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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7


Written by Madeleine Villerot-Taylor
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

Remy LeBeau turned into an alley, shoulders slightly hunched against the light rain. He'd just left one of those highly illegal underground nightclub casinos, asking questions trying to find out if the rumors about an escalation of hostilities was about to happen. He'd heard of a few deaths of local thieves from the Guild of Thieves, his adopted family, who'd banished him a while back. But he still felt loyalty and responsibilty to his clan. And if the Guild of Assasins had begun to kill his brethren again, then he would do what he could to stop it.

He ran a slim long fingered hand through his shoulder blade length auburn hair, letting it swing freely. No one had heard anything about it that was any help and they wanted to stay out of it. He grimaced ruefully, then paused as he 'sensed' something not quite - - -

Pivoting on his left foot, he reached into his coat pocket, pulling out a fan of playing cards that he began to ignite with his mutant power. A dazzling mauve glow emanated from his hand as he raised the cards higher, prepared to strike. His red on black eyes narrowed as a figure stepped into the circle of mauve light. A hiss escaped his lips and he moved like mercury, reaching for more cards as he threw the first batch at the man confronting him in the alley. The tall man with a silvery cast to his skin just chuckled indulgently, his pointed, fanglike teeth glistening.

"Remy, my boy!" The man spoke pleasantly as he raised his own hand. The cards blew apart before they were a foot from their intended target who lifted his arms and fired twin beams of concussive energy at Remy. Nimbly ducking but barely missed by the energy which exploded against the large garbage bin behind him, Remy spun away from the deadly shards of metal and debris spraying up. He pitched the cards towards Sinister's feet, trying to get his opponent off balance, perhaps actually cause some damage this time, he hoped. But Sinister just stepped back, shaking his head as if Remy were an errant puppy, his dead red eyes going a shade colder, if that were possible.

"You can be so predictable. All I had to do was kill a few thieves and that misguided sense of loyalty did the rest. It drew you right out where I wanted you. The day has come to call in the chit you owe me. I had warned you and I am a man who keeps his word. Now, you will come with me - "

"You are no man! Vous êtes unholy une créature! You are an unholy creature - "

"Now, Remy, do you want to antagonize me further?" Sinister continued to shield himself from Remy's explosive power and Remy did not relish the idea of hand to hand combat with him. 'Course, that usually wasn't the way that Essex would play it out, would he? He usually had his Marauders here to do that type of labor. One of Sinister's blasts caught Remy' s heel as he didn't quite dodge quickly enough, slipping on the rain splattered ground. Remy danced on his other foot, still moving as nimbly as a mountain cat, cursing in French and trying to ignore the agony shooting up his leg nerves.

" I am tiring of this. You are to come with me. "

"Non!" Remy shouted, his Cajun accent thick, pulling out his bo staff from a pocket of his brown duster, causing it to spiral out to full length. "Remy not go wit' you, démon! Remy not your toy no longer. De debt has been paid in full! I'm clear o' you."

"No, dear boy, not in full. Come, now - "

The knot of fear that had been growing in Remy's stomach hardened into granite. He'd meant ot stay clear of Essex but he should have realized after what happened in Seattle with Rogue and his little visit with Sinister there that this was inevitable. He wasn't ready for this. He had no advantage. His only option was to call for help from the X Men but Remy bitterly realized it was already too late. There was no escape, the very Marauders he'd been wondering about were arriving. He was being surrounded, without a prayer.

"Exactly, Remy LeBeau," Sinister chuckled evilly.

One by one, Sinister's minions stepped into the mauve light. Each grinned maliciously, some licking lips or cracking knuckles in anticipation, as if taking their cues from a poorly written spaghetti western. Remy shook his head at the surreal feeling overtaking him.

The one named Harpoon spoke up. "Hey, Cajun, please make it hard on yourself. I have a bit of repayment to deliver personally to you." He brandished his harpoon, energizing it, aiming high.

A voice cooed at him from his right, but he didn't need to turn, he recognized Phillipa's voice, code named Arclight, superhuman strength and a need to exert it. "Remy, baby, you never called like you said you would. That wasn't very gentlemanly of you, Remy," she said his name as if it were a curse.

"We know the ending already so why keep our viewers in suspense, eh?" Kim Sung, known as Scrambler, joked.

Suddenly, without a hint of his intentions, Remy spun around in a circle, leveling a card at each of his adversaries, spinning his bo staff defensively, blocking the shuriken being flung at him from Riptide, one of Harpoon's weapons also. He wasted no breath talking in his usual glib fashion. He leapt forward to engage Prism in hand to hand combat, glad that his sunglasses were still covering his eyes, otherwise the light being directed at him by Prism's crystalline body would blind his sensitive eyes instead of just causing him to squint uncomfortably. He kept the smaller man between him and the rest of them as a shield. He could sense Sinister just standing back and taking it all in, practically tapping his foot with impatience.

