Remy had been no more than nineteen when Sinister had come to him. A year before, he had met the scientist, when Sinister had performed delicate brain surgery upon Remy to control his dangerous and destructive powers. Essex had effectively lobotomised Remy, removing part of his brain that defined his considerable mutant abilities. He had imposed limits on the young man, he could only charge inanimate objects below a certain size, and he had to make physical contact with the object too, skin to skin.

Sinister had kept the material he had removed from Gambit as a future bargaining chip. Remy remembered the night Sinister came to him, offering him the vial that contained a small portion of his brain. Remy had done the job too, accepted the offer. He had gathered a group of mutants together for Sinister, a group that became known as the Marauders. He recruited former associates and a few hired mercenaries. Had he known their true purpose, he would have been sick.

That fateful night, Remy led the Marauders into a secret community, the Morlocks, a group of physically deformed mutants that lived beneath the streets of Manhattan. He did not realise at the time that the Marauders had been ordered to kill all the Morlocks. Gambit had been disgusted by his actions, and when he tried to fight against his allies, he was nearly killed. He saved those that he could but the event had etched itself in his mind forever. It was his greatest sin, his darkest hour.

His mind snapped back to the present as he heard the sound of splintering word above him. He heard the screech of the nightmare creature as it swooped down towards the floor. The demon was six foot long, its sinewy body tipped by a short prehensile tail. Large, bat-like wings stretched out as the creature hovered. Its eyes were black as deepest night, set in a sloped head, tipped by a series of small sharp horns. The demon’s hands and feet ended in wicked curved claws.

Another demon, identical to the first, fluttered above Remy’s captive form. The archer gasped, then reacted instinctively, sending an arrow plunging into the wing of the first demon. The creature cried out as it tumbled to the ground. Unfortunately, before the archer could reload, the second demon raked its claws along the man’s back. He shrieked, and spun away from the demon, backing away, trying to escape. The watchman that stood beside Remy was overpowered in second, as the injured demon flattened him with ease. Remy knew he had to help, he had to escape, or he would end up as a finger buffet.

Sweat stood out on Gambit’s brow as he activated his powers, sending a small biokinetic charge snaking along the chain that held him. He concentrated, controlling the flow of energy, allowing the chain to conduct the charge. Mere seconds later, the charge reached the steel hoops that had been driven into the stone wall. He released the charge and the chain fell away. Remy pushed himself up, feeling the blood flow returning to his limbs, his skin and muscles prickling with heat. He sent a charge into the two bonds secured to his wrists, detonating the locks and freeing him completely. He winced as the flesh on his wrists was scorched by the explosive discharge.

He looked around, the archer had escaped but the watchman lay unconscious, the injured demon ready to deliver the killing blows. Remy grabbed a length of chain and whipped it at the demon’s head. The steel struck the creature and wound around its neck like a metal leash. The demon hissed at Remy, and began tugging on the chain, trying to free itself. Remy smiled at the nightmare before him, and without mercy, triggered his powers. Tendrils of magenta energy crept along the chain towards the demon. Its obsidian eyes flared and it struggled more urgently. Remy dropped the chain and in one fluid moment, dragged the injured watchman away. Two seconds later the chain exploded, and the top half of the demon’s body was reduced to fine red mist and gore.

Remy grabbed the fallen watchman’s sword as the second demon came screaming at him. Gambit pivoted, turning to the side as the demon’s claws flashed harmlessly pass his back. Remy turned in a wide arc, the sword outstretched. He grunted as the blade met some resistance, then he watched as the demon’s decapitated body fell to the ground. The head rolled away into the shadows.

Seconds later, Gambit was out in the street. The scene around him was like a horror movie, demons swooped and dived, ripping humans to shreds with their claws and teeth. The watchmen and archers fought desperately to halt the advance of the invading party. Gambit spotted a watchman fighting for his life, and intervening, he drove the demon back so the two could finish it off. The watchman had a bandoleer of knives strung across his chest. Gambit motioned to them and the man shrugged them off, passing them to the outlander whom had saved his life. Gambit slung the straps across his chest in a crude ‘X’ shape, and chuckled at the irony that even in a strange land, he felt the need to plaster an ‘X’ on himself.

He spotted Calidorn fighting on a rooftop, expertly bringing demon after demon crashing to the ground with his archery skills. However, one creature managed to slip through and although Calidorn shot an arrow straight through its head, the demon’s momentum, now dead weight, rammed into the ranger, knocking him off the roof and onto the ground. Another winged demon landed lightly astride Calidorn, and raised its razor sharp talons to rend the ranger limb from limb. Gambit snatched a knife from his bandoleer and threw it with deadly accuracy. The small blade penetrated the side of the demon’s head, plunging into the creature’s brain. Calidorn looked to see who his saviour had been and the look of surprise brought a smile to Gambit’s lips.

