The bar was dingy and dark, the perfect place for under-the-table deals to be made unobserved, and naturally, there were plenty of minor criminals filling the place this Saturday night

Author's Notes

Disclaimer: The X-Men and all other Marvel characters are the property of Marvel Entertainment. They are being used without permission for nonprofit purposes. No violation of copyright laws is intended. Any characters that are created by Galaxia Alpha, should not be used without permission.

Rating: There is a PG-13 rating on this story for violence and some adult situations. (No sex, no cursing, just some generally mature topics).

Main Characters: Gambit, Green Ghost Lady (she will get a name), New Son, Courier, and the X-Men

Things you should know: This story takes place a short time after "Tears at the Crossroad", the story following "Diamonds Etched in Blood", all part of the Diamonds Arc. It is strongly advised that you read those two stories first, before reading this one. The Diamonds Arc breaks off from comic book continuity after the Trial of Gambit and will continue to meander down its own path. J This means that (for those of you who have read the Gambit comics) Courier is not stuck in a woman's body because that never happened in the Diamonds Arc. This also means that Courier and Gambit don't have the friendship they had in the comics. As far as this arc is concerned, they barely know each other. Because I've now strayed from the comics, I have new, added freedoms that I intend to use. J Forget the established identities of the Green Ghost Lady and New Son, I plan to come up with my own explanations for them (so New Son is not Remy from an alternate timeline!). I guess what I'm basically saying is, if you forget what happens in the comics, you should understand everything fine. ;) That's it! Happy reading!

Special thanks: I owe infinite thanks to both Skyflare and Faile, the two reasons the Diamonds Arc even exists as it does. Not only have they been great beta readers, but they have also been incredibly honest and helpful, willing to listen to ideas and help me find direction. If my stories are worth reading, it is because of them. Love you guys!!!

Feedback: Thank you to everybody who has sent feedback in the past and will in the future. You cannot realize how much it means to a writer until you have experienced it yourself. I appreciate any and all thoughts and comments, criticisms and ideas, all of which can be sent my way at galaxia_alpha@hotmail.com

And thus ends the Author's Notes. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the story!

-Galaxia-

Want to see more of my writing? Visit my website at: http://members.tripod.com/galaxia_alpha/

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Prologue

She wanders the streets, hungry, lost, dirty. Her large green eyes stare out at the dark alleys surrounding her, finally dry after loosing all their tears to her sorrow. Streaks trace her cheeks where the mud was washed away by the bitter salt water. Black hair hanging in tangles about her, she looks like any other street rat wandering the alleys in search of a meal. Only she is not quite as emancipated as the rest, not quite as seasoned. There is something about her, an innocence that radiates from her wide, terrified eyes, that says that she doesn't know survival, not the ugly, desperate, demoralizing survival that someone living on the streets knows. Despite the dirt that embellishes her ragged clothes, she is somehow clean.

The hot, sticky air presses down on her, weighting her sagging shoulders, adding to the ever-increasing load she is forced to bear. She walks as quickly as her weakened legs can manage, simply for the sake of doing something even if she has no real destination, and she bursts out of the alley into a wide sidewalk outside of a popular New York City bar. Loud music mingles with the rumble of shouts and laughs and over-enthusiastic conversation. The overflow crowd has tumbled out the door and a few random drunks stumble about, starting on their clumsy journeys home. Wrapping her arms around herself, she makes her way through them, only too aware of her youth and defenselessness, feeling their bodies press against hers as the crowd shifts and sways with the alcohol in its blood. She has never felt so alone.

She mentally prepares herself to begin her rounds of begging in the crowd. There are so many people here; somebody must be willing to help a 12-year old lost on the streets. Taking one small arm and extending it out, she tugs on somebody's expensive looking black suit. The man turns, and smiles, the smile drooping slightly as he seems to notice the condition she's in, and something like pity briefly accents his expression before it is smote out. She suddenly thinks that maybe she is lucky, that maybe this man will give her money.

But money isn't what she gets. "Been waitin' f'r y', petite. Y' an' me, we got some t'ings to discuss." She steps back in surprise, but he has grabbed her outstretched wrist by now and her movement is cut short. His grasp is firm, strong, despite his long white hair and thin frame, and she lets a tiny cry of pain escape her lips. She stares up into his lined, angular face, suddenly wondering what his eyes look like, wishing she could see them and get some insight into who he is, but they are shaded in dark sunglasses. Despite the fact that it is night.

He pulls her and she follows, staring at the ground and biting her lip to keep from screaming. That will only make him mad, and who knows what he will do to her then? She is so scared she can taste it, vile and bitter in her mouth. Why was this happening to her? Hadn't her parents disappearing been enough?

