Wednesday, December 13, 2000

X-Men #7 - Worm in the Apple

"Worm in the Apple"

Written by Karl V.

Plots by Dave C

"Ouch," Cecelia reached her hand up to her head instinctively, "I'm eating this way too fast."

Bobby looked down at the pile of vanilla ice cream that was in the bowl. "Troubles?"

"Oh, you are absolutely the last mutant I want to see. Now, find me a mutant named Acetaminophen and I'll owe you one."

"A seat that men sit in? Cecelia what have you been doing at nights?" Bobby coyly played on her request.

Cecelia snorted. "Look Drake, I'm not in the mood for your high school joker antics. Let me and my frozen brain alone."

Bobby was silent and frowned. He silently hoped that Cecelia would open up to him, so he tried another tact. "You know, you had an ear open for me. I should return the favor."

Cecelia looked up, while sticking the spoon in the slowly melting ice cream. "Just the same old thing. I don't want the tight clothed, spandex life. I never did. But, now I've gone and said that I'd help out more than my five minutes."

"You know, there are part time X-Men. You can only do weekends, and not the four year term." Bobby winked at Cecelia.

Cecelia looked back down at the ice cream, and noticed the pool of white liquid getting closer to the top of the bowl. "I know. But, once they mentioned the codename thing. It just snapped right back in my face. I swear to god that I don't need any goofy word describing my powers for a nickname. I would be called Ouch, it hurts like a son of a..."

Bobby stopped her before she said anything further. "I know, I know. Look, we can have the unstable molecule fabric made into regular medical type attire. And, you don't have to have a codename. Although, now I'll be calling you Ouchie from now on...."

Cecelia slugged Bobby right on the shoulder. "Yea, you will."

"Ouchie!" Bobby laughed with fake hurt. "See you're getting used to your new codename."

Cecelia shook her head and continued eating the ice cream. "I should finish this before I let it go to waste."

"Cheer up, Cecelia. You know, you can always pick another part of the alphabet too. You can be a D-Man for Doctor-Man, C-Man for clinic..."

"Bobby," Cecelia thrusted a finger toward the main door, "OUT!"

She kept cursing herself for being convinced to stay. Rogue, you knew that damn Cajun was goin' to charm you like he always does.

"Hey petit, you comin' or no?" Le Beau's French Quarter accent grew heavy with concern.

Rogue began to fidget with her bangs. "I guess. But, I'm not gonna guarantee anything."

"That's good enough for Gambit. Now, how about you actually step inside the mansion. If La Morte is bad, I don't want it making you a ghost either."

Rogue took in a deep breath. "I appreciate the concern Remy, but like I told you a billion times before: I can handle things on my own."

"I know that chere. But, this thing is getting even bigger than you. And, that goes literally as well. These things just ain't machines. Heck, they even make Bastion look like a play toy."

Rogue reeled back at the mention of robots. "Of all the things to bring up, that was the last I wanted to hear."

Remy realized his mistake too late, and with his usual finesse compounded it more. "That's life. We always dealt with aliens, with robots, with things that always change who we are and what we are. We just got hit with all three at the same time. Something always new as far as the X-Men are concerned."

"Don't give me the "that's tough, it's life" speech Remy. Now, you are being an jerk by bringing all that stuff that I don't want brought up. I stayed out here to clear my mind, and not listen to you chatter all night about those blasted mutant making robots. Now, get in the mansion before I have to place you in there myself." Rogue stood up and clenched her fists.

Gambit's instincts made the third and final error. "Chere, you don't have to do this you know. It don't have to be like this."

"Remy!" Rogue's anger was just to be unleashed again, when a mental command interrupted.

'Rogue, Gambit. It's time."

"I was about to make powder out of you, Cajun. So, do me a favor and stay away as far as possible during our little trip back to New York."

Gambit managed to discretely dispose of a kinetic charged card. "I'll do that. I don't want anyone getting hurt because of little ol' me."


"Mr. Falk, I regret to inform you of your termination from this school." The head minister of the college seemed extremely nervous.

The tall man with a dark blue suit and black tie gave him a dark look. "Mr. Crucker, why is that?"

"Well, one of the faculty members was on vacation when they caught a news broadcast. Now, we've already confirmed with certain parties of your presence here..."

Falk was slightly confused. "Sir, if you don't mind me asking: What the hell is this all about?"

The head minister fumbled a cassette into a video cassette recorder attached to a television.

Falk watched intensely as it was obviously a news report.

"And, we have obtained some footage of the actual assault by the so called X-Men on that rocket launch." {As in seen in Hunt For Xavier...KV}

Falk blinked twice as he saw a man levitated by what seemed like a bird of flame. Falk recognized the face as his own. He tried to hide the growing frustration. Damn you Charles, you promised me nothing outside of the danger room.