Remy caught a whisper of movement behind him and instantly rolled forward along the ground. The demon that attacked him was a much different breed indeed. It stood at least six and a half feet tall, and its body was solid muscle, the colour of burnt wood. Two horns protruded from the side of its head, its yellow eyes were feral and dangerous. Gambit leapt to his feet, launching a kick at the demon’s head. It connected with a sickening crunch but the creature was unfazed by the attack, and with a sweep of its arm, Remy found himself lying flat on his back, reeling from the hammer blow of the demon’s fist.

Gambit had only one chance as the demon brought its fists together to pummel the mutant into the ground. As the fists fell, he rolled out of the way of the blow, but not before he had plunged a knife into the chest of his opponent. The demon stared down at the hilt protruding from his chest, perhaps vaguely wondering why it was glowing with purple light. Gambit cringed as the knife exploded, the biokinetic charge detonating. The demon’s torso simply disappeared.

Gambit lay for a long minute, panting, trying to get his breath back, he didn’t understand where he was, or why a bunch of creatures straight out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel were trying to eat him. A shadow fell over him and he looked up into the grim face of the ranger, Calidorn, who extended his hand to Remy and helped him to his feet. Both men regarded each other for a few moments and then took off in opposite directions, to aid the battle.

Ten minutes and four demons later, Gambit heard cries of fear emanating from beside a small wooden house. He looked around for a weapon and spotted a corpse, clutching a long wooden staff. Remy crouched beside the dead man, whose eyes were frozen with fear, his body eviscerated. Remy paused to flick two fingers over the man’s face, closing his eyes and mouthed a solemn apology. Then he stood, angry at the death that surrounded him. He twirled the staff in his hands, testing its weight and balance, then he turned the corner. A farmer and his family had been cornered by two reptilian demons, their faces etched with fear. Gambit whistled, attracting the demons to his presence. Their yellow eyes glinted as they threw themselves at him. Gambit dodged both opponents, whirling the staff above his head, bringing it around in an arc that connected with one demon’s head.

He reversed his grip and drove the point of the staff into the midriff of his other attacker. He noted with satisfaction that the farmer, his wife and his children had already fled. Good, he thought, his red eyes burning with anger, don’ have ta hold back no more. Two minutes later, Gambit stepped out of the alley, the demons both dead at his feet. Within another hour, the battle was over.

The survivors had begun to gather at the centre of the settlement, the watchmen and rangers, farmers and shopkeepers, some tired, some injured. Remy joined them reluctantly, several suspicious sets of eyes watching him closely as he picked his way through the devastation. He sat down heavily on the front steps of the town hall, his head bowed, his breathing ragged as the scene around him assaulted his senses. It reminded him too much of the Morlock Massacre of many years ago, and he felt the shame and anger welling up in him again.

Calidorn spotted Gambit and sat down beside the tired thief, offering him a drink of water. Remy did not raise his head but he accepted the refreshment willingly. Calidorn cleared his throat, unsure of what he should say to the man he had condemned, a man who had saved his life.

“Thank you,” he breathed, “I… I am indebted to you, thief.” He smiled, “You did not tell me your name, outlander.”

Remy turned to look at the ranger, “You didn’ give me much chance, mon ami.”

Calidorn looked embarrassed, “I apologise… for my treatment of you, I saw your red eyes and I assumed…” He let the rest of the statement trail off. “You can understand my suspicion, with what you have seen tonight.”

Remy nodded, “You can call me Gambit.” He paused, “This kind of thing happen often?”

The ranger sighed, “Usually, they would only raid us perhaps once every two seasons, however, it has only been a half season since they last attacked.” He looked around at the weary crowd that had gathered. “Every time they come, we lose more people,” He paused, the pain in his voice evident. “They come from the mountains, and the evil that lives there.”

The grim moment passed and Calidorn looked again at Gambit. “I must admit, in my experience, thieves generally do not risk their lives for others.”

Remy’s reply was filled with heartfelt emotion, “Ain’t de first massacre I seen, promised I’d never stand by again…”

Calidorn clapped him on the back, “Then I am glad you helped us outlander, otherwise I would surely be dead.” He held out his hand to Gambit, “Welcome to Greenhaven, Gambit.”

Remy shook his hand tentatively. Calidorn smiled. “Are you a user of magic?” He asked. “The red eyes, the flash of power that came from your hands?”

Remy snorted, “Non, I not be a magician, but I am a little more den human. Where I come from, I be called ‘mutant’.” Calidorn frowned, “I do not know that word, where is it you hail from?”

Remy smiled, his eyes glowing faintly, “You could say I come from beyond de veil, mon ami. But looks like I be ‘ere ta stay.”

“Then you are welcome, I could do with some more fighters at my side.” Calidorn replied.

Remy stood up, his clothes were ruined, ripped and torn, splattered with blood, but his eyes burned with a fiery passion. These people had been preyed upon, broken down and built back up, they had been tortured and killed. Gambit did not know how many had died tonight, he just knew that he would do something about it, even if he had to take the fight back to the creature that sent the hellspawn here in the first place. I failed de Morlocks when I was a pup, he thought grimly, damned if I gonna fail dese people too.

To Be Continued…

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