THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
The young man took his double latte from the woman behind
the counter and sat down at one of the patio tables of the
café. He unfolded his paper, looking at the weather
prediction for the day, then turned to the local news. There
was nothing of note, so he moved on to the international scene.
After scanning the headlines, he put the paper down in frustration.
Today's such an important day, he thought to himself.
Why hasnít everybody else noticed?
A cute blonde gave him the eye as she jogged by, but he was
so lost in thought that he didnít even notice her. He kept
scanning various sections of the paper, hoping that he would
find some notice or column marking the significance of the
day. Finding nothing, he sighed and looked at his watch. "I
guess thereís still time for word to get out," he said quietly.
"May as well relax until then."
Will opened up the refrigerator and took out a small plastic
container. Opening it up, he sniffed at the contents. "Good,"
he muttered to himself. "Itís still asleep."
He took a saucer out of the cupboard and placed the container
on it. "Iíll just give you some time to wake up," he said
to the container as he started getting breakfast ready.
"Morning," Rogue said cheerfully as she walked into the room.
"Morning," he replied with a smile. He looked closely at
the black silk blouse she was wearing. "Is that new?"
"I got it last night. What do you think?"
"It looks great on you. Of course, Iím somewhat biasedÖ"
"I wonít say anything if you wonít." She stretched, causing
him to whimper slightly as he watched her. "Iíve got perimeter
duty this morning. How about you?"
"Rifle practice with Bishop, then medical training with Henry."
"Weíll both be busy, then. Want to just play it by ear tonight?"
"Sounds good. What do you want for breakfast?"
"French toast?" she asked hopefully.
"Your wish is my command."
As the other team mansion residents filtered in, they chatted
amiably, taking no notice of the container, the contents of
which started to awaken from its slumberÖ
10:15 A.M. CDT
The morning shopping crowd mingled about the square, entering
and leaving the department stores. Crying, contrary children,
demanding that they just had to have the latest toy
offering, were dragged along by their parents. Busy executives
tried to balance driving and speaking on their cellular phones
at the same time. Messengers sped by on bikes, trying to get
documents to their destinations in record time.
The young man watched it all passively, never changing expression,
sipping away at his fifth cup of coffee. The time was approaching,
he decided, but not quite yetÖ
09:45 A.M. EDT
"All right, now slide the bolt into placeÖ"
Will complied, listening for the click which told him that
the piece was in the correct position. Under Bishopís watchful
eye, he had already taken apart and reassembled his rifle
three times. He was convinced, by this point, that the man
would not be satisfied until he could literally do it blindfolded.
"Once youíre done with that," Bishop decided, "weíll try
some target practice again. Iíll be adding distractions this
time, so it should be a bit more challenging."
Oh, joy, Will thought sourly. "How did the search
for depleted uranium bullets go, anyway?"
"I found a source. Iíve been making them a few at a time.
Iíve been experimenting with various powder loads, so theyíll
have a bit more kick than the standard round."
After Bishop was satisfied with Willís competence, they went
to the Danger Room and practiced shooting at both paper and
spinning targets for about an hour. "Youíre getting better
at this," Bishop observed.
"Itís getting easier to get into the right mindset." Will
fired the last dart from the chamber and stood up from his
lying position. "The stock extension helps, too." Logan had
modified the wire stock of an Israeli Uzi for use with the
"I noticed that you were a bit more focused. By the way,
I finished that Tom Clancy book I borrowed."
"Just make sure to rip up the card when you put it back."
Once he realized that his collection of books had become the
de facto lending library for the Institute, Will had
set up a small stack of index cards on one of his bookshelves,
with the simple request that anyone borrowing a book write
its title and their name on a card. Will had a habit of misplacing
books, and had already bought Ďreplacementsí for several borrowed
books, so it was hoped that this system would prevent him
from purchasing too many duplicates.
Will spent the next hour with Henry in the medlab, where
they reviewed various emergency procedures, then covered various
aspects of first aid. "You havenít been tested on our field
medical kits," Henry pointed out.