He takes her into a dark alleyway, but just as she has decided that maybe screaming might be the best idea after all, or that maybe she should try to fight him and run, a feeling of calmness shrouds her, one of comfort and safety. She looks up at the man who is gazing at her curiously, loosing all her fear to an invading sense of peace. "Who are you?" she questions in a small voice. He stops walking, kneels down before her. Slowly, he slides off his glasses and she is faced with the most amazing, horrible eyes she has ever seen. Bright, red, burning coals scorch their way into her mind, the black around them sucking her in.

"I'm called de Witness," he says in a rough, Cajun accent, and then adds a moment later, "An' I'm here t' tell y' about your parents."

"What about them?" she asks in a small voice, suddenly terrified again.

His tone is flat, his words simple and direct, "Dey're dead."

She almost collapses and her heart begins to beat faster than it ever has before. Dead, dead, dead.

And at that moment, with those words, with those suddenly expressionless eyes staring into her, something inside her changed. That's when the cleanness of her, the innocence, became stained with dirt.

Because she knew. Maybe it was the coldness in his voice, or the darkness of his eyes, or the insensitivity of his actions, or just a simple intuition. But she knew, somehow, that he was the cause of her family's death. She knew that he was a murderer, a monster without compassion. A man who had caused hardship and pain for many others like herself. One with demon eyes.

From that day on, she'd hated him, had made it her goal to bring an end to the pain he inflicted upon others.

And now, now almost 50 years in the past, she had saved him. In a rare moment of compassion, a moment of weakness, a moment when she could feel him dying almost as clearly as if it were herself, she had saved him.

She had made a horrible, horrible mistake.

end prologue

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Part 1

Deep in the heart of Salem center, a quaint little town nestled in upstate New York, there sits a mansion. The locals know it as "the strange school that houses all those freaks". Those who live there know it as home, as a safe haven, a place where they can share, live, grow with those like them. The sign that guards the gate blocking the long driveway reads: 'The Xavier Institute: School for Higher Learning', but those who attend know that this is only a cover, a disguise in a world that would hate and persecute the mansion's occupants if it knew the truth. This is a place where the extraordinary occurs every day, where the spectacular is the usual, where the uncanny is the norm. Here, amazing things can happen.

It is here that futures are born.

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

The bar was dingy and dark, the perfect place for under-the-table deals to be made unobserved, and naturally, there were plenty of minor criminals filling the place this Saturday night. Music blared loudly from a set of speakers in the ceiling, competing with the TVs scattered around and playing various sports games. In one corner there was a group of men sitting around a large table drinking bears and staring intently at a basketball game. One of the teams scored a point and the whole group jumped up, screaming for joy in a giant wave of human adrenaline. A few tables over a trio of girls were talking secretly, commenting conspiratorially on every male that walked by. They giggled at the over-enthusiastic sports fans.

The bar was set up in sections. There was the bar itself with its shiny silver stools, and there were the booths that lined the tinted-windowed walls. In the space between were free-standing tables where the sports fanatics and the trio of girls were. The tables were almost full, but many of the booths were still empty, reserved for dark characters who might be expected to grace the bar with their presence later that night. Each booth that was occupied contained only a few people, never more than four, but usually closer to three or two. And always, the customers sat in the shadows with shifty eyes that constantly swept over the people that filled the bar. It was clear that all were involved with something illegal. Some drugs. Some smuggling. Some were trying to move swag. And here was where they made their deals; the bar was their local crime hub, centered in the "bad part" of Salem Center.

Many of the stools at the bar counter itself were filled, but those there were very different in character from the criminals at the booths or the people hanging out at the tables. These were the regular drunks. The husbands who didn't want to go home to their wives at night. The man or woman who had just lost his or her job today and needed to loosen up. The hopeless and desperate who looked for direction and purpose in the bottom of a bottle.

But there was one figure who didn't seem to fit. His long trench coat that he'd refused to take off when he'd come inside hid his shape from behind, and even from the front, his eyes were blocked by dark sunglasses. He sat hunched over a still full, chilled mug of beer, playing solitaire as if he were in no hurry. The face was worn, the skin very weathered and back-lit with a red glow that was reminiscent of a sunburn, but the features were strong and rather handsome overall. Perhaps if his hair had been longer, rather than cut short in a crew-cut as it was, he may have been considered quite gorgeous. But still, he was at least cute enough to grab the attention of the three girls at the table behind him, who had been looking for guys the whole night. He gave no indication that he noticed, though he must have heard them whispering.

