THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
"Would someone mind taking over the driving?" Jean
asked. "I think I left my eyes somewhere on the road
about five miles back."
"I'll do it," Strange offered. Jean pulled the
van over, and they switched places, with Jean sitting with
Rogue in the middle bench seat.
"You okay?" Rogue asked as Jean leaned her head
back and rubbed her eyes.
"Just a little headache from the glare. Between the
sun and the wheat fields, I feel like the horizon's been seared
onto my retinas."
"Put this on for a few minutes," Will suggested,
leaning forward and handing her his sleep mask.
"Thanks," she said, placing it over her eyes. "Ah,
"No problem." Will returned his attention to the
notebook that he had been scribbling in for the past hour.
"What are you working on, anyway?"
"That was cryptic. Chapter Two of what?"
"My contractually due novel."
"You finally decided on a genre?" Rogue asked.
He nodded. "It's going to be a hard-boiled detective
"Not a bad choice," Henry said. "Mysteries
always tend to sell well."
"That wasn't my main consideration," Will admitted,
"but I won't complain if it's popular. If we ever have
to go public, having a bestseller under my belt might help
our public relations. It would show people that we're not
sitting in the shadows, waiting to pounce on them."
"That's a good point," he admitted. "I've
found that some of my strongest support over the years has
come from my old colleagues from the Brand Corporation, and
my fellow graduate school alumnae. Once they learned to look
past my newly hirsute appearance, they discovered that I was
the same obsessive, absent-minded workaholic that I had always
been, and they treated me accordingly."
Ororo nodded. "Unfortunately, we can't all be as open
with our identities. We have to be careful about where and
how we work openly."
"I know," Will replied. "That's why I've been
spending some time brainstorming ideas to fix that."
Jean lifted the sleep mask off her eyes and twisted around
in her seat to look at Will. "Like what?"
Will and Rogue described, briefly, the basic outline of Will's
plans for economic influence, expanding the intelligence capacity
of the Mutant Underground, and sabotage of their enemies'
"You have been busy, haven't you?" Strange
asked when they were done.
"We all need a hobby," Will shrugged.
"When can you get started on this?" Ororo questioned.
Will thought for a moment. "I can't think of any reason
why I can't get started right now. Did anybody keep the paper
from this morning?"
"Here you go," Bobby said, handing it to him.
"Thanks." He turned his attention to the financial
section. "At least they have the Standard and Poor 500,"
he said to himself. "That gives me something to work
with." He was silent for the next few minutes as he scribbled
in his notebook. "That should be enough for tomorrow,"
he decided. "What time is it?"
"About two," Rogue told him.
"Making it eight in Dublin. He should still be in his
"Jeffrey Riordhan, my attorney and financial advisor.
Can we pull in at the next rest stop so I can give him a call?"
"No need," Ororo said, handing him a cellular phone.
"I thought that we would need it eventually."
"There's no risk of my frying it, is there, Stephen?"
"Good." Will pulled out his wallet and flipped
through it until he found his long distance card. A few moments
later, he was waiting for someone on the other end of the
line to pick up.
"Hi, Jeff, it's Will. Because you always work late,
then sleep late. That's one of the reasons I like you.
"Listen, I want you to set up a mutual fund for some
friends of mine. Ten for now, with more slots to be added
later. Set it up as a corporation, but make it a subsidiary
of TNO, Inc.. I'll send you the contracts by courier in the
next week or so. Set it up with a five thousand punt loan
for each share
. no, better make that ten thousand. Once
the value of the fund doubles, take half of any further profit
and apply it to the initial debt of the individual funds.
The other half gets rolled back into the main fund. Once the
initial debts are wiped out, the full profit gets rolled over.
Got all that? Good. Okay, here's the timetable for tomorrow."
He quickly rattled off the names of several companies, then
gave the values at which he wanted them purchased and sold
on the stock exchange.
"Next subject: I'm going to have some assignments for
the Research Division soon, so you might want to open up the
Crypt and dust them off. If they start whining, remind them
that I'm the one who signs the paychecks and owns the equipment,
and that despite what they might think, I don't pay them to
download porn from the Web.
