Back in San Francisco, Norman Osborn stood patiently on a rooftop, awaiting the return of his servant. He stood stock still, looking out over the city, surrounded by five of his Scriers. He heard the low drone of the glider and turned to where the sound was coming from, seeing the Green Goblin drifting towards the roof. The Scriers moved to the side and allowed the Goblin to land. He dumped Remy’s body unceremoniously on the gravel and stepped off his glider. He then handed the Devil’s Heart to his master.

Norman Osborn held the gem up, admiring the warm red glow that seemed to emanate from it. “Well done, m’boy, I see you haven’t disappointed me.” He gestured towards Gambit’s form; “This is the thief?”

“Yes my master,” was the Goblin’s only reply.

Osborn motioned to his Scriers. “Take the thief downstairs, and make sure he is firmly secured and unarmed. Advise me immediately when he awakes.”

Osborn watched as the Scriers lifted Gambit and proceeded to the stairwell. The Goblin followed them down a few seconds later. Norman stood alone now, the Heart in his hands, ah yes, the sweet taste of triumph, he thought. He turned and made his way down the stairs to the top floor of the building. He paused to summon the elevator and when the doors opened, he stepped in. He scanned the buttons and pressed one that had no number. After a few moments, the elevator began to descend.

After a minute, Osborn stepped out of the elevator into a metal lined corridor. He walked along to a door that slid open as he approached. Inside was a technical complex, sequestered within the confines of an old army fallout shelter. Bright fluorescent lights illuminated the scene around him as Scriers in dark robes passed by. In the observation bays, technicians clad in white coats conducted their experiments, oblivious to the activity around them. Osborn moved towards a particular doorway and palmed the release. The metal door slid open and he entered a dimly lit room. The room was square with rough stone lined walls, the only points of access being the door and a long observation window set high in the wall. In the exact centre of the room stood a pedestal, and around this pedestal was arranged twelve small rubies. Osborn took the Devil’s Heart and placed in on the pedestal and then stood back to admire the scene. The Devil’s chamber, recreated as it was in Egypt, and now the set is complete. Osborn’s smile was one of pleasure. Good, he thought, all is going according to plan.

As he left the chamber, one of his Scriers appeared at his side. “The thief is almost awake, my lord.”
Remy’s eyes fluttered open, and suddenly his head was awash with pain. He became aware of the bright light around him and he closed his eyes again. He was upright, stripped to the waist and chained to a cold metal wall, his arms separated while his feet were bound together. He remembered his fight with the Goblin and his last flippant comment, heh, how was I ta know dat his gloves fired lasers. He tried to chuckle, come ta t’ink o’ it, it sounds rather ridiculous, he shot me in de head wit’ his glove. He heard a door sliding open nearby and risked a look. His vision was still blurry and the light too bright, so all he could make out were three shapes. One he identified as the Green Goblin, the second one of the dark clad men he had fought outside the museum. The third person was a mystery.

“Turn the lights down,” the third man said. His voice was clam and even. Heh, sounds a little like ol’ Essex, but dat ain’t Sinister. Gambit thought for a moment, now why did I t’ink of de mad scientist?

The lights dimmed, and Remy opened his eyes wider, his vision was clearing and he saw his captors clearly now. The Green Goblin was still in his full attire, which to be honest was a little worse for wear after the scuffle he had earlier. The tall guy was exactly like the ones from the museum, some sort of cult? It was the third man that demanded his attention, obviously the boss of the group. He was tall, and seemed to be powerfully built, although he appeared to be in his late forties. His hair was a strange mixture of brown and auburn, laced over his head and kept closely cropped. His smile was cruel and undeniably evil, but his eyes were what surprised Remy, his eyes had a twinkle of madness, barely controlled emotion just waiting to burst. Only other homme I seen wit’ eyes like dat is Logan, but at least he’s on my side.

The third man opened his mouth to speak, “Ah, you are awake.” His eyes flashed again. “I regret I cannot offer you more comfortable surroundings at the moment but we may be able to come to some agreement.”

“A deal, huh?” was Remy’s reply. “First I got ta know who I be dealing wit’.” Gambit tipped his head towards the Goblin, “Him, I know, Green Goblin, badly dressed New York supervillian.” Then it dawned on him; “You’re Norman Osborn, aren’t ya?”

Osborn was surprised. “Very astute, my young thief, and how did you come to that conclusion?”

“’Remember reading a while back dat you were supposed to be de original Greeny, until ya died, or didn’t, or whatever happened to ya.” Gambit was uncomfortable, his back literally against the wall. Could blow a hole in dis place no prob, but haven’t a clue how long I was out or where I am.

“That has never been sufficiently proven, my friend.” Osborn took a step closer to Remy.

“Seems obvious from where I be hangin’” Gambit replied.

“Enough.” Osborn signalled Remy to be silent. “I did not bring you here so we could casually chat.”

