Mystique #18

Issue Date: 
October 2004
Story Title: 
Unnatural - part 5

Sean McKeever (writer), Manuel Garcia (penciler), Raul Fernandez (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Matt Milla (colorist), Mike Mayhew (cover artist), Cory Sedlmeier ( Editor), Mike Marts (Supervising editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Mystique and Shortpack learn that the guinea pigs they freed have been recaptured and, in an attempt to save them, Mystique, along with Luc and Tanya as diversion, attack them. Mystique, however, has other plans, as she still wants to get her clones, and disobeys orders when she has a chance to face Carlson personally. Carlson tells her that the guinea pigs are dead and refuses to tell her from where she obtained Mystique’s genetic material. In response, Mystique horribly disfigures her, before saving Luc and Tanya. Back at the hotel, Mystique and Shortpack are left with no proof, until Sasha turns up and explains how they tricked their captors. The mutants alert the police and the media, and Interpol pays DermaFree a visit. Mystique slips into the cloning department, but decides against destroying the clones. Shortpack leaves for Genosha, asking Xavier to be reassigned. Helena Carlson contacts the real Helmut Stein, who promises to help her in the fight against mutants.

Full Summary: 

Salzburg, Austria; 10:44 PM:

As Mystique rushes up several flights of stairs, she swears that, after this mission, she is never going to climb another flight of stairs again. Holding onto an outgrowth of her shoulder, Shortpack tells her not to play cute, as though nothing happened. She killed Viktor, who could have cinched the case against DermaFree’s mutant testing practices. Not to mention she disobeyed a direct –

Did he get anything from Sasha yet, she interrupts him. No, but he only has a short-term range with unfamiliar minds, he begins to explain, as Mystique opens the door to the room where they left the escaped DermaFree guinea pigs. It’s trashed and the youngsters are gone, obviously kidnapped by DermaFree. Mystique tells Shortpack she’ll go on the hunt, while he stays and coordinates operations like a good little field handler. He refuses and insists on coming with her. After the self-absorbed garbage she’s pulled on this mission, he couldn’t possibly trust her with saving those mutants. Tough, Mystique retorts, an angry expression on her face.

The DermaFree agents, dressed in police uniforms, are driving away with the mutants. The telepath, Sasha, has been sedated. Where are they taking them, one of the other mutants asks. This is not the way to DermaFree.

Outside DermaFree laboratories, Mystique, on a tree, watches the building through a pair of Infrared goggles. She informs Shortpack that there’s lots of firepower and she figures the mutants are in there. Either way, it’s their only lead. She regrets she didn’t grab one of those Mystique detectors earlier. She could have sent it to Forge and have him make a blocker from a waffle iron or something. It’s not like Forge could have gotten it back to them quick enough anyway, Shortpack reminds her. She knows. She’s just thinking out loud. Something catches her attention and she jumps down.

Elsewhere, in a forest, the mutants are lined up hands against their heads. The DermaFree agent tells them to line up over there or they’ll get a bullet. Aren’t they just going to kill them anyway? one of the boys mocks. Good point, the agent replies and tells them to stop. Pointing behind his back at some freshly dug holes, he tells them to pick out their graves.

DermaFree Laboratories. Helena Carlson tells her assistant that she has heard from Prague: Viktor was stabbed to death. Isn’t she worried Mystique will come for her next, the assistant asks. Worry is for the weak, Helena scoffs and she safeguards.

A security guard enters and announces that he’s received word: the mutants have been eliminated. Helena smiles. Loose ends neatly tied and a virtual army to protect them and their work. Just as she is about to announce that they are in the clear, there is an explosive noise from outside and the building shakes. Luc and Tanya, two of Viktor’s former prisoners, are fighting the DermaFree guard in their armored shapes shouting ‘free our mutant brothers!’

More guards enter the fray, while the guard from before leads Carlson and her assistant to her car. Taking on the shape of a soldier, Mystique sees her and changes her plan. She’s got unfinished business with that exquisite witch, she announces to Shortpack, who angrily reminds her of the missions. She needs ten minutes tops, she announces, and ignores him.

As the guard drives Carlson’s limo away, he sees a policeman standing in the middle of the road, waving at them. Carlson orders him to keep moving but the guard stops, opens the window and asks what is amiss. His answer is a blow to the face and Mystique crashes through the car window and attacks Carlson, who tells her that she is too late: the guinea pigs are already dead. Like she cares, Mystique spits back. She wants to know who sold her Mystique’s genetic material. She’ll never give her that satisfaction, Carlson smirks. She’d sooner die. Tch, so pretty, Mystique exclaims, as she touches Carlson’s face. Grabbing her knife, she tells her to hold still…

Having finished, she informs Shortpack that Carlson had the kids killed. Shortpack is clearly horrified and orders her to pull Luc and Tanya out. Mystique refuses. First, she’s going to destroy her clones. There’s no time for that, Shortpack shouts. Those two aren’t going to last out there. And he’s right, as the DermaFree guards slowly begin to gain the upper hand.
They volunteered for this, Mystique ‘shouts’ at Shortpack. She has other stuff to worry about. ‘My God… She’s a monster,’ Shortpack exclaims.

