"HA!" he thundered. "Do you really think your pitiful band of misfits could beat me, the ruler of Hell, in my own domain? Please, don't insult my intelligence. I let you leave."
"Well that's not how I remember it. We beat your demons and we beat you. We rescued Laura from your clutches." That last bit didn't quite come out like I intended. I wanted to sound authoritative. Instead it sounded more like a question.
"You are naive, mortal. I let you leave with your little girl. And that pompous old Master of Magnetism."
"Oh. I didn't realize you had noticed that bit."
"There is nothing that happens in my realm of which I am not aware."
"Well . . you can't have Laura back," I said in my most commanding voice. "She is under our protection."
"As if that would mean anything to me. You obviously do not know with whom you deal, mortal. I am Mephisto, Lord of Hell."
"Actually, I did know that."
"The girl's soul was mine. You attempted to steal her from me. You took her from Hell without my permission. Therefore, you owe me a soul."
"What? Is that your game? Well forget it. I'm not giving you anyone."
"You have no choice Xavier. You and your team have created an imbalance in the natural order. The only way to correct it is to fill the vacancy. There shall be no peace in your world until a soul is provided."
"I'm not going to help you. I mean if you want take Magneto back, I think he's down in the kitchen now. You're welcome to him."
"Forget it. He's one of the Masters of Evil. He's already mine. It's only a matter of time. I need a hero."
"Well . . you can't have an X-Men. They are my children. Even Wolverine-"
"Ha! Now you're just being stupid. With his body count? He's already mine. It's only a matter of time."
Ouch. "Be that as it may. They are all heroes. Why Nightcrawler just-"
"Come on. He's a Peeping Tom. A pervert. He's already damned."
"Well if you want me, forget it. I-"
"Ha ha! You are an egotistical, condescending, power mad lush who's convenient moral code is quickly pushed aside whenever it suits your will. You are already mine, too."
My heart sank at that bit of information. Was he just toying with me? Lying to me? After all, I'm not a lush.
After an uncomfortably long silence, I finally asked, "So what is it you do want?"
"I know that you are about to leave for the planet Hacknor for his little contest. You will go there, corrupt his soul and bring him to me."
"That's insane! Forget it!"
"You have no choice, Xavier. You and your X-Men are mine. If you do not bring me the Gladiator, then I will claim all of you now."
"B-but . . Jon isn't a mutant. Why me?"
"Because you are the most convenient tool. His is a pure soul. A true hero. He fights for righteousness. His soul is worth more to me than all of you X-Men combined. Bring me his soul and you are all free."
"Never!" I shouted, but Mephisto was already gone in a cloud of smoke. A loud horn sounded from outside on the front lawn. It was the space shuttle to Hacknor.