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work of fiction using characters belonging to Marvel Entertainment
Group. No profit is being made on it. This work is copyright
of Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com).
Please do not archive this on your website without informing
me first. You can download this and copy it for your entertainment,
but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers
I. It was quiet in the newsroom. In the center of
the seats, two German reporters were trying to teach Skat
to a French and a Spanish colleague to pass the time. Daily
Bugle photographer Peter Parker sat away in a corner,
watching a television set belonging to one of the camera crews.
"What on Earth are you watching there? Looks like some
awful daytime soap?"
Parker looked up. Another American journalist was looking
down on him, the attractive dress and expensive coiffure almost
a badge of her profession. Trish Tilby, a television correspondent
who specialized in storylines involving mutants -- the operations
of the now-defunct X-Factor, Inc., the X-Men, award-winning
reports from the civil war in Genosha. And hadn't there been
rumors that she was, or at any rate used to be, the Beast's
"Hi! I thought I might meet you here, there doesn't
seem to be a major mutant-related story that's not covered
by you. I'm Peter Parker, I work for the Daily Bugle,"
he said, rising.
"Howdy. I've seen a bit of your work. But isn't your
forte action shots? What are you doing at a boring ol' conference?"
"Well, it's really just part of my assignment. We're
basically using it as a hook to do a feature on the European
superpowered people. Or costumed Euro-freaks, as my esteemed
publisher likes to call them."
"And now you're stuck here, waiting for the press conference.
So, what is that you were watching?"
"Over here, it's called Die Klinik am Central Park.
God knows why, it's supposed to be set in Queens, but I guess
that's German TV executives for you. Maybe you've heard of
it, though it's one of those soap operas no one ever admits
to watching, Secret Hospital."
"I assume you have a good reason for watching a dubbed
"Yup, I wanted to see my wife speaking German."
Trish Tilby looked a bit surprised, then the coin dropped.
"So you're Mister Watson-Parker! You know, I hadn't made
the connection between you two, what with Parker being such
a common name."
"Well, that's one way of putting it."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Peter, I didn't mean..."
"No, it's okay. Actually, I could have used Mary Jane's
name a few years back when I was in England. Everyone asked
me if I was related to Sir Peter Parker."
"No one you'd need to know. He used to be director of
British Rail. So, Trish, been to Germany before?"
"Actually, no. Have you?"
"Yes, once. To Berlin. Not the most pleasant memory.
Ned Leeds, my partner, was murdered in his hotel room."
The conference room was beginning to fill as members of the
press and other media arrived singly and in groups. The door
near the podium opened a little and a blonde woman peered
through the crack before closing it again. Trish Tilby became
alert: "Look, there's Valerie Cooper. I had wondered
why so many American gossip columnists were accredited to
this conference. Guess they want to be ready in case she is
prepared to tell about her and Mystique."
"What, the ex-terrorist?"
"The same. Haven't you heard about that thing?"
"No, I was rather preoccupied at the time..." With
that Jackal psycho and that poor sap he had surgically altered
to resemble me so I'd think he was my clone, but I can't tell
that so I won't jeopardize my Spider-Man identity, Peter Parker
added in his thoughts.
"Well, it seems that last December Cooper had an affair
with Mystique, whose can assume the shape and physiology of
any man or woman..."
Oh dear, Peter thought, that's one of the less well known
drawbacks of having a secret identity -- now I not only have
to listen not only to the story, but also to the lengthy explanations...
1st NATO Conference on Metapowered Operatives
Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg
Friday, 12th April 1996
Greeting speeches by representatives of the University of
the Bundeswehr and the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City
Pierre Plaszek (D): Setting Up the German Metapowers Network
With France and the Benelux States
Raymond Sikorski (USA): Ten Years of Federal Government Liaisons
with Metapowered Teams
Heather Hudson (CDN): Department H and the Canadian Model
of Superpowered Operations
Lunch break and poster discussions
Dr. Alistaire Stuart (GB): Cooperation Between United Kingdom
Agencies and British and Foreign "Superheroes"
Capitaine Jean-Luc Ronarc'h (F): La Force Spéciale Surhumaine
et les engagements français en l'outre-mer
Reception and buffet
Saturday, 13th April 1996
Jennifer Walters (USA): Mutant and Metapowers-Related Legislation
in the United States and Canada
Prof. Dr. Anna-Cornelie Bijland (Leidse Universiteit, NL):
Metapowered Humans and the International Court in the Hague
Brig.-Gen. Nicholas Fury (USA): Superpowered and Costumed
Freelance Operatives in the Intelligence Agencies
Dr. Valerie Cooper (USA): The Federal Strike Teams Freedom
Force and X-Factor under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Administrations
Kurt Wagner (D/GB): Britain's International Metahuman Team
-- A Personal Experience
Lunch break and poster discussions
Maj.-Gen. Süleyman Tüysüz (TR): Metapowered Operatives in
the Gulf Wars and Later Conflicts on NATO's South-Eastern
Lt.-Col. Bruce Woologong (AUS): NATO, SEATO, and the Situation
Sunday, 14th April 1996
Dr. Reed Richards (USA): The Fantastic Four as Quasi-Autonomous
Dr. Fokko Schlickpottje-Buch (D): Meta-Agents of the Former
GDR. Evidence from the East-Berlin Archives
Dr. Grzegorz Tomczak (PL): Former Warsaw Pact Countries Applying
for NATO Membership -- Metapowers Aspects
Dr. Henry Pym (USA): Suits and "Star Wars" -- Complementing
the Military vis-à-vis Potential Extra-Terrestrial Threats
Prof. Charles Xavier (USA): Mutant and Non-Mutant Metahumans:
The Shape and Numbers to Come
Lunch break and poster discussions
End of conference
III. Outside, the gray clouds were darkening, but
from the top of the high-rise building there still was a good
view over the twin lakes of the Alster and the surrounding
parts of the city. Inside the Finnish restaurant, the two
couples had just finished soup and were now waiting for the
main course. The gray-templed man with the eyepatch leaned
back in his wheelchair: "Well, Bern, hope you had a better
time on the town than we did at the conference."
A broad smile appeared above the woman's cleft chin: "That
The other woman took Nick Fury's hand. "Yes, we had
the legal experts in this morning, and that really made for
riveting entertainment. Even the She-Hulk couldn't make it
"I wondered about that; why all the legal topics?"
"Damn bureaucrats," Nick Fury spat out, "when
they ain't got nothin' better to do, they write a set of new
regulations for anything they can put their noxious little
"And now they're catching up with superheroes."
The athletic blond moved aside to give the waiter access.
"I'm having the moose steak. The salmon's for you, Val,
"Yes, Steve, and Nick's having the American plate."
She giggled silently.
"What?" Fury was roused a little. "So I like
what I like."
The four settled down to their meals and resumed the conversation.
"They're making special regulations for superheroes?"
Bernadette Rogers wasn't sure whether to be concerned or amused.
"Safety regulations, minority representation in government-supported
super-groups, special building specifications, everything."
Steve Rogers was still having trouble digesting all the facts.
You wouldn't believe it, Bernie. "Just the new laws,
by-laws and city ordinances issued the past five years by
various states and counties on 'unassisted flying' are astounding.
In Sweden, superheroes are not supposed to fly without a parachute,
in elsewhere they must wear a helmet even if they're invulnerable,
in Kenosha they're liable to be fined if they take off in
the presence of minors..."
"And the best part," the Countess interjected,
"in some places they actually revived old laws against
flying that were originally passed for the persecution of
"I guess Doctor Strange may run into trouble in some
parts of our great country," Nick Fury quipped. "And
of course some o' the bureaucrats in Brussels will do their
utmost to create a standard Euro-superhero, while the national
bureaucracies will fight tooth an' claw to uphold their own
peculiar norms an' standards for costumed operatives. That'll
be a sight to see."
