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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


Written by Steve Paul
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 11

Ain't it funny how they're all Cleopatra

When you gaze into their past?

When you find out about their birth signs

You realize there was no need to have asked

All the history of a soul in torment

Ingrained in a hand or a face

Ain't it funny how they all fire the pistol

At the wrong end of the race?

I am going round and round

I am going round and round

I am going round and round

I am going round - going round and round.

In a Hand or a Face

The Who

"Target designates 'Wolverine' and 'Gambit', with unidentified Alpha Class mutant located. . . . . . . . Commence scanning of unidentified mutant. . . . . . . Image and information downloaded for future analysis."

There was a brief pause as the monster redirected it's attention back to the two X-Men. "Mutant designates Wolverine and Gambit - you are ordered to surrender by command of Onslaught. Resistance will be met with termination."

Amy tightened her grip on Logan's arm and shrank next to him. While she could tell something was horribly wrong, she had no idea what was happening. When she finally found her voice, Logan could hear the quaking of barely controlled panic. "Logan, what's going on?"

His reply was a low, guttural growl. "It's a Sentinel darlin'. Look's like he wants t'play with me 'n the Cajun."

Tory was petrified with fear, her worst nightmare had come true; a Sentinal had come after her because of her little mutation. So great was her fear, she didn't realize that the Sentinal had barely noticed her, or that her 'date' was now holding six glowing playing cards.

"Hey, Wolverine - you really know how t'show someone a good time, neh?"

Remy's voice shook Tory from here stupor. She looked at him, and finally noticed the cards, as well as the red glow emanating from his eyes. She looked over at Logan and quickly wished she hadn't. Amy still clutched his arm, and looked terribly frightened and confused. Tory didn't know if Amy realized that *her* 'date' now had three - foot long claws protruding from he back of each hand. She suddenly, and inappropriately, felt silly for bragging about her 'powers' earlier that day.

"Can it Gumbo. I don't know who this Onslaught character is, but I'm *real* tired of him messin' with me." Logan's voice was barely a growl. He gently disengaged Amy's arm and began stalking toward the Sentinel.

"Let's show this gate crasher the door." Remy put his hand on Wolverine's shoulder and stopped him.

"Nuh-uh. We got d'ladies and d'rest of d'flatscans t'think 'bout. You take d'girls up dat way," he shrugged toward the parking structure to the west of the stadium.

Logan's response dripped with sarcasm. His sneering, faux Cajun accent would have been humorous on another occasion. Now it was just annoying.

"We got d'ladies and d'rest of d'flatscans t'think 'bout. . .What the hell's got inta you Gumbo? Sounds like you're buckin' fer Summer's job."

"We don' got time t'argue 'bout dis Logan. Dat Sentinel ain't gonna wait all day. I got a plan. You get d'girls t'safety, 'n I'll distract Mr. Sentinel dere n' meet you in a minute."

Wolverine took a menacing step toward Gambit. "I ain't runnin' scared, boy."

"Ain't askin' ya to. Jus' wan' ya t'look after d'ladies. Dat's all."

Logan was going to argue further, but with a Sentinel less that forty feet away, he saw wisdom in Gambit's words. With a growl he sheathed his claws, then grabbed the two girls by the arm. Together, the three of them ran toward the parking structure.

"Mutant designate Wolverine's evasive maneuver has less than .005 percent chance of success. This unit will track mutant designate Wolverine while it deals with mutant designate Gambit."

LeBeau quickly surveyed the scene. The Sentinel hadn't moved since it touched down. It was still standing in the auxiliary parking lot, with the Detroit river to its back. The People Mover, the raised monorail that circles the downtown area, was between the Sentinel and it's intended prey. The parking lot was full - and that's all that mattered.

Hope dis works, or we in a worl' a' hurt. Without further delay, he sent two quick volleys of kinetically charged cards hurtling into the parked vehicles on either side of the monster. The resulting explosion sent debris flying in all directions, and caused the Sentinel's gyros to malfunction. It lost it's balance, and stumbled back toward the river.

