"...so, in order to free the incarcerated, they need legal representation - which few, if any, are willing to provide. In essence, they're stuck in legal limbo." Hank paced, fooling with a rubber band as he did so.
Xavier could feel the frustration steaming off him. "Perhaps the right to one phone call?"
"Sources have been phenomenally close-mouthed about that," said Hank. He gestured at the enclosure on the news. "They're sealing them off from the outside world."
"Good lord," whispered Xavier. He spotted a familiar face on the television. "The Toad."
"Yes. We spotted him earlier. Sorry to leave you out of the loop, Charles... it's all been--" he broke off, sighing.
"I know." Xavier knew implicitly what everyone felt. The general mood hung like a pall over the entire mansion. "The problem is... he doesn't seem to be doing anything."
"This is a problem?" said Hank. "We know where he is, we know he's... isolated. Without anyone to give him orders, he's essentially neutralised."
Xavier considered the situation, and what they knew about the Toad. "I'll have to investigate. Later. When things here have been stabilised." A distant shrieking indicated that, once again, someone had come across Kurt, unawares. "Assuming that could happen in the near future..."

Sara had thrown herself into things. Currently, she wore a sheet in a sort of toga arrangement while she laboriously picked her former unitard into pieces. "I'll need something to cut with, eventually," she said. "A few second-hand sporks will suffice for impromptu thread spools."
"Callisto ought t' ask... around," said Mort.
"Hey. Why am I volunteered?"
"Everyone knows ya. I disturb people."
"You're rounding up sporks," she said. "And washing them."
Mort tossed her a salute. "Righ' oh."
Sara was almost beatific with something to occupy her hands and mind. He knew she was safe, here and now. Knowing she was safe from further attacks gave him the strength to leave her orbit and go looking for things.
Odd that he didn't feel so servile with her. He did things because he wanted to help. Not because he felt indebted. Sure, he knew he owed her, but... something about her made it known that such a debt was forgiven.
The sporks he gathered made an ungainly bundle. It was only when he caught himself rearranging them to be 'prettier' that he realised he was making a bouquet.
She deserved flowers. Not cutlery.
Pity nothing would grow here.
A generous handful should have been enough. He trudged back to the shelter and Sara's work.
He put the pile of sporks beside her just as she finished pulling a thread out of her work. "One for you," she said.
Mort was left no other alternative but to wind thread for her. He sat and happily did so. Just for the divine look of peace on her face.

"I got Dianne to plead for shoes," said Callisto upon her return. "As for scissors, I found a shaper who wants a crotch insert. Frontal wedgie."
"Ig," said Sara. "All alterations require the alteree to be nude for at least a day, alas." She handed another thread to Mort, who began spooling. She had her own unitard down to rectangular pieces arranged on her bed. "At least until I have enough to start making extra. There's also a distinct possibility that I'll get in trouble for this, so... let me catch the heat first?"
"Already done. Everyone's standing well back to see what happens."
"By the by, what does our shaper shape?"
The spork snapped in his fingers. No. He'd have noticed if Erik was around. The old fart had an allergy to camps like this. Besides, he'd have been out of here and causing a riot in five seconds flat. Plus the sod was stuck in his hamster cage in the middle of a mountain, somewhere.
Mort shook himself. He'd been so far into a panic attack that he hadn't noticed Sara was talking to him. "Just... reminded of someone I... know."
"Any relation to Erik Lensherr?" Sara guessed.
Mort was really, truly lucky he wasn't holding anything else, yet. "You sure you're--"
"--not a telepath. Absolutely. Complete dead-head."
"You're doing a very spooky impersonation of one," said Callisto.
"Damn straight," said Mort. He shakily reached for another impromptu spool.
"Just logic," said Sara. "The news of a metal shaper inspired real fear in you, Mort. And there's only one metal-shaper I'm aware of who can cause fear in anyone, so... I just had to allow for the possibility of equally psychotic relations. You know. Given that the X-gene can be passed along, and all."
"Far as I know... he don't have kids."
Sara's face fell. "You were at Liberty Island," she whispered. "That's where you got hit."
He spooled faster than he ever thought possible. Get it done and get out. That's all he had to do. "Just tell me to... piss off," he said, feeling dead inside.
This is what happened when he cared for anything.
"Hardly," said Sara.
Mort froze. "You wha'?"
"Okay," said Callisto. "Now I know you're freaking nuts!"
Sara separated more pieces into piles. "Mort was... badly used," she said. "I don't think he owes any further allegiance to a megalomaniac who - I'm sorry, dear - abused him."
"Allegiance, nah," said Mort. "A bucket of fear... definitely."
"But he can't hold you with that. Fear ultimately leads to flight-or-fight. A very poor tool for keeping something, in my opinion." Another thread.
Mort drank in the feel of her hand against his as he accepted it. "He'll find me."
"You don't have to go with him. If I can escape my dragon... you can surely escape yours."
"When the hell did dragons get into this?" wondered Callisto.
"Shorthand," said Mort. "You ain't met 'er... mum."
"Fuckit. You two have your own language, fine. Just give me the cliff notes when you're done. I need to see how Dianne's getting on with negotiations."
Mort grinned as Callisto strode out. She didn't understand - couldn't understand - the infectious nature of Sara's personal shorthand. After a while of living in her orbit, you just - picked it up. Or enough of it to work out the rest.
"Very shrewd of her, you know."
"Hm?" said Mort, prone to be agreeable.
"Sending a visibly pregnant woman out to ask for something that everyone obviously needs. Rather devious, actually. They won't be inclined to shoot, and men tend to be subtly scared of pregnant women. Puts us on the home field advantage, as it were."
"Fuckin' spooky impersonation," said Mort. "Pard'n th' French."
Sara blushed anyway. "I just put things together, dear. It's not as if I can forget very much, anyway."

