Gambit (2nd series) #4

Issue Date: 
December 1997
Story Title: 
Heaven’s Promise

Terry Kavanach & Howard Mackie (writers), Klaus Janson & Bill Sienkiewicz (pencils), Christie Scheele (colors), Starkings/Comicraft (letters), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Sybil opens her mouth and out spreads locusts, which attack Gambit and Anielle. Gambit has the hardest time defending himself and Anielle. Finally, Anielle gets enough from it all and says that she is the light. As Sybil looks at Anielle when she says those words, her body shatters into hundred pieces of pure light! Gambit thanks Anielle, and they continue their ride towards Rome. Meanwhile, Stoker becomes aware of Sybil’s death and transforms Katrina into the Black Kat and makes her serve him. Once in Rome, Gambit tries to find the safest way to get to Father Bonavita, the priest to whom he must bring Anielle. But, before he can do that, they are both once more attacked by Stoker, Katrina and Vatican people, whom Stoker has turned into zombies. Gambit and Anielle fight their way through but are quickly outnumbered. Anielle decides to do something and walks over to Stoker. Gambit tries to stop her, but Anielle smiles at him and makes it clear that she wants to go. Anielle and Stoker take each other’s hand and vanish into the air. Katrina is brought back to normal and Gambit takes goodbye from her and from Father Bonavita. The next morning, he pays Tante Mattie a visit, but she makes Gambit think that she wasn’t there and doesn’t know what he is talking about! Gambit is now even more confused than he already was, but Mattie gives him one final piece of advice and says to him that things aren’t always that black-and-white. Some time later, Gambit goes to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, and notices Katrina praying in civilian clothes. Katrina leaves without noticing Gambit, and he decides not to go talk to her. Instead, he places the Cross of Redemption he stole earlier back to the original cross where it was taken from. Gambit kneels before it and disappears into the shadows.

Full Summary: 

Sybil opens her mouth and releases a horde of attacking locusts on both Gambit and Anielle. Gambit tries to keep his face covered while fighting the locusts to protect himself from harm, but that isn’t so easy. He and Anielle try to retreat, but Sybil’s hellhound Cerebrus cuts the way off.

Sybil shouts at Gambit that she wishes that he could see what she is seeing. She explains that the left track of the train railroads leads to a completed tunnel, as intended. It cuts safely on south through the Italian Alps toward to Gambit’s final destination of Rome. The right track, on the other hand, is not finished yet. Sybil reveals that she forced the switch-box of the railroads herself. Now, it’s a win-win-win situation for the demoness. She tells Gambit that, should he abandon the train, everyone else on board of the train will jump into sudden painful deaths. But should Gambit decide to stay on the train, Sybil continues, he too will die! But Sybil says that she will spare the Cajun if he hands Sybil over to her.

Gambit himself can’t see anything no more. He can only hear nothing but Sybil’s screeching. He decides to use that to his advantage. Gambit tries to concentrate on the noise, runs quickly to her and kicks her down! The locusts fly away from him and Sybil is stunned. Gambit realizes that his victory hasn’t come yet, because he still has to deal with the train tracks. He takes a playing card out of the pockets of his pants and charges it up. He knows that this isn’t going to be about his bio-kinetic mutant energy powers, but about his skill. A practiced skill he owes all to himself. The trick is not so much about power, as precision. He throws the card against the tracks, and hopes that a short circuit might trip the switch-box back to the default setting. Luckily, the plan works and the train heads into the right direction. Gambit happily smiles, but that feeling soon turns over into something worse, when Cerebrus attacks him again! And Sybil stands up, too.

Gambit orders Anielle to run and go to Vatican City herself and search for Father Bonavita of the Grigori Order, where Katrina was part off. “Never,” Anielle shouts. She promises Gambit that, in the name of Stoker himself, the sword of darkness and depths, that with or without Gambit’s covenant of delivery, the just-fallen will never belong to the light again! Gambit hears Anielle’s voice in his head again, but this time, her song is getting louder. It seems like it’s clearer to. And he is right about that statement: Anielle speaks: “I… am… the… light!” Sybil looks at her, and her body shatters into hundred pieces of pure light. “Amen to dat…” Gambit says, while relaxing from the fight. He lies down on top of the train and Anielle goes to lie next to him, and they lay like this for the rest of the ride.

Elsewhere, Katrina takes off her clothes and walks over to Stoker. Surrounded by fire, Stoker informs her that Sybil is gone. But he doesn’t care, because now, his little kitten has come. He laughs.

Some time later, Gambit and Anielle arrive in Rome, but decides to go underground for safety reasons. Gambit remembers what a long and strange way this trip has been. He recalls how innocent it all started. Gambit remembers that he stole the Cross of Redemption from some Cliban mob member in Miami Beach, just to keep his mind of other things, referring to Rogue and the X-Men, and a history of mistakes he has been running from for too long. But that all changed when his old teacher, Tante Mattie, showed up and told him about some spiritual things and told Gambit that he didn’t get to choose.

