(three weeks ago, on the banks of the Bayou)
As the sun sets over the river, there are stirrings of life in a small white shack on the river’s edge. Emery’s aunt is becoming impatient that her young nephew isn’t answering the call for supper. She bangs on his door, and his delaying tactics fail to stop her from using a key to enter his room. She enters to find Emery, dressed in a gaudy costume, with some of his ill-gotten gains spread over the bed. He asks her to get out, but she is furious and slaps him across the face. He’s been misbehaving again.
She orders him to throw his stupid outfit into the swamp, and all his money too. She got along fine without it her whole life. She ain’t about to be a slave to it now. Emery suddenly discovers his backbone, and stands up to his aunt. He explains that he’s tired of her ordering him around and smacking him. He’s outta there. He no longer desires hand-me-downs or catching his school dinner in a net. He’s special, and he’s gonna make something of himself. He’s gonna be somebody.
He goes grabs his stuff and leaves the shack, slamming the door behind him. His aunt insists he’s staying put tells him he’s a good boy, but he’s making a mistake. He’s heading down a bad path and will wind up with the rest of the scum. He’ll be behind bars with all the lowlifes and lawbreakers. Her words fall on deaf, arrogant ears.
Gambit, a.k.a. Remy LeBeau, is relaxing in a jail cell with the lowlifes and lawbreakers. There are a couple of other meaty-looking guys in there with him, but Remy still manages to have got the comfy seat for himself. An officer orders him on to his feet, as the detectives want a word with him. His fellow officer pats himself down, having evidently lost the keys to the cell. Remy asks if he’s missing something, and then twirls the keys around his finger.
Moments later, Remy is being led through the station, with the cops wary of his ‘freaky mutant powers.’ Having declined to escape whenever he wanted, Remy informs his escorts that after the last couple of nights he’s had, the cell was like the penthouse suite at the Ritz-Carlton. He’s glad to have finally gotten a good night’s sleep.
As they wander through the main office, several officers and witnesses are discussing an earlier robbery. One says the suspect couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old. Another guy mentions that he had energy crackling all around him, and was shooting glowing lighting bolt thingies. A third remarks that the culprit threatened to kill him if he didn’t hand over the cash. Remy wonders what they’re talking about, but before he can think too much about it, a detective grabs him by his collar and throws him unceremoniously into the interview room.
Remy picks himself up. The detective tells him he wants the truth… “You lying sack of scum!” They found an old man strangled in his apartment, a dozen assassins recuperating in the hospital, a girl with a mutilated face raving behind padded walls, a gangster who disappeared and a magician with a knife in his back. On top of that, he’s got a thief, found in his apartment, who looks like he was slowly turned inside out. The funny thing about it, he adds, is that it all leads back to LeBeau.
Remy replies that he may not be a lawyer, but he knows that they don’t have any evidence. How does he know that? Because he didn’t do anything. He didn’t kill anybody, and he’s sure the detective knows that much. As for the other stuff, he continues, with one bad guy permanently skedaddled from town and lots of assassins in hospital that the cops couldn’t catch anyway; he figures the boys in blue owe him a debt of gratitude.
He sits himself down at the desk. He adds that maybe he was involved, but at the moment, his memory a little hazy from getting his head banged against a wall. The detective clenches his fist, frustrated, mainly because he knows that Gambit is right. His partner ushers him from the room and closes the door behind him. Remy figures they’re playing the good cop, bad cop roles, but the detective replies that actually, she’s the bad cop. Detective Fredrickson just really hates mutants. She informs him that the evidence in each of the killings points to somebody else, or a few somebodies. He’ll be happy to hear that something bigger just dropped into their laps. A dead magician and the corpses of some non-account riff-raff just fell way down the priority list.
Remy asks, in a surprised manner, if he’s free to go. The detective replies that he is; and she’ll even give him a lift home. She introduces herself as Detective Tanaka - but he can call her Noreen.
They leave the police station. It’s early evening, and Remy asks if he can be dropped off by the St. Louis cemetery. One of them ‘no account riff-raff’ was actually a good friend. Noreen says that’s not a problem, but she’d like to take a detour first. She informs him of this kid; obviously a mutant, who is able to power up an impenetrable force field, and generate some sort of concussive bursts of energy. His spree began a few weeks back, knocking over a liquor store, and then a couple of 24-7’s. He’s getting bolder with each success.
She pulls her car up at a police barricade, positioned yards from the Louisiana Unified Savings building. A crowd of onlookers watch for action as a sniper awaits the order to shoot.
Emery Arcenaux, dressed in his purple outfit with cream cape and black face mask, stands surrounded by customers and staff, including a security guard. He has a force field protecting him, and he tells everyone that he doesn’t wish to hurt anyone. If everybody cooperates and nobody does anything stupid, then they’re all gonna get out of there just fine. Without warning, the security guard opens fire, but his bullets simply ping off the force field. Emery extends his arm and hurls a concussive burst of energy at the guard, shoving him backwards. “You know,” he says, “That was pretty much the definition of stupid. Somebody remind him of that when he wakes up.”
Emery looks around the room and asks if anyone else is feeling suicidal. “That’d be me,” is the response. Emery turns and sees Gambit standing on the counter. He doesn’t believe the kid is simply willing to give up, so he goes on the offensive; testing his force field with three charged playing cards. They connect with the field, but fail to pierce it. Emery throws energy bolts towards Gambit, but he uses his agility to avoid being hit. He somersaults over the counter area and ducks as one of the supporting columns is shattered.