Avery smelled popcorn. Someone had taken over the TV. Not that he minded, much. It was just that the night belonged to him and when it did - so did the cable.
He could see pointed ears on the sillhouetted head in front of the old black-and-white movie, and froze.
"His bathwater was tepid," said a man on the screen. "Poor Lolita. I fear her married life will be the same."
The dark shape chuckled.
Avery would later swear that he never made a sound, but the subliminal gasp and the shifting of his weight must have reached those ears.
"There's plenty of room for two," said the shape. "And popcorn to spare."
Well... since he wasn't doing anything but sitting there... "How'd you know?"
He turned, then, showing eyes that glowed in the dark. "These ears aren't just to look pretty, ja?" He had a shy smile. "It's okay. I scare a lot of people."
"I heard you scared Kitty," said Avery, feeling emboldened by his stillness. "Can you really stick to walls?"
"Walls, ceilings, floors... it's all the same to me. Comes in handy when there's glass on the floor to vacuum up. I never get any in my feet."
"And the tail?" Avery was creeping up on him, now.
"Still permanently attached," the dark man joked. "I find it useful, so no trying to pull it off."
He turned the corner, and now had a prime view of the mutant perched on the couch. There was no other word for that pose than 'perch'. At the same time both completely inhuman and yet - what with the tail - utterly logical. The physical oddities of his shape were seen, filed and adjusted to in a matter of seconds. It was weird, but that was how he was.
"What're you watching?"
"The Mask of Zorro. A classic."
Maybe in Germany or something. "Why'd they have to make the remake in black and white?"
Mr Wagner levelled a glare at him. It was the sort of Look he got a lot. It said, "You couldn't have possibly meant what you just said, kid." Aloud, he said, "Nein. They made the remake in colour. This is far older."
Avery sat down and helped himself to the popcorn. "So where's the old Zorro?"
"There is no old Zorro. He decides to become Zorro all on his own. Fighting for good against the corrupt officials, that sort of thing. A sort of Mexican version of Robin Hood."
"Robin who?"
"You've never heard of Robin Hood?" Mr Wagner took a deep breath and started talking, movie forgotten. He easily spun a world of dark forests and noble bandits who stole from the rich and gave to the poor... full of derring-do and swordfights and archery and even romance.
"Yuck," said Avery, when informed about Maid Marion.
"When you're older, you might not mind so much..." Mr Wagner yawned. Wow. He really did have all those pointed teeth. "Ach. Sorry, junge... I really must to bed." He reached over himself as he got up, grasped the back of the couch, and used it to stretch himself into an inverted U. Then he flipped over the furniture to land lightly on his feet.
"Coooooolll..." said Avery.
"Once again, the Incredible Nightcrawler wows his audience," Mr Wagner bowed theatrically. "Guten Nacht. Perhaps I will share more tomorrow. You remind me, ne?" He turned away and blended right into the shadows as he walked.
Forget what Kitty said - which was easy, given the downside of his power - Mr Wagner was the coolest.
The movie playing on the screen was something boring and black and white featuring men in suits and women in ball gowns. Avery blinked the channel. What else was on?