"All right, that should be it for now. I'll be in Dublin
in two weeks or so for our quarterly review. Here's an idea
why don't you have Nuala and Maire join us, and we'll make
a day of it? It's been, what, two years since I saw them last?
Maire's how old? Oh, great, thank you for making me
feel ancient. Another birthday that week? Okay, then, why
don't we surprise her and take her out? Rent a limo for the
day and make some reservations at someplace fancy. Make sure
that she gets a nice new dress for the night, and put it on
my tab. Hold on a second." He put his hand over the mouthpiece
and looked at Rogue. "You want to come?"
Rogue thought about it. For about one second. "Sure."
Will nodded, smiling, then turned his attention back to the
phone. "Make the reservation for five. My girlfriend,
May, will be joining us. Good. See you then." He turned
the phone off and handed it back to Ororo. "I'll have
those contracts drawn up when we get to Chicago. It should
only take a half-hour or so at a computer. I'll get a notary
to stamp them, and have your funds started the next day."
"That is very generous of you," Ororo told
him, "but I have to admit that part of me has absorbed
enough of your cynicism to wonder what your ulterior motive
Will shrugged. "It's not exactly hard to figure out.
I want to make sure that the X-Men can protect themselves
in case a situation comes up where powers and fighting skills
don't mean anything. By the time I'm done, you'll all be secure
. off the books, of course
. and have
a few extra, absolutely secure identities that you can slip
into if you ever have to rabbit."
"What was that company you mentioned?"
"TNO Inc. It stands for Tir na Og, the Gaelic name for
"Your people are reliable, and discreet?"
"I pay only for the best. They know that I treat them
better than any of my competitors, so it's in their best interest
to stay loyal and keep their skills up to date."
"What was that Crypt you mentioned?" Strange asked.
"That's the nickname we use for the place in Dublin
where they work
. and play
. and pretty much live,
now that I think about it. They aren't exactly social divas
and my standards for social interaction are a lot lower than
most other people's. They're Americans, mostly, and they fit
every stereotype about computer programmers that there is.
We started calling the place the Crypt when Jeff joked once
that we'd have to keep them out of direct sunlight and make
sure that their take-out food didn't have too much garlic."
Rogue giggled. "Sounds like Kitty would have a blast
talking with them. It's been a while since she could talk
shop with anybody."
"That may not be such a good idea. Being in close proximity
to a living, breathing, attractive female would probably make
their brains explode from the hormone rush."
Rogue smiled naughtily. "Maybe I should make a surprise
visit while you're there, and make sure that I'm wearing something
that's pretty revealing."
"No, because that would make my brain explode
from the hormone rush."
Rogue smiled at the others. "Doesn't he say the sweetest
About an hour later, Henry looked at the tapes that Jean
had purchased, trying to find something to play. "Let's
. Fleetwood Mac
"And The Best of Queen," Will added.
"I didn't buy that," Jean objected.
"Doesn't matter. Pop in one of those tapes, and the
Gaiman-Pratchett Law will kick in eventually."
"Any arguments against stopping for lunch?" Strange
"None here," Henry said. "I'm ravenous."
"Yes, Henry," Will said dryly, "you look positively
"What are our choices?" Rogue asked.
"Well, I've seen signs for home-style cooking, Italian,
Japanese, and McBurgers."
"Let's do Italian," Bobby suggested. "If they
do sandwiches, we can get some for dinner, and skip a dinner
stop later tonight."
"Good idea," Ororo agreed.
"Italian food, twenty minutes ahead," Strange announced.
About ten minutes later, however, he slowed down and pulled
over to the shoulder of the road. "We may be delayed
a while," he said as he cut the engine.
"What's the problem?" Bobby asked.
"There's a lot of magical activity in the area. Can
you feel it, Will?"
Will nodded as he sat up and put on his shoes. "It feels
like agricultural magic. Maybe a farmer is trying to make
sure he gets a good crop this year?"
"No, it's too late in the season for that. This only
feels a few hours old."
"Maybe. Give me a moment to see if I can narrow it down."
He stepped out of the van and walked towards the vast expanse
of grain which stretched out before them. "It's about
three hundred meters that way."
"It might be best if you and I go on ahead. If it's
hostile, you and I have the strongest magical defenses."
"Good idea. Ororo, you and the others should stay about
fifty yards behind us. Jean, I'd suggest setting up a psychic
"All right. Be careful."
