This story must be better than I thought
if y'all are reading part five. Just the standard disclaimer
stuff here I'm afraid. All the characters belong to Marvel
except Zodiac who is mine. She can be used with my permission.
If you wish to archive, keep my story intact and credit me.
I would also appreciate an e-mail if you did so. You don't
have to, but I sort of like to see how it looks on your page.
Please send any comments or criticisms to RogueStar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I won't get offended if you tell me that you don't like something,
I'll probably change it for the better !
However, I do take exception to flames and will probably ignore
them. The story is quite clean and contains no vaguely dirty
scenes. Just a teeny bit of violence - non-graphic.
So all of that said and done, enjoy the story. I hope it will
be as much of a fabula miribila to you as it is to me.
P.S. Gotta thank Montana Matheson for the insightful criticism
he has been giving me, I really appreciate it. He's made me
think about some things I hadn't thought about before. Thanks,
Blackeye. I also want to thank everyone who has sent me information,
it will be used and then you'll see your name in lights (or
When Ah was young, Ah used ta believe in magic. Not the magician-pullin'-rabbit-out-of-a-hat-kind;
real magic. The kinda magic that made the earth spin and the
stars come out at night. The magic of bein' special, of bein'
somebody. Ah even used ta believe mutants were magical
- until Ah became one and realised that it wasn't magic at
all, but a screwed up gene inside me that gave me mah gift.
Sometimes Ah still think Ah believe in magic; when Ah see
Scott and Jean look at each other with love in their eyes,
or see Beast an' Iceman together. Friendship and love. That's
real magic. An' Ah think that perhaps it's time Ah experienced
a little magic too.
Remy glanced at the woman sitting next to him on the hard,
stone bench. Her face was flushed pink with exertion and she
was smiling. Her tawny hair, highlighted by an unique white
stripe, flew around her face in wisps.
"Ah think Ah know why Cyke made trainin' runs compulsory."
She wiped the sweat off her forehead, "Ah'm terribly
out of shape."
"Your shape not look too bad to me."
Rogue looked surprised at his words. Heaven knew why, she
had a beautiful figure, perfectly muscled.
"Y'all wanna get a hotdog? Mah treat?" She took
the compliment as banter, instead of how he had meant it.
"What happened t'you bein' out of shape?" He teased.
"Ah thought y'all said mah figure wasn't too bad. Guess
it can stand a hotdog." She jumped up, "Race ya."
Gambit groaned as he sprinted after her rapidly retreating
figure. Dere be better ways to catch a lady.' He thought.
Much *better* ways.'
When he finally arrived, Rogue was standing there waiting
for him, a hotdog in each hand.
"Slow today, cajun." She said as she handed one
"You had a head start."
"Not that much of one." She grinned. "Enjoy
"Breakfast?" He looked skeptically at the mustard-laden
"At the moment, Remy. Ah couldn't care less." Rogue
sat down on the grass, stretching out her long legs. "Ah'm
hungry enough t'eat a horse."
"Den you be in luck, chere, dese hotdogs probably contain
dat very ingrediant." Gambit sat next to her.
She laughed, "You could do better?"
"Please." He looked disgusted at the implication
that he could not.
"Ah forget - you're cajun." She rolled her
eyes, "God's gift to women an' the kitchen."
"An' don' you go forgetting it, Rogue."
"How could Ah when you constantly remind me of it?"
"Jus' want you to remember me."
"Y'all think Ah'd forget?" Concern flashed on her
"I mean I AM pretty unforgettable . . . ."
"An' ever so modest." She interrupted.
"Jus' one of my many virtues." He grinned.
Rogue punched him in the arm, sending him sprawling on the
"Hey! What did I say?"
She laughed, extending her hand to him. "Get up, sugah."
Gambit took it, feeling her adamantine strength beneath the
Note to me: never, ever make dat woman mad.
"Wanna run home?" He suggested, still holding her
"Sure. Make Scott proud of us." She showed no inclination
to want him to let go.
"Den . . . Race ya. Loser buys drinks at de diner."
Gambit dashed off into the distance.
Rogue sighed and went after him, hovering a few inches above
the ground. She could fly faster than she could run. Catching
up wouldn't be a problem.
Gambit scanned behind him, she was rapidly approaching.
