Disclaimer: The X-men and their world belong to Mavel/Fox. No profit or copyright infringement is intended. This is an X-men Shared Universe, orignally imagined by Tarchannon, Dark Legends is a dark future where the next generation of the Legacy virus has triggered disturbing changes in the X-men. For further stories by a variety of authors and poets, go here.

 

Stacking the Deck

Remy whistled to himself, pleased. McCoy was alive; he'd passed that information along with what else he'd learned from the young German to Sinister and, in turn, the scientist had passed on the formula for his Legend virus treatment to the medical community and to the Brotherhood. Whether it would help flatlines, no one knew, but it was a start. It had been part of Remy's price for his help.

Remy wasn't getting money for this job. He'd done his research, while sitting in a decrepit hotel, waiting to die. He'd researched so- called Dr. Sinister, really Nathaniel Essex, and realized immortality put a halt to his plans to kill the monster. And with a mutant deadly plague loose, the man was necessary. But he had to find a way to revenge himself on the son-of-a-bitch. Remy had to hit him where it hurt and it wasn't money the man valued. So - Dr. Sinister was paying in something far more precious. Secrets.

The thief grinned. Medical formulas, lab techniques and that nifty immune system trigger that might revolutionize organ transplants. And every time the bastard had to hand one over, Remy could taste his sweet, sweet revenge.

Now all he had to do was get into the mansion on a more permanent basis.

The thief unbuttoned his long coat. It was unnaturally warm in New York this summer. Warm enough and humid enough that even the Louisiana native felt comfortable. The sky was a peculiar apricot pink, with occasional flashes of pale green. The sun was a dull orange. The New York streets were silent, like a predator waiting for prey, it made the thief's skin crawl. He could sense the fear and frustration in the air, growing stronger. People gathered around television broadcasts in windows and in bars, listening to the litany of tragedy in China, Canada and France. The current culprit was Influenza but New Yorkers were a suspicious bunch and rumors of everything from an alien invasion to some mutant agenda were spreading faster than the mysterious illness. Everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the plague hit New York and Remy had not doubt that - in this heat and with this climate of fear - the city would explode like a tinderbox when it did.

He'd rented an apartment, under a false name, and when he returned home and slid the card key down the slot he noticed a small red strand of thread on the ground. Someone had visited - or was still inside. Remy slipped his key into his pocked and pulled a card then pushed the door open carefully.

Hoarse laughter met his caution. "Heard you down the hall, pretty boy."

"Cul." Remy responded, without much heat. It was Sabertooth, Sinister's errand boy. He pocketed the card and shut the door, slinging off his coat and hanging it up in the closet. "W'at you doing here, M. Chat?"

The big mutant gave him a toothy grin, sitting on Remy's couch, drinking his expensive bottled water and scratching idly at his crotch. The TV was running a silent commentary, with clips of mass graves in China alternating with concerned looking talking heads.

"Boss man sent me. Backup."

"Vou?" Remy snorted. "Like being backed up by a sledgehammer, homme. Remy don' need your kind of backup. He got finesse all you got - "

Remy looked the big man up and down. "is fleas."

Sabertooth only blinked lazily at him but the glint in his blue eyes wasn't amused. Remy knew that needling the man was foolish but the mutant rubbed him the wrong way. And he knew how important it was to keep Creed from thinking of him as weak. The man would turn on him in a second, orders or not. The thief had to keep the upper hand.

"You immune to, homme?" Remy wondered. "From de plague?"

"Immune to it all, sweet cheeks." Sabertooth yawned, showing impressive canines and perfect teeth. "Ain't nothing that can take Creed down. And I'm not the only one -"

"Eh?" Remy sat on the ottoman, back to the TV and propped his chin on his fists. He'd expected Sabertooth to show up sooner or later. Sinister had told him that the big mutant had a history with the X-men and one X-man in particular.

"The runt." Creed spat. "Logan ain't going to be sick in there. Best to keep it in mind, once you get there. And, how you going to do that?"

Remy eyed Creed speculatively. He'd felt the hate in the man, pure and bright and almost pleasant it was so intense - when he mentioned the mutant called Logan. There had to be a way to use it.

"De boy told me no one allowed in or out. Said he couldn't leave, even when I told him de plague already out here. Believed me but still couldn't cross de grounds. Someone put a gris-gris on him." Remy said.

"Chucky." Creed rumbled. "He could do it but he wouldn't. None of the 'paths would - prissy whiny bastards - prattling about freedom from coercion and mutant/human cooperation. Wait a few weeks and we'll see all about that. They're gonna be crawling to Magneto."

"De gotta eat. Kurt told Remy that de been stealing - coming down at night to take what de need and stay out of de way of de public. Dat's gonna be our chance."

"Our?"

"Ouai." Remy leaned forward. "Dey ain't gonna turn away from a mutant in need. Specially if it's me - Remy make sure of dat. Jus gotta convince dem I need rescuing."

Sabertooth started to grin as Remy explained what he wanted to do.

The X-men were scheduled to raid later so tonight was the night. Since it sounded like pleasures were going to be short in the mansion, Remy called Creed's message service to let him know the plan was for tonight then went to the best New York restaurant he could find. Full of gulf prawns and perhaps one glass to many of champagne, Remy wandered back to his apartment. The sky above was spangled with blue and green banners and he was begging to appreciate the mutant light show. Sinister had intimated that survivors of the plague were showing - disturbing - changes and Remy wondered if that was what the aura was all about. He shrugged. He'd find out soon enough.

