Piece #3
Copyright 1997 C.E.
Approximate wordcount 3650

Alright, now this piece really does suck. Sure, there are some moments that are interesting, but, for the most part, it's just written really badly. This was originally a submission to Marvel comics when they were looking for a new writer for their Gambit series. Yes, I really did submit this. No, I never did hear from them. Hmm, I wonder why? Truth be told, I wouldn't waste my time replying to me either. What kind of knucklehead submits this material? Me. But, to give myself some credit, when they actually did find a writer, he managed to take it all the way to #25, at which point they promptly cancelled it. Wonder why? Well, let's put it this way, whereas the first nine to ten issues were really tight, the second season made the following piece look like Moby Dick. Go figure.

GAMBIT: BEWARE HE WHO TRAXX

Lightning flashes against a dark and cloudy sky. Patches of blue, pierce the storm clouds at irregular intervals. Thunder crashes threaten to drown out the tolling of distant bells...

Cajun country, Louisiana...
A short distance from New Orleans...

It's midnight on the bayou as two boys quickly traverse a dark path, occasionally, though barely, lit by the flashes of lightning in the sky. Woods and a great expanse of swampland surround the boys on all sides. Although most would fear the dangers lurking in the shadows, the boys are well aware that not even the most vicious of gators would be caught in a storm such as this, for an aura of death lingers in the air.

"Hurry up!! The blonde boy commands his colleague, "...it's over here!!"

Wearing just regular clothing, leather jackets and jeans they stole from a store in New Orleans, the two boys, one a blonde, the other with dark hair, hurry to a nearby boat dock located on the side of a river running straight through the bayou. After passing between some trees, they reach the dock.

"Where is it?" Inquires the dark haired boy.

"De ship be right over dere! You got to go out ta de edge of de dock to see it! I saw it wreck! It was way too big to get down de river!" Replies the blonde, who is no longer leading but motioning for the other to go ahead all the while keeping his left arm behind him.

"I don' unnerstand, why dey try to get dat ting down de river in de first place?" The dark haired boy strains to see in the dark.

"Don' know. I jus' hear it some sorta coco runna...but you got betta eyes den me, you go up to de edge aheada me an take a looksie..." The blonde requests.

At the edge of the dock, the dark haired boy looks into the darkness shrouding the swamp...deep blue eyes pierce the night...

"Cousin, I don' see notin'." Says the boy.

"Don' worry, you will..."

Almost seeming to smile as the other boy looks on, the blonde draws a blade from behind his back...

"I still don' see notin', cous'." The dark haired boy turns around and as if on cue for dramatic effect the lightning strikes a nearby tree and illuminates the blade the blonde boy is gripping with both hands as he holds it above the other boy's head...

"COUSIN!? What...what are you doing!?" He shouts as the blonde brings down the blade with an intent to kill. But the dark haired boy instinctively grabs the blade between his own hands and a struggle ensues...

"It's simple, 'cous', I be leavin' dis guild of weak-kneed t'ieves and joinin' de Assassins!! But for my 'initiation', I gotta KILL one of my family, so I chose you!!"

"But...but...why!? We've grown up together and..."

"Grown up together!? You ain' even my real family...my real cousin...you jus' some pick-pocket dat MY uncle Jean-Luc felt sorry for!! You an insult to my family an dat's why tonight..YOU DIE!!"

At twelve years old, the dark haired boy has already become an accomplished thief, but now, it's as if he's staring death in the face at so young an age...he doesn't want to die. Panic and fear grips at the young boy's soul. This is his cousin, whom he doesn't want to fight or hurt...at least, this is the boy he's come to consider 'cousin'.