Guess poppa was right when he said dat you should never
take a bet wit' a lady. Specially not a Southern one.
She had caught up to him by then.
"Ah love a competition. Specially when Ah'm winnin'."
Rogue said as she floated next to him.
"Maybe I let you catch up wit' me."
"Excuses. Excuses. You were beaten by a better person
an' y'all know it."
"Give up. You lose."
"What do dey say: it ain't over til de fat lady
"Darlin', she's already sung and come back foh an encore."
"You just scared I'd beat ya." Gambit laughed.
"Wanna call it quits?"
"Hmmp. Not sure if Ah agree . . . but Ah guess we could."
"Jus' t'keep your pride intact, I'll say I lost."
"Ah highly doubt it has anythin' to do with that."
"You want de real reason, chere?" He smiled.
"I want t'buy you drinks."
"Remy, Ah won't hold you to your promise. Ah know y'all
are tryin' t'be nice but . . . you don't have to."
"I want to." He looked into her green eyes. "Honest."
"Yeah, sure." She bent her head down, examining
"I mean it." Putting his hand beneath her chin,
Gambit lifted it.
"Ah'm sorry . . . it's just that this all is happenin'
too fast." She turned away from him, hugging herself.
"Ah thought Ah was ready for another relationship, that
Ah could forget what Ah did, but Ah can't. You understand?"
"Perfectly." His voice was compassionate. "Girl,
in case you haven't got it yet, you're worth waiting for."
Rogue's eyes filled with tears.
"Ah hope Ah am, darlin'. Else you're going t'be disappointed
in the end."
"You *could* never disappoint me, Rogue." He whispered
as he turned away, "De fact is I've never felt anyt'ing
close to dis for anyone b'fore."
She didn't hear his final words and any reply she might have
made was unspoken.
All she knew was that she was overwhelmed by a feeling which
was both frightening and elating in its intensity; a feeling
which could lead her away from the lonely future she had planned.
. . .
Ah dropped him colder than yesterday's leftovers, mainly
because Ah was terrified of both losin' an' havin' him, also
because he made me feel so many confusing things. It definitely
wasn't because Ah had no feelin's foh him. Ah was drawn to
him like a moth to a flame, and like that proverbial moth,
Ah was scared Ah'd burn away to nothin' but smoke if Ah got
If'n Ah was in his shoes, tryin' to love a woman whom he
could never touch, Ah would have given up. He was too
stubborn or too stupid to do so. Later, Ah learnt that to
him th' chase was as good as the prize. Even better sometimes.
Ah was lucky he felt that way, cause some time even
Atalanta had to stop and pick up the golden apple.
"The golden age of mutantkind ends here." Graydon
Creed said, taking the last sip of his glass of water. "We
must move tonight to show that we will not tolerate their
current treatment by humans."
The small group listening to his words shouted their agreement.
"Our target is simple. A factory owned by a man called
Milbury. He has been hiring the freaks for months now, depriving
normal people of employment. We must show him that this is
If anyone tries to stop us, you know what to do."
They clutched their weapons tighter to them, hugging them
to their chests.
"Then what are we waiting for? Let's show those mutie
freaks what we really think of them."
Cheers as the cluster of people broke up and went in separate
directions to work, to home and to school, fuelled by hate
and the need for revenge.
"So, Cyke, why'd you call us in here?" Wolverine
asked, leaning against the wall.
"Wait for everyone to return." Scott cautioned,
"I don't want to have to repeat myself."
The man named Logan looked around the room of people. Storm
was as poised and regal as usual, although her eyes had a
worried look in them. Jean, sitting next to her, looked beautiful
with her red hair hanging loose over her shoulders and a smile
on her face. Near them, Beast lounged, taking a minute to
relax from the pressures of working 28-hour shifts in a laboratory.
Iceman was amusing himself by making tiny sculptures
on the table which promptly melted, leaving pools of water
behind. Gambit was looking fixedly at the door, an unreadable
expression on his face. Rogue was. . . wasn't there, Wolverine
Cyclops cleared his throat for silence, obviously tired of
Suddenly the door opened and Rogue walked in.
"Am Ah late?" She asked, concerned. "Sorry
if'n Ah am, but Ah didn't have mah communicator with me."
