Yer In The Army Now, Part Duex!

A Sabretooth Tale by Dannell Lites

< " ... if he were physically unfit ... ">

"Your joking, of course," said Walter Langkowski; but it was plain to see that his companions were not jesting in the least. Patiently, Paul Graeves waited for the youthful Doctor to answer his question. Langkowski tucked his stethoscope into the pocket of his scrubs and stared at the two men who had invaded his office so abruptly on "official business".

"Bloody hell," he cursed roundly. "You're serious aren't you?" Dominic Casement seemed to have a deathgrip on his ever present paper, carefully studying each word before passing placidly on to the next. The humorless Paul Graeves might have missed the spark of mirth in the man's hazel eyes, but Langkowski didn't.

"Doctor ..." Graeves snapped, "can you or can you NOT present me with evidence that would allow me to declare Sabretooth physically unfit for military service?"

"Oh, for God's sake!" the doctor cried, tossing a medical chart onto his desk, exasperated with these bureaucrats, "The man is a mutant who's mutant power is a healing factor that makes him practically invulnerable! Of course he's not physically unfit! Even for a mutant he's healthy. I've seen *oxen* with frailer constitutions."

"No fallen arches? Some ailment or affliction previous to the manifestation of his mutant power?" Desperation crept steadily into the edges of the increasingly harassed Home Office Heads voice. Dominic turned a page of his paper barrier and Langkowski caught the briefest glimpse of a smile troubling the corner of his full mouth.

"Not even a hangnail ..." The Alphan said firmly, putting an end to the matter.

Casement folded his paper.

"Well, then," he said merrily, "on to the next stop on our Grand Tour of Canadian Bureaucracy, shall we, sir?"

Graeves stared at his Assistant and ground his teeth in acute frustration.

************************************************************************************** <" ... if he has ever been convicted of a felony ... ">

"Are you telling me that in the past century Sabretooth hasn't committed a crime?" demanded Paul Graeves. Dominic Casement smiled and raised his newspaper higher. Graeves looked ready to tear his hair out by the roots.

"Not according to Interpol," Simon Ross said calmly, rather enjoying the spectacle of the empurpled Home Office Director.

"Impossible!" came Paul Graeves explosive reply. Dominic Casement's newspaper rattled momentarily and a small choked sound suspiciously like muffled laughter wafted from behind the cynical assistant administrator's newsprint shield. Ross smiled in sympathy.

"Why impossible?" asked the newly installed National Director of Police, a job he felt to be much more conversant with his many talents than being stuck in the basement of the Vancouver PD sorting through The Cold Squad files.

"We're talking about Sabretooth here, Ross!" cried Graeves. "Good Christ, he must have killed hundreds of people! And you mean to tell me he's NEVER been imprisoned for it? Absurd!" Simon Ross made an unpleasant face.

"I couldn't agree more Director," he said. "But the fact remains that he's never been successfully arrested much less convicted of a crime." Swiftly Graeves wiped his sweating brow.

"Never?" he inquired weakly. "You're certain?" Sadly, Ross nodded his head.

"Positive," he affirmed.

"Vehicular homicide?" His superior inquired hopefully, recalling the operative's questionable flying skills and grasping at straws. There *had* been that rather regrettable incident with the helicopter and the house in the Victoria suburbs. His implicit plea was met with another shake of negation.

"Not even a traffic ticket," replied the Police Director unhappily.

"Damn it all!" shouted Graeves. "The beastly swine must have karked a dozen people in Israel in 1986! Can't you convict him of something? Assaulting the Queen Mother and a couple of corgi's, perhaps? I want his barks on a platter!" Simon Ross held his temper rather well he thought.

"No," he said clearly.

"Well, why NOT, man! Why can't he be convicted of a crime?"

Dominic Casement lowered his newspaper.

"I'm afraid there *is* the small matter of Mr. Creed's unfortunate pardon, Sir," the assistant pointed out. "He was granted a blanket pardon for any and all crimes committed. Services rendered to the State, you know."

"Bloody hell!" Graeves swore and Casement once again disappeared behind his paper.

"Will that be all, gentleman?" inquired a piqued Simon Ross. Bureaucrats!

Silently, the Home Office Head rose and left the busy Police office.

"'Once more into the breach, Dear friends'," quoted Dominic Casement and closed the door gently.

**************************************************************************************. <" ... if he fails the IQ test ... ">

"IMPOSSIBLE!" thundered Paul Graeves in a very close approximation of his problem child Sabretooth. Heather MacDonald Hudson, Professor emeritus at Ottawa university adjusted her round professorial glasses, bringing them to rest higher on the bridge of her sharp nose and looked put upon. Dominic Casement placidly turned another page of his paper, absorbed in the fun and variety of the personals Not quite as juicy as The Times, but then ... this *was* Canada, after all ...

