Disclaimer: The X-Men characters--Mystique,
Destiny, Jean-Luc LeBeau, Rogue, Gambit, etc -- are actually
in this fic. Harras et al would never recognize them but they
do belong to Marvel, not me.
Copyright: Pain and Panic await those who swipe this
fic. And they're just itching to cause some Chaos after their
Notes: This is an Elseworlds Gambit & Rogue fic.
Prequel to Possibly, In Another Life
and Perhaps, In Some Other Time.
© K-Nice 1999
The pounding of the horses' hooves on the hard dirt track
precluded any meaningful conversation, but Irene and Raven
managed to communitcate. With subtle stares and quiet hand
gestures, they made their picks from the young men and women
who jockeyed their mounts around the center dias. The little
cocktail table where the two woman and their guest sat shook
with the fury of the passing race.
It was time for the yearly Power Derby. The mornings races
where run, not with hired jockeys, but with the young sons
and daughters of the most powerful families in the world.
The winners set an unoffical ranking among the contenders.
While winning was a coveted position, it was often dangerous,
since those children sometimes had accidents befall them before
the day was through. Their own daughter, Emily was in among
the leaders, preparing to break from the pack. She was a stunning
horsewoman, enough to make Raven wonder where she had been
raised before she was left at their compound.
Emily's grandparents had brought her to the House of Lehnsherr
several years before when they were converted to the teachings
of Magneto. They had left to make a pilgramage to the Holy
Land, rumored to be the last resting place of Magneto, somewhere
in the middle of East Ocean. They had never returned, and
Raven and Irene had taken the child as their own.
Watching her grow from pigtails to pageboys had been one
of the few joys in Raven's life among the Mangusmonks. While
Irene was a willing convert, Raven had reservations. She had
known Erik, personally, after all. She saw the House of Lehnsherr
and its Brotherhood as a means to an end--gaining power and
influence. All that money coming in was nice too, since religion
was the oldest scam in the book.
A slight shifting at her right caused Raven to turn to their
companion. She exchanged a glance with Irene, but the woman
had no mystic answer for the unspoken question. What was on
Jean-Luc's mind? He had made a beeline for them as the race
began, claiming their table was better for watching the races.
Which was a lie, since he had a box seat, but then again,
so did Sebastian Shaw.
Suddenly, the leaders appeared from around the corner. Raven
spotted Emily making a push from around the outside, her red-brown
hair streaking out behind her. But in one look, she could
tell the girl would never make it.
At the head of the pack, Remington LeBeau was being edged
to the inside by Shinobi Shaw. Shinobi's gelding was pressing
forward hard, as if it knew this was the last lap, the last
chance for glory. Remy's mare, on the other hand, appeared
to the struggling. Shinobi's whip flew and the gelding pulled
into the lead.
Raven spared a quick look at Jean-Luc LeBeau, expecting to
read dissappointment, perhaps anger. Instead, there was an
intense look of anticipation on that aristocratic facade.
Irene sat up sharply and Raven turned to see what all the
commotion was about.
Emily plowed right into Shinobi. It was a hard hit, which
sent both riders forward and then backwards very quickly,
nearly throwing them from their horses. Raven's heart caught
in her throat at the sight of red on her daughter's cheek.
The horses recovered their balance quickly, but it was too
late. Remy and his mare were suddenly a blur, rushing towards
the finish as if they were one creature.
Jean-Luc remained in his seat, a satisfied smile slowly spreading
across his face. "Well, that boy certainly has a way
with women! Excuse me, ladies. It appears I must make an appearence
at the Winner's Circle. I'm sorry about your daughter. If
she is feeling up to it, maybe you will join us for dinner?"
Raven would have spit nails if she wasn't so worried about
Emily. His son had tricked Shinobi into blocking Emily, effectively
putting his two competitors out of the running. It was devious,
far too devious for a 13-year-old boy to think up on his own.
At least any thirteen year old Raven was familiar with.
Irene graciously excepted the offer and the leader of the
Thieves' Guild was gone.
Raven exploded. "The nerve of that man!" Then she
said nothing more, helping Irene gather her skirts and striding
toward the finish area in her own split riding skirt.
Emily was dismounting dejectedly. The red on her face was
a cut from a whiplash and Irene had to grab Raven's arm to
keep her from attacking Shinobi. The boy was being berated
by his father Sebastian only a few feet away. He was rather
small for a 15-year-old, but Raven chalked that up to his
Asiatic heritage. His mother was from beyond the West Ocean
and looked even farther away as she stood nearby and ignored
her husband's tirade.