Strange nodded and gestured, transforming his clothing into
his magical garb. His coat levitated him into the air, and
another wave of his hand lifted Will along with him. They
cautiously made their way towards the disturbance.
"Rogue," Jean asked, "do you feel up to flying
on your own?"
"No problem. We'd better keep low," she advised
Ororo as she floated up. "We don't want to spook any
Ororo nodded, summoning a wind to raise herself up, while
Jean used her telekinesis to support herself, Henry and Bobby.
They were all careful to stay no more than three decimeters
or so above the field of wheat. After a few moments, Ororo
noticed a gap in the rows of grain, somewhat circular in shape.
Pointing it out to the others, she glided down towards it.
Will and Strange were there, standing in the center of an
area where the wheat had apparently been harvested and tied
into sheaves. They were both looking over the ground, nudging
loose stalks of grain aside with their toes. "Found one,"
Strange said from a spot near the edge of the circle.
Will nodded and strode over to a point on the circle opposite
Strange. "And here's the other one," he said after
"What did you find?" Ororo asked.
"Take a look," he suggested, gesturing for them
to come closer. "Just don't touch anything."
They walked over to him, then looked down, where they saw
a small doll, about three decimeters tall, made of bound straw.
It had no hands or feet, and the face was featureless, but
certain anatomical details made it clear that the figure was
male. It was also, to put it delicately, ready for action.
"Well," Bobby said, "that doesn't leave
much to the imagination, does it?"
"The other one's a bit more abstract," Strange
said as he walked over.
"Let me guess," Will said. "A Brigid's Cross."
Rogue and Ororo, who had both spoken with Will about his
religious faith, and read a few books that he had lent to
them, looked at one another for a moment. "Are you saying
that a fertility ritual took place here?" Ororo asked.
"It looks that way," Strange confirmed. "About
two hours ago would be my guess, since they're traditionally
held at either midnight or high noon."
"I'm glad we didn't pass by this way earlier,"
Will said. "I really would have been embarrassed if we'd
barged in on them while they were in flagrante delecti."
"You would have been embarrassed?" Bobby
asked. "What about them?"
"They probably would have been so deeply in a trance
state that they wouldn't even have noticed us."
Strange concentrated for a moment. "We may have a problem,
"They never closed the gate."
"Oh, boy," Will said apprehensively. "Think
we can do it?"
"It'll be difficult, given the way it was opened."
"The feedback's going to be a bear."
"My shields can handle it."
"Great, but what about me? I don't exactly have
"The structure of your mind should act as a barrier
to some degree," Jean told him. "If you start acting
suspiciously, I'll just knock you out."
"I can close off the blood flow to your brain for a
few seconds if I have to. That should knock you out."
"I think the fact that I'm trying this raises the argument
that there is no blood supply to my brain."
"Could somebody please explain this to me?" Bobby
said in exasperation.
Will and Strange looked at one another for a moment, then
Strange nodded at Will to continue. "About two hours
ago, two people preformed a variation on an ancient ritual
found in some ancient European societies. They cleared this
spot out and dedicated it to the Great Goddess and the Horned
God. When they did that, they opened up certain psychic and
magical gates. They asked for divine assistance in preserving
the fertility of the land, then entered a shared trance and
took on the personas of the deities. They made love, channeling
the resulting psychic energy into the earth. When they were
done, they left, but they forgot to close the gates
that they had opened."
"And now," Strange finished, "all sorts of
things could wander on through, attracted by the magic that
"So you have to close the gates to prevent this,"
"Exactly." He looked up. "It looks like they
raised a Cone of Power, Will. I'll head up to the apex, and
you can work from the base."
Will nodded. "This is going to be very annoying.
I'm not used to working widdershins."
"Neither am I, but it can't be helped." Strange
turned to the others. "It's probably a good idea for
the rest of you to step back, beyond the edge of the circle."
Ororo nodded. "Anything else?"
"Not yet. We'll let you know when we're done."
"Be careful," Rogue cautioned Will.
"I plan to be," he promised. "And you
be careful after this is over."
Rogue looked at him, puzzled, but said nothing as she joined
the others among the stalks of grain.