Caroline Garvallo, Social Worker, was allowed in Sara's apartment after the photographers had just about created a mosaic of the entire place. She made sure the hamster was safe, and visited him in Mrs Nezbit's apartment before performing whatever maintenance Sara's place needed.
"Lemme guess," said Brisco as she let herself in. "You're here about the damn candle."
Caroline smiled and laughed. "It's odd, I know, but I think Sara would just go to pieces if she even thought it wasn't lit." Wax was getting low, but it had a day to go, yet. She moved the whole thing out to the balcony, just in case she didn't get in in time, tomorrow.
"Goren tells me she was keepin' vigil," said Brisco. "You know who for?"
"For whom," said Caroline. "Darn. Now she has me doing it." She put a new candle on the sill. "She's keeping vigil for her father. He goes overseas a lot with work and it's for months at a time... during most of which he's incommunicado." A flick of the day planner. "She's had it burning since the move so he can find her, even though he's not due back until... O my goodness..."
"What?" said Parr.
"Today. November the eleventh. He's due home today."

Sara stopped sewing, looking out into the middle distance. So far, she'd only taken a break for meals, lights out, and the inevitable call of nature.
"Somethin'?" said Mort.
"Daddy's coming home." Optomism turned into dread. "I don't have a light burning. How can he find me?"
"He'll figure it out," said Mort, comforting her. "It's not as if... we ain't all over... the tube."
"...i don't have a light," she whispered. Her hands had gone slack in her lap. Her work forgotten.
Mort hugged her shoulders. It was all he could do.

Sam Adrien staggered off the plane in zombie mode. Jet lag always got to him when he was on his ulcer meds. Brief paranoid check of all belongings... present and accounted for. Bravo. He lurched towards luggage and collected the wheelie suitcase that held all his other belongings. Now all he had to do was find--
"Sam!" The warm pink thing currently engulfing him had to be Jaquelline. Sara called him 'Daddy' and attempted to crush his ribs. "O Sam... O Samuel, it's been so awful..." She sobbed into his shoulder.
Priorities. Jaquelline had to know she was loved. Sam wrapped his free arm around her and found that little spot just behind her earlobe to kiss. "I missed you," he sighed. And it was true. He missed her dearly. Every time he saw her, every time he went away, he was reminded of the jubilantly enthusiastic and bubbly Jaquelline he fell in love with. Whom he still loved.
Time and her own philosophy - her family's ideals - had worn her down to a part-time monster wearing Jaquelline's skin.
He lived for the rare, beautiful moments in which his Jaquelline shone through.
Her scent. The feel of her skin. The warmth of her and the rhythm of her heart... all of these had remained unchanged.
"O Sam... O Sam it was horrible. That girl of yours..."
Danger sign number one.
"...she up and decided to be a mutant! Of all things, she has to be a mutant. O Sam. What else could I do?"
And speaking of the other lady in his life... "Where is Sara?"
"I told you. She became a mutant. She got mixed in with those terrorists. It was so horrid. It's all over the news. O Sam... I'm at my wits end..."
Educating Jaquelline about why mutanthood was not a choice would take a long, long time. Especially with this level of hysteria. "Jaquelline. Beloved. Please... I just got off the plane and I'm still high on my medicine..."
"Of course. Of course. I'm so sorry, it's just that you've been out of contact for so long."
"I tried ringing, but the 'phone was engaged," said Sam. And for a month and a half, too.
Jaquelline managed a nervous laugh. "It must have been both of us trying to ring each other. Either good timing or bad, you decide."
"Later," said Sam. "Right now, I just want to catch up on my sleep and hold you for as long as I can." And his suspicions about the tangled lines could wait until he could think.
His baby girl was in trouble... and he had a spouse to defuse. Never a good choice.

