A Test of Power
Buried deep within the heart
of every conflict
lies a territory known as common ground...
but how do we summon the courage to seek out its borders?
Rogue had been on the roof of the apartment building overlooking
the restaurant for over an hour. Only a single patron had
entered the upscale Italian eatery that was quite common in
this part of Manhattan. The remains of a day-old blizzard
still decorated the sidewalks and streets discouraging even
the hardiest of the New York City masses. The white snow was
already dulled and sullied by the mixture of dirt and salt
leaving a slushy, ugly brown residue. Rogue had always preferred
the view of the city from the air, especially at night. The
myriad of lights from buildings, street lamps and cars, made
the city look like a translucent sea of precious jewels, masking
the muck that was part of the underbelly of any large city.
Rogue couldn't help but be disappointed whenever she actually
set down on the city streets and her wistful illusion was
She arrived early to conduct limited clandestine surveillance
in order to get a feel for the surrounding area. Despite her
enhanced strength and invulnerability, Rogue always liked
to account for the number ways in and out of the any new location.
Even though her affiliation with the X-Men exposed her to
danger on a daily basis, she strangely enough felt an extra
degree of caution was required whenever she might involve
herself in her mother's affairs.
Mystique was always cryptic at best, but when she unexpectedly
telephoned and insisted that they meet immediately and at
such a public location, Rogue was a bit mystified. She became
particularly concerned because her mother had actually sounded
a bit scared -- not cautious or paranoid, her usual state
of mind, but scared.
It was three minutes before nine, and Rogue was satisfied
that further surveillance would not glean anymore information.
She gently set down in a dark alleyway hidden from view. She
walked the remaining distance to the restaurant entrance,
careful to stay in the shadows and out of the lamplight.
She was greeted at the doorway by the maitre d', an elderly
gentleman with a slight Italian accent -- Northern Italian
and quite possibly from the province of Piemonte if Rogue
was not mistaken. Although Rogue had never left the country
in her formative years, her mother was very well traveled
and was able to school her, among other things, in different
modes of speech and dialects used in various countries around
the world. She had always had a very sensitive and discerning
ear, another minor talent that her mother recognized and was
able to cultivate. He helped her off with her coat, handing
it off to another employee of the restaurant and told her
that Ms. Capriotti was expecting her.
Mystique most assuredly had given her description to the
maitre d' and had already informed Rogue over the secure phone
line of the alias that she would be using. He led her through
a maze of tables of the moderately lit restaurant; a quiet
hum of conversation could be heard throughout the dining area.
The tables were adequately spaced apart which would make it
extremely difficult to hear the conversation of an adjoining
table. The restaurant was sparsely populated...about at twenty-five
percent capacity, which suited Rogue just fine.
Rogue's strategic assessment of her surroundings was second
nature to her. She did not have to make a conscious effort
to perform a clinical evaluation of her environment. Her mother's
training was so ingrained that it would be difficult for her
to behave any differently. Rogue had often wondered whether
this was a good or bad thing.
"Ms. Capriotti, your guest has arrived," the maitre d' said
as he pulled out a chair for Rogue.
"Thank you Enzo."
"Your waiter will be by momentarily Signora," Enzo said,
inclining his head slightly in Mystique's direction, excusing
Rogue smiled inwardly. Her mother's table was located in
the back corner of the restaurant away from any windows. This
gave her a birds eye view of the entire dining area while
her own seat was partially obscured by some potted trees making
her very difficult to see.
Mystique had taken on the appearance of a fortyish, slim,
brown haired woman, completely non-descript and physically
unremarkable in any way. But Rogue could always recognize
her mother by her eyes, not by the shape or color -- those
things Mystique could easily alter as well. Her mother's eyes
always gave off this kind of crazed intensity that was truly
unique -- to her at least. The eyes of a fanatic maybe --
no it wasn't quite that. She had a respectable amount of experience
with that type, especially among the mutant community.
Her eyes exhaled desperation. That was the only way Rogue
could think of to describe it.
"Hello Momma. Ah see ya haven't outgrown all the cloak and
dagger stuff," Rogue said quietly and with a gentle smile.
