(Seattle – not tonight but a long time ago)
Remy LeBeau is waiting inside a church, a house of refuge in a neighborhood gone wrong around it. He believes a single card will tell him the whole story. On the one hand, his people disowned him, his wife Belladonna was taken off this Earth well before her time and he’s racked up more enemies than the legendary Kingpin himself in a tenth as many years in the crime scene.
On the other hand, he’s the best thief in the whole world, he’s got a power to charge things which makes sure he’s going to stay the best and this payment means he’s never again got to take a job that’ll eat away at him. The superstitious Remy decides a single card will tell him if he’s going to win or lose when the last card’s turning. Flipping a card, he sees it’s an ace of spades and spontaneously exclaims, “Damn.”
A voice behind him asks him if that’s the card of death. “Maybe for you it will be!” Gambit snarls and charges the card with kinetic energy, sending it flying to the upper levels of the church, before it ricochets away.
Mr. Sinister appears right beside Remy. He quips that, if it weren’t himself, he’d be very worried about Remy’s skills. How? Gambit wonders. Sinister reminds him he is himself and acknowledges that Remy does superior work – very superior work. He’s impressed him – and Sinister’s not easy to impress. Gambit stresses that Sinister paid him to round up some bad folk; he did what he was paid to do. He doesn’t need Sinister’s compliments now. He just needs their deal settled.
Revealing a strange vial that he kept in an inner pocket of his suit and tossing it to Gambit, Sinister remarks it was a most peculiar fee to request, but a reasonable one, for him at least – and he trusts for LeBeau, as well. “Trust all ya want,” Gambit retorts and grabs the vial. Curious, he can’t resist the temptation to ask him about those men he gathered, Scalphunter and the others: what makes them worth this much to a man like Sinister? He’s could’ve got them himself.
Sinister declines to answer, only grinning enigmatically. “Never mind,” Gambit gives up – he assumes that some things are better left unknown. Another thing he has to tell Sinister: no more jobs for him. This was the last. “Don’t call, don’t write,” he stresses. He believes in the cards: he’s out of this game here and now. Sinister retorts that he will be “out” when he hears from Sinister that he’s out. And that will only be after one more job. Sinister’s new… associates… require LeBeau’s specific talent for insinuating himself in places he doesn’t belong. “Believe dis, Essex, as of you today, you can’t afford me anymore!” Gambit angrily snaps. Sinister retorts that every man has a price to charge. He thinks he knows LeBeau’s.
(The present. Antarctica.)
Every man has a price to charge… an’ a price ta pay… a shackled Gambit ponders, sitting on the back of a vehicle cutting its way through the icy wasteland. One of his captors, Grovel, remarks that LeBeau made nothing of a peep-noise since they left his X-Men. Driving the vehicle, Grovel’s companion, Spat, tells Gambit that Grovel’s right. “What’s the matter?” she taunts him. Cat got his tongue? He’s normally nothing but too much talk. Gambit retorts he’s got nothing to say. He suggests she just keeps on driving and get done with this… whatever it is, he ponders. He can stand no more of these memories coming back on him. It’s like the gas he used to get from Aunt Charity’s jambalaya. He felt fine going in, he felt like heck coming back up.
Spat confides in Grovel that she doesn’t like the sound of their ticket meal. She thinks Gambit is planning something. She tells Grovel to steer while she’ll go check on him. Grovel retorts that he doesn’t know where to pilot to. Spat reassures him that, like with the protective field currently around them, the boss will take care of it. Grovel just has to keep going straight. “Dokey oke,” Grovel concurs and replaces Spat.
Spat turns to Remy and bats him on the head with her bare fist, arguing that she still hates him. It’s because of him she’s younger by the minute. But still, why his sudden fit of responsibility in this situation? Why did he come easily? Gambit explains that, when they were all held by Nanny and lost their powers, he felt something that he never felt before; something good. Gritting her teeth, Spat angrily wonders what it is that turns a devil into an angel. Remy reveals he cares about something now; no more fighting. Beyond that, he won’t say. He suddenly recalls his exchange with Rogue, just before he left with Spat and Grovel on his own free will.
“What is it, sugah?” Rogue asks Remy. Gambit insists he wants to say it, he does, but… he’s got a wall up inside him something fierce. Rogue thought they brought their walls down last night. If it is that he loves her, it’s okay to say, she urges him. She wants to hear him say it so much. “I…” Remy hesitantly stammers before Rogue intervenes and gives him a card: queen of hearts. She asks him to carry it and think of her in those times they aren’t together – though she hopes those are few.
