(Present - the banks of the Mississippi)
A ship is unloading its cargo late at night. Stark International security staff ensure the load is protected. A stocky guy in a white suit is overseeing proceedings, and thinks that Stark is overly cautious when it comes to his work. Stark seems to think that every new design of his will be targeted for industrial espionage. Suddenly, one of the crates being lifted by a crane explodes and out of it comes a swamp craft, surrounded by flames. Aboard it are two crates, along with Remy LeBeau carrying a suitcase.
As the swamp craft lands on the water with a huge splash, the boss orders his security staff to stop him; “He’s got the prototype.” They open fire on Remy, who smiles as he looks back at them. The smile is wiped from his face quickly, as he spots two more swamp crafts in hot pursuit, both with armed security aboard. They fire off round after round at Gambit’s boat, so he quickly charges a deck of cards and tosses it towards them. When it hits the water, the explosion tears the following crafts apart, leaving Remy to make his exit. Not a wise decision, he thinks, to steal from the tech company that bankrolls the Avengers!
Thinking he is okay, Remy is suddenly faced with a hovering attack helicopter, which fires at him from feet above the water. Remy steers the craft away but, when a couple of missles are launched in his direction, there is no escaping. Remy asks himself how he keeps on getting talked into doing this kinda stuff.
(Flashback - Bourbon Street, New Orleans, five hours earlier)
Madame Camille is holding a reading for a suited gentleman in her shop. She peers into her crystal ball, as the guy asks if he will ever find true love. Camille replies that it’s hard to see, but the path of the heart’s often the most clouded. She tells him that she sees he has come into some money recently. He admits that he has. She continues to say he sold a bundle of Revatech shares right before its stock took a tumble. This surprises the man. Camille continues to tell him that she sees an e-mail telling the guy to dump them from his cousin, who just happens to be an analyst at Revatech. Looks like insider information to her. That’s the sort of stuff that got Martha into trouble.
The guy stands and asks what kind of fortune telling this is, anyway. Camille nonchalantly replies that it’s her taking twenty pieces of silver. Twenty percent of his windfall sounds about right to her. “This is outrageous,” the guy says, reaching for his check book. Camille wants cash only, and tells him to return later, warning him not to skip without paying, as he better believe she knows where he lives.
As he storms out in a huff, Gambit enters the shop and tells her that wasn’t nice at all. Camille asks to what she owes the pleasure of his company. Remy pulls back the curtain behind her, revealing Genevieve D’Aubigne surrounded by walls of computer monitors. On each screen, there are people in situations that can be used against them for blackmail purposes. As Camille has just proven, Genevieve is a top hacker. Genevieve crushes on Remy as soon as she spots him.
Remy hands Camille a piece of paper, asking her for information. He wants everything she has on an address he has, including floor plans, security system, override codes, sewer layout, building history and modification records. The last things he needs on a job like this are surprises. Camille knows the address as being the Penrose Estate. Gambit thinks she might be wrong, but Camille continues to point out that the address belongs to Morgan Penrose, the uncle of Lili Penrose. Gambit thinks it’s funny that Lili didn’t mention she wanted him to steal from her uncle.
Camille informs Remy that Morgan Penrose is an art collector, antiquarian and an amateur occultist. Remy tells her that Lili didn’t mention that either. Camille thinks the sorcery stuff is just to draw in the suckers. Remy leans over Genevieve, and tries to use his charm on the young hacker. Madame Camille slides her body between them, and asks if it didn’t occur to Remy to just ask Lili Penrose when she was handing over the money for the job. She then stands back, and folds her arms. “Oh, that’s right. You were too busy flirting with the lil’ gal, weren’t you Remy? I swear, if that mutie chick of yours with the streak in her hair had even half an inkling of what a dog you were behind her back…”
Gambit asks Camille to knock it off. He’s not paying her for a lecture. Camille replies that he’s not paying her anything. She only trades in favors. Remy asks, “What kind of favors?”
(Present - the banks of the Mississippi)
The swamp craft is no more, smashed into tiny pieces by the torpedoes. Security staff scour the area for any sign of Remy, but no one finds a thing. One of the guys asks his boss what makes him think the prototype will still be intact. He replies that the case it was in is designed to withstand kilotons. A couple of hellfire missiles would hardly put a scratch on it.
Another guy pulls the case out of the water with a net. The boss informs his men that their adversary was brave, but not particularly clever. He had a G.P.S. installed into the case to track and lock onto. The bandit never stood a chance. They depart the scene, leaving the other boxes floating in the water. Once out of sight, a gloved hand opens one of the boxes from the inside and Remy pulls himself out. He’s getting tired of favors that involve him being shot at, chased after or blown up.
Behind him, a voice says, “Squishing into that box didn’t look none too comfortable either.” Instinctively, Gambit turns with a charged card at the ready, and he holds it to the stranger’s neck. The stranger puts his hands up and explains that he was simply craw fishing when Gambit’s friends came around and started ‘splodin’ things. They didn’t look like the type that liked witnesses, so he kept a low profile. He offers to give Gambit a lift to dry land, and Remy gratefully accepts.
