Mulan was requested by:
My Beautiful Ending
Normally I wait 24 hours before the final proofread and posting things, but in this case I have made an exception. It's just such a relief to finally have this thing finished, I couldn't post it fast enough, hahaha. Been working on this thing for six months. Esh. Anyway.
Edit: I'd like to thank The Illustrious Tama; turns out that the original Chinese Poem The Ballad of Mulan doesn't end tragically, unlike so many other interpretations of the poem. We'll just assume that Sabretooth isn't as knowledgeable as he thinks he is.
Ray looked up sharply as the hawk flew overhead. A moment later, a series of grappling hooks flew over the Great Wall and latched on. Immediately realising they were under attack, Ray ran for the tower, climbing as quickly as he could to light the signal fire. Just as he approached, a Hun appeared before him and Ray drew his breath sharply before lighting the signal fire. Moments later, other signal fires began to light up down the wall.
"Now all of China knows you're here," Ray informed him.
Victor, leader of the Huns, smiled as he took the flag and set it in the fire.
"I'm dead, aren't I?" said Ray.
"I'd say so, mon ami," said Gambit.
"Darn," Ray replied with a sigh.
Sabretooth chuckled wickedly.
"Your Majesty," said General Jean-Luc, "the Huns have crossed the Northern border."
"Impossible," said the Emperor's chief adviser, Todd. "The Great Wall is impenetrable."
Todd was silenced with a wave of Emperor Erik's hand and Jean-Luc continued:
"Victor is leading them himself. We shall set up defences to protect the palace -"
"No," Emperor Erik replied. "You must protect my people. Send out conscription notices and get as many new recruits as possible."
"I believe my troops will be enough -"
"I will not chance it. Even one grain of rice may be enough to tip the scales."
"All right," said Toad. "I'm the chief advisor. Go me."
"Surely I could have done better than that," said Magneto.
"The military?" said Jean-Luc. "I'm not cut out to be in any armed forces."
"Got that right," said Gambit.
Ororo looked anxiously towards their home from the spa on the main street in town.
"Where is she?" Ororo asked. "If she's not here soon, she's going to be late, and she can't be late for the matchmaker."
"Don't worry," Tabitha said, "Anna'll be fine. I've got all the luck we need right here."
Ororo sighed as Tabitha picked up a little cage with a little bug inside.
"All right, Wanda," Tabitha said to the bug. "Here's your chance to prove yourself."
Tabitha put her free hand over her eyes and proceeded to walk across the street, despite Ororo's protests. All around her, the traffic skidded to a stop, crashing into each other. Tabitha got to the other side without a scratch.
"That was well cast," said Kurt with a grin at Tabitha. "You're both crazy."
"I'm a bug," said Wanda.
"I'm Rogue's mother, I take it then?" said Storm. "And Tabitha is her grandmother?"
"I'm a little old lady!" Tabitha giggled.
"I'm a bug," Wanda repeated.
"You're my little fire bug!" Pyro declared, wrapping his arms around her.
"I'm a bug," Wanda said and the pointed at Toad. "He eats bugs."
"There are just so many dirty comments I could say in response to that..." Gambit said.
"Yep," said Tabitha. "This bug's a lucky one."
"I'm here!" Anna said, quickly racing over to them.
"Anna," Ororo said tersely, and then sighed. "You can't keep the Matchmaker waiting and we're running out of time to get you ready."
Anna hesitantly followed Ororo and Tabitha into the spa.
"Do I have to be here?" she asked. "What if I -"
"You'll be fine, Anna," Ororo replied, pushing Anna gently inside. "The girls already know not to touch your skin."
"Oh cool so we have powers in this one," said Tabitha.
"Wait... so why am I going to see a matchmaker then?" asked Rogue. "If I've got untouchable skin, then clearly I'm not marriageable material."
"Aww, don't sell yourself short, chérie," Gambit said, wrapping his arms around her.
After Anna's clean up, hair and make up were all done -
"Aww, we don't get a blow by blow of what actually happened in there?" Gambit asked. "In detail?"
"I'm surprised you would want anyone to see that much of me, Remy," Rogue replied with a smirk.
"Hmm... good point... we can make this a private deleted scene later."
Tabitha gave Anna the lucky bug, and the three women headed to the Matchmaker's. Anna took her place with the other girls who were going to see the Matchmaker that day.
Then the doors opened and out came Matchmaker Kitty.
"Woohoo!" Kitty cheered. "I get to be the Matchmaker!"
"Don't let it get to your head," said Rogue.
"Fa Anna?" Kitty inquired of the girls.
"Present!" Anna said.
"Speaking without permission..." Kitty said as she turned her back and made a note.
"Oops," Anna said with a wince as she followed Kitty inside.
"Doesn't matter what country you go to, does it?" Rogue muttered. "They're always treating women like second class citizens at some point."
"We could always become Amazons and treat the guys like second class citizens," Jean said with a wink at Scott. "Of course, that means they have their way with the guys before sacrificing them to their gods just so they can get pregnant and then either killing the male babies or making them slaves. Some might say that's a little extreme..."
"Hmm," Kitty said, looking Anna over. "Too skinny. Not good for bearing sons."
"Darn, and here I was hoping for slave children," Rogue said dryly.
"Sit," Kitty said, gesturing to a table. "Now, pour the tea. To please your future in-laws, you must demonstrate a sense of dignity."
Anna lifted the teapot and carefully poured tea in the two cups on the table. As she put the teapot back down again, her eyes widened in horror as she spotted Wanda comfortably relaxing in Kitty's cup.
"Having a bath?" Pyro asked.
"Baths are very relaxing," Wanda replied with dignity.
"Yeah... so does that mean you're naked?"
Wanda glared at Pyro's grinning face.
"I'm a bug!" she said. "What do you think?"
"Umm, pardon me," said Anna as Kitty picked up her cup.
"And remain silent," Kitty replied firmly, and with closed eyes, brought the cup to her face. "Ahh..."
"If I could just have that back? Just for a moment," Anna insisted.
She tried to take the cup without offending Kitty, or at the very least getting Wanda out without Kitty noticing her. Unfortunately, in this effort, Anna's skin touched Kitty's and she absorbed the Matchmaker.
The good news was that Anna was able to get Wanda out without Kitty noticing that there had been a bug (lucky or otherwise) in her tea.
The bad news was that in her disorientation and moment of weakness, Kitty dropped the teacup. The cup broke on the floor, tea spilling everywhere.
"Why you clumsy..."
"I have to admit," said Rogue. "I do like having powers in these fairy tales. It's more fun."
I think so too.
"So," Tabitha said to Ororo, who were waiting outside, "how do you think it's going in there?"
Ororo opened her mouth to reply when Anna came running out through the door. The door was still shut. Ororo closed her mouth again, a pained expression appearing on her face. A moment later Kitty also appeared.
"You," Kitty said darkly, pointing at Anna, "will never bring honour to your family."
"It's not true, Rogue," said Kurt.
"Thanks, Kurt," Rogue replied with a grin.
Anna, Ororo and Tabitha returned home to Charles. Anna couldn't look her father in the eye, and left her mother and grandmother to fill her father in on the humiliating meeting with the Matchmaker.
Charles had fought in a war for China before, and was no longer able to walk without a cane.
"Wait so if Storm's Roguey's mother, and the Professor's her father, then that means..." Gambit turned and grinned at Logan. "I think Stormy's found someone else."
"Very funny, Gumbo," Logan replied.
"I see you're taking the news that your girlfriend is married to another guy rather well."
Now it happened the same day that Todd arrived in their village with a few token members of the Imperial Army.
"Citizens! I bring a proclamation from the Imperial City! The Huns have invaded China! By order of the Emperor, one man from every family must serve in the Imperial Army," Todd said.
Todd pulled out a list as the crowd gathered and began reading out family names.
"The Fa family," he said.
"No!" Anna objected as Charles set aside his cane and walked stiffly out to receive the summons. "Father, you can't go!"