Everybody joined in the laughter. Steve Rogers turned to
"At least today I wasn't that sorry we decided you wouldn't
go to the conference because I'm there as you know who. Even
if that meant that you missed Nicholas's magnum opus."
Nick Fury grimaced in mock annoyance at that little dig:
"Hey, it's bad enough that I'm now relegated to a desk
most of the time, but having to give stupid little speeches
at conferences like this really is the pits! Maybe it would've
been better if that psycho Castle had succeeded in rubbin'
The others apparently did not think this as funny as the
director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Countess Valentina looked particularly
worried. "Caro, you must not say that..."
"Relax, Val, I'm just joshing. Sheesh. It just takes
some gettin' used to, but you oughta know that I've seen enough
to consider myself lucky. I mean, I could be a mindless vegetable
like Castle is now. An' just 'cause I got a bullet through
my spine's an' I'm trapped in a wheelchair doesn't mean I
can't enjoy myself. I mean, just look at Xavier, he's doin'
"I noticed you were having a long talk with Forge during
the break. Does he think he can help you?"
"Mebbe." Fury dug into his meal.
Steve turned to Bernie: "So what did you do today, honey?"
"Went on a tour of the port in a launch and then to
that arts and crafts museum near the railway station in the
"Ya been to the Reeperbahn yet? I hear parts of it are
very 'in' now."
"Actually no. Steve's musical tastes are a bit on the
conservative side. Janet and I had a hard enough to get him
to agree to go to The Black Rider with us."
"Yes kid, that's the difference between bein' frozen
in a chunk of ice for a couple o' decades an' bein' on life-extendin'
drugs. Steve missed the rock 'n' roll era, I could adjust
to it as it happened. Which reminds me, Countess, how about
a night out on the Reeperbahn together?"
"Engaging in a little nostalgia, Nicholas?"
"Back in '61 when I was here on a CIA mission, I went
to the clubs most every night. There was this girl... she
really was crazy about that band from England, what were they
"I think I can see what he's going to say next,"
Bernie whispered to Steve.
"Ah yes, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Wonder what
became of them?" He grinned. "Betcha thought I was
going to say I was one of the guys who played around with
their guns to get the Beatles to do their requests, right?"
Bernie nodded sheepishly, and Steve said with a broad smile:
"It certainly makes for a striking image."
"Sorry, I actually never saw the Beatles performing
at the time. Antje wanted to take me there one time, but ...
something happened and I had to leave at short notice."
Steve laid aside his knife and fork and wiped his mouth.
"So you've been to Hamburg before?"
"Sure. Matter of fact, the first time I was here was
pretty much exactly fifty years ago. I wuz a rookie O.S.S.
officer in Bremen -- that was under U.S. occupation as a port
for our zone, while the rest of Northwest Germany was British
-- ," he added for Bernie's benefit. "I frequently
had to travel to Hamburg for our co-operation with our Brit
opposite numbers." He ate the last slice of meat, chewing
pensively. "Fifty years. God, that makes me feel old."
He and Steve Rogers exchanged an almost affectionate look
as the waiter brought desserts.
"You know what really gets me about this year's primaries?"
Fury went off on a tangent, "It's the way every commentator
says that Bob Dole will be the last member of the World War
2 generation to run for president. Makes me want to run myself
in four years, just ta prove 'em wrong. Or maybe you should
do it. After all, a guy in a wheelchair would never get elected."
There were significant smiles and chuckles all around, but
Steve Rogers's were a little melancholy. Of course, as the
only graduate of the Super Soldier Program he had been interviewed
a few times by President Roosevelt. He wondered how many others
were still alive who had as vivid a memory as he did of meeting
up close the invalided man who had led the free world to victory
against the Axis. "Actually, there is a serious side
to this," he mused aloud, "they say that the way
media coverage has grown and evolved in the past decade, a
man who had the kind of disabilities FDR had could never make
it to the White House. So if they had had today's media in
1932, he might not--"
"Makes ya think..."
Countess de la Fontaine turned to Bernadette: "It is
nice I finally got to meet you properly. But I was surprised
that you're here if you're not actively involved with Steve's,
"Yes, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity
for a little vacation together. I'd call it a second honeymoon
if we'd actually had our first one and Baron Zemo hadn't put
a spanner into the works at the time."
"Sorry to put a damper on things, but if you want to
get to the theater before it begins ta rain, mebbe ya'd better
start out soon..."
"At least we don't have to be at the press conference!"
NATO Conference on Metapowered Operatives 1996
Press Information Sheet 3:
Super-Powered Teams Operated by or Affiliated to NATO National
United States of America
The Federal mutant strike force operates out of Washington,
DC under the control of Mutant Affairs Coordinator Forge.
It currently consists of five active members -- Havok (leader),
Polaris, Strong Guy, Random and Mystique -- and a few reserve
or affiliate agents.
This independent team is sanctioned by the US government and
the United Nations. It operates out of New York City, the
second headquarters near Los Angeles is currently only used
when missions take the team to the Western United States.
Plans to set up a third base in St. Louis have run into financial
difficulties. The team roster is subject to frequent changes
and in emergencies a large number of reserve members can be
called into service. The present Avengers chairwoman is the
Black Widow, the active team includes Captain America, Crystal,
Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Thor and Wasp.
The oldest existing independent team also is based in New
York. As the name states, the team normally consists of four
active members, although it too is subject to occasional changes
and has a number of affiliate and reserve members. The current
roster consists of the Invisible Woman (leader), Human Torch,
Thing and She-Hulk, with Mr. Fantastic and Lyja Storm acting
as base support.
Alpha Flight/Troupe Alpha
This autonomous team formerly was the active branch of Canadian
Government Department H, which now only acts as a loose overseer.
The team's headquarters is situated near Toronto, but members
normally are dislocated all over the country. Alpha Flight
consists of six active members -- Guardian (leader), Aurora/Aurore,
Etoile Polaire/Northstar, Sasquatch, Puck and Diamond Lil
-- and also has a reserve.
Force Spéciale Surhumaine
The FSS is operated by the French Defence Ministry from its
base at Senlis near Paris. It is kept separate from the French
contingents of the European multinational teams and can be
used in conjunction with military operations oversees. Field
team leader is Cuirassé Bleu, details of the current membership
This autonomous team operates in loose co-operation with law-enforcement
agencies and the Ministry of Defence, the latter connection
being through the W.H.O. Excalibur operates from an undisclosed
base. Current leader is Captain Britain, his deputy, Nightcrawler.
Other current members are Shadowcat, Meggan, Phoenix, Wolfsbane
Currently, the old mostly regional organization is being replaced
by one reflective of the differing degrees of co-operation
with the various branches of national governments.
Caçadores do Sul/Cacciatori del Sud/Cazadores del Sur/Chasseurs
This alliance of government-affiliated groups from Italy (Squadra
Mista), Portugal (Turma Tonante), Spain (Alianza Alada) and
Southern France (Escadron Mistral) operates in conjunction
with their national governments and police forces. The office
of chairperson alternates annually between nations. Under
the umbrella of this organization, the four small teams concerned
operate with a great deal of autonomy from each other. Current
chairman is Corneja Supersónica of the Alianza Alada.
Gardiens du Nord/Noordelijke Wachters/Nordwächter
Northwest European equivalent of the preceding, the Northern
Guardians consist of the Benelux organization Legioen van
het Recht/Légion de la Justice, the German Hypernormaler Einsatzdienst
and the Northern French Escadron Sambre et Meuse. In this
year, the spokesman is Zeeuwse Leeuw of the Legioen van het
The Network/Das Netzwerk/Le Réseau
An independent association of mainly Northwest European superheroes
co-operating with police authorities on a regular basis. Under
the current leadership of Cigogne Tricolore, the active membership
at present consists of Doktor Donau, Havörnen, Marcassin,
Spaßvogel and Vlugge Hagedis.
