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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13


Written by Karen Bruce
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 2

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw-

For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.

He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair

For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Remy leBeau was a thief. He made no apologies for it, nor attempted to disguise his pride in his skill. Would a master painter be ashamed of a stroke of the brush, a poet a sonnet or a composer an arpeggio? If his team-mates suspected that he continued practising his own peculiar art, they said nothing. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement, because they couldn't have persuaded him to give up thievery. He would have left the team before then, because it extended to the marrow of his bones, the calcium which strengthened them and supported them. It was the breath in his lungs, the iron in his blood, the electric impulse in his nerves. It was *him*. Now, the high council had acknowledged his ultimate achievement, he thought with pleasure, the near-perfect heist of an original Monet from a somewhat unscrupulous art affondiciado's private collection by bestowing the title of Grand Master on him. The first ever and the last, some wit had remarked. He grinned, examining the thick gold ring he wore on his left hand as mark of his status. (When he had first seen it, Bobby had teasingly asked him who the special lady was. Remy had laughed - beautiful, elusive Lady Luck was the only mistress he considered worth pursuing seriously, courting her with each gift of stolen goods and chance he took.) Formed by two deep grooves that trisected the ring, the insignia of his home guild was carved into the soft metal. He appreciated the rationale behind the band - if a more junior thief was able to steal it, they deserved the title of Grand Master more than he did for being so careless. Still, the fame of such a position was enough to have earned him some interesting employment opportunities, he mused as he scanned his e-mail. Apparently innocent flirtation from various women to the casual observer, names like Sukey, Cynthia and Brandi masked a veritable who's-who of the criminal underworld, asking him to perform such diverse tasks as steal diamonds (too cliche, he decided, no style) or break into Interpol's files and 'correct certain misconceptions' (He rejected it out of hand - a Grand Master wasn't a janitor to clean up incautious messes). He clicked on a mail from a Carol, having not seen the name used before:

To: Macavity <[email protected]>

From: Carol <[email protected]>

Subject: What's new, pussycat?


Great news. I have tickets for the Valhalla concert. (Cost me a bomb, but it'll be worth it.) It's a new heavy-metal group that I hear is fabulous. So indie as to be almost top-secret. Unfortunately, their security is strict, so it doesn't look like I'll be doing any stage-diving this time. LOL. Are you interested in coming with me, Mac?


Disbelievingly, Remy reread the message. 'Carol' couldn't be asking him to . . . . He shook his head. He didn't deal with terrorists or provide codes to bypass a military installation's security, contrary to what 'she' seemed to believe. Clicking the reply button, he jotted off a quick response - friendly, casual, perfectly normal by e-mail standards - and sent it, secure in the knowledge that 'she' could never find anyone as skilled as him to do the job for 'her'. Successfully, at least. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans.

'Dieu. Guess I saved de world slightly differently t'day. . . .'

"You do know, sweetheart, that it is possible to detach yourself from that machine?" Jean Grey teased her husband as she stood behind him in the War Room. Scott Summers smiled sheepishly, his eyes fixed on the series of monitors that broadcast news reports from around the world twenty-four hours a day. In the midst of the minor and major tragedies and triumphs, a map of the globe hovered, punctuated with red and gold pricks of light. Latent and active alpha-class mutants. Occasionally, in the world's rotation, a green spark flared among the rest, indicating the rarest and most powerful kind of Homo Sapiens Superior - omega-class - who the Beast had ironically dubbed Homo Optimus.

"I'm sorry, Jeannie, but I can't . . . . Not now. Cerebro detected something that could have . . . potentially deleterious consequences for us all."

"Deleterious? You're becoming as bad as Hank," she moved closer to him, putting her arms around his waist and resting her head on his shoulder, "What's wrong?"

"Magneto. His biosignature has just flickered out of existence. One minute, he's there. . . . The next," he moved his hands apart, "Poof. He's gone."

Jean's forehead creased in concern, "Could he have learnt how to disguise his biosig?"

"Possibly," Cyclops sounded dubious, "And if he has, we have no way of keeping track of his movements. Damn. He could be anywhere from Antarctica to New York and we have no way of preempting him. SHIELD should be informed."

His flame-haired wife nodded her head in agreement, feeling the tenseness of the muscles in his shoulders and side. When Forge had developed a seemingly infallible way of keeping tabs on the Master of Magnetism via one of the most complicated mutant tracking systems on Earth, they had all been relieved, seeing it as the end of the cat and mouse game they had always played with him. Assisted by the sizable Mutant Underground, it was possible for them to monitor his forays into various cities and to ascertain his intentions. From Sħo Paulo to Stuttgard, eyes watched him, observed and remembered. Now, they were reduced again to following a trail of cheese into a certain trap and hoping that it would not snap shut. Jean sighed, feeling tears of disappointment prickle like tiny magnetic sparks in her eyes.

"I'll tell the others."

To: Carol <[email protected]>

From: Macavity <[email protected]>

Subject: Look at me, I'm Carol Dee . . . .

Sorry, cherie, but heavy-metal isn't my scene. Valhalla, especially, from what I've heard of them. I'm afraid I'll have to take a rain-check. Perhaps we can get together some other time?

The bafflement of Scotland Yard,


P.S. Shouldn't that be Sandra, belle? :)

The girl swore as she read the mail, turning from the monitor to the pile of papers on the rough-hewn, stone desk. Her clear, jade eyes were scored beneath by deep, dark circles, exhaustion eroding hollows in her beauty. She rested her heavy head against the cool marble, allowing her leaden lids to close as she thought. She had hoped leBeau would assist her in breaking Valhalla's network of security, as complicated and deadly as an electronic spider's web. The only grandmaster to date, he was notorious for his efficency and skill as much as his confidentiality. No matter. Trained by one of the best, she would and could do it on her own with more difficulty, but she would need a computer slightly more powerful than anything Magneto had available in his technologically primitive base.

