Hey, Alara . . so, I was going through some old files, and I stumbled across
some long-abandoned unfinished thing . .

I don't have any idea what I was thinking at the time-- some vague mind
control thing, it seems. I just like it for the last line. Anyway, thought
I'd send it to you. For posterity, y'know? ;)


"For Goddess' sake, Loren, do not pout. There will be others games."

The teasing in Omari's voice is clear as the beaten jeep pulls into the long
driveway. Loren's growl reverberates softly in his ear.


The jeep shudders to a stop and Omari laughs, tossing his white mane in the
wind. "You heard me, my friend. You should have seen your face when
Henrietta revealed her royal flush. You were positively crestfallen."

"Was not," he hears, mumbled behind him as the two walk into the darkened
mansion. He smiles and presses on.

"You know," he continues mercilessly, "you really should work on your poker
face. I believe you could-"

Loren's hand wraps around Omari's forearm, jerking him roughly back against
the wall.

"Loren, I was merely jes-"

"Shh. I hear somethin'."

Omari straightens, immediately serious. "What is it?"

Loren tilts her head back, shaking it slightly so that the long black hair
falls back behind her ear, and listens intently. "Sounds like . . ." she
trails off, looking bemused.


"Sounds like Ride of The Valkyries."

Loren croutches down low, silently heading toward the distant sound. Omari,
still confused, draws a wind to keep him afloat, making him as soundless as
his companion.

Loren's ears lead them toward the kitchen. She stops just outside the door,
and sniffs. "It's Carly," she whispers, "and somethin' else." Sniffs again.
"Baby oil. And mango."

"Loren, that is nonsense. Why would . . " Omari's eyes widen in
realization, and he laughs. "Very funny. Oh, Goddess, Loren, I believed
you. Really, my friend, you are much too serious about a silly poker ga-"

>From behind the kitchen door, a loud crash shakes the room, accompanied by a
high-pitched screech. In an instant, the two are through the door, their
senses greeted by several perceptions at once.

Ride of the Valkyries, for one, which is indeed coming from a transistor
radio propped on the kitchen counter. The scent of tropical fruit, for
another, is overpowering. Thirdly, is the sight of Dr. Carolyn Xavier,
world's foremost mutant specialist and psychologist, struggling to climb
again to the table top from whence she had apparently fallen only seconds
ago, using her cane as leverage. Naked.

Well, almost naked. Atop her head rests what must've once been a lampshade,
but now, with the addition of two ice cream cones on either side, had been
transformed into a makeshift Viking helmet. The elmer's glue runs gooily
down the orange taffeta side.

Dr. Xavier, despite her impairment, manages to once again reach the height of
the table, where she spreads her arms in jubilant triumph. Then she notices
her pupils.

"My X-Factor, to me! The Merry Wife of Windsor awaits to set sail, and there
is much to loot and plunder, and little time! Hurry! To the sea!!" She is
then carried away by a tune, "By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea!
You and I, you and I, Oh how happy we'll be . . .", and begins to move in a
crude imitation of the Dirty Bird.

Omari does not move from his spot in the doorway. "Carolyn . . ? Are you .
. well?"

But the doctor remains oblivious.

"Carolyn," he starts again, to get her attention, but stops. He sees several
somethings lying open on the counter. Walking over and picking one of them
up, he sighs. "I believe I know what the problem is, Loren. See here."

He hands the bottle to Loren, and, though she could smell it the moment she
burst through the door, she reads the label: Jack Daniels, 1982. She lifts
it to her nose and sniffs it. Sure enough, Dr. Xavier's scent is on it,
along with something else. Something the dark-haired woman can't place.

"I don't like this, 'Mari."

"Well, neither do I, my friend, but--"

"S'not what I mean. There's somethin' fishy about this. Have you ever seen
Carly *touch* a drink? She won't even let us bring th' stuff in the house."

"Perhaps, Loren, but Carolyn has suffered greatly in these last few weeks.
She has been manipulated and violated; I believe that we may undestand the
addition of a vice."

Loren looks back at Dr. Xavier, then at her friend, then back down at the
bottle in her hand. A soft growl escapes her.

"I don't like it."

"Hurrah, my X-Factor, hurrah! They've patched the hole; we may set sail at
once! To the Merry Wife!!" Dr. Xavier gives a final "hurrah!" and leaps
from the table. She might've broken her already infirm leg had not Omari
supported her on an easily summoned updraft.

"Aha! Now you've got the idea! Swiftly, to the ship! Those bloody Romans
have already left the harbor!!"

He lowers the doctor gently to the ground and says, "Carolyn, perhaps you
should sit- AAAUGH!!" Omari falls to his knees under the telepathic assault.

"You don't understand, we must HURRY! We've no time to sit! Come!" Loren
and Omari watch as the doctor pantomines mounting a horse, and gallops out of
the room.

Climbing to his feet, the white-haired man whispers, "It would seem that
Carolyn is not in complete control of her telepathy in her current state.
Perhaps we had best play along until we discover the source of her strange

"Play along? You mean, like Vikings?"

"Yes, until we're able to--"

"I'm not playin' no fuckin' Viking."