"Mother Raven, I'm sorry I failed. I have brought shame
on the House of Lehnsherr and the name Darkholme." Emily
kept her head down to hide her tears. Her mothers had campaigned
mightly on her behalf. There where other children among the
Mangusmonks that might make better riders, but they had insisted
Emily be given a chance. Now, she had failed.
"None of that now, child. We must return to our rooms
and prepare for dinner." Irene ushered them both back
to the Guthrie Mansion to be primped and combed and powdered
for the evening.
As they walked the halls to grand stairwell that would lead
them to the dining area, Raven mulled over Irene's forewarnings.
They were to keep Emily's mutant nature secret from Jean-Luc.
After all of Sister MacTaggert's work, even several trips
to York to consult Dr. Xavier, they were still unable to understand
the girl's power. Xavier had been clear that she was not a
pure psychic, and as such, he would not take her on as a student.
It was cruel that the Brotherhood could train so many mutants,
yet Raven's own daughter could not be helped.
If an alliance was to be made, it would be on equal terms.
Raven would not make Emily a freak among mutants by revealing
her to the Guild leader. If they could conceal the information
long enough, Emily might even gain training after the fact,
as the Guild was very swift to embrace its mutant members.
They had resources even the Brotherhood did not.
Irene's cream gown was replicated on Raven, only in deep
royal blue. Emily, though six years shy of her debut, wore
a complimentary floor-length dress, smoothing out her rough,
gangly edges. Her hair was carefully styled to hide the white
streak that branded her as her mother's bastard child.
When they came down into the dining room, they were lead
into a private chamber off to the side. It was more of a parlor.
but there was an intimate table setting near the fire place.
Jean-Luc LeBeau and his youngest son, Remington, rose from
their seats to greet their guests. Raven placed Emily at a
seat next to Remy, getting an approving response from Jean-Luc.
The girl and boy stared at each other then avoided eye contact
with anyone through most of the meal.
The dinner was pleasant. The food was exquisite and the conversation
interesting. Jean-Luc was as charming as usual, though Raven
sensed an uncharacteristic eagerness in his tone. When the
meal was cleared away, and the children shooed into a corner,
the real intrigue began.
"I was wondering Raven, Irene, what are your plans for
young Emily?" Jean-Luc balanced his coffee cup on his
knee watching the children play with an air of nonchalance.
Irene took up the thread. "Well, there is of course
her schooling, which has been well taken care of by the Monks."
Raven interjected. "But she will spend some time in
Plymouth with a dear friend of ours, Miss Danvers. She will
be formally introduced to society there." Irene would
have glared at Raven, had Jean-Luc not been watching their
every move. Danvers taught at the prestigious Frost Academy,
but she was really a spy, and almost everyone who worked the
Dark Arts--spying, thieving and killing--knew it. Certainly
Jean-Luc did. Raven was presenting a challenge, making it
clear that girl would be more than a simpering trophy.
"Indeed." Jean-Luc could barely contain his surprise.
Danvers introduced a dangerous variable into his plans. "Remy
leaves in the fall for Briton. He is to complete his education
under Lord Cassidy." He meant Thomas, not Sean, but they
did not need to know that.
The conversation was interrupted by loud giggling. It seemed
the two in question where getting along swimmingly.
Irene took the opportunity left open by the sudden silence.
"However, we were looking to see dear Emily promised,
to the right sort of family, before she got any silly ideas
in her head, as girls are wont to do when they go off to strange
"We might be able to make an arrangement."
Irene and Raven seemed to exhale all at once. Finally, they
would have a firm answer to Farouk, who had taken a fancy
to the child. Not to mention access to Guild's resources.
Jean-Luc also felt relief. He had planned this moment from
the first time he set eyes on the boy, hiding under his mother's
murdered body, which was still warm from its descecration
by Shaw's lackeys.
Maybe, on another day, he would have given Remy a choice.
But the race had decided his fate for him.
He couldn't keep the grin off his face. Jean-Luc's hard effort
was coming to fruitation. Control of the House of Lehnsherr
was control of the Magnet-worshippers. Religion had great
power, greater power then even Shaw's Inner Circle. Sabastian
would finally be punished for daring to attack Crescent City.
He glanced at the children, who seemed to be talking, if
the quiet, serious expressions on their faces where any indication.
Things were definitely moving quickly between them.
Raven smiled at her daughter and her betrothed. They made
a happy pair.
For a couple of pawns.
Continued in Possibly,
in Another Life
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