Note: This list does not contain intelligence agencies with
metapowered capability (e.g. S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Turkish
Special Operative Agency). Information on these is in any
V. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the
press. My name is Pierre Plaszek, I am one of the co-ordinators
in charge of setting up European metapowered teams and also
one of the organizers of this conference."
The speaker with the pronounced Berlin accent looked like
the intermediate ministerial bureaucrat he was. Not being
an active member of any of the ruling political parties, he
had risen to his appointment mainly through his seniority.
A man in his late 40s with a wiry build and graying hair,
he sat at the edge of the raised table, a sheaf of notes before
"I'd like to start by introducing my four colleagues.
On my left is my compatriot Nightcrawler, one of the founding
members of the freelance metapowered team Excalibur, which
is based in England." The indigo-skinned mutant's demonic
appearance and gaudy costume had already assured him the majority
of looks from the journalists. He smiled all around, flashing
a set of impressive canines. He acknowledged the waves and
whistles from some of the British reporters.
"He will be answering questions about his team's changing
relationship to the English authorities. Next to him is Doctor
Valerie Cooper of the American National Security Council."
The severely-coiffed official was clearly big with child,
and had opted for a light gray 'business maternity suit'.
"She has a distinguished career supervising the operations
of a number of meta-operatives under the auspices of her Federal
Government and is currently ze deputy to ze man on her left,
Agent Forge. Mister Forge is the co-ordinator in charge of
US mutant operatives, most notably the Washington-based strike
force team X-Factor." In testimony of this fact, the
full-blood Cheyenne with the mechanical hand was wearing a
skin-tight blue and yellow jump-suit.
"And last not least we have Capitaine Jean-Luc Ronarc'h
of the Superhuman Special Force in Senlis." The slightly
corpulent dark-blond Breton in the navy uniform gave an abrupt
military nod. Plaszek then picked up his papers and launched
into his opening statement:
"As you will probably know, the field of metapowered
operatives has been attracting more and more attention over
the past years, especially since the dissolution of the Warsaw
Pact, after which a number of the international agreements
limiting the use of what are commonly referred to as superheroes
and superheroines became inoperative. There is also the matter
of certain non-aligned countries -- such as Genosha in the
Indian Ocean -- setting up powerful meta-powered strike forces
that pose a potential threat to world peace. Most national
governments in NATO have done some work on either setting
up metapowered teams of their own for military and/or law-enforcement
purposes or in some cases setting up co-operative liaisons
with the existing freelance teams, such as Excalibur in England
or the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in America.
Here in Europe we've also seen some efforts to institute
closer links between nations in the superpowers sector. Here
we of course we had the examples of police co-operation and
the Euro-Corps we could emulate or even aim to improve on.
At the moment, you will have heard, we are setting up a new
organisation for the metapowered teams in Germany, the Benelux
nations and Northern France. Other governments are also looking
into closer co-ordination of their efforts -- you probably
heard of the recent negotiations between Spain and Portugal.
Now that NATO has increased its engagement in the implementation
of the Bosnian settlement, there is also increased talk of
sending a metapowered force there. Given that some of the
belligerent groups have meta-powers capability, it may become
unavoidable to give NATO forces operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina
the special forces necessary to deal with every threat they
may run up against. The theme of course also came up in the
Bundestag debates about the German involvement in the Bosnian
Most of the journalists had reported in detail on a lot of
the subjects Plaszek was running through here, so eyes were
glazing over. One or two even risked switching off their cassette
recorders. Others went through their lists of questions one
last time to be ready when the opening spiel was over. Bugle
shutterbug Peter Parker listened more attentively since he
found Plaszek's accent a little hard to understand and because
he hadn't followed European news that closely back in New
York. The cameraman from Trish Tilby's crew was panning along
the table on the podium to capture each of the five persons
sitting behind it. Ronarc'h was looking at his notes, Cooper
and Forge were conversing in whispers, Nightcrawler was fighting
an impulse to make funny faces when Plaszek was not looking
"This is a first attempt to pool our different experiences
on an international level and compare notes on our various
national doctrines and solutions to problems that have cropped
up over the years. Since this is a NATO conference, our starting
point were of course the mechanics of operating meta-powered
teams. But of course, to properly assess the matter of meta-powers,
we also must look at the related issues, for instance the
domestic aspect. Over the past five years, more and more news
reports and opinion columns have been devoted to what is commonly
referred to as the mutant crisis, especially in the United
States and with reference to Genosha, but to a lesser degree
also in some European nations. In some cases, the growing
interest in 'the mutant question' has already led to legal
proposals and some laws and regulations, such as the attempt
in the United States to register mutant powers by Federal
Without warning, both wings of the main door were abruptly
flung open, one of them actually ripped out of its hinges.
"The alleged mutant crisis is nothing but a smokescreen
behind which American imperialism lurks so it can plot new
machinations to destroy the proud heritage of the independence-loving
peoples of the European nations!"
All eyes were fixed on the intruder in the turquoise suit
and classic Greek helmet who struck a dramatic pose in the
wreck of the entrance.
"But, no longer! You may have fooled and bribed the
media, but we see through your fabrications. We know that
these so-called mutant terrorists are all in the pay of the
CIA, hired henchmen that pose a bogus threat so the arms industrialist
can be fed more money and covert US control can be implemented
the world over!"
"Bull!" One of the journalists jumped to his feet,
pointing an accusing finger at the podium: "If you think
you can fool right-thinking Americans with such a transparent
maneuver, 'Miz' Cooper, you have got another thing coming!
This pervert is just another one of your henchmen, and this
entire conference is part of a concerted campaign to divert
decent people's attention from your godless conspiracy to
subjugate the world through your foreign and genetically-engineered
"Silence, wretch!" thundered the black-clad intruder.
"I don't care if you're one of the minions of the American
military-industrial-televangelist-political complex or just
the sorry product of your country's barbaric culture -- cease
your prattling or be swatted like the insignificant insect
The members of the panel had taken advantage of the unexpected
diversion and reached for cellular phones and communicators.
"We got a live one," Plaszek half-whispered into
"Hah, call all the reinforcements you want! No one will
stop us from our mission to rid the world of America's manipulators
and their stooges. Now cower before the might of -- Kakothanasia
and his KakoDaemons!"
A number of masked and costumed figures crashed in through
the windows on the right, armed with an assortment of jet-packs,
power-gloves and hand-held weapons.
"Du lieber Schreck, with names like that, do you expect
your enemies to laugh themselves to death?" quipped Nightcrawler
as he leaped onto the table, seizing Dr. Cooper by the upper
arms. The blue-furred mutant and the pregnant woman disappeared
in a flash and a loud implosion, leaving behind a cloud of
They rematerialized in the parking lot. Nightcrawler reached
for his communicator: "I can have some of the back-up
here in a jiff, dear. Just tell me who you want to look after
you, I'll buzz them and 'port them here."
"Don't bother, Kurt. Just give me a couple of seconds..."
Nightcrawler's chin dropped as blonde hair turned auburn,
pink skin to indigo and the sharp, businesslike jacket and
skirt to a skintight blue and white costume: "Mother?"
"Ever the perceptive one, my boy. Come on, get me back
to the conference room, I'll aid Forge, you'd better help
evacuate the room."
"But where's Valer--? Oh, I guess she went to her special
meeting a little earlier..."
"We'll talk about it later." Mystique half-embraced
Kurt Wagner, getting ready to be teleported again. She gave
him a quick peck on the cheek. "Good luck?"
