SETTLEMENTS OF MADDY SUE(S)

By Quillon42

SOMETIME AGAIN IN LATE 1988 IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

The warmth of the child in Madelyne's hands felt familiar to her, but nothing else connected her at the moment to that miracle of creation that both she and Scott had shared.

To her now, all that Nathan Christopher had been was a nasty clay pigeon that needed to be shot down.

And so the woman, or the Goblin Queen rather, had tossed him, high into the air, apparently beyond the psionic range of her genetic source Jean…the child was out of reach just as Madelyne let loose with her lethal concussive blast…

…But then not, as little Chris's father leapt out from a nearby crag, in a small moment of heroism, finally, for the man, as Scott tumbled down, absorbing one more excruciating energy burst from his once-wife as he tumbled down with the baby to seeming safety.

This was all too much for Madelyne to bear. First her husband leaves her and the babe, snatches away from her the happy, stable life she should have led in Alaska…then he literally drops in again to snatch victory away from her. Well, if she were going to go down, she would not go out sweetly and gracefully.

"If the only way I can kill you and Scott and that baby…that prizeSinister's prize…is to KILL US ALL…SO BE IT!"

In this reality, though…just as the Goblin Queen was raring and set to unleash a megaton blast of unholy demonic energy…

[SQUAWWWWWKKKKKK!] (or whatever sound the Phoenix Force makes when it appears)

…Here, the Phoenix entity broke in a bit sooner—rather than flowing out of Madelyne Pryor at the moment of her death, as well as the moment at which she tried to yank Jean Grey down along with her…here the ethereal avian in truth popped in a pace earlier, intervening just before its demon-dominated creation could cause any lethal harm, to others or most of all to herself.

Madelyne in fact was suspended high in the air a moment, up and above the bubble she established with her redhead cellular source, the recipient of a cosmic fire that did not burn, but only cleansed—cleaned the woman of all of her possession, and more critically, all of her rage.

Flowing with the heavenly creature's flames—but again not burning for an instant—Madelyne's body twirled a couple of times in the aura of the entity, then fluttered down to the ground, peacefully even, unconscious at the feet of Jean, Scott, and the baby Nathan Christopher.

When Marvel Girl scanned and found a pulse and Maddy in fact very much alive, both Summers brothers rejoiced wholeheartedly. She never had to die; every human being connected to her knew that. Only some random odd demon from the Inferno, who opined that the world or universe was not large enough for Jean and Madelyne at the same time—and only some infernal-indeed Machine which assheadedly made the same totally untrue and unnecessary assessment—had made such judgments.

And until the very present moment, only Madelyne herself really wanted to die, could never bring herself to live in the same world as Jean. This was until the Phoenix came and saved her, saved her in this reality, at this juncture, flowed into her and not Jean, who did not need such assistance. Even now, as the heroes gathered around the former Queen's form, Mads was experiencing a dream the opposite of the nightmare which brought her to wear the blue tatters, the boots, and the medallion…a dream in which a magnificent fiery birdlike creature offered her the gift of grace in place of rage and the need for revenge—and Madelyne accepted it wholeheartedly.

As the dream came to its conclusion, Madelyne Pryor curled up around herself on the roof of the reverting Empire State Building, found herself in a state of semi-consciousness, taking her time to come back to the world of the living, found herself relaxing instead of raging for the first time in as long as she could remember.

It was the Outbackers who took Maddy as well as her baby, back along with them, to have both checked out for traces of any kind of demonic corruption, once the demonic fire of Inferno had finally died down. Instantly after the bubble duel (or "duet," as Machine editors would have it) with Jean, Longshot escorted Madelyne and Nathan Christopher most gentlemanly back to Australia, whereupon Gateway then bounced them to Otherworld for the goddess Roma to protect against Sinister and administer mystic scans to make sure everything was all right.

After about a couple days of said administering, the overseeress of Otherworld determined that Maddy would be okay—and that, to boot, she was showing signs of strengths, abilities really—which she had exhibited before, in a very limited context while on an adventure among teams on both sides of the Canadian border. Roma knew, for one, that she had neglected some exotic plants inhabiting her workspace, due to all the time she spent on bringing Miss Pryor back to full functionality, and that said flowers would certainly be in need of nourishment. But it was while Madelyne was still seemingly under, that the buds all around the goddess began to perk, then rise again, then flourish once more.

It was clear: Madelyne had recovered the Anodyne self of hers—courtesy of the cleansing Phoenix Force, apparently, which cured her of her Goblinism the way it cured so many ailments during the recent moments of adversity the mutants had with the Avengers.

Yes, within hours Maddy was back on her feet, and she was also totally serene to boot. Gone was not only the possession, but the overbearing rage, the hunger for revenge. The semblance of an Alaskan native that she was had been restored almost to who she was before her turning.

Almost. The fact remained, though, that although Madelyne did not seek revenge any longer…she still was in need for compensation for what she had endured. And for all her struggle, between abandonment by the love of her life, near slaughter by the Marauders and the surrender of her infant son to them, deception into a demonized reality by creatures of the netherworld, and near dismemberment by Sinister so that the latter could study her and "find out where he went wrong," certainly arrangements for reparations would be in order for the lady.

But in order to maximize on this endeavor, Madelyne would require the representational services of someone who could empathize with her pain and suffering more than anyone.

And she knew exactly to whom she could turn.

Drawing a deep breath, Madelyne proceeded, with baby in tow, through a portal established by Roma to a place which was more than forbidding, and perhaps the last place where the once-soul-polluted pilot should have traversed: the demon realm of Limbo.

She had a number of items on her agenda, though, which she needed to reach. And there were three men…er, male creatures that she had such business dealings with, one of whom would provide her with the greatest of advocacy skills for her latest pursuit.

Maddy found, as she lowered herself and Nathan Christopher into Limbo, that just the mere passage into this place was imbuing her with at least a small fraction of the Goblin abilities she had from before. She was not restored to the maleficent megaton blasts from past dealings with the 'Men and the 'Factor in Inferno, but she regained some of the tricks and the talents. Also, in this realm only—and perhaps appropriately—she found herself clad once more in that semi-clothed cerulean outfit from the Infernal nights as well, complete with thigh-high boots and medallion.

With the knowledge of her restored, darker talents, Miss Pryor snapped her fingers, and the equine-looking evil known as N'astirh came forward out of the extradimensional ether. The imposingly tall, demonic nightmare kicked his hooves a second, then addressed his former employer. "My Dread Queen," he uttered, "it is most fortunate that you were able to survive your encounter with those wayward fools, those mutant heroes of Earth despite the fact that the objective of your intentions had not come to fruition…"

She then waved the hand that was not holding little infant NC, and N'astirh stopped talking.

"I'm…I'm not going to rebuke you anymore," she said, with a look in her eyes which was partially bitter but partially exhausted. "I almost burned myself out of existence up there, in Earth, following a dark path of fury…I'm not doing it anymore. I just came down here to tell you, one, that although I didn't appreciate your using me and my feelings of vengefulness to fuel your demonic plot…I forgive you for it."

N'astirh's horsey face blanched at this. She's…forgiving me?

Madelyne's face in turn reflected only serenity…although to the demon it seemed a bit too calm.

Then he found out why.

"Two…you're being sued."