“Me too…” Gambit mumbles, still daydreaming. Seeing the card in his hands, Spat snaps and asks him what he’s holding. No fighting, he said – then what’s this?! Remy explains it’s his heart, just as Spat angrily tosses it away. He won’t be needing that where they’re going…
Suddenly, they are violently shaken off by tremors. Spat asks Grovel what’s wrong. Grovel growls that the vehicle is not responding anymore. Something’s bumping up from underground, pulling them down inside into it. Spat hysterically orders him to pull them up… and then, all of a sudden, the vehicle vanishes through a huge gap on the ground. Only Remy’s queen of hearts stays behind on the surface.
Nearby, out in the open, Beast is holding the severed head of Nanny, the robot, cheerfully reciting verses of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now how abhorred in my imagination he is!” Further dissecting Nanny’s head, Beast wonders why he shouldn’t make that a thousand and one times. With all due apologies to the Bard and his college drama club, he’s got a land skimmer to finish configuring out of their wrecked Shi’ar space shuttle remains.
“Hopefully soon, Hank,” Trish Tilby urges him – she’s freezing, even in these new clothes she’s wearing. Hank wonders where they are from. Is there a Macy’s Antarctica nearby? Joseph explains he reconfigured the clothes Nanny’s robotic “children” were wearing. He could do the same for Hank. “Waste not, want not, I suppose…” Hank replies. He is fine, as long as Joseph can also maintain this magnetic field around them to keep the cold down.
Beast suspiciously ponders that both events suggest that Joseph’s powers are waxing – probably due to the strong polarity of the region. He wonders if that also means that his other, less desirable personality might be on the rise as well. After all, this was Joseph’s sanctuary, when he was Magneto. The amnesia he suffers from has been a blessing for the world, because it is safe from a madman. And for Joseph, because he’s been given the chance to change his life, unencumbered by his past sins.
Addressing Joseph, Beast remarks that, if he’s that gifted, can’t he use his magnetic powers and newfound fashion sense to help Hank fashion this ship? Joseph concurs, if it will help them to get back to New York that they might make short order of the chaos that has followed from Operation: Zero Tolerance. Hank retorts that all this scrap metal is going to be capable of doing is skidding them across Antarctica, where maybe they can get to a base and radio for some real help and…
Rogue interjects and retorts they aren’t going too far – just far enough to free Remy. And if he’s too stupid to know he needs rescuing, that’s too dang bad.
(Manhattan. Today but earlier)
In an alley, in a quaint art sale in the shadows of the Twin Towers, Archangel is facing off Eeny and Meany, Maggott’s techno-organic slugs. A desperate Warren asks Psylocke a little help. These two gross slug-maggot-things ate his two-by-four and now they’re coming for him! Nonchalant, Betsy reminds Warren he’s a hero. She tells him to save himself; she’s busy. Examining the unconscious Maggott, she senses there is something in him… something dark…
Warren protests she’s said that already about three or four times. So he’s dark – what does she want to do about it? Betsy explains that part of this man is missing. She feels compelled to discover what it is within him that attracts her so. Without thinking twice, she begins teleporting herself, disappearing in her shadow planes through the floor together with the senseless mutant. “Attracts?!” a surprised Archangel exclaims. Lunging at her, he urges Betsy to wait for him! She can’t just leave him here with these maggots! He desperately plunges to the floor, vanishing through Betsy’s shadow planes, Maggott’s two slugs in hot pursuit.
Somewhere else, Gambit opens his eyes, only to realize he is lying on the floor, surrounded by absolute darkness. He wonders where he is. A voice swiftly provides him with the answer: he is being held in a place of confinement until such time as his trial’s commencement. “Not so loud!” Remy protests. He can hear him even if he’s not yelling! The mysterious voice retorts that traitors that are brought to this place need not bark orders. Gambit impatiently clarifies he came to this place; he wasn’t brought. He warns his captor to show himself like he has or he’ll find him…
The voice retorts that Gambit is the coward of all mutantkind and promises him a fate fitting his crimes. “I know your voice, Sinister!” Gambit snarls. He warns him to show himself or he’ll gladly add another minor regret to his list of major ones. “Hold your tongue!” the voice snaps and Gambit finds himself blasted by an energy beam. As he collapses to the ground, the voice announces that Remy is guilty and he will be found guilty in due time – but not quite yet. There are still other players set to arrive.