He seemed like he should have been young, face not yet marked with wrinkles, but there was something about him that said he wasn't an inexperienced child. He was dangerous. Even hunched over and concentrated on his card game that was certain.

And above all, there was a message written in every crease of his worn duster, every scar on his hands and face, every movement he made.

This was a man who had seen the darker alleyways of life. This was a man who had dwelled in the shadows for much of his existence.

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

Remy LeBeau was starting to get annoyed. He glanced at his watch again, noting that it was now 10 minutes past his appointment. That really wasn't too much of a delay, but he hadn't wanted to come to this meeting anyway. New Son sure knew how to pick the worst of times to contact old employees. But maybe it had been planned that way.

He was injured. He was still healing. And he had almost died. What better time to take advantage of somebody?

His brain was on auto-drive and he suddenly realized that he had won his solitaire game. There was a half-empty mug of beer sitting on the bar in front of him. It was his first glass. He hadn't wanted to drink too much so as to keep his judgement and instincts intact, but he'd needed something for his grating nerves. Public places were hard to be in now. Ever since his recent episode with Sinister, when he'd regained the full strength of his powers, his empathy had been stronger. It still wasn't anything too extensive, but he wasn't used to controlling it yet and his shields didn't block out enough of the emotions that surrounded him. He could feel everything around. The drunken stupors. The empty glee. The wary fear. It was like a pungent odor, and his mind wrinkled up in reaction to it. It reminded him of just how glad he was that he wasn't a full-out telepath, like the Professor or Jean.

So, of course, he was a little off-guard here. And it wasn't an accident that this meeting had been arranged in one of the more popular night-spots of the back-alleys of Salem. New Son knew what he was doing.

He glanced at his watch again. 15 minutes. He tried to be optimistic. At least he was doing something, rather than sitting back at the mansion being babied by the other X-Men. He was off active duty. And he was forced to visit Hank's torture chamber everyday for medical check-ups. They wouldn't even let him use the danger room for fear that his health might be 'unpredictable'.

They acted like they'd never seen a dead man come back to life before. Jeanie had done it numerous times, and they'd never had a problem with that.

It was getting out-right frustrating. And then they wondered why he had insomnia at night. There had always been a method to his madness. Days over-packed with activity, parties spanning into late night and early morning, disappearing for a little midnight adventure—he didn't do it just for fun. Well, he did do it for fun… but there was also another more practical reason. He was trying to tire himself to exhaustion, to get to the point where he could collapse into unconsciousness and fall down past the echoing nightmares in his mind. If you're numb with exhaustion you can't hear the screams in your dreams.

Or so the theory went. But the X-Men were forcing him to be a good little boy, just because he'd gotten a few boo-boos recently.

He wasn't a boy.

And he hated being good.

He realized that now he was simply staring at his watch, unconsciously counting off the seconds with the digital display. There was an eruption of giggles behind him and he remembered the three girls that he had felt staring at his back since the beginning of the night. They had provided a nice distraction, listening to them whisper about him loudly, as if he wouldn't be able to hear. He'd glanced back once and smiled and then turned away to listen to and feel their giggles. That was before he'd gotten preoccupied with the time. But now he remembered them.

There was an uncertain presence approaching him at his back. He felt it move through the kinetic field that surrounded him, knowing before she sat next to him that it was one of the girls. The stool to his left squeaked quietly and she eased her weight onto it. The giggles followed her from behind.

Ripping his eyes away from his watch, he turned his head to face her, raising his eyebrows in question behind the sunglasses. She was relatively pretty. Her hair was very straight and very blond and her features were delicate, but smothered in too much makeup. "Hey," she said, smiling warmly with dark red lips. Her voice was young and peppy.

She ordered a drink and he waited for her to turn back to him. "Hello, cherie," he smiled. He could feel her relax at his greeting and bristle at his accent. He turned to the bartender. "Drink 's on me." She smiled wider.

"Thanks. I'm Jen." Her hand came out for a handshake and he considered flattering her by bending to kiss it. But then he thought better. He was already leading her on more than was decent. She probably expected to leave here with him tonight, or to at least get his number or something. She had no way of knowing that there was already a significant other in his life. But there was nothing wrong with talking. He took her hand and shook it in his right hand. The movement hurt, and he tried not to wince visibly.

"Remy," he said.

She nodded. "So, what's up with the sunglasses, hon?"

"Got sensitive eyes," he smirked.

"Oh." She was staring down at his hand… at the scar… He turned away, looking down at his deck of cards.

She didn't comment on it. Too polite. "I've never seen you around here before, where ya from?" she asked finally, breaking the silence.