"The man is a a dense as a soddening *brick* for the love of God! He can't possibly have passed that intelligence test!" Graeves rattled the test paper in question under the mild Historian's nose. "I mean to say, *look* at this!" " 'Who was Ghengis Khan?'" he quoted . " ... 'Timujin was a wimp and his daughters were lousy lays. Great screamers, though!' " Staring at the studious professor and leader of Alpha Flight, Graeves thrust the paper at her. "Who the bloody hell is Timujin?" he spat. , Hudson cleared her throat.

"Ghengis Khan, actually," came her sardonic reply. "'Ghengis Khan' is a title. It's the rough Mongol equivalent of 'Great Ruler' ... but the man's *name* was Timujin and he was born a slave." The bespeckled woman smiled and regarded Graeves with enthusiasm. "I'll bet Sabretooth liked him a lot, really. And I'd love to talk to him about it. Do you think he might ...?" The Home Office Director's eyes bulged and his hands clenched spasmodically into fists.

"What about *this*!" he cried, ignoring the others query. "'Name the capitol of France' ... The bastard's answer is 'Luetetia' ... " Graves snorted, sure of his ground this time. "Sounds like some tart he picked up off the street, heh Dominic?" Casement peeked out from behind his paper with a cynical smile.

"If you say so, sir," he returned sunnily.

"Look here, Hudson," Graeves pointed out firmly. "Now everybody knows that Paris is the capitol of France. Bloody frogs wouldn't have it any other way!" The Alphan ignored the slur and again adjusted her eyeglasses.

"Loathe as I am to be the bearer of bad tidings, gentlemen," she began with prim irony, "But I'm afraid he's right ... 'Luetetia' *is* the capitol of France ... today and three thousand years ago. The City of Lights began it's millennia long existence as a simple Roman village named ..."

"Lue - bloody - tetia" snarled Graeves and massaged the bridge of his nose in a vain attempt to stop the sharp pains crashing down from his temples.

Tucking his newspaper beneath his arm, Dominic Casement smiled.

"Onward!" he cried.

************************************************************************************** In the office of the Prime Minister the midnight oil burned brightly. Or at least the electric lighting.

"Well ...?" demanded the Canadian leader. "Would somebody like to tell me what the hell we're doing here? Mac?" Glancing at the Secretary of the Army, the politician crossed his arms over his thin chest and waited. A grim Ian MacAllister came to attention in his chair and faced his superior stiffly.

"It has to do with The Sabretooth Affair," began the Secretary. "I believe Home Director Graeves has a report for us."

All eyes turned to Paul Graeves expectantly. In truth The Home Office Director did not look well. There were great dark circles under his eyes like wounds gotten in battle. And the usually immaculate politician appeared to have been wearing the same now rumpled suit for the last several days. The Prime Minister noted with concern the presence of unshaven stubble on his usually smooth chin. It was very unlike Paul, he knew. Silence reigned as all present waited for the Director to speak. His shoulders slumped in defeat and his hand trembled as the politician took a sip of water to ease his dry throat. Clearly, Paul Graeves was a beaten man.

"Mister Minister," he mourned, weak voiced, "I must report failure. After many diligent efforts my Office can find no valid reason for excusing Sabretooth from military service ... we've exhausted them all, I'm afraid. It looks as if we'll have to go through with this mess." Around the table a buzz of unhappy excitement leapt like lightening. The Prime Minister frowned and gestured broadly for silence.

"Paul, it was a bloody clerical error," he expounded. "Are you telling me that we can't fix it? We can't have him in the Army, for God's sake! He's enough of a problem where he is now. Christ, he's a riot waiting to happen! We may need the Army to *deal* with him and the other mutants someday. We can't have them IN the Army. Impossible!"

"The Army won't take him!" blustered General P. R. Murray. "I can tell you THAT right now! Do you have any idea how hard it is discipline a mutant?" the career soldier muttered. "Especially one like Sabretooth who's virtually impervious to pain and has all the sunny disposition of a sore footed bullock in heat?" MacAllister's one time CO ran his fingers nervously through his hair in agitation.

"General," the Prime Minister soothed the martial fellows rumpled feathers, "no one wants Sabretooth in the Army. We're here to find the best way to avoid that if at all possible." Murray subsided but with no visible pleasure in the direction the discussion had taken.

"Has anyone thought to consult his friend, that American woman - what's her name - Dannell?" inquired Vindicator mildly. "Might she have some influence over him?" Silver Fox barked laughter.

"Hell, Vic hasn't paid any attention to what women had to say since he bit off his mother's tit," scoffed the former WeaponX Team member. The Indian woman grinned like a shark. "I can tell you one thing," she informed them, "If you draft him, Vic won't be a happy camper, that's gospel." She turned to face Murray, chuckling evilly. "Might be worth it just to see your grunts trying to handle him. I'd pay money for a picture of THAT!" Murray's face clouded over and his lips parted in a withering retort. The Prime Minister hastily pounded the long table for attention.

"Let's get a grip here, people," he ordered. When silence descended once more the Prime Minister sighed.

"Are you *sure* you covered all the bases, Paul? There are no legal options left to us?"

A dejected Paul Graeves shook his head, apparently too depressed for words. How could something like this have happened to him, he wondered? After all these years in office, here and in England, to meet disaster at the hands of a loutish mutant and a simple clerical error. Life was so unfair! Oh God the Prime Minister was upset! That angry fire in his eye had only one meaning.