His automatic check of his door showed nothing amiss and he plucked the thread from the door hinge as he went in. The apartment was dim, oddly illuminated by the blue aura outside and Remy yawned and threw his coat off. Maybe he'd take a nap before starting work. The realization that he wasn't alone didn't come soon enough.

Creed's swat threw him across the room and Remy had barely rolled to his feet before the big mutant was back. For all his size, the blonde was fast. A huge hand tangled in Remy's hair and a knee to his stomach doubled him over. Creed hauled him close, squeezing what was left of the air out of Remy's shocked lungs.

"Time to play." The mutant husked. "And all in the line of duty, sweetheart. The runt won't believe your lies. But I can make your worst nightmares true. Trust me -"

Remy twisted with a gasp and stabbed his thumb into Sabertooth's eye. Fluid rushed over his hand and Creed threw him aside with a roar. The thief hit the ground running, barely able to breathe.

"Mushmouthed swamp rat!" Sabertooth shouted and threw something at the fleeing thief. A brilliant white light exploded in the doorway and Remy threw himself back with a shriek of pain as the magnesium flare blinded his sensitive eyes. Stumbling for the door and whining at the knifelike pain, Remy tripped over his own coat. With a rumble, the equally blind Sabertooth lunged for the sound. Remy heard him and twisted away but - unfamiliar with the new apartment - he tripped over the low coffee table and Creed's big shoulder.

"Cul - w'at you doing?" Remy shrieked as Sabertooth swept his feet out from under him and the thief went down again. "Gon ruin everyt'ing!"

Sabretooth rolled onto him, pinning Remy down. He tried to knee the man in the balls, got in an elbow strike to his nose which had no effect except that blood poured onto Remy's face from the other man's ruined eye and nose. Despite his skills and struggles, Creed captured his hands, squeezing them together until Remy cried out in pain, sure the man was going to break his wrists. Sabertooth forced a thigh between Remy's legs and lay on him chuckling softly. He was erect, obviously exited by the fighting, the blood and even his own pain.

Blinking and still mostly blind, Remy spat at the purplish blob that was Creed's face. "Let Remy go, s'v plait. De boss not be happy if *you* screw dis up!"

"Oh, I'm just following your orders, Mr. Master Thief." Creed snarled. "And I was going to go easy on you but - you know how long it takes for an eye to grow back?"

Unable to escape, for now, Remy went still and caught his breath. Sabertooth snuffled revoltingly and rubbed his face against Remy's smearing him with more blood. The thief gritted his teeth and turned his face away. Sabertooth bit him at the junction of shoulder and neck and Remy screamed.

"Ahh - fuck you, connard!" Remy shouted. The bastard had taken a *bite* out of him! The thief bucked and writhed, nearly squirming free before Creed got handful of his hair and slammed the thief's head against the floor several times. Groaning and half conscious, Remy slumped down. He distantly felt Sabertooth roll him over and it was only the sharp, primitive rush of lust that brought the Cajun out of his daze. He groaned weakly and cursed his damn charm as he felt Creed tear at his pants.

"When I'm done with you, you're going to be begging them to take you in." Creed snarled. "If you can beg at all."

Panting Remy twisted to glare at the man looming over him. Creed was unzipping his pants with one hand. The other was pinning the thief's wrists to the small of his back. "Dieu, homme! Der more important t'ings dan your dick! People dying! Stop!"

Creed laughed. "People are always dying, kid. Don't get your knickers in a twist - I'll leave your walking. If you don't fight to hard, that is."

Remy groaned a prayer to black Erzulie as Creed wedged his legs apart. He couldn't help tensing, even though he knew resisting would only make it worse. The lunge in was brutal and Remy screamed, tears trickling down his bruised face. Sabertooth groaned loudly and his grip on the thief's hands loosened slightly. With a cry of pain and rage, Remy whipped his hands free and sank his holdout knife into Sabertooth's chest. The big mutant roared and jerked away, Remy scrambled to his feet and ran, ignoring the ache and his torn clothes.

The thief slammed out of his apartment and down the hall to the emergency exit, Sabertooth howling behind him. The alarms went off as he hit the exit on the ground floor but Remy didn't hope for rescue from the police. They'd never stop Creed. The thief kept running. It wasn't that far to where Kurt had said the raid was to take place and it was almost time for their arrival. Remy stumbled and hauled at his torn jeans. Damn the connard, he'd planned all this.

The thief cut down an alley as Sabertooth got closer. He popped out next to the big box food chain and nearly ran into a pale boy carrying two bags of rice.

"W'atch - boy!" He yelped, twisting around to see Creed roaring out of the alley, blood spattered and mad with rage. Remy popped a button off his shirt and threw it at the mutant, it exploded against Creed's kneecap and the man roared and tripped. Remy grabbed the boy's shirt and shoved him away. "RUN!"

The kid only pushed his hand off. His fingers were ice cold and Remy flinched. Sabertooth rose back to his feet and roared Remy's name. The thief spun around, heart in his throat and the stupid kid was just standing there. Sabertooth charged the kid threw out his hands and the huge mutant froze in place - literally.

The ice creaked in the stunned silence. Sabertooth was frozen, mouth open in shock, threads of blood frozen like a spiderweb in front of his contorted face. The boy turned to face Remy, his eyes were a glacial blue and he gleamed like a silver, sexless statue; cold, untouchable and perfect. Remy staggered, clutching his shredded pants. He'd found the X-men.

"Allo?" He said uncertainty.

TBC (written, 08/2002)