Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rogue, in the days before the X-Men R.E.M. of ROM


I arrive at the home of Brock Jones, Clairton’s deputized super hero, the Torpedo. His recovery on the couch brings concerned family, friends, and a doctor, who listen to his demoralized account of an enemy materializing on the old Marks farm. Steve Jackson and his fiance, Brandy Clark, discuss the town’s vulnerability in wake of my apparent absence. I walk in then, reassuring all, aware of my imposing armored frame and glinting appearance---reminding me, while I am human at heart, a spaceknight stands as one apart.

I ask Brock to describe his foe, and from this and the location I begin to tell of Jimmy Marks, a youth who foreswore his humanity---“the crossbreed progeny of a human woman and a Dire Wraith.” A reporter named Mack Killburn---who’s followed the case of my existence since shortly after his co-worker was slain by the Wraiths---rescued the Torpedo after the attack. I welcome him to the fight.

Now I confess my culpability: human prisoners confused me into believing they were slaves, when in reality they had committed crimes against their fellow man. I mention the three super-powered beings also free in part due to my ignorance---but none are so deadly as Hybrid. With Torpedo injured, yet still bold nevertheless, I convince him I must face my enemy without him. Brandy asks me: must I do everything alone? I see myself in the mirror: no longer human, and no longer capable of becoming so. I tell her I accept solitude as my natural state. She seems oblivious to Steve’s feelings, his concern that he has lost her to me. But it must not be so. This eased my decision to leave Clairton in Torpedo’s safe keeping and take the fight to the Wraiths elsewhere in the world---indeed, it is necessary.

The convicts, however, fall prey to the might and cruelty of Hybrid before I arrive. What’s more, I become prey, myself, to Mystique’s ruse; as a shape-shifter, the blue-skinned woman can appear injured with ease, and seems to enjoy duplicity as her life-blood. This sets me up to be hit by Rogue, who is indeed powerful...yet I tell her: I sense no evil in her. She tries to laugh this off, continuing to fight me, ending up in my grip. She coyly jokes about contact with me---flirting, they call it---and then follows Mystique’s strategy of fake injury to lure me close enough to use a most unusual power. She declares me half-human, as revealed by the extrasensory sight of her partner Destiny, and seeks to steal my abilities through her vampiric kiss.

We are both shocked by the empathic moment between us. I feel her surprise, at my memories, my essence, my qualities: I am amazed to find the best of myself reflected in her. She partakes of my identity, and finds no powers for her mutant ability to steal. But her nature causes her to touch me personally in a way no other could, while I am clad in this cyborg planadium steel. Her recognition of my true self reassures me, she, too, in her untouchable state (for she cannot control said powers) has a heart and courage and a longing for connection. The agony I feel, with such emotions awakened in me, enrages me, for I tell her: I can never become human again! Yet I feel her attraction, at the same time, to the man inside this armor---to the man I can never again be. While Mystique and Destiny encircle me, however, Hybrid at last makes his move.

Rogue now changes her mind about the ambush, touched, I over hear, by goodness and nobility. That spiritual comfort comes as Hybrid’s mental attack assault me, damaging memory circuits and severing my mobility.
Mantlobot observation:
Hybrid’s assault comes on many levels---physical, mental, emotional. Touched by the crossbreed’s malevolent mind, the snow whips into a blinding frenzy around his cyborg circuitry screams under a psychic assault.

At this point, while Mystique presses the attack, Destiny at last glimpses the true fate in store, for the Sisterhood and all mutants: subjugation as breeders, mates for a new super-powered race spawned by Hybrid. They argue briefly about motives and prepare to flee. Rogue, however, defies characterization as an evil mutant, by her words and deeds. Mystique fears for her, while Destiny accepts that Hybrid must be vanquished.

The monster has me by the neck, and then slaps aside my Neutralizer, my one hope of stopping him. Rogue weighs some thoughts of her own before streaking to my side, slamming into Hybrid. She confronts him and his plans, but falls victim to his speed, and becomes sickened by his touch. At the same time, her own abilities absorb the horror’s power. She takes enough of his mind-shock power to free herself from his grip, but remains physically, violently sickened. So I go now to her side, lifting her chin in my palm to tell her: she has done enough. I have regained control of my cyborg circuitry, and now the horror shall answer to Rom.

Now Hybrid begins to toy with my emotions and thoughts as well: “You want Rogue, too!” He believes shattering the nobility of my cause will present doubts, and then, uses his shape-changing ability to become: my human self! The self lost forever, that half of my body stolen by the spaceknight Terminator, before he was destroyed, with it, by Galactus. Now his invasion of these very memory circuits brings Brandy before me, even as I prepare to neutralize him. How is it, then, Brandy Clark appears before me twice, supplicating my mercy and assuring me they are both real!

This, however, is the work of Mystique. Breaking that illusion invigorates me; I wade into Hybrid once more. This time, the Neutralizer setting will destroy Hybrid’s physical body. Its scream echoes into the snow blanketed hillside.

I turn and ask these three, who have aided me against this greatest of evils: how then do they claim to be evil? Destiny declares they are dedicated to mutantkind; it is humanity who sees them as evil, forcing their actions. My analyzer reveals they share a base humanity that should rally them to battle outside menaces as one with their planet. They should stand with their fellow man against the Dire Wraiths. Rogue keeps her silence, as Mystique accuses mankind of oppression that will keep their paths separated. But as for Rogue and I, we cannot help but wonder: with this rare thing we have shared, with this touch granted by her powers...will we, one day, cross paths again?

I believe we would both like that. Very much.

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