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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13


Written by Flitz
Last updated: 08/24/2008 12:48:30 PM

Chapter 11

Gambit shifted uncomfortably at his damp perch beside one of the largest trees he’d ever had the misfortune to see. The scent of covering snow something you could almost, but not quite categorize. Not a wafting scent, but an overwhelming one unperturbed by most human influences. The only other scent that came close was the distinctive pine aroma filling the air that was so like his father’s after shave it almost hurt.

Whatever wonderment the unfamiliar snow-scape might have possessed for the watcher had long since been crushed. The red haired teen eased his weight to his right, tilting his head to bring the small rattletrap cabin into view once more. The roof, what remained of it, was in serious disrepair. Chunks of the material had been torn off after a bevy of winter storms. It wouldn’t be a refuge to any; mortar fitting the logs had long since eroded away. The place gave every appearance of being deserted, though it was difficult to tell through the gusts of wind kicking up the fallen snow that accompanied the change in scenery.

Only a few minutes after completing his first assignment for Shield and they’d thrown him another. The initial glow of a successful theft had ebbed very quickly after that, he’d been anticipating acquiring just a few hours of rest. Three days awake wasn’t something he hadn’t done before, but the sleep he’d gotten the days prior hadn’t been particularly restful either.

There had been a few hours in transit where the opportunity presented itself, but the teen hadn’t been able to convince his mind to let it’s guard down enough for his body to sleep. Twitchy and leaning towards punch-drunk the teen prepared for another theft for Shield. He gave a scant moment to wonder if Shield would have left him take his last mission if they knew he’d been well on his past inebriation when they picked him up. He’d even briefly considered declining the next assignment under the pretext of a hangover, but got the feeling that wouldn’t have gone over well.

His assignments were offbeat from what he usually practiced, but at least he was working. It gave him a temporary pass, an out from his life. And he needed it; at best the last week had been tumultuous, at worst it’d been the nightmare you didn’t speak about come to life.

They’d left straight away for this assignment, the target was assumed to be highly mobile, and had to be reached before the variables shifted again, forcing them to retrace the package. Squinting over the bright swirls of snow the young thief failed to see what was so urgent. Than again, experience told him that occasionally the most interesting items were hid in the most innocuous, peculiar places.

One thing the thief was rapidly tiring of was the horrendous lack of information he was being given. The objective was all they felt necessary to impart to him, details of the heists were minimal at best, whatever the final results of his work was, he’d probably never know. Here, he was for the retrieval of a bundle of blueprints which illustrated a secured governmental installation that had been stolen during the previous week. Though the Shield contingent was irritatingly tightlipped the teen had gotten the feeling that the original thief had already sold their bounty and he was being sent after the buyer. Hopefully before the buyer had chance to either utilize or copy the blueprints.

Work however, wasn’t the release it used to be. He was functioning, he knew he’d made it past the shock era of his pere’s death. He’d been forced to. But the young Cajun was aware that while the memory of his father’s death was mislaid, it was only a temporary diversion. A thin cover over a still weeping wound. It could let him focus, let him work, let him function, but in the long run, the wound would only fester. He had not dealt with that death the way he would have wanted. But for now, he’d move on, and worry over the consequences later. Live in the now, past be damned.

Fighting to keep his skittering thoughts in line, Gambit inched his way further, keeping his eyes hooded against the brilliant glare of the fallen snow. Not leaving tracks in the soft piles of snow would be an impossibility, or at least a trick with which he wasn’t immediately familiar. For now, the only thing he could do to lessen the stark contrast they made in the deep snow was to try to arrange his steps through the minute openings offered by the tree branches.

The cabin door opened with a faint touch, responding with a low groan from the old wood, hinges not the only thing left unattended. A frayed blue quilt covered what appeared to be a self-manufactured bed, quality definitely lacking. A small chest of drawers that matched the rustic chair sitting across from the dingy open fireplace were the only features of the one-room dwelling.

A bundle of papers were set haphazardly on top of the dresser. Skilled fingers opened the documents, scores of views of the same set of blueprints, the same building, every entrance and exit outlined. Experience told him finding the prints was too easy into the point of ridiculousness. Paranoia told him it was because the worst was yet to come. And wisdom told him it was time to leave.