"Mutant designate Gambit's attack has an 83.27 percent chance of causing this unit to lose vertical status. Adjustment to counter attack will be completed in 12.63 seconds."

"Dat's 'bout 12 more den you gon' get, boy."

Gambit redoubled his attack, charging cards then sending them into the undamaged vehicles surrounding the monster at an amazing pace. With his spatial sense he kept track of the flatscans in the area. They were, for the most part, out of the fire zone. Ain't dat a bit of luck?

The Sentinel continued to reel under the Cajun's attack. It stumbled backwards, propelled by the exploding vehicles. Eventually, it was driven to the fence between the parking lot and the river. A Ford Explorer stood, momentarily unscathed, just to it's right. In a flash, and a very loud bang, the vehicle exploded, and the Sentinel tumbled backwards.

"Submersion will be completed in 3.2 seconds. This unit will remain under water for. . ." The rest was drowned out by a large splash as the behemoth fell into the river.

Damn, dose t'ings talk a lot. Wonder how long he gon' stay down?

Deciding that was a question better answered from a distance he took off in loping run in the direction the others went. He surveyed the damage as he ran.

Twen'y or thirty vehicles destroyed. Dey probably insured. Some minor structural damage to d'arena and a nice hole in dat People Mover t'ing. Dat look like it. F'now. Not too bad f'a dance wit' a Sentinel. Still, dey not gon' let me out of d'mansion anymore. First d'train in New York, now dis. Don't even wan' t'ink 'bout Seattle.

Remy shook his head sadly. It seemed that even when he tried to do the right thing, it never went down like it should. He tried to shake the creeping depression this current train of thought bred: He had his hands full without having to mess with that. After a momentary struggle, he managed to push it to the back of his mind. For the most part.

Reaching the street in front of the arena, Gambit Looked back. The Sentinel was still underwater. With any luck the thing would rust and stay there. He wasn't going to count on that - he hadn't been very lucky of late.

Trying again to push the negative thoughts aside, and again only achieving partial success, he jogged off toward the parking structure and his waiting companions.

Hurtling across the Province of Ontario, the Lear Jet hit a pocket of turbulence. The disturbance caused the plane to drop 1,000 feet in a matter of seconds. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem - all of the plane's occupants had been dropped from much higher altitudes at one time or another. Tonight, however, the plane in question was only flying at an altitude of 1,100 feet, and the pilot was green. To be perfectly honest, after that last drop, so were the passengers.

"Steady on Sam, you need to ease it back up to 1,100."

"I believe I'm about to enjoy tonight's repast for a second time."

#Quiet, Hank. Sam's got to learn sometime, and he needs our support.#


He hated when Phoenix did that. The Beast lived in fear that one day the spook would uncover his secret. *Then* it would hit the fan.

"Ah'm trying Cyclops. This turb'lence ain't easy t'handle. Y'all want t'take over?"

Try as he might, Cannonball couldn't hide the hopeful tone to his question.

Cyclops smiled. He knew they were in no real danger with Jean on board; he could sense the telekinetic bubble surrounding the Blackbird through their psi-link.

"No Sam. You keep the helm. We're in your hands."


His disappointment was equally evident. After a tense minute, the passengers felt the Blackbird's nose start to lift as they began to regain altitude. Congratulations were passed around.

#What's bothering you, my husband?#

#We shouldn't have left the Professor with Magneto.#


Scott smiled at the gentle chiding of her thought.

#You know I did a full scan on him. His memory appears to begin shortly before he was found by the nun. He's telling the truth.#

#*APPEARS* to begin. . .. *That's* the point Jean; we can't be sure. Besides, the Professor's been acting very odd lately. I don't think its such a good idea to leave him alone with the man who's mind he wiped clean.#

#He's *not* alone. Bishop and Storm are with them. Please try to relax; Charles will be fine, and maybe Joseph's arrival is a blessing in disguise; it could be very therapeutic for . . .#

Their telepathic conversation was interrupted by an alarmed Robert Drake. "Uh, boys and girls, something's up."

"What is it Bobby?"

"Can't really tell for sure - but I've got thermal readings off the scale accompanied by minor to mid-range seismic activity."

