[Cue music and swirling spotlights over audience]
It's the afterlife's favorite pastime! Disputing souls!
Mortal fates decided here live (as it were) before a studio
audience. Last week's dispute between Kali and Siva was resolved
in favor of Siva and that lucky contestant is now spending
his current life as a cow.
And now, the judge of the hereafter, everyone's favorite
jackal- headed god -- ANUBIS!!
Anubis: Thank you, thank you and welcome to Tug O'
War, the game where souls are judged in the balance and often
go to the next level with some lovely parting gifts. Ladies
and gentlemen, we have here today a dispute of biblical proportions.
[Chuckles] This dispute involves one mortal man known
in this lifetime as Erik Magnus Lehnsherr. Let's bring out
the concerned parties, shall we? Isis?
Isis, dressed in a revealing gold lame dress and a slightly
sour expression comes out from behind the curtain. "I
still don't know why I agreed to this. This gown is ridiculous.
It's so constricting." She shifts uncomfortably.
Leaning away from the podium microphone Anubis whispers feverishly.
"You lost the bet. And the dress is catering to the audience
today. Not everyone approves of women going topless."
"I am a goddess!"
"Bring out the contestants."
Isis looks at the camera and pastes a toothpaste smile on
her face. "Today, arguing for the soul of Mr. Lehnsherr
are two figures of biblical proportions--"
Anubis: I did that joke already!
"First we have," Isis looks at the teleprompter,
deliberately ignoring Anubis, "direct from the Pearly
Gates of Heaven, St. Peter!" She gestures towards the
A tall, handsome man with dark blonde hair, dressed immaculately
in a midnight blue Armani suit and a gold silk shirt emerges
and waves to the audience.
Chorus of Angels: Hooray for Peter! Hooray!
Chorus of Devils: SSSSsssss!!
St. Peter takes his place behind one of the contestant podiums
and smiles at the camera.
Anubis: Well, St. Peter -- This certainly isn't the
image most people have of you, is it?
St. Peter laughs and leans down to speak into the microphone.
"No. Common depiction of me is Santa Claus in a toga."
He shrugs. "Inaccurate but it's a friendly image that
puts people at ease with the concept of leaving the mortal
Anubis: Yes, yes. Good, good. Tell us a little about
your claim on the soul of Erik Magnus Lehnsherr.
St. Peter nods. "Well, the truth of the matter is that
Erik is a tortured, misguided individual who yearns for peace
and contentment. He's made mistakes but Heaven forgives and
accepts him as he is.
Chorus of Devils: GROAN!
Chorus of Angels: [holding up banners that read]
"Heaven is for Lehnsherr!" "Angels for Magnus!"
Isis looks back at the teleprompter. "And contesting
this mortal soul against St. Peter, from the 999 layer of
the Abyss, the Prince of Lies himself Beelzebub!"
Beelzebub, a wiry older man with salt and pepper hair neatly
trimmed, wearing a black Armani with a red silk shirt appears
behind his podium in a puff of sulfur and brimstone. Several
fans immediately appear and blow the smoke away.
Chorus of Devils: Woo Woo! Beelzebub!
Chorus of Angels: Boo!!
Anubis: Nice entrance.
Beelzebub smooths his shirt casually. "Thank you."
Anubis: I see Heaven and Hell shop at the same store.
Beelzebub chuckles. "Well, taste is taste, whether you're
good or evil."
Anubis: Tell us about your claim on this soul.
He sighs lightly. "Lehnsherr is a slave to his passions.
He's not content to let things go, he has to strike back,
usually in the most violent and damaging way possible. He
gives up any attempts to 'go legit' when things get too hard.
He gives in to his hatred."
Chorus of Devils: Lehnsherr is ours! To Hell with
Chorus of Angels: Boo!!
Anubis: Well, let's get started, shall we? The soul
in question: Erik Magnus Lehnsherr. Let's bring him out.
Magnus comes out from behind the curtains and waves at the
Anubis: Erik, welcome to the show.
Magnus: Thank you.
Anubis: Now, according to my sources [winks at
the camera] you have a pseudonym that you are better known
Magnus: Yes. Magneto.
Anubis: And you got that name how?
Magnus: Well, I'm a mutant and I control magnetism.
Anubis: Fascinating. Well, as you may or may not know
your soul is up for grabs. We've got St. Peter representing
Heaven [gestures] and Beelzebub representing Hell [gestures
again] both claiming you for their respective organizations.
Magnus nods to each in turn.
Anubis: The way Tug O' War goes is each makes his
case, and each gets to debate the other's case. The judges
rule out whatever they feel is irrelevant and I make the final
call. And let's meet our three judges: Hades, Greek god of
the underworld, Hel, Nordic goddess of death and Degei, the
serpent-god of the dead visiting us all the way from Fiji.
Anubis: Let's Play Tug O' War!!!
Chorus of Angels and Devils: Hooray!!
Anubis: St. Peter, you won the draw so you may begin.
St. Peter smiles magnanimously at Magnus. "This soul
has been struggling all of his life. His childhood was marred
by cruelty and despair yet he has ever tried to do the right
"Like throw a nuclear bomb at a groups of teen-agers?"
"You must be referring to the X-men."
Beelzebub offers an oily smile as a reply.
"Magnus did make mistakes. As I said before, he was
often misguided. These X-men became his greatest rivals yet
even they recognized his penchant for good and accepted them
into their home -- twice!"