"Given my effect on electronics, are you sure itís a good
"Iíd be more comfortable if you at least had the proper training."
Henry took two of the Portable Triage Units out of a cabinet
and handed one to Will. "Have a seat. Iíll take it one function
at a time. Press the button next to the trackball. The system
is menu driven and will respond to voice commands if you have
both hands busy. The system computer should be able to run
you through most procedures. If you need it, however, thereís
a basic first aid manual inside the main storage unit, here.
It also contains a pneumatic injector, and a dried oxygen
pack which is connected to the oh-two line, which Iíll show
you in a moment.
"The keypad allows you to select drugs and set dosages. The
pharmacology unit contains several broad-base analgesics,
tranquilizers, and antibiotics, so you should be able to at
least stabilize your patientís condition until you can get
them to a medical facility. These interface points will let
you download your information to another computer so that
you can save time.
"The camera eye for the computer is here on the bottom, in
the center. This side has the line for oxygen, a suction tube,
and a small supply of plasma. The other side has surgical
implements and plastic staples. You can set the dissolving
time for the staples with the main unit before you insert
"The unit can perform some minor surgery automaticallyÖ just
place the unit over the wound and tell it what to do. It will
inject drugs into the wearer itself, using these hip points,
if it decides that itís necessary."
"Why didnít it do that when Rogue was injured in Salt Lake
"Rogueís skin is too resilient for the injector to penetrate.
Iím already talking with Forge about using adamantium or carbondium
syringe points in the next model."
Will nodded. "That raises a point, though. If my patientís
in shock, their powers might be going haywire. Does this thing
have an inhibitor collar on it?"
"It generates a mild inhibitor field. It wonít knock out
powers, but it will reduce them to the point where they canít
affect the external environment. In Rogueís case, the feedback
that knocks you out wonít kick in for a few seconds, so you
should be able to do some quick procedures if you have no
other choice. Youíd probably still be better off wearing gloves,
though, if only to keep the wound area sterile."
"Good point. Have you got a pair of vacuum-sealed gloves
that I can keep in a pocket of my coat?"
"Right here." Henry leaned back and reached into a drawer,
tossing the gloves to Will. "Now, letís run through a few
"Just so long as I donít have to perform a sex change operationÖ"
While Will and Henry reviewed the medical information, Warren
and Betsy walked into the kitchen.
"So after I finish at the bank, we can go shopping and what
the hell is THAT?!?"
The white, amorphous blob was bubbling over onto a plate,
seeming to expand as it slowly attempted to escape its container.
It was thick and viscous, methodically sliding off the edge
of the plate and onto the counter.
Warren unfurled his wings and pushed Betsy behind him. "It
might try to attack. Bishop!"
The security-conscious man ran into the room. "What is it?"
Warren pointed to the blob. "Blast that thing!" Bishop obeyed
immediately, drawing his sidearm and firingÖ
Will and Henry jumped up at the sound of the alert klaxon,
and once Henry determined its location was the kitchen, Will
teleported them there instantly.
They arrived to find that the kitchen was covered in white
globs, which were splattered everywhere from the floor to
the ceiling. "What happened?" Henry demanded.
"There wasÖ somethingÖ on the kitchen counter!" Warren gasped.
"Itís been dealt with," Bishop said as he holstered his pistol.
Will looked at the scorch mark on the counter, then at Warren.
He sighed and collapsed into a chair. "Let me guessÖ you saw
a white blobÖ"
"Right," Warren confirmed.
Will sighed again and looked at Bishop. "Congratulations.
You are responsible for the summary execution of my sourdough
Betsy burst into laughter. "We just called an alert over
"Looks that way," Will confirmed. He looked at the wreckage
mournfully. "It took me three months to grow that."
Bishop, at least, had the good grace to look chagrined. "Sorry
"Just clean it all up. Iíll make frozen breadsticks tonight."
He walked out of the room, shaking his head.
Betsy just kept laughing.
