Death of a Dream
Chapter 12: Stolen Lives
Gambit kissed Rogue cheerfully as he rose from the bed, smiling
from ear to ear. "I tell you chere...dis de happiest
I been in...," he paused, thinking hard. "...probably
She smiled back, leaning up to hug him. "You sure you
have to go, shugah? I got a little while before practice..."
He nodded, almost regretfully, hating the thought of leaving
her even for an instant. "Have to keep up appearances,
chere. Now dat I'm 'officially' part of de Brotherhood, dey
expect me to bust my chops wit de rest of de new recruits,"
he rolled his eyes, obviously unhappy with the statement.
It wasn't as if he had a choice, after all. If he meant to
stay with Rogue, and he certainly did, then he would have
to join the Brotherhood as a willing member. Or at least pretend
to for a while...until he could get them out of here.
"Okay then, shugah, you go on. Ah'll see you tonight."
She smiled and kissed him again, and he found himself amazed,
both by her beauty and her love for him. And to think...he
had almost lost her...
"I love you, chere," he said reverently, turning
completely serious for a moment. "You can't imagine what
dis means to me...what you mean to me...I never thought I'd
have another chance, you know." He paused again, seeming
to struggle with his next words. "I thought for sure
I'd come back to find you wit Joseph, having forgotten all
Her face fell as he mentioned Joseph's name, and he instantly
regretted mentioning him. He had no idea why Joseph and Rogue
had not ended up together while he was out of the picture,
it had seemed a probable conclusion in his absence, but when
he had found out that they hadn't, he hadn't even stopped
to wonder why not. Now he thought maybe he should have. "Chere,
She shook her head, smile returning though it was more faint
than before. "It's alright, Remy. That was a long time
ago, in another world. He's been gone for a long time..."
she broke off, as if uncertain how to finish her sentence,
then shook her head. "It doesn't matter. He's mah past,
shugah. You...you are my present, my future."
He was relieved by her words, feeling something unresolved
within him finally laid to rest, at long last. He was tempted
to ask what had happened, he knew that Joseph's name was not
counted among the graves at the X-Men's home, but he didn't
want to spoil the mood anymore than he already had. "Your
future husband," he added, hardly believing the words
even as they sprang lovingly from his lips.
Her smile brightened, and she kissed him one last time before
patting him gently on the backside and shooing him out the
door. "Get on outta here now, before you're late and
the Brotherhood decides to break our engagement...permanently."
She said it lightly, playfully, but he barely repressed a
shiver, knowing how truly she spoke. His position here was
still too tenuous to be letting things slip. With a final
kiss of her hand, he turned and hurried out the door.
As the door closed behind him, Rogue's smile faded and she
settled back into the pillows restlessly, her mind filled
with visions of a young, white-haired man who had once been
so kind to her.
Gambit's mood proved irrepressible as he made his way through
the complex, his smile returning shortly after leaving the
room. He would still make it on time, and his mind was too
full of his potentially happy future to let any misgivings
set in. Whistling happily as he picked up his pace, he never
saw the three men who leaped from the corridor behind and
opened fire on him.
In the citadel at the top of the world, a dark presence moved,
awakened from its trance-like state. He had been concentrating
on Rogue, or more specifically, the growing presences within
her. The children were of particular interest to him, and
he wanted to learn all that he could about them. Their potential
power would certainly be useful to him in the future...still,
it seemed he would have to wait until after they were born
to learn more about them. Rogues psyche had always been incredibly
hard to read with the Kree portion she had stolen from Carol
Danvers, and he could not seem to pick up the children's budding
thoughts through the static it created. Every now and then
though, he caught a stray thought, or a particularly strong
The vision of a young white-haired man with a face so like
his own had appeared unbidden within his mind, a projection
from Rogue, he assumed. That was a face he had not thought
about in years...why did it seem to trouble him so, now?
Within, he felt a subtle shifting of the psyche whose body
he shared, a change in the flow of its normal stream of consciousness
thought process. When he had possessed Magnus' body, the host
had had little choice...there had been so little left of his
brain he could not even have put up a decent struggle if he'd
wanted to. Still, when he had entered Erik Lensherr's shattered
mind, he had felt what little remained reach out eagerly,
willingly, desperate to grasp hold of life in whatever form
it could. The merging had been an easy success, almost flawless.
For the last two years, he had inhabited this body with little
to no conflict with its persona.
At first, Magnus had hidden himself deep, whatever pieces
that were left of his psyche withdrawing below the Shadow
King's level of normal awareness. There were times when he
had even forgotten that Magnus was there. But as time had
progressed, the disjointed thoughts that were Magnus had come
slowly to the fore, making themselves known, and the Shadow
King had known that he would have to integrate Magnus somehow,
to establish peace between them. The host body worked best
when it was happy with the joining, and a will like Magnus',
even diminished as it was, could prove troublesome if he paid
it no heed. So he had begun to allow for its slight influences,
as long as they continued to serve his purpose. There were
very few things which could urge the fragmented persona to
assert itself and make its will known. Now seemed to be one
of those times.
He could certainly understand why. Joseph had been something
of an enigma to Magnus, and evoked strong emotion within the
remains of his mind, but the Shadow King had never determined
the basis for them beyond the fact that Joseph had been a
carbon copy of the man, right down to his mutant abilities.
Even when he had absorbed Joseph's mind, he had found no answers...the
man never even knew who he had been. He had sprung to life
from nothing, it seemed, and died ignorant of how or why.
Well...not exactly died...
Was it that nagging presence of Magnus within him that caused
his footsteps to turn toward the room beneath the citadel?
Or perhaps, a morbid sense of satisfaction in his own work?