The metal-shaper was an overweight guy called Andrew. So far, he'd altered a metal tray to become a pair of scissors, pins, a container for pins, and now he was changing the unitard zippers with the happy mein of a man who soon would not be feeling pain every time he stood.
Sara sewed, as did Emilia and a few others who both knew how to handle a needle and understood Sara's shorthand.
Their clothing was still yellow, but thanks to the lining they at least had a decent supply of underthings. Admittedly, they were all made out of rectangular pieces, but they worked.
None of the guards had said a word about Sara's alterations to her jumpsuit in order to make it a two-piece with an ex-lining undershirt. Nobody seemed to be interested that, one by one, people's shapeless yellow garments gained shape and style.
Mort felt rather proud that Sara still used his thread-needle, and even wore it like a badge on her jacket. Yet he still hung back from having his own unitard altered. Make no mistake, he was grateful for the boxers, but...
Something about waiting in the altogether for new clothes made him nervous.
He'd always hated being stared at, the open curiosity of others once they viewed his exposed body, the suppressed giggles and never-suppressed nasty comments. The mere concept of being so vulnerable to the rest of Sara's sewing circle... made him feel worse than all the times the other kids at the orphanage had stolen his clothes.
So he waited, lounging on the upper bunk, watching protectively over Sara and observing the proceedings.
"Do you want to learn how to sew, dear?" said Sara.
"Nah," he said. "Feel better up here."
Sara looked up. "Enochlophobia[1]?"
Nobody else was looking at him. "Acquired."
"I hear that," said Dianne. She paused in her sewing to rub her belly. "Anywhere public... when I was out in the real world... I got obsessive. It felt like people were looking at my - growth... rather than looking at me. Sometimes, I felt like I was just something to haul the growth around, all day."
"It's the same when you're fat," said Andrew. "People talk to the stomach."
Emilia laughed. "I had a friend who was very big up here," a gesture at her own bosom. "She had trouble with people with people remembering her face."
All the ladies laughed.
"Same problem, opposite situation," said Sara. A motion chestwards. "Obviously. I just test high on forgetability." Her needle never stopped moving. "Ever since... the riot... Well. People see me. They can't help looking." A brief laugh that had no humour in it and a great deal of nerves. "Mother always wanted me to be famous."
Mort reached down to soothe her hair. All the comfort he could extend, right now. And even that took effort.
Andrew smirked. "You two sure you're not a couple?"
Sara twitched. A violent jerk of her head. "That... doesn't happen to me."
I want it to, thought Mort. God, how I want it to.
Andrew gave him a Look. It said everything. He knew. Hell, he'd been there when Mort had failed to resist the lure of Sara's lips... and the miracle of her return kiss. He doubtless knew of the seizure, that night.
Word like a re-living of The Exorcist gets around.
The horrid things that came out of her mouth that night, said in another woman's voice, still gave him chills.
Andrew knew and sympathised. He'd say no more about him and Sara. Especially not to Sara.

The President swallowed his fear. This was, at least to him, the third time that this mutant had been in his office. The only difference, the one that mattered, was that this time, he walked in.
"Guten Tag, Herr President," he said.
He'd been expecting a growl. A snarl. Something from the pits of Hades. Not a warm, pleasant voice, softly spoken.
"Good day, Herr Wagner," he said. It was an effort to shake that hand. He kept thinking how pale he looked against that dark blue skin.
A smile that was somewhat impish despite the sharp teeth. "You're doing very well, mein Herr... given -ah- previous circumstance."
He laughed. "I believe I'm the first President to ever shake hands with a would-be assassin." He gestured at the couches. "Please. Make yourself comfortable."
"And the first President to shake hands with a known mutant," he inspected the couch, and found a place that let him sit naturally despite the tail, which moved some cushions aside for the dark-skinned lady with the white hair that, perhaps, only he and the mutant remembered from his address. All this, he made to look like it was perfectly natural and everyday. "I consider that a step forward, at least."
One of a thousand miles, thought the President. "Well... let's begin with the amnesty..."

