Emma Frost, dressed in the black outfit given to her by Osborn, looks around herself critically. Sunken buildings, sharks and other sea creatures. This is what’s inside his mind? Atlantis. Well that’s commendable. But why the mad fish?
An angry Namor swims towards her. He didn’t say--! He told her she could look inside his mind, not--! Not look inside his mind! she corrects with a smile. She’s only here to find the answer to her question. That is what he said she could do.
She swims inside a grotto over his protests. Inside are three doors with the words Attack, Negotiate and Sue.
Emma figures these are his strategies for coping with the surface world. Odd. She never imagined he’d be one for legal action. She tries to budge the door labeled Sue. There are some really odd sounds coming from behind that one too…. Finally, she realizes what this is about.
She turns around, informing him she can usually just breeze right into rooms like that. Most men would be quite roguish about letting her see in there. They would only pretend to be embarrassed. But nobody else has his willpower, do they, or his sense of propriety?
Somewhat flattered, he speaks her name. To address the question that brought her in here, he is increasingly wondering why he did answer her call to join these “X-Men.” Uh-m, Emma replies, distracted. Does she see a door over there with Namora on it? Emma, he warns her. Why did she call for him? His face almost touches hers. Because she was among enemies, Emma replies. She wanted someone at her side with impeccable ethics. Someone honorable… a friend.
A friend! he repeats Well, he’s been meaning to say… he finds some of her friends lacking. Those mutants are an ungainly bunch. Children, fools, cowards who seem to be oppressing themselves.
Right, she decides, let’s see what they can find down there about mutants. She dives down, again ignoring his protest.
So it’s not all Atlantis down there, she finds. What the word mutant meant to him… She sees the X-Men and other mutants, horrible monstrous distortions. Accusingly, she turns around to him. He came to help her while still feeling like that about mutants! About her people! Emma turns to her diamond form. Her people in whose service she left the side of the man who foolishly loves her. And betrayed him. For whom she joined the company of people who are not fit to share the planet with most everyday human beings.. That is how he, her most trusted ally, her friend, feels – feels about her?!
Emma turns back human again and shrugs. She’s joking. Of course, she wouldn’t dream of judging him on the basis of his unconscious. It’s beyond his control after all. But she knows now, doesn’t she? When she goes and looks for the answer to her question—why he joined the X-Men when she asked him to – she’s going to find it’s because he wants her. And that’s all. She almost looks sad as she states that.
Without a word, Namor drags her deeper downward. When she questioningly calls his name, he orders her to be silent. They reach the ground before a cave. He feels… he knows the answer to her question is in here. He doesn’t know what it is. He’s going to see. She may do as she wishes. He swims ahead. Emma follows carefully.
Both are surprised at what they see. A kaleidoscope of memories from Namor’s past: Fighting the Hulk, the Thing, Nazis, Attuma and more… tender moments with the Invisible Woman and Namora… Battling alongside the Invaders and the Defenders….Allying with Doom… being discovered by the Human Torch… Being a king of his people. It’s me, Namor realizes.
It’s all over the place and it’s gorgeous, Emma agrees. So, no surprises there. All the different facets, Namor muses. Rather impressive, if he does say so himself, he decides with a smile. And there’s the newest just starting to grow. Emma shows him another facet. Namor fighting alongside her X-Men. The darkness of how he feels about the word “mutant” is only his own uncertainty about being one. About whether he can explore the unknown safely.
As she well knew, Namor realizes, when she goaded him into dashing down here. She wanted him to find the answer to her question, Emma explains. He came to them to learn more about who he really is. She knows him so well!
He tenderly cups her chin. Nowhere near well enough, he boasts. If she could see what he sees within her… Himself, diamond Emma retorts as she puts her finger on his lips. In all sorts of ways, he replies, kissing it. They look at each other silently for a moment. Emma returns to her human form. They should…
They should, he stresses with a smile. They should go, Emma finishes her sentence. Ah, he states. As they leave, Emma asks him to tell her about Namora. He vaguely recognizes that name…
A soldier tells the story, accompanied by the film on a laptop:
He – Wolverine, that is- came out of nowhere. They were responding to a call by the local authorities when he just showed up and cut the soldiers to pieces. And he’s still inside? another man asks. Yes, comes the reply. Holding an undetermined number of hostages. He has teams standing by for an assault. They can move in from the roof and…
No, the other speaker decides. He goes in alone. But sir! the soldier sputters, he can’t be serious. This is Wolverine they are talking about. A grade-a-red level threat! Yes, dear boy, Norman Osborn replies. And what do you think I am?
Alone, Norman Osborn enters the bar guests looking at him nervously as he walks towards Wolverine who is sitting at the counter.