Next thing he knew, Gambit remembers how he met Anielle and began to rescue her from someone or something, in the shadows. Gambit remembers how he died, at least as close as he wants to be coming for a long, long time, until he was rescued by Marcelo and Katrina, who told him about some spiritual things about the Grigori, which is some sort of religious secret sect that is dedicated to all of the Lord’s work. But unfortunately, Gambit remembers how Marcelo was killed, for good, at the hands of Sybil and her zombies. And of course Gambit remembers his amoureux Sister Katrina, who ended up in the hands of Oliver Stoker himself, a devil who is after Anielle.

But Gambit wants to know what he has got to do with all of this. He knows that he cased the Vatican enough times before, weighing the odds, considering all the possibilities, to know that the Bell Arch Gate is the most publicly accessible. And Gambit also knows that the city is protected by a “Swiss guard continent,” like he calls it. Gambit assumes that a hefty horde of the seemingly innocent people who are hustling the Piazza this morning, are actually Stoker’s pet demons, who only wear human skins and are already positioned and primed to tear him apart, as soon as they catch him and Anielle’s scents. And Gambit knows that they are out of miracles.

There’s nothing much left of Anielle’s glow any more. Not since she did whatever it was to kill Sybil. And Gambit can hardly even hear her song either. But if Anielle is really what people say that she is, what Gambit hopes as well, what he hopes she can be… to him… Gambit knows that it’s up to him to get Anielle out of there as soon as possible. Anielle and Gambit look at each other and Anielle kisses him.

The kiss is disturbed by a growl. A startled Gambit looks up and can’t believe his eyes: it’s Cerebrus! Or rather, one of a legion of Cerebruses, an entering Stoker reveals. Gambit tells Anielle to go out of the sewers while he covers her back. Anielle does, but Stoker isn’t impressed and continues to explain that his hellhounds are an ancient lineage. They are apparently more pure and true than humans. Stoker tells Gambit that he would do well to respect all their places in the scheme of things. The scheme of things to come.

Gambit, while climbing out of the sewer as well, notices that Stoker is carrying a limp with him and asks why. “Injuries sustained in a… fall,” Stoker reveals. “A long fall,” he is afraid. “Long ago.” But Stoker tries not to let his injury slow him down. Gambit and Anielle make it to the top of the street and find out that Stoker’s statement is correct, as he makes it above at the same time!

Gambit concludes that Stoker is good, but Gambit always has got one last ace up his sleeve and throws a charged-up play card against Stoker. The explosion makes Stoker bounce back and gives Gambit and Anielle some time to run away. To himself, Gambit realizes that was the last card he threw away. The townspeople notice Gambit and Anielle and attack them. Gambit can’t tell friend from foe under these circumstances, so he tries to knock out everyone who comes at him. The people transform into demons and rage towards Gambit. Gambit picks up some bricks and charged-up throws the bricks against the demons, but they quickly recover and outnumber Gambit and Anielle. The Guardian wants to lock up the church to protect it from harm, but Father Bonavita holds them. The Guardian don’t understand it, but Bonavita tells them all to have faith.

Stoker tells Gambit that neither he nor Anielle will ever reach the holy ground. Dead or alive. Stoker says that Sybil’s sacrifice – forcing Gambit and Anielle to abandon the train far earlier than they had planned – allowed him more than enough time to prepare a proper welcome for them there. Gambit tries to have a good look at the bad situation and can’t believe it when he sees an old friend. Stoker introduces her as the Black Kat, but Gambit easily recognizes her a turned evil Sister Katrina! And on Katrina’s shoulder sits someone who calls himself Wormwood.

Father Bonavita sacredly runs out of the church and asks Stoker what he did to Katrina. More to the point, Wormwood mumbles, is what Gambit has done to the little Sister and asks him what the noble thief has stolen from her. Gambit tries to explain that he didn’t have a choice and had to run and abandon her in the fire that she started. That it was all part of the plan to get Anielle there to Father Bonavita and the Grigori sect that might be able to send Anielle back home again.

But before Gambit can finish his sentence the Black Kat slashes him with her claws. Bonavita shouts at Katrina and tells her that he can’ t believe she would actually raise her hand like that to another. Gambit notices the priest and tells him to get back into the church before it’s too late. But Gambit’s warning comes too late and Stoker commands Katrina to grab Bonavita by his throat, and she does as told. Stoker says that he can’t believe that Gambit still doesn’t understand it. Stoker asks Gambit if he finally sees the value of such gray, flawed humans such as himself and the Black Kat, who are able to cross so many sacred boundaries of black and white and are able to deliver one unto the other. Stoker tries to take Anielle’s hand, but Gambit frees himself from the demons and prevents Stoker from doing so by jumping between the two.