Another yellow flash in a black cloud. They were back in
the battle zone. The two non-powered officials, Forge and
two security agents had taken cover behind the desks on the
podium, defending themselves with small arms and the huge
blaster Forge must have secreted in his prosthetic leg. Half
the journalists seemed to be making for the emergency exits,
the others were busy taking pictures or holding up their cassette
recorders and Dictaphones. Oddly, one of the photographers
Raven had noticed earlier seemed to have dropped from sight.
Already the first reinforcements, the Flemish heroine Vlugge
Hagedis -- a slender woman in a shiny green and brown scaled
suit with an artificial tail -- and the Dutchman Zeeuwse Leeuw
-- whose gaudy leotard was decorated with a lion's head at
the center of his chest where four red, four white and four
blue triangles met in a gyronny sunburst -- burst in through
the podium door...
Valerie Cooper's Diary 4/13/96. Intermittent
rain. NATO conference. 2 dry talks on legal matters (1 by
She-Hulk, 1 by a Dutch univ. prof.), N.Fury on MPBs in intelligence
agencies. My own spiel went rather well, followed by K.Wagner's
funny account of his life w/ Excalibur. Lunch at cafeteria
w/ C.America, Fury, Wasp, R.Richards. In the afternoon confidential
meeting in an alternative tearoom in St.Georg (WC in different
pt. of bldg., you had to ask for the key, which does not make
it easier for pregnant women). My contact, Hammonia, introduced
me to some other mutants operating in Eur. w/o links to gov'ts.
M. took my place at the press conf., which was attacked by
a group of conspiracy-obsessed terrorists. At least 1 of them
sneaked in w/ a false press pass. Supertypes in vicinity quickly
foiled the attack, for unknown reason the "Kakodemons'"
electronic equipment seized up after a min. or so. I didn't
hear about it until later. -- People I met at the café: 1)
Hammonia, local mutant woman in mid-20s, came in civilian
disguise (shades) to protect secret I.D. frm me & others.
Normally operates freelance w/ partner Griepenkerl. Flies,
dives, above-avg. strength, some kind of super-sense. Quite
likeable & interested in having confidential l.o.c. w/
us & X-Men. 2) A Kurdish meta who wished to stay anonymous.
Only came to listen to what I had to say. He did not get along
at all with. 3) Batmansahin, a Turkish-German woman (Batman
is the town her family comes from, sahin is Turkish for buzzard)
who kept asking me what I was going to do about PKK terrorism.
4) Morgengrant, an Austrian with anarchist tendencies, an
attitude (the name means "morning surliness") and
an explosive punch. -- Interesting talk, even if there was
no concrete result apart maybe the contact to H. Will have
to wait for further ramifications. -- Afterwards Rogue picked
me up & we went to Aunt Emma's house in Winterhude. --
Phone conference w/ Havok about state of affairs in Washington.
VII. An insistent spring drizzle fell as Valerie Cooper
and a woman wearing sunglasses and a black wig stepped from
the Café Orion into the back court with its little garden.
Under the arch to the Lange Reihe she found someone waiting.
"Hi Val. Who's your friend?"
"Rogue, meet Hammonia. She arranged this. Hammonia,
this is Rogue of the X-Men."
The two younger women greeted one another, the German adding:
"I hope you like it here. Unfortunately we seem to be
having a lot of our national Hamburg weather this weekend."
"No, ah find it fascinatin'. Ah'm always so glad when
ah get to properly see some place without havin' to fight
some bad guys or save the world that a little rain don' bother
"Well, I obviously saw a lot about you and your team
in the media. It is great to meet you. I must say I'm a bit
surprised to see you waiting for Frau Cooper here. I didn't
know your relationship to Washington is so good?"
"Actually, it's more a matter of personal ties. A few
of us are in town t' keep an eye on the conference, just in
case." Rogue pointed at her communicator. "As a
matter of fact, there just was some trouble at the press conference,
but it turned out we weren't needed."
"Really? Could you please give me a moment?" Valerie
got out her cellular phone and stepped out onto the sidewalk
to contact Forge and Mystique in the Bundeswehr university.
This left the others some more time to talk. When Val had
finished her call, she returned to them.
"Are you sure you don't want to accompany you part of
the way?" Hammonia asked.
"No, I should be okay. The crisis is over, and in any
case Rogue is with me and others are in easy reach."
"Good, then I'll leave you two to it. My partner and
me still have a crime to solve in the harbor. I'll keep what
both of you had to say in mind. Well, tschüss for now."
The lady in the trenchcoat walked into the door of the dance
studio. A minute later, a masked figure dressed in red and
white burst forth from a first-floor window opening out into
the courtyard, rapidly gaining altitude as she banked in a
leftward turn towards the southwest. The two Americans looked
after her, then Valerie turned to Rogue.
"So, glad you made it."
"The glowin' expectin' momma look suits you."
"This is where I'm supposed to say, 'no, I'm enormous,'
right?" Valerie grinned. It was now near the rush hour.
Traffic on the street was already coagulating, the sidewalks
were filling, especially at the bus stop in front of the Asian
"So, how was your meeting?"
"Well, early days yet. We're still just getting introduced,
scoping each other out. Actually, it was a little less restrained
than I thought. At one point I almost expected two of them
to come to blows."
"Oh, a Turkish lady and a Kurdish gent. You know how
it is, the Turkish government is waging war in Kurdistan,
some Kurdish exiles reply by attacking Turkish shops and installations
in Europe, and so these two spent a lot of time hissing accusations
at each other."
"Not such a great idea to have t' invite 'em both, looks
"Well, it sure was an object lesson how in some places
other conflicts play into mutant politics."
"Not lahk at home, right?"
"No, in the States we're used to see 'the mutant question'
as a problem in itself or as part of a bigger problem. It's
not just mutiphobes, some are beginning to look distrust all
people of powers or are interpreting the growing number of
mutants as just one of the signs of the coming of the Apo-,
er, the End of Days. Whereas in Eastern Europe and the Middle
"... people may not always love us, but at least they
find us useful if we're on the right side, whatever that might
be. Sad really. For more'n a few folks the biggest reason
to consider livin' with mutants seems to be they're even more
scared o' someone else. Really makes ya feel wanted."
"Sorry, didn't mean to get you down. And of course you
get the lunatic fringe..." Val added, pointing to a couple
of small posters plastered to an cigarette vending machine.
She had seen both before in a number of places. One expounded
how superpowered Aryan mutants were "the next logical
step in human evolution", while ugly mutations were proof
of an impure ancestry and that super-powered beings from the
"inferior races" were hell-bent on subverting the
Germanic races and warring against them. The other one claimed
in fact there were no mutants, that all persons known as mutants
actually were genetically-engineered agents-provocateurs of
the intelligence agencies of the imperialist nations and that
public supporters of mutant rights were in fact nothing but
stooges of the conspiracy to divert the proletarian masses
and the suppressed peoples of the world from their struggle
against capitalism and neo-colonialism.
"Some people will do anything to explain away facts
that don't fit into their model of the world," Valerie
added with a sigh before returning to the earlier subject:
"Actually it went off pretty well at the talks."
"Managed to gain some new contacts?"
"Yup. And acted as a kind of broker between some of
"Good for you. So you're pleased with your behind-the-scenes
"That I am, kind lady. For the most part. I guess it
went as well as could be expected under the circumstances
and in such a short time."
"And the NATO conference? How's that been goin' so far?"
"Pretty smoothly. But you don't really expect all that
much to come from these big gatherings in the first place.
So your expectations aren't likely to be disappointed."
"At least not much, ah reckon."
"Look, the real reason I'm glad you've come with me
is that it gives us a chance to talk." There was a short,
but still awkward pause. Val continued: "I'm not sure
how to begin this. Our previous history was a bit... unpleasant,
and now I don't know how you feel about me breaking into your
family, as it were."