One of the things about Jaquelline's... problem... was that she was obsessive about proof. Sam speed-read the doctor's documents and news clippings as Jaquelline spun it all into a personal plot against her.
It broke his heart.
"Jaquelline... Jaquelline... Please."
She wound out of her rant. "Sam?"
"Would you blame Sara if she was born with a hare lip?"
"Would you blame her for having a hare lip?" he repeated.
That gave her pause. "It would be a disaster, of course, but... that sort of thing can be corrected, Sam."
"What about something else. Something that couldn't be corrected? Something that made her different from birth - because of her DNA?"
"I-- I-- I guess not..."
"Being a mutant isn't something you choose, Jaquelline. It's in the DNA. Sara was born a mutant. Her change... is just something that happened because of it."
"She did it to spite me!"
"Sara can't have done it on purpose. Just like I can't choose the colour of my eyes..." ...or how much I still love you, no matter what you're doing. "She needed her parents and you threw her out."
"She took out a restraining order against me!"
"After you threw her out," said Sam. "I have to ask - did she have to?"
This didn't sit well with her. "You're taking her side!"
"Someone has to."
Accusations. "You don't love me at all!"
Somehow, he retained the essence of zen. "On the contrary. I love you too much. You're hurting yourself by doing this, Jaquelline. You're hurting our daughter. Your own child."
"She's no daughter of mine, I'm sure."
"The DNA says otherwise, Jaquelline."
Threats. "And I suppose you'll want a divorce!"
Even in the calm of zen, tears slid from his eyes. "Never. But if you must make me choose between my beloved wife and my cherished daughter... I have to choose the one who needs me the most. Sara needs my help more than you do, Jaquelline."
Jaquelline was flabberghasted. She regained her balance - barely - with another threat. "If you leave me, I'll kill myself."
"I'll miss you," he said. His voice was barely a whisper. "Just like I've missed the real you for over a decade. Just like I miss the real you in moments like this one." He closed his eyes. He couldn't look at the body of his wife when he said this. "Death is only one form of potential closure, Jaquelline. Are you sure you want to take it?"
Jaquelline's only reply was an inchoate squeak.
[1] Fear of crowds.

The shoes - Ug boots from a cheapie sweatshop somewhere - couldn't fit through the narrow portal made for the food trays. Therefore, the troops on the other side of the cage began lobbing the boxes over the fence. In order to prevent the boxes from falling open in the air, they were held shut by thick rubber bands.
Sara couldn't catch worth spit, but she was out there, amongst the other able bodies, leaping about and trying to field a box or two. Whooping and laughing with the others.
Callisto never missed a mark.
Mort hung back, watching. Not wanting to expose himself by leaping too high. Not wanting to run the risk of being found. Watching the media watching them.
Was he watching too much? There was little he could actually do, what with people around him who could do more without getting shot at... no opportunities anywhere to improve things for others.
He could help Sara, but only in small, small amounts.
All in all it was... frustrating.
"No way could you have seen Michael Moore out there," someone was saying. "He's incredibly old and that. Does all his agitating from a wheelchair. All you'd have seen over the first row would've been his cap[1]."
"I'm telling you he was the spitting image of Michael Moore, circa mid-nineties."
"Then it can't have been him."
"Maybe his kid or his grandkid is taking up the business."
"Does he even have kids?"
Mort let the idle speculation fade into the background as he strode towards the fence. There was still the Media, watching him watching them. But now he was looking for something - unique. Someone who shouldn't have been there.
The second tier of concrete blocks had been spaced intermittently, so the Media could see in and make sure no further abuses of the law occurred. Mort watched in those gaps as he walked around the perimeter.
Michael More - circa mid-nineties - peeled off from the assembled observers and matched his pace for two blocks. Then he was Senator Kelly. Then that blonde bimbo Erik had hired, once upon a time.
There was no doubt about it. Mystique knew where he was.
He almost wet himself when she elected to look like Erik himself.
She settled into the guise of a guard and cleared the Media from the court-appointed communication spot. Not that anyone on the outside had used it yet.
[1] They say "not-too-distant future", but I'm allowing for a good gap between now and the time period that this takes place in. Fictional characters, like those from my favourite shows, however, do not age
"You're looking well," said the guard in Mystique's voice.
"Lot better'n I used... to."
"Did you lose your abilities when you were dead?" she said. "Or hasn't it occurred to you that you could easily melt a hole in this cage?" A glance back, to where Sara was amidst the group of fellow inarcerees doing excercises with Callisto in the yard. "Price is too high," he said.
Mystique snorted. "They're acceptable losses," she dismissed. "Gammas at the most."
Inside his head, Mort fumed. Magneto and his stupid mutant caste system. Alphas, of course, were those with powers that could be used aggressively. Betas, those with purely defensive powers. Gammas, those with powers that could plausibly be counted as 'useful'... and Deltas were those with useless or next-to-useless powers... or those with purely physical mutations and no powers at all.
Mort had started out as a Gamma in Erik's eyes, and had done a lot of work to 'rise' to the position of an Alpha... Yet he was still looked down upon.
"Some of their deaths could prove useful to the cause," Mystique speculated. "But not by much."
"Woh? Even the pregnant woman?"
"Especially the pregnant woman." Mystique sneered. "I'd expect this much sympathy if you were still a Gamma, yourself..."
Mort refused to take the bait. "'Aven't been well," he said. He had another pair of eyes to appraise him. In those eyes, he was cherished. "Maybe I made some... new friends."
"So I've seen. And even though most of them are women... you choose to kiss--" a subtle pointing finger. Directly through his heart to Sara. "--that."
Poker face, boyo. "It's my mouth," he said. "I can plant it... on whoever I like."
The guard's eyes narrowed. And a distinctly Mystique smile spread across his features. "Aaaww... You've fallen in lo-ove," she cooed. "Erik will be interested in her, then."
Mort did his level best to remain impassive. "She's sixteen."
The sly grin remained. "So she is female. And prime breeding material, too. Erik's always wanted to see a pure second-generation mutant."
Now it was his turn to echo her smirk. "And 'ow was your... little 'oliday in Germany?"
Mystique-guard stiffened.
"You remember... way back when. You done a vanish... for a coupla years?" That wiped the smile off her face. Mort didn't bother to gloat.
Mystique was especially dangerous when she was pissed off. "I see," she iced. "You know the contact procedures - if you decide to return to the winning side."
Translated: you're on your own until you decide to come begging - Gamma.
"Don't 'old yer breath," he said. "Ducks."

