Mystique #17

Issue Date: 
September 2004
Story Title: 
Unnatural - part 4

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: 

Four amnesiac mutants awake in a cell, prisoners of Viktor, wondering who they are and what they are doing here. Their captor, Viktor, in the meantime, makes a deal with a customer, who is looking for a slave. As Viktor intends to sell him one of the mutants, the customer turns into Mystique and stabs him in the back. Viktor fights Mystique but, with the help of the prisoners, she wins and drags him away. Shortpack, who believed Mystique to a prisoner of Viktor’s, intends to come rescue her. Instead, he finds that Mystique has killed Viktor against Xavier’s express orders. Elsewhere, Helen Carlson orders the escaped guinea pigs to be found and killed and, thanks to their carelessness, the youngsters are indeed caught by the police.

Full Summary: 

Prague, Czech Republic, three hours ago:

In a hotel room, Mystique, Shortpack and the astral form of Charles Xavier are gathered. Xavier assures Mystique that he was not aware of Dermafree breeding and destroying clones of Mystique for their miracle skin cure. He was not only unaware of this but he also plans to find out how they came to possess her genetic material in the first place.

Less than convinced, Mystique asks if she can now go after the jerk who’s selling mutants as guinea pigs to Dermafree. Shortpack chimes in, explaining that the mutants they rescued in Austria told him about this Viktor. He’s a kind of powerful hypnotist. They all suffered from temporary amnesia shortly after meeting him. So she shouldn’t go rushing in. She wasn’t born last night, or even last century, she snaps back, so she really doesn’t need to be babied.

Xavier tells her to do what she needs to do. But no killing, he stresses. Self-defense or not, she is already responsible for the deaths of Dermafree’s mutant-twin enforcers and he will not have her… Shortpack told on her? she protests. Are they in grade school now? Calling her a psycho, Shortpack shouts that he is doing his job, which is more than he can say for -

With his astral form growing big, Xavier “shouts” at them to stop it. He hasn’t the time for this. He assures Mystique that Viktor will pay for his crimes, but not at her hand. Do they understand each other?


The young man named Luc awakes from darkness to be greeted by two similar-looking young blondes, who ask him if he speaks Czech. In poor Czech, he tries to be charming and the girls help him up and ask how he got here. Does he know who he is? No, he admits. Great, that makes four of them, one of the girl announces and points at the last prisoner: a dark haired woman crouching in the corner.

Shortpack leaves the hotel over the protests of Xavier, who claims that this is foolhardy. Mystique has been mindsilent for hours, Shortpack explains. That means she is either an amnesiac captive of Viktor or dead. And he’s not losing another agent. It’s unacceptable. He can’t keep blaming himself for Prudence’s death, Xavier tells him. He was her field handler. He was responsible, Shortpack insists, and now he’s responsible for Mystique. Muttering that he wished he’d have taken Forge up on that spare jetpack offer, he uses a grappler gun to hook up a line to a driving car. Wearing inline skates, he now has found himself a means of transport as the car pulls him.

In the meantime, the four amnesiacs are still trying to figure things out. When did he come here? Luc asks in bad Czech. No idea, one of the blondes replies. They’ve only been awake an hour or so. The other blonde announces that the dark haired woman has been here the longest. But she doesn’t really like to speak, and she only seems to speak English, which they don’t understand. But she seems to be as helpless as they are. No memories. If not for the mirror, they wouldn’t even know they are sisters. At least they think they are. Who placed them here? Luc wonders, as he touches the full-length mirror. Who is he?

On the other side of the one-way-mirror window, Viktor asks an overweight, middle-aged man if he sees anything he likes. They are very… pricey, the customer points out. They are all mutants, Viktor explains. They are at a premium theses days. He’s out of stock on regular humans at the moment. He doesn’t care if it is human or mutant, the customer states. He just wants a servant and these mutants are nearly adults, yes? He wants a servant who is more open to training and obedience… more submissive.

He has ways of making them more pliable to his needs, Viktor offers. For a reasonable additional fee, he can reformat them like a hard drive. He is a beautiful businessman, the customer replies.


Her assistant greets the recently arrived Helena Carlson and announces that their recovery team has picked up the brothers a short while ago, just north of Linz. What about their missing guinea pigs? Carlson demands. Dermafree’s investigators believe that they are still in Salzburg, hiding somewhere, so they are combing the city for signs of them. The woman continues that Mystique is headed for Prague. Perhaps Viktor… He’s a loose end now, Carlson decides. Same as these mutants. Let Mystique deal with Viktor. If she doesn’t kill him, Dermafree will. They can always get another dealer. As for the mutants, find them, have them taken somewhere remote and execute them.