And with that, Madelyne whisked out a small scroll, which was originally in a pilot jacket pocket, but which she now realized was in a compartment in her tattered cape. With a flourish she whapped N'astirh on the nose lightly with the scroll, and the process of the service of her lawsuit against him as one of her defendants was complete.

"You're suing me?! For what?"

"You'll find out, once the lawyer I'm seeking puts all the paperwork in order. Speaking of said lawyer…"

And then Madelyne's eyes burned with an intensity that had not been since Inferno itself.

"You'd better produce him for me, right this instant, Horseface Killah—the man I know you've been working on so elaborately, of late—or else I'll put you in the same condition that the demons are telling me telepathically he's in right now."

"Oh, oh, alright!" said the creature, cowering, as he started to run off. The woman's bluff worked quite well; in truth, Maddy was through with hurting people with her powers, as part of her renewed life's resolutions. But if she still had to show tough at times, she was still more than capable. And it wasn't as if she couldn't carry out her threat to N'astirh—she was just through with that sort of violence.

"And get me that bumbling purple poop of a…personoid S'ym as well!" she called, as the horrible horse-thing continued racing away.

Maddy watched the demon sprint out into the swirling hellish streams of Limbo, his frenzied body crushing into a few crags of diabolical rock before he finally gained the presence of mind once more to teleport away. "You know what N'astirh and NASCAR have in common?" she idly asked the child in her arms, as the lady lovingly hugged NC closer to her. "People like to watch 'em for the crashes."

A few seconds later and a ginormous jungle-gym of steel and flesh was delivered before the former Goblin Queen. Madelyne looked on the former person with pity and some disgust, then addressed him.

"Cameron Hodge," she began, she massaging her child's back to keep him from crying at the terrible, traumatic sight before him, "you and I…we have a lot in common.

"We both were in positions of trust, with the teams on which we served. I was the computer hack, the grocery shopper, the otherwise assistant to the X-Men in their still-extant Outback period. You were the public relations person, the attorney also, part of the originating hive mind of X-Factor. We both betrayed that trust, for varied reasons. You, out of envy of your friend Warren Worthington, as well as your hatred for mutants generally. I, out of wrath for my husband Scott Summers, and my need to bring down around his ears all that he had built.

"I will say outright, at the outset, that I should hate you, for contributing to the invention of the machinery through said Factor that took my husband away from me. But I know full well that it wasn't the team, but rather the Jean, that really scooped him up. And I am through with such vengefulness. In any case…I want you to know that I harbor no feelings of ill will toward you."

"Woman," Cameron began, looking overly menacing in his awful wardrobe of wires and a conglomeration of contraptions, "there is nothing you could offer me that N'astirh cannot offer—and so much more effectively, I might add. Please do not trouble me with the past and…"

"Yes, of course," Madelyne cut in, "you can't do better than a demon who made you into this…anathema of machinery I'm looking at right now. I can give you back your…in fact, here."

Before Cameron could do anything, Maddy stepped forward and placed a hand on his forehead, which was miraculously still flesh. And with that, she utilized her Anodyne abilities, and just like that, gone were the devilish-looking doodads that decorated the former human, and former human Hodge he was once all over again.

He marveled at the arms and legs that were him once more, decked out entirely in a navy blue suit worthy of the most prestigious of attorneys on the planet.

"This will be temporary, Hodge—and in fact, I'll revert you right back—unless you switch teams and work for me."

The once-more-man looked to Pryor and lingered in his gaze a second…then nodded. "What is it that you require?"

"It took me so, so long to prepare just the service of process against N'astirh just now," Lady Pryor said, burping little NC a second as she bounced him in her arms. "I need your lawyering talents to help me in the greatest battle I may ever fight—not one of the atom, but rather of the courtroom.

"Come on…it'll be Madelyne and Cameron—or Cameron and Madelyne, your name will go first," she said, taking a step closer to the man once more. "We'll make an unbeatable team."

Madelyne extended the hand that again was not holding Nathan Christopher…and a moment later, Cameron shook it.

"Hey," she added, as she put a free arm around Hodge, "you wouldn't happen to know where someone…or really, something, named S'ym might be…would you?"

The Habeas-Corpus-granted Hodge shook his head. "No…I've only been dealing with N'astirh, as of late."

(NB: Habeas Corpus is a kind of "get out of jail" legal benefit, the name of which is Latin for "You shall have the body"…here, for Cameron, that meaning is really literal of course.—Q42)

"Well…two out of three ain't bad…for now," said Mads to herself as she then whisked herself, the child, and the Cameron out of Limbo. She made a mental note to come back soon, though, and finish the resolutions she started to fulfill down there.

What came next in the superheroing serialization of things was a superhuman civil action against a number of defendants joined together. In truth, it was a suit associated with Madelyne Pryor that was even more evocative than her Goblin raiment, if it could be imagined.

Over the course of the following few months, "Cameron and Madelyne"—the names sounding ever so sonorous in the Daily Bugle headlines—sued so many…although Maddy didn't take absolutely everything she could, as she again didn't wish to channel rage but exercise grace here.

The primary defendant here was none other than the Machine itself, the House of Ideas, which Madelyne used her dimension-crossing abilities regained from Limbo to traverse. Using a small helping of demons from Limbo as a jury, Mads managed to get a Settlement reward of $234 million from Marvel—the number specifically representing the most Uncanny issue in which Madelyne originally fell from such grace she was working so hard now to regain. The cause of action was Intentional Mishandling of Intellectual Property, as Madelyne through Cameron proved that the Machine intended to exploit her sexuality generally, then dispose of her person entirely for the sake of greater profits—said profits now being deposited directly into her pocket. (This author would use the term "thrown under the bus" regarding Madelyne here…but that would make one think of the abysmal "Quesadilla" story too much…ahh, too late, you already thought of it). Also included in this action was the Machine's making Maddy look like Chucky at one point, with all the rage they infused within her. (NB: Check UXM240, last page, first panel if you have it…this author looked online for the image but could not find it.—Q42).

Next to go was the Xavier Institute, which Cameron and Madelyne sued for Reckless Endangerment of Marital Relations, which was perpetrated when the duel between Scott and Storm almost took her husband away from her. For this Maddy obtained an Injunction—a method wherein one gets something to start or stop doing something—from all X-Teams, specifically for them to cease interfering in her life permanently.

Third was the fear-inducing realm of Limbo itself, which Madelyne traversed without consternation to obtain her own brand of justice. Here, in the civil case for Corruption of a Madelyne, Maddy obtained control over all the demons of this realm, as well as a Restraining Order against both S'ym and N'astirh, so that they came nowhere near corrupting her again. The judgment against both of these defendants was made in their absence though, as each defaulted by not showing up.

Fourth was the Sinister Estate—the head of which was still of course very much alive, as Scott could never really get the job done. From Mister Sinister, or Nathaniel Essex, Madelyne brought an action for Wrongful Birth, although of course she now cherished her life more than ever. For this, she secured preliminarily a Declaratory Judgment that Sinister officially "Sucked" (as it said, on the decree) for bringing her into such an effed-up existence, even though again she was reaping all she could now of it. Mads then obtained control of all his technology, stem-cell-related and otherwise, as well as free reign over his Marauders—she couldn't beat them (at least not on her own), so she bagged them in this lawsuit. She spared Essex the Nasty Boys, as they were pretty useless and sucky Nineties people.