"Hey, look! It's a strip show!"
"Take it off! Take it all off!"
"Tell me when I should avert mine eyes, dear,"
Mort laughed with the others. Apparently, orders had come in from the top that the incarcerated mutants should not be treated like toxic objects.
Callisto let out an ear-piercing whistle. "And the shirt, too, soldier-boy!"
"You are positively outrageous," Sara giggled.
"I'm old enough to be allowed to be outrageous." She let loose a wolf-whistle. "Show us yer pecs[1]!"
The soldier in question merely resumed his post by the guns.
As a diversion, it didn't last very long. Nothing ever did, inside the cage. So, with a final chorus of disappoint noises, the soldiers resumed their former tasks.
Sara sighed. "Guess it's back to pok-ball," she said.
The game had been invented after Mort glued together two styrofoam cups for the kids to play with. A combo of hacky-sack, soccer, and God only knew what else, it had taken off as a welcome break from staring at the wire.
Anything was a welcome break from staring at the wire.
Even Mort had submitted to getting his jumpsuit altered, since Sara bribed him with nearly-thermal undershirts. They were improvised from the lining but they did their job.
"Not so fast," said Callisto, indicating the tidal sweep of cameras zooming away from their spots. "Something's up."
"Would the mutant committee please report to the designated communications window," squawked the PA.
"Something big," said Sara. "They usually chat to us over here."
"By the left," ordered Mort. "Harch![2]"
They struck up their irreverent theme song along the way. "O we got itty bitty titties and we made us a committee. If you ask us why, we've nothing much to saaaaayyyy... We remain in the committee, tho' we know that it's not pretty. There's nothing else to do so here we staaaayyyy... O life here can be shitty, in the mutancy committee..." the girls trailed off, leaving Mort to rasp, "What we'd really like is to be given paaaaayyy..." before he, too, noticed who was at the gate.
The President of the United States of America.
Callisto saluted. Sara curtseyed. Mort gave a halfhearted wave and gravelled, "Wotcher."
The President sprained something trying not to laugh. "Good morning. I take it you three are in charge?"
"Oh, no. The guys with the guns are in charge," said Sara. "They usually are."
Serious servicemen behind the President now sprained something trying not to laugh.
"We just try to arrange things," said Callisto.
"Make it comfier," said Mort. "Don't suppose ya got a few heaters on yer?"
The President considered this. "No... but I can enquire about fulfilling some basic needs. If I can inspect the facility?"
"Um," said Sara, holding up a finger. "Isn't that like the guard asking the prisoner if he can enter his cell?"
This time, a dignified chuckle. "Somewhat," he allowed, "But I've been informed that some mutants can be more than dangerous, given the right incentive."
"Believe me, sir," said Callisto, "we all have vested interest in your continued survival."
"You can bring your goons," added Sara. "Alas, we don't have any tea."
Sometimes, it was hard to tell if Sara was being serious or not.

[1] Were the gender roles reversed, it'd be 'show us yer tits'.
[2] British drill sergeants say this instead of 'march'.

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