Rolling the set back into shape before folding them over once more, he stuffed them into an inner pocket of the unmarked uniform. Not for the first and probably not the last wishing for the presence of his duster, slick leather fitting like a second skin multiple pockets homes to weapons and tools both. As it was, he was down in weaponry, for some reason Shield didn’t seem too keen on giving him weapons. Though it was odd how they had fought to give him a partner on the last run, and they hadn’t even hinted on it for this mission. Maybe they’d wised up, knowing he’d only leave the clueless men behind, or maybe there was something out here they didn’t want their men to come up against.

Shutting the door behind him as quietly as possible, the Cajun darted a few quick glances around cautiously. He continued the flitting glances a few hundred feet beyond the cabin before he realized what was bothering him. There was no sound other than what was being created by his own movements.

He halted suddenly, the soft crunch of the snow ceasing as he stilled. Crimson pupils scanned the snow covered scene as the wind picked up tousling shoulder-length auburn locks. The feeling of being watched blossomed and grew, but the landscape remained bereft of anything his senses could discern as human motion. Back muscles tightened with unease shifting under their cloth cover, but he picked up his feet regardless, starting back toward the waiting helicopter.

A scant undulation of the atmosphere that he almost missed was all the warning he received as the teen spun wildly, unbalanced in the deep snow. A thick blur of gold and brown filled his vision as he was carried through the air slamming into the ground roughly. The charged cards that he had prepared slipped from his grasp energy trails streaming out behind them. The explosions showering him with snow and dirt, muted puffs as the miniature geysers of snow extended upwards. The miniscule amount of snow that was falling startled, reversing its trajectory before beginning to attempt another descent.

His breath had left him in a hurry as he impacted with the ground and a strong hand enclosed over his throat preventing him from drawing another. Gambit fastened his hands unto the pair of arms that held him aloft, valiantly trying to pull the muscled appendages apart. He kicked out with a pair of limber legs, letting his arms hold his weight. The young thief caught purchase once before his attacker drew his body closer as the red eyed mutant dangled.

A low growl brought his vision up from the pinpoint of concentration he’d become trying to twist out of the chest shakingly tight hold. A pair of golden eyes seemed to contain his entire world, only inches from his own. The face retreated slightly, the grip on his throat loosened just enough for the young mutant to draw a shaky breath, the tines of the creature’s claws feeling as if they’d meet in the middle behind his larynx.

“Hey kid, nice trick,” he growled, flashing a set of enlarged canines. Long yellowed hair tangled crazily down to the man’s shoulder. His dark brown clothes a combination of cotton and indecipherable furs, neither of which appeared to be enough to withstand the cold northern temperatures. The man was huge, easily seven feet and muscled, the eerie eyes and sharp canines a dead giveaway to his mutant status. On the defensive, the thief met the penetrating gaze of his mutant attacker, preparing himself for a break in his opponent’s scrutiny. A few feet off the ground he was eye level with the angry mutant.

“Tell me who sent ya,” snarled the larger mutant, “your scents all over my cabin. I don’t like visitors, especially government-bred punks like you.”

“Yeah I got dat,” managed a dry throated Gambit, a slight wheeze behind his reply. Golden eyes narrowing, the burly blonde changed his grip, hurling the thief away with one massive arm. The auburn mutant attempted to gain control over his hurried departure, not wanting to smack headfirst into the tree that was rapidly overtaking his vision. Only partially successful his right shoulder took the majority of the hit, the angle, but not the speed of the throw altered. The jarring impact sent an erupting fire radiating down his arm, the only thing that told him it wasn’t dislocated. Taking a moment to breathe as he gathered his feet under himself, Gambit caught the looming visage of the feral mutant entirely too close for his comfort.

“Spill your guts kid, or I’ll help ya along,” he threatened brandishing inch long curved claws, the ever-present growl underlying his speech, the sound reverberating through the quiet woods. Predator and prey had long since taken their leave upon the entrance of the animalistic mutant.

“Sorry, was I supposed t’ know y?” the young thief questioned liltingly, humor lacing his words. The Cajun struck out quickly scissoring his legs through the ferals, a charged card slipping out to help the process along. The muscled predator roared as he fell abruptly to the ground, the card’s discharge burning through clothing and skin leaving a raw blistered patch.

“Looks like de situation been reversed neh?” taunted the lithe thief having regained his wind, his bo stick at full extension twirling. The older man stood quickly and ebony backed eyes widened, watching the recently inflicted wound heal before him, flesh creeping over the wound repairing itself. The older mutant grinned up at the red eyed mutant before regaining his stance with a throaty chuckle,

“I do tricks too.”