He asks the stranger if fishing was good today. It was okay, he replies, and better for him than for Remy, he suspects. Remy pulls out the prototype disk from his pocket, having made a switch. He tells the stranger that it’s funny how things work out. This is turning out to be a pretty good day after all. The stranger jokes that Remy might think otherwise when he finds out how much he’s charging for the ride.
(Later, New Orleans)
Gambit approaches the Glam Slam bar to meet Dan Downs. Dan asks what happened to him and Remy replies Miss Camille and Genevieve D’Aubigne happened to him, along with a Stark-tech minidisk... something about a beta version of a universal firewall bypass. He places some documents on Dan’s table and Dan asks what they are. The papers show a photograph of Lili Penrose and the house belonging to her uncle Morgan. Remy explains that it’s Chez Penrose, pride of the garden district. It has an electrical fence, four outdoor video cameras, twelve inside, round-the-clock in-house trained security trained in martial arts and marksmanship, four-minute time response from the cops. Also, there are enough safeguards, trick-locks, secret passages and booby traps to fill a new Indiana Jones trilogy.
Dan reckons it’s a slam dunk for someone like him, but Remy mentions that small matter that’s bothering him. He explains that Morgan Penrose dabbles in the occult. With those sorts of folk, you never know what’s going to complicate things, what with voodoo hexes, mystic snares or supernatural whatchamacallit’s. Dan says, “You don’t believe in that sort of stuff anyway… do you?” Remy smiles, and asks what he knows about all this.
Dan explains that Remy isn’t the only one who’s been doing some investigating. He told him about the cards warning him about something bad that’s about to happen. He thinks it’s connected to this gig. Gambit is skeptical. He tells Dan that talking to poker cards isn’t investigation; it’s psychosis! Dan says maybe, maybe not, but is Remy prepared to bet his life on it? He asks Remy to join him, just this once, and he’ll see if he can make a believer out of him.
‘Fast’ Jack Jessup is up a telegraph pole outside the Penrose residence. Using binoculars, he checks out the perimeter and calls Orlean Cooper on the phone. Cooper says he has a nerve calling him after what he pulled at his club. He ought to have his kneecaps for breakfast. Jessup replies that he just wanted to show Cooper he meant business. Now, maybe they can do business. He explains that he’s been scoping the Penrose place and he’s ready to move. The score goes down tonight. After that, he’ll be in touch.
Cooper puts the phone down. Opposite his desk, floating above a pentagram on the floor, a large, red, demonic figure hovers, menacingly. “Problems, Cooper?” it asks. Cooper replies, “No, not at all. In fact, everything is proceeding exactly as planned.”
Remy and Dan are at the Pharaoh’s Casino in town, seated around a poker table. Dan explains to his table mates that the cards are like women. You gotta spend money on ‘em to keep ‘em happy. You shower them with affection, and they’ll whisper all sorts of sweet nothings in your ear. One of the guys at the table has heard of Dan. He’s the old nut who hangs out at on Bourbon and talks to his playing cards. Dan replies that they talk, he just listens. He adds that cards are fickle. They’ll turn on you, so you gotta keep ‘em happy with bribes, gifts and favors. The guy, Mr. Brookins, asks if that’s why Dan keeps folding on all these good hands. Yup, replies Dan. It’s like a sacrifice to the poker gods; the masters of fate and chance.
A fourth man at the table reckons this is a good yarn, and Remy can’t believe he got talked into this. Mr. Brookins hopes Dan’s been told something juicy for all that money he’s been throwing away. Dan looks right at him and tells him that the inside straight told him that Brookins has been unfaithful to his wife on his last three business trips. Two pair king-high told him about a drunken hit-and-run on a visit to Atlanta. The last hand told him that Brookins has a thing for women’s underwear, and he doesn’t mean he likes the way it looks on the ladies. Brookins covers his face in shame and asks if they can just get back to the game. With Dan’s point proven, Remy can only smile.
Nearby, the casino staff members are becoming concerned with the goings on at the table. Remy bets all his money on the next hand, saying that it’s a mighty big pile ‘o chips. Dan replies that it’s like he said; the bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the secret. As two members of staff cut in on the game and inform them that they’re going to have to leave, Dan and Remy fold simultaneously, and the large demonic figure from Cooper’s office materializes above the table. Reacting swiftly, Remy lets fly with two charged cards, but they pass right through the creature.
Dan informs Remy that it isn’t real; it’s some sort of illusion. As swiftly as it appeared, the demon vanishes. Mr. Brookins tells Remy that he has to get out of there. Remy can’t see an argument. Remy and Dan walk away from the casino and into the night air. Remy asks him if he wants to try and explain what he just saw. Was that some kind of warning not to go after the cards? Dan replies that it wasn’t a warning. It was a vision… of things to come.
“All this fuss over a stupid deck of cards?” exclaims Remy. Dan reminds him that it’s not playing cards he was asked to steal, and he’s not the only one who’s been hired to steal them. It’s a deck of tarot cards, with supernatural powers of apocalyptic proportions, and, if the wrong people get hold of it, there’s literally going to be hell to pay. Over at Club Orleans, Cooper shakes hand with the fiery demon.