The head minister took his opportunity at the double take. "Needless to say, we don't want trouble in our school. Unfortunately, word has already spread about this. There are reports of mutants even being able to copy themselves. I'm sorry Addison. But, I did manage to talk the board into severance pay for you. It should be more than enough for you to find another teaching job, and don't worry about the references. I'll still put out the good word for you. I truly apologize if some mutant freak decided to play copycat with your face, but the ramifications of keeping you around."

"Mr. Crucker, it is of no consequence. Equal Opportunity Employment laws never listed mutants. Besides, I know someone that will immediately take my resume." Falk left the office in fumes.
"Don't go and say it Red. I already know." Logan did not even bother to turn around to see who was behind him, as the wind carried the familiar scent of Jean Grey to him.

She knew enough that she couldn't sneak up on him, and there was no surprise to the her being discovered. "Look, I know that we've been through a lot lately. Everyone has a lot of history, including me. All I ask is that you try to take it easy on Rogue. She needs friends right now and not more enemies."

"Sorry," Logan lit up his stogie, "but she was actually thinking of going to ol' Magnus. He represents something that can take away that hurt she's been feeling all her life. You don't need your powers to know that Rogue has decided that those mechanical aliens are the ones responsible for that hurt."

Jean was starting to get impatient because Logan had a tendency to be stubborn, and also unfortunately correct. "I know. That's why she needs a shoulder rather than someone waiting to kill her. All I ask is you leave her to me, and I'll handle the emotion stuff."

"Fine by me Red. But, if she shows any sign of turning again, I'm going to take her out. We can't afford her switching sides."

Jean was startled by the statement. "Logan, she's been on the team full time for quite some time now. She's saved our lives more times then we can count. It's time we return the favor."

Logan turned to face Jean. "We've had a couple of times when we needed Magnus' help and he saved our hash. And, we still fight him afterwards. Sorry, Rogue has too much of a history to call in any favor." He tossed the finished stogie to the ground and stomped on it to indicate the conversation was grounded as well.

Jean was at a loss for words, Logan had made up his mind and there was nothing that she could do about it. She had one last tact in arsenal, and she spoke loud so he could hear her. "Well, okay, then I'll call in one of my favors. Just ignore her for me okay."

Logan did an about face and had his trademark sneer. "I'm not doing anything that might cause someone to die. Sorry Jean, but no one is calling in any favors until this thing has blown over. And, only I will decide when that is for the Southern Belle."

"You hardheaded arrogant.." Jean's frustration got the best of her, and she realized it too late. "...sorry."

"Don't be Red. You're right." Logan walked to the mansion, leaving Jean behind in thought.


"Logan." Remy gave the lounging mutant a nod.

He didn't even acknowledge the Cajun by looking up. "What's up Gumbo? If you've come to lecture about your little petite, then don't."

"No, in fact quite the opposite. I think your right about her. I know these things."

Logan looked up and raised an eyebrow. "So, maybe you're suggesting a double team. Red can baby sit only one of us at a time."

"Sometime I wonder if you gained Jeanie's power somehow." Gambit scratched his head.

Logan shook his head. "No, it just takes one to know one. But, trouble is she knows what we're thinking. So, let's not and say we did."

"True mes ami, but the Doctor and Bobby are going to provide enough distraction for us. Both you and I know what to look for and not use our minds to do it. Jeanie can't read instinct." Gambit brought up an ace of spades from his hidden deck.

Logan casually patted Remy on the shoulder. "Sometimes you manage to have your head screwed on right Cajun. You should make it more of a habit."

"I think about it, and maybe you should too." Gambit slyly smiled and gave Logan a semi salute with his two right fingers.

"Funny," Logan spotted Bobby and Cecelia coming out of the mansion, "I'll go talk to the lovebirds."

"Que? Bobby and Cecelia? You got to be kidding." Gambit let out a chuckle even at the thought.

"I can smell the pheromones from here." Logan pointed to his nose.

Remy shrugged in disbelief. "There no way a joker like him would go with someone with a bedside manner like that. Besides, Bobby still too much of a ladies man."

"Don't matter, it will make them even more of a distraction. I'm going to give Bobby the assignment of keeping the Doc alive if we tangle with that Prime Sentinel. Hopefully their antics will make our job easier."

"You pretty good for an old man." Remy walked out of Logan's range of hearing. "But, I know what keeps you distracted too. "


"The answer is no Sinister." Mystique said point blank.

Sinister's red eyes narrowed. "And, may I ask why?"

"It's all been done before. The only thing that would be different would be some half-brained name given to describe the group. Now, it's time I made a name for myself again. I've been too much of a team player, and it's especially obvious when I even think of joining the likes of you."

"You forget, we all save the same master. He extended your powers as well as mine."

Mystique shook her head. "You idiot. As long as he thinks we are performing his test, then he'll leave us alone. Any fool who is weak deserves to die anyway."

"You are so deluded. You will learn as I did that your leash is only so short." Sinister's face contorted into a more skeletal form. "And if you do not heel at the tug of the leash, then you will be put out of your misery by Death."