"Anna," Charles replied warningly.
"Please sir," Anna said desperately to Todd. "My father has already fought for -"
"Silence!" Todd said. "You will do well to teach your daughter to hold her tongue in a man's presence."
"Yeah," Toad said with a nod. "Hold your tongue around the men, yo."
Every female in the room glared at Toad. Toad eeped and hid behind the lounge.
Charles spent what was left of the afternoon practising with his sword. Unfortunately, although his fingers remembers his old skill, his legs did not and gave out from under him.
That evening over dinner:
"You shouldn't have to go," Anna said sullenly. "There are plenty of young men to fight for China."
"It is an honour to protect my country and my family," Charles replied.
"So you'll die for honour," Anna said, not bothering to hide the bitterness in her voice.
"I will die doing what's right," he said patiently.
"But if you -" she began.
"I know my place," Charles cut in. "It is time you learned yours."
"This is going to be like Aladdin, isn't it?" said Kitty. "Where half the dialogue is from the movie."
Umm... *shifty eyes* maybe...
After everyone else had gone to bed, Anna got out of hers. She made her way to the Family Temple where she prayed to her Ancestors. She lit a candle and then made her way back to the house, her mind made up. She slipped into her parent's bedroom and stole the summons. Once out again, Anna cut her hair, put on her father's armour and headed down to the stables to mount her horse and made her way to join the Imperial Army.
At about the same time Anna left the family estate, Great Ancestor Hank awoke. He sat for a moment, and then looked up at a small hanging dragon statue.
"Pyro," he said.
"Yay! I get to be Mushu!" Pyro cheered. "Dragons are awesome."
There was a great puff of smoke and then:
"I live!" Pyro cried. "So, tell me, what mortal needs my protection, Great Ancestor. You just say the word, and I'm there."
"Pyro," Hank said testily, and then gestured to other dragon statues higher up. "These are the Ancestral Guardians. They protect the family. You ring the gong."
"One family reunion coming right up," he said, then proceeded to run around the Family Temple clanging the gong. "Okay, people, people, look alive! Let's go, c'mon, get up! Let's move it! Rise and shine! You're all way past the beauty sleep thing."
"I knew it, I knew it," said Jean. "That Anna was a troublemaker from the start."
"Don't look at me," said Evan. "She gets it from your side of the family!"
"She's just trying to help her father," said Kurt.
"But if she's discovered, Fa Charles will be forever shamed," said Lance. "Dishonour will come to the family. Traditional values will disintegrate!"
"Not to mention they'll lose the farm," added Sam.
"My children never caused such trouble; they all became acupuncturists," said Jean.
"Well, we can't all be acupuncturists," Evan retorted.
"No," said Amara scathingly. "Your great-granddaughter had to be a cross-dresser!"
"I love that part," she said.
"I love that I got to say that part," said Amara.
After much bickering between the ancestors (apparently even spirits are grumpy in the middle of the night), they decided that the only logical course of action was to send the most powerful Guardian of them all:
"All right, all right," Pyro replied. "Since you insist, I'll go."
Everyone looked at him and for a moment there was silence; and then they broke into laughter.
"Hey, I can do it! Watch this," Pyro insisted and then blew a tiny flame. "Ah-hah! Jump back, I'm pretty hot. But I don't have to singe nobody to prove no point."
"You had your chance to protect the Fa Family," said Hank.
"Your misguidance led Fa Jamie to disaster," said Amara.
"Yeah," said Jamie, holding his dismembered head in his hands, "thanks a lot."
"Aww you beheaded Jamie," said Kitty, putting on a sad face.
Trick photography. We used dupes to make it look like Jamie had been beheaded.
"And your point is?" asked Pyro.
"The point is, we will be sending a REAL dragon to retrieve Anna," Hanks replied firmly. "And now that we've had the evening's amusement, go wake the Great Stone Dragon."
"Hear that Pyro? You're amusing," said Gambit. "That's pretty much it."
"At least I'm not just pretty, like you," Pyro replied.
"My good looks have always served me well."
"Yeah, but good looks fade, mate. Amusing lasts a lifetime."
Thus it was with much grumbling that Pyro went outside to wake the Great Stone Dragon.
"Hey Rocky, wake up," said Pyro, clanging the gong as he approached.
The Great Stone Dragon didn't budge.
"Yoohoo, Stoney! You're wanted," Pyro pressed. "You need to go get Anna."
Still there was no response and with a sigh, Pyro climbed on top.
"Hello?" Pyro demanded, now banging the Great Stone Dragon with the gong. "Hello!"
The gong hit the ear of the Great Stone Dragon, and a moment later the ear fell off. Pyro had barely a chance to comprehend this when the entire Statue broke into pieces and crumbled to the ground.
"Fun, and I didn't even need to burn it," Pryo said, paused and then asked: "I do get to burn something in this story, right?"
Don't worry, you'll get to burn something.
"Great Stone Dragon!" Hank called from the Family Temple. "Have you awakened?"
"Uhh..." Pyro thought quickly and grabbed the head of the Dragon, which was miraculous still intact other than the ear. "Uh, yes, I just woke up! Um, I am the Great Stone Dragon! I will go forth and fetch Anna! Did- did I mention that I am the Great Stone Dragon?"
"Go!" said Hank. "The fate of the Fa family rests in your claws."
"Don't even worry about it. I will not lose face," Pyro said, before loosing balance under the weight and falling to the ground, fortunately out of Hank's sight. "Ow, ah, my elbow. Oh, oh, I know I twisted something."
Pyro sighed as Wanda hopped over.
"That's just great, now what? I'm doomed, and all because Ms. Man decided to take a little drag show on the road."
Wanda looked at Pyro and when he didn't do anything, said: "Aren't you going to go get her?"
"Wait, the bug never talked in the movie," said Kitty.
"Go get her?" Pyro repeated. "What's the matter with you? After this Great Stone Humptey Dumptey mess, I'd have to bring her back with a medal to get back in the Temple! Wait a minute! That's it! I make Anna a war hero, and they'll be begging me to come back to work! That's the master plan! Oh, you've done it now, man."
Excitedly, Pyro began to run off. Wanda followed.
"Wait for me!" she called.
"And what makes you think you're coming?" Pyro demanded.
"You need me. I'm lucky," Wanda replied.
"It's that whole manipulating probability thing, huh?" said Wanda.
Wanda sighed. Pyro chuckled and wrapped his arm around her.
"Yay," he said. "We're travelling companions."
"You're lucky?" Pyro repeated. "Do I look like a sucker to you?
"Nope," Wanda replied. "You look like a loser."
"What do you mean, a loser? What if I pop one of your antennae off and throw it across the yard, then who's the loser, you or me?"
"You," she said, grinning and raced off towards the camp.
Fred chuckled as he approached the Hun army and threw Duncan and Paul down on the snowy ground before Victor. With Victor were his core team: Pietro, Scott, Alex, Bobby and the hawk, Mystique.
"Imperial scouts," said Pietro.
"Congratulations," Victor said with a smirk at the pair. "You found the Hun army."
"The Emperor will stop you," Duncan said fiercely.
"Stop me? He invited me," said Victor, picking up Duncan by the collar. "By building his wall, he challenged my strength."
Victor threw Duncan back down on the ground
"Well, I'm here to play his game. Go," Victor said, now looking at Paul. "Tell your Emperor to send his strongest armies. I'm ready."
Paul didn't need to be told twice. He was off like a flash and Duncan followed quickly after.
"How many men does it take to deliver a message?" Victor asked casually.
Scott smirked as he lifted his hand to his visor. "One."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," said Scott, holding up his hands. "Since when do I work for Sabretooth? I would never work for Sabretooth."
"Neither would I," said Alex. "It's just a story, Scott. At least we're on the same side, right?"
"I think it's fun playing the bad guy once in awhile," said Bobby.
"Yeah," said Pietro and looked at Fred while pointing his thumb at Scott, Alex and Bobby. "I can't believe we're stuck with these goody-goodies."