Cyclops nodded his forgiveness. "Sit. We were just about
She seated herself in the vacant chair next to Storm. The
white-haired woman whispered something to her and Rogue shook
Wolverine wished that his super-sensitized hearing was just
a little more super, so that he could hear what they were
saying. Scott tapped the table and stood up.
"Thank you for all coming. The professor regrets that
he is unable to be here, as he has an urgent meeting with
a colleague of his." He paused. "I called this meeting
because I have recently received word that there is to be
a violent anti-mutant attack at a factory tonight. We naturally
cannot allow that to happen."
"Flamin' right we can't." Wolverine interjected.
"So what do we do, bub?"
"We go there and stop it." Cyclops told him. "Naturally
there will be innocent bystanders, employees of this factory,
so we must be careful not to injure them."
"How do you propose to do that?" Jean asked.
"Simple, we split into two teams. Team one will be responsible
for evacuating the area; team two will stop the actual attack."
He answered her. "I'll lead team two; Storm team one."
"Can we choose whose team t'be in, or will it be like
school, where de leader picks?" Gambit said, smiling.
"I have already chosen." Cyclops said. "Wolverine,
Rogue, Jean, Iceman, you'll come with me. The rest go with
"One objection, fearless leader." Beast sat up
straight, "There are five of you and only three of us.
A tad unfair, methinks."
"I am aware of that fact, Hank." He pushed his
hair back. "Uh, Rogue, you go with the others. Cover
"Sure thing, sugah." Rogue smiled, suffixing it
with a muttered "If'n Ah absolutely have to."
"Gambit not need to hide behind any woman's skirts."
"Good thing Ah'm not just any woman then, isn't it?"
Rogue said, the uncomfortable look on her face contradicting
the flippant tone in her voice.
Wolverine noticed the exchange with interest.
Looks like things are going to heat up around the old
"Dismissed then." Cyclops said with some relief.
"Meet in the hangar at 1700 hours."
"Sweetheart, have you been watching James Bond films
again?" Jean groaned.
"That or he's been hanging around the Avengers too much."
"I think you assume erroneously!" Beast protested,
"Us Avengers and ex-Avengers do not all speak like we
have taken our elocution lessons from Mr. Bond." "Nope,
just 99% of you do." Iceman ducked Beast's playful swat.
Wolverine grinned as he walked away in the direction of the
Danger Room. Let others joke and play; he would prepare for
tonight, when one mistake could cost him his life. . . .
The moon hung in the sky, occasionally obscured by clouds
drifting across its mirror-bright surface. Stars twinkled
around it and the scent of jasmine was carried by the gentle
breeze. A peaceful night; a silent night; shattered forever
. . . .
"Follow me." The man hissed to his companion as
he edged his way along the perimeter fence.
"We don't have much time."
The footsteps of the night watchman were sharp and regular,
a staccato beat.
"Pass me the wire-cutters."
Fumbling in his pocket, the one figure handed them to the
"Darn wire, why does it have to be so stiff ?"
"To stop people like us getting in?"
"Shut up, Jim."
Finally, there was a hole in the fencing through which they
"You jump the watchman, I'll gas him."
Jim nodded his agreement. Creeping up behind the watchman,
he tackled him, pinioning his arms to either side of him.
Ineffectually, the mutant let off a few bolts of energy which
crackled into the ground.
"Come on, Bob." He yelled.
Bob Jones walked up to the guard, a leer on his face.
"How does it feel to be powerless, mutie? To know that
your life is in my hands?"
"Just do it, Bob. I don't know how much longer I can
hold him for." Jim said desparately.
Grinning broadly, he put a chloroform soaked handkerchief
across the mouth of the prone guard.
The mutant's body sagged and went limp.
"Send off the signal, Jim."
He depressed the trigger of a flare gun, shooting a bright
white spark into the darkness.
Outside, Graydon Creed stood, smiling in satisfaction.
"What are all the fireworks foh?" Rogue asked,
leaning against the window of the Blackbird.
"My dear, I am sure that this display of pyrotechnic
pomp means . . ." Beast grimaced, "That we are too
Cyclops looked worried. "Let's pray that that isn't
The Blackbird landed softly on the concrete outside of Milbury's
factory, and instantly cloaked.