Meanwhile, thanks to Joseph’s powers, the X-Men have constructed a makeshift vehicle out of scrap metal and now cross through the iced desert of Antarctica. Seeing Rogue standing in the outer part of the skimmer, Beast advises her to get back inside. The temperature’s falling out there, plus Rogue can survey for Gambit just as well from inside. Rogue insists that cold’s no problem; she just can see better out here. And from the sounds and smoke this vehicle emits, there may not be an inside to this craft for much longer. Besides, Rogue contemplates, she feels like she might cry at the drop of a hat over what she’s remembering, and she doesn’t need anyone asking embarrassing questions on her right now. She decides it’s better to look strong out here than weak out there.
Suddenly, much to her shock, the heightened “seventh sense” she siphoned off of Ms. Marvel is triggered. She hasn’t noticed it in years and now it’s singing like a fiddle string even though there’s nothing here…
Abruptly, she rather excitedly orders Beast to stop. Hank tells her that stopping’s no problem – in fact, with this piece of slapdash collapsing, they may have no other choice. Trish assures him he did the best he could. Hank retorts that he knows that and she knows that but the ship doesn’t know that…
Joseph begs them to stop immediately. Clenching his teeth and holding his head, visibly in pain, he mumbles that he feels… he feels… “Carsick?” Hank quips. Rogue retorts it’s not time for jokes; something’s up. Beast decides they let Joseph out and Rogue goes looking around while they let these engines cool down.
As they stop and Beast inspects the vehicle, he recounts that his grandfather said, “you can always paint a cowpie a pretty color, but it’s still a cowpie when you’re done.” Rogue asks him if he actually said that. Basically, Hank replies, though his language was a tad more colorful.
Kneeling on the ground, Joseph shrieks “Hes… here…” before he collapses face-front. Rogue rushes by his side and asks him who’s here; what’s the matter? Beast urges her to pray that Joseph’s not unconscious. He’s all that stands between them and freezing to death out here. Spotting the queen of hearts card she gave to Gambit, Rogue realizes that Remy’s here! She doesn’t know how Joseph knew it but he’s right; Remy’s here. She gave him this card yesterday. He’s here but where?
Suddenly, their vehicle is blown apart. Trish assumes that now Hank and she won’t be putting Joseph back on board while Rogue searches around! “Here… No… no… no… He… is… HERE!” Joseph moans and raises his left hand… and suddenly his magnetic powers cause an entire citadel to emerge from the snow! Shocked, Beast asks Joseph what is that; how’d he raise it? Joseph claims he doesn’t know either. He wonders what they should do. Rogue reminds him they’re X-Men. They charge right on into the unknown and save their own. She suggests they get going.
(At that moment, many miles to the West)
Once, long ago, what held Charles Xavier together was his original group of students. But now, stoic on his wheelchair, Charles appears oblivious to his students’ pleas.
Angel: Where are you?
Marvel Girl: We need you, sir.
Cyclops: He’s here again, Professor.
Iceman: Why’d you leave us?
Later, though he still cared about his school and his all-new, all-different students, what held him together was his love for a beautiful princess from another world – Lilandra.
Nightcrawler: Mein professor?
Cyclops: He’s here again, Professor.
Banshee: Ye’ve got to help us, soir.
Wolverine: Where are ya, bub?
Recently, as adjectives became inadequate to describe the many souls in his school, what held Xavier together seemed to fade away, leaving him trapped in an onslaught of emotions he’s only now beginning to understand.
Cyclops: He’s here again, Professor.
Phoenix: Why did you leave?
Gambit: I’ll tell ya why…
“No!” Charles Xavier screams as he abruptly wakes up from his nightmare and finds himself in his bed, in the facility where he is imprisoned for some time now. He wonders: is the dream still alive within him? Or does he understand, a little too late, that these emotions are locked away in a vault, a prison with no obvious key?
The seemingly impenetrable vault unexpectedly opens and the X-Men and Trish Tilby rush inside. Beast asks him if this is his doing. Joseph insists that, like he told him, he has no knowledge of this place, save that it was here. Rogue remarks that if Joseph didn’t open the door, they see who did. As they move forward, the come across a giant statue of Themis, the ancient Greek goddess of Justice. Rogue wonders: what is this place? And who is she? Is this her fortress? “Could be, Rogue,” Trish replies. As for who she is, she thinks…
“Justice,” Hank interrupts her. She is blind Justice, to be precise. He thought this citadel might be some forgotten mystery of the Savage Land, but she’s a far more Northern concept. Rogue remarks that whoever’s got this place, they’ve got Gambit and she wants him back – now. She proposes they split up and look around. If there’s any trouble… Trish venomously retorts that there’s always trouble when they’re all involved. A still suffering Joseph announces he will take the basement and proceeds to go. Rogue asks him if he’s still having trouble. Joseph explains he just feels… ill.