"So," said Paul cautiously, "which one of us died?"
"You don't see that part," said Kitty.
"And we all know who Summers would shoot," said Duncan. "Me."
"Hey, I'm not a murderer," Scott said. "The X-men don't kill."
"But you're not an X-man in Mulan," said Rogue. "You're a Hun, hon."
"Who are you, anyway?" Gambit asked Paul.
"I'm one of Scott's friends from school," Paul replied.
"Ahh, so that's why we've never met."
Outside the camp, Anna was in the forest with her horse, trying to figure out how to act like a man.
"Excuse me," she said, experimenting with a lower register. "Where do I sign in? Ah, I see you have a sword. I have one, too. They're very manly, and strong."
She attempted to pull out the sword, but it slipped in her grip, half fell out of the sheath and finally dropped to the ground, narrowly missing her foot.
"Dammit!" Anna complained, and then sighed. "Who am I kidding? I'm never going to be able to get into the army."
"Somehow I can't picture Mulan saying 'dammit'," said Kitty.
"Mulan didn't say 'dammit'," said Rogue. "I said 'dammit'."
"She says lots of other naughty things too," Gambit said wickedly.
Logan growled and glared at Gambit.
"Hey, what are you complaining about?" Rogue demanded of Logan. "I learned most of my bad words from you."
Anna's man practice was abruptly interrupted by a great burst of flame and smoke.
"Hear me Anna!" Pyro commanded, his shadow looming large on the nearby trees. "For I have been sent by your ancestors to guide you through your masquerade! So heed my words, cause if the army finds out you're a girl, the penalty is death."
Anna, although initially shocked by the dramatic entrance, managed to find her voice:
"Who are you?" she asked.
"Who am I? Who am I? I am the guardian of lost souls! I am the powerful, the pleasurable, the indestructible Pyro," he declared and came out from hiding behind the bush.
"My ancestors sent a little lizard to help me?" she asked.
"Fear me," said Pyro. "For I am Pyro, the fire-breathing goanna."
"Goanna?" asked Rogue.
"Well, I'm sure as hell not a frill-necked lizard," he replied.
"Yeah, but aren't goannas supposed to be huge? And I just called you a little lizard."
"You can get goannas in lots of different sizes."
"I am travel-sized, for your convenience," Pyro replied. "If I was my REAL size, your cow here would die of fright."
Wanda shook her head as Pyro indicated Anna's horse.
"How can you not know the difference between a horse and a cow?" asked Kitty.
"Well this is Pyro you're asking, cherie," said Gambit. "He comes from a country where they have a mammal that has a duck's bill, a beaver's tail, webbed feet and lays eggs. No wonder he's confused."
"Hey," said Pyro. "Did it ever occur to you that the duck got its bill from the platypus? Also, you forgot 'venomous'."
"So it thinks it's a snake too?" Gambit asked.
"Actually there are ankle spurs involved."
"What a very confused little creature."
"What makes you so sure the platypus is the one that's confused?" asked Pyro. "Maybe it's all the animals with fangs that are confused."
"Insanity is defined by the majority, Pyro," said Rogue.
"So you're saying all snakes are insane?"
"My powers are beyond your mortal imagination," Pyro went on cheerfully, not noticing the skeptical way Anna regarded him. "For instance, my eyes can see straight through your armour."
Anna's eyes widened in alarm. She wrapped one arm across her chest and slapped Pyro with her free hand.
"Shame on you," Gambit said to Pyro, hugging Rogue close. "Go perv on your own girlfriend."
"Don't encourage him," said Magneto.
"Actually, I think Remy raises a good point," said Wanda.
"Yes," said Pyro, stroking an imaginary beard. "We shall take this elsewhere after the show."
"Alright! That's it! Dishonour," Pyro said crankily. "Dishonour on your whole family! Make a note of this."
Wanda saluted and started pretending to write on a nearby leaf.
"Dishonour on you," Pyro went on. "Dishonour on your cow, dis-"
"Okay, okay," Anna interrupted. "I'm sorry. I'm just nervous. I haven't done this before."
"Well, that's what I'm here for, so you're going to have to trust me," Pyro said.
"Don't do it, Roguey," said Gambit.
"You're a fine one to advise for and against trusting," Pryo said.
"Absolument, mon ami," Gambit replied. "I'm clearly an authority on the subject."
"Okay, this is it," Pyro said as they arrived in camp. "Time to show them your man-walk. Shoulders back, chest high, feet apart, head up, and strut!"
Anna attempted to follow Pyro's instructions and instead ended up feeling very awkward and much like a fool as she walked past all the men and their tents. Some were shirtless. One was trimming some badly over-grown toenails, another picking his nose. Anna tried to avoid the urge to turn up her nose.
"They're disgusting," she said quietly to Pyro and Wanda, who were hiding in the back of her armour.
"No, they're men," Pyro replied. "And you're gonna have to act just like them, so pay attention."
"Look," said Vincent, proudly displaying the large dragon tattoo on his chest. "This tattoo will protect me from harm."
"Who's Vincent?" asked Rogue.
"That would be my name," said Mesmero, who had been hidden in the corner.
He was the only one with anything resembling a tattoo.
"Hmmm," said Logan.
He eyed the tattoo with consideration, and then punched Vincent right in the dragon. Roberto laughed as Vincent doubled over in pain.
"I hope you can get your money back," Roberto teased him.
"I don't think I can do this," Anna said.
"It's all attitude. Be tough, like this guy here," Pyro replied encouragingly, gesturing to Logan.
Logan spat and then noticed Anna looking at him.
"What are you looking at?" Logan demanded.
"Punch him. It's how men say hello," Pyro advised.
Anna punched Logan. Logan fell back into the tall man behind him.
"Logan! You've made a friend," said Piotr.
"Good," said Pyro cheerfully. "Now slap him on the behind. They like that."
Not knowing any better, Anna slapped Logan's behind. Logan growled and turned back to look at her.
"I'm gonna hit you so hard," he said menacingly, "it'll make your ancestors dizzy."
"Woohoo, go Rogue," said Kitty with a giggle.
"Chere, what this mean, you slapping other men on the butt?" Gambit asked. "I'm hurt."
"Such a nice, firm butt as well," Rogue said with a wink at Logan.
"Yes, it is, isn't it?" said Storm.
"Hey!" Gambit objected.
"Oh, you have a nice butt too, I suppose," Rogue said cheerfully.
Meanwhile, in the Captain's tent:
"The Huns have struck here, here, and here," said Jean-Luc, gesturing to the relevant places on the map before him. "I will take the main troops up to the Tung Chow Pass and stop Sabretooth before he destroys this village."
"Excellent strategy, sir," said Todd. "I do love surprises."
Ignoring, him, Jean-Luc continued to address the younger man in front of him. "You will stay and train the new recruits. When Todd believes you're ready, you will join us ... Captain."
"Captain?" Remy repeated.
"Oh, this is an enormous responsibility, General," Todd said "Perhaps a soldier with more experience?"
"Number one in his class, extensive knowledge of training techniques and an impressive military lineage," Jean-Luc said with a slight smirk. "I believe Lee Remy will do an excellent job."
"Oh I will. I won't let you down! This is," Remy began, and then caught himself: "I mean... Yes sir."
"Very good, then. We'll toast China's victory at the Imperial City. I'll expect a full report in three weeks."
"And believe me, I won't leave anything out," Todd added.
"Toad's a toady," Gambit said with a grin.
"I'm still your superior though," said Toad.
Gambit raised an eyebrow. Toad eeped and went back to hiding behind the lounge.
Remy followed Jean-Luc and Todd outside only the find the recruits he had been imagining training to be China's finest troops brawling in the middle of the camp. So enthralled in their fighting, they'd knocked over all sort of things, including the meal; rice was strewn everywhere.
"Good luck, Captain!" said Jean-Luc as he mounted his horse.
"Good luck... Father," Remy replied.