"Can you be a little more precise."

"It looks like a series of explosions. I'm running it through the computer to try to pinpoint the location." The cockpit of the aircraft was silent as everyone waited.

"And the Password is: Detroit river front."

"Pinpoint." Cyclops bit back the urge to snap at Bobby. He shot a glance at Jean. The light from the instrument panel cast an eerie glow, almost a halo around her. He was amazed, as always, by her beauty. She was looking at him, a smile playing on her lips indicating she approved of his decision let Bobby go, for now.

"Already on it Cyclops. Place of origin is. . . Joe Louis Arena - give or take ten meters."

"DAMN! That's gotta be Gambit. Any idea what's going on? Jean, talk to me. Guthrie - give me an e.t.a."

"I've got both of them. They appear to be okay, although they're not together." Jean looked at her husband, waiting for his next command.

"Any idea what's going on?"

"Not without probing any deeper."

"Sam - what's that e.t.a.?"

"Uhmm. . . It's gonna be 'bout. . .lemme see heah. . ."

"Spit it out Sam!"

"What young Mr. Guthrie is trying *NOT* to say, oh Fearless, is fifteen minutes."

"Jean - can you tell if they're under attack?"

"Aren't they always?"

"Shut up and navigate Bobby. #Jean?#

#Yes, they're under some sort of attack, but I'm not sure what it is.#

"Let 'em know we're fifteen minutes out."

#Yes, my love.#

Gambit stopped and looked over his shoulder. The parking lot, or what was left of it, was out of sight around the back of the arena. The Sentinel wouldn't be able to establish visual contact right away. Remy hoped that he'd have enough time to figure out his next move.

The Cajun started again toward the parking structure. He wasn't exactly sure where the others were, but if he got close enough Logan would smell him out. He hoped. He cut across the street in front of the arena and made for the structure. As he moved into the clearing, his spatial sensitivity alerted him to the Sentinel dragging itself out of the river.

Remy sprinted over to the tunnel leading into the parking structure and headed for the stairwell. He figured Wolverine would head for high ground: Logan would do more damage clawing at the monster's face than it's feet.

He stopped at the second deck and listened. The city was a mixture of screaming and crying. He could hear the sirens of the Detroit Police and Fire squads growing nearer as they came to try to restore order. Shaking his head sadly, he walked over to the window and looked out on the carnage.

He had a clear view of the river behind the stadium. The fire from the auxiliary parking lot cast an eerie glow over the entire area. Most of the lights in the general vicinity were off - someone, or thing, must have cut the power.

There was, what looked to be, a ten to fifteen foot hole in the People Mover track where he had staged his assault on the Sentinel. Fortunately, none of the trams had run off the track. One of the cars had stopped dead about thirty feet in front of the hole.

Now standing at the bank of the river, the Sentinel's head moved slowly from side to side. If he didn't know better, Gambit would say that it was looking proudly over the wreckage, but he did know better. He knew it was scanning for *him*. He also knew that it wouldn't stop until it found him, and when it did the destruction would start all over again.

From his perch, Remy couldn't see any bodies, but that didn't really matter; there was no way *someone* didn't die in that mess. He sat back on his haunches and put his head in his hands, mentally trying to adjust the added weight to his already over-burdened conscience.

He was deep in his thoughts - so deep didn't sense Wolverine's approach. He only stirred when he felt a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Lookin' fer something, bub?"

"Yeah. . .Non. What I'm lookin' for, I ain't never gonna find." Remy stood and looked around the parking structure - at least the part of it he could see from the stairwell. Avoiding Wolverine, he turned back to the window.

"Where d'femmes?"

"Up a flight 'n in a corner." Logan moved next to the Acadian and surveyed the scene. The Sentinel was on the move now, heading in the general direction of the parking structure. Gambit was pretty sure they were still safe, for the moment. It's head was still moving from side to side scanning for them. It stepped on a fire hydrant leaving a geyser in its wake.

"That thing is damn careless, know that?"


"C'mon Gumbo, let's go get the frails."