"I suppose the world is warm and safe place and mutants
are now welcomed with open arms," Mystique whispered sharply.
"Ahright Momma, Ah see somethin' outta the ordinary got ya
spooked. Ah'm all ears." Rogue leaned forward letting her
mother know that she had her complete attention.
"Things ... things are beginning to happen. I've tried to
prepare for them -- tried to prepare you. I want you to gather
all your belongings and accompany me to a special safehouse,"
Mystique said abruptly.
"Momma," Rogue interrupted, a look of bewilderment on her
face. "What are ya talkin' about?" Her mother could be ice-cold
in life threatening situations but was also prone to seemingly
impulsive behavior. This behavior though ... Rogue had never
seen her mother act in this fashion. She was starting to feel
the effects of her mother's fear and becoming scared herself.
"The FOH, Bastion, Graydon's death, Genosha ... they're all
precursors of things to come. Irene had hinted at certain
things, even she was unsure ... said she couldn't see
anything clearly that involved him, and didn't want
to. I don't want you involved," Mystique said with a sudden
intensity. I don't want you taking sides, even with the X-Men."
"Takin' sides ... takin' sides against who?" Rogue asked.
Mystique hesitated and then said, "Apocalypse," in a hushed
At the mention of Apocalypse's name, a partial understanding
of her mother's fear became clear. He was a mutant monster,
a mysterious and ancient being, completely divorced from humanity
and from his own humanity. But the X-Men had dealt with Apocalypse
before and would deal with him again if necessary. The question
of why her mother would have such a personal fear of Apocalypse
was something Rogue was almost too afraid to find out.
Mystique continued and sounded a little more like her usual
self. "He isn't an enemy that can be dealt with in a conventional
sense. He can't be coerced, blackmailed, threatened, or even
seduced. There isn't even a way to find him. He's visited
me ... several times over the years."
"What?" Rogue asked stunned. "Ya never told me any o' this
Mystique ignored her daughter's surprise. "The first time
was many years ago, when I had initially established 'The
Both Rogue and Mystique were completely startled when a tall,
middle-aged man, was standing right next to their table, a
friendly expression on a handsome face. The man was impeccably
dressed, well groomed and manicured, and had an air of aristocracy
about him. Neither had seen or heard his approach, which was
very unusual. Rogue had always been an extremely difficult
person to catch off guard ... her mother, next to impossible.
"May I join you?" the large man said in a deep clear voice,
motioning toward one the empty seats.
Surprisingly, her mother graced the gentleman with a smile
reaching for the napkin on her lap and said, "by all means,
please sit down."
As he sat, Mystique brought up the napkin from under the
table in a graceful and fluid motion. Rogue could barely make
out the concealed muzzle of a very unconventional firearm.
It appeared to be some form of energy weapon.
"Who are you? Why are here? And you better come up with a
reason why I shouldn't use this to cut you in half, because
I can't," Mystique hissed sharply, but maintained an extremely
pleasant expression on her face.
The gentleman answered with an equally pleasant expression
on his face, completely nonplused by Mystique's words.
"Mr. Sinister, to speak with your daughter, and you might
kill some innocent people in the process," the man said matter-of-factly.
His expression remained unchanged except that the shoulders
of the finely tailored jacket morphed into multiple shiny
blue metallic strips of cloth that fluttered in the air like
the tail of a kite. They melded back into the jacket with
no sign that they were ever there. This was followed by the
terrifyingly familiar red diamond, which quickly flashed across
his forehead and then disappeared, confirming the identity
of their dinner guest.
What is Sinister doing here and what the hell does he
want with me? Rogue thought. No one on the team even knows
I'm here. There was no room to maneuver and too many innocent
people close by. She had to do her best to avoid a confrontation.
She consciously moved away from him, clenching her fists,
and poised for anything he might try.
Mystique leaned across the table and moved the napkin under
his chin as if she was playfully wiping a small crumb from
his mouth. "Unless there are some stargazers on the roof,
no innocents will get hurt," Mystique said mockingly.
"I could cut your head in two," she added, as she moved the
barrel underneath his chin.
