Mystique #9

Issue Date: 
February 2004
Story Title: 
Tinker, Tailor, Mutant, Spy - part 3

Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Michael Ryan (penciler), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wooton (letterer), Matt Milla (colorist), Joseph Mike Mayhew (cover), Cory Sedlmeier (editor), Mike Marts (supervising editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Shortpack is in a panic, wondering what has happened to Mystique. She drags herself to the hotel room, shortly thereafter suffering from a rare form of encephalitis as a result of being infected by the Host. Shortpack tracks the woman, who is on her way to the airport with the deadly smallpox virus. This time taking her virus shield watch, Mystique steals a motorbike, follows and catches up with her. The two women get into a knockout, drag-down battle, which is decided in Mystique’s favor when a Toyota crashes into the Host. Mystique takes the virus and leaves. As a cop tries to help the Host, she revives and steals their car, inadvertently learning where Mystique lives. She is at the hotel before Mystique, takes Shortpack hostage and demands Mystique hand over the virus.

Full Summary: 

Gold Reef City Hotel 1:46 Am [SAST]

The diminutive telepathic mutant, Shortpack, is out of his mind worrying. Telepathically, he contacts the “switchboard.” The Professor has to know that he needs an X-traction team immediately. His agent was on an assignment to retrieve a virus that’ll make SARS look like a running nose. And she’s been mind silent for over—He protests that he doesn’t think Mystique went AWOL. He’s sure she’s in trouble. Desperately, he mutters to himself that this is like Prudence in Moscow. Why do these things always happen on his watch?

A voice tells him to relax. Mama’s home. Mystique drags herself in, looking like hell, her body involuntarily morphing between different forms. She explains that her body has a hard time maintaining one shape when it’s fighting off infection. What kind of infection, the young man asks, worriedly. Does she look like a doctor? she shoots back. Shortpack tells her, as she lies down on the bed, that Forge installed a medical scanner on his laptop. Uh-oh, he mutters a moment later. According to the scanner she has a sever case of Murray Valley Encephalitis. Which doesn’t make sense. It’s a mosquito-borne disease that has never been seen outside Australia.

Well, it sure wasn’t a mosquito that attacked her, she jokes and then explains that she was attacked by a crazy mutant chick calling herself “the Host,” filled with more diseases than a Vietnamese call girl. She had already murdered Dr Taylor by the time Mystique showed up and stole his bio-weapon after she put the whammy on her. The good news is that Mystique managed to tag her with her tracking doohickey before she passed out. Shortpack just needs to tell her where she’s hiding and Mystique will get the virus back.

Shortpack protests. Is she delirious? Oh yes, she probably is, because that’s one of the dozens of symptoms of the illness she has contracted. If she doesn’t stay in bed for the next few weeks, she could end up in a coma. And if she doesn’t find that plague-peddler, she could wipe out half the population of South Africa, she replies. Not that a little population control would be entirely bad… Besides she’s getting stronger and faster every second. She’s a fast healer. No, Shortpack points out. Wolverine is a fast healer. She can’t even hold a solid form. Mystque repeats that she want the coordinates… bub, as she changes into Wolverine’s shape.

Fine, Shortpack concedes. Just because she nailed Wolvie’s voice, too. But she has to be less stupid this time and she mustn’t forget to take the biometric shield watch Forge designed for her. It’ll give her three minutes of protection. Two minutes and fifty-nine seconds longer than she needs to punch her face in, Mystique grimly promises. Let’s hope she runs better than she lies, Shortpack quips, as he tries to track the Host’s homing beacon. He swears a moment later and tells Mystique that she’s in a car on the R24 heading out of the city. She’s taking the virus to the airport…

A few moments later, Mystique, in the shape of a lovely, young, black woman, runs outside shouting for a taxi. When a young man on a motorbike offers her a ride, Mystique knocks him out and takes the bike. Has she found a cab yet, Shortpack asks telepathically. More or less, she replies. With Shortpack guiding her, Mystique drives at breakneck speed. She drives off a turnpike and lands straight on the black BMW of her intended target. The Host cries out, tries to brake her out-of-control car and crashes. The airbag appears, protecting her while Mystique finally brings her bike to a standstill and activates the shield watch.

‘Oh you again,’ the Host states contemptuously. Mystique grabs her and tells her she hates being sick. After the Host coughs at her, Mystique punches the other woman and tells her to get a new gimmick. She gloats that she has a hi-tech sneeze guard, so the other woman’s lame ability to control germs is more useless than her car now. The Host angrily replies that she doesn’t control anything. She communicates with viruses and give a voice to the voiceless. Viruses grow… adapt; they are just like them. The doctors who try to eradicate them are no better than the butchers who once hoped to exterminate their kind. She takes out the box with the virus and states that she will not let this strain of smallpox perish like its predecessor. She intends to share it with the world.

Mystique attacks but the Host quickly kicks her in the stomach, adding that she doesn’t need germs to stop Mystique. Her power also makes her incredibly robust. She tears the bender from her car and announces that she’ll have to beat Mystique to death now. Mystique cleverly points out that then the poor viruses in her blood will suffer. The Host concedes the point and draws the viruses out of her, thus healing Mystique of her encephalitis. As she announces that she’s immune to everything, Mystique as asks ‘even Toyotas?’

While the Host looks at her puzzled, a Toyota crashes into her. The driver is horrified and a blue-skinned woman telling him that he has done his good deed for the day doesn’t help. Frightened, he drive away.

Shortpack contacts Mystique and she tells him that everything is okay. Mystique drags the Host off the road, grabs the box with the smallpox virus and walks off as the police closes in.

Seeing the injured woman lying on the street, one of the policemen runs to her side, despite his colleague’s warning. The Host coughs at him, doing something to his eyes. She takes his gun, shoots the other cop and sits down in their car. At that moment, a transmission comes in and dispatch announces that that the car should come to the Gold Reef Hotel. Somebody near that building complained that he was assaulted by a woman, who stole his motorbike.

Later, Mystique has finally made it back to the hotel. As she enters the room, she calls out an apology for being late. After she wrecked her bike, she had to hoof it. Why doesn’t Shortpack order some champagne, while she takes a bath. In the bathroom, however, she is already expected by the Host, who holds Shortpack hostage and orders her to hand over the virus or say good-bye to her friend.

Characters Involved: 

Mystique/ Raven Darkholme


The Host


Toyota driver

Two cops

Story Notes: 

SARS, short for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome” is a viral respiratory illness caused by a corona virus, called SARS-associated corona virus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained.

Murray Valley Encephalitis: A severe form of Encephalitis that exists mainly in Australia and is transmitted via Mosquito bites.

Prudence, Shortpack’s previous agent, died in Mystique #1.

Issue Information: 
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