Fifth and finally—last but certainly not least—was Scott Summers himself. From him, in a Divorce action, Madelyne merely obtained a quick, clean break from Scott and full Custody of Nathan Christopher. She could, of course, have taken the Ship out from underneath him, Jean, and the others as well, but again she was not driven by a need for revenge here—only justice. She was through with all that anger—though her hunger to set things right was certainly sated here.

Scott, of course, wished to speak with the woman with whom he had not parleyed technically since they faced off in a Manhattan under the influence of demonism—but right now she was Dido in the afterlife of the Aeneid, not wishing to speak to Virgil's hero and presenting only a hand to keep him at bay.

She did offer him one slight second, though. "I'm just…I'm not ready, Scott. Please." She found that she could not even look at him as she spoke. Mixed within her was still frustration at his betrayal, some shame at what she became, and just all out bitterness. She couldn't converse with him, not yet.

"In time…we will talk," she said, out from the corner of her eye at him. "I will hear you then.

"I promise."

And then she was gone, with Nathan Christopher and Cameron Hodge alongside her.

In the course of the next month or so, Madelyne took Cameron with her, interestingly and ironically to the place where Cam was set to go next anyway, and they along with the baby, in addition to the Marauders as security detail, all set up shop in what was once a very forbidding place for certain homo superior—a certain human settlement known as Genosha. Using some of her jury verdict, Maddy bought the island (land was cheaper then, in the Eighties…at least in this reality) and established a peaceful refuge for mutants and ordinary humans alike. Pryor knew, too, that Hodge had some designs against some of this population…but she also knew that much of his own furor arrived from the mere fact of the man's perpetuating virginity. So she seduced that impetus right out of him, partially out of gratitude after all for his helping her in the varied suits, and also partially out of a need to contain the man. It worked out pretty well overall.

And speaking of seduction…Madelyne shanghaied another superhuman with her to the island, a man who more than wanted to spend so many waking and sleeping moments with her.

"Alex!" exclaimed Lorna, as she noticed her on-and-off lover packing his bags to leave for Genosha. "You can't really be leaving me for…for her!" (In this reality, Lorna Dane managed to break away from the Marauders while they were being turned over to Madelyne in the lawsuits).

"Lor," he said, shaking his head as he zipped up another duffel, "this is a chance for me to grow. To get away from any government machinery, as it'll be with our iteration of X-Factor in the near future—and more importantly, to get away from any professorial fetters as well. This is a really good opportunity for me."

"You just want to get back into those diminutive blue underpants of hers," Polaris said irritably.

"I'd rather be reigned over by a medallion," said Havok, as he walked out the door—something that Summerses were quite good at, with women—"than the Malice choker you still have on there. Toodles, Miss Dane!"

It was all Lorna could do to contain the rage she had herself, which would have converted her back to said Malice in that moment. What kept her in check was the reality that if she gave in, she might fall in with that same group again which now belonged wholly to the woman who took Alex away from her.

And so Madelyne reigned in a new regime as a benevolent, Genoshan Queen this time. Never again would she become the Goblin Queen, nor would she fall into the Carroll-inspired madness of being the Red Queen which the bastard Governor of Fractiorida and others would have her become. All was well, with Maddy enjoying her position of peaceful power; raising her son Nathan Christopher, who in this reality would never grow ill thanks to her Anodyne abilities, and as such would never need to be catapulted into the future to become a gray-haired hardass; keeping Cameron in check, so that the X-Tinction Agenda and other evil events never actually happened; having Alex at her side as well, and establishing with him a new business with him called Anodyne Airlines, which would allow Maddy to enjoy the side pursuit of pilotry which she cherished so dearly; and just loving life again once more, having the happiness that was denied her in the few years previous.

There was still at least one more thing to do, though, before all was made well again.

Sometime after Maddy established everything in Genosha, she took one more trip down, into the lethal depths of Limbo. Without the impending need for civil justice on her hands any longer, and with the arrangements of her new digs coming along just swimmingly, she could now focus on the other loose end that was still out there, an itch which she had wanted to scratch for so long.

For all the individuals and associations which she wanted to strike out against, there was always one who managed to stay at bay—and at least legally, he wasn't there in person, in the courtroom, to receive his comeuppance. Madelyne decided to pay the thing a visit, that aforementioned purple poop of a personoid, to give him what for.

"S'YM!" she cried, with more energy and excitement than fluster and fury, as she touched down with NC in her arms once again, in Limbo. "Where is your sorry, slimy ass?!"

Seeing no trace of the trickster, Madelyne chose once more simply to snap her target into existence with her Goblin abilities.

[SNAPP]

An instant later: "Ahh, great," the bloated baddy said, ruefully upon discovering his summoning.

"You've got something coming to you, S'ym," said Madelyne, with resolve and not rage. Once again, by the way, she was clad in that raiment again, from medallion to mile-high boots. "Something I've owed you for quite a while now."

"You think you don't owe us a debt or nothin'?" S'ym countered, taking a step forward. "You think you can just waltz away, with all the power we gave you, without your payin' us back?!"

Like his hoary, horsey companion N'astirh, though, the big grape galoot that was S'ym had completely underestimated the one whom he thought would be his charge, but who rather was in charge. What neither demon could begin to understand was that Mad's power was always greater than theirs, even if she were overcome by anger—and especially if she could keep that wrath in check.

And Maddy would now learn S'ym this lesson very succinctly in the ensuing seconds. She gave Nathan Christopher a cherry belly for a second, to keep his spirits up in this underworld, then focused again on her target.

What made Madelyne even more of a force to be reckoned with was that, as with the demonic influences a few stories ago which enabled her to peruse musical samples from decades into the future, here in this reality she could draw from television and cinema to add cultural flair to her repertoire of powers. And here she didn't hold back, not for a second.

She held the demon in place with a wave of her hand, her power infinitely greater than his own.

"A-this suuuuuuit," she said, using a faux "Kazakh" accent perpetrated by a British humorist in our reality, in the Oughts decade, "is NOTTT slutty!"

The former queen of unholiness then indicated the Goblin digs which S'ym s'ymself basically dressed her in, when he conned her, in a dream, into taking on the accursed abilities.

"Madelyne," protested S'ym as the lady came closer to him, "we gave you what you wanted! We let you hurt your husband back! Isn't that what you wanted?!"

Maddy then approached the demon, just as she did in a dream shared in every reality she occupied. Telekinetically she forced his hand to raise before his face, again just like the surreal sequence, but this time palm out towards her.

"I thought, back then, that that would be a nice little fantasy-for the moment," she said as she stood alongside S'ym's ear, whispering in it a tad viciously. "But I also thought it would only be a dream.

"You tricked me into becoming the horror that I was, monster!"

She then stood directly in front of him. "It's okay, though. As all the Xers say, 'I got better,'—I'm millions percent better, in fact. And for your hand in all of this…I've just got to say…"

Mad leaned in, thinking of the demon's hand held before her, with the black fingernails from which she chose one to inadvertently become twisted into the evil that was the Goblin Queen…and once more, using her demonic powers to channel popular culture from the future (which most likely also emanated from the underworld), she gave the hand right back, whispering, in her best parodized-Kazakh voice as she clapped her palm to his own:

"HIGH FIVE!"

The purple presence which emerged in S'ym's place after contact with the lady's hand was one which was far creepier, far more unsettling, but much more central, again, to popular culture of the future.

But just before Madelyne could appreciate her literal hand-i-work here:

"Madelyne Pryor!"