Nice bit of playacting out there, Norman announces. You certainly fooled my men. Take a hike, bub, comes the reply. “Bub,” Norman muses. Nice touch. He didn’t come here to play pantomime though. His time is the most precious commodity known to man. You waste it at your peril. Again Wolverine tells him to get out before he’ll carve him up like a turkey. Raven, Osborn replies, you are making me angry.
“Wolverine” shifts into Spider-Man. Is this better? He knows a brothel in Dubai that would pay handsomely to add a shape-shifter to their harem of drug-addled sex slaves. Shall he give them a call? Norman asks. Only if he wants to have every bone below his waist snapped like a dried up old twig, comes the reply. Take that face off, Norman snarls, or he guarantees one of them will die here tonight. “Spidey” holds his gaze. Both turn away. Boy, he really has it bad for that guy, huh? Mystique observes a she shifts to her regular form.
What the hell does he want? Many things, he replies, taking a bottle, all of which he shall soon have. The question is what does she want? He bets he can guess. Wolverine gutted her, left her in the middle of the desert to die. Didn’t he? How did she get out of that? He doesn’t want to know, comes the curt reply.
He doesn’t actually, Norman agrees. He’s just being polite. He’s wasting his time, Raven warns him. Whatever it is he’s selling, she isn’t interested. Yes, he agrees, sipping at his drink. She’s doing just fine without his help, isn’t she? That’s why she’s hiding in a bar with a ridiculously poor selection of scotch, surrounded by his agents. How did this whole mess get started anyway?
Mystique shoots around in a city, is chased by a corridor of police cars…
She got bored, is all she tells Osborn. He can help with that, comes the reply. He’s putting his own team of X-Men together. He wants her on it. She plays along, he will give her Wolverine. Yeah, right, she snorts and turns around.
Her hostages are getting restless. The bikers have drawn their weapons. She isn’t Wolverine, one of them snarls accusingly. He must be the genius of the bunch, Mystique snaps back. C’mon then. When he attacks, she quickly snaps several of his bones. Next! she tells the others.
Osborn sips his drink while she takes care of the others. With that done, he tells her she can cripple every biker in the world. It still won’t give her a shot at Wolverine. Neither will he, she shoots back. Nice chatting with him though. She grabs a gun. Where does she think she’s going? Right out the front door. Does she know how many men he has outside? Not enough, she assures him.
So he guesses that’s a no then on his offer. She suggests he go to hell. That’s too bad. The others will be very disappointed, especially Daken. He was looking forward to introducing them. She did know Wolverine had a son, right?
Mystique stops and shakes his hand. Glad they could come to an agreement. This doesn’t mean he owns her, Mystique warns him. Don’t think that for a second. Wouldn’t dream of it. And no way is she sleeping with him! Furthest thing from his mind, he assures her.
So what’s her role on the team? They’ll have to talk bout that in the car, comes the reply. They walk outside.
One more thing, she adds. He would have needed more men. Hundreds of soldiers, tanks and helicopters surround the bar.
My name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. And I’m not crazy is what Jeanne-Marie, dressed in a stylish but conservative business suit thinks, sitting in the office of her therapist.
She is fine, she assures him somewhat stammering. She’s working again. She made some friends at church. And she took up water colors. He knows: normal.
I don’t drink. I don’t curse. I manage the family sports brand. Some nights I babysit for the neighbors. True, I can fly at Mach-50 without effort and emit regenerative energy when I touch my brother, but… mostly that’s behind me.
And the episodes? the therapist asks. They are gone, she quickly assures him. She is gone.
Excellent, he assures her and takes out a gadget from a box. He’d like to run one further test, with her permission. It’s a new type of EEG. It’ll let them monitor her neural activity, just to be on the safe side. Hesitatingly, she agrees as he attaches the crown-like device to her head.
A shock runs through her and she moans. Your patient, the therapist tells a newcomer who gives him an envelope. Your money, the newcomer replies.
Said newcomer introduces himself as Norman Osborn to Jeanne-Marie. Sitting down, he explains that the device is a thalamizer. Its primary function is to identify the centers of activity in your parietal cortex and – by means of inverse induction – to negate them. Which is to say, it blocks your consciousness. He puts a briefcase in front of him. Now, in most cases that’ll cause an amusing state of bewilderment and bowel dysfunction. In hers the effect is a little grander.
Suddenly, the briefcase is lying down and its content, a costume, is outside. She’s noticed the costume? Good. Consider it a gift, he tells her. All he wants in return is a few second of her precious… time.
Before he can finish the sentence the costume is gone, Jeanne-Marie’s clothes are strewn about the room (including a bra on Osborn’s head) and he holds a note in his hand: OUT FRONT – BE QUICK!
