Antonio Maceo airport, Santiago de Cuba, 1:15 PM, CDT:
The situation is tense as the driver, Marco, threatens Mystique with a weapon. “She’s a criminal?” the diminutive mutant Shortpack, who’s standing on Mystique’s outstretched palm, asks incredulously. Well, not in every country, she replies sarcastically. She’s sure she’s smoothed things over pretty well in Mauritania.
Marcos interrupts, still training his weapon on her. He informs Shortpack that this new agent Xavier sent him to babysit is an ex-terrorist. She prefers “recovering freedom fighter,” Raven informs him. Marcos tells her that if she drops Shortpack, he might consider turning her over to the authorities alive. His reward will be the same either way. Shortpack calmly reason with Marcos, reminding him of how loyal he always used to be to their kind. Mystique thinks at the small telepath, mentally asking him why he doesn’t shut up and grow instead. His pal seems reluctant to harm him and she could use a human shield here. He can’t change his size, he telepathically replies. He’s a short-range telepath, not Giant-Man.
Taking this bit of news in, Mystique closes and raises her fists, feints with the left one and then punches Marcos in the face with the right fist, still holding the protesting Shortpack. “You know what they say, it’s not the size… it’s how you use it,” she quips. Should she dump him in the fire lane, she asks her still angry fieldhandler. He suggests she leave the unconscious man. He might have told others about her, so they’ll have to consider this car compromised. They’ll head to his safehouse on foot. Mystique examines Marcos’ gun and states contemptuously that she knew it: the gun isn’t even loaded” Shortpack wouldn’t happen to carry any spare rounds, would he?
Suddenly, a Cuban policeman addresses her. His gun trained on the strange blue woman, he orders her to step out of the car with her hands up. “Here we go,” she sighs and puts Shortpack into one of her belts pouches, apologizing for the lousy accommodations. It’s ok, he assures her. Compared to how he got smuggled into Cuba, this will be like riding first class.
Impatiently, the Cuban tells her he’s serious and that he will shoot her if she doesn’t open the door right--. She opens the door with gusto, hitting the officer right in the side. As he lies on the ground in pain, she follows this up with a kick. Copying the man’s look, Mystique says to nobody in particular that the last time she was in this rathole of a country was in ’73 and it hasn’t changed one bit. God, she hates Cuba…
She tells Shortpack to hang on; this is one of those “usually works in the movies” kind of stunts. She stops a car on the street, telling the driver that she (or more accurately he) needs to commandeer his vehicle. She thanks the surprised man and gets behind the wheel. Shortpack tells her telepathically that the country isn’t really that bad. Beautiful weather, universal healthcare, one hundred percent literacy rate and the people are remarkably helpful when they aren’t training guns on you. If this place is so heavenly, she shoots back sarcastically, then what the hell is she doing here?
Motel Diaz, Santiago de Cuba, 3:45, CDT:
With the blinds lowered, Mystique, back in her true form, stares out curiously. Shortpack, standing on a nightstand next to a laptop, complains that the Professor mentioned a checkered past but didn’t tell him she was a terrorist. Please, that word is so overused she retorts. She utilized force to help oppressed people, freaks like her and him. Plus, the French revolutionaries who coined the term “terrorist” meant it as a heroic label. Well, if she really wants to sell people on her wacky theories of morality, it’s never good to involve the French, Shortpack states. She’d rather be called a terrorist than “Shortpack,” she retorts. Hey, it’s a brilliant name, he protests. It’s what collectors call the rarest, most valuable action figure in a series. Unlike other kids in his class, he started shrinking when puberty set in. If it weren’t for the exercises Professor X had taught him, he’d probably be microscopic by now.
Mystique interrupts his story rudely, telling him to fast forward past the secret origin garbage and get down to business. Ok, Shortpackl agrees and then points to his Powerpoint presentation. He reminds her that Steinbeck, who killed her predecessor, bought Soviet era Sentinels and sold them to the Cubans. Shortpack’s source believes that the person who has purchased these mutant-killing things is the man on the screen: General Luis Diosvil. So she’s supposed to impersonate “el beardo,” infiltrate the hideout with the robots and nuke it; piece of cake, she interrupts. “
Slow down Smurfette,” he tells her. She needs to find the general first. They don’t know where he and his Sentinels are stationed, but they do know the general moonlights with the Brigada de Respuesta Rápida, the “Rapid Response Brigade” – military brutes in civilian attire who dissuade dissidents from protesting… with clubs. Recently, Cuban mutant have started disappearing. Rumor is that they are being kidnapped by the government to be used in experiments. Probably connected with the Sentinels. So, a bunch of the missing mutants’ human relatives are planning a demonstration for later today and General Diosvil will undoubtedly be there to squash it. “Not if he’s too busy looking at this,” Mystique replies and shows him her newest shape: a gorgeous curvy Cuban woman in a skimpy dress that might as well be sprayed on.
Nervously, Shortpack asks if this isn’t a little.excessive. She can be seductive without being practically naked. Clearly enjoying his embarrassment, she lets him in on a secret: her clothes are an extension of her body. She is always naked. That’ s cool, he stammers and changes the subject, telling her that she’ll find her sidearm in the drawler. Mystique admires the gun, asking what ammo it takes. Only tranquilizers, he explains. These things never work, Raven protests. Shortpack reminds her of Xavier’s rules: non-lethal armament only. And what difference does it make? It’s not like she can hide a weapon in that outfit. She’ll just have to shapeshift a pouch for it behind her stomach, she explains – and does so. Men like a girl with bit of a tummy.