"I usually don' come here." He circled around the question. He felt her understand that he didn't want to give away too much information. She had to be used to that, sitting in a place like this, surrounded by shady characters constantly, all carrying their own secrets.

She shrugged. "Well, you should come by more often." She wasn't intimidated by him, or even enchanted by his mystery. She'd seen it all before. He noticed the tight clothes, the way she held her purse to her side, the tall, knee-high boots. He wondered if she had a weapon somewhere on her person.

He grinned charmingly. "Yeah, maybe I will." Or course he never would. Not by choice. The beer wasn't that good here. And the bar itself was rather run down, not very impressive compared to some of the other places he knew.

The door swung open behind the girl, and he saw a figure enter. At the same time he extended both his kinetic field and his empathic powers around the newcomer, running his own version of an identity check against what his eyes saw. Finally. He was here. He glanced at his watch. 20 minutes late. That was a message. New Son was telling him that he was still his servant, that he still waited according to his timetable.

"Sorry, chere. But I must be going now. Remy thanks you for the lovely company." He left a few bills on the bar, ignoring her slightly disappointed expression, bowed extravagantly and left. He walked quickly over to a booth, to meet the courier he'd been waiting for all this time.

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

"Nice o' y' to come," Remy commented mildly as he slid into the booth across from Jacob Gavin Jr., known to the business as Courier. That business was delivering information, making Jacob a go between for various parties. Particularly for New Son and his various connections. Of course, most people never found out his real name, simply knew him as Courier. But Remy had his ways, his sources.

Courier nodded a greeting that completely ignored Remy's obvious annoyance. He was immaculate. A good quality pin-striped suit fit perfectly over his average-built frame, too fancy for a place like this, but suiting him so well that it didn't matter. His hair was parted down the middle, gelled slightly so that the bluish-black strands fell down into his eyes. It was a rougish hairstyle that he managed to make look perfectly planned and executed. He looked like a rich kid who wasn't afraid of standing out or making an impression, but who at the same time was used to being told what to do.

Remy tilted his head at the man across from him. He couldn't get a clear empathic reading, only a vague empty echo that gave him no insight into Courier's feelings. It made sense that he would have mental blocks. What good was a messenger who couldn't keep secrets from a mind-reader? Especially when that messenger worked with mutants.

"You won't mind if we get straight to business, I ate before I came," Jake inquired, leaning back casually in the cushioned seat as he gestured toward the bar.

"No problem," Remy nodded, sitting back in an equally comfortable position.

"Good. Of course, you know who sent me."

"Of course." No mention of the name, even if it was a cover name anyway. They both knew who they were talking about, no need to tell other possible eavesdroppers.

Jake nodded. "How are you feeling?" It seemed like a complete and total change of subject, but everything had a purpose. New Son wanted information on Remy's condition. He had to have known something about his injuries, how much, Remy didn't know, but until he found out, he would play it safe.

"Better dan I was two weeks ago." He grinned. "I'm alive, no?" He tried to watch Courier's reaction to that, to see if he took the last part figuratively, or if he really knew that Remy had almost died.

"Yes. Indeed." He knew. "And those nasty burns you got? They've all healed? Well, except for that scar on your hand. Peculiar shape it is." His eyebrows rose, asking an unvoiced question.

Remy ignored the implied question, as much because he had no explanation for the scar as because he didn't particularly want to talk about it. "Yeah, de burns are all gone. I feel great," he lied. The burns were gone, they had healed to the degree of a minor sunburn within a few days after his touch with death in the hospital. That much was true. As for feeling great. That was a bit of an exaggeration.

Jake nodded. He didn't believe him. "And your powers?"

He knew about the powers. New Son sure had sources. But did New Son know that he had lost the Omega abilities with his healing? He could still do the normal, 'charge a card and make it go boom' trick, but 'charge the world and make it go boom'? Not a chance. No one could explain it. Not even him. But his kinetic abilities were back to Alpha strength, even though the nanos that had always restrained his Omega abilities were gone.

He tried playing dumb. "M' powers? Well, I'm still a mutant, if dat's what you mean."

"You know exactly what I mean."

Remy smiled and placed his left hand on the table. The spot directly under it began to glow a faint pink. It lasted for a second before the short energy burst dissipated. "Yep, dey still dere." The smile became a smirk. It had to be clear to Jake now that he wasn't going to answer the question.

"Wow, aren't you talented," he commented sarcastically. "Should I remind you that you owe my employer your life?"

"Y' can if y' want." As if he couldn't forget it. That was the only reason he was sitting here talking to this man right now.

"I do." He tried to meet Remy's gaze but the sunglasses interfered. "But onto other matters… your health isn't the reason we are having this meaning."