He watched as Jean-Luc and his mean departed the camp and then turned to face the still-brawling recruits. Remy pulled out a small rock from his pocket, charged it up and tossed it over the recruits where it exploded.
"Soldiers," Remy said, now that he had their attention.
"He started it!" a number of the recruit volunteered, pointing at Anna, who was curled up in a little ball in the middle.
Realising that everyone was looking at her, Anna quickly pulled herself up as Remy stalked over to her.
"I don't need anyone causing trouble in my camp," he told her.
"Sorry," she said, them remembered herself and adopted the younger voice. "I mean, sorry you had to se that. But you know what it is when you get those manly urges..."
"What's your name?" Remy demanded.
"Uhh..." Anna stammered, having not thought that far ahead.
"Your commanding officer just asked you a question," Todd said.
"I've got a name," Anna insisted. "And it's a boy's name, too."
"Let's see, a name, a name," said Pyro, trying to think. "Logan?"
"Logan? That's his name," Anna hissed at him.
"I didn't ask for his name," said Remy. "I asked for your name."
"Yes I know –"
"Well? What is it?"
"Mario," Pyro said. "He was my best friend growing up."
"Mario," Anna said
"Of course," Pyro went on with a frown. "Mario did steal my girl –"
"Was your girl's name Princess Peach?" asked Gambit.
"Mmmaybe," Pyro said slyly.
"Eh, Peach is overrated. Daisy's much hotter."
"I like Toadette," Toad piped up.
"Gee, I wonder why?"
"Yes," Anna said, this time more firmly. "My name is Mario."
"Let me see your conscription notice," Remy said.
Anna pulled out the summons and handed it to Remy. If it was possible that she could feel any more nervous, she was.
"Fa Charles? The Fa Charles?" Remy questioned, staring back up at her.
"I didn't know Fa Charles had a son," said Todd.
"Err, he ... doesn't talk about me much," Anna said.
She paused and attempted to spit as she had seen Logan do earlier, but the globule caught on her lip instead and refused to drop.
"I can see why," Todd said dryly. "The boy's an absolute lunatic."
"Okay, gentlemen," Remy said, cutting over the snickering that followed. "Thanks to your new friend Mario, you'll spend tonight picking up every single grain of rice. Tomorrow, the real work begins."
"Where's Luigi?" asked Gambit. "Sorry, whenever I think of Mario, I think of Luigi."
"And magic mushrooms," said Pyro.
"Magic mushrooms that make you 'bigger'," said Gambit mischievously.
The following morning, Anna joined the rowdy recruits in line outside. None of the recruits were happy to see her, least of all Logan and Roberto, whom she unwittingly ended up standing by. Fortunately, she was spared a fist to the mouth by the arrival of Remy.
"Soldiers! You will assemble swiftly and silently, every morning," he said. "Anyone who does otherwise, will answer to me."
Remy removed his shirt and picked up a bow and arrow. Anna tried not to stare.
"Ooh, tough guy," Logan said mockingly.
Everyone in the line stood back then when Remy pointed the bow and arrow at Logan. Logan paused, for one brief moment thinking that Remy was actually going to shoot him. At the last second, however, Remy lifted his aim and sent the arrow into the top of a tall pillar in the centre of the camp.
"Logan, thank you for volunteering," Remy said. "Retrieve the arrow."
"I'll get that arrow, pretty boy," Logan said under his breath as he stalked over to the pillar. "And I'll do it with my shirt on."
Logan was about to start climbing the smooth pillar when Remy stopped him:
"One moment," he said. "You seem to be missing something."
Todd approached, struggling to carry a case, which Remy opened. From the case he pulled two weights with long, cloth straps.
"This represents discipline," Remy said, holding up one of the weights, and then the other. "And this represents strength. You need both to reach the arrow."
He put both weights around Logan's wrists, and then gestured for him to start. The added weight was quite significant, but Logan was confident he could do it and began the climb. He didn't get very far, however, before he slid right back down again.
"So question," said Rogue. "Why doesn't Logan just use his claws to climb up?"
Because his claws are bone and can't pierce the pillar that easily.
Adamantium hasn't been discovered yet.
After Logan's failed attempts, Remy had all the other recruits try to climb up the pillar with the weights. All the recruits failed miserably, he left the weights nearby so that any recruit might try again at their leisure (if they weren't too exhausted from training).
Training included bo-staff fighting, hand to hand and archery. Logan, unsurprisingly, turned out to be rather good at the hand to hand, and as soon as Remy found out he had a healing factor, Remy was merciless in pushing him.
"Yes!" Bobby cheered. "Finally, Logan gets the tables turned on him in the danger room."
"This isn't the danger room," said Logan.
"It's training. Close enough," Rogue said with a grin.
Roberto excelled at archery and Piotr did well with the staff. Anna, on the other hand, struggled with everything. Her body simply wasn't used to this kind of physical activity and she was hard pressed to keep up with the men. To make matters worse, the recruits still resented Anna for the brawl on the first day and took it upon themselves to pull pranks and otherwise make things harder for her. Nevertheless, Anna continued to try her best.
One particular day, a number of weeks into their training, Remy had the recruits carry their staves across their shoulders with weights on either end, and led them on a walk that was almost fast enough to be a jog down a trail. Anna found herself getting further and further behind the recruits, and found herself wishing she was able to get close enough to Piotr to borrow his steel form. Of course, the downside of that plan was that she felt it would be cheating, and in any case, everyone else would notice and no doubt agree.
"Ooof," Anna gasped as she stumbled to the ground.
Her staff and the weights hit the dirt, and as she was taking a moment to catch her breath and try again, another hand picked up the staff. Anna looked up to see Remy lift her staff, and add her weights to his own. The look he gave her made her feel worthless, and then he turned his back and took off back to the front of the line, as if the added weight was nothing.
"Aww," said Gambit, hugging Rogue. "I don't think you're worthless, Roguey."
"That's good to know," Rogue replied.
Back at the camp that evening, Remy approached Anna with her horse.
"Go home," he told her. "We've got a war to fight, and you'll just be a liability to the rest of us."
"But I -" Anna began.
"Go," Remy repeated firmly, and turned his back on her for the second time that day.
Anna pressed her lips together tightly, fought off the urge to cry and finally turned to walk out of the camp. She hadn't taken more than a few steps, however, when her eyes fell on the smooth pillar in the centre of camp. No one had any success in climbing it yet.
She got a few hours rest, and then made her way down to the camp after everyone were well and truly fast asleep. She tied the weights to her wrists and tried the climb. She didn't get very far on her first attempt. On her second she did better, but not by much. After the fifth try, Anna was starting to wonder whether this was a fools errand, and stepped back to reassess the situation. She frowned at the weights; this would be so much easier if she didn't have them dragging her down. It was a shame there wasn't anyway to have them help her, rather than hinder her.
Anna walked right up to the pillar, and craned her neck around so she could see as much of the opposite side as possible. She swung her arms around, and the swung her wrists until the cloth straps of the weights brushed each other. After a few tries, she succeeded in getting the straps to wrap around each other, and she smiled to herself when she pulled her arms back and couldn't pull them all the way because the weights were too attached. She lifted her arms then, sliding the weights up the pillar. She leaned back just enough to keep the cloth taut, and then lifted her legs, pressing her knees into the sides of the pillar. Once again she began the climb.
Anna didn't quite get it straight away. She still slid down the pillar a few times, but she kept trying and was able to catch herself before she slid too far. In her determination to make it to the top, she didn't notice the sun rising or the recruits coming out of their tents, nor did she notice them watching her as she slowly but surely made her way to the very top of the pillar.
Then, at long last, after more hours than she could count, Anna got to the top. She took a moment to catch her breath as she sat on the top and then pulled out the arrow. It was in tight, but not beyond her ability to remove, even after the ordeal she''d just put her arms through. There was a cheer from below, and it was only then that Anna realised she had an audience.
With a proud grin, Anna turned and faced the Captain's tent. As soon as Remy emerged she tossed the arrow down at his feet and, when he looked up, she waved at him.