He walks outside where he is expected.
Let’s start again, shall we? My name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier and I’m crazy as sin. I have two distinct and diametrically opposing personalities and the one thing we agree on – me and the Virgin Mary you met before is that two is one too many.
Took your time, grandpa, Aurora, now dressed in the costume – a red and white variant of her original Alpha Flight outfit – and still wearing the thalamizer – tells Osborn. He wants to—Recruit her for this, she continues, holding an envelope saying HAMMER Project #0V42: X-Men. What’s in it for her? She throws the papers about. Sitting on the car of the therapist, the unconscious man next to her, his money strewn about. And bear in mind, she adds, she’s already emptied his pockets and thieved his gun. Plus, sorry, Armadillo hair doesn’t do it for her. Let’s step into his office, Osborn suggests.
Later, inside the HAMMER heli-carrier, Aurora is still babbling about her other personality. You know how long since she dated? she complains. Three years! And even that was a §&%$ choir singer. No tongues allowed. It’s like being stuck in the brain of Mother Theresa. Say, has this thing got a bar?
Osborn tries to speak but before he can reply she’s already found it and mixed herself a drink. Anyway, now she’s in $&$& therapy, Aurora barely gets a look in.
Again Osborn tries to speak and Aurora continues. And it’s not like she’s Miss Limelight anyway. Even when she does get something right, who gets the kudos? Big bro and his pink vote pr. “Gay hero joins the X-Men!” It’s pathetic!
Enough! Osborn shouts. He didn’t let her out of her cage to prattle like a beauty salon moron. Shut up and sit down! Surprisingly she obeys and sips her drink.
Now, Osborn continues, as she’s seen he has the means to insure Jeanne-Marie never takes the reins again. For that she owes him. And as for her brother –as for the old X-Men… He doesn’t believe they’ll be stealing the glory much longer.
Aurora smiles. He talks a good talk, but here’s the thing: She’s spent long enough looking in the mirror to know crazy when she sees it. His gizmo can fix her, sure, thanks a million, but she’d be kinda dumb to start taking orders from someone still broken, doesn’t he think? She gets up. So she’s grateful for the chat. It was really cathartic. But the rest of it: no thanks.
Perhaps she didn’t understand, he replies. He’s Norman Osborn. He gets what he wants. He presses a red button on a device around his wrist and suddenly Aurora screams in pain and writhes on the ground. Trying to take the thalamizer off will only make it worse, he warns her. He did warn her, he reminds her. Primary function he said. She never asked what else it does. For instance identifying the part of one’s postcentral gyrus - that’s where one’s pain lives – which her second personality uses the most, then nuking them.
He’s told it’s like being flayed by ice. Hell of an image. An any rate, she can’t just sidestep to Ego #1, can she, ‘cause poor Mother Theresa s still blocked.
Soldiers enter. So there’s really nothing to do, he continues, but go with these nice men to meet her new team. And start learning a little respect. Oh, she’s a proud woman, he knows. She doesn’t want to feel like she’s caved in too easy. So he’ll give her a minute or two before switching off. His little treat. Just try not to ruin the carpet, huh?
Upholstery is the least of his concerns, she replies, suddenly standing again. But how…? he gasps surprised. Personality number three, comes the reply.
My name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. I like fine wines, horse riding and casual ultra-violence.
She takes out several men and hits Osborn. Then she moans as the device adjusts to her new brain pattern. When she moans again, Osborn orders the rest of the soldiers to exterminate her. Enter number four.
My name is Jeanne Marie Beaubier. I’m a weekend Goth, occasionally self-harm and have an inexplicable aversion to shellfish.
Again the device adjusts. Numero cinq comes.
J’aime les activiteés sportif, la photographie et la paleontologie amateur.
Number six likes opera, gardening, creationist literature, lucky number seven, likes graffiti, mild S&M, gambling.
Isn’t so lucky, Osborn tells her as he hits her himself.
He should know better, she reminds him. Making new versions of herself was the first trick she ever learned. Also the last, he tells her as he takes out the gun. She moans again. He holds the gun to her head. So what’s so &%$& special about number eight?
She’s reckless, Jeanne-Marie replies a she shoves his gun aside before it can go off. The pain hits her again but her fingers crawl to the thalamizer until she can take it off. And she’s a committed masochist, she tells him triumphantly.
She puts the thalamizer onto him. Norman goes crazy, shouting The spider. The spider! The goblin king on dusted throne declares a fair of blood and bone!
Jeanne Marie calmly gets dressed, finally has mercy and switches off the device. Thanks for his generous job offer, but she doesn’t see eye to eye with the major shareholder.
My name is Jeanne-Marie Beaubier. I may b a little crazy after all. But it could be worse.