At that moment, another Scrier entered the room and handed Osborn a manila envelope. Osborn merely nodded and opened the file. “Ah yes,” he said, “very good. Thank you, that will be all.” He motioned for the two Scriers and the Goblin to leave. Then Gambit was alone with Osborn. “What’s dat you got dere?” Remy asked curiously.

“This, Mr. LeBeau, is your life, on a piece of paper.” Osborn’s words were slow and deliberate as he began to pace around the room, reading the contents of the file. “Remy LeBeau, member of the infamous New Orleans Guild of Thieves. Obviously a family connection to Jean-Luc, but I do not see the family resemblance.” Osborn paused to look at Remy.

Remy felt very uneasy, not only did Osborn now know his name, he knew some of his background too. Jean-Luc LeBeau was the former head of the Guild and Remy’s adopted father, although Osborn obviously recognised the name. Did he have a personal connection to mon papa, or does he just know him by reputation? Osborn continued, “Suspected mutant, hmm, I believe we have confirmed that fact at least. Also known as Gambit, ah yes, the legendary and mythical thief that supposedly existed several centuries ago. Why, Mr. LeBeau, you have an excellent reputation, if these claims are indeed true, and I would not doubt the veracity of my intelligence agents.”

“Stop, you’ll embarrass me.” Remy said mockingly. Osborn threw the file aside and stepped close to Gambit’s face. “It would be advisable to take this situation very seriously, I am not a man known for his sense of humour.” The last words were said with disgust. “I consider tonight to be nothing more than a misunderstanding.” Norman said as he began to pace the room.

“You were obviously in the museum to steal some items and my operation interrupted your activities.” He stopped and looked at Remy. “I am not an unreasonable man, Mr. LeBeau, and I admit that someone of your considerable talents could indeed be useful on my full-time staff.”

Osborn smiled as he saw Remy’s red eyes widen. “The two mercenaries that you encountered are simply hired thugs, and since they have been arrested again, somewhat of a liability.” Osborn paused to pick up the file he had discarded. “Well, my young thief, are you interested in my offer? I assure you that you will be handsomely compensated for your services.”

Remy remained silent, until he could see the impatience welling up in Norman Osborn. Gambit smiled and said, “Hmm, let’s see, mon ami, my options appear ta be a little slim, non?” He lifted his head and made eye contact with his captor. “On de one hand, I could take a job as a professional t’ief on your staff, on the other hand, I could be brainwashed like de green Halloween reject, and become a professional t’ief on your staff.” He smiled again, “Dat is a tough decision, mon ami.”

Osborn bellowed in rage and backhanded Remy, snapping his head to the side. Gambit felt a trickle of blood run from the corner of his mouth. Osborn turned and punched a wall, hard, and then he seemed to regain his composure. “I will not be mocked, thief, and I assume your answer is no?”

“Was I dat obvious?” Remy asked with mock sincerity.

It was Osborn’s turn to smile. “There is a third option, thief, one I forgot to mention.” He walked towards the door and then paused. Turning towards Remy, he said, “The Devil’s Heart has the power to destroy organic matter, to completely disintegrate living organisms. I require a demonstration and you will be the subject.” Without another word, Osborn left the room.

An hour later, several Scriers came and brought Remy to a square room with rough stone walls, the only points of access being the door and a long observation window set high in the wall. In the exact centre of the room stood the Devil’s Heart on a raised pedestal, surrounded by it’s component gems. Remy was dumped rather unceremoniously on the floor and the Scriers retreated. Remy rose to his feet, his red eyes flashing in the dim light of the chamber. From the observation window, Osborn watched along with his technicians and the Green Goblin.

Osborn spoke into a microphone, “Goodbye, thief, at least your death will accomplish something.” Remy saw him motion to one of the technicians and heard the hum of electronics begin. Ta hell wit’ dis, I’m not gonna just stand here. Remy attempted to remove the Devil’s Heart but it was held solidly in place on the pedestal. I wonder what would happen if I charge it…? He thought.

Grasping the gem, he activated his powers and immediately knew something was wrong, his hands were trapped, pressed against the gem, as the Devil’s Heart began to drain the energy from Remy’s body. Gambit fell back, weakened by his attempt to destroy the gem. He dimly saw Osborn shouting orders and noticed that the Devil’s Heart was pulsating with a crimson light. The flashes from the jewels began to increase in intensity as the gems fed on Remy’s power.

Remy shuffled along the floor and pressed his back against the rough wall. He knew this was it, the end of his life, and as the Devil’s Heart poured out its otherworldly energy into the chamber, Gambit’s last thoughts were of his one true love, Rogue. Ma chere, Gambit loves you. And as he screamed Rogue’s name at the top of his voice, the crimson light washed over his body and his soul descended into darkness.

In the observation booth, Norman Osborn looked down at the empty chamber. “What just happened?” he asked. One of his technicians turned and said, “We’re not sure, sir, but I think the thief’s powers somehow activated the jewels. Other than that, we don’t know.”

Osborn smiled. “Still, the test was a success.” He turned and left the room, content that his new weapon worked as expected.

To Be Continued……

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