Rogue asks him if he wants to sit this out. Joseph retorts he is an X-Man; he will be fine. He contemplates that, if he can manage to keep standing, the more he comes to remember of himself, his past as the villain Magneto, the less well that self feels. The corridors he sees around him are… familiar. Did he build this place? Did he live here? Beast certainly thinks so. His memories feel closer to him, as is hovering over, just beyond his body. He wonders why.
Meanwhile, Psylocke teleports in another room of the citadel. She wonders where Maggott went – and where she is, for that matter. Ever since the Crimson Dawn altered her powers, they’ve been unpredictable. And this teleportation has been the most unsettling. She almost feels like a stranger to her own body. The last time she felt like this was when her body was transformed from British marm to Asian beauty. Such things shouldn’t even be possible, and yet, here she is. But where is “here?” It seems to be a library, but it reeks of the darkness she sensed in Maggott. It is cold and oppressively heavy, as though the books were hewn from iron and their words written in rust… Indeed, she opens a book – the Code of Hammurabi – only to discover it full of rust.
Teleported in another part of the citadel, Archangel collapses to the floor. Thinking that Psylocke is right by his side, Warren angrily asks her why she was trying to leave him behind. He clarifies he doesn’t appreciate that! Ever since she got this “shadow flipping” power, she’s been acting weird. And he really doesn’t like the feel of her shadow spaces, either. She should call Nightcrawler and ask him if…
“Betsy?” he suddenly calls her name, realizing she’s not responding. Staring all around him, he nervously asks her if she’s in here. Can she hear him? As Warren’s doubts grow, he spots an ominous device, with a noose hanging from the top.
In another room of the citadel, Maggott also comes out of Betsy’s shadow planes, together with his slugs. Enthused, he realizes they ditched Psylocke. As the slugs spot some metallic chains, they proceed to feed off them. Maggott urges them to go on and eat. He swears, they sicken him sometimes with their…
Joseph suddenly appears and argues that one can’t suppress one’s appetite. The two slugs lash out at him, but Maggott holds them back, explaining he’s a friend. “Friend?” a bemused Joseph exclaims as he shakes hands with Maggott. Though he remembers Maggott from somewhere, he knows they are less than that. Maggott tells him to call it what he likes, but after what he did for him, he’ll always call him, Magneto, a friend. Joseph retorts he is no longer called by that name. Now he is only Joseph…
“You’re an abomination,” a spiteful voice retorts and blasts Joseph, instantly stunning him. “You? But…?” a confused Maggott snaps as he recognizes the person who rendered Joseph unconscious. “Trust me through what will come next, Maggott,” the mysterious individual suggests to him. “You’ve never lied to me…” Maggott admits. “And I never shall. Cooperate and you will be free,” the other person replies.
Above, Beast and Trish Tilby come across two stone tablets with an indecipherable language written all over them. Shocked, Trish wonders if these are… the Ten Commandments. Hank taunts her: she doesn’t suppose they’re here to fight Charlton Heston, does she? A scared Trish asks him if he heard something. Hank advises her not to let her nerves get to her. Though melodramatically court-like, they’ve seen nothing yet to suggest that this citadel is in any way hostile.
As if to belie his assertion, a metallic tentacle suddenly wraps around Trish’s face and grabs her. Hank wonders what that noise was and turns around, only to see Trish abducted by scores of mechanical monstrosities. As one of them grabs him, Beast demands that it unhand him, while frantically screaming Trish’s name.
Below, Psylocke is searching around, presuming that Maggott must be here somewhere – or Archangel, at the very least. She sensed him in the shadow-plane as they travelled. Noticing several statues of people around her, she wonders what these are: monuments to whom? “To those who deserve them… the fallen… whom you will join now…” a voice responds and a hand releases an energy blast. Before she drifts into unconsciousness, a surprised Psylocke mumbles “You?! It can’t be…!” The voice arrogantly confirms that they always say that.
Further below, Archangel flies around, realizing that this place is enormous. Seems like he could search all day and never see another living soul. And weird: room after room of leftover Perry Mason sets. He wonders what this place is and how Betsy knew about it. If she dumped off so she could be alone with that Maggott man, he swears he’s going to…
“You will do nothing,” a voice interjects. Blasting Warren unconscious, the voice tells Warren he is a victim and, though quite unexpected, his presence here is appropriate. He is the perfect man to serve a role in the coming drama… a role that might otherwise have gone uncast. The mysterious individual instructs an army of mechanical monstrosities to remand Archangel to the make-ready chamber. The trial is almost upon them.