Sinister said nothing, and gave no indication that he was
going to move. Rogue broke the silence, knowing that if this
escalated people would definitely be hurt and most likely
"Momma, let's hear what this rattlesnake has ta say," Rogue
said, putting her gloved hand on her mother's gently pushing
the gun away from Sinister. As much as Ah'd like ta see his
dead carcass sprawled on the pavement, ah got a lotta questions
foh this boy," she said through clenched teeth.
"I imagine you would. I will do my utmost to answer all of
them. And Raven, don't ever threaten me," Sinister said as
he leaned forward, an expression of disturbing scrutiny across
his face. "Do not delude yourself into believing that toy
you appropriated from some government organization or from
Forge himself could harm me. And if you believe that the psi-screening
device you are wearing will offer some measure of protection
against me, you are sadly mistaken. The trinket you have on
your person is nothing more than a poor imitation based on
my design. However beautiful your natural appearance is, I
imagine that you would find it quite a hindrance to go about
your usual business should I decide to make your appearance
permanent," Sinister said coldly.
Mystique was unusually quiet and seemed to be measuring Sinister's
words. Rogue believed that her mother knew that Sinister was
not the bluffing type and could deliver on all his threats.
She did not like to see her mother threatened -- especially
when the threat exhibited one of her rare vulnerabilities.
Rogue knew that Sinister was aware of people's fears and vulnerabilities
and had no qualms about exploiting them ... an enjoyable specialty
of his she thought disgustedly. She also knew that her mother
was most dangerous when she felt threatened. This situation
could and would degrade very quickly unless she acted.
"Ya said ya came here ta talk ta me, so talk," Rogue said,
as she began to casually remove one of her gloves from her
hands, which were hidden from view underneath the table.
"Since you believe my civility is a pretense, a direct approach
may be more effective to convince you of the futility of what
you contemplate." Sinister suddenly reached under the table
and grasped Rogue's bare wrist. A feeling of intense malaise
swept over her, overwhelming her senses. "Need I remind you
Rogue that that course of action was not effective
the first time around.(1) You
will find it a much more disturbing experience should you
be foolish enough to try it again," Sinister said menacingly.
"This shall not be a contest of power or will -- because there
is no contest. You have touched the mind of Sinister
my dear. Since then, we have maintained a bit of, how shall
I say, psychic rapport. Your mutant powers are an open book
to me, to be utilized or shut down as I see fit." Sinister
released Rogue's wrist as quickly as he had grabbed it.
Mystique had her weapon aimed at Sinister again, her hand
rock steady. She would have fired immediately but was unsure
of the effect it might have on Rogue while she was in contact
with Sinister. Her daughter's eyes cleared and she seemed
to recover completely. "This is what I wanted to warn you
about. Two monsters who for centuries, want to kill one another.
One a complete madman, the other, a coward, who wants others
to do the fighting for him. Irene had said that the fight
between these two could destroy most of the planet, and everyone
"I'm impressed Raven -- so impressed in fact, that there
might possibly be a position available on my team of Marauders
for such a sagacious individual. And if you wish to trade
barbs, I will indulge you for a moment." Sinister turned to
Rogue ignoring the presence of the weapon.
"You see Rogue, your mother has not exactly been honest with
you. In her true form, she appears to be a vital and attractive
young woman in her mid-twenties. She has told you and others
that her mutant abilities ... Sinister paused, a thoughtful
expression on his face.
"Exactly what did I extract from Victor's mind? Ah yes, let
me quote your mother. 'My morphing powers continually revitalize
my body cells and DNA memory. That's why I can look just like
I did all those years ago.' (2)
What a wonderfully scientific explanation for your youthful
appearance," Sinister said with mellifluous tones. "But that
is wholly inadequate to describe your virtual immortality."
Sinister glanced in Mystique's direction. "No my dear, your
visits from Apocalypse were a bit more involved, were they
Mystique's trigger finger began to tighten, her expression
no longer hiding her emotions but openly murderous.
Sinister continued and seemed to enjoy provoking Mystique.
"I am truly conscience-stricken to divulge this Rogue. First
you find that your nefarious beau is involved with the likes
of me. Now I tell you that your mother has dealings with Apocalypse.