"That'll teach me," said Gambit.
Victor stood on the tree top and surveyed the land around him. There was a hank's cry and a moment later, Mystique dropped a small doll into Victor's hand. He inspected it, and them half climbed, half jumped down from the tree.
"What do you see?" he asked, holding out the doll to the men before him.
Alex took the doll first and inspected it briefly.
"Black pine," said Alex as he passed the doll on, "from the high mountains."
"White horse hair," said Bobby, before also passing the doll on. "Imperial stallions."
"Sulphur," said Fred after giving the doll a sniff, "from cannons."
"This doll," Victor said, taking the doll back, "came from a village in the Tung Show Pass, where the Imperial Army is waiting."
"We can avoid them easily," said Scott.
"No, the quickest way to the emperor is through that pass. Besides," Victor went on slyly, "the little girl will be missing her doll. We should return it to her."
"Oh sure," said Kitty. "Sure, you'd be interested in returning the girl's doll to her. I'm sure you've very concerned about the poor little girl who lost her dolly!"
"Yep," said Sabretooth. "I'm so concerned, I'm going to put her out of her misery."
"This is not a good idea," said Pyro as Anna stripped off and waded into the water. "What if someone sees you?"
"Just because I have to look like a man," Anna replied, "doesn't mean I have to smell like one."
"Hey," Gambit objected with a glare at Pyro. "No one gets to see naked Roguey except me."
"Oh please," Wanda said. "Like Pyro and I haven't been naked all story. We're a bug and a dragon for goodness sakes."
"If you're so worried," Anna went on. "Why don't you keep watch or something?"
Pyro grumbled and he and Wanda walked away.
"Yeah, yeah," Pyro muttered. "Stand watch, Pyro, while I blow our secret with my stupid girly habits. Hygiene."
It was at that moment that three naked men ran past.
"We're doomed! There're a couple of things I know they're bound to notice!"
"What is this? Naked hour?" asked Gambit.
"What wrong, Remy?" Rogue asked. "Worried you're not going to be invited to the nude scene?"
As soon as Logan, Roberto and Piotr hit the water, Anna sunk down under the water so that she was only visible from the neck up. Her eyes search frantically for ways to hide her body from the men.
"Hey, Mario!" Logan greeted.
"Oh, hi, guys," Anna replied nervously. "I didn't know you were here. I was just washing so now I'm clean and I'm gonna go. Bye-bye."
"Come back here," Roberto said, intercepting her before she could escape.
"Umm, you really shouldn't get too close," Anna said, for once grateful for her mutation. "Poisonous skin, and all that."
"Yeah, I remembered," said Roberto. "Look, I know we were jerks to you before, so let's start over. Hi, I'm Roberto."
"And I'm Piotr," said Piotr, paddling up near them.
"Hello, Piotr," Anna replied politely, keeping her arms firmly in front of her chest.
"And I am Logan, King of the Rock," Logan said from atop a rock in the middle of the pool. "And there's nothing you girls can do about it."
"Logan's a flasher!" Pyro hooted.
"Hey, you didn't get to see that much of me in my nude scene in Robin Hood," Gambit complained.
"Aren't there laws about people exposing themselves?" asked Rogue mischievously. "Especially teachers and students?"
"Yeah," said Roberto. "I really didn't need to see that."
"Not that I'm complaining, mind you," Rogue added, her grin growing broader.
"Rogue!" Gambit objected.
Logan just laughed.
"Oh yeah? Well, I think Mario and I can take you," Roberto declared.
"I really don't want to take him anywhere," Anna said.
"But, Mario, we have to fight," said Roberto.
"No, we don't. We could just close our eyes, and... swim around," Anna said, succeeded in backing away from the three towards the shore.
"C'mon! Don't' be such a..." Roberto began. "Ow! Something bit me!"
Pyro pulled a fast as he came up for air.
"What a nasty flavour," said Pyro.
"Snake!" Roberto yelled as his eyes fell on Pyro.
While Roberto, Piotr and Logan were busy panicking, Anna made it to the shore and wrapped her towel around her as she disappeared behind the bushes.
"Wanda, your boyfriend's biting other guy's butts," Gambit said.
"Please," said Logan. "Why on earth would I ever be scared of a snake?"
A herd of naked men running by and a change of clothes later, Anna was back at the camp. As she passed by Todd's tent, she overheard the end of an argument:
"You think your troops are ready to fight?" Todd asked scornfully. "Hah! They wouldn't last a minute against the Huns."
"They completed their training," Remy replied fiercely.
"Those boys are no more fit to be soldiers than you are to be captain. Once the general reads my report, your troops will never see battle."
"Oh, no, you don't!" Pyro hissed under his breath as Remy retorted. "I've worked too hard to get Anna into this war. This guy's messing with my plans."
"Be careful, Captain. The general may be your father, but I am the Emperor's Council. And, oh, by the way," Todd said as he gestured to the tent door, "I got that job on my own. You're dismissed."
"Hey," Anna said as Remy stalked out of the tent, "I'll hold him, and you punch."
Remy didn't reply.
"Or not," Anna said, paused and then added: "For what it's worth, I think you're a great captain."
"Aww Roguey," said Gambit. "You have a crush on me."
"Fancy that," Rogue replied dryly.
"Ahh, remember the days when Rogue objected to the whole idea?" Kitty said cheekily.
Pyro was not at all happy with this new development. So when Todd departed for his own bath, and Anna was resting in her tent, Pyro and Wanda sneaked into Todd's tent and located ink and paper. Wanda dipped her hands and feet into the ink and began writin. When she was done, Pyro held up the page.
"From General Lee," he read. "'Dear Son, we're waiting for the Huns at the pass. It would mean a lot of you'd come and back us up.' Hmm. That's great, except that you forgot, 'and since we're out of popourri, perhaps you wouldn't mind bringing up some.' Hello! This is the army. Make it sound a little urgent, please. You know what I'm talking about?"
Wanda grumbled as Pyro screwed up the paper –
"I did what now with the paper?" Pyro demanded.
Oh sorry, my bad.
Wanda grumbled as Pyro reduced the paper to ash and started writing another letter. This second one met with Pyro's approval, so they put together a soldier made of straw, mounted him on a panda and located Todd.
Todd, who was much put out by the treatment that the recruits were giving him.
"Urgent new from the general!" Pyro said, using a stick to hold out the fake arm and the scroll. "What's the matter, you've never seen a black and white before?"
"Who are you?" Todd asked, frowning at him as he took the scroll.
"Excuse me? I think the question should be 'who are you?'" Pyro replied hotly as the panda started to wander off. "We're in a war, man! There's no time for stupid questions."
"What's stupid is that you would fall for that," said Gambit. "So obviously a fake person and an unlikely steed."
"It's a cartoon," said Rogue. "You can get away with anything in cartoons."
Remy wasted no time in rousing the men and packing up camp in response to the urgent summons for them to go to the front. As one of the few with horses, Anna was assigned one of the wagons: hers was filled with cannons. Pyro and Wanda took refuge inside the wagon, while Anna walked and lead her horse. Logan, Roberto and Piotr walked with her.
The trek was long and quickly became uncomfortable. No amount of training had preparing them for the long, arduous walk.
Their aches and pains, however, were quickly forgotten when they arrived at the decimated village. The bodies of the villagers were strewn over the ground and building burned down to rubble.
"Look for survivors," Remy ordered.
The soldiers split up and searched through what was left of the village. Anna found a small doll lying on the floor of one house.
"Told ya I'd put her out of her misery," Sabretooth said smugly.
"You are such a bastard," Kitty said.
"I don't understand," said Remy. "My father should have been here."
"Captain!" called Todd.
Remy looked up to see where Todd was pointing; over the side of the hill that the village was built on. Remy caught his breath at the sight of a battlefield. The bodies of men of the Imperial Army and Huns alike were lying as far as the eye could see.
Piotr ran up to approach Remy, a helmet in his hands.