Strange's coat billowed around him for a moment, and he floated
up about twenty feet as Will took his place at the center
of the circle. "I'll follow your lead, Will," he
said. "It's going to be easier for me to match the flow
of your magic than it would be for you to work around my spells."
"Right," Will agreed, taking a deep breath. "Okay,
here goes." His eyes took on their usual glow, a glow
which soon enveloped the whole of his body and expanded until
it reached the edge of the circle. Strange made a brief series
of gestures, and the glow took on a darker shade, gaining
a degree of solidity in the process.
"Think they'll be okay?" Bobby asked.
"Stephen should be," Rogue said, "but I'm
not so sure about Will."
"You aren't still concerned about his mental state,
are you?" Henry asked.
"No, but he's still pretty weak, physically."
"Maybe he shouldn't be doing this, then," Jean
said with a worried look.
"I think he'd feel worse if we kept him from trying.
He thinks he needs to get back to work as soon as he can."
Jean considered that for a moment. "It's probably the
best thing for him right now. He seems to respond best to
work therapy, so maybe we should give him something to keep
him busy when he gets back."
"Why not a garden?" Ororo suggested.
"I thought flowers were your domain," Bobby
"Not a flower garden, a vegetable garden. It fits in
with his religious views, I think that he would enjoy it,
and it would give me an opportunity to work and speak with
him in an informal setting."
"It seems workable," Henry decided, "but what
do we have him do when the weather turns cold?"
"Well," Bobby said, thinking aloud, "we haven't
used the stables since Dani and Brightwind left. Why don't
we let him turn them into a workshop? They're big enough for
him to do almost anything in there."
"Good idea," Jean said. "We'll talk about
. if we're not busy patching Will and Stephen
"Quiet down." Rogue said in a hushed voice. "They've
Will had removed his shoes and socks, and had rolled back
his sleeves to reveal his tattoos. He stood on a small pile
of corn leaves that he had gathered, primarily to avoid walking
directly on the stiff remains of the stumps of cut corn. He
held his hands out, palms up, at about stomach level. His
eyes glanced up at Strange. "Ready?" he asked.
"Ready. Want me to make it visible?"
Will blinked. "Can you do that? It would make things
"Consider it done." Strange made a few more gestures,
and the air began to shimmer in a manner similar to a heat
A large distortion appeared two meters in front of Will,
and he braced himself, trying to be as immovable as possible.
"I'm going to start closing it now," he told
He slowly began to bring his hands together, palm-to-palm.
As he did so, a series of ripples appeared in the distortion
in the air, starting at the edge and moving towards the center,
creating an effect which looked like a backwards film of a
rock landing in a pool. The distortion began to shrink, losing
intensity as Will focused its energies back upon it.
"It's working, Will," Strange said in encouragement.
"Keep it up."
Will nodded, not speaking as sweat broke out on his forehead.
He leaned forward slightly in an unconscious effort to add
physical strength in his mental struggle. "Almost
done," he grunted through clenched teeth as his eyes
gleamed. He staggered backwards one step, as if he had been
pushed. "Something is fighting me trying to
come through! Can you block it?"
"I'll try." Strange chanted something unintelligible,
and a red glow surrounded the distortion. "That should
He didn't get to finish his sentence, because both he and
Will were suddenly hurled backwards against the 'wall' of
the circle as a blast of energy shattered Strange's barrier.
A large head, crowned by several sharp spikes of bone and
bearing a mouth full of fanged teeth, forced its way through
the doorway. Fixing its gaze on Will and Strange, it let out
a guttural roar.
"Yeah? Well, up yours, too!" Will
yelled. "Keep it busy, Stephen! I need a few seconds!"
Strange didn't answer directly, but a moment later a series
of bright lights flashed in front of the creature, driving
it back as it howled in pain and rage. "Whatever you're
going to do," Strange yelled, "do it quickly!"
Will nodded, then held his hands out in front of him, palms
down. A moment later, streamers of energy arose from the earth
below him and danced over his body. The strength of his aura
intensified as the dragons on his arms began to writhe and
"Oh, boy," Rogue said. "He's really
"How can you tell?" Bobby asked.
"I can see the muscles in his jaw tightening."
Will, apparently, had had enough. Dispensing with subtlety,
he strode up to the floating head. "Go back!"
he snapped. The creature only roared in reply.