As the storm rages on and this struggle continues, it seems like an eternity that has lasted all of a few seconds when a strange feeling begins to overcome the dark haired boy...it feels good...but it just seems very wrong. His eyes begin to change to a deep red that glows with a unnatural energy. The other boy sees this and panic soon grips him. It is as if Hades himself was staring at him. Soon, that bizarre energy ripples from the dark haired boy's eyes and visibly courses through his body and into his hands and makes the blade glow with that energy. The dark haired boy's eyes widen as the kinetic energy newly stored in the knife is released in such a way as to incinerate his cousin. The blonde boy tries to scream, but his whole body dissipates and his dust just blows away...leaving the other boy standing alone on a dock in the middle of the bayou in the middle of a storm next to what used to be his...

"Cou...cou...COUSIN!? NOOOO!!!!" He screams as he runs as fast as he can back the way they had come...back to his family.

He must tell someone of what has just transpired, even if they stay mad at him forever, but, as he rushes, he runs into a shadowy figure just standing there...

"M,mister..?" the boy begins, staring with deep, glowing red eyes at the dark figure standing before him.

His only response involves evil eyes staring back at him from the cloak of darkness. And on the figure's forehead is a diamond emanating red energy.

* * * * *

"Remy!" Rogue cries out as she awakens from the disturbing nightmare she just had.

She sits there in bed for a moment, as she catches her breath, and sees that it was just a nightmare. Rogue gets out of bed, gets dressed, and performs the usual daily morning rituals. It is the dawn of a brand new day. A few minutes later, she finds herself at the door to Gambit's bedroom. She knocks.

"Remy?" You in dere...uhhh, there, Sugah?" she receives no answer, so she enters the room. "Hello? Ah'm comin' in...Course, not like there isn't anything of yours ah haven't seen beforrre...Remy? Huh?"

She opens the door all the way and looks in.

"Would you look at this room! Wow, ah didn't know you was such a neat freak..." looking around, she notes that everything is neatly organized and kept-up. "You'd think a t'ief would make more of a mess than this...ah wonder if'n he even sleeps in this room? The bed's all made up without so much as a wrinkle. Not to mentioned tucked. Surprised dere...ugh, THERE isn't a mint on the pillow. What's this? Hmmm...ah didn't know he was religious?"

Rogue sees how a crucifix is hanging just above a small desk with candles and a bible on it...

"OK...maybe ah'll jus' leave now...wonder when all this happened?" she leaves the room and closes the door behind her and heads downstairs.

* * * * *

In the kitchen, Marrow and Bobby are engaged in an argumentative conversation...

"There is NO way!!" Marrow half yells.

"Come on, Marrow, it just makes sense!!" Bobby counters.

"Yeah, about as much sense as going bungee jumping without the cord!!"

"I'm just saying, to consider what I'm saying..."

"There is no way you're going to stand there and tell me that George Clooney wore the bat-suit better than Micheal Keaton!!" Marrow points her finger at Bobby just as Rogue enters the room.

She is a bit puzzled by what she just heard but chooses to ignore it and asks...

"Uhm, I hate to interrupt, but has anyone seen Remy?"

"Nope." Bobby answers and sips a soda.

"Yeah, saw him yesterday." Marrow says.

"Cute. I meant this morning?" Rogue responds.

"Actually, I did see him leaving earlier." Marrow remembers.

"Did he say where he was going?"

"Do I look like his secretary!? This is Gambit we're talking about! He likes to have his little 'secrets'!" Marrow sharply retorts.

"Oh...well, jus' thought ah'd ask." she starts to walk away.

"However, I did notice him heading towards town. Aside from that, who knows?" Marrow inputs.

"Thank you." she goes and looks out the mansion's front window. "Where'd ya run off ta now...?"

* * * * *

Somewhere not too far away...
Westchester County...

Atop a hill, overlooking the entire region, the hunter views the terrain. IT stands roughly eight feet tall and is completely mechanical. The best way to describe it, is to say it is a cross between a sentinel and the technology used by IRON MAN. It is both sleek and deadly.

Switching over to a more accurate viewing technique, the iron sentinel searches over the entire expanse of the wooded territory. Woods go on as far as the eye can see while periodically being pierced by the tops of buildings. Then, the beast locks onto his target.