Further still below, Rogue opens a cell door and asks if anyone’s here. Surprised, she discovers a brooding Remy inside. Remy urges her not to come in here. Rogue asks him if he’s crying. Gambit is negative: he wouldn’t want that idea getting out. It would ruin his reputation right quick. He asks her to leave him. With her love came something else, something he never took a hard look at before: his conscience.
Rogue argues she’s not going anywhere. She’s here to help him. Remy urges her to kiss him again then. Kiss him long and hard and use her power to suck him out of himself. Rogue replies she can’t. That would take his… Gambit cuts her off and insists he wants his memories stolen; he can’t live with them anymore! Turning away from her, he tells her to forget it. That’d just doom her, too. Choice was his, always. Rogue tells him that Spat made her remember things… things she got from Remy.
Before she finishes her phrase, Gambit demands she get out. “But…” Rogue protests. Remy insists she gets out. He claims he… he doesn’t love her. Now or never – he asks her to go. What’ll happen here must happen; he’s ready to face that – alone. “The hell you will!” Rogue retorts. She doesn’t believe a word he just said. Grabbing him, she urges him to get up. Gambit refuses. Rogue retorts she just found him and she isn’t about to lose him. Whatever’s eating at him, they’ll work through it together, far, far away from here. She tells him to put his arms around her. They’ll fly and find the other X-Men and get out of this weird place before its owner is any the wiser.
Turning away from her again, Gambit apologizes: it sounds pretty, but it just can’t be. Rogue asks him why. Remy explains he deserves this. He chose to come here. “Don’t you understand?” a desperate Rogue exclaims. She loves him! Unconditionally! Remy retorts love isn’t always enough. Rogue insists that yes it is! Gambit angrily asks her to stop. This is what will be: he built a house of cards and it’s come down on him. He always knew it would. He has to go through this. With teary eyes, Rogue retorts she’s never had anyone touch her heart like he did – never. Why can’t she have that? Why can’t she be happy? Who says he has to do whatever this is, instead of spending his life with her?
“I do… I, Erik the Red!” a stentorian voice replies and the citadel’s owner finally makes his entrance, accompanied by Spat and Grovel. This new, mysterious Erik the Red exclaims that the moment is at hand. All his months of preparation and planning shall now pay off! He argues that the mutant Gambit no longer deserves the life he now leads. The day of retribution is upon him! Grovel asks his boss if he wants Gambit crackled in the head. “Or lower?” Spat suggests. Erik the Red urges them to do with them as they will, and then bring them to the arena and wait for his return. He will prepare himself presently, he announces and departs. As Spat blasts Rogue with her energy spear, Gambit pleads her not to hurt Rogue. Spat retorts she can’t be more hurt than he’s already hurt her.
The skies are parted by a craft “borrowed” from the tattered remnants of a government program gone mad – Operation: Zero Tolerance. The ship is piloted and inhabited by six of Xavier’s X-Men, five of whom are comfortable in that role. The sixth, Cannonball, isn’t so sure anymore. Watching Phoenix tending to her husband, Cyclops, Sam wonders what he’s doing here. He realizes Scott and Jean have been through so much together and they keep right on going, day in, day out. He’s got no business listening in on their private stuff. Maybe he should wait in the cockpit.
Suffering tremendously, Cyclops begs Jean to let him die. It’s too much for her to be holding him with this nano-tech bomb inside him… too much strain on her psychic powers. Jean assures him it’s no more than when she held that space shuttle together before the Phoenix entity assumed her identity. He gave her the strength to save herself and the X-Men counting on her then. She’s going to give that strength to him now… or die trying.
In the cockpit, Wolverine asks his co-pilot, Storm, what she’s looking at; are they being chased? Ororo replies it’s the skies. She’s missed the skies… their beauty… their anger. Logan wonders if she’s in love again. She hasn’t sounded this way since she was hanging out with Forge. Ororo explains she’s in love with this Earth…
Listening to them, Sam realizes they’re family. He’s just some late-comer. It feels like no matter how much he ever goes through with the X-Men, he can never really be one of them. Seeing him troubled, Jubilee asks him what’s wrong. Cannonball tells her it’s nothing. He was just thinking; that’s all. Jubilee advises him not to do too much of it. It’ll get him in trouble every time.