The Queen turned her head, again raising her hand to hold the newly-transformed S'ym in place.

"Ahh…Malice. You're right on time."

"I wasn't expecting to see you here," said the still-greenhead-possessing punk-rocker-looking lady. "I was summoned down to Limbo to plan vengeance against you for taking Alex away…a revenge plot with…S'y…uhh…"

Then Malice looked out at the thing with which she was supposed to meet—then she continued to stare out helplessly, into a Limboed void, at the Queen's awesome power.

"Nope," said Madelyne in turn. "It's easy with my Goblin abilities to simulate voices, telepathically or otherwise—and it's especially easy to s'ymulate a demon like him."

Lady Pryor indicated the demon, indicated the once-leather-bedecked scumbag of a monster who was now transformed into something still purple, yet much more lovable, adorable even.

"And now, my dear woman," Madelyne said to the green-haired gal near her, "the reason why I wanted you to come, to stay…at least for a little bit."

With another flip of her fingers, the Dread Queen summoned a couple of small brown demons, who emerged interestingly with chair and cello in claw. "As I rejected a career in impious crime just now, Malice, so too do I encourage you to do the same. Let me infuse your existence with a real purpose now."

And then said brown demons approached a Goblin-paralyzed Malice, then spoke softly into her ear for several moments. Malice then obediently sat down on the proffered chair, then began to perform on the proffered cello, having received quick instructions through such furtive communication by Maddy's minions.

One of the demons then whipped out a small flute and began accompanying as Madelyne pointed to S'ym, who now, the huggable dinosaur that he was, began to sing:

[Goblin's Flute: Dee-dee-dee, deedeedee...Dee-dee-dee, deedeedee...]

I loathe you,

You loathe me,

We're a ghastly family,

With my great ug-ly mug and a hiss from me to you, (HISSS)

Won't you say you looooooaaathe...meeeee...toooooo…

The Queen gave a small golf clap at the conclusion of this. "Pretty good, my little violet varmint," she told the once-dastardly dino. "But we'll have to polish up those lyrics a bit, in time.

"And what are we to call you now, S'ymmy?

"What say you, little NC?"

Just as Mads looked to her infant child, not really expecting him to respond, he actually did so by breaking wind out into the already-fetid netherworld air.

"Oop! You barneyed just now! Yes you did! Mmmyes you did!"

Yep—Maddy's motherese to her child was not unlike the condescending address that Jean had for Scott in a Forever reality, just now in another story belonging to this author.

"You know, S'yms my boy," she said, looking at the lovable monster before her, "that might just be a good name for you. Who would have thought that something as lovely as a fart would help christen you, facilitate your rebirth.

"And as for you, Miss Malice…that performance was well-played for someone who just learned cello. I tell you, your future—the future, for the both of you—is in entertainment."

And Madelyne made this into a reality indeed for the both of them, as she utilized her Goblin talents to secure a show for the transmogrified S'ym in the Nineties, one in which he played a lovable purple dinosaur for the education and edification of children everywhere—and now you know also why S'ym wasn't too prominent a villain in the Nineties.

As for the contumacious cellist, Mads worked her Goblin magic so that the accursed possessing collar finally fell from Lorna's neck. Having found that she actually enjoyed playing music more than playing mutant, Miss Dane also requested strings to be pulled for her so that she could secure certain performances in the future. And, just as you can now understand the daemonic origins of the somewhat-creepiness of the infamous Purple Dinosaur of the Nineties, you also now know why the creepy cello accompaniment in said Dinosaur's "I Love You" song is the same haunting presence in Nirvana numbers such as "Dumb" and "Something in the Way." Lorna just managed to get that many influential, memorable gigs in her time. Also due to this distancing from the meddling in mutant affairs, Lorna more or less got over the whole Alex abandonment thing, and she moved on with her life, not caring any longer that he became a de facto concubine to the Queen that was Madelyne in Genosha.

And Lorna eventually asked for the Malice choker back from Maddy-as well as a bit of power to be able to control it better, so that she did not give herself to it entirely...the thing was that Dane found her maiden performance of the Barney theme song, which she did while possessed, to have a certain verve to it that she never recaptured. As such, with the Malice enhancement, Lorna really became the most frighteningly influential cellist of our time.

But back to Limbo, the late Eighties...it was just as Madelyne was leaving along with baby, the changed S'ym, and the exorcised Dane…

A certain equine presence plotted from his place behind a forlorn crag.

"She thinks she will end up on top in the end," muttered N'astirh, as he gnashed his teeth and wrung his gnarled hands. "Well, I have a plan…I always have something else in the works.

"I will use my demonic abilities to seduce another woman unto evil, in the near future. It will take time, for the proposed army to grow, but it will occur. The army now will be created partially in my own image…and I will teach the young woman I will seduce to create these beings in my likeness indeed. She will in time broadcast these images across the globe, and they will prove irresistible to all. Even grown men…grown fucking men shall embrace these horselike beings, worship them, make them supplant all that is good and just in their lives.

"The woman who I will seduce will again be a redhead, as Gingers are always the most susceptible to induction into perdition. And—most deliciously—her name will suit the situation, as she, as with her literary namesake, will give her soul to me for the privilege of unspeakable power…specifically for her, for bringing this army of mine into existence.

"Her name…

"Is Faust."

FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, IN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: 2004

"JGG…

"What did you do?..."

A metallic mask rose magnetically into the air as a beloved redhead fell.

"…All that power I stored had to go somewhere!"

Seconds later, another "head" fell…although this was one of the more…disembodied sort.

"JEAN! HOLD ON!

"…Somebody get help! Fetch…Xorn…"

The woman was dying—this ostensibly invincible Phoenix, who was once more bestowed some of the Phoenix Force again at some point in the Nineties, who died and came back and died and came back and died and came back and died and came back and died and came back, and seemed so impervious to mortality in almost every way—was about to be taken down from within, courtesy of a faux muleshit of a man masquerading as Magento.

People all around pantsed and panicked as Scott held his wife Jean, unloved of late, and soon just to be "late," in his arms.

"Jean, I'm so sorry about everything…"

"Shh! Shh! The Phoenix understands…"

In the softest of tones: "(Calling her right now…)

"…I haven't seen you alive for a long time Scott…

"…my best friend…have to go now…

"Live, Scott.

"All I ever did was die on you…"

She and then Scott's entire world began to fade as he screamed her name, again and again, Emma Frost looking frumpy and useless (as usual) in the distance. It was such a trag…

"OH, CHRIST!"

Everyone's heads turned and eyes widened—including this author's. Scott's filled with tears, Jean's filled with some sort of black death, Logan's filled with feral…ness, or whatever the noun form for "feral" is, if any.

"You know, Scott…can't a redhead trust you for, like, two seconds, to be there for her?! You all gave me, like, the worst headache just now!"

The crowd was cleared, at points somewhat forcibly, as the Queen of Genosha, with the Marauder Scalphunter at her side, made a way to the forefront of the stroke-stricken moment. Scalphunter gave a somewhat mean look to Beast and the most wayward of Wolverines as the former struggled to contain the latter.

The Queen stood by the Summers spouses—one maddened and the other moribund—and she paused.

Word had spread worldwide, around the time of all those lawsuits, that Lady Pryor had reacquired her Anodyne abilities.

Now, would she utilize them to help the woman whom, at least at one point in her life, she hated more than anyone?