"Target acquired. Distance...six point seven kilometers. Preparing for target apprehension." It begins to descend the hill and heads in the direction of its target...

It is approximately ten in the morning and the sun has just barely managed to climb over the tree tops.

* * * * *

In town...

Remy Lebeau, AKA "Gambit" of the New Orlean's thieve's guild and ex-thief, parks his Harley motorcycle outside the corner restaurant 'Tiffany's'. It's been months since the last time he's been here. Right now, he's really hungry. Entering the doors, Remy is immediately greeted by the waitress on duty, who recognizes him and is a friend.

"Well, well, well...if it isn't Remy Lebeau! Where've you been these last few months?" the lady inquires, showing him to a booth.

"It's a long story, Chere." Remy responds simply and sits down to lounge back.

He props one arm up on the booth's back.

"Hey, I'm not going anywhere for awhile." the stands there holding her order pad and attentively looking at Remy.

"It's...personal. I'd rather not go into it. But, rest assured, it does have a happy ending. So far, anyway." he says with a smile.

"I understand. I've been having a good run of bad luck myself lately."

"Is dat so? Hope t'ings are working for you now."

"Oh...yeah. Things are starting to look up. So, what will it be?"

"De normal breakfast will be jus' fine, Chere. Still got dat, right?"

"Yup. Sure do. Let me go and give the cook the order and I'll bring you some coffee."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Remy says as she heads off.

Sunlight beams through the large window beside Remy and illuminates the room brightly. He leans his head back and enjoys the warmth of the sun across his skin. Off in the background, the phone rings. But Remy barely hears it. A few moments later, the waitress comes back.

"Uhm, Remy...you have a phone call." she says to him and he opens his eyes.

"Figures." is his only response.

Remy goes over and answers the phone while the waitress hands him his coffee.

"T'anks, Chere. Hello? Yeah? Sacre'! Vince!? Hey, how ya doing, mon ami? Uh-huh. What? I don' know. I jus' got back here. Where was I? Dat one gets a little complex. Yeah. Non. I didn' know you been trying to get ahold of me. What you got to tell me, Cher? You can't say? Dat bad huh? All...alright. I'll be dere. It might take a couple of days. Oui, but I gotta arrange transportation. Well, I'm not dat good at gettin' from here to dere in no time flat. Non, looks like de mansion had been pillaged by de time I got back. Hey, if I'd been here, I woulda handed dis Bastion freak his rear...I got my ways. Alright, den. See you dere." Remy hangs up the phone and drinks his coffee.

He stares off into the distance for a minute. The waitress, whom caught some of the conversation, comes up to Remy with food in hand.

"You still got time for breakfast? They say it's the most important meal of the day."

"I wouldn't miss it for de world, Chere!"

* * * * *

The X-mansion...

Rogue quietly sits atop the school's roof and looks out at the scenery. This spot has come to be known as the 'brooding spot' by a few of the inhabitants here. It's an apt title, for usually those who are upset or just want to get away from it all, sit up here and just stare into the distant mountain range. At this moment, Rogue is no different. She is greatly disturbed by last night's nightmare and wonders at its exact meaning. If it was real or truly just a nightmare. Also, the crucifix and bible prove to be just as big a puzzle.

"Oh, Remy, was it really a dream? Was it mine? Or maybe yours? What happened to you as a child? Maybe ah'm just being paranoid, but, does the fact you have religious symbols mean we're going to fall apart all over again? Ugh, it's not that ah mind your change of heart, far from it. Ah'm glad you want a better life. It's just that ah feel like ah'm becoming who you were...withdrawn, secretive. While you're becoming...Ah don' know. Ah'm just being paranoid. Gotta pull mahself together. Ah can beat this." she continues to stare into the distance.

* * * * *

A backroad on a direct path to the mansion...