Gambit had a moment of clarity to realize the level had been upped before he was well and truly embroiled in the fight. Taking the initiative, the auburn haired thief rushed forward slamming his bo into the larger mutants foot, shifting his grip quickly to strike the shoulder, every ounce of strength he could gather behind it, bo stick discharges ergs of energy at every blow. Sensing his opponent off balance the youth struck again, his abdomen strike halted by a clawed hand raking down its length ripping it from his hands angrily. Gambit kept his eye on blonde mutant, not having the luxury of watching the glittering bo’s resting place.

The muscular mutant chuckled eerily and drew the teen in. Gambit’s arm deflected a low blow, returning the favor with a fist to the side of the golden eyed mutant’s face, effectiveness hampered by his earlier injury. The feral shook it off as a minor inconvience grabbing the thief before he could launch his next attack and landed a vicious backhand to the youth leaving him dazed and stumbling backwards.

The next blow came too soon and the youth ducked instinctually, the force of the unfinished attack ruffling his hair back. A handful of cards were released, giving him the scant moments he needed recompose himself. The majority hit their target, but what little good they did while the wounds healed nearly as soon as they were made. The youngest LeBeau had noticed the hesitancy of his kinetic power, it was charging slower and with less force than it should. It was a temporary weakening that the southerner knew would return his powers greater and stronger than before. That fact held no comfort as the next swipe of the sharpened claws hit high on his thigh. Remy returned with a stiff arm to the collarbone, knowing that in any other person it might have well as snapped it.

Remy slid under the upcoming hit knowing full well he was putting himself at the disadvantage, in this fight the terrain wasn’t on his side, the sloppy surface wouldn’t support the acrobativeness that he’d ingrained into his fighting style. Staying upright was probably his best bet, but without taking a few risks, his chance of winning the fight diminished.

Turning abruptly Gambit came behind the bestial, delivering an elbow to the kidney, even the regenerative mutant had to feel. Releasing a heady growl of displeasure the animalistic mutant pivoted sharply for a man of his stature grabbing for the elusive form of the thief, hand slipping before claws could sink in. A successive amount of attacks and the creature drew closer, the glowing cards reducing in frequency, the teen appearing increasingly disheveled as the battle wore on.

Just a moment or two longer, Gambit promised himself. Rather than bemoaning all the factors on his environment that made a physical confrontation more difficult, he would turn it around, using the relatively unfamiliar terrain to his advantage. The raggedy haired blonde’s attacks drew him ever nearer, a stiff ribcage testament to that fact. Finally their patterns had taken them underneath the heavily burdened tree limb he’d spotted. Hoping to pause his opponent for the much needed time the teen executed a string of backhands arms wobbling slightly under the stain of keeping a level under the shifting surface.

The confused mutant growled, never realizing his fate as the sparkling barrage of cards from the remaining deck streamed towards him angled sharply above. The resulting sounds of the explosion overwhelmed the warning crack as the thick branch released from it’s housing swiftly dropping. A quick smile drew over the teen’s face and he quirked an eyebrow, casting his crimson pupils upwards. The over muscled mutant was able to glance upwards in time to understand his predicament but not soon enough to alleviate it. A direct hit to the cranium, the feral mutant was sent slumping, twitching to the turf.

The momentary victory was only that and Remy made a run for it. He had the documents he came after, and the numerous injuries he’d accumulated convinced him he didn’t need to stay around to end the fight conclusively. When dealing with someone who could heal so rapidly, it seemed the cards were not in his favor. Especially considering that his powers had taken the most inopportune time to rejuvenate themselves. Tapping into his charm wasn’t an available option either, the youth wasn’t sure if he’d be able to withstand the backlash if he accessed it again. By itself it wasn’t overly strenuous, but coupled with his recent injuries and frequent use of his charm, being incapacitated in the arms of Shield wasn’t something he would consider, even if it won him the fight.

Refusing to look back, the momentarily lessening of his momentum would easily be enough for the behemoth that he’d left behind to take advantage of. He ran through the snow, desperate to keep his footing. The black helicopter he’d left behind came into view, the man waiting inside gestulating hurriedly. An intimidating roar echoed through the forest shaking the newly fallen snow from its branches. Gambit felt his stomach lurch at the sound, redoubling his effort to plow his way through the drifts.

A hand to his damaged side, the youth stumbled before retrieving his stride, breath easing in and out harshly. Doggedly refusing to give up even though his legs protested in time with his shoulder at every step. Spying the indescript helicopter, the youth almost pitched forward, it was lifting off. Watching the blades whirl in preparation, Gambit snuck a glance behind and regretted it instantly. The bestial was after him and entirely too close.