They trudged up stairs in silence. Wolverine was busy responding to Jean's telepathic voice, while Gambit was quietly marveling at the deserted parking structure. He noted, with some surprise, that there were a *lot* of a cars left, but not a soul around. Apparently running was faster than driving tonight.

They reached the next landing and moved from the stairwell into the structure itself. Despite the glow from the fires outside, the garage was pitch black. It was so dark that Gambit, night vision and all, was barely able to make out Wolverine in front of him, but not much else.

The Canadian led them into a corner, where they found Amy standing alone. She was shaking with fright. Wolverine went to her immediately, and wrapped his arms around her. Realizing who it was, she let out a muffled sob and collapsed into him.

Ain't dat nice? Gambit surprised himself with the vehemence in his own thoughts. He sighed wearily as he stretched out his hand to lean against a dark, recessed area of the wall.

Now where d'hell Tory get to? The thought had barely entered the Cajun's mind as his hand hit, not a hard cement wall, but something soft and round. Acting more out of reflex than anything else, his hand registering what it was before his mind did, his hand closed on the mysterious object, microseconds before a hard, swift slap landed on his cheek.

"Knock it off, you pervert!" Tory's voice was shrill, to say the least. To say Gambit was taken at unawares would be an understatement. He jumped back two feet.

"Tory?" The question was more than uncertain.

"Who else would it be, you sick bastard? I can't believe you'd try to cop a feel now! You are DISGUSTING!"

Gambit looked over at Logan, who was looking back at him with a mixture of amusement and confusion. He *knew* she was there - he could smell her. He could hear her. The Cajun obviously could feel her, in more ways than one apparently. They just couldn't *see* her.

"Uhm. . . Tory? You wanna step over here a minute?" The sound of her feet shuffling against the cement floor was unnaturally loud. Gambit squinted, peering toward the sound. He could barely make out Tory's shape as she moved toward Logan and Amy. She must have been standing perfectly still, and barely breathing. Dat's d'only way Gambit not know she standin' dere.

"Merde! She's black." As he looked at Logan they locked eyes.

"She ain't intangible like Kitty?"

Remy lifted his hand to the red mark on his cheek. "Non, she tangible all right. She just black."

"What do you mean I'm *black*?"

"What he means, Tory darlin', is that your mutation goes farther than your fingernails." Turning his attention back to LeBeau, he added "think she's a chameleon?"

"Don' know. Mebbe Henri take a look at 'er if he get a chance. De Sentinel did say dere was an 'unidentified Alpha class', mus' be her." He turned to Tory, or at least in her general direction. "Dat fingernail trick o' yours - I t'ink you just learned how t'take it up a notch."

"You mean I'm. . ."

"Completely black, Tory. Damnedest thing I've ever seen, 'n that's sayin' a lot."

Amy, who had been completely silent during this exchange finally spoke. "Would someone tell me what's going on here? Please?"

"T'put it in a nutshell, Logan 'n me are mutants. Tory is too. She knew dat, but looks like she got more power dan she thought. Further more, dere's a Sentinel out dere looking f'us, 'cause some yet unknown mutant name of 'Onslaught' told 'im we'd be here. How he know dat, *I'd* like t'know." He looked over at Wolverine, who just shrugged, Gambit continued.

"Currently, Monsieur Sentinel is beginning t'wreck havoc on d'good people of dis here city, 'n I'm getting kinda tired of it."

"What are we gonna do about it, Cajun?"

"Funny you should ask, mon ami." Gambit walked over to the window and looked over the city. We 'bout even wit' his head, no?"

Wolverine walked over to where the Cajun was standing. He looked first at Gambit, there was something about the Acadian that worried him, then at the Sentinel.

"That looks 'bout right. What's the plan?"

"It's pretty simple, really. Dere's only t'ree parts." He put his hands on the wall. A soft glow formed around them as began to kinetically charge the wall. He paid no attention to the low moan emanating from Tory.

"First we charge up a spot in d'wall 'n blow a hole in it." He looked up from his work and turned to Wolverine. What Logan saw sent a chill down his spine; Gambit was wild-eyed, bordering on maniacal. "Ya might want t'step back a few feet, mon frere."