Pushing the speed limit, Remy Lebeau races back to the mansion. He is deep in thought as he contemplates what he is going to say to Rogue when he gets there.

"Don' know what I'm going to say. 'Sorry, Rogue, gotta leave again.' Yeah, she's not going to hate me for dat one." trees blaze by while Remy continues to think, unaware that a potential predator is out there. "Maybe I should write her a letter? Hah! Dat sounds too much like something Havok would do! No, best to just confront her in person...tell her de truth straight to her face...It's not like I'm not coming baaaaaaaaa...!!"

Remy gets cut off in mid thought as he gets thrown from his bike, resulting from a laser blast slicing through the air and destroying the ground in front of him...which also sends the bike careening into a nearby tree, where it promptly explodes. Fortunately, Remy lands a little more intact.

Spitting dirt, he props himself up on hands and knees. With glowing eyes, he looks in the direction of his assailant. He speaks one sentence that gives no hint of surprise but a calm, cool tone like he expected it...

"And YOU would be?"

In front of him, a huge mechanical iron sentinel stands with its foot propped up on one of the tires from Remy's bike and stares down menacingly.

"Remy Lebeau..." his voice resonates through the woods. "Foster son of Jean-Luc Lebeau...member of the THIEVES' guild...ex-thief...you are under arrest for MURDER! I am your executioner. You may call me TRAXX. By all means...RESIST."

* * * * *

Back at the mansion, a large explosion is heard. Wolverine races out the front doors and looks up to see that Rogue is already airborne. She sees him and hovers for a second.

"What in blue blazes was that!?" Wolverine asks in a growling yell.

"Ah don' know. But ah aim ta find out!" Rogue shouts back from her position as she takes off in the direction of the explosion.

Marrow comes out of the mansion right behind Wolverine. He turns around to her and issues a command.

"Come on, kid! You're my backup! I smell burning fuel! And it smells like a Harley!" he starts off into a run.

"So? What's that got to do with us?" Marrow inquires.

"Marrow, who else, aside from me, do you know who owns a Harley?"

"Oh..." they rush off in the direction of the blast.

* * * * *

The battle scene...

Remy gets hurled back by some sort of high energy repulsor ray.

"I thought I was supposed to get the chance to 'RESIST' first!" Remy shouts, stumbling to his feet.

"I thought it wise to BEAT you to the PUNCH!" Traxx says, while swinging a massive fist in the direction of Remy.

However, Remy ducks and the fist slams into the tree behind him. Again and again the behemoth Traxx swings at Remy and misses. Each time hitting some tree. Remy starts to laugh at this and chides the monster...

"Y'know, dere's an old sayin' for folks like you, it goes, 'if you were a lumberjack, de only t'ing safe in de forest, would be de trees!" Remy's joke angers Traxx and he takes another swing. ...another tree. "Course, dat's supposin' I was de tree...with the current situation being as it is...you seem to be doin' a pretty good job clearin' de trees as it is."

"Engage in your fruitless banter to your heart's content. But the bounty on your head is quite large. And I intend to collect!"

"Bounty? I didn't know my noggin was worth havin' a price!" responds Remy, landing from a backflip nearby.

Traxx finally lands a blow across Remy's chest, sending him onto the ground several feet away. Kinetic cards go flying in different directions. He'd been charging cards and flinging them periodically, but he didn't have much success. His current hand didn't fare much better.

"Enough of this nonsense!! I tried to do this 'mono y mono' but you are very fast. Now, I'll not use repulsor blasts or fists, just extremely potent lasers!"

"Wait! Who is it dat hired you to do dis? And why? Don' I deserve to know dat much?" asks Remy passionately.

"Who or what the payor may be is of no concern. But, I will say this...SHE has a specific desire to mount your head on her wall!!" responds Traxx as his right arm's canon begins to shift into a blade and he brings it to bare above his head. "Welcome...to the end..."

"Ah don't think so!!" Rogue interjects, swooping down out of nowhere and sending Traxx hurdling across the way.