The Cajun mutant let his instincts take over, melding his spatial awareness with his low empathic powers to sense the other's movements and try to counteract them. He used his 'charm' power to try and confuse them, managing to achieve several hits before they surrounded him so closely that he could hardly move; they worked together as a team, something he'd never seen them do before. He felt his body bleeding in way too many places, more injuries than he remembered ever suffering before. They began to overwhelm him with their sheer number and he felt his ribs crack. His head continued to spin from Vertigo's attack on his sense of balance. His jaw hung slackly, likely broken by someone's well aimed kick. They fell on him like a pack of rabid dogs, mercilessly ripping at him, pummeling his body, his senses reeling from overloaded nerve endings. His mind cried out frantically for help he knew was too far away. The tight shields around his mind evaporated under their onslaught, his tenuous hold on consciousness slipping away as he slid in a pool of his own blood. He sprawled on the ground, unable to convince his body to obey his will anymore.

He felt one moment of release as the agony poured through his mind and outwards to envelop those surrounding him. They cringed back, drops of blood falling from a few of their noses, unable to fight the assault on their psyches. But then he drowned in the darkness pulling him under.

Sinister glowered at the broken man lying in the alley. His Marauders were rubbing their temples, as if that would help relieve their pain, complaining and cursing. Scrambler pulled his leg back and viciously kicked the Cajun in the back. Essex hissed at him in rebuke, unwilling to show his lackeys the needles of pain still coursing through his own brain. As long as he'd known LeBeau, he'd never seen that loss of control. Had he let the beating go too far? Sinister crouched down and felt for a pulse. Thready but there, he decided.

He stood and signaled for his team to carry the Cajun over to where the tesseract had appeared. It was time to take Remy home and prepare him for his new abode. Sinister chuckled again.

"Aaahh!" Jean cried as she crumpled to the kitchen floor, her lithe body curling in on itself protectively.

Logan crouched next to her, his own head ringing slightly. "Jeanie?" he said questioningly, certain only that someone was in trouble and needed their help - desperately. "Who was that, Jean?"

Jean breathed deeply, rubbing the center of her forehead. "My God,' she whispered.

"What? C'mon dahling, sit up." Logan instructed, helping her lean against the refrigerator. She continued taking deep breaths and Logan kneaded the back of her neck.

"It's Remy!"

"LeBeau? What happened?"

"Yes," she replied as she got to her feet. "He's hurt. Good lord, he may be dead!" Her voice caught as she started for the door to the hall, her red gold hair swinging wildly. Logan followed close behind, a growl threatening to spill out from around his gritted teeth.

Jean Grey, a.k.a. Phoenix, a member of the outlaw mutant team known as the X Men, rushed to the elevator. "Who's on the grounds, Logan?" she asked, her green eyes flashing.

Wolverine, code named for the short yet feral and fierce creature of the north, grunted. "You, me, Rogue, Bishop and Storm."

"Is that all?" she sighed as she punched in the code that would deliver the elevator to the floor that the 'war' room was located.

"Jean? What happened?"

"All I know for sure is that Gambit," she used Remy's code name, "was crying out for help. He was in mortal danger. We have to use Cerebro - " She keyed in the sequence that would open the door to the X Men's central control room where row upon row of computers and monitors hummed with life. "- to try and find him. I'd say it came from New York but the telepathic cry for help wasn't very informative. I don't even know if he did it deliberately or if it was a last ditch instinctual effort. Either way, I'd never have suspected Remy could have accomplished it, he's always been so unreadable telepathically." She pulled on the helmet that helped attune her thought waves to Cerebro's mutant tracking system.

Logan, meanwhile, began pressing the buttons designed to recall all X Men in residence at the mansion to the war room. He also began what remote preparations he could to ready the Blackbird, their aircraft, for flight. He mentally ticked off the location of the rest of their team. Professor Xavier, who had actually formed the X Men, and Hank McCoy, one of his original students, were in San Francisco on a symposium where they had been invited to speak about the 'mutant question.' Betsy Braddock and Warren Worthington III were in Cancun together to 'find' themselves after all the recent changes in their lives. Bobby Drake, known as Iceman, was visiting his father who was still recuperating from grievous injuries caused by anti-mutants hate groups.

Wolverine could feel the concentration Jean was expending. Out of habit, Wolverine released then retracted his claws of bone from the knuckles of each of his hands. He'd felt something from the Cajun, too and knowing how skilled a fighter Remy was, it was hard to imagine what might have gotten him so badly. Remy could usually charm his way out of most sticky situations and if he had to fight, he usually came out on top. "Snikt" went the claws again.