Shortpack warns her that she is on her own from now on. He’ll be waiting for her at the rendezvous point if and when she pulls this off. He asks her to be careful. He’s already lost one operative on this caper…
Town Square Santiago de Cuba, 5:01 PM, CDT
Standing somewhat away from the crowd, Mystique watches the peaceful protest. One of the protesters introduces himself as Lazaro Rivera and shows pictures of his young sister, Evangelina. She’s a mutant but not a monster he calls out. They believe that the government abducted her.
Suddenly, Mystique is shoved aside by nobody else but the general himself, armed with a club and in civilian clothes. He is followed by likeminded individuals who are intent on breaking up the demonstration The general orders the protesters to return to their homes. When Lazaro protests that they are within their rights holding this protest, Diosvil brutally punches him in the stomach and the fighting starts. God, she really hates this country, Mystique mutters as she shifts from her current seductive shape into that of an over-muscular man.
Diosvil is still beating up Rivera, when suddenly someone taps his shoulder, telling him he hits like a girl. This is how a man hits, Mystique tells him as she belts him. She turns to Rivera and tells him to take his people and run. They comply.
Mystique shifts back into the beautiful young woman and helps Diosvil up. She introduces herself as a fellow patriot and tells him admiringly that she saw how bravely he defended himself against those traitors. Standing close to him, she asks if he s injured and if she can do anything to assist his recovery. Diosvil tells her that he has room nearby and asks if she would mind escorting him there. It would be her pleasure, she replies, smiling.
Two blocks north, 5:45 PM, CDT:
Mystique languidly stretches herself on the bed. She and Diosvil are already sharing a drink. So is he a military man, she asks. He commends her on her excellent eye… which complements the rest of her features. What gave him away? His voice, his posture, his physique, she replies. He wouldn’t have his other outfit here, she asks seductively. She could never resist a man in uniform. Well, then they’re both in luck, he replies and gets his uniform out of the closet. A general, she purrs. Where is he stationed? He notices that she’s asking a lot of question without even having told him her name. As he turns around he finds that she has trained her gun on him. He knew it, he snarls. She is part of Lazaro’s gang. She’s just a concerned citizen, she replies. Diosvil grabs a lamp behind him and lashes out at her knocking the gun from her hand. He’s on her the next moment, telling her that he doesn’t believe that the female is the deadlier of the species.
Well, for one thing women aren’t dumb enough to keep their naughty bits on the outside, she retorts and kicks him in the unmentionables. She grabs he gun again and asks where she can find the Sentinels. He feigns ignorance first and then tells her that she doesn’t have the guts to pull the trigger. Oh, she isn’t going to shoot him, she threatens; she’ll gouge out his eyeballs with her fingernails. She uses her powers to shape the finger of her left hand into impossibly long sharp claws. The threat works. He tells her that they are stored beneath an airplane hangar in Bayamo close to the cathedral, but she can’t--. That’s enough, she tells him. He’s dismissed. But he thought she wasn’t going to shoot him, he protests feebly. She’s not, she replies with a grin. It’s a tranquilizer gun. It’s just supposed to knock people out. She hits him with the butt of the gun. “What do you know… it works.”
Five minutes later, someone looking exactly like General Diosvil leaves the building and drives away in a jeep unaware that “he” is being watched and followed.
Classified Military installation, Bayamo, Cuba, 7:15 PM, CDT:
Mystique arrives at the installation and is respectfully greeted by the guards, who nevertheless demand an ID test. Voiceprint and retinal scan are on hundred percent matches and she is allowed to pass. Is the soldier sure he wouldn’t like a blood sample, she asks in good humour. The soldier laughs at the joke and replies; knowing Central Command it will probably be required next week. The general is allowed to proceed to the lower level.
Four minutes later, one hundred feet below, another soldier greets Diosvil, but cannot hide his surprise. He thought the general was leading a brigade this evening. Addressing the man as major, Mystique tells him that the uprising has been quelled. Major? The man protests. He’s only a captain. Well, he came by to announce his promotion, Mystique quickly replies. His work on the Sentinel project has been exemplary. How are things progressing?
The Captain tells him to see for himself. Mystique takes a look at the red and golden giant robots, which look nothing like the American version. Per the general orders, they’ve removed the hammers, sickles and other embarrassing trappings of the former Soviet Empire, the new “major” informs Mystique. They’ll be ready for launch within the hour the man continues. Before the night is over, the greatest threat to Cuba’s peace will be annihilated. He has no idea how right he is, the “General” assures him, reaching for the gun. Suddenly, a guard storms down, telling them that there has been a security breach. Intruders shot their way past the front gate. The man falls down, shot in the back.
The intruders are the afternoon’s protesters, led by Lazaro Rivera, who has his gun trained on the person he believes to be General Diosvil. His sister is one of the mutants Diosvil kidnapped, Lazaro states grimly. All of the brave people with him have lost relatives because of Diosvil and his people. For that, he and his soldiers are going to die.