You must be wondering what's next? Perhaps my next revelation
will uncover the torrid relationship between Destiny and Victor
Von Doom?" Sinister said with a malicious smile on his face.
"You do a good job of pressing everyone's buttons, you slimy
son of a bitch," Mystique said, open hate in her voice. Mystique
turned to Rogue, an angry expression on her face. "What he
didn't tell you was that I was forced and had no choice in
Mystique continued. "It was many years ago, when we operated
out of a large warehouse, by the docks ... same area as what's
now the South Street Seaport. Money was a little tighter back
then. I was doing some creative accounting, hiding and funneling
money into legitimate businesses. The rest of the team was
relaxing, watching some T.V. in another room, the set blaring
as usual. I had told them to keep the door closed so I wouldn't
Rogue thought it was very characteristic of her mother to
remember such a trivial thing. She had always had tremendous
recall of even the minutest detail. But she knew her mother
was stalling and was filled with apprehension at what her
mother might try. For the moment, Sinister strangely enough
seemed content to listen.
"I heard a rush of air and was momentarily blinded by a bright
flash of light. Standing ten feet in front of me, what was
an empty space a second ago, was an enormous -- what I thought
initially was a armored man or robot of some sort. It or he,
was about eight feet tall and as wide as a small car. I can't
actually tell you why but I sensed tremendous power from this
thing and not from just its physical appearance. It gazed
down at me, its movements strange, not mechanical but not
human either. It spoke to me in a voice saturated with authority
and I immediately knew that this was not the voice of a robot
... this thing was alive ... and that made it all
the more terrible. The voice was impossibly deep, and it shook
the iron latticework that made up the structure of the warehouse.
He called me by my first name."
"Hello Raven. I am called Apocalypse."
"I felt like he was staring right into my eyes, but he had
no eyes that I could distinguish. His eye sockets exuded a
cold luminous white light, and looking into them added to
the pervasive feeling of power ... ancient power. He managed
to evoke something I hadn't felt in many years -- fear. I'm
not talking about the type of fear or apprehension you feel
because of a particularly dangerous mission. I am talking
about," Mystique paused, possibly because she did want to
make this admission in front of Sinister or maybe even Rogue
for that matter. "I am talking about little girl scared --
something primal and basic. I was able to shake off the feeling
because I could not believe that this thing...after the myriad
of hidden lives, multiple identities I had assumed and built
... this thing knew my real name and how to find me."
"I reached for a laser rifle, an early prototype of the plasma
rifle. I had appropriated it from a group of scientists
working for the government. It was large and not very mobile
but cutting edge technology for the time. It was attached
to a stationary and rather cumbersome power source, but it
packed a hell of a punch. The laser could cut through three
inches of tank armor in just a few seconds. With the press
of a button, I alerted the others that there was trouble and
Apocalypse didn't move as I stood and pointed the weapon
at him. I fired at point blank range hitting him just below
his chest. There was no effect. I fired again keeping the
trigger depressed with the laser trained on the same spot.
I kept firing until I had depleted the entire laser's energy
and it ceased to function. The metal -- what I thought was
metal of his armor showed no signs that the laser had even
"Just then the Blob crashed through the door, " Mystique
continued. "Apocalypse ignored that the Blob had entered the
room and didn't turn in his direction."
"You have nothing to fear from me," Apocalypse said still
looking at me.
"You're damn straight she doesn't," the Blob said as he lumbered
forward. "Who is this clown?" He advanced but paused momentarily
next to a piece of the warehouse's support structure, to take
a good look at Apocalypse. "And I thought I was ugly," he
chuckled as he his meaty hands grabbed and tore an enormous
steel I-beam from its moorings, screaming metal, bolts and
cement spraying in all directions. Using the beam as a baseball
bat, he swung the enormous cantilever at Apocalypse.
"You should refrain from any unnecessary words boy,
and choose your opponents more wisely." Apocalypse's arm lengthened
and thickened while his hand grew to incredible proportions.
He met the beam, a deafening ring of metal on metal.
Mystique continued. "The beam was incredibly torn from Fred's
hands and flew thirty feet to the cement floor with a gigantic
clang. I remember the dumbfounded expression on Fred's face.