In Antarctica, in a large, penumbral room, resembling a Medieval courtroom, the robot known as Ferris announces that Erik the Red is arrived for the prosecution. Grinning, Erik confirms that: he stands ready. Ferris presents the players of this trial. The accused: Remy LeBeau! Pointing at Remy, whose head is placed on a guillotine, the robot clarifies that he was known at the time of his crimes as Gambit. “This ain’t necessary, you…” Gambit protests but Ferris cuts him off: “Silence! Speak only when addressed by the court.”
Ferris presents the jury: a selection of Gambit’s peers. Beast, Maggott, Rogue, Psylocke and a human woman. They all have their hands shackled with metallic manacles. Gambit wonders who Maggott is but Ferris sternly silences him again and presents the defendant: his fellow X-Man, Archangel. A chained Archangel is at loss: defendant? Trial for what? He wonders who “Erik the Red” is and asks him to take these restraints off him! This is idiotic…
Ferris again shushes him and clarifies that he will speak only when addressed by the court. Satisfied, Erik the Red notes that Archangel is the perfect man for this task. Warren assumes he’s got no choice, since he’s shackled. But even if he does go along, who’s going to judge this “trial?” Erik the Red argues they all judge each other in their own ways!
“Light!” he exclaims and the lights are turned on, revealing statues of fallen mutants behind him. Erik explains that these are effigies of the souls swept away in an unforgettable holocaust. Many had names lost in the bloody currents of their massacre, but the two behind him were known. Prism and Scaleface were their names before their brutal deaths. Deaths all but enacted by Remy LeBeau. Gambit that he stands accused of the crime of mass murder of the Morlocks!
Archangel interjects and tells him to hold on a minute. “Who in blazes are you?” he asks Erik the Red. He stresses that Erik the Red isn’t real. He’s always a cover for someone else. Cyclops, the first time, as he recalls! Considering the possibility that Erik is indeed Scott, he asks him if this is his idea of some kind of joke. Or did he finally snap and go nutso-evil like Professor X? Scott always did follow his lead. He argues that whatever else Gambit may be – and they all had their doubts about him in the past – he’s an X-Man first, and one doesn’t let another fall.
Erik the Red retorts when that has ever mattered. What have the X-Men really done for their own kind? They shelter one or two in their precious school and leave hundreds of others to fend for themselves? And how do they choose those they will help? Take the attractive and powerful and leaving the deformed and destitute Morlocks to live beneath the streets of their city? Allowing them to ingest the refuse of humanity for decades, then standing by idly while they are exterminated?
Gambit wonders who’s on trial here; them or him? “Point well, taken. It’s most definitely you, boy,” Erik the Red replies. Gambit retorts he stopped being a boy long ago. And yet he doesn’t act like a man, Erik notes. A man would confess his crimes and accept his punishment. Remy confesses that he’s done some things he’s ashamed of. However, these aren’t the people that need to hear his apology. Erik reminds him that those people are dead! At his hands! Therefore, their ears and theirs alone will have to serve as witness for his atrocities!
Rogue turns to Beast and asks him if he notices someone who should be here, but isn’t. Hank tells her she’s right: Joseph’s the only one of them unaccounted for. It has to be him, but why? Why would he do this? Rogue turns to Erik the Red and calls him out: “Joseph!” Bemused, Erik asks her not to disgrace him with such ludicrous assertions. Were Gambit’s own assertions not so abhorrent, Joseph would be the one tried this day. He instructs Ferris to show their pathetic accomplice into their court.
Two mechanical creatures bring in a half-conscious, aching and tattered Joseph. Erik remarks that this “Joseph” is sickening. He renounced who and what he truly is and then embraced his mortal foes, becoming one with them. He has already been judged and found so unworthy as to not even be allowed the time of this esteemed court. “But enough speculation,” he adds. Clasping Remy’s head, he asks him if he will confess to these people the crime he has committed. “Which one?” Gambit audaciously asks. Erik clarifies that they do not speak here of his petty larcenies. They speak of his blood betrayal, the blackest moment in his long line of blasphemous actions.
Gambit remarks that, if he means his dealing with Sinister, then sure, he admits it. He worked for him. He had a heart of ice back then. Belladonna was dead. He didn’t care if he lived or died. He figured he’d never loved again, so he cast his fate with whoever came his way. It turned out to be someone Sinister. He wanted Gambit to assemble some mercs to break into an impenetrable community. Sinister had something Gambit needed – badly – so he agreed. They were big, ugly and mean. Remy did what he was paid to do.