Wolverine heeded the advice. Something was definitely wrong. He tried to figure out how long before the X-Men arrived. Jean had reached him telepathically a few minutes before with a fifteen minute e.t.a.. Unfortunately, he was gifted with a mutant healing factor and six claws, not the ability to keep track of time. He also didn't wear a watch. He guessed the rest of the team was ten minutes out. He further guessed that ten minutes would be about eight minutes too long, which left him on his own to try and talk the Cajun down from the ledge.

As he opened his mouth, an explosion rocked the structure. There was now a hole roughly eight feet in diameter in the side of the building. Fortunately the debris blew out into the street. Unfortunately LeBeau was grinning like a madman. He looked at Wolverine.

"Dat was a pretty good one, non?" He turned back to the hole and stepped to the edge, Wolverine followed him. In the distance, they could see that the Sentinel was attracted by the noise, and was now heading toward them.

"Let's get outta here, LeBeau. The cavalry's coming, be here in ten minutes."

He grabbed Remy's arm and tried to pull him away from the wall. Tory, who thought that was an excellent idea, although she didn't know who the cavalry was or how Logan knew they'd be here in ten minutes, but really didn't care either, was already dragging Amy down the ramp toward a stairwell on the other side of the building. Amy appeared to be in shock, the last explosion sending her over the edge.

Gambit shrugged Logan's arm off and turned back to the hole. He was quiet for a moment, watching the Sentinel walk through and destroy what was left of the People Mover track, as well as the train that was still on it, then step on two Police cars and an ambulance. When he spoke, his voice was soft.

"Dat's too long. How many more dat t'ing gonna kill tryin' t'get us?"

Wolverine, uncomfortable in his new role as crisis negotiator, tried a tactic that had been used on him many times over the years. He wasn't surprised when the tactic failed miserably, as it always did with him.

"It's not your fault, Gambit. We were minding our own busin. . ."

"Dis time, maybe. But I got to make amends f'd'past."

"Why now, LeBeau?"

"Why not? My life's in d'shitter anyway. Rogue's hangin' out wit' Magneto. Can't sleep at night 'cause d'ghost keep comin' t'call. My friends, and I'm using d'term loosely here, don' trust me. Dere's no time like d'present, as dey say."

Logan started to protest, but was cut short with a withering look from the Cajun.

"Let's talk 'bout you for a minute, Logan. How long we know each other? Why don't you ever call me Remy? 'Salways 'Gumbo' or 'Gambit' or 'LeBeau' or 'Bub' or 'Cajun'. Unlike you, I do have a first *and* last name. Be nice if you use d'first one 'cassionally."

"Fine, but that's doesn't mean you have to go 'n check out."

Gambit snorted. "Who said anyt'ing 'bout checkin' out?"

Logan cast a quick glance at the Sentinel, which was closing in on the parking structure. "If you got a plan, let's hear it."

"'Kay. Didja ever see dat movie Dr. Strangelove?"

"Yeah, a long time ago. Why?"

"It's a little trick I learned did with Bishop not long ago. Let's just say I'm gonna do a reverse 'Slim Pickins' 'n leave it at dat."

Wolverines mind raced. Slim Pickins. What the hell does that mean? He tried furiously to remember the movie, but his memory wasn't what it once was. At least he didn't think it was, but couldn't really remember. After a minute, it came to him. Slim Pickins was in the airplane that dropped the bomb at the end of the flick. There was more than that, he just didn't *drop* the bomb. . .

"Can't let you do that, Gumbo. Thunderbird," just the name sent a shiver down his spine, "checked out on me. I ain't losin' you too."

Remy looked from the Sentinel, which was about 100 yards away, to Wolverine. "Like I said, I ain't plannin' on checkin' out. 'Sides, there ain't anyt'ing you c'n do 'bout it."

Before he had completed the sentence, Gambit stuck his foot behind Logan, then grabbed him and threw him out of the hole in the structure.