He looked disbelievingly into his empty hands and then glanced
up in fear, as Apocalypse's huge hand grew larger still and
closed over his entire body. Two fingers, with the diameter
of car tires, came down on left and right side of his head
crushing down on his shoulders. The remaining fingers and
thumb wrapped around the rest of Fred's body, painfully sinking
into the enormous roles of flesh, making even the Blob look
small and pitifully vulnerable. I could not believe that he
was held in one hand, struggling feebly to free himself. Then,
something I'd thought I would never see. Apocalypse lifted
Fred ... the Blob, off the ground ... at the end of a twenty-foot
long arm with no apparent effort at all. Apocalypse's hand
changed color, becoming translucent, emitting a nimbus of
bright white energy ... and Fred screamed.
"I could smell burnt flesh," Mystique went on more slowly.
"Apocalypse then casually tossed Fred's smoking body to the
ground. Fred was unconscious, and did not move. I have never
to this day seen anyone do this to the Blob. And incredibly,
Apocalypse had never moved. His feet -- or boots were in the
exact same place. I then noticed that the others had come
out of the room, including Destiny. I don't know how long
they had been there or how much they had seen, but judging
by the expressions on their faces, I knew they had seen enough."
Apocalypse turned and addressed Destiny. "Tell her, seer,"
A cloud of pain passed over Destiny's face and her hands
clutched at her temples. "Do not attempt to overcome him.
All of your efforts will fail ... and he will kill everyone,"
she gasped and fell to her knees.
Apocalypse turned back to Mystique. "I am here to bestow
a great gift upon you." Apocalypse touched his belt and there
was another flash of light. A clear cylindrical canister appeared
covered with strange unintelligible markings. "You have proven
yourself worthy of survival. This alien device will extend
your life span indefinitely." The canister opened without
a sound. "You will place yourself into the device now." Apocalypse's
tone was such that his directions could not possibly be questioned.
"I naturally hesitated," Mystique said. Apocalypse's hand
began to glow again and he glanced at Destiny and the others.
His intention was obvious."
"Do as he says Raven. He speaks the truth and no harm will
come of it. The purpose of the device is exactly as he claims,"
"Irene still seemed to be in a great deal of pain. She was
to tell me later that to even glimpse into an event surrounding
Apocalypse or his future was almost impossible, and caused
"I asked him why he felt I was deserving of such a gift,
stalling despite what Irene had said. He didn't answer but
instead reached for me with his other hand, which grew as
it came closer to me. I didn't move.
I expected his touch to be cold but was mistaken -- it was
hot, uncomfortably so. His hand wrapped itself around my body
and gently placed me into the strange device. The container
closed immediately. I could see through the material but it
was so clear that I was not sure that it was there. I placed
my hands on what I thought was glass but discovered it was
an energy field of some sort. I looked up to see Apocalypse's
terrifying face staring down impassively and for a moment,
I felt a surge of panic to escape."
"The procedure will last approximately one hour ... I am
told it is quite painful," Apocalypse said indifferently.
The device will automatically open once it has fulfilled its
function. You will then be free to return to your affairs.
I give you this gift freely and only require that you continue
to do as you always have done ... survive by any means possible."
"There was another flash of light and he was gone. True to
his word at the end of an hour and after some exquisite pain,
I was free," Mystique shuddered. "The device disappeared immediately
after. Since that day, I have not been sick nor have I aged
a day," Mystique concluded.
"Momma, ah don't know why you never told me this before.
But you said that he visited you several times," Rogue said
"What a heart-wrenching story, although surprisingly the
truth," Sinister interrupted before Mystique could answer.
"You must think I am quite a fool to believe that you would
relate this entire story in my presence, only to satisfy your
daughter's curiosity and feelings." Sinister chuckled. "Stalling
for time afforded you nothing -- no succor is available. Your
hired help were dead before I arrived at your table -- interesting
choice though, human mercenaries. I assume they were expendable,"
Sinister said offhandedly.