'So much foh all the rumors 'bout his Shi'ar tech,' she thought disgustedly, 'This stuff's more Stone Age than Space Age. Else he's hidden it somewhere where no-one'd be able ta find it . . . . Suspicious sonuva. . . . Now, who apart from Bill Gates'd have a computer that was sufficently powerful ta do more'n play Pong?'

Drumming her fingers against the desktop, the girl ran through a list of possible facilities, rejecting each of them as too low-tech or too secure to be successfully infiltrated. Her eyes searched the room, hoping for inspiration from a stone, a drapery or . . . she paused . . . a shield.

"Gawd. O'course."

Her limp body, blue and pinched-lipped with cold. Golden hair, floating around her face like the tendrils of some sea-monster, like sea-weed. Chest essaying breathing, but failing as the gasps became lighter. The camera focussed on her mercilessly, sparing the shocked audience no detail of the picture. The chic newscaster had no need to say that, if she survived, she would probably be brain-dead. Suddenly, time stopped - the lips of the stylish woman stopped moving, the victim's lungs were caught midbreath, the ambulance's sirens were silenced - and moved backwards absurdly - her body was returned to the deep like a flawed pearl and the paramedics walked away from the tragedy. A calloused, hairy hand touched the screen, trying to feel beyond the cool glass. The other was poised on a remote control, endlessly rewinding and playing a cycle of pain.


"She's beautiful, isn't she?" Henry McCoy ran his furred hand down the smooth glass that seperated him from the holding pen below. In the middle of the blue steel floor, a seemingly amorphous sac of skin pulsated, veins thrumming in time to some unhearable tune. Two eyes, engulfed in flesh as she blinked, were the only sign that the being might be sentient.

"Guessso. Might taste fingerlickinggood," the grotesquerie, standing next to him in the laboratory, responded. His four arms endlessly fiddled with the tools on the worktable, while his tongue darted out of his swollen face to snatch the occasional bug and rat.

"Sugarman, her value far exceeds the nutrional," McCoy said in exasperation, "Candide here can act as a psionic filter, blocking out the mass of petty thoughts, desires and emotions that govern so many humans, sifting the wheat from the chaff as it were. Consequently, our dearest Preceptor - relatively feeble psion that he is - can function on the level of an Omega Class telepath."

"Sooperdooper," sarcasm laced the other's voice, "What's in this for me, DarkBeast? In other words, giveme a reason I shouldn'tkillyou."

McCoy snarled at the use of the hated nickname. He had always considered it demeaning, insulting to his significant intellect and culture. The Dark Beast was someone who crawled in the dust on all fours, who hunted prey and lapped water at streams. McCoy was someone who could splice genes and play Wagner on the piano. A man of culture and brilliance. Realizing, however, that the Sugarman had intended to provoke him, he forced himself to remain composed.

"Simplicity, obesity . . . . If you thought beyond the next meal, you might realize that the ability to perceive the most private contemplations of all but the most powerful psions would be somewhat useful."

The Sugarman's grin grew broader, revealing yellowed stumps of teeth. Piggy eyes, almost lost in a pocket of flesh, were filled with greedy speculation and suddenly keen intelligence.

"Did I mention," McCoy said smoothly, "That she also tells me when an assosciate plans to double-cross me?"

Extending his four hands, the other laughed nervously, turning towards the energy weapon that McCoy was holding. Devastating, despite its size, it could have easily removed small armies, let alone the other's bulbous head from his shoulders.

"You wouldn't do that to an oldpal, wouldyou?"

The Dark Beast grinned, relishing the upper-hand before holstering it, "I would, but you are unfortunately a vital component of my plan."

"How?" he scowled.

"You'll see."

Tenderly, Mystique pulled a rough, woollen blanket over her daughter's wiry shoulders. The girl's head was resting on a heap of files, streaked chestnut hair flowing down them like a fall of silk. Asleep, the flush of her cheek and the half-smile on her lips lent her the look of a fevered child. Besides her, a screen indicated that a file had been uploaded into SHIELD's extensive data-banks as well as those of sundry other international government facilities. Curiously, Mystique typed in a command for the computer to recall the last sent file. Next to columns of personal information, the face of a lovely, young red-head appeared on the screen. Her grey eyes, luminous in her pale face, lessened her similarity to the sleeping girl, but did not disguise it completely. The header identified her as an Yvonne Montgomery, while the rest of the information indicated that she was an expert on terrorism and that she worked for the Western European Security Trust. Mystique grinned appreciatively - that was typical of her daughter's sense of humor, half-a-truth disguising an absolute lie. Still, Rogue had been sloppy in places, giving information about 'Montgomery' that a somewhat inefficient government agency, such as WEST, would never know. Of course, the child couldn't be blamed - Raven had trained her to assume that all security forces were as lean and deadly as she was, that they could see through any chink in a cover story as if it were cellophane over a gift. She called up the file and quickly altered aspects of it, moulding it into something more plausible. She gave 'Montgomery' a few minor vices, blotted the exemplary academic record with the inability to do calculus, omitted all but the most obvious of personal information. Finally, satisfied with her handy-work, Mystique sent it via Magneto's satellites into the same computer systems where it appeared to have existed for years. She would tell her daughter the next day of the changes, she decided, loath to wake her. Together, she thought, they would practise every gesture and inflection until they became Rogue's own. Until she was more Yvonne Montgomery than herself. Raven smiled, anticipating once more the forging of a weapon.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no-one like Macavity,

There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.

He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:

At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!


* The two verses quoted are from Eliot's 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cat's. Once more, quoting them doesn't mean I own them.


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