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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14

Follow Me Until the End of the World: A Place Worth Saving? - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Sandman
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 2

Peter Rasputin stared hypnotically into the fire. Wood crackled and snapped in an enticing matter. The Russian heard old folk tales of demons calling into the world through fire, whispering words intended to drive the living mad. He once thought them to be ridiculous, but now reconsidered. In his lifetime, he had seen things the living should never witness. Now, he was sure of it-the fire was talking. You are destined for pain. It is your role, it is your destiny….

Two others, Scott Summers and Remy LeBeau remained by the fire as their fourth member of their cadre, Wraith, left to find my firewood. The group had been traveling for nearly two and half weeks now and had just passed the mountains of West Virginia. Wraith predicted that in another few days, they would reach their destination of Washington D.C. Had it been up to Wraith, they would have reached by now. They had been making excellent time, sticking mainly to water routes and back roads. Cyclops insisted that they approached from an easterly route because every other direction would be guarded. Bowing to his expertise in the region, Wraith reluctantly capitulated.

His main concern was Gambit, he was on the verge of contracting pneumonia, if he hadn’t already. The Cajun ate little, but seemed to keep up quite well. His cough was worsening, and he seemed to be held in a perpetual daze.

Overall, the trip had been quiet. The chatter of mutual friends was completely absent-only the mad drive towards their one goal existed. Their feelings towards one another were immaterial-they simply depended on another, completely.

When Wraith returned, Cyclops heard him before anyone else sensed him. His deprived sense of sight only forced him to rely on his other facilities. The sound of footsteps at first alarmed him, but he soon recognized Wraith’s walking pattern. It took Wraith dropping his bundle near the fire to break Peter’s trance.

“Who’s turn is it to cook?”, Wraith inquired.

“Its yours. But I’ll do it, since you’ve been out collecting wood,” muttered Gambit, emerging from his rest. He began digging through the cooking utensils and retrieving what he needed.

The night went on silently after the group finished their nightly meal of canned corn, chicken, and bread. One by one they drifted to sleep, except for Colossus who agreed to take first watch, but was taken back into the fire. Pain. Illiyana…what has this happened to us…to you.. my beloved sister... The Russian painfully looked away and jumped to his feet. Casting a glance to the sky, he dared the world to destroy him. The stars seemed to rain pity on him. He held his fists up, knowing their power. There are dark days ahead…he muttered to himself in Russian. Nothing more can be taken from me, but I am not a broken man. I will not rest…and will crush everything that stands in our way. The wind whispered a mournful moan through the trees. Nothing can stop me now…

Several days later, outside of Washington D.C.

The outskirts of the former capital of the United States of America resembled a warzone. Early in the war, Cyclops explained, it had been hit by a intercontinental ballistic missile shot from India, which the Soviet Union had taken in its Asian campaign. Most of the damage, however, came from looting years later. “Raiders, traders, and John Doe ordinary had been through here, digging around for supplies and goods. The good word around here is to stay the hell away from here because of two factors. One, the fallout, which we measured, and is minimal,” he paused. “Second, this was a favorite hangout for the Skags, one of the more prominent raider tribes on the east coast.”

The other three walked silently through the wreckage, taking in the lecture, if a bit surprised at Summers’ sudden willingness to talk. Gambit figured that he probably said more in the last few minutes than during the last three weeks. He noticed gang signs spray painted everywhere, often on top of one another. They were climbing over piles of concrete and twisted metal. Assorted debris littered the grounds. The dust bothered him a bit, but he had nearly beaten his sickness, even in his immune system’s reduced state. Feeling dirty was beginning to feel natural, though. Changing clothes, showers, and personal hygiene were low priorities anymore. Hell, at least I don’t have any hair to worry about he thought to himself, thinking of the buzzcuts that had all agreed to undergo.

They all saw the capital toppled over, and cared nothing for it. Patriotic nonsense did have a place in this world that had moved on.