The two women were leaving St. Georg and, after negotiating
the busy street, they now were walking northward alongside
the Alster. Rogue picked up the thread: "Actually, ah
don't think that should be such a big problem, least not if
ah can help it. Ah know we used t'be on different sides o'
the fence -- and ah guess, at least in the official view we're
still not entirely on the same one -- but ah know Mystique
and you really care about each other and try to always do
the right thing... As a matter of fact, with your kid, ah'll
probably come visitin' more often than ah used to b'fore..."
"Still, it can't hurt if we get to know each other better.
Is there anything you want to know about me?"
"Well, sure there is. For one thing, what made you decide
to go into Mutant Affairs?"
"I thought you knew. From when ...?" The memory
of the time when Rogue had absorbed her memories none to gently,
putting her into a coma for half a day (shortly after a task
force led by Valerie Cooper and Henry Gyrich had brought down
Storm) was still vivid, and it was plain to see that it was
"Ah'm sorry there was no other way. But no, ah don't
remember everything afterwards when ah absorb people's memories
-- it's usually a matter o' luck less'n ah concentrate on
the matter. An' at the time ah was so busy tryin' to find
out what had happened when 'Roro got zapped with Forge's neutralizer
an' where she might be, ah really had no time for your life
"Oh, I can perfectly understand what you did, intellectually.
Probably would have done the same thing if I had been in your
shoes. But that evening still was a scary experience, even
though you had just saved me from those monsters. Anyway,
your question. Well, there was my family background in law-enforcement
-- including my marriage, although that had already broken
up. I had been following the debate on "the mutant question"
since I went to college. You saw a little of me as I was at
the time -- worried and a little too much in awe of what Senator
Kelly had to say."
"But since then you learned a lot."
"I like to think I've become a little wiser and not
"And you almost lost your life so you could save Mystique."
Valerie shuddered: "One of the worst times of my life.
Living in the thrall of the Shadow King was the ultimate violation.
Most of the time if felt like a powerless observer locked
up in some back room of my own mind. I still have nightmares
about it, of looking on helplessly as I walk up those stairs
to murder Raven..." She faltered.
"But when it came to the moment o' truth, you overcame
the Amahl Farouk's hold. Not many can make that claim."
"Yes, and I have the scars to prove it. Still, it is
a moment neither of us will forget to our dying day."
"Yeah, Raven tol' me she has bad dreams 'bout it too.
Only now it's no longer about you shootin' her, but actually
succeedin' in killin' yourself."
VIII. Kurt Wagner switched off the VCR. "Well,
that's all Trish Tilby's camera crew shot at the press conference.
What to you think?"
Amanda Sefton was the first to respond: "Well, at first
glance, it is just what you'd expect how a group of absolute
beginners would do against such numbers of superheroes, especially
if these included so many experienced old hands. Still, it
went almost too easy. It was over so quickly I didn't even
have time to get actively involved. By the time I arrived
on the scene it was over bar the shouting."
"You can bet that, if it gets mentioned at all, a few
of the more hostile reporters will claim the whole incident
was stage-managed to generate favorable press coverage,"
Alistaire Stuart suggested. "We know we didn't, but do
you think any of the others involved in the conference arranged
"No, highly unlikely. Professor Xavier psi-scanned them
and there is not the smallest clue of anybody pulling the
strings in the background." This came from Scott Summers
sitting in the back of the room.
"Still, it was awfully convenient how the Kakodemons'
electronics all seized up after such a short while,"
Kurt still couldn't pronounce the hapless terrorists' name
without smiling. "But Lorna Dane is in Washington, and
Kitty was out on the town with Meggan." He frowned.
"I first thought Forge had some kind of jamming device,"
Alistaire added, "but he was just as surprised as everyone
"Think it could have been someone who snuck in with
the media people?" Amanda suggested.
"Well, it would be possible," Kurt's eyes twinkled
mischievously. "There was this Silkworm fellow, but I
think I know who that was under those awful brown-and-black
hoop-rings, even though he disguised his normal speech patterns
by attempting to fake a cockney accent." Not a bad idea
for a semi-lone wolf to put on different costumes when he's
off his regular beat, he thought. That can't hurt when you've
got a civilian identity to protect. But being a bit of an
acrobat myself, I couldn't fail to recognize Spider-Man's
moves. Wonder why he only hit on this idea now, could it be
he's settling down? Nightcrawler continued: "If he managed
to get in, why not somebody else? If the person responsible
even was in the same room..."
"And there's not many people we know who would be able
to do that kind of stunt from a distance. Without also frying
the television crews' equipment." The other silently
agreed with Cyclops's unspoken suspicion.
IX. Wet as they were, the unpaved sidewalks of the
fashionable Uhlenhorst neighborhood were turning a little
muddy. Rogue's and Valerie's shoes were already becoming a
little dirty as they passed the turquoise dome of the big
mosque on the Schöne Aussicht. In spite of the slight drizzle,
the view of the Alster lake and the spired city to the south
still was good enough to see why the street had been named
"Considerin' you must've known how people would react
to news of your private life, ah guess you stopped tryin'
to go find paths of less resistance. That's pretty admirable,
but," the younger of the two women soberly looked at
the older, "are you sure you really know what you've
let yourself in for?"
"Well, in my position I should have been more prepared
than almost anyone when I got serious with Raven, but honestly
-- no, I don't think so. But then, could you be prepared for
my kind situation? There's so few other genejoke-flatscan
couples around, and really none in a government position that
is as prominent as mine, and most haven't got the ex-criminal
and lezzie aspect in addition to the usual mutant grief. I
sometimes wonder if I'm wildly optimistic or just plain crazy
to attempt this. Of course Pietro thinks Raven and I have
a bad case of mutant jungle fever..." Valerie sighed
Rogue grinned: "Or should one say gene-gal fever?"
Valerie Cooper responded with a pixyish smile: "Anyway,
he thinks we're out of our mind, but he's been a true friend
all the same. Ah well, as my granduncle used to say, the step
towards marriage must be taken a little imprudently, or it
would never be taken at all. And complete prudence is unnatural.
We may safely use 'shacking up' as an alternative for 'marriage'
in the 1990s. Of course the drawback of living together with
Raven is that we're now well on our way to becoming the world's
most screwed-up family. As Raven's significant other, am I
now some kind of father surrogate from hell for Kurt, Graydon
Creed and yourself?" It was clear she was barely managing
to hold back a giggle.
"If Mystique can be both a mother and a father, why
shouldn't you too? Ah'll just have to work on gettin' used
to the concept of you as fam'ly."
"Well, at least you've some idea of what to expect."
"Yeah, but it's bound t' be different with you. T'me,
Destiny was a bit lahk a gran'ma, an' you're..."
"... young enough to be Raven's sister's daughter?"
"Well, that's one way of puttin' it. So maybe we'll
have t' work on a compromise between you bein' my parent an'
my elder sister."
"Apropos nothing, there's something I've been meaning
to ask you. I've seen you in action a few times, and one thing
struck me as strange."
"What would that be?"
"When you use your absorption power, you seem to kiss
your male, um, donors more often than not, even enemies. But
I don't think I've ever heard of you kissing a woman. Is your
power something sexual for you?"
"Ah've never really thought about it. Actually, when
ah got mah power, what ah first missed most was kissin' momma
or even huggin' her so closely that our faces touched. But
the way you put it, it really is strange. You'd think ah'd
rather kiss someb'dy lahk 'Roro or Mystique or even yourself
than some o' the scuzzbuckets ah actually did kiss... It's
almost as if ah acted under the influence of an outside force
or as if ah'd permanently absorbed the memories of someone
workin' for an entertainment self-censorship body. Ya don'
think Carol Danvers might have something to do with it?"