Mystique stood abruptly and moved away from Sinister to get
some breathing room. "Once I knew I was dealing with the likes
of you, I knew that the mercs would be useless, but might
serve as a distraction. But I did need the extra time
to charge this weapon to full capacity," Mystique said pointing
the gun at Sinister. "This weapon has an interesting feature.
It has a setting that allows the entire energy stores to be
delivered in a single shot. I was told this setting is supposed
to be quite effective, even against the most powerful mutants.
Die you bastard."
"Momma no!" Rogue yelled as she lunged for her mother. White-hot
pain seared through Rogue's head, paralyzing her in mid leap
as she fell back into her chair.
Mystique fired, a blinding red beam exploded out of the weapon.
She maintained firing long enough to cut Sinister from his
midsection all the way up to his head, cleaving him in half.
Not a drop of blood spilled out from the rupture and Mystique
couldn't make out anything that even resembled an internal
organ. There wasn't an internal anything. A thick gray ichor
coated both sides of the split and Mystique believed that
this gelatinous substance was what comprised Sinister's entire
form. The beam also passed through chairs, tables, walls,
and four human beings ... three in the restaurant and one
passerby across the street, killing them all instantly. Mystique
took her finger off the trigger after the gun's energy was
Mystique rushed to her daughter's side as people screamed
and stampeded out of the restaurant and into the street. "Rogue,
are you alright?" Mystique cradled her daughter's head in
her arms but was still careful to avoid any skin-to-skin contact.
Rogue slowly regained her senses stirring sluggishly at first;
able to turn her head enough to witness the carnage her mother's
actions had wrought. A soft moan escaped her lips. "Momma,"
Rogue's anguished feelings clear in that one word.
"Would you prefer if you and I were lying in a pool of blood
instead," Mystique said without a trace of remorse in her
Mystique and Rogue both heard a slurping sound, almost as
if a thick syrupy substance was being sucked through a thin
straw. They simultaneously turned to see Mr. Sinister's body
draw together and mend into his familiar attire and bloodless
"An excellent yet futile roll of the dice Raven. You are
to be commended." Sinister stood and casually tossed the table
aside, dishes and glasses shattering on the floor. His arm
shot across the distance that separated them, a chilling smile
on his face. His fingers sunk painfully into the soft flesh
of her chin and neck, and lifted her off the ground. He turned
her head from side as if he were examining a piece of art
he might consider purchasing. A thick expensive looking necklace
suddenly snapped apart revealing the hidden psi-screening
Rogue had been struggling in vain to get to her feet but
could not get her legs to work properly. After what seemed
like an eternity, Rogue could hear blaring sirens that signaled
the arrival of the police. Not that they could stop Sinister,
but they might distract him long enough for her to regain
full use of her faculties. Although Rogue had no idea what
she could do against Sinister as well. But she had
to do something to help her mother. She then heard shouts
and multiple gunshots ring out from outside the restaurant.
Sinister turned to Rogue, a dour expression on his face.
"You will shortly regain full use of all your abilities. The
local authorities will be sufficiently preoccupied by my Marauders
to allow us to conclude our business.
Mystique had hung limply in Sinister's grasp refusing to
cry out despite the pain she was in. She would not give him
the satisfaction of struggling, which she knew would do nothing
to free her. Nor would she let him see the fear she felt for
both herself and her daughter because they were completely
at Sinister's mercy.
Sinister's expression hardened as he brought Mystique's face
within a few inches of his own, his eyes and mind boring into
hers. He located a specific sphere of her brain -- the region
of the brain he knew better than any person on the planet
-- the area that controlled mutant powers.
"It is such a simple thing really," Sinister said coldly,
as he none too gently dropped Mystique back into a chair --
"to take control of another mutants powers and command them
as your own." Mystique morphed into her natural form, except
open lesions and festering sores began to appear all over
her blue hued skin.