"Remember, we don't want to hurt any of them. Not even
the Friends of Humanity." Cyclops cautioned.
"Speak for yourself, bub." Wolverine growled.
"Logan." Scott's voice held a warning tone.
"Don't worry, fearless leader. Desire isn't the same
as deed." Wolverine assured him, "Unfortunately."
"Head out." Cyclops said. "My team,
Wolverine slipped his mask over his head and ran after Cyclops,
Jean and Iceman emulated Wolverine. The remaining X-Men looked
at each other.
"So, Stormy, what is our plan?" Gambit leaned against
"For a start, you can call me Storm; and we don't have
"A successful mission needs a well-thought out plan."
Beast said. "But I propose we . . . ad lib."
"Ad lib?" Rogue echoed, "We're hopelessly
outnumbered, outgunned an' he says we ad lib?"
"I have found that extemporaneous plans are often faciliatated
more by instinct than by any well-thought out strategy and
therefore are more effective." Beast explained.
"Hmmp. Ah understood a whole two words of that an' it
still sounded illogical."
"Beast has a point." Storm said, "We are unaware
of what we will be facing and so are unable to plan."
"Besides it be more fun dat way." Gambit laughed.
"So, what are we standin' around here foh then? Our
health? Let's go." Rogue flew up, "Ah'll scout from
the air with Storm, you boys do the ground."
"Who was leader again?" Storm gently teased.
"Sorry, Ro. Ah forgot." Rogue looked embarrassed.
"If I was Storm, I would have you doing a hundred press-ups
or something leader-like." Beast said, "Why when
I was in the army . . . ."
"You were never in the army, Henry." Storm reminded
"A small technicality. But enough of this idle
chatter, let us depart as well, Monsieur leBeau."
"Way ahead o' ya, Henri." Gambit yelled from behind
the fence. "I already have departed."
Beast vaulted over the fence, "You search east, I'll
search west. Rendez-vous at the door of the factory."
"Guess Drake was right about de Avengers talkin' like
spies." Gambit mused to himself, as he sprinted in an
Dieu! It looks like we be too late. He thought as
he saw the flaccid body of the guard in the bushes. Gambit
felt his wrist, a faint pulse still throbbed. Least
he's alive. Better see if he's de only one near here.
"Rest easy, Monsieur. I'll return." Gambit said,
knowing that the guard could not hear him. He continued his
search of the area. There were no signs of people, dead or
alive, apart from the watchman.
Bizarre. Where could all de employees be?
A question for another time perhaps. He started on his way
to the factory door where he could see the blue form of Beast
"Found anythin', sugah?" A voice behind him made
him spin around, pulling out a couple of cards as he did so.
"Chere." He dropped them as he saw who it was,
"Awful jumpy t'day, aren't we?" Rogue smiled. "Found
"Jus' a security guard. He's alive. Not sure if I should
take him back to de Birdy, or meet Henri."
"Go meet Hank. He'll be safer where he is than at the
"You find anyone?"
"No. It's kinda creepy." She shivered, "Almost
like this place is run by ghosts, there's that much sign of
"On the rooftops, looking for a way in."
"I'll go join Beast den. He probably is wondering where
"Bye, Remy." She said, adding quietly "Take
care o' yourself while you're at it."
"You too, chere."
She rose into the air and flew onto the roof of the building,
while he ran across to the door where Beast was waiting.
"Your arrival is expedient, Gambit. This lock refuses
to listen to rhyme or reason, but I am hoping that your skills
will prove to be more effective."
Gambit laughed, "T'ought I left my life as a t'ief behind
- good t'ing I didn't do de same wit' my lockpick."
He extracted a slender metal rod from his sleeve and bent
over the keyhole, removing the panelling.
"It's electronic." He informed Beast. "Harder
dan de usual mechanical ones."
"I am aware of that particular aspect of its morphology."
"Fortunately for you, Jean-Luc leBeau's fav'rite son
aced his lock-picking test in t'ieving 101."
Gambit's brow furrowed in concentration. "Jus' a few
more seconds. . .voila!"
The door sprung open.
"Beast, somet'ing worries me. Don' you t'ink it's strange
dat we haven't met any resistance yet?"