Luc and Victor finally fall and the guards intend to execute them on the spot. Suddenly, a guard identical to the one that intended to drive Carslon away joins them, calling the would-be shooter an idiot. Have they never heard of a decoy? At the very moment, the shapeshifter is inside the complex. He sends them away, promising that he’ll take care of those two. With the others gone, his eye begin to glow yellow.<?>

3:18 [CET]

Luc and Tanya are fast asleep in the trashed hotel room. In the room next to them, Shortpack asks how they are going to explain this to Xavier. A dozen innocent mutants are dead. The mutant merchant is dead and they don’t have a shred of evidence to give to anyone, be it the cops, the news media or even Geraldo. But she did save four mutants in Prague, Mystique reminds him, and then she saved Luc and Tanya again. A completely selfless act, as she really should have been laying waste to that clone factory. She’s never going to have another chance to slip in there now. Shortpack shakes his head in exasperation. As much as she can change, she’ll never really change, will she? Poor Sasha, he mutters.
‘Excuse me,’ a voice from outside asks, ‘did somebody say my name?’ Sasha is floating outside.

(flashback to one hour ago)

As the DermaFree guards are getting ready to shoot the mutants, suddenly the commander isn’t moving and Sasha, who had been feigning unconsciousness, gives the telepathic signal. The mutants attack and one of them informs DermaFree on the walkie talkie that the mutants are dead.


Sasha tells Mystique and Shortpack that they beat them up, took their cars, guns and left them naked. So, now do they get to talk to the press?

Some time later, the news about Dermafree’s crimes break and an Interpol team, along with the mutants, is sent to DermaFree to investigate the allegations. Sasha is to lead them to the room where the mutants where kept. Carlson’s assistant shows them in – it’s a daycare room. Sasha insist that this was a terrible room with wires. She points to a painted wall. This is where they broke out, she exclaims. The agents look at her doubtfully. Suddenly, Jura uses his powers to secrete acid to strip the paint from the wall. Behind it there is what was clearly a very quickly covered up hole. Carlson’s assistant is at a loss for words and the Interpol agents move closer threateningly.

In the luggage compartment of a plane, Shortpack is having a telepathic chat with Charles Xavier, explaining there’s just enough physical evidence to warrant a full probe, maybe a trial, and then it’s Interpol versus DermaFree’s great big wall of lawyers. They probably won’t even get a slap on the wrist. Xavier agrees but points out that, with the scrutiny law enforcement and media have placed on them, DermaFree aren’t about to test their wares on mutants ever again. This’ll also send a signal to other corporations to think twice about using mutants as lab rats. Or maybe give them ideas, Shortpack replies cynically. This doesn’t feel like justice to him. Then how does he think Mystique feels with her personal stake, Xavier asks. Shortpack explains he’d rather talk face to face with him. That’s why he ‘s coming to Genosha. He’d like to be reassigned. He can’t work with Mystique anymore.

One Interpol agent slips into the clone department of DermaFree and changes back into Mystique. Seeing her cloned embryos, she grabs a steel chair, ready to smash the tanks. After a hesitant look at the tanks, she tosses the chair away. She seems to wonder what to do, then smiles grimly.

Stockholm, Sweden, … several days later, a very high-class restaurant, where Helena Carlson is meeting the real Helmut Stein. Stein tells her he’s been following her corporation’s legal situation with great interest. It’s an important battle in the war against mutants. They are… unnatural, an aberration. Acceptance is growing and this evil path society is on must be stopped. He takes her hand and assures her if DermaFree should come into bankruptcy in the course of these proceedings… he has powerful friends who will gladly take up her cause and fund her company’s defense.

Helena takes off her sunglasses and moves away her scarf. Her right eye is blinded and the entire right side of her face is horribly scarred. These friends of his, she ventures, she would very much like to meet them.

Characters Involved: 



Luc, Tanya

Jura, Ralph, Sasha and other former DermaFree guinea pigs

Helena Carlson (CEO of DermaFree)

Carlson’s (still unnamed after four issues) assistant

Security personnel of DermaFree

Helmut Stein

as astral image

Professor Xavier

Story Notes: 

Mystique pretended to be Stein, a wealthy German mutant-hater in issue #14.

Issue Information: 
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