked the
wrong time to be stupid."
Or exactly the right one. As long as you weren't violent,
they often tried to dump psych cases to the hospitals as quickly
as possible, especially on weekends. Logan had told her that.
Even better, on the weekend, she was likely to get an intern
instead of an experienced psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse.
As long as she could fake it long enough, she could escape.
Security was almost always looser on psych wards.
"Yes," she agreed. "I want my pills now. I
want to see my doctor."
"Who is he? Your doctor?"
"I can't remember," she muttered.
"You sound like an American," he said.
She had been trying for Australian. It was close to the Genoshan
"Been here for a while. My husband's a citizen."
"What's his name?"
"I don't recall," she said, letting her voice trip
on the last word.
"Christ," said the man, rolling his eyes. "Look,
we'll get you some help. We're going to process you, then
send you to see someone who can help you. Try to think of
your name, or your husband's name, or your doctor. That'll
help. You picked a damn stupid time to pull something like
this. We've got an emergency on."
He bent over and unlocked her handcuffs, then locked her
hands behind her back again. One key fit all the cuffs, but
not a key that was anywhere that she could reach. She pulled
on the cuffs gently, to feel if the power had come back. Nothing.
She was taken down another long corridor, through a guardroom
and into a high-ceilinged room with a desk on a podium. Metal
benches lined the walls. They were filled with women, many
of them scared and covered in blood. Almost all of them had
bar-codes tattooed on the backs of their hands. Guest workers.
The policeman had her sit in a plastic chair in front of
the desk. There were two other women sitting there, without
bar codes. They were scared as well, but trying not to look
it. One had a small Amnesty pin on the collar of her blouse,
and a red patch with a large A sewn onto her jacket.
"I-94," said the huge sergeant sitting behind the
"She hasn't got one."
"What did she do with it? And where are her clothes?"
The policeman tapped his finger to the side of his head.
The sergeant looked at her directly.
"Do you have any proof of your identity as a citizen?"
Difficult. She kept her face blank. She could make up a number,
but that could only lead to more complications. Saying nothing
would make more problems for them, not for her.
"Can you speak?"
She nodded, looking as frightened as she could.
"How did you get here?"
She stared at him blankly.
"She doesn't know her name," said the policeman.
"She said that she stopped taking her pills. Found her
in a guardroom in C wing. I was assigned to cleaning it out
before it was requisitioned."
"Bloody Magistrates. Don't know why they have to requisition
our cells, when they've got so many of their own. How do you
think she got there?"
"Someone was bringing her in, and left her there when
they went to the Class 4 Alert."
"Try to find out where she came from."
"I'm still on clean-out drill, sergeant."
"Bloody hell. Never enough hands. Go. But she can't
"She said she's a citizen."
"Her citizenship cannot be established."
"We can't put her over there," said the policeman,
pointing to the benches with the tattooed women.
"Use your initiative, Constable."
There was an empty bench by the door behind the podium.
"She might be a mutt."
"Bloody hell," said the policeman under his breath.
"I didn't quite catch that, Constable."
"I said, very well."
He led her over to the bench. There was a large black M painted
on the wall behind it.
"I'm sorry, I can't undo you. Nothing to lock you to."
She gave him a small, humble smile, and made herself as comfortable
as she could.
Continued in Part
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