"That we must leave in the more-than-capable hands of
They slipped inside, leaving Graydon Creed to marvel at the
fact that his plan was working perfectly, unlike those of
mice and men.
"You ready?" Bob said to the small group gathered
around him. They nodded, holding their molotov cocktails.
"But I saw people just go into the factory. . . ."
One of the men said, "Shouldn't we wait for them to come
"Muties." Bob spat. "Let them burn with the
"But . . . ."
"Why are you a mutie lover all of a sudden, Karl?"
"Prove it. Throw your cocktail in first."
Karl stepped forward and pitched the bomb at the factory.
It exploded in a burst of flame.
With cheers and hoots, the rest of the group followed suite,
the explosions breaking the uncanny stillness of the night.
"What th' . . . ?" Rogue spun around as she heard
the blast. She and Storm were sitting on the rooftop keeping
"By the Bright Lady! They are bombing the factory."
Storm's voice was filled with a combination of fear and anger.
"Lawd. Where's Gambit and Beast?"
"No." Her eyes were terrified. "They may have
come out, we haven't been watchin' th' door."
"I'm sorry." Storm put a hand on her shoulder.
"But this neither the time for grief nor mourning, we
must flee this place immediately and take whatever steps are
necessary from there."
She flew into the air, followed by Rogue.
"I will attempt to put the fire out, using my control
over the elements. You go back to the Blackbird and wait there
for the others."
"Damned if Ah do, Storm. Ah'm goin' in t'see if he .
. . they are all right."
"No, child. It's too dangerous, I will not allow you
"Sorry, sugah. Ah've never got nowhere obeyin' other
people; only by listenin' to mahself have Ah done anythin'."
She flew in the direction of the factory.
"Rogue! Come back!" Storm yelled. "By the
Goddess, you'll get yourself killed."
Shaking her head clear, she realised that for Rogue to stand
any chance at all, she would have to extinguish the flames.
She raised her hands in supplication to the heavens. Clouds
gathered above the factory and rain poured from the sky, slicking
down her body, down the factory, putting out the flames. Smoke
billowed in huge wings from the husk of the building, obscuring
the young woman from Mississippi, and Storm offered a simple
prayer to the Goddess in whom she so strongly believed.
"Bright Lady, if she is to die, let it not be because
she loved somebody."
Rogue coughed, her lungs full of the grey cloud that shrouded
her. Her eyes burnt, and tears streamed down her face, caused
only partially by the acrid smoke. She looked around. No figures
moved in the shadows, betraying their existence. There was
only the eerie, shimmering blanket of smoke; insubstantial
and uncaring, it embraced and suffocated her simultaneously.
A cough, not hers. Perhaps . . . she barely dared to hope
that either of them could be alive.
Clearing her throat, she managed to call: "Remy? Hank?
Is that you?"
No answer, less hope. She tried again. "Sugah? Please
answer me. Please."
More tears and another cough. Trusting her instincts, she
flew in the direction from which she thought it came. Her
instincts didn't fail her. They were lying on the floor, barely
breathing, shallow, asthmatic gasps that rent their diaphragms
"Hold on. Don't die on me." She whispered as she
slung them over her shoulders. She could feel her strength
deserting her, the smoke gaining possession of her.
"Ah can't . . . give up. . . ." Rogue grunted,
"As much foh me as foh him."
In desparation she flew up, breaking the ceiling as she passed
through. Fresh air filled her lungs and she drank it in thirstily.
She barely had time to place them on the floor, before she
"Quick. Someone help them." The words drifted through
her half-conscious mind until she too fell into a deep sleep.
Continued in Chapter
1. Atalanta was an athlete and a huntress who disposed of
her potential suitors by challenging them to a foot race.
When they lost she would decapitate them. Eventually one man,
Hippomenes, beat her by dropping golden apples, given to him
by Aphrodite, by the side of the road. She would pick them
up, delaying her. He won the race and her hand in marriage.
2. The quotation at the end of the FOH paragraph was paraphrased
from a Robert Burns poem.
(I can't plagarise) It actually is: 'the best laid plans of
mice and men gang aft agley.'
Part 6 Preview
Rogue. Gambit. More corny sayings than you can shake a stick
at. Down time. Recuperation.
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