Rogue's jaw dropped as Will drew back his right arm, then
drove his fist directly into the creature's left eye. As it
screamed in pain, Will gave it a left cross to the jaw.
"Your time on this world is done! You will not return
not on my watch!"
Opening its mouth again, the beast let out a large gout of
flame, which quickly spread out and engulfed Will's upper
body. The others gasped, expecting a scream of pain from Will,
but were stunned when he was revealed to be standing behind
a Door, which siphoned off the majority of the flame. His
hair and clothes were singed, but other than a burn across
his left arm and shoulder, he was unharmed.
"That," he growled, "is enough."
He took a step back. "Your kind fouled Mother Earth
for far too long. You will not do so again."
Raising his right arm, he plucked his sword out of the air.
"This is your last warning: Go back. If you
continue in this, I will take action."
The creature pushed its way through the portal, forcing a
clawed hand through. It tried to take a swipe at Will, who
nimbly stepped out of the way.
"I will take that as a refusal." He tightened
his grip on the hilt of his sword, then lowered his head for
a moment. When he raised it again, his aura darkened still
more, and soon he seemed to be veiled in shadow. His eyes,
however, remained bright and shining.
"I compel you," he said in a booming voice,
"to leave this world, and to remain banished until
the rocks melt and the seas burn." Raising his sword,
he made a downward stroke at the outstretched arm. The blade
cut deeply into the leathery hide, and a moment later, greenish-blue
blood spurted from the wound, evaporating into steam almost
instantly. The creature screamed yet again, and retreated
a foot or so back into the portal.
Will stepped forward, keeping pace with the entity. "Go,"
he growled. "Return to your accursed home."
Snarling, it complied.
"I can't believe that I'm seeing this," Bobby whispered.
"That thing's ten times his size. Why in God's name is
"If I understood Will's explanation correctly,"
Ororo replied, "he may very well be acting in
a god's name. From the way he was speaking, I think he may
have taken in some lingering energies from the ritual, which
would mean that he is acting as an avatar of some sort."
"Well, whatever he's doing," Jean said, "it
looks like it's working." Indeed, the creature had nearly
vanished back into the portal. Will lowered his sword, then
used one of the belt loops of his jeans as an ersatz scabbard.
Stretching his arms out in front of him, he started bringing
his hands together again, causing the portal to close once
more. Within a few seconds, the width of the spatial distortion
had narrowed to about one meter.
"I'm almost done, Stephen," Will grunted.
"Get ready to lower the barrier."
"All right. It'll take about three minutes."
Strange began the incantation which would close the circle,
but his voice trailed off after a few moments. "Will,
get back! It's trying to
He was interrupted by another blast of energy, which threw
him back a meter or so and ruined his concentration. A heartbeat
later, the clawed hand shot out of the portal and seized Will.
Before anyone had time to finish a gasp, he was yanked into
"Will!" Rogue said with a scream as she rushed
forward. She was stopped by the barrier of the circle. "Stephen,
go after him!"
Strange stood up, shaking his head in an attempt to clear
it, then floated over to the portal. He was driven back a
moment later by a blaze of silver energy, which flew out of
the distortion like fire from a flame thrower. Strange set
up a second barrier around himself and huddled down.
Rogue and the others were temporarily blinded by the glare,
but they quickly recovered as it diminished. Small remnants
of energy continued to escape from the gateway as Strange
stood up and straightened his coat. Slowly and cautiously,
he walked towards the portal.
When he was just over a meter away from the threshold of
the distortion, the energy started to flare up again. It ebbed
and flowed for a few moments, and then brightened one last
time as Will fell out, collapsing on the ground.
Will stood up, shaking off Strange's attempts to assist.
His clothes were ripped and torn, and were covered with greenish
stains. He had several deep, jagged cuts on his face and chest,
but his eyes were still glowing brilliantly.
Dropping his sword, he brought his hands back together, quickly
closing the doorway. He shouted one last thing just before
it vanished completely:
"AND STAY OUT!"
There was nothing said for several seconds as Will stood
alone, breathing heavily from the exertion of what had evidently
been a difficult task. He slowly sat down on the ground, wincing
slightly as he did so. "It's safe now," he
told Stephen. "You can drop the circle."