Forcing himself forward and praying to whatever saints had yet to desert him he leapt skidding slightly on the takeoff. He missed the ledge that he’d been aiming, but after a moment of heart-stilled silence and desperate scrambling he caught the edge of a landing rail.

The helicopter tilted dangerously with the unexpected weight, sending it unto a minor spin before the pilot righted it. Frantically promising to thank the pilot for his skill, after berating him for taking off in the first place, Remy flexed his arms pulling himself up the shaking helicopter. He managed to secure his right arm around the rail and was going for the left when a sharp tug and a surprised Cajun lost his grip, the gloves slick against wet rail.

His right arm remained wrapped around the rail tenaciously as his body slipping back down the side as the additional weight ripped muscle tissue flagrantly. The blonde scourge grinned up at him, mouth showcasing his paired fangs as he clung to his left leg, attempting to use the thief as a human ladder.

Alerted to the danger the pilot had begun swooping in the air trying to shake off the hitchhiker, high enough to prevent smashing into the treetops, and much too high to survive a fall. The Shield agent within the copter had taken it upon himself as well, the idiot brandished his weapon trying to hit the latest hanger-on. The shot unsurprisingly missed its target with another swoop of the helicopter, and Gambit swore he felt it whip past his ear.

Sending a disgusted look toward the officer would have been a waste of time, so the teen groped around in his pockets for a few stray cards. He had absolutely none, his former coat carried nearly eight packs, and even the uniform he’d had from Shield had carried four, but the cold-weather suit he’d been saddled with only had a few pockets and he had only been able to bring a singular pack. All of which had been used in his latest battle. He’d have happily replaced some of the other provisions with those very tractable weapons but hadn’t really been in a situation to refurnish them.

Groping hand catching on a flimsy bits of paper, the thief ripped the packet out of his pockets, time was not a quantity he had an abundance of. The blueprints were charged with only momentary indecision, he would come back with nothing for his trouble. Though he’d have his life, and the lives of the two men in the helicopter.

The mutant youth held it out from his body, exciting the molecules as fast as he could manage, dredging up the remainder of his power. The resulting bright red and orange light coated the sky, standing out like a beacon, an impossibly low star to anyone on the ground looking up, or perhaps an errant wisp of the aurora borealis.

A hurried pitch and the crumpled papers flew down, sweat trickling down his the side of his face as he watched. It drifted, not the precise accuracy he could accomplish with his regular cards. The thief’s eyes widened at the same instant the glowing projectile did, missing its target. He felt the grip on his leg tighten, and his heart hammered back into being, making up for lost time. Another shot echoed past in the same instant, this time he didn’t even flinch. The pilot dived sharply, and Gambit opened his eyes as his stomach flopped again, unaware he’d closed them. All the feeling had left his arm long ago, but he’d had enough feeling left to grin manically at the upcoming monster.

The dive, incidental or not had brought the feral mutant right in line with the still falling projectile that the Cajun had released. The impact was monstrous, hitting the oversized mutant square on the back. He roared in surprise as the vestiges of his back spattered behind him. Unwittingly he released his grip on the red haired thief, raking his claws down and around the leg as he passed underneath the copter projected by the blasts force.

Gambit choked somewhere between a gasp and a scream as the long claws ripped through his flesh, desperately trying to maintain any kind of a grip while the helicopter spun wildly in the backlash of an explosion of his own making. There were a few dizzying moments when he felt his arm let go of the rail, the accompanying officer’s sudden grip on his abused arm the only thing that safeguarded his life.

The red haired youth was arduously pulled on board, where both figures collapsed in exhaustion, one a little more warranted than the other. The pilot kept screaming back until the officer answered him wearily, the words lost to the overrun, overworked, and worked over thief. He slumped against the seats, head back gritting his teeth against the razor sensation of the claws cutting through his skin. Listening to the ranting of the agent over the loss of their target acquisition as he probed the wound before applying pressure. He’d need stitches, the parallel lines of claw marks wandered around his calf, the scant gap between the preventing it from being a macabre parody of a tattoo.

Now he’d have to head back unto the unwanted embrace of Shield, or perhaps even worse, the overzealous protection of Xavier’s crew. Definitely not to the beckoning golden warmth of his native New Orleans. But none of those particular concerns were forefront in his mind, muttering gone unheard under the drone of the blades,

“Merde dat stings.”


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