Fifteen minutes later, Bobby walked into the living room,
finding that Will and Logan were watching Where Eagles
Dare. "Anything else on?" he asked.
"Whatís wrong with this?" Logan countered.
"You know Iím not a fan of war movies."
"Think of it as a spy movie, then," Will suggested.
"No, thanks. I have perimeter duty, anyway. I couldnít convince
one of you to trade, could I?"
Will thought about it for a moment. "Iíll do it if you take
my next shift at monitor duty."
"Just give me a minute to change."
Five minutes later, Will reentered the room, wearing hiking
boots and a light jacket. "You armed?" Logan asked him.
"Three knives and my pistol."
"Good. Pick up the mail while youíre out there, willya?"
"Iíll get it on my last pass."
Will accelerated to enhanced speed once he left the building,
and quickly made two circuits of the Institute grounds, stopping
once at his workshop so that he could add wood to the fire.
On his third pass along the lakefront, he caught some movement
out of the corner of his eye, and quickly ducked behind a
tree to get a closer look.
A young doe timidly stepped out of the woods and stepped
over to the lake to drink. Will watched her for a few moments,
then, as quietly as possible, approached her.
He got to within a meter of the doe before she noticed him.
Her eyes widened in fright as she turned her head to face
him, but she made no move to run.
Will tried to radiate calm and understanding as he slowly
moved one hand towards her. She trembled slightly, but did
not move as he reassuringly stroked her flank. She then lifted
her muzzle to his head and sniffed at him for a moment.
After about three seconds, she stepped back and looked at
him in a manner which would have been considered quizzical
in a human. She then turned away and gracefully walked back
into the trees.
Will crouched down onto one knee and stared at the spot where
the deer had been. After a moment, he smiled, then looked
up. "You can come out now."
Jean floated down from the treetops. "I didnít want to interrupt
you." She paused a moment. "That was amazing."
"Most wildlife doesnít seem to be too afraid of me. Now that
doe knows that I wonít hurt her." He stood up. "Iíd better
finish my patrol. See you later." He set off at a jog along
the shore of the lake.
Jean watched him leave, a bemused expression on her face.
The man channels spirits, comes back from the dead on a
regular basis, and runs a public relations campaign for Bambi.
I donít know whether to be frightened or amused.
North Platte, Nebraska
11:07 A.M. CDT
Dr. Joseph Gregory picked up his clipboard, as usual, and
began his daily rounds of the hospital. He spoke with several
of the patients and orderlys, checking to make sure that medications
and other treatments were being administered properly.
As he passed one particular room, however, he froze. He glanced
inside the room, making sure that he wasnít mistaken. Then
he panicked. "Nurse!"
The head nurse for the wing ran down the hall to him. "Yes,
"Where is the patient for this room?"
"Richard Hirt? He was given his release paperwork this morning."
"Thatís impossible. Let me see the release order."
The nurse led him back to her station and handed him the
form. He read it, then shook his head. "This canít be right.
Get me Doctor Lin at County, immediately."
Two minutes later, Dr. Gregory was arguing with the phone.
"How could you sign a release order for Richard Hirt without
"Richard Hirt? I signed a release for Robert Hart. Your
people read it wrong."
"Oh, my God," was the reply. Dr. Gregory slammed the phone
down, then dialed another number. "This is Doctor Gregory
at the County Psychiatric Hospital. Get me the Police Commissioner.
We have an extremely dangerous patient at large."
11:32 A.M. EDT
Will poked his head into the kitchen. "Need any help?" he
"No thanks. Iíve got it," she said as she put the first batch
of grilled cheese sandwiches into the oven. "I just have to
let the soup heat up."
"What did you make?"
"New England clam chowder."
He nodded approvingly. "Want me to set the table?"
"Could you, please?"
"Coming right up." The table was ready by the time everyone
The conversation over lunch was light and cheerful. Will,
Xavier, Betsy and Warren discussed how some recent changes
in the tax code would affect their holdings. Logan, Scott
and Bishop reviewed some recent intelligence reports from
their sources, and Rogue showed Jean and Ororo a recent catalog
of the latest fashion offerings from Paris.