Beast is at loss: Gambit worked for Mr. Sinister? And he didn’t tell them? Rogue is shocked to discover that Gambit was at bed with one of their greatest enemies! “For how long, Remy?!” she asks him. Gambit retorts it isn’t like that. It was something he did and wasn’t proud of but once he joined the X-Men, he put all that behind him. Just like she did once.
Erik the Red insists that a man can’t set aside his past! A man’s character is the sum of his actions! Archangel alerts him that Gambit has proven himself time and time over. He doesn’t like what he’s hearing but the fact is, men can change what they are. They can escape the darkness in their souls. He reclaimed his from Apocalypse, Joseph is turning his own life around and Gambit…
“Fool!” Erik the Red interrupts Warren and viciously informs him that Gambit is directly responsible for the darkness that befell him! He accuses Archangel that he’s quick to defend a man who so permanently scarred him. Flustered, Archangel wonders what he means and asks Gambit what he’s talking about. “Nothin’,” Remy refuses to reveal. Erik urges Gambit to tell Archangel exactly who it was that he so efficiently assembled that night. He urges him to tell them all how much evil he and he alone congregated in the name of greed. Remy insists it had nothing to do with greed! He tells Erik he’s got nothing to say in front of them. Whoever Erik is, Remy believes he already must know where he’s getting to. He encourages Erik to tell them if he wants; tell them all and get it over with.
Psylocke hesitantly reveals that she knows what it is. Erik relishes: “The prosecution calls Psylocke to testify!” Betsy reveals that she knows the names of some of those Gambit assembled: Arclight, Scrambler, Scalphunter, Vertigo, Harpoon, Riptide and Sabretooth. Evil beings with one intention: to become Marauders of the underground and destroy any Morlocks they found there, all because that madman, Sinister, deemed their existence scientifically useless. These memories have been locked away in her mind for months, since she mindlinked with Remy.
Gambit intervenes. He isn’t saying it isn’t true but he is saying a man can change. He doesn’t want anyone to forget what he’s done – just forgive. He suspected Psylocke knew the secret. He could’ve killed her long ago and silence the secret forever but he didn’t. He isn’t a villain.
Bursting with rage, Archangel realizes that Gambit created the Marauders; he cost him his wings; he did that to him! And then he stood by his side… pretended to be his friend… and never said a damn word about it?! “I should drop that blade on your neck myself, traitor!” he growls. Turning to Betsy, he realizes she knew about it all this time and she never told him! Psylocke retorts she didn’t know – well, she did but it only now came back to her. After all she’s been through… “Save it…” Warren retorts. He also tells Gambit to defend himself. He’d like to see him try…
Grinning evilly, Erik announces there is no defense. Of course, this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. More of a falling glacier, he quips. As the defendant has shown a distinct lack of cooperation in these matters, the prosecution calls a special witness who can get more fully to the heart of the matter: the court calls the reformed villainess Rogue to the defendant’s box! Somehow controlling her movements with his powers, Erik forces her to approach Gambit. Rogue wonders what he’s doing to her and asks him to get out of her head! She begs him not to make her…
Erik advises her not to struggle; she knows she wants this. “Want what?” Rogue wonders. Erik encourages her to kiss Gambit. Steal all his secrets, once and for all, and share them with the court. Watching the trial, Spat protests Rogue doesn’t need to touch him; she already remembers. Spat made her remember. Grovel stresses that Rogue’s not accepting it.
Teary-eyed, Rogue begs Erik the Red not to make her do this… she doesn’t want to do this… she can’t… Gambit tells her to feel no responsibility; it isn’t her doing. He only pleads her to find a way to forgive him for what she’s about to see. “Gambit, ah…” Rogue mumbles and then, manipulated by the mysterious villain, she is hopelessly attracted to Remy and proceeds to kiss him.
At once, Rogue helplessly relives Gambit’s memories. He sees Gambit as he shows the Marauders the way into the Morlock tunnels. He’s scared, because with every step he takes, he knows something’s bad going to happen. He watches… watches it start… blood… so much blood… he’s horrified… he tries to stop them but… No! The one… Sabretooth… nearly kills him… he… he…
Gambit interjects and claims he didn’t know. He thought it might be something illegal. He didn’t know it would be something so awful. That night changed him; changed him hard. He sickened himself so much he almost died there. Sometimes he wishes he had. He couldn’t stop the ones he gathered, so he helped whoever he could to get out. He managed to snatch one little girl out of harm’s way. He doesn’t know who she was, bones sticking every which way out of her face, but that was all he could do.
