Disclaimers etc. in Part 0.
// // indicates reality intruding on Rogue's dream
Five years later, the main square of West Chester was filled as never
before to hear the announcement of the Great Magneto's bride to be.
Magneto had been Crown Prince of West Chester for many years, but he'd
never before shown interest in anything but metal and hunting. Until he
was told by his right hand man, Victor Creed, about the beautiful young
girl with the tragic past and deadly mutation. At that moment he decided
that she was the only bride for him.
Trumpets blared as Magneto came out onto the balcony of the castle. "My
people!" he cried in a great voice. "A month from now, our country will
have its 500th Anniversary. On that sundown I shall marry a lady who
was once a commoner like yourselves. But perhaps you will not find her
common now. Would you like to meet her?"
The crowd shouted, "Yes!"
"My people, the Princess Rogue!"
And he drew the mysterious lady out onto the balcony next to him. All
the people in the square oohed and aahed at her beauty. She looked just
like a princess should, except she was maybe a little overdressed for
the weather, with the gloves and the scarf, but what did they know? She
was a princess now, and they were not.
Rogue's emptiness consumed her. Although the law of the land gave
Magneto the right to choose her as his bride, she did not love him.
Despite Magneto's reassurance that she would grow to love him, the only
joy she found was in her daily ride.
The morning after her introduction in the square, Rogue was out for her
Lurking nearby were Mystique, a shape-shifting mutant who took the form
of a tall, dark-haired woman, Logan, a feral-looking Canadian, and Hank
McCoy, a blue-furred Beast.
Mystique walked out onto the road. "A word, my lady? " she asked,
stopping Rogue in her tracks. "We are but poor lost circus performers.
Is there a village nearby?"
"There is nothing nearby," Rogue replied graciously. "Not for miles."
"Then there will be no one to hear you scream," Mystique said with a
Beast quickly grabbed the princess by the neck, rendering her
unconscious. His fur protected him from her deadly skin. He took the
girl in his arms as Mystique tore some fabric and attached it to the
saddle on Rogue's horse.
"What's that you're ripping?" Logan asked.
"Fabric from the uniform of an army officer of Greenwich," Mystique
Hank, playing the role of dullard as he and Logan had agreed, asked,
"Who is Greenwich?
Mystique sounded exasperated as she told him, "The country across the
sea! The sworn enemy of West Chester!"
"Oh, yes," Hank said, nodding. It was safer to play dumb and let the
woman think she was in control. Otherwise, he and Logan wouldn't get
paid, and that would be bad.
Mystique morphed back into her natural blue form and hurried the men
along. "Go! Once the horse reaches the castle, the fabric will make the
prince suspect that the Greenwichians have abducted his love. When he
finds her body dead on the Greenwich frontier, his suspicions will be
"You never said anything about killing anyone," Hank said as they moved
the girl into their waiting ship.
"I hired you to help me start a war," Mystique snapped. "It's a
prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition! What did
you think was going to happen?"
"I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl," Hank replied.
"Am I going mad, or did the word 'think' escape your lips? You were not
hired for your brains, you blue-furred moron!"
"I agree with Hank," Logan interrupted, cutting her off before Hank got
riled and showed off his genius.
"Oh, please! The assassin speaks. You are such a hypocrite! What happens
to her is not truly your concern. I will kill her. And remember this,
never forget this." Her voice grew steadily louder. "When I found you,
you were naked in the snow! You couldn't even use a fork and knife!" She
turned her harsh glare on Hank. "And you! Friendless, brainless,
helpless, hopeless!! Do you want me to send you two back where you were?
Unemployed, in *Greenland*?"
She walked angry to the stern, untying the boat from the dock so they
could cast off.
Logan muttered, "Mystique, she can ... fuss."
"Fuss, fuss, I think she likes to scream at us," Hank replied with a
"Probably she means no ... harm."
"She is very short on ... charm."
"My friend, you have a great gift for rhyme," Logan said.
"Yes, yes, some of the time," Hank answered, still smiling.
Mystique overheard Hank and snapped, "Enough of that!"
She didn't enjoy their rhyming game.
"Hank, are there rocks ahead?" Logan asked.
"If there are, we'll all be dead," Hank said, enjoying the
"No more rhymes now, I mean it!" she ordered.
"Anybody want a peanut?" Hank murmured mischievously.
Hank and Logan shared a secret grin. Tormenting their crotchety employer
was one of the few bright spots in their lives right now.
"The begging, that comes later." Angel, _Angel_
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