Disclaimer: Ben<jamin Russell>
Franklin <Richards> (The Master of RetCons)says: All
the X-Men belong to Marvel, but Marvel belongs to Toy-Biz.
Lesson boys and girls: A penny saved is a penny urned. <Histeria
Copyright: Confusion (The Opium Philosopher) say "People
who steal K-Nice fic should sleep with both eyes open."
Thanks to my wonderful friends and beta-readers--Edana, Em,
Sparks and Time (in abc order) -- for their help and their
comments. Any errors are not their fault and are probably
due to the fact that I keep copying the wrong version, thus
retaining nasty little mistakes. Oh well...
© K-Nice 1999
A form, little more than shifting shadow, crept through the
tunnels that ran beneath Crescent City. It paused, now and
again, as if to get its bearings. Against the dark dankest
of the cavern-like, stone-walled space, the form moved more
boldly, faster. Gradually, there were hints that this figure
was real, human, male.
Then it disappeared. The man, known to some as Firestarter,
who had attempted to identify the strange apparition was disheartened
at its swift dissolution.
Then, he was dismembered.
The shadow pulled its sword from the soft flesh of his would-be
assailant and sheathed it at his hip. He turned his head,
molding his tall, thin form to the wall. Four people marched
past. The scratch of their boots the only sound they made.
The man remain as still as the hundred year old stone around
him. He erupted from his place as soon as it was prudent.
He schooled his heart to normal beats and walked softly on
cat-sure feet. But he did not hold his breath.
The scent of magnolias wafted through the hall. The sweet,
homey aroma gave the man pause as he scurried down the corridor
in the opposite direction.
So the Rogue herself was here. She had not just sent her
minions, the Brotherhood. No, she had come in person to finish
him off in person. The Gambit would have chuckled if he did
not fully know the viciousness that plagued the once gentle
soul who was desecrating his home. He would suffer any pain
for the sake of Crescent City and the Thieves who swore allegiance
to its Guild. His own title was chosen for him by his long
dead father to mold him for that very purpose.
Pressing his body into a mossy stone alcove, he silently
counted the footsteps that ran past. He counted four approaching
but only three fading into the darkness beyond his range.
Whoever stood there was clearly waiting for him.
He stepped out from the wall once again, this time to face
her. She was resplendent in deep green robes, her cloak parted
barely enough for the hilt of her sword to protrude through.
Her brown hair was streaked with white, a sign of a prostitute,
but was piled high on her head, as was the fashion with noble
women, not gutter wenches. To which group this vision of violent
beauty belonged had been hotly debated among the Guild Council.
"You are the Gambit, are you not." It should have
been a question, but her inflection was so liquid that he
could not tell for sure. Her voice was smooth, tempered with
the heat of an Old River Valley summer and the fires of hell.
She had to see him face-to-face, this man prophesied to die
for sake of the Delta's strongest family. She would not leave
without making sure the legend came true.
"You are the Rogue." They acknowledged each other
with curt nods. "A pleasure." He smiled, a calm,
calculated gesture that melted the hearts of some and froze
the hearts of others. He could not gauge her reaction even
as he stared deeply into her emerald green eyes.
There was no posturing. No philosophical debate. They both
knew what had brought them to this battle. He knew her to
be the young upstart that had wrested control of Old River
Valley's mercenary Brotherhood from her adoptive mother, becoming
the first woman to hold the title Rogue, a sign of respect
for the best warrior among Delta's pirate community, and turned
a scraggly band of Magnet-worshippers into well-regarded mutant
strike force. She knew him to be the last living heir of the
LeBeau clan, leading the enigmatic Thieves' Guild to ascendancy
in Crescent City and all of Delta. They both had their eyes
on the lands of Delta and beyond so neither could afford to
tolerate the other's continued existence.
He did not reflect on the first time they had met, the hope
and promise their respective parents had placed upon the encounter.
She ignored the stirrings of childhood love, so innocent and
pure, now tainted by death and greed.
