Mystique #15

Issue Date: 
July 2004
Story Title: 
Unnatural - part 2

Sean McKeever (writer), Manuel Garcia (penciler), Raul Fernandez (inker), Virtual Calligraphy’s Russ Wooton (letterer), Matt Milla (colorist), Mike Mayhew (cover artist), Cory Sedlmeier ( Editor), Mike Marts (Consulting editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

After Mystique beats the Dermatech guards, she and Shortpack meet at their rendezvous point and escape. However, she’s visibly shaken and demands to speak to Xavier. When the Professor appears in his astral form, she accuses him of not having told her everything. He doesn’t understand what she means and she is unwilling to talk about it. Shortpack tells the Professor that the proof they had downloaded was destroyed in their battle, but they do know that the mutant guinea pigs are held in the Austrian lab. Xavier decides that their priority is to free the mutants, then, if they can, they are to gain hard evidence. Helena Carlson, in the meantime, has recovered and orders her people to alert the Salzburg lab: Mystique is coming. On the train to Salzburg, Mystique reveals what shocked her so. She learned that Dermatech’s miracle cures are based on using stem cells. Stem cells, which are harvested from cloned embryos of Mystique. Somehow, they got hands on her genetic material. In Salzburg, looking at a bakery she remembers from her childhood, she is joined by Shepard, who claims he is worried about her and asks her not to go. She has to, she explains, as there re mutant lives in danger. Mystique tries to infiltrate Dermatech as a guard and, predictably, is caught. However, inside, Shortpack, who was hidden inside her abdomen, attacks and takes out the guards. They split up. Shortpack finds the imprisoned mutants and urges her to join him, but Mystique is insistent on finishing that cloning business first. While they are still arguing, Shortpack is caught by a guard.

Full Summary: 

Dermafree Corporate Headquarters, Stockholm, Sweden:

A security guard kicks in the door to a conference room, finding the woozy CEO Helena Carlson within. Is she all right? he inquires agitated. Getting up, she announces that she’s here. Mystique.

Shortpack, Mystique’s diminutive fieldhandler, has made his way from the air duct to the corporate building’s roof. Wow, I’m outta shape, he mutters and then telepathically tells Mystique that he has made it to the rendezvous point. Can she read him? Where is she?

Still in Carlson’s office, duking it out with identical twins on steroids, as it turns out. While she deftly delivers a kick to both their faces, she informs Shortpack that she’s only a few floors away. The hard drive has been copied, so she’ll be there as son as she finishes with— A fist connects with her face. Stay down , the twins inform her in stereo. And if she refuses? she smirks.

A moment later, she crashes through a glass window, landing several stories below in the recreation area. She has hardly gotten up when the twins jump down as well. She just doesn’t have time for this, she declares annoyed.

A moment later both twins are on their knees cradling their aching private parts as Mystique runs away in search of an elevator. No such luck. You have got to be kidding me, she declares, as she sees the sign, pointing to the stairs.

I am so out of shape, she announces some time later, having finally made it to the roof, to rendezvous with Shortpack. Is she ok, he asks. She forcefully orders him to stow it. She’s not in the mood to be analyzed.

At that moment, security catches up with them. The two guards aim their guns at them. I have always loved you, Shortpack sends at one of them. The two men look at each other confused. What did he just say, one of them asks the other. As they start to argue over who said what, Mystique, changing her arms to glider wings, jumps from the roof.

So do they celebrate their victory with a Smorgasbrod now, Shortpack suggests No, Mystique curtly replies. She wants to talk to Xavier.

A safehouse outside Stockholm, 5:37 PM[CET]

Mystique points an accusatory finger at Xavier’s astral form. He knew, didn’t he?
He suspected Dermafree was testing their procedures on mutants, Xavier begins. She interrupts. That’s not what she’s talking about. He knows how they make their “miracle cure.” He is a mind reader, Charles replies, but she knows that he can’t read her mind. She has to spell it out for him. So he doesn’t know, she states. That’s what he’s telling her.

He has no idea what she’s talking about, he assures her and adds that he’s quite busy. She tosses a milk canister at his astral form, calling him a liar and silently swearing before she walks away. Shortpack and Xavier are puzzled. Shortpack tells Xavier that Forge’s hard drive copier got busted up in Mystique’s fight, so now they are without any evidence, but they know that they are testing on abducted mutants at Dermafree’s Austrian lab. Then freeing them is their top priority. Free the mutants first, then worry about gathering additional hard evidence. And Shortpack should talk to her.

Later on the train to Austria, Shortpack tries just that. What does he know about embryonic stem cells, Mystique asks. Umm, they are used in medical science and the powers that be aren’t exactly fond of them, Shortpack ventures. Mystique explains that stem cells are unspecialized cells. They are useful because you can turn them into just about any kind of cell you need. There are a few ways to make stem cells, but the best ones occur naturally in embryos. They are the most sought-after. However, to harvest an embryonic stem cell, you’re essentially obliterating the embryo.