"That hugging thing, was that when you still lived with
your biological mother or with Raven?"
"Ah had run away from home shortly 'fore mah power kicked
in. Actually, ah hadn't had much 'normal' fam'ly intimacy
'til ah hooked up with Mystique."
"She took you under her wing before you were manifestly
"Yeah, at the time ah didn't wonder about her motives.
She gave me the love, the fam'ly ah never had. 'Course ah
later had to wonder about her motives."
"Y'see, she then had gotten out of the spy business
an' was just settin' up the second Brotherhood. So what was
a mutant supremacist doin' adoptin' a normal human gal? Ah
kinda suspect Destiny must've sensed ah was goin' to get powers
some time later and then told Mystique where she could 'happen
to run into me' when a left home. And they were there for
me suspiciously early when ah was all in a tizzy after first
experiencin' mah powers with Cody Robbins..."
"The boy you were necking with when you got into puberty?"
"Yes. After ah left Mystique, ah sometimes wondered
about how much of her love was just pretense. On the other
hand, ah was very lonely among the X-Men at the time, so ah
prob'ly had cause to justify what ah had done."
"But now you're on good terms with her again."
"Well, ah know she manipulated me from time to time
when ah was with the Brotherhood, but she raised me well.
I was able t' make mah own choices, even if it took some time
to get her to accept them. That ah would stay with the X-Men
even if they couldn't help me control mah powers. You know,
when y'all were gunnin' after me with Forge's neutralizer,
she actually considered letting you proceed 'cause she hoped
if ah lost mah powers, ah would return to her?"
"Did she tell you that?"
"No, that was in a letter Destiny had left for me an'
had not thrown out when everyone thought me 'n' the others
had died in Dallas."
"Yes, I remember Raven and Irene were both devastated
at the time, although Raven of course was out for Forge's
"Anyway, it took a while and some effort, but now ah
feel at ease again when ah'm with Mystique. Ah guess ah have
you to thank for that, at least in part."
By now the two had entered Winterhude and were proceeding
along turn-of-the-century houses and 1960s high-rises. Since
they were getting near the end of their walk, Rogue had something
to ask: "So, what do ah have to know about this aunt
"Well, Aunt Emma's from the Canadian branch of my family.
She came here after the war when she worked in the administration
of the British Zone. She met her husband at the time, a German
emigrant in the British army, and later they settled down
here when they got demobbed. She also knows Nick Fury from
way back then, at least that's what he told me over lunch."
"How does she feel 'bout you, Mystique and the baby?"
"She seems to have taken it better than my parents did
at first. She was quite chipper about seeing me on the phone.
But then she's always had a soft spot for me."
They crossed a small canal and approached Aunt Emma's white
art nouveau villa. It had a very noticeable circular window
in the second floor. Val and Rogue walked down the entrance
"Oh, one final question."
"If ah behave, will you raise mah allowance, Daddy?"
X. The door of the old apartment in the Schanzenviertel
opened, and Sara Voss and Axel Giovanoli, better know to the
world (or at least to the city of Hamburg) in their costumed
alter ego Hammonia and Griepenkerl, came home after an exhausting
afternoon. Their investigations in the harbor had ultimately
not brought them much nearer to cracking the drugs and arms
smuggling operation they were trying to bring down. As they
entered, they were greeted by Axel's wife Elena, one of the
people they shared the apartment with. After they had prepared
and eaten dinner, Sara settled down at the PC in her room
to get a little more of her MA thesis written.
Nick Fury was not enjoying the night as much as he had hoped.
The floor show at Schmidt's was not to his tastes after all,
and when Valentina suggested they adjourn to a jazz club in
another part of the city, his wheelchair caused a bit of a
hassle. It took him almost an hour to mellow sufficiently
to have a moderately good time.
In the office the Bundeswehr University had provided for
him, Pierre Plaszek had just finished writing his memo on
the events at the aborted press conference and worked his
way through an small pile of administrative papers. He sat
back with a creamy piece of pastry and finished off his working
day by looking through the schedule for the last day of the
On the Lombardsbrücke, Trish Tilby and her crew had finished
shooting her segment for the evening news in America. As they
broke up, they noticed another American or Canadian camera
crew who also felt correspondents looked more photogenic with
the view of the city across the inner Alster behind them than
when they stood in front of the university entrance. She also
found Kurt Wagner and Amanda Sefton who had come to pick her
up and take her out to a nearby pub.
In the Thalia Theater foyer, Steve and Bernie Rogers were
having a relaxed chat with Janet Van Dyne during the intermission.
From a review of the day's events at the conference they had
passed to a short discussion of the musical they were watching
with its funny mix of German and English texts and were now
onto private matters and prospects for shopping and/or sightseeing
before the return flight to New York.
At Hamburg Central Station, Morgengrant in mufti got onto
the evening southbound ICE train. He had a walkman and a substantial
stock of cassettes, but he felt it in his bones that it was
going to be a long night and he would be fully living up to
his codename when he arrived in Vienna the next morning.
Valerie Cooper stepped away from the window and sat down
on the chair by the table. "Well, it looks like you had
fun at the press conference," she called out to the bathroom
as she opened her diary to start writing down the day's entry.
"Oh sure," Raven Darkhölme replied as she came
into the hotel bedroom. Along with many of the official trans-Atlantic
attendees at the NATO conference, they had been quartered
in the Atlantic-Hotel. Their third-floor room had a good,
if not spectacular view of the outer Alster, which now reflected
the bright lights of the city to their left and the more sparse
ones of the homes and gardens of the wealthy in Harvestehude
on the shore beyond. Only the beautiful white house of the
US Consulate-General shone from beyond a group of weeping-willows,
illuminated for aesthetics and security.
"Well, at least Kurt's expression when he realized I
wasn't you made it worthwhile," Mystique continued as
she toweled her hair. "And all things considered, having
a little fight was preferable to another question-and-answer
session on our relationship."
"But it was supposed to be about the workshops. Were
there still that many 'personality enquirers' there?"
"A few faces seemed familiar. Anyway, when they do the
press conference again, you'll have the pleasure of answering
the usual questions again."
"When's the rescheduled time?"
"After the panel discussion tomorrow." Mystique
switched on her blowdrier.
Valerie looked through her agenda. "Well, my sudden
notoriety seems to have gained us a choice of platforms."
She picked up a small stack of letters and handed them to
Raven. "Have a look at these invites."
"They want you for German talk shows? Whatever next.
Hmm." She looked through a couple of letters. "Who's
"Definitely to avoid. Auntie Emma tells me he does a
really cheesy Letterman imitation and generally goes in for
embarrassing jokes that backfire on him. In America he'd give
the term 'politically incorrect' a bad name. And by now even
the novelty of guests showing him up has worn off."
"And what's Ruge neunzehnZehn?"
"That's a veteran TV foreign correspondent and four
guests sitting around a table. Apparently worth considering,
but it would depend on who the other three would be. I hear
Ruge sometimes has trouble in preventing that one guy continuously
interrupts the others."
"Hmm. And how were your talks in the afternoon?"
"About as ticklish as we expected. These people obviously
are reluctant to get into bed with a US government representative.
Some of them really would like to think of me as some sort
of running dog of Yankee imperialism. First time that being
associated with you actually was considered a point in my
"And I missed it!"
"Of course, with you out of the way, Rogue and I could
have a really sweet heart-to-heart." Valerie grinned
broadly. Having completed her diary entry, she got up and
walked across the room to settle down on the bed. "You
know, I really could use a foot rub."
"Glad to oblige. You are aware that we are in imminent
danger of turning into Travanti and Hamel? Discussing the
days events while snuggling up in bed like the end of every
episode of Hill Street Blues that ever was?" Mystique
set about her task. "So did you and Rogue get along well?"