Nobody asked Cyclops how further they had to walk, though it was all on the minds. It was difficult for him direct the group without his eyesight, though he managed. Once they reached what used to be the Mall, they descended into the subway tunnels. “The base can be reached down here, but be careful, the trains still operate,” Cyclops whispered while being led down the stairs. The crossed a platform and entered a bathroom, where Cyclops told them of a false wall that led to a tunnel. Colossus moved it with ease, revealing the tunnel that their makeshift leader predicted. It was constructed by a group of non-professionals, Wraith thought. Too narrow. Not good to be caught in an ambush. But good for security…

At the tunnel’s end, stood a steel vaulted door with a palm reader. Cyclops swiped his hand, which elicited no response. Shaking his head in disappointment, and turned suddenly and bashed his fist into the door. It opened slowly into darkness. Following Summers’ lead, the group entered only to hear

Hammers being drawn back on an arsenal of weapons, presumably aimed at every one of the heads.

“Wrong place in a real wrong time. Lose the hardware,” a controlled, deep voice demanded.

The group obeyed. “Look, I’m Colonel Scott Summers. I can give you any passcode that you request,” reasoned the blindfolded leader.

“Listen Jacko…I don’t give a flyin fuck about who you say you is…asa matta a fact, you look like a bunch of godamn spies to me…”

Colossus appraised the situation. He could liquefy their captors in a matter of seconds, but his teammates would not survive. Begrudgingly, he resisted his urge.

“Alright then, what now?” Wraith asked, just before a light came on. He counted eleven, and believed that even on his best day, he couldn’t take them. Especially not this heavily armed. The room was small and had only one other door, so escape was an unlikely scenario.

“We wait to see what we do with you. But lemme tell ya, it ain’t lookin’ so good…” said the loudmouth, who was a huge black man with an Uzi 9mm pointed directly at Cyclops head.

Loudmouth looked over his shoulder, towards the other door. “Here she comes now…”

A smallish blond lady emerged, dressed in military fatigues. It only took her a moment before ordering the guard to stand down.

“That’s Colonel Summers. I’m not sure who the rest of these people are, though. Last time I heard you were taken during the siege on the New York base. Chances are you’re a clone…”

“No Val..its really me. I was taken to a facility in Louisiana to be tested, I guess. These guys broke out with me. I’ll take whatever test you have set up to prove me word”.

She nodded, and took him with her. Colossus, Gambit, and Wraith were led forced to remain behind.

Valeria Allgood led the blindfolded Scott Summers into the bunker’s medical facility. “This will only hurt a second…another one of McCoy’s ingenious inventions.”

Holding the device to his arm, it shot a needle into him, piercing his skin and drawing a bit of blood. Summers refused to flinch, despite the pain. The light shone green. “Looks like you weren’t lying.”

“You should know to trust me by now. Is McCoy still around?”

“Thankfully, yes, he stuck it through here with us, even through all the shit that’s been going on lately. We’ve been losing people too fast.”

“What do you mean?”

Lowering her voice, she leaned closer and told him “I think there’s a leak. Our long range recon patrols have been getting picked off. I’ve suspended all activities for the interim.”

Scott looked perplexed. “When did you take over?”

“Since about six weeks ago, when Major Zorn decided to try and reach the New York survivors. He took about half of our fighting men, and haven’t heard from them since. I can’t help like feeling that we’re sitting ducks in here. I have to admit though, seeing you again is probably the first bit of good news we’ve had in awhile.”

Nodding, Scott then requested that his companions be allowed in. Val picked up her radio and gave the order for them to be brought into the mess hall and fed.

“Really, its good to see you again, Colonel,” Val said, wrapping her arms around him, and he reciprocated.

“Say, uhhh, Val. Do you have an extra one of my visors laying around here?”

Giggling, she responded “of course. Hold on.”

A few moments later, she returned, and removed his blindfold. She slipped the visor over his eyes, allowing him to see for the first time in weeks.

Alltogether, it wasn’t the worst image that he could have imagined. Valeria Allgood stood before him nearly exactly as he remembered him. The dark circles under her eyes betrayed the lack of sleep that he endured, but still, even at her worst, she was pretty. She wore her golden hair short these days, which Cyclops found a little tomboyish.

