Home | Forum | Mailing List | Repository | Links | Gallery
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
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30


Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 03/23/2007 01:26:56 AM

Chapter 10

Remi raised his head carefully and peered over the lip of the slight ridge. He and Everett were lying side by side, watching the flurry of activity in the dusty bowl below. Two of the large transports, the ones the X-Men had referred to as Big Bugs, had landed and were now unloading their cargo. The steady stream of soldiers and equipment disappeared into a small adobe building that Remi was certain had to hide an entrance to a much larger underground complex.

"Think thatís the relay center down there?" Remi asked. This was the third such possible site theyíd checked in the five days since Remi had arrived in Dallas. So far, this appeared to be the most likely candidate, in Remiís opinion.

"Maybe." Everett had not lowered the field glasses he was looking through. "Sure does look busy, though."

"Theyíre armed for bear, too." Rogue crawled up beside Remi on her elbows. "Ah spotted three separate gun emplacements, includiní missile racks. The groundís mined, too, except for that landiní area there."

Everett lowered the field glasses and turned to Remi. "Before she left for San Francisco, Jean cleared you as a field telepath. Time to earn your keep." Although his words were a little harsh, his expression was friendly. "Give me a quiet scan of the complex down there. If it really is the relay center, youíll run into the relay pretty quick. Get back out again without being sensed, and weíll be ahead of the game." He flashed the smile Remi knew from his own time.

"Everett." Rogueís tone was full of warning. "This is a relay weíre talkiní about. Ya sure thatís a good idea?"

Everettís expression never changed. "Jean cleared him. She wouldnít have done that if he couldnít hold his own."

Remi felt a surge of annoyance. He was fifteen, and people were still talking over his head like he wasnít capable of speaking for himself. "I can do the scan," he said stiffly, "without being seen." He only wished he felt as confident as he sounded.

Everett made a "Well, get on with it" gesture and Rogue subsided, though she still looked like she might protest.

"Right." Remi stared down at the little brown building. He wasnít entirely sure he knew how to be as subtle he needed to. Not without... not without cheating. Remi winced invisibly as the memory of the one time heíd actually done what he was thinking of now. But he had made Everett a promise, had even bragged about his ability. And it was important. But mostly, Remi just didnít want to fail.

How would Dad ever know? he told himself. Actually, why would he care? This version of him hasnít ever heard of Gambit. Somewhat relieved by the logic, Remi reached down into a certain corner of his mind and unlocked the memories there.

Before the paradox, Gambit had put Cerebro to use and created a kind of telepathic record of his life. Like everything else in his will, he had left it on the slight chance that something of him might survive the paradoxís collapse. And as Gambit had specified, Remi received that recording on his fourteenth birthday. Gambit had wanted Remi to know who he was and how heíd lived, though Remi had never been certain why. Maybe to help him avoid some of the mistakes Gambit had made, or maybe just because he didnít want to disappear completely. But whatever the reason, Remi had experienced Gambitís life in full-- save for some editing of his more personal relationships-- and with Remiís photographic memory, the experiences were locked inside his mind.

The upside to it all was that Remi could draw on Gambitís experience as a thief to help him now. Not that he had the training-- he wasnít used to the feel of a lockpick, or to listening for the sound of tumblers falling into place, or any of dozens of other things that Gambit had been able to do. But he had the information, and that was at least an improvement. Unfortunately, there was a risk to it as well. Gambit was essentially the same person as Remi-- heíd just lived a different life. So when he set Gambitís memories loose, there were no clear signs to his mind which memories belonged and which didnít. The one time heíd tried this before, Remi had successfully used Gambitís knowledge to defeat a particularly difficult Danger Room exercise, but he had gotten his self-identity confused to the point of even taking on Gambitís Cajun accent. It had taken both his father and Jean to help him sort everything out. The mixture of anger and hurt in his fatherís eyes had been almost as bad as his own terror at nearly losing himself to another identity. Neither of the senior telepaths had been willing to erase Gambitís memories from his mind, even if Remi had agreed to it, but they had been extremely helpful in building a mental strongbox where Remi could lock those memories away. Remi often wondered if Gambit would have done it if heíd known how hard it would be for Remi to keep the memories separate.

And now he was going to try it again. Remi had a lot of telepathic power, and for the past two years he had been trained to use it. Heíd also been taught to shield himself, both for protection against telepathic attacks, and to be less conspicuous on the astral plane. But Gambit was the only telepath who had ever figured out how to become completely invisible. He had done it as a child, in an unconscious effort to protect his injured psyche. It was an entirely subconscious action that could not be copied consciously because the conscious effort immediately made the person "visible" . Remi could only make himself telepathically invisible by adopting the part of Gambit that did that.