Shortpack makes a rough landing, as he arrives in front of Viktor’s club. Now he just has to step inside and… Looking at the dancing crowd, he mutters that he should have thought that through…

Inside the cell, the prisoners still wonder why they are here. Are they criminals? Luc mutters something in English and the brunette comes alive. Relieved, she asks him if he knows why they are here and who they are. As he says ‘no,’ she starts crying and he tries to comfort her. She can’t shake the feeling that they are all supposed to be cattle, she confides. The blondes ask what she is saying. Badly translating, Luc announces that they are cows. The girls angrily lunge at him.

As they touch each other, they suddenly shout out. A moment later, they have merged, having become one grotesque being with two heads and four arms. A side effect is that they now remember. Calling each other ‘Vanessa’ and ‘Markita,’ they explain that they are mutant sisters who can merge into a single body. They came to the club to be hired as dancers. Then the owner, Viktor—

They suddenly scream, as Viktor walks in, stunning them. Clearly, those two come as a set, he explains to his customer. Fine and good, the other man announces, because he chooses the least assertive, the brunette. Sold, Viktor agrees and grabs her by the neck with his tentacles. Luc tries to defend her and Viktor easily grabs him as well. Like scooping fish from a tank, he states. “The way they struggle, it’s almost as if they’re actually people, isn’t it, Viktor,” the customer asks.

Viktor suddenly moans in agony, finding that he has a knife in the back. The customer turns into Mystique. “Backstabber!” he shouts. Calling him a ridiculous goth-wannabe hypocrite, she asks what sort of worthless mutant he is. Who says he is a mutant, Viktor asks. Maybe he is God.

Mystique hits him, while Luc, armoring up attacks, Viktor from behind, trying to help. Viktor once more captures him with the tentacles, as well as Mystique. Suddenly, the brunette exclaims let her go. Energy bursts from her body, hitting and actually hurting Viktor. Free again, Mystique grabs the knife and drags Viktor out, telling him it’s time to finish what she started.

A little later, Shortpack finally has made his way into the club via an airshaft and has found Mystique. He thought she was dead, he exclaims, as she brings him closer to her face. She had no idea what it was like to get here: stupid ravers… it’s like Bugs Bunny running through an anvil storm. So was she hypnotized by that Viktor guy? Because, all of a sudden, she went mind-silent. No, he didn’t get her, Mystique replies. She just got sick of listening to Shortpack, so she tuned him out. Unexpectedly, Shortpack hits Mystique, calling her selfish and thoughtless. She just saved four mutants from that megalomaniacal scumbag, she announces, as she dangles him from her hand. What did she do with Viktor, he asks.

Within the cell, the brunette, in a metallic form, slowly returns to human. Luc asks her if she‘s ok and introduces himself. She is Tanya from Ohio, she tells him. Suddenly, they hear the shout “Mystique.” Following the source of the scream, they find Mystique looking sullen and Shortpack angrily asking, “What did you do?” as he stands next to the dead Viktor, who is impaled on his throne.

Salzburg, 10.13 am [CET]

The hotel where the freed Dermafree guinea pigs are staying. They are getting nervous from being cooped up all the time. Jura wonders where Mystique and Shortpack are. Shouldn’t they be back by now? What if they never hear from them again? Another boy named Ralf, who’s munching on a bag of chips, asks Sasha to please stop translating everything for them mentally. He’d much rather listen to unintelligible gibberish than Jura’s relentless whining.

Sasha tells him to make the best of the situation. Remember the alternative. At least as lab rats they were hooked up in ignorant bliss to Sasha’s mind, Ralf whines. Jura suddenly notices the chips and asks where he got them. Ralf went out, didn’t he? Only for a moment, he tells the other boy, and it was late at night. Sasha alerts everybody. They have to leave. They’ve been compromised. Before they can move, a heavily armed policetroop kicks in the door and orders them to stop.

Characters Involved: 


Professor Xavier


Luc, Markita, Tanya, Vanessa

Jura, Ralph, Sasha and other former Dermafree guinea pigs

Helena Carlson (CEO of Dermafree)

Carlson’s assistant

Security personnel of Dermafree

Story Notes: 

Prudence, Shortpack’s previous agent, was murdered in #1.

Issue Information: 
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