As masonry flies everywhere, Remy leaps and grabs a woman who is holding her small child; removing her from harms way. The woman is clearly petrified as she sees Emery standing before her. Emery can see the fear in her eyes, and instead of abusing his authority, he tells her to get out of there. Remy gives her a helping shove, saying this is between him and Emery. He charges three more cards, but decides on another tactic to end all this. He manages to persuade emery that their battle is pointless, and the only people who are likely to get hurt are the customers. “Maybe you’re trying to leave your mark on this world, but this ain’t the way to do it.”
Emery asks if he reads minds. “You think you know me?” he asks. Remy replies that he’s a good judge of character. He bets that, if Emery gets the chance, he’ll do the right thing before it’s too late. Emery responds angrily by saying it’s always too late for him. He’s just some dirt-poor Creole piece of swamp trash. He’s a mutie, a freak! Now he’s a criminal. Somebody like him doesn’t get a second chance.
Gambit tells him that his own story isn’t that much different. He isn’t going to fight Emery, and instead tells him that he has friends who can help him. They have a place where people like them can fit in. He drops his cards and their energy dissipates as they flutter to the ground. He adds that his friends will be much more concerned with Emery making the most of his future than holding him responsible for some fool thing he’s done in his past.
Remy continues his talk down. He tells Emery that he’s obviously not a bad kid. He didn’t mean to hurt nobody, so he’s clearly not a villain. Why doesn’t he join up with people who actually help things? The people who work to make the world a better place… for everybody… the X-Men. Emery sees sense at last and powers down. His force field vanishes and he tells Gambit that it’s a deal. Suddenly, a shot rings out and Emery’s young life is extinguished in a second. Remy and the customers look up the staircase, and see Noreen Tanaka standing there with a smoking gun. She immediately begins to appear to regret it.
The crime scene is littered with cash, a pool of blood and a chalk outline of Emery’s body. Noreen tearfully informs Detective Fredrickson that she just turned the corner and saw Emery for a split second, in front of LeBeau. She couldn’t hear what they were saying and thought Emery was going to attack. She thought that if he could take out LeBeau, he’d have no problem finishing of the rest of them. She sniffs occasionally as she speaks. Fredrickson asks her not to worry about it. There are plenty of witnesses, and nobody’s going to question her decision. Besides, he adds, how many cops can say they single-handedly brought down a mutant super-villain? He says she’s going to be a hero.
Noreen hugs Remy, and breaks into full blown crying mode. As she recovers, she remembers that she promised Remy a lift. Remy says they’re pretty close; he can hoof it from there, but Noreen insists she drive him. She doesn’t really want to be alone right now.
In the car, Remy asks if she wants him to drive. Noreen’s attitude changes dramatically. She replies that she’s fine. The waterworks were purely for the benefit of the witnesses. Internal Affairs need to see some evidence of remorse; even for a clean shooting, or they send you to a shrink. That’s the last thing she needs. She drives off, and lets Remy know that he did good back there. He helped the city, and gave her career a favor too. Maybe she can do him a favor…
The car pulls up outside the St. Louis cemetery, and Noreen informs Remy that forensics pinned the Penrose murder on his niece. But, Remy is still under suspicion for a string of breakings and enterings. Plus, his name is connected to a stack of open cases from all that Guild nonsense a few years back. She produces a file with his name on the front cover. She tells him that if somebody had the inclination to dig into his file deep enough, they could make his life pretty miserable. If they could find his file, that is. She rips the file in two. “Oops!”
She tosses the scraps out of her window, but reminds Remy that he should keep in mind that isn’t just as simple to begin a new file and fill it with all sorts of new evidence; whether it exists or not. “Lady,” asks Remy, “Are you crazy? You… You killed that kid on purpose, didn’t you?” She smirks, and wishes him good luck proving it. She gives him a peck on the cheek. Like she told him earlier, she’s the bad cop. She waves him goodbye as he enters the cemetery.
Standing beside Dan Down’s coffin are Madame Camille, Ginny and several other mourners. Camille sees Detective Tanaka and asks Remy if he’s going to get all legit on them. Remy’s missed the ceremony, and the mourners depart, leaving him alone with the coffin. As she leaves, Camille swears that Remy will be late for his own funeral. Remy looks at the coffin, and apologizes to Dan. He’s sorry he didn’t listen to him when he told him to stay out of things. He’s even sorrier he dragged him into this mess. He wishes he could change that and bring him back. “Dieu vous benisse mon ami”
(Orleans Parish Morgue)
The body of Emery James Arcenaux lies in the mortuary. As Remy is saying his final words to Dan, Emery’s aunt has plans afoot.
Back at her shack on the riverside, Emery’s aunt has Emery’s body, and is practicing a little voodoo magic. “Hear me. My curse upon the souls of my enemies, Semedi Congo Loa, as I invoke all my dark Bokor power to bring forth the fallen damned, doomed and departed! Heed my call, lost souls, and rise… Rise!” The room is filled with lit candles as she puts her spells into effect. Slowly, Emery’s body begins to move, as well as many others in the cemetery. Amongst the zombies is Dan Downs. Emery’s aunt welcomes him back. “You gonna obey your Auntie now, aren’t you, boy? Oh, yes. They’re all gonna obey me now.”