Remi felt the memories expand, filling his mind. He struggled to control them, filter through for the ability he wanted to use. Having experienced the flood once, he was much better prepared this time. He found what he wanted, then went through the difficult process of pushing everything else back into the little box where he stored Gambit. By the time he was done, he was trembling from the effort, but he was almost completely certain that he had kept a hold on all of the memories that actually belonged to him.

"Are you all right?" Everett was watching him with concern.

Remi nodded. "I just had to make a few... preparations." He drew in a deep breath of hot, dusty air. "Iíll start the scan now."

With a simple push, Remi stepped onto the astral plane. It was an endless gray place-- empty and directionless. Remi let his senses drift with the gentle currents that crossed the plane. This was the source of Gambitís telepathic invisibility. Telepaths had the ability to shape the astral plane, to mold it to reflect their desires. And by molding the astral reality, they could influence the real world minds that the astral plane represented. Most telepaths sent ripples through the astral plane simply by their presence, no matter how hard they tried not to disturb it. But Gambit had found a way to mimic the emptiness, to hide in the meager shadows that existed. Remi did the same now. It felt strange to make himself so powerless, but that, too, was part of what would keep him from being seen by those sensitive to the astral plane.

As the currents carried him, Remi drifted toward the underground complex. It was represented on the astral plane by a black castle that rose out of the ground as Remi neared. The walls were made of giant blocks of stone, each more than ten feet long on a side. Each corner of the wall supported a turret from which archers could fire on any attacker. Remi did not see a gate or any other break in the walls, which didnít surprise him. The defenses of the castle were synonymous with the defenses of the telepath inside the complex-- the relay. Remi was nearly convinced that that was what he was dealing with, but he knew he would have to make sure. He floated closer to the walls. Now for the hard part-- he had to get through.

In this invisible guise, he was like a ghost. But it took all of his will to keep from solidifying shields around himself as he sank into the smooth black surface. He was letting Gambitís instinct to hide dominate, but it was hard. Remi had been raised as a prince-- he didnít hide from anything. Even as a small child, when something frightened him in the night, he simply had to send for Gladiator who would then spend the rest of the night standing guard at the foot of his bed. He had never known the kind of insecurity Gambit had lived with on the streets of New Orleans.

Remi broke through the wall, emerging in a courtyard as barren as the castle walls. It, too, was paved in the black stones. An inner building of the same material sat in the middle of the clearing. Flames licked the walls, white-edged. Sparks seemed to jump from the white part of the flame, reminding Remi of the sparklers he had played with one Fourth of July.

He drifted closer to the burning building, wondering if the fire would hurt when he touched it. But he clung to Gambitís thought processes and his instincts, and passed through both the fire and the wall without feeling anything. The interior of the building was a raging inferno of the same kind of flames. The light was incredibly bright, but Remi could just make out a dark form at the center of the room. He strained to see more clearly as he drifted, but he was terrified that if he tried too hard he would make himself visible. And if this telepath discovered him here, Remi wasnít entirely sure heíd be able to fight his way out. Rogue had implied that a relay telepath would be of high caliber. And even though chances were that Remi would turn out to be the stronger of the two, this was the other telepathís inner mind, which gave him an overwhelming advantage.

The dark figure turned slowly, and for one paralyzing moment Remi thought heíd been discovered. But it continued to turn, and Remi realized that it was simply scanning, and that it did not see him hovering there. Remi waited in agonized silence as he drifted slowly through the room. He was hoping to get at least one good look at the relay before the currents pushed him out of the room on the other side. Eventually, he did. The relay was a man, wrapped up like a mummy in strips of black cloth. The fire that filled the room leaked from between the strips that covered the manís chest and face, and Remi realized that he knew him.

"Itís Chamber," Remi said when he finally found his way back to his own body. He was shaken and exhausted, but he had done exactly what heíd said he would. "It is the relay center. Chamberís the relay." Remi laid his head down on his arm, but kept an eye on Everett.

Everett looked back toward the compound and sighed softly. "Iíd hoped he was dead." He put the field glasses away in the case at his hip, then turned to Remi. "Did he notice you?"

Remi shook his head.

"Good job." Everett turned to Rogue. "Letís get back. Now that weíve got it pinpointed, we can start on an assault plan." Together the three of them scooted backwards until they were well below the lip of the ridge, then went to the armored jeep that had carried them out into the desert.