Erik the Red lashes out at him: “Save one in the face of how many others? Save one from the genocide you set in motion?” Are they to applaud him for this? Reward him for being the kindest of the war criminals? Rather than try him, and then Sabretooth, and then…
“How… dare… you?” Rogue screams at that very moment, her eyes reddish as she manifests Gambit’s powers. Charging a card with kinetic energy and releasing it, a furious Rogue asks Erik the Red how he dares violate her like that! He mentally raped her! His justice has left her pregnant with a new personality and the exact one she wanted to get to know like a real, normal woman! Erik retorts she’s not normal, she’s a mutant, as they are all! Mutants disgusted with the acts of one of their own! Though he can easily avoid her ill-aimed shot, they can not so easily turn their heads from the barbarity of their fellows! As the card strikes right on Beast’s manacles, breaking him free, Hank informs Erik that Rogue wasn’t aiming for him! He forgot he’s dealing with the X-Men. They’re held together on levels he can’t even imagine.
Suddenly, Eeny and Meany make their appearance and begin eating through Archangel’s chains. Warren admits he never thought he’d be so glad to see two matter-eating slugs! Now the only question is, who does he want to punch more?
Rogue lashes at Erik the Red and pummels his face, vowing that he’s going to pay for what he’s done! Better yet, he’s going to suffer, like he made her suffer, no matter who he is! And no jury in the world will find her guilty for doing it to him, neither! Erik suggests she places her anger where it belongs, in the heart of the man she loved. He suggests she and her teammates judge him now and forevermore. He suggests they let him live out a life sentence, a life with the knowledge that he has betrayed a race, betrayed his friends, betrayed the love of his life, and in doing so, betrayed himself. He is through with him. Turning to Ferris, he orders him to lead him to his chambers. “Let the deliberation begin!” he shouts and raises his hand, unleashing a destructive blast that begins bringing down the building.
Beast realizes they have to evacuate immediately. He tells Psylocke to help Joseph, while Rogue… Rogue interjects and informs him she’ll help Gambit. Gambit refuses and begs her to save herself! Psylocke urges everyone to gather in her shadows; she can teleport them! Remy pleads Rogue to let the walls come down on him. Rogue insists she won’t just leave him here to die – and self-pity really doesn’t suit him. Behind them, Psylocke urges Rogue to hurry. As Betsy disappears and everything begins crashing down, Gambit realizes that Psylocke’s over. Rogue retorts they aren’t going Psylocke’s way and flies upwards, carrying him with her as they flee the collapsing installation. Gambit thanks her for believing in him. He promises what he was isn’t what he is now.
“Who said ah believe you, Remy?” Rogue retorts and lets go of him. Remy collapses to the icy ground, outside the now demolished complex. Rogue clarifies that she just said she wouldn’t let him die in there. Out here, it’s up to him whether he lives or dies. She doesn’t care anymore. Gambit insists he doesn’t care if she leaves him here, but she has to understand… Rogue interrupts him and alerts him he thinks wrong if he thinks she can understand. Remy accepts the fact he’s earned her hatred, but pleads her to at least take him somewhere that’ll give him a chance to get back home.
“Home?” Rogue retorts. She argues he doesn’t have a home – not with her, not with the X-Men. She tells him to fend for himself; he seems to have done a good job of that in the past. “But… I love you,” Gambit retorts. Rogue tells him that you’re honest with the people you love; otherwise, it’s a gamble. Saying this, she tosses the queen of hearts right at his feet and quickly vanishes in the horizon.
In a jet flying rapidly along Antarctica, Ferris informs his master that they have achieved cruising velocity and they are untracked. Life forms remaining in the citadel vicinity now number only two. “Your desire?” the robot asks him. Erik the Red admits that he desires much. Though fulfilling, this day was the beginning of a long-anticipated epiphany. For the moment, however, he desires most to get rid of this ridiculous armor. Ferris agrees.
As the robot helps him undress, it asks Erik why this other guise was necessary. Erik replies that he has learned that victory is best measured over time. One minor win can trigger greater victories in the future, and it is careful planning he is interested in now; the gradual erosion of the forces set against him and a deliberate construction of the society he desires. As he magnetically moves his helmet towards himself, he argues that this is how a world is built: one stone at a time, each put in its proper place, at the proper moment.
Ferris asks him if he should dispose of the “Erik the Red” garments. “Not just yet, Ferris,” Erik replies. He may still have need of them. There is a certain liberation to be found in moving amongst your enemies completely unknown. He may walk this path once more before all is said and done. True, he has never been one to hide behind masks, but then again, he, Magneto, is no longer the man he once was!