Mystique could see her daughter's horrified expression, which
hurt her more than the open wounds that now covered her entire
"This," Sinister gestured at Mystique and spoke to Rogue,
-- "is unnecessary. I have little enough patience for your
patriarch and his multitude X-heroes, let alone the forbearance
to tolerate the pathological behavior of your mother. To say
she is capable is an understatement. But I do not admire her
panache, as Apocalypse does. I also take umbrage that someone
guilty of the crimes she's committed has the impudence to
call me a monster. Your mother threw her infant son Kurt,
over a waterfall to preserve her own skin. She abandoned her
other son Graydon after his twelfth birthday when she discovered
he was not a mutant." Sinister turned to Mystique. "Coupling
with Victor Creed, Raven? Sinister's brow furrowed and shook
his head with mock disapproval. "Such maternal instincts and
such eclectic tastes in partners."
Mystique rasped an explicative.
"A lifetime of terrorism, extortion, theft, murder, -- most
recently; pummeling to death a United States Air Force General,
by your own hands no less."(3)
Sinister smiled. "International spy Leni Zauber, Billionaire
B. Byron Biggs, or fashion model Ronnie Lake(4)...window
dressing, covering the same odious mind.
"Stop," Rogue heard herself plead. "You've made yoh point.
Ya know all about mah Momma and can hurt her in a hundred
different ways. Give her back control o' her powers ... please."
"As you wish," Sinister said, remarkably acquiescing immediately.
I will though, temporarily deny her access to the speech center
of her brain. That will allow us I trust," Sinister stared
menacingly at Mystique, -- "to converse unimpeded."
Mystique glared at Sinister as her appearance returned to
its healthy cast.
I guess that's something, Rogue thought. They weren't
that much worse off than when they started. She had no idea
where to go from here except maybe find out what it was that
"What could you possibly want from me?" Rogue said, both
anger and torment clear in her voice. "I'm not a Summers'.
Ah thought ya got off messin' with Scott, Jean, or Cable ...
an' maybe Gambit," Rogue added harshly.
"No, no my dear," Sinister said, his expression almost convincingly
earnest. You, Rogue, have been the primary focus of
my work with mutants. Despite the brilliance of both Xavier
and McCoy, both have rather parochial perspectives, and if
I may, pedestrian scientific acumen compared to me. They are
blind to what they have in you and have been stymied by what
they perceive is a psychological problem."
"Ain't you the cat's meow," Rogue spit out. "Focus of yoh
work, an' perceived as a problem?' Rogue said disbelievingly.
"Ah can't even begin ta control mah powers. An' you never
had me as one o' yoh ... lab rats." Rogue whispered the last
two words, her expression, full of uncertainty, and fear.
"The laboratory is an abhorrent place for the proper development
of mutant powers. For the most part, I allowed your powers
to flourish on their own. I only had to sit back and observe.
That is not to say that I didn't throw in an occasional variable
into the mix."
"When your bio-signature first registered on my mutant detection
device, it was most intriguing. But even I was unprepared
for what I was to find. I traveled to Caldecott County myself,
to see what new offering nature had bestowed upon the world."
Rogue had to consciously keep the horrified expression off
her face. The thought of Sinister studying her and possibly
playing an active role in her life, especially without her
knowledge was almost too terrifying to contemplate.
Sinister continued. "Evolution and adaptation are synonymous,
and who pray tell is more adaptable than you? Human genetics,
mutant genetics, alien genetics ... your mutant-borne capabilities
accommodate them all. Early on in your life, I examined and
recorded your baseline genome. Then with the implantation
of an innocuous and simple device, I was able to monitor even
the most diminutive changes in your genetic make-up during
and after each absorption episode. For instance, has any of
your more scientifically adept teammates studied what it was
that changed after you touched Carol Danvers -- or the Asgardian
Thor for that matter? (5) I've
made it part of my life study. Was it the number of genes,
the type, the arrangement ... what power or energy accompanied
the transfer? From you alone, Rogue, a single template for
seemingly any mutant power, I learned almost everything just
by simple comparison. And as far as your lack of control,
it has little to do with any shortcoming on your part."
"Now ah know yoh lyin'," Rogue said uncertainly. "Professor
Xavier, Hank, even mah Momma, believe it is a mental problem..."
her voice dropped to a whisper. "They think mah biological
parents -- how ah was treated, is the cause of mah lack of
control. An' you mean ta tell me that in all the time Ah was
with the X-Men ... all the times Hank examined me, he never
found this little bug ya supposedly put in me."