The two remained in the sickroom, discussing current events and flirting offhandedly. A floor above them, the other three were being fed what was known as La Resistance Cusine (hot dogs), an insider joke in the complex. The meal helped their tempers quell, though Wraith still wanted to shove a shiv in Loudmouth’s larynx. Later, when Valerie and Cyclops rejoined them, they were given rooms. She explained with the number of fatal casualties they had sustained in the last few weeks, they had an abundance of room. Each man then retired to their rooms and took a long, hot shower, before crashing into their beds for some comfortable sleep.

The next morning, Valerie made it clear that they were confined to the upper floors over breakfast. The mess hall held about 150 soldiers (officers ate elsewhere). Val explained that this was full capacity, as no patrols had been ordered for that week.

When everyone was nearly finished eating, a figure approached their table. Brutish, lumbering, but somehow graceful, the man affectionately known as Beast introduced himself, offering his gigantic and powerful hand in friendship to each man. “Salutations dear friends..I am Hank McCoy. I run the woodshop around here,” he jokingly remarked. The Beast wore a small (too small for his skull) pair of spectacles, a pair of jogging pants, and a wife beater. He was somewhat short, though powerfully built. His presence hinted at incredible intelligence, which was only confirmed once he spoke. Cyclops greeted him with recognition. “Hank, its damn good to see you again.”

“Likewise, dear captain.”

Gambit threw Colossus a glance. They had talked earlier how uncomfortable that they were here, and that they should leave as soon as possible. It seemed that Cyclops was falling into his old position and rank. His reaction to Beast only worsened their doubts in Cyke.

“Remy,” said Valerie from across the table. “After lunch, come with to the medlab. Scott tells me that you have been suffering severe memory control deprivation since emerging from the chemical vat.”

“Yeah, that’s right. If you think you can help, I’d appreciate it…”

“Actually, I’m a partial telepath. I might be able to jog something loose. And don’t worry, it’s a pretty painless process”.

Remy nodded, showing a fair amount of interest. He hadn’t made up his mind about Valerie Allgood, but if she could help him in any way...

“You might have one Grade A headache after I’m done, but it’s a least a shot, hmm?”

While he didn’t enjoy the idea of somebody prying around in his head, Remy was becoming desperate trying to regain some semblance of self-identity. Beyond that, he wanted answers-why had he been held captive for so long?

“Whenever you’re ready, then,” he replied, shoving his empty tray.

Sensing his eagerness, she finished her mouthful of eggs, wiped her mouth, and then stood, motioning for him to follow. The two left the cafeteria and descended into the next level towards the medlab. Several soldiers passed them, heading towards the cafeteria. They eyed Remy, a stranger, with guarded curiosity, and nodded a greeting, while saluting Valerie.

Once inside, she asked him to undress and to put on a gown. Out of politeness, she turned and faced the other way. As he disrobed, he caught a glance of himself in a mirror. The reflection suggested a prisoner of some kind, or perhaps a drug addict-muscles were not toned properly, his skin was pale, and his hairstyle would have made him a dead ringer for some kind of vagrant. Oddly enough, years ago, he had little trouble ever leaving a woman breathless.

Presently, by her request, he laid on a table while she took his vital signs and drew some blood. Taking a history, she then asked a few questions about his past for which he had no answers. With the preliminary work done, she then closed the door and turned down the lights. Only a lamp, bent so that it faced a wall, provided light for the room.

“Just relax now,” she whispered, sitting on a stool behind him. Her hands began gently massaging his temples. Almost at once, Remy felt a new presence trying to make its way into his mind. Despite his wishes, he resisted, and could sense her mounting frustration as time went by. “C’mon Remy…just let it go…let me in…” Her voice had a calming effect, yet his heart continued to pound. The room temperature seemed to increase ten-fold as perspiration beaded down his face. He slowly observed his heart’s rythmns, and surrendered, feeling him body fall deeper into the mattress underneath. The sweat covering his face seemed to crystallize. Valerie’s hands could no longer be felt, and he began to doubt that she was there at all. Finally, in the distance, he thought that he heard a bell ringing. This was his final observation.