Once lunch was finished, Will went up to his room to take
a short nap. He was just about to pull back the covers of
his bed when there was a knock at his door. "Come in."
Rogue entered the room, them shut the door behind her. She
wore a pair of black Capri pants and a blue turtleneck. "Want
He smiled. "Iíd love some." He waited while she put on some
white cotton gloves and her microfiber mask, then pulled the
sheets over them both as they settled into the bed. Rogue
nestled her head in the crook of his shoulder, and they both
drifted quickly into sleep.
North Platte, Nebraska
11:26 AM CDT
"Damn it, Commissioner, we have got to find him!
"Whyís he dangerous!? Look at his file, you jackass! Heís
a paranoid schizophrenic with religious delusions who has
been off his medication forÖ six hours now. And see that last
drug on the list? Thatís an X/F suppressorÖ X/F as in X-factor.
Our boy out there is a mutantÖ a high-level telepath/energy
manipulator, no less! Look at his case historyÖ what do you
think heís going to do now that heís out?
Will and Rogue were entertaining themselves within a shared
dream, one in which Rogue was playing the part of a Renaissance
noblewoman and Will a troubadour serenading her from below
her balcony. She looked down at him and giggled. "Itís too
bad that this has gone out of style."
"I could always switch to a cello and start belting out Is
You is or is You Ainít My Baby."
"Iíll give it some thought." She looked around at the landscape.
"Any idea where we are?"
"Northern Italy would be my guess." He picked up his mandolin
again and started playing Smoke on the Water.
"Keep that up," she warned, laughing, "and Iíll drop one
of these flowerpots on you."
"I like to live dangerously." He played a few random notes,
then paused, listening for a moment. "Did you hear that?"
He didnít answer for several seconds. "Youíd better hop down
from there," he advised her. "The tower might not be there
in a few seconds."
"Can I fly down?"
"Itís a dream. You can do whatever you want."
"Okay." She jumped off the balcony and floated down. "Whatís
"Iím not sure yet. Brace yourself for a second."
A moment later, the ground underneath them simply plummeted
away, falling away until it was simply a pinpoint in the grey
mist. A few seconds later, a circular shape rose up towards
them, quickly resolving itself into the form of the library
tower which Rogue had seen before.
Will gestured, and a chair appeared next to Rogue. "You might
want to sit down. This could take a little while." After she
was seated, Will waked to the center of the tower and looked
up. "Okay," he said, "whatís the problem?"
A moment later, books started flying off the shelves Ė literally.
They zoomed past Rogue and surrounded Will, nearly obscuring
him from her view. The music of the Chorus, meanwhile, began
to grow in both volume and clarity.
12:27 PM CDT
Richard Hirt watched the crush of people moving back towards
their offices. Smiling, he tossed his coffee cup into the
He hopped up onto the table in front of him. "Excuse me,
please?" he asked in a loud voice. "Could I have everyoneís
"Any ideas yet?" Rogue asked.
"Not yet," Will told her from behind the whirlwind of books.
"Sometimes it takes a while before I can get a clear idea
of just whatís going on."
"Why are you getting buried by books?"
"Iím not, really. I get a glimpse of a single page from lots
of different books. Eventually, I can put it all together
and figure out just what the Chorus is trying to tell me."
12:28 PM CDT
A small group of people stopped to look at the young man.
Some stopped out of curiosity. Others out of boredom. A few
stopped because he had a really nice butt.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I wanted to let you know that youíve
all been selected for a very special honor. Something amazing
is going to happen here today, and youíre all going to be
the first witnesses to it." As he spoke, he let his power
loose, sending it flowing over the people like a liquid. Almost
instantly, they started to become more interested in what
he had to say.
"Today, youíre going to see and experience something that
you never thought possible. Something that will stay with
you for the rest of your lives."
His psionic feelers started to sink deep into the minds of
his listeners, linking them together on a subconscious level.