"Captain," he said softly. "The General..."
"And this is why I'm a thief and not a military man," said Jean-Luc. "You try and be a hero, you only end up dead."
"Unless you're Logan," said Gambit.
"Ha! All you need to do is shut down his power for a few days and adamantium poisoning will take him."
"I don't know," said Gambit. "That sounds like good military thinking to me."
"Not much fun though," said Sabretooth.
Remy found a place overlooking the battlefield and drive his sword into the snowy ground. He placed his father's helmet on the sword and knelt to say a brief prayer.
"I'm sorry," Anna said sympathetically from behind.
Remy slowly stood up, giving Anna the barest of nods.
"The Huns are moving quickly," he said to the gathering troops. "We'll make better time to the Imperial City through the Tung Show pass. We're the only hope for the Emperor now. Move out!"
Anna stopped long enough to sit the doll by the sword, and then took the reins of her own horse.
"Heh, Remy praying," Jean-Luc said. "That a first for you, mon fils?"
"I'm surprised you even know what the word means," Remy replied.
Sometime later, their all but silent trip through the pass was broken by the sound of a rocket going off. Anna turned to see Pyro and Wanda peering out a new hole in the wagon and glared at the sheepish expression on Pyro's face.
"What happened?" Remy demanded, riding over to her. "You just gave away our position. Now we're -"
Whatever Remy had been planning on saying was cut off by an arrow slamming into his shoulder. It knocked him off his horse, but his armour was enough to protect him from injury. Everyone looked up to see the Huns at the top of the cliff.
"Get out of range!" Remy yelled.
The soldiers started to run for it, only for a flurry of arrows to stop them. Beams of red light hit the wagons and lit them on fire.
"Scott and Alex up to mischief?" asked Rogue with a grin.
But of course! Mwahaha.
"Save the cannons!" Remy shouted.
As many men who could raced to save a cannon from the burning wagon. Anna freed her horse from the wagon while Pyro and Wanda jumped onto the horse. Everyone ran off as fast as they could through the last of that leg of the pass, and beyond the cliffs the Huns were shooting arrows at them from. They took refuge at a rocky point, where, not far behind them, there was a steel drop down. The first men with cannons to get there began shooting at the Huns on the cliffs.
"Hold the last cannon," Remy commanded when the Huns disappeared from view.
For a moment there was silence, and then on the hill leading up to the cliffside they saw a man on a horse. As the man rode towards them, they could see even more men appear behind him.
The fact that they were vastly outnumbered by the Huns was not lost on them at all.
"Prepare to fight," said Remy. "If we die, we die with honour."
"Heh heh heh," said Sabretooth. "It's gonna be a slaughter and it's gonna be fun."
"You're not familiar with the story of Mulan, are you?" said Kitty.
"Sure I am," said Sabretooth. "She dies tragically in every version."
"But Chellerbelle's parodying the Disney version."
Sabretooth paused for a moment. "Aww crap."
Remy looked at Logan, who had the last cannon.
"Aim for Victor," Remy said.
As Logan was aiming the cannon, Anna happened to spot a glacial overhang looming over the path of the Huns from the mountain. She wasted no time talking, instead she ran forward, whipped the cannon out of Logan's grip and ran towards the Huns.
"Mario!" Remy called. "Mario, come back!"
Anna paid him no mind and stopped running when she felt she had the best vantage point. She started to line up the cannon with the glacial overhang, but then Mystique flew by, knocking her off balance and she lost her flint in the snow.
"Come on," Logan yelled, seeing Victor coming closer and closer. "We gotta help!"
Remy, Logan, Piotr and Roberto charged forward, swords in hand (although Remy was fastest by virtue of being on a horse.
Anna searched frantically for the flint as Victor closed the distance, and finally grabbed Pyro and used him to light the fuse.
"Remy, your girlfriend is manhandling me," said Pyro.
"I don't know, Roguey," said Gambit. "A nude scene with other men, touching up someone else's boyfriend... whatever am I going to do with you?"
"I don't know," Rogue replied with a sly smile, "but I hope it involves a hot tub. All this snow is making me cold."
"You missed!" Pyro exclaimed as the cannon shot towards the overhang. "How could you miss? He was three feet in front of you!"
The cannon exploded and the snow came tumbling down in a great avalanche. Victor looked back to see not only his entire army being wiped out, but the avalanche rushing towards them. His eyes blazed with fury and he turned to the warrior that had just cost him his victory. He slashed at her with his sword, but before he had could make the killing blow, Remy swept Anna up out of the way and onto his horse. Unfortunately, they hadn't gone far before the avalanche reached them. Anna and the horse managed to stay up, but Remy was swept off the horse. Caught in the wave, Anna searched frantically for her captain, and succeeded in catching up to his unconscious body.
"That's some pretty good riding," said Rogue, "even if I do say so myself."
"Do you see them?" Piotr asked, from where they were safely out of the path of the avalanche.
"Yes!" Logan declared.
He shot an arrow fitted with a rope towards Anna and Remy.
"Perfect!" he said. "Now I'll pull them to safety."
Unfortunately, the rope flew right through his fingers.
"It may have been a good idea to tie the rope to something first, Logan," said Gambit.
"I found a lucky bug," Pyro declared, holding Wanda.
The arrow came flying past and Anna grabbed it
"Nice, very nice," Pyro said to Wanda as Anna tied the rope around the horse. "You can sit by me."
It was then that they noticed the cliff they were rushing towards.
"Ahh!" Pyro yelled. "We're gonna die! We're gonna die! No way we survive this! Death is coming!"
Anna shot the arrow back towards her friends.
"I let them slip through my fingers," Logan wept, and was suitably surprised when the arrow appeared in his hands.
"Aww, Logan's crying," said Gambit.
Logan stuck up his middle claw at Gambit.
Logan grabbed the arrow and was dragged along the ground. Roberto and the others grabbed hold of him, but the combined weight of Anna, Remy, the horse, Pyro and Wanda going over the cliff was too much. Finally, Piotr walked over, turned himself into steel, and picked up Logan and the others, carrying everyone back up the cliffside again.
There was cheering as Anna, Remy and the others finally got on solid land again. Anna looked at her captain.
Remy, who had regained consciousness in the meantime, shook his head and looked up at Anna.
"Mario, you are the craziest man I ever met," he said. "And for that, I owe you my life. From now on, you have my trust."
"Let's hear it for Mario, the bravest of us all!" Roberto shouted.
"You're King of the Mountain!" Logan declared.
Anna grinned despite herself at the cheering that followed. She started to stand, but was felled almost immediately, and it was only then that she realised her injury.
Sabretooth chuckled wickedly.
"You hurt ma chere," said Gambit darkly. "I hurt you."
"What about us?" asked Scott. "We're the ones she killed in her avalanche."
"Hey," said Rogue. "You guys killed Ray, Duncan, Jean-Luc and the Imperial Army. Just desserts, if ya'll ask me."
"Why was there an avalanche without me?" asked Lance. "Not fair."
The men quickly set up a tent, where she was taken inside and the doctor tended to her injury. When he was done, the doctor emerged and spoke briefly to Remy. Remy stared at him in disbelief before stepping into the tent himself. Anna looked up as he entered and started to sit up, only for the blanket to slip down, revealing her feminine figure. Anna realised her mistake the moment she saw the look on Remy's face.
"I can explain –" she began.
But before she could get any further, Todd entered the tent.
"So it's true," he said.
Remy did nothing to interfere while Todd grabbed Anna and pulled her out of the tent, throwing her down in the snow in front of everyone.
"The only way you could possibly manhandle me like that, Toad," Rogue said, "is because I'm injured. I'd just like that on record."
"No way," said Toad. "I can totally beat you in a fight."
Rogue threw him a condescending look.
"Who are you trying to kid?" she asked.
"I knew there was something wrong with you," Todd declared. "A woman! Treacherous snake."
"My name is Anna," Anna said loudly. "I did it to save my father!"