When he finally awoke, Remy panicked, jumping to his feet and crouching low. It took a few minutes for him to realize that he had not left the medlab. Val had left the one light on, which remained statically fixed on a certain position on the wall, catching the side of the mirror. True to the telepath’s word, his head was pounding. Tearing his gown off, casually walked across the room and collected his clothes, and then dressed. He turned towards the door before catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Something had changed. My eyes…dey’s red…He turned his head slightly and began to recognize the stranger inside, who wielded the ability to charge any item into a bomb. With minimal concentration, a wavy red aura surrounded his fist. Had he held an object, it would have been lethal by the time he stopped the charge. But his mutant power was only but one of his weapons, wasn’t it? Perhaps the girl had knocked something loose after all.

Cyclops and Colossus immediately noticed a change in Remy, who began speaking in a thick Cajun accent. His mannerisms were quite different as well-he carried a cockiness that suggested that he honestly believed that he owned every room that he walked into. The biggest departure, however, was in the way he moved. Every step taken with complete assurance that whatever happened next, he could react. The man took every movement with complete and deliberate control.

Another week passed. Cyclops was usually in the company of Valerie, which worried both Peter and Remy further. Wraith seemed to be absent at all times-never present at regular mealtimes. In the hours of boredom, Remy and Peter found themselves drawn to the fitness room. By attempting to keep up with the burly Russian’s weightlifting schedule, Gambit found that his muscles were quickly regaining their tone. Hours of exercise went by, interrupted with brief intervals of the two ribbing one another. A particular favorite was ethnic background. Where Peter accused Gambit of being a filthy, belly-crawling swamp rat, Gambit countered by calling Peter something in French. When asked the translation, Gambit simply insolently smiled, and continued his exercise. Though perhaps Peter’s favorite thing to do was to stand above Gambit, while he was in the middle of doing bench presses, and to call him a pussy for lifting so little. Gambit would only smile, increase his resolve, and to tell Peter to shut the fuck up. Despite both having equally arrogant demeanors, the two were forming a friendship.

Wraith’s absence was explained a bit later. He caught Gambit and Colossus at lunch once and requested that they met later, in his quarters. He revealed that he had been searching the premises and mapping it out. “My concern is that we’re trapped here until Cyclops decides that it is time to leave,” he reasoned.

“This is nonsense. We shall leave whenever we want!” bellowed the Russian, stretching out his wrists.

“Do you really think so? That they’ll just let us walk out of here, having known where they’re located? Not likely. And keep your voice down.”

“Mebbe we should try an’ talk with Cyke first thing,” Remy whispered. “Mebbe da man know’s what he’s doin, mmm?”

Wraith fished into his pocket for a cigarette. Upon lighting it, he then posed the question “so, you’re volunteering Cajun?”

“Consider it done, mon ami…”, he said, smiling a devilish grin.

After the meeting, Peter and Remy left for their rooms. Bidding the Cajun a goodnight (flashing him the bird and calling him a pussy), Colossus entered his room. Shaking his head, Gambit walked to Summers’ room and began to knock on the door when he heard two voices. He could identify Scott’s easily enough, while the other, he figured out several minutes later, was McCoy. Eavesdropping on the conversation, he head the good doctor explaining that he had come upon evidence that the traitor Valerie was referring to had transmitted their coordinates, and that an attack was certain at this point. Cyclops then asked why he had not told Valerie. A few seconds of silence followed before McCoy admitted that he believed that Val was the traitor, and that the only soldiers remaining behind were with her, planning to defect. “In my estimation, the entire deal, was to catch you in a trap, Scott. Once they learned that you had escaped, they increased patrols-setting up our own people-simply to kill off anyone that still believe in the cause!” he angrily hissed. “If we wait here any longer, we’re doomed. One way or the other, I’m leaving. I implore you to come with, and perhaps the rest of your group, as well.”

“Very well. We’ll leave tomorrow night, then. All of us. The others are good men…good fighters. Still though…I can’t believe it is Val..”

“Slim, believe me. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” said Hank, approaching the door. By the time the Beast entered the hallway, the Cajun had slipped silently back into his own room.

1.1 Guess I better pack up, den…Gambit thought to himself. His task of discussing escape was no longer necessary. He reached for his bag when he felt his head throb, and he fell onto his bed, clutching his temple. Visions began filling his head. Faces…voices…memories…like cards being shuffled in a deck, each falling into a random, yet ordered, place.