"My dear, I invented the techno-organic virus over half a
century before Henry McCoy took his first steps.(6)
The device mimics your own cellular structure and could not
be distinguished from your own tissue by anyone but me. And
as far as the implied abuse," Sinister waved his hand in a
dismissive manner. "Ah yes, the mantra of every modern mental
health professional. The root of all evil is child abuse,
begetting child abuse. A sadistic authoritarian parent, an
inciting event ... all very common themes to explain an adults
behavior in the present. But fortunately for you, that was
never the case." Sinister did not deign to elaborate further
on that subject.
"I shall explain your perceived problem -- or why your power
seems uncontrollable -- as simply as possible. The simplification
of my explanation is by no means a reflection of your own
"That's mighty considerate of ya," Rogue said sarcastically.
"Thank you, "Sinister answered equally sardonic, accepting
the false praise. "Have you ever seen examples of Kirlian
Yeah, Ah've seen it. That's where ya can see that strange
light come off ya skin ... an aura.
"Yes, a photographic process that involves the use of electrostatic
phenomena of certain objects. That is exactly the visual example
that I am trying to impart. Now imagine that your astral self,
your soul if you will, is slightly out of phase with your
physical body. While other mutants and human beings souls
are juxtaposed with their physical bodies; occupying the same
space at the same time, yours simply does not. This disassociation
between your corporeal and spiritual components is an undesirable
state, incomplete. This disparity between body and soul must
seek a means to rectify this imbalance ... an integration
of sorts. Physically touching another person in your case
actually brings you into contact with another person's soul.
In order to resolve your own internal division, your body
attempts to accommodate this new astral presence, by rearranging
your own genetic structure to match whoever you are in contact
with, making it essentially as simple as it sounds, more comfortable
by creating a familiar or identical environment. Memories,
experiences, and behavior are absorbed to do the same. The
end product is a temporary or permanent amalgam."
"But what about when others were able to control mah powers?
The Professor, Carol..."
"A legitimate question," Sinister returned. "The contact
by another mind or an astral presence either satisfies, or
deceives your body into believing that it is fully integrated.
This allows you physical contact without the usual side effects."
"An' if I were ta believe ya, the Professor, Hank an' Moira
don't know nothin' about me being ... 'out o' phase'?" Rogue
"Professor Xavier is the preeminent telepath of our time,
but even in his astral form, would not be able to detect your
dichotomy. Only the possession and manipulation of alien technology
allows me to observe this condition."
"An' Ah suppose ya could help me with mah condition?" Rogue
asked, not sounding terribly confident.
"Easily," Sinister said, assuredly.
"An' foh mah own edification, all the stuff with Cable ...
nothin' but a trick?" Rogue said disbelievingly.
"No, not entirely. He has been most certainly useful but
is just a means to a particular end. I never intended for
him to fight Apocalypse directly. The Askani nonsense that
he became embroiled in has been and still is a most useful
feint in my favor. But even you must admit, I do have a reputation
for being a bit of a clever fellow. Any weapon I might develop
would not be so inherently obvious. And I certainly would
not put all my eggs in one basket," Sinister said, an expression
of disdain on his face.
"An' what you did ta me a little while ago -- ya burned some
info inta mah head," an expression of concentration crossed
Rogue's face. "Ya want mah help against Apocalypse."
"Yes," Sinister answered. "The exact plans I've placed in
your mind will slowly become apparent to you over the next
hour or so."
"An if Ah don't help you? What're ya gonna do, threaten mah
mother again?" Rogue said, the resignation in her voice already
betraying her answer.
"Search your mind Rogue. I won't have to," Sinister said
with certain finality. A tesseract opened and he was gone.
"You're not gullible enough to believe him and will not help
him," Mystique commanded, regaining her power of speech. "I'll
find a way to protect you and myself."
"It's got nothin' ta do with what Ah believe or you Momma,"
Rogue said submissively. "He's got Remy, Momma, he's got Remy."
Continued in Chapter
Sabertooth - Death Hunt #3
X-Men Unlimited #4
Avengers Annual #10
Cable 1999 Annual
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