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"Wild Cards"

Wild Cards

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
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26

This story is unfinished.

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 :-)

Wild Cards

Part 2


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 attending.

"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,, 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, Gumbo."

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 dryly.

"Yeah, Hank - so we've got a thief with 'tude - I think we can handle it," cracked Bobby, "what's the big deal?"

"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 people?"
"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 contributed.

"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 myself.

*Before I settle on a disguise, I'm going to have to do some research*

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 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 did.

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 servants...

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 my mind.

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 13.

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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