"Hi, Rogue. Rogue, Traxx. Traxx, Rogue." Remy says getting up.

Traxx prepares to continue the assault when he is attacked from behind by Wolverine and Marrow.

"Now we really finish dis..." Remy says as Rogue lands beside him.

He whips out his specially enhanced bo staff made for him by Forge a few years back. On the tip of the staff, a tri-blade appears. Remy charges at Traxx who now has his back to him. Traxx is too occupied with Wolverine and Marrow to notice Remy coming until...

Gambit thrusts the bladed end into a weak spot in the center of Traxx's back. A spot Remy pinpointed while jumping around and dodging Traxx's blasts and fists. Now, he begins using his mutant abilities to send a charge into the beast's back. This creates an electrical backlash.

Wolverine, Marrow, and Gambit all take cover as the behemoth Traxx explodes. With the battle ended, all combatants breath a sigh of relief.

"Remy! Are ya alright, Sugah?" she asks as she goes to his side and helps him get up from his tumble from the blast.

"Oui, Chere. Jus' fine an' dandy." he says with a cough.

"What was that thing? What did it want with you?" she asks.

While in the background Wolverine walks over to the remains of the Harley that are still burning and threatening to set a nearby tree on fire.

"Don' know what it was...apparently, though, it wanted me dead." he replies.

"A man's almost gotta shed a tear when his bike gets trashed. What a waste of a beautiful machine." Wolverine comments standing over the bike.

"Would you like us to bury it, big guy?" Marrow asks, somewhat snickering.

Wolverine just looks at her and smiles. He lights a cigar off the burning bike.

"No. We best get back to the mansion, though, and get storm ta come out here an' put this flamin' blaze out fore it causes a forest fire." Wolverine states.

"Good point." Rogue adds.

* * * * *

A little while later, out on the mansion's porch. Remy and Rogue have a little talk. While Storm's in the background putting out the fire.

"I don't know why I was debatin' it. I gotta go to Europe for a week or two, dat's all." Remy starts.

"Ah was hopin' that we wouldn't have to separate again, though. Ah...ah mean...You WILL be back, right?"

"Don' worry, Chere. AH'LL BE BAHCK!" Remy says in his best Ahnold impersonation. "I know we've had our setbacks. But dis time, t'ings are going to be different. I don' know if I'll be coming back to the X-MEN. But, I WILL be coming back to you. I love you. Dat's never going to change. So stop looking so worried."

Remy continues, looking into Rogue's eyes.

"Ah know. Ah've just been being paranoid for some reason. But, you be careful over dere...uh...heh...there!" Rogue smiles.

"Jus' don' try takin' my place while I'm gone! I see you already got de accent down!" he jokes.

"Ah won't, ah can't. See you." Rogue finishes as Remy starts to depart.

They'd been holding hands, hers gloved...each are reluctant to let go now. Cause neither are sure what the future beholds. Remy gets in a cab headed to town...he wants to keep a low profile.

* * * * *

Elsewhere, in the world, an evil mind walks down a dark corridor. In his long life, he's been known by several names, but it is one name in particular now that one uses to beckon him...

"ESSEX!!"

Sinister casually responds to the dark figure on his throne. He is disinterested in what this 'person' has to say.

"Why have you yet to deliver us Grey!?"

The room they now occupy is large and ominous. An aura of evil power exists here.

"The boy is hardly a LIGHTWEIGHT. Acquiring him has proven a most daunting task." responds Sinister.

"We are not interested in excuses. While you've been dawdling around with your puppets, Grey's powers have gone dangerously unchecked! You know the deal. We allowed you to continue to exist despite apprehensions of your 'studies.' Now you WILL bring us the Grey child or you WILL perish! Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal..." Sinister says leaving the room.

He is not pleased with the deal.

"I will bring you the child of Grey. And the child will obey MY commands. And then all who stand between me and my research will be...annihilated."

...And the story continues...

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