"MADDY! PLEASE HELP HER, SHE'S DYING! PLEASE!"

Madelyne had already put up a hand to hold Jean in stasis; the latter's lifeforce wasn't going anywhere as long as Pryor held that pose. The former Mrs. Summers looked a moment at her erstwhile husband, who was emitting lachrymal blasts of rueful tears more profusely than any red that had ever exited those eyes. He was bawling, and looking to be crawling in a second, looking to plead his ex-lady most kowtowingly for mercy.

"I'M FUCKING BEGGING YOU! I'LL DO ANYTHING!

"PLEASE!"

In that instant, Madelyne could have—by doing nothing at all—done something far worse to Scott than anything that Emma Frost or Betsy/Kwannon could have done to him in making him fall from relationship grace…or even worse than anything Maddy herself could have done, probably, as the Goblin Queen back in the day. It would have been an omission far more atrocious than the worst of commissions.

She looked at Jean—that perhaps-hatable, possible source code for all her life's woes—Miss Grey now a grievous victim herself, with eyelids fluttering into what would be a permanent unconsciousness.

Indeed it was a scene, Mads realized in an instant, which was along the lines of exactly what she wanted, about a decade and a half earlier.

But ever since Roma Revisited, she wasn't that woman anymore.

"Well," Madelyne said, a second later and somewhat sardonically, "since you asked nicely and all…"

The hand that was curled and outstretched then opened fully, releasing whitish energies that flowed into Jean and began erasing the blackness emanating from her eyes.

"Come back to us, Jean…

"Come back to us…

This continued for about another tense minute. Then Madelyne was spent, and she hunched down, still alive of course but exhausted.

Another few seconds and the other red's retinas were opened and operational as she looked at the white sky above, then to her horrible husband.

"Ss…Scott?" she uttered, ever so faintly.

"J…Jean?!"

And then an embrace mourning irretrievable loss between the two became a hug celebrating recovered life as Miss Grey came back to all of them again. Who could have ever doubted that in the whole scheme of things, regarding the "AVX" of Anodyne versus Xorn, the real healer would come out on top.

The next few minutes were a whirling blur as everyone just about piled on Scott and Jean, so glad that at least the second of the two was still around. A certain Miss Frost and her frigid test-tube tots were not part of this huddle, of course—and once she could get back on her feet, Maddy sought also to make her own exit in a trice. "One side, Enema Forst!" she shot out at the blowsy blonde bleahness that was the once-White Queen, Mads punning and honestly believing that the vanilla fuckeress was not worth much more indeed than a coerced anal alimentary procedure.

"Madelyne…WAIT!"

This just as the Queen was about to make for her Gateway-granted egress from the US once more. She turned and saw the people cleared once more, a lane made just for eye contact between Madelyne Pryor with Scalphunter at one end, and Jean Grey with Scott Summers at the other.

"Wait," repeated Jean, still from her seated place on the ground, she still trying to recollect all her energies, but having enough now to take her turn at pleading the clone. "Please…please stay."

Pryor looked to her bodyguard (not that she really needed one, but it didn't hurt), then back at her existence's template, then sighed. "The hell. Sure."

The Xers all focused next on a fiesta that was a hybrid between a Welcome Back party for Madelyne after an estrangement of fifteen years, and one for Jean after a period of departure for like three minutes. Of course, the latter was much more the guest of honor as always.

It was okay, because the Genoshan Queen wasn't looking to stay very long. There were many things she had to do…things she had to prepare for, that involved matters very dire indeed.

It kind of made Madelyne smile a second, to see some macho nonsense going down in the form of glares between Scalps and other toughs on the 'Men, such as Logan, Cyclops, and Beak. Even that healing-factored, clawed copout of a character couldn't take down her best bully in the Marauders…as well as the man to whom she turned, of late, for more…private matters (to be explained a bit further on).

But just as Maddy muddled herself in the moment with that…

"Hey."

She turned at the sound and a warm grab at her arm. Whirling around, she saw the mirror image which she trained herself to hate for so long in the past.

"Can we…can we talk a second?"

Madelyne looked down and low to a corner of the floor. Then:

"Sure, Jean."

Once in a small conference room, still intact at the remains of a partially-ruined Mansion:

"Madelyne…I can't begin…to thank you, for what you did just now. I know that you…"

"Jean…don't. Really. It's okay."

She paused and took a deep breath. Mads knew it would come to this talk…but it had to happen, with her…and with her ex-old man, as well. First Jean.

"I'm better now. It's alright. Look, Jean…I can see it in your eyes that you're grateful—and I can see it too that you might want to apologize for what came before."

This was met by a steady nod from the other.

"You don't have to. There's nothing to forgive."

A quizzical look from Jean.

"I mean, think about it. You didn't contact Scott, you weren't the one who called him and yanked him over directly to New York. Hell, from what I heard, and I believe it, you didn't even know he was married when you all met up again in New York, back in '86.

"None of this was your fault. Back then…I was just insanely angry…for the fact that you even existed. And that my world was taken away from me."

"And you had every right to be angry, Madelyne. I can't tell you how sorry I am."

Maddy put tired hands over her face. "It's…it's behind us now. Again, I have nothing to forgive you for, as none of this was ever your fault. If anything, I'm the one who should be sorry…for turning your parents…for almost killing you, and the others…

"Consider this my way of paying you back, my own reparations to you. We're even now."

Jean managed a sheepish sort of smile. "Do you think you can stay?"

Madelyne shook her head softly. "My place is with the Genoshans. I'm needed there. And believe me, there's going to be a conflict that will be global scale, very soon, that I will have to prepare us all for.

"We must all prepare…for the coming of the Ride Wraiths."

Jean shook her head, failing to understanding. Madelyne waved a hand in an "I'll explain when the time comes" sort of way, and the other red relented.

About a minute passed, a solid, thick pause.

And then the Lady Pryor stood up, walked over, and did something that neither she nor anyone who ever knew her or her circumstances would ever have done with Jean Grey.

She went and hugged her virtual twin as tightly as she could.

Whispering into Jean's ear as she did so: "I came…because I felt you…felt you as you were going. I've really changed…put so much behind me. But…we're two sides of the same coin, you and I. I can trust you would be there for me, in turn, if…?"

"I've noticed the difference…and yes, Madelyne…of course." They both were holding back sobs now.

Maddy felt as if a major part of her soul were restored, with this. "Good. Th…thank you. I want you to know that I accept your thanks, and I give you not forgiveness…but a blessing, my blessing, upon both you and Scott. You two will work it out; I know it. That…Enema, she's nothing."

A bit of a confused, crinkled brow from Jean.

"Nevermind. You guys will work it out, anyway," Madelyne reiterated.

"Especially after the next few minutes, once I'm through with him."

The door closed shakily as Scott came in, a bit wobbly himself, Jean standing just outside after fulfilling the Queen's request for a private talk with her ex-husband.

"In another life, Scott…you would have had borne the tragedy of the deaths of two magnificent, gingery girls…

"But you would also have gotten off, literally 'Scott-free,' in terms of not having to deal with the aftereffects of what you wrought.

"In this life…Scotty…you're going to have to deal with us, now."

Madelyne indicated herself and then flipped her hand to point outward at where Jean was standing. On an adjacent side of the table, Scott took a long breath.

"Lynne…I can't begin…I can't tell you how sorry I am…for everything," Scott said, unable to look up a second…then managing at last his first wife's flickering green gaze. "I know that I hurt you…I was total garbage myself, in treating you in such a terrible way.