So she’s pro-life now? Shortpack asks, because he finds that somewhat difficult to—
Shifting to her true form, Mystique rhetorically asks if he knows how Dermafree are suddenly able to cure all those skin disorders. They can do that because they fuse human eggs with her skin cells. Those embryos they are destroying to make the cure, they’re – they’re her.

Back at Dermafree, Stockholm, Helena Carlson surveys the damage caused by Mystique, announcing that this is a mess. They have to assume that Raven Darkholme knows everything, she tells her assistant. No doubt she’s on her way to Vienna, where her hybrid clones are bred. She’ll want to sabotage the operations there and destroy everything with her genetic stamp on it. How are the boys, she suddenly asks. On ice, the other woman replies. They’ll be okay, but not so hot right now. Fair enough, Helena decides and tells her to contact Salzburg. They are to be prepared for Mystique’s arrival.

Outside Salzburg, Austria, 2:44 PM [CET]

In the guise of a young dark-haired woman, Mystique stares almost greedily at the pastry displayed in the shop window of a bakery. She notices a young dark-haired girl beside her having the same look. She tells the child “hello” in German, when suddenly a voice announces “Hi yourself.” It’s Shepard.

She doesn’t have an answer for him yet, she says almost defensively. He didn’t think she would, he replies. He knows what’s going on at Dermafree and what she’s found out, he tells her as he touches her shoulder. Oh, and he’s here to be there for her? she scoffs. Is that wrong, he asks. It was just a kiss, she tells him impatiently and shakes off his hand. He doesn’t have to hold her hand, whisper sweet nothings or give her a dressing drawer at his pace, ok?

They just stare at each other silently for a moment, then Mystique tells him that she used to come to that shop all the time when she was a girl. She loved it and can’t believe it’s still here. She confides that Xavier either doesn’t know about her connection to Dermafree or he’s playing her. And there’s nothing in Dermafree’s files about how they came to possess samples of her skin.

Moving closer to her, Shepard offers to look into it. But what is she going to do? Make like Rambo and bust the mutant guinea pigs out of the lab? They know she’s coming and they can see through her disguises, it’s impossible. He urges her not to do it. Mutants are dying, she replies. She has to try. He tells her he figured it’d be a waste of time to try and convince her. Opening the shop door, he offers to buy her a Toblerone.

Dermafree Laboratories, 11:20 [CET]

One guard moves to join the others outside, asking whether they think she will show or are they doomed to boredom. The others train their weapons on him, ordering Do not move, Mystique. As two of them lead her inside, she offers to give each of them a kiss as their favorite movie star, if they let her go, no?

She is led to a holding cell and put into shackles. Another man tells her he has been looking forward to her arrival. Those shackles were built to detain changelings such as herself. They respond to any changes in volume and density. There will be no escape for her. With a sadistic look, he tells her that Miss Carlson sends her regards and thanks. She is sure to profit exponentially after Dermafree’s scientists dissect her.

Suddenly, Mystique violently spasms and moans as something starts to visibly move in her stomach. The next moment, in a less bloody approximation of the Alien “chest-bursting scene,” an armed Shortpack (equipped with a jetpack) breaks free from her stomach and shoots the men. He thanks Mystique, telling her he always wanted to do that. She’s no John Hurt, though. But he is exactly like an H.R.Giger painting, she snaps back. Is he going to get her out of the shackles now? He proceeds to do so, adding that he misses fieldwork.

Mystique suggests splitting up. She’s going to look for the mutants, whose lives they came to save, right, he asks. Of course, she replies. Moments later Shortpack looks through a glass door and exclaims holy…

Playing chameleon, Mystique more or less blends in with the wall, as two guards pass her who are discussing the upcoming David Hasselhof concert. She finally reaches a part of the building,where the word “Klonen” (German for cloning) is displayed in big letters. You sure gotta love their subtlety, she thinks.

Shortpack telepathically calls her. She brushes him off, telling him she’s busy. Well, get un-busy he tells her. He has found the mutants: he looks at a long row of hospital beds with sleeping people, whose heads are attached to some strange machinery. He describes the scene to her.

Reaching for the lever to open the door to the clone lab, Mystique tells him she’ll be there as soon as she can. She has to take care of something first. Impatiently, he reminds her of the mission, but she refuses to talk with him anymore. Suddenly, Shortpack is grabbed by a guard.

Characters Involved: 


Professor Xavier


Helena Carlson (CEO of Dermafree)

Carlson’s assistant

Security personnel of Dermafree

An Austrian girl


Story Notes: 

Thanks to the Knight Rider and Baywatch nostalgia, David Hasselhof is probably bigger in parts of Europe than he is in the USA.

In the movie ‘Alien,’ the alien creature burst out of John Hurt’s chest.

The Alien was designed by H.R. Giger, a Swiss artist with a penchant for the macabre and the truly disturbing.

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