Chorus of Devils: Hooray!!
Anubis: An objection to what exactly?
Beelzebub leans forward. "A few things actually. First
off, what do we care that the X-men were forgiving, or stupid,
enough to accept their arch-rival into their home?"
Hades, Degei and Hel whisper amongst themselves for a few
moments, then all three give a thumb down.
Anubis: I concur. The X-men aren't the ones being
contested over. I hope you're going somewhere relevant with
St. Peter nods. "I am. I was interrupted."
Anubis: [looking at Beelzebub] What was the
"The X-men didn't accept Magnus twice," Beelzebub
narrows his eyes. "Or are you bring Joseph into this?"
St. Peter flushes slightly.
"Aha!" Beelzebub points an accusatory finger at
St. Peter. "I object to that!"
Chorus of Devils: Hooray!!
"It's never been confirmed that Joseph was actually
Magneto," Beelzebub looks to Magnus. "First of all,
"Not the first time that's happened," St. Peter
"Second of all, he was stated to not be
Magneto by a second party after the trial of Gambit."
"Circumstantial evidence," St. Peter replies loftily.
"The trial of Gambit was a farce in almost every way.
Certainly you're not suggesting the mastermind behind that
"He claimed to be so," Beelzebub shrugs.
Anubis: [looking at Magnus] How many versions
of you are there?
Magnus: [shaking his head] I wasn't consulted
about it. I had nothing to do with it. It was all done while
I was a mental vegetable. Frankly, I find the whole thing
Anubis: Judges, let's have a ruling on the Joseph
Hades holds a thumbs up. Hel holds a thumbs down. Degei holds
a thumbs down.
Anubis: Joseph is officially barred from the competition.
St. Peter holds his hand up.
Anubis: You wanted to say something?
"If Joseph and his honest attempt at reformation is
barred from competition, I say that Magneto-Red, as he was
commonly known as, is as well." St. Peter glares at Beelzebub.
"And that includes the torture of Joseph, the imprisonment
of the X-men, the trial of Gambit AND the murder of Odekirk."
Beelzebub reels back as if hit. His lips tighten into a firm
line. "Dirty pool, old man."
Chorus of Angels: Hooray!!
"Tit for tat!"
Chorus of Devils: Boo!!
Anubis: Settle down, boys. I rule out Joseph AND Magneto-Red
from the competition. [looks at Magnus] You know we
haven't had someone as complicated as you on the show before.
We've spent so much time on objections and rulings that we've
only got time left for the speed round.
Magnus: Is that a compliment?
Anubis: All right, since Beelzebub was shorted out
of some of his argument time, he gets first response in the
speed round. I'll bring up a contention in the life of Erik
Magnus Lehnsherr, Beelzebub gives a reason that supports his
claim and St. Peter responds with one of his own. Whoever
makes a logical argument gets a hat denoted for their side.
Beelzebub's points are black hats, St. Peter's are white.
If you're confused at home, just pay attention and you'll
get the idea. Contestants ready?
Beelzebub and St. Peter glower at each other.
Anubis: I'll take that as a yes. Death of Anya.
"Power mad revenge!"
Anubis: Point for Heaven. Attack on Cape Canaveral.
"Thirst for power!"
" -- Misguided vengeance!"
Anubis: Point for Hell. Illyana Rasputin.
" -- Commiserating with an equal evil."
"Supporting another in pain."
Anubis: Point for Heaven. Working with the CIA to
hunt down Nazi war criminals.
Anubis: Points for both! Ignoring the sexual harassment
of Wanda Maximoff.
" -- Insanity!!"
Anubis: [looking askance at St. Peter] Point
for Hell. Zaladane.
Anubis: Point for Heaven. Wolverine's adamantium.
"A painful lesson."
Anubis: Point for Hell. Threatening Xavier's life
to break Moira MacTaggart.
"Lashing out in pain."
Anubis: Point for Hell. The Hellfire Club.
"Attempt at unification."
Anubis: Point for Heaven and we're out of time! Tallying
up the points I see that Heaven and Hell are tied at five
points each. In the case of a tie the soul in question is
sent back to the earthly plane to continue life in order to
answer this question once and for all. Explains a lot, doesn't
it folks? Well, Magnus, good luck on earth again.
Magnus: [sighs] Yeah.
Anubis: We'll see you at the conclusion of the next
Magnus: [sighs again] Probably.
Anubis: And here's your parting gift.
Magnus: The Tibetan Book of the Dead?
"Hey, can I make a claim right now?" Beelzebub
shoots a wicked look at St. Peter. "I claim the soul
of Charles Xavier."
Chorus of Devils: Hooray!!
St. Peter gasps in outrage. "You haven't got a leg to
stand on! Xavier belongs to Heaven, that has never been in
Chorus of Angels: Boo!
Anubis: Well, that's all for Tug O' War today. We've
got a lovely toss up tomorrow between the Catholic and Aztec
pantheons for the rights to Coronado. And we can look forward
to the Xavier Debate on a later program.
Isis herds Beelzebub and St. Peter off-stage arguing about
Onslaught, Jean Grey, Magneto and the Shi'ar. Anubis and Magnus
All guest of Tug O' War stay at the luxurious Purgatory
Suites. When you aren't sure where you're going, let Purgatory
be your shelter.
Will Dante ever find his way out of the Inferno? Will
Beatrice reach him in time? Stay tuned for daytime dramas
hit series The Divine Comedy coming up next.
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