THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
/ here we go again..."
Aran Islands, Ireland
The cliff was a nearly vertical slope, and was, as usual,
deserted, cut off from the nearest town by the pounding surf
and salt - coated ocean winds which cut at the face and choked
off breathing. The freezing rain, carried along by the blasts
of air, was accompanied by thunder which trembled across the
sky, moving in tempo with the bursts of lightning glowing
above the clouds. For years, the consensus among the locals
had been that only an idiot or a madman would live on that
However, someone did live there. They were still trying to
figure out just what category he fit into. They were starting
to think that he was a category all to himself.
He had shown up about three years ago, and had paid a ridiculous
amount of money for the land. When he had applied to the local
zoning board to build a house on the cliff, they had been
shocked that anyone would even consider living there. His
plan was approved, but it was rumored that some money had
exchanged hands before that happened. When someone from the
local historical society pointed out to him that an old pre-Christian
burial site was nearby, he asked if his plans would cause
any disruption of the site. When told no, he shrugged his
shoulders and said, "At least I'll have quiet neighbors."
He had built the house himself, by hand, and moved right
in. Beyond his weekly walks into town to pick up his food
and mail, no one saw or spoke with the man. He had no utility
bills to pay, since he bought bottled water in town, and a
windmill that he had erected generated all of his power. In
point of fact, he used very little power, since the only electricity
that he used, beyond lighting, powered a small laptop computer
and satellite dish.
That night, however, it wasn't on. He simply sat in front
of the hearth, gazing into the flames of his peat-and-driftwood
"Well," he said to the fire, "I think I'm
finally ready. Where should I start?"
The fire didn't respond. It hardly ever did.
"With them, eh? Yes," he said reflectively. "Yes,
I think we will be able to help each other out. Thanks for
the advice." He did some mental calculation in his head,
got up, walked over to the computer, and switched it on. He
quickly logged onto his online service, and composed a message:
Contact X as per our previous discussion. Awaiting your reply.
He sent the message, logged off, and turned off the computer.
Getting up, he walked back to the fire.
"It's done. Now we wait." He banked the fire and
went to bed.
Salem Center, New York
Six months later
It was a pleasant spring day, and Ororo Munroe was making
the most of it, working on her outdoor garden with the satisfaction
of one who is totally content with her task. The tulips were
doing very well, she decided, but the crocuses were looking
a little limp. Perhaps some more mulch, she thought...
"Morning, 'Roro," she heard behind her.
"Good morning, Warren," she replied, looking up.
Warren Worthington III, a.k.a. Archangel, walked up beside
"How's the garden?" he asked.
"It's coming along very nicely, thank you."
"Betsy and I are going into town. Want to come along?"
She considered it. "Yes. Can you wait fifteen minutes
so I can clean up and change?"
"No problem. Here, I'll get that," he said, picking
up the basket of garden tools.
"Thank you again," she said, as they walked back
towards the mansion.
"You know, I wonder sometimes why you bother,"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you have complete control over the weather, right?
So why do you bother to put all that sweat into your garden,
when your powers could make it so much easier?"
"Firstly, I may control the elements, but I can't control
other variables such as soil condition, weeds, or insect damage."
"That's true," he conceded.
"Secondly, I keep that garden going for personal reasons."
"I don't get it."
She sighed. "It's more to teach myself humility than
anything else. I was once worshipped as a goddess, remember.
Those flowers, no matter how much work I put into them, will
do whatever they please, and won't apologize if things don't
go the way I want them to. That tends to negate any chance
that my ego will get too big for my own good."
Warren chuckled. "You want these in their usual place
in the garage?"
Ororo went up to her room, created a small rain cloud, and
took a brief but delicious shower. When she was done, she
got dressed and met Warren and Elizabeth Braddock down in
"All set?" Betsy asked.
"Yes," she replied. "Where were you planning
"I'm afraid I'll have to interrupt your trip, my friends."
Ororo looked behind her. Charles Xavier was coming out of
his study, his "wheelchair" floating about two feet
above the floor.
"Is there an emergency, Charles?" she asked.
"It's not an emergency, but it is worrisome, and I think
I'll need a response from all of the X-Men before I know how
best to proceed. If we could all meet in the briefing room
in fifteen minutes, I'll explain in more detail."
Fifteen minutes later, all of the X-Men were sitting at the
large table in the briefing room, with Xavier at the head.