Rachel Summers sighed tiredly and tossed another rock toward the scraggly bush that grew from a small fissure in the sandstone. She was sitting in the meager shade provided by the run-down remains of a barn. Jubilee, Cody and a mutant she didnít know from her own time, named Recluse, were still inside. As she had been told, she continued to maintain the shields that should keep them hidden from the Shadow Kingís relay. Rachel could sense him out there, searching. But so far she had been able to avoid his notice.

Unfortunately, this had turned out to be another dead end. She hoped one of the other teams was having better luck. This was the third-- fourth?-- site theyíd been to since arriving in Dallas, and all with the same result. Rachel understood how important it was to find the new relay-- she could feel him extending his influence by the hour. However, the process of searching was a long, tense one that left her drained.

A shadow fell over her and she looked up. "Any luck?" she asked Cody. He shaded his eyes as he looked down at her, then shook his head.

"Empty." He settled on the ground beside her. "Looks like the Shadow King might have used it for a storage depo a few years ago, but nothing more recent than that." He leaned his head back against the faded wooden beams and closed his eyes. Rachel was startled. It was like he had aged years all of a sudden. She knew he was doing his best to adapt to their new situation. He was always the calm one, the one that helped the rest of them keep their heads when they got into trouble. It was one of the things that had made the four of them into such close friends. They each had characteristics that the others lacked, so they helped each other to do better than they could do on their own. Cody was level-headed and pragmatic. She had never seen him panic about anything. Renee was gentle, kind and compassionate. Remi was a leader-- quick to make choices and act on them. And Rachel herself? She stopped to think about it.

"Youíre the one that never lets us give up." Cody didnít open his eyes as he spoke.

Rachel looked over at him in surprise. "How did you know what I was thinking?"

Cody glanced sidelong at her. "Since Iím not a telepath, I guess you wanted me to."

"Oh." Suddenly uncomfortable, Rachel looked away. Had she really been projecting? Why? But in her heart she knew that it had suddenly become important to her to know what Cody thought of her. Terrified that she might be projecting that thought as well, she slapped up a wall between them and saw Cody wince.

"Geez. Sorry. I wasnít trying to make you mad." Cody sounded annoyed. He reached up to rub his temples. Probably trying to ease the headache sheíd no doubt just given him, Rachel realized.

Remorse filled her. "No, Iím the one who should be sorry. Here, turn around." At her suggestion he put his back to her. Rachel went to work on his neck and scalp, trying to erase his headache, and her own guilt.

"Is that... really what you think?" she asked after a moment.

"About what?"

"About me not giving up."

Cody straightened and turned to look at her. "Of course." His eyes narrowed. "Why?"

Rachel shrugged, unable to meet his gaze. "Because... I feel like giving up now." She risked one quick glance up at him. To her surprise, he was smiling wryly.

"Donít say that."

"Why not?"

"Because I donít want you to." His expression had grown strangely solemn.

Rachel couldnít hide the surge of playful outrage she felt. "What kind of reason is that?"

He shrugged and looked away. Even without her powers, she knew that sheíd made him angry somehow. "Hey! What did I say? Cody?"

"Nothing." But the anger in his voice was clear.

In that moment, all of Rachelís feelings of frustration and hopelessness converged. "Cody, please. Donít get mad at me. I didnít mean it-- whatever I said. I just-- I just feel so alone here."

Cody looked back at her, and Rachel found that she couldnít decipher his expression. It was so strange. They had been friends since before she could remember, but in the last week she felt like he was becoming someone different. Someone she didnít know quite as well as she thought. It wasnít bad, exactly. In fact, it was somehow exciting and frightening at the same time. She found herself getting lost in his gaze.

"Youíre not alone," he said softly and Rachelís breath froze in her lungs. She had always had a secret soft spot in her heart for Cody, but until that moment, had never really envisioned it becoming more than that. But as his lips touched hers, Rachel felt a ball of warmth forming inside her. It was a release from her fear-- the knowledge that she didnít need to worry about being alone again.

Rachel blushed hotly as they separated, and Cody began to laugh. But he reached over to hug her tightly, and Rachel was happy to stay in his embrace.

"This is insane," he murmured into her hair.

"Completely," she agreed. But that didnít keep her from sneaking her hand into his as they stood and waited for Jubilee and Recluse to join them.


GambitGuild is neither an official fansite of nor affiliated with Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
Nonetheless, we do acknowledge our debt to them for creating such a wonderful character and would not dream of making any profit from him other than the enrichment of our imaginations.
X-Men and associated characters and Marvel images are © Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
The GambitGuild site itself is © 2006 - 2007; other elements may have copyrights held by their respective owners.