Dreamtime…he was awake, watching episodes of his life, as vividly as television, except here, he lived them…

He was fourteen when his father pulled him from the basketball courts, to learn his trade, as he put it. For years, he endured pre-morning drills with the staff, lessons in martial arts, and firsthand apprenticeship with the master thieves. He surpassed them all, including his older brother Henri, who was destined to ascend as the Guild of Thieves Patriarch, in all of these things.

After the war, the two Guilds, Thieves and Assassins, controlled their region, filling the absence of anything able to sustain sovereignty. Wealth filtered in, tensions were quelled, and times were good….before his brother murdered Julien Devereaux in a drunken rage, the Assassin Patriach’s only son! In an attempt to maintain peace, and to preserve Henri’s destiny as the Thieves Guild head, Remy was thrown to the council and blamed for the act. The council’s decision remained etched in his mind. Torchlight, purple robes, cricket’s song by an open swamp…guilty, and exiled for life from the Guild.

Remy had lost his way in life, before stumbling into the presence of Nathaniel Essex-the man who would change him forever. It was a time when life had lost all meaning-his life had been embedded in the Guild. Essex had contacted him and requested a meeting. Remy walked into the office and seated himself, staring hard at the man that sat in front of him, who sat patiently and smoked a cigar. He was cordial enough, never losing a salesmen’s smile, who proceeded to try and convince Remy of a vision that he held for a better tomorrow, weaving an argument that borrowed elements of Hobbesian Theory of man’s natural state and Marx’s concept of the false consciousness, all culminating into a broad scheme of facism…things that meant little to Gambit. But then, Essex had promised him wealth beyond his wildest imagination-perhaps enough to convince his brother, now patriarch, to invite him to return to his family. Remy couldn’t refuse the offer.

His voice rang as clear now as when he spoke these words to Gambit. “Before you agree, you should probably hear the job’s description,” he said, leaning forward from his seat behind a desk. “You’ll be doing odd jobs, suited to your background, and yes Mr. LeBeau, I know a great deal about you…”

The comment unnerved Remy.

“You’ll be working with others, simply retrieving things for me. Objects, collectors items, mostly. Some weapons on occasion, and then even more rarely, people…but know this, Remy. You are the first. I tapped you first for a reason. You will be my right-hand man, and I will rely on you more heavily then anyone else.”

He hadn’t cared what he had to do, as long as it got him back into the Guild. He would shake hands with Satan himself in order to have that chance-to have his life back…

At the end of the meeting, they stood and shook hands. Even as Remy stood over six feet, Essex towered over him. His apperance seemed very regal at the time, perhaps not much different from his own father, before his death. Nathaniel Essex stood larger than life, it seemed. He humbly described himself as a scientist in search of progress, though Remy saw through it. He wanted power, and nothing else. They shook hands, and Remy felt as if the man could have crushed his hand if he had so wanted. “But remember this, Remy, when you work for me, you will be paid well. But never forget where your bread is buttered. Never betray me,” he said, gazing deeply into Gambit’s eyes, and holding his grip even more tightly. Remy nodded, intending to take that advice quite seriously.

Several years passed in the service of Nathaniel Essex. Gambit had acquired a significant fortune in the meantime. Like he said, there were others, and they nothing about each other. Not even real names. There were simply known as Graydon Creed, a vicious but brilliant tactician, Polaris, a mutant able to control magnetic pulses, Beast (the same, Beast!?), who handled most of the technology, Terry, a Haitian mutant who could morph into living stone, and a few others that he could remember…but there was also someone else…the girl that gave him salvation, Rogue.

Essex lured her in the same way as everyone else. She had a problem, and he solved it, making her in his debt for a long, long time. It had to do with her mutant power, which she couldn’t control He remembered her well….

One day, while returning from a mission, they were walking out together. They flirted offhandedly, and he backed her into a wall. He remembered every curve on her face, her full, enticing lips, and her eyes, her emerald green eyes…

“Ah don’t know about, Gambit. Ah mean, maybe it wouldn’t be right, with us workin’ together an’ all,” she reasoned as he came closer.

“Was the matta chere? Fraid’ you might like it jus’ a little,” he moved closer, bringing his mouth to her ear. “Or mebbe, you might just like it a lot…?” Her lips parted, and he entered her world.