He pondered his own motives as he walked through the darkened
corridors, footsteps echoing hollowly around him. Taking out
Joseph had never even been a question for the Shadow King.
Of all the X-Men, of all the heroes in existence, Joseph had
posed him the greatest threat. He could have matched Magnus
in sheer power, if not experience, and the Shadow King had
not been willing to take the chance of losing his perfect
host body. Indeed, the young man had put up quite a struggle,
turning Magnus' power back on him before the Shadow King had
reached inside his mind and turned him off. He had stripped
Joseph's mind then, absorbing all of his thoughts and making
them part of him. There had been much knowledge of power there,
still untapped because of his struggle to regain his memories.
If left alone and given time to discover his past and unlock
his potential, Joseph might have grown even more powerful
than Magnus. His persona had meshed well with the host body
and lent itself toward making Magnus' vessel even more indestructible.
Best of all, he had never heard a peep from it, not even a
whisper to give testament to its presence within him. He wondered
sometimes if perhaps that was where Magnus' mind had regained
its presence, by integrating Joseph's mind with his. If Joseph
had been Magnus' clone, as many suspected, it would make perfect
sense. The Shadow King had taken that into consideration before
claiming Joseph, and had judged the young man as being too
disjointed in his own thoughts to pose much of a threat, even
if he merged with Magnus' remaining psyche. Even now, if the
two of them were combined, they still did little to affect
his will, and so, he rarely dwelled on it. But in moments
like these, he found himself considering the possible implications
There were times when it was hard to tell his own urges apart
from Magnus', they were so subtle and so much a part of him.
Psylocke worried that Magnus influenced him far too often,
especially in the case of Rogue...and he had to admit, that
had it been his will alone, he probably would never have given
her control of her powers and made her part of the Brotherhood.
But he shared this vessel with another, and though it was
mostly a phantom presence, it could be very annoying at times
to deal with. He had more important things to concentrate
on now that he had the world beneath his heel. He didn't have
time for petty internal conflict. And Rogue had served them
well so far. But Joseph? He had cared nothing for the man,
beyond the purpose he could serve someday.
As he reached the door below, he paused for a moment, considering
what lay within and again, why it should seem to trouble him
so. He shrugged off the indecision and used his magnetic power
to unseal the door, casting off the trepidation which certainly
must be a lingering emotion from Magnus' psyche.
The light from within was extremely dim as he entered, but
he floated past the illuminating switches without a second
thought, completely fascinated by the miracle before him.
It was a marvel of technology, really, he thought as he examined
it. It had never ceased to amaze him every time he witnessed
Joseph hung suspended within a cylindrical tube that reached
from ceiling to floor, any number of wires and pipes sprouting
from its base like roots from a gnarled and twisted tree.
The dim blue light from within the tube cast eerie shadows
over his features, serving as the only source of light for
the room. His face was nearly lost to the darkness, but what
could be seen of it was peaceful enough in expression. Indeed,
what could trouble a man without a mind? the Shadow King thought,
He had questioned his decision to keep Joseph after he had
separated the man's mind from his body, but he had surmised
that even as vegetable the duplicate could serve a purpose.
After all, Magnus' body would not live forever, indeed, it
had already seen better days. Joseph, on the other hand was
young, and nearly an exact duplicate of Magnus, even sharing
the same power. When Magnus' body had served his purpose,
Joseph would make a nice replacement. The Shadow King had
been careful only to strip his mind of thoughts and memories,
leaving behind the pathways to access his power, just in case.
And if, because his mind had been so completely wiped, Joseph
proved useless as a host, Sinister could always clone another
Magnus. It was producing a clone with identical powers that
would be hard, and Joseph was convenient because his power
still remained. It could be done though, given time.
He stood for a moment, admiring Joseph's still form behind
the glass. His body was perfectly preserved within the case,
halting his aging process completely and shutting down whatever
rudimentary thought was left. He had no need for his brain
to tell him to breathe, or to tell his heart to beat...no,
Joseph was beyond all that now. He was captured forever outside
of time in eternal youth...a living corpse. Truly, the Shadow
King thought as he exited the room, suspended animation was
a wonderful thing.
Psylocke couldn't believe her good fortune. In the space
of a few hours, her plans had gone from dismal to right back
on track. With the news that Rogue was pregnant, she had managed
to convince the master that he could not kill the children's
father. At least, not until after they were born. To do anything
prior to that would endanger Rogue's state of mind. As delicate
and mercurial as pregnant women's emotions tended to be, who
could predict what the repercussions would be? It would certainly
affect her ability to lead the Brotherhood, if not send her
running straight back to the X-Men. Reluctantly, the master
had agreed with her logic, realizing as she did, that if all
continued to go according to Psylocke's new plan, they would
only need Rogue for a few months more, anyway. And for this
plan, she also needed the cajun quite badly...or his mind,
She glanced at the console, noting the time and wondering
where the object of her thoughts could be. The guards should
have brought him in by now...her train of thought broke off
as the door to the lab slid open.
"You're late," she snapped.
The guards shuffled their feet and looked at each other uncertainly,
and after a moment she snorted and turned, motioning to the
Obediently, the guards dragged in their captive, throwing
him gracelessly onto the table and fastening the manacles
about his limbs. When the last one was snapped into place,
they stepped back and looked to Psylocke in silent question.
She nodded once, and they scurried from the room like rats
from a sinking ship. A cruel smile twisted her dark lips,
taking momentary pleasure in the fear she inspired before
turning to examine her new captive. She paused only briefly,
taking one sweeping glance over his form before grabbing him
roughly by the chin and slapping his face in an attempt to
"Time to pay the piper, Gambit," she said aloud,
her smile growing ever wider with each resounding slap.
Continued in Chapter
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