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The Rise of the Triad

Despite the promise he had made to Rogue not to pursue her to Australia, Gambit was forced to go to the continent to steal a gem from the Viceroy of organized crime, Miles Warbeck. This was no ordinary gem as it was the key to opening an interdimensional portal, when it was combined with others in the set. It fell on the Guilds, because of their store of ancient knowledge, to keep them apart. And, as someone had already stolen three of them, Gambit was to get the others so the Guild could hide them separately.

Unfortunately, while he was retrieving the gem, Gambit stumbled into a violent takeover of Australia's underworld by Sebastian Shaw. Shaw was aided and abetted by another member of the Hellfire club - Regan Wyngarde or, as she was more commonly known, Lady Mastermind - and by the Examiner, who was ostensibly one of Gow Yang Ju's henchmen. Gow Yang Ju himself was in the upper echelons of an organized crime syndicate, commonly known as the Triad.

After Lady Mastermind killed Warbeck, she blamed it on Gambit, who was stealing the gem at the time. In order to clear his name, Gambit tried to track down the Viceroy's connections (read: Gow) - a quest which led him to the Golden Harbour Restaurant in Syndey. There, he met with Rogue, who was also investigating the matter in an attempt to clear his name, they came across more trouble. As they were fighting a group of flunkies whom an obviously frightened Gow had sent to kill them, the Examiner killed his boss and pinned the murder on the two X-Men.

In particular, the Examiner initially fooled Red Lotus, a crack martial artist and Gow's grandson. As a result, the younger man tried to kill Gambit and Rogue, and assisted the Examiner in interrogating them. Fortunately, however, Red Lotus soon learned the truth about who was really responsible for his grandfather's death, and helped to stop Lady Mastermind and Sebastian Shaw. (Bishop arrested both of them, but had to let the latter go due to lack of evidence.) He also helped Gambit to clear his name by going with him to the Triad and claiming that they had papers that showed Shaw was the ringleader behind the plot. This might simply have been a ruse designed to flush out the Examiner, because the police's freeing of Shaw was obviously predicated on there being no evidence, but that is irrelevant to the outcome. Because of Red Lotus' endorsement, Gambit was absolved of the murder charges and the contract on his head.

The Key To Success

After defusing a potential gang-war and saving Remy from the bounty on him, the X-Men had no time for relaxation. The very day they arrived back at their Australian base, they were attacked by an interdimensional warlord by the name of Khan. He wanted both the Storm's part of the Madripoor Set (a group of gems under the protection of the Guild that would allow them to open gates between worlds) and Gambit as the 'battery' to power them.

Despite Gambit and Lifeguard's best attempts to flee and hide them, they were captured and taken to an ancient temple on Madripoor. There, the gems were placed on Gambit's body and triggered to create a beam of crimson light. This beam in turn began to solidify to create a monstrous tower enclosing Madripoor.

Khan's minions started to trickle through it, as it became more and more solid. However, as the X-Men discovered, this was just a prelude to his real plan. When the Tower became completely substantial, he would be able to bring his entire force through it and would conquer the world without any problems. Naturally, the gate had to be closed.

This conclusion led to a lot of outer space and interdimensional adventures on the part of the X-Men. Storm was kidnapped to be Khan's queen and had to be rescued; Heather discovered her Shi'ar heritage and so on.

Meanwhile, back on earth, Gambit was doing everything he could to close the beam from that side. When the beam was interrupted for a second, he managed to charge a little pebble and push it through the beam to bring the entire temple down on himself. Naturally, if he died, the invaders would lose their energy source and the gate would shut automatically.

However, Rogue had other plans for him. She refused to let him sacrifice himself, and tried to use her body to block the beam while she used her strength to pull him free. Unfortunately, she had imprinted his powers in the past, and the beam ate through her in exactly the same way, draining her dry. She was just as stuck as he was.

To add to their problems, Vargas showed up at that point and decided it would be an opportune time to put an end to Destiny's prophecy about Rogue being the one to kill him. He stabbed Gambit and Rogue with his sword. The beam died and the invasion was over, but at what cost?

Costs

Unsurprisingly, everyone believed that Rogue and Gambit were dead, when they heard her calling for help from the rubble of the temple. It turned out that Rogue was stabbed straight through her heart, but she survived thanks to Wolverine's healing factor. Gambit was also in bad shape but still breathing.

Rogue was furious, and decided that despite her life-threatening wounds, she would hunt down Vargas and exact revenge for what he did to Gambit. Her access to all the powers she had ever absorbed did a great deal to boost her confidence that she could defeat him.

Rogue took off after Vargas despite the protests from the X-Men. She chased him down and attacked him in various personae, her appearance shifting as she did so. She especially attacked as Psylocke in order to avenge her death. Unfortunately, she could not keep this up for long, as Wolverine's healing-factor was all that was keeping her alive and using the other powers negated it.

Using her own skills at hand-to-hand combat, she defeated Vargas and was about to stab him through with his sword. Even on the brink of death, however, Vargas challenged her and told her to fulfill her destiny.

And that gave Rogue pause, because she was doing exactly what Destiny's books said she would do. In the end, she chose not to kill him, because that would make the future the past, and take away all the creative options and hopes which the X-Men embody. So, Vargas made his escape, the rest of the X-Men magically appeared, and Rogue, still suffering, collapsed on the chest of a labouring Remy.

(Thanks to Vikki Aino for the summary from which this part adapted, and Leigh for the scan!)

The Way Back From Heaven

After the invasion was ended and the battle with Vargas was over, Gambit and Rogue were rushed to a MASH unit, along with their other wounded teammates. Gambit was so severely injured that he was on the point of dying. Sent by Jean who sensed this, Rogue raced through the astral plane to get to him in time and save him. She found him ready - and willing - to depart to the next level of existence. He knew that he was dying in a state of grace, which meant that he would rise to heaven, and was afraid that he would never get that chance again. Naturally, Rogue was unimpressed with the thought of losing him. Against his will, she was able to bring him back to life, to prevent his soul from leaving his body.

However, as Wolverine feared, Gambit was less than appreciative. He knew exactly what he had given up to return to earth, and he was irritated with Rogue for it. To make matters worse, something had happened to him to cause him to lose his powers. He could not even charge a single card. Rogue had also lost her powers, but she was more pleased about the fact. She saw it as giving them a real chance to be together. She pushed him for a more serious commitment, but for whatever reasons of his own he held back from giving her one and said that they would have to see how everything went. They would have to take it day by day, he argued, and see where it led. Rogue contented herself with that for the moment, but said it was only a start.

So, realizing they needed privacy to work through their issues both as individuals and as a couple, they set off on his motorcycle early the next morning.

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