They knew what this quarrel was about--the Thieves had beaten
out the Brotherhood for a coveted contract with a man whose
name was whispered even by the hardened men like Patch Logan
and Nicholas Fury--and nothing more. Certainly nothing as
personal as a dishonored promise, nothing so fragile as a
The silence held, by mutual decision and the crackle of combat
lit flames within them both. Each stepped back, with their
own graceful strides held in tight check
She swept her cloak aside in one polished gesture. Her sword
hilt gleamed silver, catch light that was barely there. Her
gloved fingers twitched towards it, but she held her hands
out delicately, as was the custom, and curtsied, her full
skirts growing damp with blood and water.
He let his red-black eyes glow fiercely as he bowed. It was
a formal bow, one he learned in Briton. He bent his knee and
put one leg behind him, bowed fully at the waist, his right
arm sweeping across his body. The incongruity of his actions
and his devilish appearance startled her. He flowed up with
his sword drawn, already spinning to the attack.
They met each other blow for blow. She put such strength
into each blow that Carosella would envy her. He battle partner
bent under her pounding. His strokes were sure and even, not
as strong, but more accurate. Lord Wagner, and his fortune,
had fallen under those steady, artful blows, and the woman
rumored to be his sister now struggled valiantly against them.
His agility matched her speed. Her strength matched his skill.
On the battle raged, no words spoken except the clang of steel
on steel, which echoed out into the moist, verdant walls.
An overhead swing caught him off guard. He moved to block.
Triumphant in his success, he flowed onto the attack and
found her blade twisting in his side. The pain changed something
inside him and he turned his body so as to trap her sword
within his flesh. Energy flickered over his hands and sword
as he completed the stroke. Her eyes seemed to light with
appreciation of the move, finally understanding why he was
called the Gambit. She smiled, even as her head slumped forward,
tethered to her body by her spinal cord and little else. He
knelt, the blade still in him, and closed her eyes, which
seemed to sparkle to the very end.
In death, she had lodged her blade against his ribs, and
he fought for several panting moments to free it. The noise
of their conflict had reached the ears of the Brotherhood.
He could hear them in the distance, their heavy footfalls
too loud to belong to Thieves. He cursed them as little better
The Marauders were scum--a wild, cruel coven of killers
who reeked havoc in Delta and beyond to Prairie and Lakeland
in the north, and to the Deadlands beyond the Horizon Mountains
and up in the city-states of York and Columbia. He put them
out of his mind and slunk back into the shadows.
His eyes shut tight, so that their unhallowed light might
not give him away, he placed one hand on the wall and the
other to his side, were he had been fatally wounded. Of course,
the Benefactress had given the Thieves' Guild a powerful gift.
It was this Elixir that he called on now to survive his grievous
injury. He felt the healing balm course through his veins
and bid it to run faster still. He had little time to waste
on himself--his people were still under attack.
The man with no name but great power had always dealt with
him through a man called Scott "Slim" Summers. Tall
and powerfully built, Slim was clear thinking, more a leader
than a lackey, but he had kept a strict code for his
master's security -- meeting in public squares and taverns,
sometimes accompanied by a psychic he called Maddie -- and
had never entered into the realm of the Gambit's underworld,
which was indeed prudent on his part. LeBeau was thus surprised
when he tripped over the man's body, both because he was rarely
so clumsy and the man did not belong here. And certainly not
with his eyes bored out and his flesh pocked with hundreds
Recognition of Whirlwind's signature weapon caught him and
wouldn't let go. He stopped to consider this new turn of events.
There was a skirmish between his body and his mind, one ready
to collapse, the other just getting started. He absently flicked
blood from his fingers, the wound in his side knitting up
slowly. If Slim had come here . . .
He ran, full tilt back to were he had left his Guild fight
the bulk of the Brotherhood. He had sought to draw the fight
away from them, to live his title. Instead he had abandoned
them to the slaughter.
The nameless evil, more shadow than man, slipped away as
the young leader fell to his knees in the blood and entrails
of his people. The shadow grinned, a fanged smile that stopped
hearts at its mere mention. His subterfuge had succeeded in
wiping out both upstart groups. More importantly, it had left
one extraordinary survivor.
Perhaps, in some other day or time, he would have made a
Instead, the red-black eyes flared like the final embers
of a fire, stirring one last time as Mariner sunk one of his
large, glowing harpoons through the boy's heart.
The shadow paused--a pity and a waste--and continued down
its dark, eternal path.
Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction /
Fan Artwork / History Books /
Photo Album / Songbank /
Miscellania / Links /
Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof
are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an
unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by