Mystique #16

Issue Date: 
August 2004
Story Title: 
Unnatural - part 3

Sean McKeever (writer), Manuel Garcia (penciler), Jay Leisten (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: 

Shortpack has been captured by a Dermafree guard but is saved by one of the mutant guinea pigs, a telepath who was awakened through contact with him. They wake the other mutants and Mystique joins them, with Shortpack mad at her for not having come earlier, because she wanted to destroy her embryos (which she failed to accomplish). They flee and hide the mutants in a safehouse after they’ve told Mystique and Shortpack of Viktor, who was responsible for their getting captured. In Stockholm Helena Carlsson decides to get proactive in her fight against Mystique and on their way to Prague Mystique and Shortpack are once again faced by Carlsson’s mutant twins. Mystique dispatches of them and leaves for Prague. There a mutant named Luc meets Viktor. Viktor though has mental powers and uses them to burrow into his mind.

Full Summary: 

Dermafree Laboratories, Salzburg, Austria.

The diminutive Shortpack has been caught by a guard, who is intent on crushing him in his fist. As Mystique doesn’t respond to his telepathic distress call, Shortpack resorts to biting his captor. Startled, the guard lets him go and Shortpack lands on one of the sleeping mutant guinea pigs. In doing so, he seems to make contact with her.

(the girl’s dreamscape)

The girl called Sasha is carefree here in a beautiful landscape playing tag with some other youngsters, among them Jura, the mutant boy who had tried to escape before. Suddenly, Sasha’s face distorts in pain. She asks the others if they can’t hear the screaming.


Shortpack runs while the guard fires at him, telling him he’ll kill him. Shortpack tries to reach the automatic door but it closes right before him. The guard intends to squash him with his foot like an ant. Helplessly, Shortpack is reduced to ranting not like this when suddenly the man freezes.

Behind him, the young woman has awakened and telepathically informs Shortpack that she did that. She introduces herself as Sasha and asks if he is with Viktor. He woke her with his psychic screaming. Are they in Austria or did she dream that? Shortpack tells her they are in Salzubrg and inquires after Viktor. Lifting him up, the girl informs him that she likes his mind. It feels like cotton.

A short while later, Mystique storms into the room, believing Shortpack to be in trouble. Instead, she finds him safe among all the mutant guinea pigs he and Sasha have awakened.

The mutants wonder what happened to the others. There used to be many more. They come to the conclusion that they were the unlucky ones… Mystique makes a lame apology to Shortpack, who isn’t buying it. He tells her Xavier wants them in Prague. That’s where these mutants were abducted and sold to Dermafree by a man named Viktor. Prague? What about the hard evidence of what Dermafree has done, Mystique protests. The kids have to do, he decides. Their priority is to close off the supply chain. Mystique protests. They are not going anywhere. She has to-- Is she joking? he asks. Is she saying, she wasn‘t busy destroying her precious genetic material while he was being crushed to death? She was about to help, she retorts. But she didn’t, he cuts her off. She only cares about helping herself and that’s a fact. He tries to reason that shutting down whoever’s behind this is more important than him and more important than her egocentric-- She reminds him that they are cloning her and killing the embryos just so humans can have soft supple skin. She doesn’t care about the embryos, he snaps, she only cares about –

Sasha interrupts them, warning them of guards. Mystique announces that their only way out is to go through them. Sasha has another suggestion. Jura can help them. Jura excretes acid from his hands and burns a hole into the wall, allowing tem to slip away.

Dermafree corporate headquarters, Stockholm, Sweden

6:25 [CET]

Security in Salzburg informs Dermafree CEO Helena Carlsson of the situation. The man adds that, while Mystique freed the test subjects, she left the embryonics room untouched. Carlsson ends the conversation with firing him. Her assistant wonders why Darkholme didn’t take her genetic samples. Carlsson reminds her that she is a mutant-rights activist. No surprise she would want to liberate those of her ilk. But she will return for her genetic offspring. Does she think she may go after Viktor, the assistant asks. Carlsson’s sure of it. They can’t afford to lose Viktor’s steady supply of mutants. Going back to testing on mice would tack on years and millions to research and development. It’s past time they became proactive.

Shortpack and Mystique have brought the mutants to a hotel and Shortpack warns Sasha they are to be careful and not leave the hotel or talk to anyone. Sasha wants to help and warns him of Viktor. He can make one’s mind go to sleep. Shortpack promises to be careful.

As they are driving, he apologizes to Mystique for snapping at her. He knows it’s a personally abusive thing they are doing to her. But he almost died n there and she… Mystique tells him to shh. She’s hearing something. A moment later, she orders him to hold on to something. It’s raining men. Indeed, the two mutant twins she fought at Dermatech before are being dropped from a plane. One of them lands on the car and Mystique is thrown out of it. Kill. Her. the men announce.

Mystique slowly gets up. Shifting to a particularly gruesome form, she tells them they picked the wrong girl to mess with The men hit her brutally. Mystique retaliates by becoming creative with her shifting. First, she hits one of them with a particularly muscular arm. She climbs a tree, develops a Nightcrawler-like appendage and a tail and grabs one of the men around the throat with it. They are mutants, she announces; how can they work for Carlsson? Do they even care?

The man dangles her from the tree for the other to catch her. Mystique twists around in his grip and has bones growths protrude from her body as she turns her face even uglier. As the man is momentarily started, she reaches for the electro shock device Forge had give her and turns it on him. Amazingly both brothers writhe in pain until they finally pass out.
What was it with the whole look back there, Shortpack inquires. Psychological edge thing, she explains. Why? He thought it was hot, didn’t he? Yeah, exactly, Shortpack replies sarcastically. Taking a look at their totaled car, Mystique announces that they need a new ride. Or they could just thumb it to Prague.

Prague, Czech republic

12:21 [CET]

A club. A scruffy-looking mutant who calls himself Luc is chatting with a white-haired pierced woman. Luc tells his story. How he was in jail, didn’t find a job and then came to Prague. He heard Viktor can find work for you. That depends on the sort of work you are willing to do, the woman states. Any kind of work, the man quickly tells her. He has a special gift and was told that they pay extra. The girl tells him not to waste anymore time. He is to come with her. They come to a heavy door guarded by two identical twins similar to the ones Mystique fought.

Behind the door sits Viktor, surrounded by two scantily-clad girls. Viktor wants to see the gift. Luc takes off his shirt and suddenly turns metallic and grows spikes. Viktor again demands to see him. Luc doesn’t understand. He is standing right in front of Viktor. That is not what he meant, Viktor replies. A gelatinous tentacle with fangs grows from his forehead, while more substantial thinner tentacles come from his body to tie up Luc. The first tentacle burrows itself into Luc’s forehead.

Meanwhile, in a hotel room, a pacing Shortpack and Xavier, in his astral form, are waiting impatiently. It’s been over two hours and Shortpack hasn’t heard a peep from her. What was her last message, Xavier asks. She said she was being taken to Viktor and then … nothing. Perhaps she is too preoccupied with her undercover role, Xavier suggests. Shortpack miserably replies that he thinks Viktor’s got her.

Characters Involved: 



Sasha, Jura and other mutant guinea pigs

Helena Carlson (CEO of Dermafree)

Carlson’s assistant

Security personnel of Dermafree


Viktor’s followers

As a psychic projection

Professor Xavier

Story Notes: 
Issue Information: 
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