"I received a call earlier this morning from Valerie
Cooper. She has an individual who wishes to join the X-Men."
"So what's the problem, Chuck?" Wolverine asked.
"New admissions are decided on by the senior team members,
aren't they? That's not our department."
"There are several problems, Logan. One: This individual
contacted Val through her private e-mail address nine months
ago. Two: He knows far more about us than I am comfortable
with. Three: He'll be here in fifteen minutes."
The room exploded at that. "How did he know where we
are?" Cyclops exclaimed. "That's a major breach
"It gets worse, Scott. He won't be at the gate in fifteen
minutes, he'll be at the front door in fifteen - no,
sorry - fourteen minutes."
"What about all our security?" asked Jean.
"Val asked that herself. She was told, and I quote:
'It won't make any difference.'"
"So who is our impending visitor, Charles?" asked
Henry McCoy. "Do we know anything about him?"
"Val said that he's bringing the information that we'll
need with him. All we have right now is a name."
"And what's that?"
The team members were placed in strategic locations throughout
the mansion, leaving Xavier, Jean, and Cyclops standing in
"Is Hank monitoring the school grounds?" Scott
Jean concentrated for a moment. "Yes. No sign of anything."
"How long do we have?"
"Three minutes," replied Xavier.
"It would take longer than that just to walk here from
the gate," Scott mused, "and that's assuming that
the security is off. Could he be a flier?"
"I have no idea, Scott."
"You're putting an awful lot of faith in Val Cooper,
Charles," Jean said. "Are you sure that you can
trust her in this case? Remember that incident last year with
"I don't think Val had much choice in this matter, Jean.
She never said anything outright, but I got the sense that
whoever this person is, he's a resource that we have to make
sure is on our side. Besides, you're forgetting something.
If he can get past our security to pay us a visit, then he
can attack us just as easily. The fact that he's telling us
in advance what he's going to do makes it unlikely that he's
"Either that or he's extremely cocky," Scott grumbled.
"This is too cloak-and-dagger for me."
At the one-minute mark, Scott activated his wrist communicator.
"No sign of anyone," was his reply.
Three seconds later, there was a knock at the door. They
all looked at it sharply.
"Jean, would you get that from here, please?" Xavier
Jean telekenitically took hold of the knob, and opened the
A man stood on the front steps, dressed in a grey overcoat
with black gloves.
"Good afternoon," he said with a slightly Irish
accent. "Professor Charles Xavier, I presume?"
"Yes," Xavier replied. "You're early."
"Am I?" he said, raising an eyebrow. "My watch
read 1100 hours and five seconds."
"You're running seven seconds fast."
"Really? I'll have to do something about that...later.
May I come in, or shall we conduct our business on the front
"Open the coat," Scott said, "and then walk
"Very well." He unbuttoned the coat, and opened
it. Underneath, he was dressed in grey trousers and jacket,
with a white dress shirt, a black tie, and a black vest, with
a chain hanging between the pockets. He walked in carefully,
keeping eye contact with Xavier. Once he was past the door,
Jean manually closed it again.
"Shall I remove the coat?" he asked.
"Yes, please," Xavier replied. The man removed
his coat and held it.
"Just drop it," Jean told him. When he did so,
Jean caught it with her telekinesis and hung it on the rack.
"Thank you," he told her.
"Any weapons?" Scott asked her.
"No," she replied. After a moment she said, "None
on him either."
"Now that we've determined that I'm not out to destroy
all of you..."
"We haven't come to that conclusion yet, Mister..."
"For now, you may call me Archetype."
"Right. Jean, do you sense anything from him?"
Jean frowned. "Scott, I can't make heads or tails of
his thoughts. They're going all over the place."
"I can explain that," Archetype replied.
"Later," Xavier interrupted. "For now, I want
the information that Ms. Cooper said that you would bring
"Of course." He slowly reached into one of the
suit pockets, taking out a CD case. "All of the information
that you will need is here. Val said that you would have the
access code. I insisted on that, mind you. I wanted to eliminate
any suspicion that I doctored the disc." He handed the
disc to Xavier.
"Jean, call the others in, would you? I want the senior
staff in my study. Mr... Archetype will wait in the ante room,
under watch, while we review this."
Archetype pulled a paperback book out of his other suit pocket.