The other X Men started to arrive, dressed for battle. Rogue flew through the door, her hair streaming behind her, a white skunk streak down the center of it startling against the chestnut brown of the rest. Bishop arrived next, his mahogany skin glowing with a thin sheen of sweat from a workout in the Danger Room. His plasma rifle was slung over his powerfully built shoulder, his legs like pistons pumping. He came to rest at attention, his solemn gaze flickering from Jean to the others. The black tattoo across his eyebrow stood out in the fluorescent lighting and he swiveled to watch as Storm entered.

Storm, actually Ororo Munroe, sported her usual black lycra battle suit with her cape flowing behind her; her majestic bearing was evident even as she flew to a graceful stop just before Wolverine. Her brilliant white hair accentuated the exotic beauty of her catlike blue eyes and finely shaped face. Just as she was about to ask a question, Jean drew Cerebro off her head and gazed at Logan.

"The signal from Remy's communicator is coming from Manhattan. I sent the coordinates to the Blackbird's onboard computer."

"Remy?" Rogue asked anxiously.

"What is wrong, Jean?" Storm asked. "Just now I had felt Remy call me, in my mind, but it was so faint, I thought I had imagined it."

"I am sorry, but it seems Remy has been attacked. We don't know by whom but we need to get to him - "

Not another word was spoken as they all turned and moved fluidly to the hangar.

The young girl approached the figure strapped to the medical bed carefully, almost reverently, her small bare feet making only a whisper of sound among the constant beeps of monitors surrounding the bed. The beauty of the man drew her like a magnet, even with all the bandages covering his face and body. The lustrous mane of his auburn hair gleamed in the ambient lighting.

She'd heard rumors of this one; one of a very few who had actually escaped Sinister's grip. She didn't know how he could have done it. It was beyond the grasp of her limited experience to even imagine it.

And now he lay battered and broken, his chest rattling with every breath. Where the bandages didn't cover him, she could see the leanness of him, the muscles tight and sculpted. His lips were bruised and his face was extremely swollen, she decided after looking closer. She reached forward instinctively to grip his slender fingers in her small hands. Her dark brown hair cascaded over her scarred face as she bowed her head. She could sense his pain, it was a good thing he was still unconscious.

She knew she shouldn't be here. What if she were found? A frisson of fear coursed up her spine. Yet still she hesitated. She sensed good in this man, this Remy who had escaped once before. It'd been so long since she had felt anyone or anything good that she found herself unable to pull away. It was like one of her rare visits outdoors in the sunlight after her long stays underground. Her gray eyes closed in resolve and she tried to turn to go but she felt the fingers in her hand move ever so slightly. Amazed, she looked at his face, hoping he would wake - but no! The pain would be so great - overwhelming her.

She turned and ran from the room, hearing footsteps approaching from the opposite corridor. She hid in the first doorway she came to, her breath labored. She could hear Mr. Sinister entering the room she'd just barely vacated in time and he was speaking to one of the scientists that worked for him.

"The monitor alerted us the moment our subject's vitals changed even minutely. I'm not positive I want him to be aware yet - "

His voice was cut off as the door swooshed shut behind them. She remembered to breathe again. And then left hurriedly to be about her own duties, shaking her head sadly.

Storm and Bishop landed the Blackbird on the roof of a seemingly sturdy enough building. The X Men piled out, scanning the surrounding area before lowering themselves to the alley. Jean panned the flashlight she'd brought around, showing still smoldering pits of what could only be explosive strikes. Bishop reconnoitered to the opening into the alleyway, turning frequently as Wolverine scented about for Remy. Jean had said she had felt nothing from Gambit since his call but she usually couldn't sense much from him and then only when they were in close proximity to each other or he wanted her to. Logan growled as he held up Gambit's brown duster and fished the communicator out of one of its pockets.

Rogue practically growled too, her often ambivalent feelings for Remy surging to the fore. She punched the wall nearest to her, leaving a huge hole in the brick but no damage to her well nigh invulnerable skin.

"He could be anywhere," Storm lamented.

Wolverine continued his snuffling, then turned to the others. "He's been taken from here - "

"By who?" Rogue cried out, her tone approaching hysteria.

"Sinister and his Marauders." Snikt.

Rogue swore rather colorfully and Jean's eyebrow shot up.

"Can you track them?" Ororo asked.

"They used that tesseract trick of his."

"Then they could be anywhere!" she repeated her earlier statement.

"What do we do now?" Bishop asked, his face more severely tense than ever.

Jean spoke, "Let's return to the mansion. We'll need the others back so we can check all known locations." She walked over to Rogue and gripped her arm through her uniform, avoiding the skin to skin contact that would cause Rogue's mutant power to kick in and drain Jean's psyche and memories from her, leaving her unconscious. "We won't give up until we find him."

"I know, Jean," Rogue in a voice of tempered steel, "and heaven help that Sinister freak when I catch up with him." She turned abruptly and flew up to the Blackbird, the others following more slowly.


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