The speed of LeBeau's attack caught the Canadian off guard, but not for long. Twisting, Logan maneuvered his body to minimize the impact three stories below, landing with a dull 'thud'.

"You okay down dere?" LeBeau was leaning through the hole, looking down on him with, what appeared to be, concern.

Quickly, as quickly as one could after being thrown from the third level of a parking garage, Wolverine got to his feet. After throwing a quick glance at the Sentinel, he extended his claws and started climbing up the structure wall.

"I'm a *hell* of a lot better than you're gonna be when I get up there."

"Dat's more'n enough reason t'be gone, den."

"Don't do it, LeBeau."

"Got no choice."

"There are always choices. We only got a couple minutes before the Blackbird touches down. *DON'T* DO IT!"

"Unit preparing to engage Mutant Designate Wolverine in 2.5 seconds. Unit switching to manual mode to avoid unnecessary damage to structure and possible human occupants."

The Sentinel had arrived, and for Remy it was all down to timing now. The behemoth was bending down to grab Wolverine, probably a mistake, but it was what Gambit had hoped for when he threw the Canadian from the building.

He smiled at the irony of the situation; this thing destroyed half a city to get to them, then instead of blasting them from a distance, it tries to pick up Wolverine. That's usually a mistake that only happens once. Keeping his eye on the Sentinel, Remy backed away from the hole.

"Unit ready to engage Mutant Designate Wolverine in .75 seconds." Remy watched as it began to bend toward the Canadian. It was now or never. With a silent prayer, this one without the Jim Morrison influence, he ran toward the hole.

Wolverine was hanging by his left claw, the toe of his boot in a crack in the cement, approximately one half story above ground level. He didn t have enough purchase in the crack to leap, and was basically at the mercy of the Sentinel, as well as the mercy of LeBeau.

He hoped the Cajun hadn't cracked, although it looked like a distinct possibility. He knew two things, however. Number one; *he* wasn't planning on checking out today. Number two; if for some reason he did, it wouldn't be without a fight.

Wolverine looked up at the Sentinel. It was extending it's arm to grab him.

Tin can's gonna go home missing a digit or two. He drew his right claw back, ready to strike.

Suddenly a flash of brown flew out of the hole in the garage, over the Sentinel's head, and landed on it's back. From his perch on the side of the building, Logan could see a pink glow emanate from Gambit's hand almost upon impact as he began to charge the Sentinel. Wolverine looked on, feeling as useless as he ever had. He tried to pull his claw free, but it was momentarily stuck in the side of the building.

"Mutant Designate Gambit's offensive tactic has a 25.89 percent chance of success. Unit searching for counter measures."

Grinning, LeBeau continued to charge the monster. He pushed his powers to the limit. 25.89 percent ain't gonna cut it. Gambit want better odds.


Remy ignored the hoarse shout, his eyes glazing over with exertion. The Sentinel stopped moving. Wolverine frantically tried to pull free from the structure. Shortly, the Sentinel moved into an erect position, with Gambit, still kinetically charging the machine, scrambling up to its shoulders.


"Chance for success of Mutant Designate Gambit's offensive tactic increasing to 50.30 percent. Unit awaiting orders." The monster grew silent. It was now completely engulfed in a pink glow.

"Mutant Designate Gambit's offensive tactic now has a 72.00 percent chance of success. Unit ordered to return to Onslaught.


Still no response from the Cajun.


Gambit continued to charge the Sentinel, head bowed, sweat dripping into his eyes despite the chill November air. He ignored the sting of the salt as he felt the rumble of the machines thrusters as it prepared to take off.

Wolverine was desperate. In a second, the jets would fire. Anything near them would get fried, healing factor or not.


Flames began to shoot from the feet of the Sentinel.

"REMY. . .JUMP!. . .*PLEASE!*"

At the sound of his name, Gambit looked up. He could feel the upward movement as the thrusters kicked in. The two X-Men locked eyes briefly. In the instant before Logan turned his back against the flames, he saw recognition, clearness of thought, and gratitude in Gambit's eyes.

As the Sentinel rose into the air, Logan's anguished primal scream could be heard three blocks away.


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