Mystique looked at the Horseman of Death in half astonishment, half disgust. "So, you are one of his chosen now. Good, then it's time you learned who your other Master is."

Death looked on as Mystique changed into a brilliant red reptilian like humanoid. "What?"

"Fool, ever hear of the Dragon and the whore? I'm both. Now, I've always waited for this." She pointed to the ground. "Bow."

Death felt a tug to his whole being, as he was forced to one knee. "How can this be?"

"The Devil needs his concubine. Another way he passes the test is by having offspring." Mystique relished the moment for a long as it entertained her. "And, he needs someone that can take many forms to carry out his deeds. A dragon is but one of them."

"No...I can not be...swayed. Death comes to even to the cows he chooses." Death attempted to rise to his feet to no avail.

Mystique simply smiled as she reverted back to her more familiar blue skin form. "You are lucky that you will suffer more alive, otherwise I would kill you here and now. You may rise."

Death switched back to the more recognizable Sinister. "I will return. And when I am free of my Horseman's bond, you will suffer."

"Fool, the only thing you can do is fall off the Horse. And you will always be at the ready to ride again at his call."


"Hey Bobby, I have something for ya." Logan motioned Bobby away from Cecelia for a moment.

Bobby seemed puzzled that Logan was even bothering, but he followed along. "What's up short and gruesome?"

"You got to keep an eye out for the Doc. But, you got to keep your head about it. And, I'm talking about the one above your shoulders." Logan said matter-of-factly.

"What?" Bobby's shout made Cecelia wonder what they were talking about.

Logan shook his head. "I can smell those hormones raging in your body. You haven't stuck for someone for quite some time, and it's all coming back out since you spent that day with the Doc."

"No way. Come on, I'm desperate but not that desperate. I mean, I totally want to avoid someone that has a colder shoulder than me."

Logan shook his head. "Don't deny what's lurking in that head of yours. Otherwise, it will make matters worse."

"Fine, I'll keep my eyes out for the Doc. But, I'm not some drooling idiot after a candy striper."

Logan nodded his head in slight approval. "That's the way. Now if you excuse me, I have some other matters to attend."

Bobby jumped as a hand touched his shoulder. "What?"

"You okay Drake?" Cecelia looked at his troubled expression.

Bobby's face turned beet red as he tried to hide his face by lowering his head. "I'm fine."


"Hey Red." Logan walked up the slender figured mutant leaning on a tree.

She looked up as she brushed her blazing red hair aside to see Logan. "I'm sorry about earlier."

"Don't worry about it. The truth doesn't hurt me much anymore. It's just we're going into this thing with a pot on the stove and someone else is watching it. I just hope that someone don't take his eyes off of it, and is smart enough not to be burned by it either."

Jean quickly assumed what Logan's analogy meant. "I'm sure Remy can put aside his feelings if we happen to get into a confrontation."

"It's not just that we have a big pile of stink with the Southern Belle and the Cajun. And on the reverse end of the coin, we got a Bobby and the Doc."
Jean lightly smiled. "It's hard to imagine, but anything is possible. So, that leaves you and me to make sure that they don't slip up."

"I guess you didn't need to read my mind for that one. Guess that's my age creeping up on me." Logan looked around and sniffed the air.

"What is it?" Jean prepared for the worst.

Logan shook his head. "Nothing. Just making sure that no one is privy to what I need to say."


"We have two hot heads, and Bobby might as well be a rookie along with the Doc. And, these bone claws don't do much against a Prime Sentinel. That leaves you to face a bunch of mutants we don't know squat about, along with that Prime Sentinel."

Jean's smile instantly turned into a straight face. "Yes, I know. And, Prime Sentinels usually travel in a pack of threes. It makes me wonder if this is some setup for the other two to ambush us."

"I'll keep my nose out for them. I know their technological stink now. The nanotech gives the human host a bad case of halitosis."

"Seems like Bobby's not the only one sticking to the Doc." Jean winked.

Logan snorted at the observation. "Well, without the adamantium..."

"Now, you were worried about them?" Jean crossed her arms.

Logan shrugged. "Just stating facts. Bones break. Adamantium doesn't"

"Well, I need your expertise to spot the mutants weak spots as quick as possible. The body language speaks quicker than the mind sometimes." Jean placed a supporting hand on Logan's shoulder.

Logan nodded as he got the indirect command. "The senses are still good enough for that. I'll get the troops ready, hopefully we can keep the emotions pointed in the right direction."

"Okay, but make sure that you pair up Remy with the Doc, and Bobby with Rogue. Hopefully, Remy's and Bobby's wit will lighten their moods a bit."

"Will do."

As soon as Logan left out of hearing range, Jean thought outloud. "I just hope that we can all work together if a crisis does arrive. Scott, I really wish you didn't go with Hank and the Professor. We could use a calm mind right now." The only reply was a subtle breeze that gave a low woeful howl.