XI. The silver-haired mutant opened the door to his
room in the small hotel and let Rogue in. "I'm so happy
you decided to come."
"Hey, it's not everyday you get a message on your laptop
before you even get the chance to install a modem, let alone
patch into the web." She was making light of it, but
it was clear she felt a little uneasy about this rendezvous
behind her teammates' backs. But she was confident enough
in herself to think she was best suited to deal with Magnus
on her own at this stage. Many of her teammates had, well,
not exactly a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later
where he was concerned, but they could behave a little irrationally
with him. She recalled the time when Magneto had first been
joined by the Acolytes -- she had tried to entreat him, persuade
him, appeal to him to turn back. A futile exercise, it turned
out, but who knows what might have happened if Wolvie and
the others hadn't been so pig-headed and instead had been
prepared to listen to him first? Magneto showed her to the
upholstered group of chairs arranged around a coffee-table.
She sat down on the one with its back to the wall. "From
what ah heard 'n what ah saw on the news, it seems you also
took a hand in that li'l altercation at the press conference."
It was a statement, not a question. "Guess it sometimes
is hard to resist the urge to flaunt your powers, eh?"
she added after he nodded to break the ice.
He settled down next to her: "No, I really am glad,
because considering my behavior at our last encounters, it
would only have been too understandable if you had told me
to go to hell."
"No, you should know ah'd never do that. Well, maybe
if ah was really mad, but then only for a short time. Ah know
how important it is to give people 'nother chance, ah mean,
just look at me or Mystique! If Professor Xavier hadn't gotten
the other X-Men to give me the time t' prove mahself..."
Magneto tried to put her at her ease: "Yes, in your
case Charles's ideals came to fruition, no wonder you've so
taken them to heart. Rogue, sometimes I think no one believes
in Xavier's Dream more passionately than you, maybe not even
Charles himself these days."
She looked at him in slight surprise. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you and some of your teammates have sometimes
appear in public without hiding what you are..."
Rogue smiled wistfully remembering some of the incidents.
There had been trouble occasionally, but there also were rewards.
Like that broken-nosed window-cleaner whose life she had saved
and who later threatened to beat up a mutiphobe bigot who
had given her grief at Bloomies. Too bad she had forgotten
to ask him for his name. He was kind of cute being chivalrous.
Magneto continued: "Charles, on the other hand, always
takes great care to appear as a normal Homo sapiens sapiens.
Some of his recent actions subordinated his old belief in
the good in mankind to expediency. It wasn't just when he
reduced me to a drooling idiot (although in that moment he
became very much like me). But just look at the way he is
playing fast and loose with the facts to partly cover up the
Legacy Virus crisis."
Rogue's mouth opened to defend Professor X, but she thought
better of it. Who was she kidding? She herself could not understand
why Hank and the Professor had been so eager to cover up the
fact that not just mutants could contract the Legacy Virus.
But then she had not been asked. The net gain seemed so minimal:
So the public would learn about this health hazard a few months
later. But at what price? Such maneuvers had a way of backfiring
-- here in Germany that was very apparent in the cynical way
the general public now reacted to research results on BSE
published under the auspices of the British government. Why
would the Professor take such a risk? It was almost as if
he was not being himself. Was that the reason she had not
told him she was going to meet with Magneto today? For Hank
it had already caused great personal pain when he unexpectedly
found himself up against his girlfriend in public. He and
Trish had still not yet reconciled.
Magneto had paused, when it seemed Rogue was going to say
something. Now he went on: "And yet, although his own
actions seem to vindicate my pessimism, I am only sad. If
it wasn't for the youthful idealism of people like you, one
could be tempted to despair. But I also was thinking about
the personal disappointment I caused you. We were more than
friends for a time, in the Savage Land."
She nodded, then, after the silence had became more and more
uncomfortable: "Yes, ah was hurt, and there's no denyin'
what ah felt for you..."
"For a while ah sorta had an on-the-rebound thing goin'
with Gambit, but that turned sour. Suddenly his wife showed
up -- he's legally still married t' some assassin in the Big
Easy -- an' that wasn't the only nasty secret he tried t'
keep from me. Then, when ah finally found out he was leadin'
me on -- we kissed when we thought the world was ending --
it all went to pieces. At the moment he's on leave from the
team, tryin' to sort out what he messed up."
"I'm sorry..." Magneto looked concerned.
"Ah guess Remy 'n' me can both chalk it up as a growth
experience. Look, what he did in the past was horrible, but
he wants t' make amends." She did not answer Magneto's
unspoken question. Her lively face went through a succession
of emotions -- anger, embarrassment, regret -- before it settled
into a sad expression of pity. She felt Gambit still had the
right to make a clean breast of it to the others when he finally
felt ready; if she confronted the others with his secret shame
without his consent, she was not sure if his fragile ego could
take it. That way he still had a chance to regain his self-respect.
She sighed. "What hurt me most was that he never could
bring himself t' be honest with me, always tried t' make me
feel bad for askin' him about himself. Ah had to wonder if
he really loved me for mahself, or 'cause he subconsciously
enjoyed the raised self-esteem or power mah ... infatuation
gave him. At one point he almost had me thinkin' he might
actually be impervious t' mah power! You at least never raised
any false hopes in me..."
"I only broke your heart when I left you in Pangea,"
Magneto moved towards her, "paying no heed to your appeals
to my better angels. It took me long enough to take them up
and think of making a fresh start, even if I'm not yet ready
to the X-Men, if I'll ever be."
Rogue looked puzzled. Such high-flown phrases were not her
style, so she was not sure what to make of him using them
on her. But you had to make allowances -- even though he had
been artificially rejuvenated by Eric the Red, he belonged
to an older generation that was used to a more poetic and
declamatory style of speaking. "I was too impatient for
the slow road then, but in the weeks and months sitting on
Asteroid M, waiting for my memories to return, I had time
to ponder many things."
Rogue butted in with a question: "Yes, ah've been meanin'
to ask -- ah thought the Prof had sucked 'em all out. How
did you regain your memories?"
"Well, most would have returned in any case, given enough
time and patience. It was a bit like erasing files on a computer
disk. Until you record something that uses its data space,
the files are still there, you just can't find them in the
directory. With a few extra twiddles on the dials you can
still eventually access them. On Asteroid M, I had ... friends
who nursed me back to health. One especially, an old friend
of Charles's..." There was a distant look in Magneto's
eyes for an instant, then he shook it off. "And we had
my backup databanks that they could use to help me restore
my memories. And having to stay in one place all the while
gave me ample time to think and reminisce. About what you
had told me in the Savage Land, and about our times together
His hand moved up to her face as of its own accord.
"Magneto, you're holding my chin...", Rogue said
"Sorry, you don't want me tooo..." His voice trailed
off. Only now did the significance of that statement dawn
on him -- he was not wearing gloves. Normally that would have
meant that she should have absorbed his powers and memories
through their skin-to-skin contact and he should no longer
be conscious. After all, he was not projecting the high-scale
electromagnetic shell he would raise in a fight. He froze.
And everything went black.
He woke laid out on the bed. Rogue was sitting by his side,
her face a mirror of her relieved concern. "Welcome back
to the world of the living."
He had a little trouble finding his bearings. "How long
was I out?"
"About a minute or two, sugah."
"What happened?" he asked, slowly raising himself.
"Near as ah can tell from what ah saw and the memories
I caught," Rogue replied, "ah can only assume that
you must've been projectin' a low-level biomagnetic field
around your body. Sort of on stan'by, 'cause y'are in unfamiliar
surroundings. An' then, when ya discovered our skins were
touchin', ya were so surprised ya switched off your powers
and mine cut in."