"If I could go back, to 1986, I would have stayed. I honestly, would have, stayed with you, and given us a chance." He covered his face with his hands, doing all he could to hold back tears, wanting honestly to drop to the floor and beg even more than he did in Manhattan a day ago.

He stayed his groun…er…seat, though, and braved another look into Madelyne's eyes. "You don't know how painful it's been—and I'm not even remotely, putting any of this on you, it's all on me…you don't know how painful it has been, to take boats or planes to Genosha, and meet and spend time with Nathan Christopher—whom you've brought up so well, by the way, especially given that you cured him of the disease that almost took him down in infancy—but it has hurt, like hell, to have seen only him, escorted out by Alex every time, yes—but to have only been able to meet and talk with him all these years…

"…And not be able to talk to you for a single moment.

"There has been…so much…that I've wanted to say…say to you, Madelyne, you have no idea…"

Tears flowed from the man's face as he cowered into the crooks of his arms at the table. A small wellspring of bitterness bloomed within Pryor, but she squelched it, making no adverse move but instead extending a hand in comfort.

She massaged one of the forearms. "Scott…

"…

"…It's okay. I know. I should be sorry, myself—and in fact, I am…I'm sorry for so many things, as well."

Scott looked up from the tear-stained place in his arms.

"I'm sorry I've been unavailable all this time. I just…I just wasn't ready, and I wanted to come when I was, and when the time was right…"

"And you couldn't have come at a better time, Madelyne…"

She put up a "Let me speak" kind of hand, and Scott was silenced again.

"Scott.

"I forgive you."

The ever-rigid muscles in the man's face relaxed dramatically at this, and he found himself wanting to reach over and embrace so badly the lady speaking. But he was afraid.

She read it in his face, and put up another hand, which almost made him flinch. "You look as if I'm going to…blast you or something, Scotty. …And for the record, I'm sorry for that, too. I'm sorry if I…zapped you around a bit…a lot…that time, with all the demons. I was angry as hell, and I had every right to be…but that wasn't the answer.

"I'm sorry for all of that, Scott."

He reached for her own arm, and she let him grasp it, gently. "I just…I just want peace between us. I want us to put this behind us forever…-the pain, but none of my obligations. Madelyne…if there is ever anything—anything—you need me for…I am here."

"I know…Alex told me that secondhand, basically every time you came to visit."

"It's absolutely true."

"I know. And I appreciate that. Thank you."

Another pause.

"All I can say is, Scott…don't hurt her again."

"I would never, ever…"

"Don't hurt me.

"You have to understand, Scott…technically, it affected me, too…the stroke Jean took. She and I are bonded, in a way…like twins. I feel everything she feels, though for me it would be to a lesser extent than the extremeness of what she suffers, and vice versa. For me, it was just a migraine. But still.

"I forgive you, but I'm telling you—and more for her sake, than for mine, as you are with her, now…don't, ever, hurt her, again.

"And especially not for the sake of…cold-ass Miss 'Forst'…you know who I'm talking about here. Please; I mean, for fuck's sake, Scott."

"I won't…I won't, Madelyne."

She reached over and squeezed tenderly a hand of his, then looked into his eyes (as much as she could, what with his shades and everything) and rubbed his forearm slowly, softly. She almost wanted in that spell to say that she never let go of certain sentiments for him-because in truth, she hadn't-and she could tell from the look on his face that he felt the same.

The way things were, though, at least for now...Mads decided to let them lie as they were. She squeezed the man's wrist this time as she stood up abruptly. "We'll meet again, Scott."

He nodded in the security of utter comprehension of her words.

"After all…we're going to need the Clops…to take on the Cloppers."

At this his face broke out in the frazzle of complete incomprehension.

"Oh, and by the way..." she added, on her way out, to him, "You're due for Redhead Round Two, with Lady Grey...she's looking to take you on a little trip for it, too, so you'd better be ready."

Madelyne then walked off and away from the event, leaving Scott to be whisked by Jean off to a couple of planets nearby, to sort things out (as they were to do so in another reality, in another narrative of this author, not long ago-and in this reality as well, everything turned out just as alright between Scott and Jean in the end, on Mars and such). The Genoshan Queen motioned for Scalphunter to accompany her. The two came alone, and they were going to be leaving as such.

"All this time," said Scalps wryly, as they walked towards the clearing where they would activate a portal, "I thought you weren't the most avid fan of Jean Grey."

"Ahh, John…I'm still not, really. …It's just that we have this…connection, officially…her pain brought me here in the first place. I don't really want to get into it, right now.

"I'm still feeling a bit of stiffness, in fact, from what Jean sustained. I might need a bit of a back massage…if you know anyone who might be able…"

The Marauder already began to rub the woman's shoulder blades as they disappeared into the portal that arose a second later and swallowed them.

For all you WTFers out there, regarding the connection between the Genoshan Queen and Scalphunter, a small geometric-type proof by analogy (if that makes any friggin' sense at all):

Psylocke (whatever ethnicity or flavor, what have you) and Sabretooth.

Enemies as of the Mutant Massacre, in our reality.

Still enemies as of the majority of the Nineties, in our reality.

At least momentary kissers, if not lovers, in a New Exiles reality in our universe, because of all that tension built up between the two in conflict and what not.

Now…

Madelyne and Scalphunter.

The latter being the most up-and-in-her-face assassin when the Marauders tried to off Pryor in San Francisco, way back when.

Whom Pryor fended off, just as Psylocke did with Creed, way back when.

Then time passed, and Madelyne and the Marauder, as with Betsy and Victor, just kind of…wound up in each other, at least intermittently, partially out of past passions.

It's funny how things can work out like that. QE effin' D.

This especially after Mads found out that Alex was obtaining a bit of extra healthcare from the resident nurse on the island. A huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen, as established before most elaBORATely, Madelyne kind of played with the lady's name when she first met her—especially as she struggled with the specialist's surname.

"Check it," Madelyne continued, doing her best Ali G, in honor of the "Annie G" who just alighted: "I's about to talk with, my main woman, the resident nurse attendant, Miss Annie Ghazi, Ghazi, Ghazi..."

"Ghazikhanian," said the other, smiling blankly as she looked off to the side.

"Yo," the Genoshan Queen rapped in acknowledgment, allowing herself to be a little silly in light of all the serious events that she had to mind with the power and responsibilities she assumed ever so fairly and expertly.

In the ensuing minutes the neophyte nurse (neophyte to the island nation, anyway) broke down all her mad medical skills to her generous benefactress, who was more than impressed with her. Alex standing nearby was even more intrigued-but he didn't let on about this to his lady in charge, of course.

Finally, a few minutes later: "Well, then...big-up yourself, Nurse Annie Ghazi...Ghazi...Ghazi...Ghazikhanian. Everyone in Genosha needs to listen to the WORDS of Nurse Annie, coz you bettah check yo'self before you wreck yo'self..."

And Annie Ghazikhanian took it tolerantly, just glad to have found good work, in such an exotic location…

And, ooh…with such a nice patient, she would find in time, as that Havok, who was injured defending Madelyne, irony of ironies, against some insane insurgents trying support a Magneto-helmed coup, insurgents who were never happy with the mere monetary offerings Madelyne extended to them in turn for her defensively, and perhaps somewhat excessively, slaughtering their kin during the X-Men's first encounter with this island nation. Maggy's efforts were nothing against Maddy, though, and what backed her.

