This story features characters which are
the property of Marvel Comics, and no money is being made
from their unsanctioned use here. The character of Reine,
however, is my creation, and if you use her without my
permission, regardless of whether or not cash is involved,
I will just have to hunt you down and kill you...and like
my Sensei, I don't make threats, I make promises :-)
Scott Summers had seen and heard many fantastical things
in his life, but this was a bit much, even for him.
After returning to the mansion, Gambit had elected to grab
a few hours of sleep before telling the others of his experience
of the previous night. He had savoured rousting the others
out of bed early in the morning (rather than the other way
around), and had correctly guessed the fact that Remy LeBeau
had called an early-morning meeting would shock everyone into
"So why didn't ya call the police?" Sam inquired.
Gambit rolled his eyes in disgust as he replied.
"Figure it out mon ami - ' 'scuse me officer, I just
had a feelin' somet'ing was wrong, so I went up to de roof
an' found these t'ieve's tools, but de culprit got away...'
"No need to rub it in Cannonball's face, Remy,"
Scott said sharply.
"Clearly, we're going to have to find her. While it's
not our duty to track down thieves," Cyclops continued
with a rare smile of amusement, "tracking down a mutant
is altogether a different story."
"One thing though, Cyke," Wolverine interjected,
"chances are good that she's out lookin' fer Gumbo too..."
Gambit nodded in agreement.
"Why would she? Ah think she'd just want to get the
heck outta the country," Rogue chimed in.
Wolverine shook his head.
"He saw her face, darlin'...Professionals like to stay
low-profile. It might be dangerous fer the Cajun in town."
Beast had been examining the morning paper during this discussion,
and cleared his throat.
"I'm not so certain of that, Logan...here, read this..."
Wolverine looked at the paper, and whistled softly as he
placed it on the table for all to see.
"So that's who we're dealin' with - yer in deep,
When Gambit saw the headline, his eyes widened in disbelief.
"Mon Dieu..." he whispered.
Across the front page of the New York Times sprawled four
words: "The Jack is Back". Next to the headline
was a picture of a display case with a single knave of hearts
at its centre.
"It seems as if you three know something about this,
so how about enlightening the rest of us?" Scott asked
"Yeah, Hank - so we've got a thief with 'tude - I think
we can handle it," cracked Bobby, "what's the big
"The big deal, my chilly comrade-in-arms, is that describing
this person as a thief is somewhat akin to describing Michelangelo
as a stonecutter. While factually correct, the statement doesn't
begin to approach the scope of the truth," Beast returned.
"That knave of hearts trademark has been found in emptied
bank vaults, completed confidence rackets, smuggling operations
- any sort of illegal activity for profit you could name.
The only things common to all of these cases are the card
trademark, the fact that the perpetrator was never caught
- and that no one was ever killed or seriously injured during
the acts themselves. Therefore, I do not believe that Remy's
life is in danger. However," he mused, "that is
not to say I believe it would be safe for him to go out alone..."
"Just because the dog ain't bit before, don't mean it
won't now," Logan agreed, "Besides, there's more
than one way to keep secrets - like memory blocks."
Logan scowled as he finished speaking. All in the room knew
of his experience with memory tampering, and what he was likely
to do to anyone attempting it on a teammate.
Scott, like the others, had been listening attentively. He
turned to the assembled X-Men.
"Caution is a necessity here. Now the question is how
do we track her down without endangering Gambit. Any ideas
"It's goin' t'have to be a trap, wit' me as de bait,"
Gambit stated flatly, "dere's jus' no other way. Question
is, what kind o' trap it goin' t'be?"
"Aye, there's the rub," Hank muttered, "We
must remember also that our quarry will be expecting a trap
of some kind as we plan - and that some of us will need to
be nearby at all times to ensure your safety, as well..."
"If I were the thief, I would assume that Remy was either
a police officer, a bystander, or a fellow thief.," Storm
"The first I would consider unlikely, as officers are
almost always in pairs, at least. The second is equally unlikely,
as few people are given to wandering museum rooftops in the
early morning. In her position, I would conclude that Gambit
was a fellow thief."
"Don' know about dat, Stormy," Remy disagreed,
"Sure didn' look like I was workin', if y' know what
I mean - but she might t'ink I be a cop tryin' t'set her up..."
Gambit's brow furrowed in thought as he continued.
"Way I see it, I c'n play de blackmail angle..."
"Remy!" Rogue interrupted, "Sugah, ya cain't
be serious! That's just askin' for her to try an' kill ya!"
"Non, chère... I don' t'ink she try to kill me, Bête's
right. She too much of a professional. Besides, once de meetin'
set up, I ain' goin' t'be alone. Dat's option one."
"And option two is...?" Joseph queried.
"T'go an' hang around de same area. Since she lookin'
for me, I'm sure dat's where she'll start."
I rose early the next morning, and thought about possible
disguises as I showered.
*Put the cart behind the horse, dear* I thought to
*Before I settle on a disguise, I'm going to have to do some
And so I did. After all, I am a trained martial artist, among
other things, and I did my best to live my life according
to certain principles. In this case,
"Know the enemy, and know yourself: in a hundred
battles, you will never be in peril."
Good thing for me that few flatfoots ever bothered reading
The Art of War...
I fixed myself a double latte, and settled comfortably at
my computer. Several hours of productive hacking later, I
had fully realized the extent of my predicament.
*Sacrée merde...je n'ai pas besoin de cette bêtise...*1
I knew my quarry, all right. If it wasn't the X-Man called
Gambit, I'd go legit. Even though the grainy video shots I
had weren't that good, it was unmistakably my man. I had begun
my search with a description and an area, sidled into more
databases than I cared to remember, and I had my conclusion.
It really was not sitting well with me.
Bad enough that he had seen me, worse that he had friends
to back him up...but what really set a ball of ice in my gut
was the man himself.
Me, in masculine form - not just his looks, but his
power. Few of the cops who made it their career to track me
thought I was a mutant, and for good reason. I never used
my explosive ability on the job - nothing that could be used
to positively identify me. And, let's face it, it was a point
of pride. I didn't need my power to be the best at what I
The few audio clips I'd found and hacked into put the seal
on my fears. Louisiana Cajun.
I spoke the patois when it suited me, but my adoptive parents
had always insisted on the Queen's English or Parisian French
in the home. I had only learned Creole and Cajun from the
I had always known I was adopted. My parents had never made
any secret of it. They had wanted a child for years, and were
both pushing fifty when baby Renée came into their lives.
I always knew there was the possibility I had family, but
I had never expected to find out this way. Even with compelling
physical evidence, I tried to dismiss the truth staring at
me from the computer screen. Being a rational person, I failed.
This assignment had just gotten a whole lot harder.
On the bright side, as a "terrorist" outlaw himself,
he wasn't terribly likely to sic the cops on me. However,
chances were very good that he would be out looking for me,
with one or more of his friends - and I was sure they wouldn't
be too friendly. Well, one way or another, I was going to
have a nice, private chat with him. Hopefully, we could work
out an understanding about the other night.
I smiled to myself as the glimmering of a plan dawned in
I had to do a little more research, but on his associates
this time. It would be do-able -- a real challenge, but do-able.
I hadn't done anything quite this difficult in a long time.
I smiled and thought:
*Mais, qu'est-ce qui disait que la vie était simple?*2
Continued in Chapter
1. I do not need this foolishness.
2. But who said that life was simple?
"All warfare is based on deception."
- Sun-Tzu, The Art of War
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