He disarmed her, or rather, she disarmed him. For the first time in years, he began caring about something, someone.

Things were changing then. Essex wasn’t requesting normal things anymore. Things were becoming quite violent, and lives were beginning to be lost. And they were doing things, immoral things, like murder. The others followed Essex (who was becoming less and less visible) with fanatic devotion. Gambit hadn’t cared, so long as the money kept coming, though even he had his limits. He abhorred killing unless necessary, but saw the others murdering without hesitation. It bothered him, but he let it go on. It didn’t bother him much.

1.2 What did I do?…Those people…

Gambit saw himself slowing losing his soul. His time with Rogue seemed to bring him into conflict with himself-wanting to believe in the goodness in humans. It was for her that he gave the ultimate sacrifice and in return, she gave him his salvation, saving his soul, long corrupted from years under the wing of Essex.

She had been crying. “Remy, ah never asked you fo’ anything before. Please…do this for me.

“Chere, you don’ know what your askin’ me to do. He’ll know, and he’ll find us.” Rogue was far newer than any other member, and without a clear idea of the kind of man Nathaniel Essex was-if he was indeed a man at all. Remy never had seen the man eat, sleep, joke, or show a change of emotion. Moreover, he seemed to know things, that no one else could know. At times, he seemed to be everywhere at once.

“Ah don’t care. It’s not right anymore. Ah saw em in the labs with my own eyes! He’s in one of those water tanks! Without Charles Xavier, I’d be dead. He took me in when I had no one, nowhere to go, and gave me hope. He gave a whole lot of people hope, Remy. Don’t you see? Its not about making our place in the world like Essex told us. He’s trying to destroy everything left in his way, and we’re doin it for him!”. Her tone was pleading, but Gambit stood without reacting.

“Fine. Ah’ll do it myself..”

But he hadn’t let her. That night, he made arrangements for Rogue and Charles Xavier, but he was careful not to learn of their destination. He assured her that it was the only way. Their departure was rushed. But in their last few minutes together, he assured himself, it was worth it. He left a few minutes later, breaking through the security of Essex’s research facility, and freeing Charles Xavier. He met Rogue at an agreed-upon location, and told her goodbye. They kissed briefly, and she cried. That was the last time they saw each other. She left without knowing the true extent of his sacrifice.

Hours later Remy hung by his wrists bond over his head, with both shoulders dislocated. Graydon Creed conducted the interrogation, and had been pouring gasoline all over Gambit when he refused to talk. Gambit knew Creed well enough to know that he fully intended on burning him to death. Polaris stood in the corner, watching her husband work. The sick bitch wore an eager smile. Her gray-steel eyes enjoyed the sadomasochist show, which sexually aroused her to no small extent.

A few minutes later, Essex, the man, entered, dismissing the other two.

Shaking his head, in a stern and low voice, he said “I’m going to ask you the same question twice, once in a civil manner. You ignored my advice the first time. Heed this bit-don’t make me ask twice.”

Gambit stared at the ground, fighting unbelievable pain. Essex raised Remy’s chin, and brought his face within inches of the Cajun. “Where is Charles Xavier?”

Though he knew better, Gambit smiled, and muttered, spilling blood from his mouth, “I dunno homme, mebbe you should try Disney Land…cause it’s a small world after all…”

Essex turned away, facing a dark corner. When he turned back around, the color of flesh was drained from his face. A red diamond tattoo appeared on his forehead. Seizing Gambit by the neck, he squeezed, hard. Breath became impossible, and consciousness began fading. The thing in front of him no longer resembled a man. His skin was like that of a corpse, and his mouth housed three rows of fangs, sharpened to a fine point. His eyes shone black, and blazed with a tint of raging fire.

The voice did not come from a human throat. “Where is Charles Xavier, worm?! I’ll let you live just to watch you suffer!”, tightening his grip around Gambit’s throat. More was said, but Gambit could no longer here. He felt a calm peace, almost as if he had just been saved from drowning in an ocean of hellfire. Death was certain, but pain would most likely precede it. It was alright. He had made his peace with the world…

The visions ended with this one. Gambit lay in his bed, unable to bring himself to move. He had received the answers that he sought.


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