But the fallout from it…and finding out about Alex, and Annie…well, by that juncture, Maddy wasn't too much in the mood to borrow from Baron Cohen then.

"I'm so sick of all these Summerses, John, and their persistent, insistent treachery!" she would later complain to Scalphunter, who came to be her most trustworthy bodyguard—and again, not that she needed one, but just for the sake of extra intimidation.

"I would recommend a tray to the face," John offered, bringing to mind what Mads herself had done so long ago in San Fran when he placed a gun to her head—back when he was still on Sinister's payroll.

The woman smirked at this, then jumped into the man's arms and launched her lips against his.

"Make me forget them all…just for a little while.

"Can you do that, John? Can you make a woman forget all the slummin' Summerseseses, and everyone they're associated with, who make me miserable?

"Can John Greycrow, make me forget Jean GreyCOW…just for a little bit?"

And then the man did. This was a couple of years back.

The recent experience with Jean's near death, though, made for a new epiphany within Madelyne now…and while she still wasn't enamored with the Grey One…her stance towards the woman softened a bit, after that scare of a stroke.

After all, both women became more civil, and more human towards one another…especially considering that the potential wishbone between them that was the Phoenix had not been a factor, as Madelyne cared not for the creature in her mental sereneness, she content with what it gave her at the close of Inferno.

How that would change, in the years to come…if only out of necessity.

EIGHT YEARS LATER, IN OUTER SPACE: 2012

Heroes, both of the Atom and otherwise, gathered for the impending imparting of the Phoenix Force within a strong yet grating young, new recipient thereof.

Haughtily the insufferable Hope Summers plodded forward, stealing jetpacks and breaking noses all over the place in her bid to be the great new hero of the Machine.

In this reality, she was a bit more willing to give herself to the cosmic creature, and she acted all the more entitled because of it. Several light years away, Uatu the Watcher obtained indigestion at the thought of someone so unsavory taking on the responsibility.

As of now, the young lady was in a space cruiser operated by the hoary pair of Hanks, as Pym and McCoy guided her to the place where the Phoenix would hopefully pick her up.

And just as the vehicle was about to reach its interplanetary turnpike exit…

[WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHVROOO OOOOOOO…]

The ship almost flew into a tailspin as another craft, a shuttle, blasted past, overtaking it.

And flying that shuttle was the best goddamn pilot any Xer had ever known.

"You're gonna get me as close as we can, to that firebird, you hear me, Alex?" the woman said to the man who was once more her first mate (in more ways than one). "You're not gonna let me down…I know it."

"Of course not, my Queen…my Love!"

"Good." She looked over to the rest of her crew, to Cameron, and to John, who were also still with her (again, in more ways than one…ahh, the perks of being Queen). She then checked the controls to make sure everything was in order, then handed full rein to Havok.

"I'm gonna prep myself now for contact! Wish me luck, boys!"

The aforementioned three men all cheered and whooed in support as the Lady Pryor strapped herself into the specialized pod that would secure priority communion with the cosmic energy source.

"You all know this is meant to be," she said to her crew, as she lowered the shielding down. "I'm going to use the power for the greatest good."

Then to herself: "And, unlike that hokey hussy Hope, not to mention old Jean Jellybean…I know much more what to do with it…and how to control it."

The pair known as PyMcCoy, as well as Hope herself, all huffed in disbelief as they watched the Genoshan Queen launch out into space in her pod, directly into the path of the oncoming Phoenix, Madelyne ejecting gracefully from the craft just as the bird intersected with her.

"YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" screamed Hope ever so petulantly from her ship, as she had front-row vantage to the communion between the stellar avian and the shrewd Anodyne. "THIS WHOLE THING WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MY FUCKING DESTINY! FONGJI AND ALL THAT SHIT!"

Why don't you go back to college and major in Accountability, honey, said Maddy from just outside the pod, telepathically, just as she was about to interface. God knows you could use some schooling in it.

This and this alone prevented Hope from impulsively, tempermentally depriving the Hanks of functional nostrils—so the two guys were grateful to Miss Pryor.

Honestly, with as much as Hope got away with…she could go and piggyback with a gatling gun atop "Velocidad" Gabriel and genocide the planet's last remaining unactivated mutants while the Super Mario Invincibility Star music was playing in the background…and she would be commended by fucking Captain America for it.

(To be fair, her adoptive father Cable—at least the Nathan Christopher Summers of our reality—he wasn't too accountable either all the time. At the end of the day, anyway, Hope is the absolute bleahness of badassery.)

Anyways, other ships gathered 'round—vehicles full to bursting with vehement mutants, all in disbelief of the cosmic cockblock they just witnessed. Scott and Jean were among them, as were many other heroes Madelyne knew were there. And just as well, as the woman—who was the best and most equipped to handle the Phoenix, given that her spark of life came from the creature in the first place, and thus made the entity much more a maternal figure to her than either Jean or Hope, who were both born of human mothers. "I can't control it" was never even a thought that crossed the mind of Mads as she and her true mother converged once more.

"HEAR ME, MUTANTS OF ALL GROUPINGS," she stated now, completely infused with the Phoenix Force—and again, completely in control, no Dark-ness within her whatsoever. "THE TIME IS COME FOR US TO FACE AN ENEMY OF INCREDIBLE PROPORTIONS—ONE THE BASENESS AND DEPRAVITY OF WHICH YOU HAVE NEVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE.

"I MUST TRANSPORT US TO THE LOCUS OF THE CONFLICT POSTHASTE."

And then it was that, before anyone knew it, those present at the Phoenix/Madelyne merging found themselves in a place a mite bit less enterprising—none other than Annapolis, Maryland.

Where a demonic, redheaded regent far more vicious than any previous Goblin Majesty was born, and where she was now holding reign—with thousands of equine entities and their human slaves in tow.

Madelyne recognized the other woman near instantly. The Genoshan Queen hovered forward, all alight in much-required-for-this-confrontation-Phoenix flames as she spoke:

"LAUREN FAUST!

"YOU WILL NOT INFECT THE DENIZENS OF EARTH WITH YOUR OCCULT-ORIGINATED FOUL…FOALS ANY LONGER!"

The other grossly-empowered ginger reared her head and hissed. "None can stem the overwhelming tide of cutesy antichrists I have conjured," she seethed, eyes rolled back in her head and flashing the milkiest of ocular whites to the world. All of Annapolis seemed to tremble with her dreadful address. "Soon the entire cosmos will know the inescapable wrath of…THE CLOPPIN' QUEEN!"

Before Madelyne could respond to this, Faust thrust her arms forward, and an earth-shaking NEIGGGGGHHHHHH assaulted the ears of all present.

And then…

"Indeed, my former Dread Majesty…"

Pryor-Phoenix whirled to see the age-old foe of hers—once an animalistic ally—who now approached. The horrid horsey thing continued. "The time of the Ride Wraiths is at hand."

Yes, of course, reader: It was none other than the nefarious N'astirh. He clicked his awful hooves as he went on, the colorful killer steeds—pretty pastel portraits of repugnance all around—flanking him. "It is TIME, my once-Dread Queen, to acknowledge the reckoning, the reckoning which I have prepared for this past quarter-century or so. Time to recognize and realize that the little girls, and the grown men of this planet alike, are about to forever embrace that which will empower and condemn them…that which will ensconce a regime of limitless power between the Cloppin' Queen and myself, as it might have been—as it should have been, between you and I, Dread Goblin Mistress, so long ago.