"What do you think you're doing?" Bishop questioned
"Reading," Archetype replied. "If I have to
sit in judgment, I may as well get something done in the meantime."
"What's the book?" asked Rogue.
"Expanded Universe, by Robert A Heinlein."
"Yes. Quite good, in fact."
Rogue studied the man carefully. He was about her height,
and had a slim but wiry build. He appeared to be in his mid
to late twenties, but the silver shot throughout his brown
hair made him look a bit older. His eyes were grey, and the
glasses that he had put on when he took out his book made
him look like he belonged in a classroom, rather than among
the X-Men. All in all, he wasn't bad-looking.
He glanced up from his book, and caught her watching him.
"Is something wrong, Miss?"
"Uh, no," Rogue said, somewhat embarrassed.
Bishop cut in. "Rogue, I suggest that, until we are
given further information by the Professor, we treat this
man as an enemy, and not make small talk with him."
"Permission to treat the witness as hostile, Your Honor,"
Archetype said, smiling slightly. "A good policy, sir.
However, I must point out that you just made a tactical error."
"Really?" Bishop said icily. "And what might
that have been?"
"There was no guarantee that I knew her name before
now, but you just gave it to me. Now I have a name to match
her face." He looked at Rogue again. "Not that a
face like yours could be forgotten, Miss Rogue." He returned
to his book. Rogue had to smile, both to hide her embarrassment
at the compliment and her amusement to Bishop's look of chagrin.
A few minutes later, Xavier, Jean, Scott, Warren, Ororo,
and Henry entered the room. "We have a few questions
for you, sir," Xavier said.
"Of course," Archetype said, putting the book back
in his pocket. "But I think that after viewing that disk,
you have far more than a few questions. I assure you,
my responses will be as truthful as I can make them. There
are some answers that I don't have myself."
"Understood. I'd like to test the big question first.
Rogue, Bishop, would you both please come over here?"
As they came over to the other side of the room, Logan entered,
with a box in his hands. "I'll take care of this part,
Chuck. If he's lying, it won't bother me as much."
"If I am lying sir," Archetype said, "these
documents will allow you to make sure that when I leave, a
satisfactory explanation will be available for my condition."
He removed an envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket,
placing it on the end table. He then removed his jacket and
placed it on the couch.
"I appreciate it," Logan said dryly.
"Seven plus one?" he asked.
"Right." With that, Logan opened the box, pulling
out a .44 Magnum.
"What is this, a test to see if he's invulnerable?"
Archetype's response was a chill smile.
Wolverine emptied the clip in less than two seconds. All
of the bullets hit Archetype in the heart, going through him,
and hitting the wall behind him.
Archetype looked at the holes in his chest for a moment,
swaying unsteadily. He looked up at Logan, and gasped two
Then he fell to the floor, dead.
"Well," said Logan, "that was interesting."
Henry walked over to the fallen body, felt for a pulse. "He
is as the proverbial doornail."
"How long did Val, say, Hank?"
"About five minutes."
Rogue and Bishop gaped at the corpse, looked at each other
for a moment, then turned to the professor. "Professor,"
Rogue asked, "just what the hell did you do that for!?"
Xavier glanced at Rogue for a moment. "To prove a point."
"What point? That we can kill unarmed civilians?"
"Just wait, Rogue. Wait and see."
Rogue sat down, shocked at the callous attitude shown by
the others. She wondered if it was possible that Xavier had
finally snapped. Jean walked over to her, placing a hand on
her shoulder. "This isn't exactly how it looks, Rogue
... hopefully," she said.
"Have you all gone crazy, Jean? How could that have
been anything but cold-blooded..." Her voice trailed
off. The corpse had moved.
Archetype gasped, moved about jerkingly for a moment, then
slowly got up from the floor. He staggered to a chair and
He looked at Xavier. "Satisfied?" he gasped.
"Yes," Xavier replied quietly. "Hank, take
care of him."
"That ... won't be necessary," Archetype gasped,
ripping open his shirt.
The holes left by the bullets were quite large. As they watched,
each wound closed slowly, finally coalescing into healthy,
Archetype looked sympathetically at Rogue and Bishop, then
at Xavier. "You should have warned them, you know."
"I couldn't think of any way to tell them."
"I can believe that." He got up, made a slight
bow. "My name is Will Riley."
"And, as far as I can tell, I cannot die."
Continued in Chapter
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