After our audience we were informed why the Church had insisted that I come to Rome. You can read about it here at Magdalena's site. A cadre of cardinals informed us that the evil forces that wanted to ensure Maggie's blood line was destroyed had appeared in Venice. They would attack relentlessly until I was dead. Apparently they would kill any potential suitor of Magdalena so that she could never have children. Our only chance was to take the fight to them.
When we arrived in Venice it became quite clear that our mission was going to be made exceedingly more difficult thanks to the annual Carnival which was in full swing. All around us, people were in garish costumes which our enemies could easily blend in with. You see our foes had taken the form of clowns. I hate clowns. It's a long story.
Wolverine had the bright idea of simply killing everyone, you know, just to be sure. He seemed very disappointed when I told him no.
We got a tip from a local priest that a family had reported seeing a demon in their house. Racing to the scene I was able to telepathically detect several extremely evil presences. Inside we were confronted by a gaggle of demonic clowns. Or is that herd? Pack? Pride? What I'm saying is that there were several of them.
Using her Spear of Destiny, Maggie was able to unleash a holy light which vaporized the clowns. We knew that we had not yet faced the real foe, but we could feel that he, she or it was very close. I was able to pick up a psionic signature that was totally unnatural. While Nightcrawler searched house by house for any more of the clown warriors, the rest of us raced for the central plaza.
I knew we were closing in on the leader, but before we could find him we heard a woman's scream nearby. As we paused to find the source, several of demon clowns jumped from the crowd and attacked us. We saw one of the monsters assaulting a young woman across the plaza. While Wolverine and I engaged the clowns charging us, Maggie leapt to the woman's defense. But it was a trap!
The screaming woman turned into a laughing clown and squirted Maggie with some kind of poison from its lapel flower. Wolverine leapt on the demonic thing and skewered it. I lashed out with a ferocious psionic attack on the others and they all dissolved. I rushed to Maggie's side but she lay motionless. Reaching out with my mind I was able to touch her consciousness. She told me that to free her, I had to kill the head demon. Then she slipped beyond my reach.
I felt despair start to take me over. This is the biggest reason I ever had for not letting another touch my heart. The lifestyle that I lead is just far too dangerous. Seeing someone that I love fall in battle, be hurt by my enemies - it's more than I can bear. Almost. My despair turned to anger.
My awareness expanded, filling all of Venice, until I was touching every mind. I found the demon clown behind this. With Maggie across my lap, Wolverine and I raced to St. Mark's Basilica on the Piazza San Marco. There in the doorway of the cathedral stood our true foe -
"Took you long enough, Baldy!" he shouted. "What, did you get a flat?"
Without a word Wolverine withdrew his claws and leapt at the disgusting fat creature. He dove high into the air, aiming for the thing's heart. Energy blasts leapt from the monster's eyes, slamming into Wolverine's chest and sending him flying back across the piazza.
My mind was full of fury. I lashed out telepathically, trying to destroy the clown's mind. He fought back with surprising force. We locked in a deadly duel, almost evenly matched in psionic power.
"What's the matter Chucky," he said, "your date couldn't take it, huh?"
"You sick monster! You will pay for what you did to Maggie!"
"Oh please, spare me the bleeding heart crap. You don't really care about her. Admit it, you were just lonely and wanted some company. You're going to toss her aside like all the other little chippies."
His words only fueled my anger. Unfortunately, unlike the Hulk and his strength, getting angry interferes with a psyhic's concentration, making them less effective. I could feel my mental assault weakening. Fortunately, I had brought my fully-loaded hover chair with me.
I flipped the control panel and pressed the red button. Twin heat seeking missiles launched out at the clown. He shifted his powers to create a physical shield. The missiles exploded against the shield in a huge fireball. Though they didn't hurt the clown, that distraction was all I needed.
Marshalling all of my strength, I focused my psionic attack against him, and smashed through his mental defenses. The clown howled out in pain. I kept up my vicious assault until he collapsed in a lifeless heap. Maggie stirred on my lap. I held her tightly with my arms and kissed her hard. As she returned to consciousness, she kissed me back.
A strange sound from the clown made us break our embrace. We both turned to look at him and saw his body transforming.