"It is time to realize that which shall transpire between grown men and groomed mare…the connections that will become magick, a dark energy which will fuel our eternal term of rule.

"With each such interfacing, each bond…is magick…that further empowers my new Queen and myself.

"With each interaction, each FRIENDSHIP…IS MAGICK…THAT WILL ALLOW US TO RULE THE UNIVERSE!"

And now you finally know, dear reader, the source of the insanity behind this once-inexplicable popular culture equestrian addiction.

And now you also know the catastrophic conflict for which Madelyne was preparing her energies for, that which made her cloister herself within her queendom all this time, the Zoroastrian battle between good and evil which was her life's main aim.

"FELLOW GENOSHANS, AND X-TEAMS ALIKE! WE MUST POOL OUR ABILITIES AND DEFEAT THIS TERRIBLE, TRENDY-ASS THREAT!"

And then, with leadership skills at a level that would make Scott Summers himself envious, Madelyne meted out the matchups so readily.

"SHATTERSTAR…YOU ARE DESTINED TO FACE AND DESTROY FLUTTERSHY!

"QUICKSILVER…IT IS UPON YOU TO TROUNCE RAIN…BOW…DASH…(what a dumb name)…

"ROGUE…JUST BECAUSE OF YOUR SIMILAR ACCENTS, IT HAS BEEN PREORDAINED THAT YOU ARE TO TAKE ON APPLEJACK!"

(Honestly, first of all, this author is NOT a fan of…the program established through N'astirh's "magick." Second of all, despite that, he has seen some of the happy horsecrap that it is through Youtube Poops…and he always imagined the Southern-fried mutant showing the like-inflected blonde steed the business end of her fists for stealing her accented thunder).

Maddy went on. "REVANCHE…DUE TO YOUR PERTINENT PURPLENESS, IT IS ON YOU TO FACE AND OBLITERATE RARITY!"

"Uh…there's no one here named Revanche," someone offered.

"WHOOPS…WRONG REALITY. KWANNON AND PSYLOCKE, THEN…YOU TAG-TEAM THAT FUCHSIA FUCKER.

"AND HOKE AND VEJEANS…I MEAN, HOPE AND JEAN…YOU BOTH ARE TO ELIMINATE PINK…PIN…AHH FUCK, I CAN'T BRING MYSELF TO SAY THE NAME.

"THE REST OF YOU...TO TAKE ON THEIR FOLLOWERS...WITH THEIR APPELLATION APPROPRIATELY RHYMING WITH 'DRONIES'!

"ANYWAYS, HEROES…MOVE OUT!"

And so the woman once known as the Goblin Queen—the woman once known as the primary threat to the world, through so many demon-orchestrated overtures one score and four years ago—she was now the one who was fully redeemed and ready to lead the way towards the world's rescue, the lady herself taking on the other, false Queen and her all-too-familiar demonic charge in N'astirh.

And when Madelyne won in the end, she backed by the efforts of a slew of superheroes on Earth, she found that victory to be the greatest return on the investment she had been making all these years, in so many payments of grace.

AFTERWORD

As I have kind of shown before, Madelyne is one of my favorite characters in the X-Universe. I honestly liked her better, though, as a "good guy" and not a bad one-a much more innocent Maddy, whom I hope to bring out near the end of an epic sort of story I want to do next month, ironically in unlucky, spooky October 2013. Anyway, I have always feared that Mads would never, ever come back as a good guy, ever, especially with so many other good reds running around (any iteration of Jean, Rachel, Horror of Horrors Hope (about whom I'm not apologetic at all in hating))...why would there be a need, of course, for a good Madelyne, then?

It's because, again, Maddy was such a beautiful character, for those who remember her then, when she first appeared-and this story operates to redeem her, make her not the crazy-as-hell monster that so many writers since the Nineties-on have made her, but to make her once more into that "good guy"-with a bit of an edge, though, this time. A Mary Sue, admittedly, but a saucy one. A Mary Sauce, if you will.

Yes, Mary Sues and Marty Stus suck in general, and I'm not the biggest fan of them usually (I feel that Jean herself is a textbook Sue, a "see her picture in the dictionary under the definition" Sue, and I know a number of other people have felt that way also)...I just felt that I wanted so badly to bring Maddy out of the darkness of her characterization all these years that, well, if the side effect in this story were said Sueism...there could be worse fates. Again, though, I have her some "sauce" insofar as she is not only somewhat Sueish, but sue-ish as well through all of her lawsuits. Bottom line here: I just wanted to make her human again, and not a monster as she has been portrayed, the crazy wife from the past, things like that. At this point in Marvel Machinedom with Madelyne, it's almost like Wreck-It Ralph, with that old-time enemy coming around to be a good guy (and in Madelyne's case, a good guy once again). And Claremont did this as well, in his The End miniseries...but I felt it was a bit too little, too late-so I wanted to make it much more central in this story.

I have no real complaint against MLP or Bronies, by the way; I just thought, you know, Inferno and MLPFIM really have a lot in common. They both are/were run at one point by a powerful redhead (Pryor, Faust). They both have a major equestrian (-sort) of presence in them (N'astirh, friggin' Ponies). And they both have a lot of followers (Demons, Bronies). I'm NOT saying Bronies are demonic! I'm "just sayin'" just sayin', that's all. You can see the similarities. The Ride Wraiths thing, by the way, is derived from the Dire Wraiths, aliens whom the X-Men and other heroes like ROM the Spaceknight (I'm really dating myself with that reference) had to fight way back in the day and all.

In any case, I hope you guys enjoyed this story as well, and I hope to post my next one soon. I'm just going to do two or three more and then be done, at least for now, but I have really, really enjoyed writing everything so far and I look forward to next month. By the way, if you liked the "Maddy suing" vibe in this story, there's someone on Deviantart-I cannot recall what his name is, but he does a lot of little cute comic strips on X-Men stuff these days-and he has one where Madelyne as Goblin Queen resolves by the end of the strip to "get a good divorce lawyer" instead of taking over the world with demons. I mention this strip just to put on the record that I honestly came up with the "Maddy sues" thing for my story, I came up with it on my own a while back, in turn...I suppose between me and that Deviantart artist, it's sincerely just a serendipitous, "Great minds think alike" kind of thing (not to presumptuously puff myself up or anything by saying that...I'm just saying, coincidentally interesting/funny concepts). Again hoping all are well, and I look forward to posting another story again soon.

PS: Thanks to all who have posted positive reviews of my stuff so far; I will name especially RRL this time as her comments have been very encouraging. Partially in response to the review she posted, I wanted to say that I enjoy writing in things that kind of "fill in the spaces" that one always wonders about-like, what might have happened with a talk between Maddy and Jean, or Maddy and Scott after Inferno if Mads had survived...AND if she worked through her rage and stuff. Again, my favorite OTP is Scott/Maddy now and forever, and I hope to reinforce this through an epic story next month in October.

And yes, everyone, I will soon post wedding photos online regarding the joyous matrimony of myself and Kwannon's...oh God I'll stop already:) I'm just being goofy/silly about that; I hope no one thought I was weirdo psycho serious or anything. (See my "Penultimate Polka" Part Three after-comments to see what I'm talking about and stuff:))