Will nodded. "I guarantee you that it is not
Strange looked at Will closely for a few moments, then nodded.
About four minutes later, the barrier around them had vanished.
Ororo led the others towards the two sorcerers. "Are
you both all right?" she asked, stepping into the clearing.
"I could probably use some aspirin and a nap,"
Strange said, "but otherwise I'm fine."
"Just a few nicks and scratches for me,"
Will supplied. "I probably look worse than I feel."
He took a deep breath, then paused. "Um
. I really
hate having to ask this, but could you ladies be kind enough
to move downwind?"
Ororo started to give an angry retort, but decided against
it. "Why? Are you saying that there is something unpleasant
about the way that we smell?"
"Quite the contrary
. you all smell really,
really good, and right now there's enough testosterone
flowing through me to supply a few Olympic weightlifting teams."
"Why don't we just keep our distance for the next few
minutes?" Jean quickly suggested.
"That would be a very good idea,"
Jean, Ororo and Rogue walked over to the downwind edge of
the circle. "That's the first time I've been told that
I smelled too good," Jean remarked in a low voice.
"I recall a remark that Logan made to you soon after
we joined," Ororo reminded her.
Jean blushed. "I'd forgotten about that."
"What did he say?" Rogue asked.
"He said that he knew that I was attracted to him. When
I told him that he was full of it, he let me know that his
nose told him differently."
"That sounds like Logan," Rogue agreed. "What
is it about that man?"
"I've always thought of it as animal attraction,"
Ororo confessed. "You find yourself intrigued by his
Bobby wandered over to them. "He says he should be okay
in a minute. He's thinking about teleporting us straight to
"Is he all right?" Jean asked.
"I think he's just tired. Hank took a quick look at
him. He's got some scratches and bruises, but nothing major.
His voice is back to normal, too. He wants to go shopping
for some new clothes, then have a good meal and get some sleep."
"Sounds good to me," Rogue said. "Especially
the shopping part."
"He thought you'd look forward to that. Come on."
They walked over to Will, who was examining his torn clothes
with distaste. "Remind me when we get back to Salem Center
to start using that body armored fabric in my uniform."
"I'll put it on my 'to do' list," Henry said. "Ready
He nodded. "Let's head back to the van. I'll need to
look at a map of Chicago. I'll try to place us in the parking
garage of the Drake Hotel."
"Won't we need a parking receipt?" Bobby asked.
"I can conjure one up if we have to," Strange supplied.
"We'll be a day early," Rogue pointed out.
"Remember how I got our rooms at the Shelbourne Hotel
"It's always brought me results."
A few minutes later, they were back in the van. "Just
drive us through slowly, Stephen," Will requested after
opening up a Door large enough for the van to pass through.
"Okay." Strange started the engine, activating
the tape player.
"-Mama mia let me go/Beelzebub has a devil put aside
Continued in Chapter
Author's Notes: The reference to
the Gaiman-Pratchett Law is a reference to the novel Good
Omens, by Neil Gaiman (of Sandman fame) and Terry
Pratchett (of Discworld fame). They theorize that any
cassette tape left in a car stereo long enough will eventually
turn into a Best of Queen album.
The votes on the actor to play Will Riley are in. So far,
the contenders include Patrick Muldoon, Val Kilmer, and Paul
Newman. The responses, I have to admit, were a lot different
than what I had in mind. I had envisioned a young Max Von
Sydow (think of his portrayal of Harry Haller in Steppenwolf),
or a younger Rutger Hauer (his role in the HBO movie Bone
Daddy was my inspiration, although I think he'd probably
be better as Magneto). Donald Sutherland was also considered
(his role as the good-hearted assassin in HBO's Hollow
Point left me gasping from the laughter). My personal
favorite to play Will, however, is Donald's son, Kiefer Sutherland.
His portrayal of the nefarious Doctor Schrieber in Dark
City would, in my opinion, translate as an excellent portrayal
of Will Riley. All we would have to do is grey his hair and
stick some contacts in his eyes.
As a personal aside to Alec Wire, I agree. Will's glasses
Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction /
Fan Artwork / History Books /
Photo Album / Songbank /
Miscellania / Links /
Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof
are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an
unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by