The result was a small, but potent overmind, which he began
to nudge towards the direction he wanted as he expanded it
and extended his influence farther outward.
13:29 PM EDT
"Damn it!" Will growled as he stepped through the wall of
books. "Iím not getting anywhere with this."
"Anything I can do to help?" Rogue asked sympathetically.
"No, but thanks for asking." He listened intently for a moment.
"And what the hell is that echo?"
"You canít hear it?" She shook her head. "Itís like Iím hearing
a small echo of the Chorus off somewhere thataway." He gestured
over his shoulder.
"What would cause that?"
"I donít know," he admitted. "But Iím going to find out."
He gestured, and the library tower fell away, leaving grey
nothingness in its place. Rogue yelped a moment later, when
the chair she was sitting on also vanished, and she landed
on her butt. "Sorry," Will apologized.
"No problem. What now?"
"Now I check it out. Hang on." They accelerated to a speed
which would have taken Rogueís breath away had they actually
been breathing. After a few seconds, they approached an area
where the mist seemed to be a bit off-color, gradually becoming
darker than the surrounding territory. Will put his hand out
and tried to touch the discolored area, but found that there
was some sort of barrier which kept him from doing so. "That
shouldnít be happening," he said to himself. "This isnít a
"What is it?"
"Someoneís forming a small group mind, closed off from the
Chorus. See how flat and regular this area looks? Itís being
maintained artificially, held together by one mind."
"Why would someone do that?"
"I donít knowÖ and Iím not sure how to stop it."
12:30 PM CDT
He always knew it would be like this.
They hung on his every word, waiting for him to continue.
The feeling of power was what he had thought of during his
time in treatment, what the pills kept from him when they
made it hard to focus and cut his gift off from him.
"Today youíre all going to be part of a very select group.
Youíre going to be part of something that people will be talking
about for years to come. Your names are going to be all over
the news, around the world."
As he spoke, he gathered the psychic energy that they were
producing as a group mind, letting it build and growÖ energizing
him further and preparing him for what he had to do.
"The energy seems to be building," Will said as he continued
to examine the anomaly.
"Is it dangerous?"
"That depends on what itís going to be used for. This might
just be an unusual group meditation of some kind, but I donít
think so. Itís too damn organized." He backed away from the
discolored area and gestured for Rogue to follow him. As they
drifted off, he continued to keep a close eye on the phenomenon.
"Are you going to do anything about it?" Rogue asked him.
"Iím still not sure if I should or not. I try not to interfere
with what happens within the Chorus if I can help it. It might
be better if I justÖ"
"Just what?" Rogue pressed. Then she noticed that his attention
was focused on the anomaly, which was starting to pulse with
energy. Before she could protest, he grabbed her and sped
away from it as fast as he could.
"Yes, people, we are going to send a message today!" Richard
Hirt said as he took the power and let it loose...
If Rogue had been seeing with her eyes, she would have gone
The explosion of the anomaly was brighter than a dozen suns,
and the blast was deafening. She could only watch as a shockwave
traveled through the ether, approaching them at a frightening
rate of speed. "Faster!" she urged Will.
Will poured on the speed, struggling to consciously direct
them both from deep sleep into a waking state without hurting
either one of them. He felt the waking world ahead of him,
and drove them both towards it as quickly as he could...
They both awoke with a gasp, sitting up in bed with panicked
looks on their faces.
"WhatÖ was that?" Rogue gasped.
Will had only one answer.
12:32 PM CDT
Richard Hirt walked carefully over the rubble of the café,
looked at his handiwork, and saw that it was good.
"I want to thank all of you," he said aloud. "I couldnít
have done this without you."
Bodies lay strewn like cordwood on the street and sidewalk.
His listeners were now bleeding from their ears, noses, and
eyes. The sudden nature of their deaths had caused their bowels
to void themselves, causing a stink to permeate the square.
"I mean, you have to have a few sacrifices if you
want to get Godís attention, donít you?"
To be continued
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