"High treason!" Todd shouted at her.
"I didn't mean for it to go this far!"
"It was the only way," Anna insisted, looking at Remy. "Please, believe me!"
Without a word, Remy made his way to Anna's horse and took out her sword. Logan, Roberto and Piotr started to intervene, but Todd stopped them.
"You know the law," Todd said.
"Heh," Logan said with a smirk. "Right, like anything you say is going to stop me."
"I get no respect," said Toad.
Remy stopped in front of Anna, and then dropped her sword on the ground in front of her.
"A life for a life. My debt is repaid," he told her, and then turned to the soldiers. "Move out!"
"But you can't just –" Todd began.
"I said, 'Move out'," Remy snapped at him.
Silently, everyone began to walk away, save for Logan who lagged behind just long enough to hold a hand out to Anna.
"You borrow powers, right?" he said, not looking at her.
Anna said a quiet thank you before reaching out and touching his hand to borrow his healing factor.
"Why didn't he do that in the first place?" asked Gambit.
"Because she wasn't facing dying from injuries and exposure in the snow before," Logan replied. "And we wouldn't have known how bad it was initially. Just because Rogue can borrow my healing factor, doesn't mean I'm going to lend it to her every time she gets a paper cut."
"I don't know," said Kitty teasingly. "There was no healing factor in the movie."
In the movie, Mulan also went on to climb and ride and generally kick butt while she was still injured.
"Hmm, good point."
Anna, Pyro, Wanda and the horse were left alone in the snow, huddled under a blanket. The tent had been taken, what with it being military issue and all.
"I was this close," Pyro said woefully. "This close to impressing the ancestors, getting the top shelf... man! All my fine work."
"I should never have left home," Anna said.
"Hey come on," Pyro said. "You wanted to save your father's life. Who knew you'd end up shaming him, disgracing your ancestors and losing all your friends. Y'know, you just gotta ... just gotta learn to let these things go."
"Maybe I didn't go for me father," said Anna. "Maybe what I really wanted was to prove that I could do things right."
"Maybe," he said. "And... well since we're confessing... Your ancestors didn't send me; they don't even like me. I mean, you risked your life to help people you love. I risked your life to help myself. At least you had good intentions."
Wanda started to cry.
"I'm... I'm... I'm not lucky!" she sobbed.
"What do you mean, you're not lucky! You ... lied to me?" Pyro demanded.
Wanda nodded, her eyes filled with tears.
"No," said Pietro. "That's a lie. Wanda doesn't know how to cry."
"Just goes to show what a good actress I am," Wanda replied haughtily.
Anna took a deep breath.
"I'll have to face my father sooner or later," she said. "Let's go home."
"Yeah. This ain't gonna be pretty," Pyro said. "But don't you worry, okay? Things will work out. We started this thing together and that's how we'll finish it. I promise."
They got up on the horse and started to ride off when they heard a cry and then the shadow of a hawk pass by. They sunk into the shadows and looked towards the hill. The snow started moving, and abruptly Victor broke free, giving a yell of exultation.
The snow continued to ripple. Two circles of red light formed, one melting the snow, the other blasting it, and from those spots Scott and Alex emerged. Snow in two other places flew up into the air and from those holes Fred and Pietro appeared. Finally, an icey figure seemed to stand up from the bank and, once his feet were on the surface, turned back to flesh and blood; Bobby.
There was not a word between them, they just began their trek towards the Imperial City.
"Oh so that's why I'm a Hun," said Bobby. "Because I could survive the avalanche. Hey, I wonder if that would work in real life?"
"We can find out if you want," Lance said.
The streets of the Imperial City were filled with joyous people and celebration as the Imperial Army – or what was left of it – arrived.
"Make way for the heroes of China!" shouted the parade leader over and over as they walked.
But the 'heroes of China' were anything but happy about all this. It didn't feel right to any of them that Anna, the one who really defeated the Huns in the pass, was left behind.
"Remy!" Anna called from the sidelines.
Remy pressed his lips together. She was a woman, and she was talking out of place. He couldn't acknowledge her.
"Remy," Anna said, insistently, driving her horse alongside him into the parade.
"Anna," Remy replied tersely.
"The Huns are alive," she said. "They're in the city."
"You don't belong here, Anna," Remy said, not looking at her. "Go home."
"Remy, I saw them in the mountains. You have to believe me."
"Why should I?"
"Why else would I come back? You said you'd trust Mario. Why is Anna any different?"
Remy didn't reply, riding around her instead. Anna shook her head and looked at Logan, Roberto and Piotr.
"Keep your eyes open," she said. "I know they're here."
"Wait so, they just finish the major battle and all of a sudden everyone knows about their victory and they have celebrations ready?" asked Rogue.
Apparently. Of course, you've also had time to change your clothes and the Huns have had time to get their plans into action too, so...
The parade, complete with entertainers in a Chinese Dragon, finally arrived at the Imperial Palace, where Emperor Erik had come out to greet them. Remy got down from his horse and knelt before the Emperor, a unique sword in his hands.
"Your Majesty, I present to you the sword of Victor," said Remy,
"I know what this means to you, Captain Lee. Your father would have been very proud," Emperor Erik replied.
"Proud? Only if he stole it," said Jean-Luc.
"Well, since Victor is still alive, then technically I did steal it," said Remy. "Although... when did I steal it? Wow, I'm so good at this stealing stuff, I even do it behind my back."
Oh probably during the battle with Victor or something. Or maybe it got picked up after the avalanche settled.
It was at that moment that Mystique came flying past. She grabbed the sword in her talons and everyone watched as she flew up to the top of the Imperial Palace where Victor was sitting like a gargoyle on the roof.
While everyone was distracted, the entertainers came out from underneath the Chinese Dragon costume, revealing themselves as Huns. Fred grabbed Emperor Erik and the five ran towards the palace, sealing them inside, despite attempts to stop them before they got that far.
The men pulled down a statue and tried using it as a battering ram against the doors.
"They'll never reach the Emperor in time," Anna said to herself.
She looked around and her eyes fell on the tall pillars by the side of the palace. She smiled as an idea came to her.
"Hey guys!" she called. "I've got an idea!"
Logan, Roberto and Piotr looked at each other, and then followed Anna.
Anna wasted no time in explaining her plan, and the men quickly changed... into women's clothing. Anna, Logan, Piotr and Roberto then wrapped their silk belts around the pillars. They were about to begin the climb when Remy joined them, taking off his cape and wrapping that around the pillar. Anna smiled at him, and the five climbed.
"Logan's in drag!" Gambit shouted.
"So am –" Piotr began but Roberto nudged him.
"If you don't say anything," Roberto said quietly, "they'll only give Logan a hard time about it."
"So it's okay for me to dress like a guy, but it's not okay for guys to dress like girls?" asked Rogue.
"Don't be absurd," said Gambit. "It's definitely not okay for you to dress like a guy, chere. Although I do admit it is very sexy when I see you wearing nothing but one of my shirts..."
Meanwhile, Victor was on one of the palace balconies over looking the city. With him was Emperor Erik.
"Your walls and armies have fallen," Victor said. "And now it's your turn. Bow to me."
"It's Sabey's secret fantasy all the time we were working for Magsy," said Gambit with a grin.
"Heh," cackled Pyro. "Delusions of grandeur."
Sabretooth growled at them.
Fred and Bobby were guarding the door leading to the balcony, and it was they whom Anna, Logan, Piotr and Roberto approached first.
"Who's there?" Bobby demanded.
"Concubines," said Fred, eyeing the 'women' skeptically.
"Ugly concubines," Bobby said, turning up his nose.
"I'll take that as a compliment," said Roberto.
"Me too," said Piotr.
"It's a wonder Logan can pass for a woman at all with all that hair," said Gambit.
"Haven't you ever heard of the bearded lady?" asked Logan.
"Calling yourself a freak show, are we?"
"Takes one to know one."
Mystique noticed Remy hiding in the shadows, and was about to cry an alarm when Pyro breathed fire on her, burning off every one of her feathers.