Briefly, he wondered how it would feel standing in the unemployment line. "Well my friends," the Prime Minister mused, "it looks like we may just be hosed on this one. If we can't find a legal way to keep Sabretooth out of the Army ... " Several people around the table paled at such a prospect. General Murray looked quite ill for a moment. The sound of Dominic Casement folding his newspaper and sliding it into his briefcase rang loud in the sepruchal silence of the meeting room.

"Well, actually, there *is* one option left to us ... " the junior civil servant smiled and his eyes twinkled with mirth. Every head in the room swiveled anxiously in Casement's direction and waited.

"Well don't just sit there man!" shouted a suddenly revivified Paul Graeves. "Out with it!"

"Yes, Sir," returned Dominic with a somewhat twisted grin. "I had a most interesting conversation this afternoon with Dr. Michael Two Young Men, visiting lecturer at Vancouver University. Technically, Victor Creed is a member of the Sarcee Indian tribe." Several people looked quite surprised and Silver Fox appeared to be very angry. Casement frowned.

"Don't look at *me*," he insisted. "*I* didn't do it! I suppose we had to find *some* way to make him a citizen and that was the easiest way that sprang to mind." Silver Fox's aquiline features fell into lines of deep disgust.

"The good doctor happens to have done quite a bit of research into the antiquity Sarcee tribe recently," Casement continued unabashed, "and appears to have stumbled across an astounding bit of information in the process. It seems the Sarcee tribe has some rather peculiar beliefs regarding the shedding of blood ... They are quite specific about how and especially where and when it should NOT be done ... "

All leaned closely so as not to miss a single word of his brief explanation. When it was done, Paul Graeves almost wept for joy and General Murray breathed rapidly through his nose.

"You can't mean ...?" Murray choked. Silver Fox began a full throated laugh that threatened to continue for some time unabated.

"Absolutely," said Casement. "ONLY in ritual combat; never at any other time."

"The irony *is* exquisite," remarked Vindicator, "You must admit."

"Bugger that!" cried the Prime Minister. "The question is: Is it legal?"

"Oh yes," Dominic Casement assured him. "Binding as a big block of cheese."

************************************************************************************** Dannell was actually awake this time when the pounding began at 2 AM. In fact she heard Sabretooth stomping down the hall long before he actually arrived at her door. It was amazing in her opinion how quickly and lightly the killer could move when he needed and what a racket he could make when he wished. The neighbors would be complaining again, she suspected. With a sigh, she lay Camus reluctantly aside and answered the door while the thick wood still vibrated with Sabretooth's second flurry of jarring blows.

Without a word, he stalked into her living room, snarling and growling ominously in righteous anger. Barely pausing in his quest to reach her kitchen, he pulled out her right hand and dropped a small much wadded piece of paper into it and then disappeared. The singer was still trying to uncurl the hideously abused correspondence when Creed reappeared moments later, fudge sickle in hand. Oh dear. One of the Double Dutch Chocolate ones from Ben And Jerry ... This must be serious ...

"Somebody is a dead man," the ancient killer fumed. "Soon as I find out who he is, he's dog meat!" Thoughtfully, he sucked on his comfort food. "No one insults me like that and lives!" Sabretooth muttered in indignation. "No one!" Gazing at his smooth angular face, the small woman finally unfurled the letter in her hands enough to reveal it's tart, clipped message.

"Dear Citizen," the letter read.

"Re: Your induction into the Canadian Army

Research has revealed that your people, the Sarcee, have strong religious objections to the non ritualistic shedding of blood. It is, therefore, my sad duty to inform you that you have been excused from military service as a Conscientious Objector.

Yours In Condolence,

Ian MacAllister, Secretary of The Army"

Dannell began to laugh so hard that she almost missed the door slamming hard enough to pull it from it's hinges as Sabretooth made his exit. She was still laughing when Remy Lebeau stumbled his sleepy way into the living room, energized playing card at the ready. Gambit was prepared for anything.

"What de hell was dat, chere!" he cried, looking sharply about for the source of the great noise that had awakened him.

"Bureaucracy!" cried Dannell and continued laughing uproariously.

************************************************************************************** Paul Graeves groped for the phone mussily.

"Sod it!" he barked. "What the bloody hell! It's 3 in the morning! Out with it!"

"I'm sorry, Sir," came the smooth obscenely chipper voice of Dominic Casement, "but there's been an incident that requires your attention ..."

Graeves sat up on the side of the bed and ran his fingers through his disheveled hair.

"Not bloody Sabretooth again!" he moaned.

"No, Sir," Casement reassured him hastily and The Home Office Director breathed a sigh of relief. If it didn't involve that great bastard how bad could it be, after all?

"I'm afraid that North Star and Element Lad have taken a fancy to one another and have announced their engagement, Sir. The Premiere is waiting for you at the capitol ... "

The Home Office Director dropped the phone, covered his head with a pillow and whimpered.

The End!