Gambit says that he understands. He says that to keep the light from burning dark directly, Gambit now realizes that Stoker used him from the beginning, because he needed him to handle Anielle. “Or one like you,” Stoker says. Stoker tells Gambit to believe him and says that they are legion. Found over Gambit’s dead body, if necessary, over all humans dead bodies, but Stoker tells Gambit that the choice is his. It always has been. Stoker reveals that Katrina’s soul is still relatively intact, despite the innocence Gambit so casually shattered and can still be saved, if Gambit hands over Anielle to him. Gambit doesn’t believe anything the demon says.

Gambit wants to attack Stoker, but Anielle stops him and walks over to Stoker. Gambit tries to hold her, but Anielle simply gives him a smile. She takes off Gambit’s coat and walks to Stoker. Stoker is glad to be together again with Haneal, and says the following phrase: “Fire shall melt ice, water shall cool flames. And, together, they shall create a force to survive the reckoning, spawning a third millennium beyond nature’s wildest imagination.” Then they disappear into the air.

Wormwood can’t believe this is happening to him and that he is left behind. Gambit runs over to Katrina and makes her drop Father Bonavita. Katrina is back to normal. Bonavita says that Haneal is gone, and that she took Stoker with her. The Father suspects that Anielle was merely ephemera: an angel created for one specific purpose and granted a very limited lifespan. Gambit recalls how Anielle told him that he made her special. He and one other. Gambit takes a look at the scarred Katrina and realizes that she was the other.

Bonavita concludes that it seems that the devil got what he wanted, but that it would appear to have been the far less valuable prize. Bonavita explains that souls come so effortlessly to him in these dark days, that Stoker ignored his “easy catch” for a shot at the brighter, more alluring jewel. But luckily, Gambit did not. Not when it counted. In the end, Gambit realized the priceless value of one woman’s soul over everything else in all creation and just may have found his own in the process.

Gambit is afraid that it’s not that easy. Not for him, he adds. Gambit says that a man died because of this. A good man, in the service of his Lord. Bonavita promises that he and Katrina will grieve and pray for Brother Marcelo together. He says that no soul alone can save itself. Bonavita explains that it takes a human spirit to salvage a human spirit and, when one does redeem another, perhaps it also redeems itself. “If,” Gambit says, “And only if he chooses to believe so…”

Gambit walks out of the church and the Guardians lock it up. It starts to rain and Gambit gets passed by Wormwood and Cerebrus. Wormwood notices that Gambit still doesn’t understand what happened. The little creature says that, in the end-times, as the light fails, all will turn to the dark for its familiar comfort and that you don’t get to choose. Wormwood and Cerebrus walk away and leave a confused Gambit behind.

The next morning, Gambit returns to Louisiana in New Orleans and visits Tante Mattie. Gambit tells Mattie that she told him more than once that he didn’t get to choose. “Really?” Mattie asks. Was this before she was a floating ghost what no could see but Gambit, or when he was losing oxygen to his brain during the drowning. “Both,” Gambit replies. And then, he tells to Mattie, Wormwood repeated it in Stoker’s voice, before vanishing. Gambit asks Mattie if she is trying to tell him that she wasn’t there and has no idea what he is talking about? Gambit doesn’t understand that, because Katrina told him that Mattie was the one who led her and Marcelo to rescue him in Miami. Mattie says that, what she is trying to say, that it’s just not all that black-and-white…

The next evening, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City…

While standing on a balcony of the chapel, Gambit notices Katrina praying, but she is in civilian clothes. Katrina seems stronger to Remy, surer of step somehow, but out of her habit. Katrina walks away just as Gambit jumps down, without seeing him. Gambit knows that just a word is all it would take, a chance to see if Katrina is all right. Gambit hesitates for a moment, but… no. Gambit considers that his damage here is done. All that is left to do is a measure of restoration. Missing pieces, like the Cross of Redemption, lost in shadows for so long, dulled by darkness, finding their way home again, into the light.

Gambit takes the Cross of Redemption out of his coat, and places it into a bigger cross, where it was stolen from. With the Cross of Redemption now complete again, Gambit kneels down before it and then disappears into the shadows.

Characters Involved: 


Anielle/the just-fallen/Haneal

Tante Mattie Baptiste


Oliver Stoker

Cerebrus II


Black Kat/Katrina

Father Miguel Bonavita

Vatican Guardian (unnamed)

various Vatican people turned into Zombies, later brought back to normal (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The events Gambit remembers can all be found in Gambit (2nd series) #1-3.

At this time, Gambit was having a hard time with all the bad things he did in his life before he joined the X-Men. More information about that is told and revealed in Uncanny X-Men #345-350.

Issue Information: 
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