Magneto scratched his chin pensively. "Yes, that could
be it. Your power -- or at any rate the part that absorbs
memories -- is clearly connected to the nerve endings and
synapses in the skin, and my magnetic field must prevent the
bio-electrical transfer. And I am probably continually 'on
standby', as you put it. Now if I do it again, I should be
able to..." He gently touched her cheek. Nothing happened.
Her eyes became moist, but her face lit up in silent happiness.
Magneto's mouth, too, broadened in a smile.
"Magnus, isn't this amazin'?" she said, her voice
half-cracking with the overwhelming experience. "You
know, ah had practically given up hope..."
"At least as long as I remember to build up a biomagnetic
field around my body."
"Ah was in your head just now, so I know how you feel
'bout me," she said. "Now, if'n ya'll remember t'
maintain your field, ah think ah'd like t' demonstrate how
ah feel 'bout you..." She put her arms around him and
planted a big wet kiss on his lips. For once, could just settle
back and enjoy it, without having to catch her partner's slumping
body or being troubled by the sudden inrush of memories. She
was loath to end it, but finally she broke away.
They both took a deep breath, at a loss for words for a while.
At last, Rogue spoke: "Ah reckon we'd better get back
t' business. After all, that's why we came 'n' met here, t'discuss
what ya're gonna do now..." Personal is not always the
same as important, she thought with a mixture of sadness and
determination, personal is not important.
"Yes, I guess we'd better...", Magneto added reluctantly.
He sensed that they had passed a great barrier in their personal
She had to giggle at his doleful expression. "Sorry,"
she apologized. "It ain't that ah wouldn't like to...
But ah think ah'd rather work out mah feelins about this first.
Ah've waited most of mah life to be able to do this..."
Against his expectations (hopes), she did not kiss him again.
Instead she contented herself with taking off her glove and
tenderly stroking his cheek. "...without losin' mah powers.
But," she added, "ah reckon it won't hurt -- too
much -- to wait a little more before we ... explore the wider
Magneto resigned himself to it. He certainly would not want
Rogue to rush into things just because they had accidentally
discovered that she could.
XII. The thin crescent moon momentarily broke through
the dark clouds and its pale white light was reflected oft
the glass of the telephone booth. Inside, a young American
was busily speaking.
"Everything turned out well, thankfully. I hardly was
needed. ... Right, mommy, I'll had a proper dinner, not a
burger or a Currywurst ... What's a Currywurst? You don't
really want to know ... Actually, I ran into an old acquaintance
and he invited me out. You know, the one I met in Berlin a
few years ago."
Maybe I'm being paranoid by not mentioning Wolverine's name,
Peter Parker thought, but you never know with the telephone,
especially when it's radioed over long distance. Better safe
"He said our last time together in Deutschland was such
a downer that he wanted to make up for it a little ... well,
glad everything went well at the checkup ... have a nice evening
... Love you too! ... Byee!"
This story was first published in Menshevik Annual
#5 in the April 1996 mailing of MZS-APA (Homepage: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/8661).
For this posting, a few changes (mostly matters of style and
grammar) were made. Chapter XI underwent a more extensive
rewrite, as it had been a bit rushed to make the deadline
for the first publication and I was not entirely satisfied
A number of differences to the mainstream Marvel Universe
should have become apparent in the story. In general, I stick
to the writings of Chris Claremont and draw part of my inspiration
from the stories written by his successors. However, I make
additions of my own and reserve the right not to adopt plot
developments that strike me as implausible or out of character
(yes, I know lots of people probably would not agree about
the way I see e.g. Magneto, Gambit and Mystique, but you can't
please all of the people all of the time). So although in
the Twilight Menshevik Universe there were events similar
to Fatal Attractions and LegionQuest, they did
not happen the same way. Magneto did rip out the Adamantium
from Wolverine's bones, but he had not caused the death of
thousands before that -- to my mind, because of his personal
history, Magneto would have thought of different ways to demonstrate
his powers without (by his standards) needlessly endangering
so many lives of innocents. Mystique's road to X-Factor also
was a little different, as in the TMU she was exclusively
concerned with her undercover struggle with Graydon Creed
after the end of the Muir Island Saga and did not attempt
to kill David Haller, as he was not responsible for
Destiny's death. When Claremont wrote her, Mystique acted
extremely rationally and did not display the fits of madness
that beset her in some of the more recent stories.
In case you wonder about the codenames of the non-Marvel characters,
the ones not self-explanatory or explained in the text have
the following meanings: Cuirassé Bleu: Blue armoured Ship/Battleship;
Caçadores do Sul etc.: Hunters of the South; Squadra Mista:
Mixed Squad; Turma Tonante: Thundering Group; Alianza Alada:
Winged Alliance; Corneja Supersónica: Supersonic Crow; Gardiens
du Nord etc.: Northern Guardians; Hypernormaler Einsatzdienst:
Hypernormal Operational Service; Zeeuwse Leeuw: Zealand Lion;
Cigogne Tricolore: Red-White-and-Blue Stork (inspired by a
famous fighter squadron -- storks are also very much associated
with Alsace-Lorraine); Doktor Donau: Doctor Danube; Havörnen:
Sea-Eagle (Danish); Marcassin: Young Wild Boar; Spassvogel:
Jester, Wag; Vlugge Hagedis: Quick Lizard. Kakothanasia correlates
to Euthanasia, only while the Greek prefix "eu-"
means "good, well", "kako-" (as in cacophony)
is "bad, evil". Hammonia is the female personification
of Hamburg (so you could say she's a sister to Britannia,
Columbia and other feminine national symbols), Griepenkerl
is Low German and means "grab-the-man".
Acolytes, Alpha Flight, Asteroid M, Aurora, Avengers, Baron
Zemo, Beast (Hank McCoy), Black Widow, Belladonna Boudeau,
Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Captain America (Steve Rogers),
Captain Britain, Colossus (P.N.Rasputin), Valerie Cooper,
Graydon Creed, Crystal, Cyclops (Scott Summers), Daily Bugle,
Department H, Destiny (Irene Adler), Diamond Lil, Doctor Strange,
Eric the Red, Excalibur, Fantastic Four, Countess Valentina
Allegro de la Fontaine, Forge, Freedom Force, Nick Fury, Gambit,
Genosha, Guardian (Heather Hudson), Henry Peter Gyrich, Havok
(Alex Summers), Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, J.
Jonah Jameson, Ned Leeds, Legacy Virus, Magneto (Magnus),
Meggan, Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), Mystique (Raven Darkhölme),
Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), Northstar, Phoenix (Rachel Summers),
Polaris (Lorna Dane), Professor X (Charles Xavier), Puck,
Punisher (Frank Castle), Henry Pym, Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff),
Random, Cody Robbins, Bernadette Rosenthal Rogers, Sabretooth
(Victor Creed), Sasquatch, "Secret Hospital", Amanda
Sefton, Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde), Shadow King (Amahl Farouk),
She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters), S.H.I.E.L.D., Raymond Sikorski,
Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Storm (Ororo Munroe), Lyja Storm,
Strong Guy, Alistaire Stuart, Thing, Thor, Trish Tilby, Amelia
Voght (Voght, by the way, is a good Hamburg name), Wasp (Janet
Van Dyne), Mary Jane Watson-Parker, W.H.O., Wolfsbane, Wolverine
(Logan), X-Factor, and X-Men are TM & (c) Marvel Comics
Group. The Euro-heroes (except those belonging to Excalibur)
and villains, Spider-Man's Silkworm disguise, Val Cooper's
unborn daughter (Irene Cooper) and her Aunt Emma (Andreesen),
Pierre Plaszek, Captain Ronarc'h and the other non-Marvel
participants at the conference belong to me, Tilman Stieve
for all the good that does. Any resemblance of the story to
real persons and situations is of course purely coincidental.
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