"Now that's what I call Mongolian barbeque," Pyro said to Wanda.
"Yes!" Pyro cheered. "I got to burn Mystique!"
"And make a bad joke about it," said Wanda.
Then an apple rolled out of Roberto's dress and Fred leaned over to pick it up. As Fred stood back up (trying to decide whether to hand it back or to eat it), Logan, Piotr and Roberto pulled more fruit from the tops of their dresses and all attacked.
"Remy! Go!" Anna called as they dispatched the Huns.
Remy wasted no time running past the doors and up the stairs.
"Run Forest, run!" Rogue said. "Sorry, couldn't help myself."
"We all have... urges," said Gambit. "I'd like to act on a few urges of mine."
"I tire of your arrogance, old man," Victor snarled. "Bow to me!"
"No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it," Emperor Erik replied with dignity.
"Then you will kneel," Victor replied, raising his sword, "in pieces!"
Fortunately for the Emperor, it was at that moment that Remy appeared on the balcony. He wasted no time in intervening, engaging Victor in battle as the others joined them. Victor's sword was forced from his grip and embedded into a nearby pillar.
"My apologies, your Majesty," said Piotr as he picked up the Emperor.
Piotr put Emperor Erik over his shoulder and with his free hand he slung his silk belt over a rope which a number of paper lanterns had been strung on. Logan and Roberto followed as Victor shouted an anguished "No!"
In his fury, Victor threw Remy aside like he was nothing more than a rag doll and lunged towards the rope. Thinking fast, Anna grabbed the sword from the pillar and brought it down on the rope. Severed, the rope fell to the ground and the crowd cheered as Piotr, Logan and Roberto rushed Emperor Erik to safety.
"You took away my victory," Victor snarled.
"Does anyone else find that funny?" asked Gambit. "Victor bemoaning the loss of his victory?"
Enraged, Victor chased after Anna. Anna pelted down the stairs and ran straight into the other three Huns.
"Well, well," said Pietro. "Lookie what we have here."
"Wait a second," said Kitty. "That didn't happen."
I just feel the need to include more mutant powery goodness. Besides, it doesn't say what happened to the other Huns.
Pietro, however, didn't know what Anna's powers were and made the mistake of touching her skin. With his super-speed under her belt, Anna wasted no time in absorbing Alex and Scott and turned to face Victor as he lunched towards her.
Anna's hands shot up towards Victor. Red light beamed from her hands and eyes, slamming into Victor and blasting him through the palace roof (destroying it, of course) and into a nearby fireworks tower. The fuses of the fireworks ignited and all the rockets went off all at once in all directions.
Hmm, I'm sure that wouldn't seem nearly so anticlimactic if you could see it.
"See? You should have stuck with the Disney version all the way," said Kitty.
This coming from the person who fusses about me swiping half the dialogue.
After the excitement and died down – more or less – The Emperor, Logan, Piotr, Roberto, Anna and Remy gathered on the palace steps just in time to see Todd stalking over to them in a rage. Remy, Logan, Roberto and Piotr all stood in front of Anna.
"That was a deliberate attempt on my life!" Todd declared. "Where is she? Now she's done it! What a mess! Stand aside, that creature's not worth protecting."
"She's a hero," Remy said determinedly.
"She's a woman. She'll never be worth anything," Todd replied.
"Listen, you pompous –" Remy began.
"That is enough!" Emperor Erik cut in.
"Your Majesty, I can explain," Remy started to say and was silenced when the Emperor gestured for the men to move aside so he could see Anna.
"I've heard a great deal about you, Fa Anna," he said. "You stole your father's armour, ran away from home, impersonated a soldier, deceived your commanding officer, dishonoured the Chinese Army, destroyed my palace!"
Anna looked down, swallowing hard.
"And," he went on, "you have saved us all."
The Emperor bowed to Anna, and Anna looked up and around in shock as everyone (Todd included, if reluctant) followed suit.
"Our little baby is all grown up and saving China," Pyro said with a sniffed and then looked at Wanda."Do you have a tissue?"
"Todd," said the Emperor as he lifted his head once more.
"Your Excellency?" Todd inquired.
"See that this woman is made a member of my council."
"What?" Todd asked in shock. "But uhh...there are no council positions open, your Majesty."
"Very well," Emperor Erik replied and looked at Anna. "You can have his job."
"What?" Todd said, his eyes wide with alarm.
"With all due respect, your Excellency," Anna said. "I think I've been away from home long enough."
"Then take this," he said, taking off his pendant and handing it to her, "so your family will know what you have done for me. And this," he went now, now giving her Victor's sword, "so the world will know what you have done for China."
Anna looked at the gifts in shock, and then threw her arms around Emperor Erik in a big hug.
"Is she allowed to do that?" Logan asked the other men quietly.
Anna pulled away and then turned to her friends. She hugged Logan, Piotr and Roberto in turn and then looked to Remy.
"Um ... you ... You fight good," he said.
"Oh. Thank you," Anna replied, keeping the disappointment out of her voice.
As Anna departed, Emperor Erik approached Remy.
"The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all," he said.
"Sir?" Remy inquired.
"You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty."
"Never thought I'd see the day where Remy was getting romantic advice from Buckethead," said Pyro.
Wanda and Rogue laughed while Gambit pulled a face.
Anna wasted no time in returning home, and she found her father sitting underneath the cherry trees.
"Anna!" Charles exclaimed the moment his eyes laid on her.
"Father," Anna said happily, and then knelt at his feet, presenting this gifts to him. "Father, I've brought you the sword of Victor. And the Crest of the Emperor! They're gifts to honour the Fa Family."
Charles pushed the gifts aside and hugged Anna instead.
"The greatest gift and honour," he said softly, "is having you for a daughter. I've missed you so."
"I've missed you too."
"Aww," said Gambit. "So sweet."
"Dork," said Rogue.
"Huh," said Tabitha, from where she was watching with Ororo. "She brings home a sword. If you ask me she should've brought home a man."
"Excuse me," said Remy as he approached the two women. "Does Fa Anna live here?"
Tabitha and Ororo looked at each other, then pointed to Anna and Charles
"Thank you," he said, and made his way towards Anna.
"Woo!" said Tabitha, her eyes alight. "Sign me up for the next war."
"Okay see at first I was all, I have to be a grandmother? That sucks," said Tabitha. "But now I understand. I get to check out Remy and get away with it! Woohoo!"
"Hey," Sam objected.
Sam sighed. "Nevermind.
"Honourable Fa Charles, I-" Remy began and then spotted Anna. "Anna! Uhh... you forgot your helmet. Well, actually it's your helmet, isn't it, I mean –"
"Would you like to stay for dinner?" Anna asked with a tolerant smile.
"Would you like to stay forever?" Tabitha called.
"Oh yay," Gambit said dryly. "I'm being checked out by a little old lady."
'Hey!" Tabitha objected. "I'm hurt."
Meanwhile, in the Family Temple:
"Who did a good job?" Pyro asked Hank coaxingly. "Come on, tell me who did a good job."
"Oh, all right," said Hank. "You can be a guardian again."
Pyro cheered. Wanda began ringing the gong so that all the ancestors woke up.
"You know," said Evan as the temple erupted in celebration, "she gets it from my side of the family."
"Wait, didn't you say she got it from someone else's side of the family earlier?" asked Gambit.
"Yep," Evan replied.
"That's why it's funny," said Kitty.
"I don't care whose side of the family I get it from," said Rogue. "The rate this story was going, I was related to everyone."
"Not me," said Todd.
"Aww, it's a happy ending then," said Wanda.
"You know what would make this a happier ending, chere?" Gambit asked Rogue.
"What's what?" Rogue asked.
"A nude scene involving you and me, and no one else."
"And preferably no audience either?"
"All right then. Sounds like a plan," Rogue said, standing up. "Let's go."
"Hey Wanda," Pyro began. "You know what would make this a happier –"