Remy tried to look shocked. "No? And here I was, t'inking you really cared, Jake."

"I'm sorry to disillusion you, but my employer has a job for you." He pushed a strand of blue-black hair away from his eyes, it fell back in exactly the same position. Blue hair. It should have been enough to identify him as a mutant, but these days people were doing enough weird things to their bodies that it simply appeared to be some form of self-expression. No one would suspect that he was really a mutant shapeshifter.

"What kind o' job?" Remy leaned forward in his seat.

"Details will come." The voice was smooth, perfect.

"Dat's all I get?"

"Yep."

"Don' sound like I have much of a choice." He raised his eyebrows behind the glasses.

"You don't." Courier shrugged. "You do the job or you disappoint my employer. I suggest you do the job."

"I don' need your 'suggestions'. When do I find out more?"

"Soon," he said simply. And with that he slid out of the booth and stood, walking out of the bar without another word.

A moment later, Remy left himself, tired and ready to head home. The trio of girls at the table watched him go.

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

It was almost midnight by the time Remy pulled up to the mansion on his motorcycle. The bike was a Harley, brand new too, and it purred like a wild cat beneath his body. He pulled into the mansion garage, hoping that the noise wouldn't wake anybody up, knowing that it probably wouldn't since the bedrooms were rather far from the garage, but being paranoid nonetheless.

He covered the bike with a tarp to protect the sleek paint, and walked into the mansion using the garage door, cradling his right arm the whole way. The vibration from the bike had irritated it, and he flexed the fingers and bent the elbow with the range of movement it still had as he entered the mansion. The injury was a result of a large shard of glass that had pierced his forearm near the elbow when he had blown Sinister's lab up a few weeks previous. A tendon had been severed, and it had healed badly, scarred and restricting his movement. He only had about 70% ability in his right arm now, the range of motion now much smaller. The effect was disastrous on his ability to throw cards charged with kinetic energy. He could still throw fine with his left arm, but when he tried to use his right one the card would either flip end over end harmlessly, or would be thrown clean and completely wide of the target. In a fight, either possibility could be fatal.

That said nothing of the effect on his thieving skills. He was still a very able professional, could still probably handle any job he could have before; he was that good. But part of being a thief was trusting yourself and knowing your abilities. You needed to know what situations you could handle and when you were pushing your limits too far, and right now he wasn't so sure what those limits were. Even if he had wanted to, he probably wouldn't take a serious thieving job for that reason alone. He hoped that wasn't what New Son wanted him for.

He was on the stairs now, making his way quietly up them, avoiding the creaky spots he had memorized since his first trip up them. His movements were graceful, smooth, and completely and utterly silent. He had been trained as a thief by the New Orleans Thieves Guild since he was a boy, and the lessons he had learned had been ingrained in his mind. Clinging to the shadows was a natural reaction, blending with crowds and moving like a ghost, instinct.

The door to his room was closed, as he had left it. He reached out and turned the brass knob, pushing through and going inside, automatically alert, just in case. With all that had happened lately, his nerves had been even more tightly wound than usual. Before he knew it he would end up like Scott. What a horrible thought.

He closed the door and walked over to the bed, having satisfied his caution. By the time he reached the soft mattress, he was stripped down to his boxers. He smirked at the cute little ducks that covered them, happily squeaking out the word 'quack' on the white fabric. Remy LeBeau, thief, scoundrel, X-Man, and lover of cute boxers. Wouldn't want that getting out; it couldn't be healthy for his reputation.

He was sitting down, not quite ready to attempt sleeping. There were too many thoughts running through his scrambled brain. New Son was knocking at his door again, asking his help in more illegal activities. And Remy had to listen, because as much as he pretended not to care, his honor mattered. New Son had saved his life at a time when he had nobody else to turn too. He owed him. And for now, he would keep doing the favors, until the price got too high.

He had to remember that life was just a game. A gamble to which all were addicted. Otherwise the stress would just be oppressive.

If only the game had some discernable rules. He should be dead. In fact, he had died. He had stopped breathing, his heart stopped beating. Rogue had kissed him, but despite her uncontrolled mutant ability to absorb a person's memories, abilities, and personalities by touch, she had felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. And then something had happened and he was living and breathing and recovering at an unbelievable pace. By the next day the burns had faded to mere first-degree sunburn. Even Wheatey's couldn't explain that.

There were only two ways such an event could happen. One was that he had special healing abilities. The other was that somebody had healed him.

And he knew he'd never had a healing factor like Wolverine's to brag about.

The other possibility scared him though. Because it made him think Sinister. He touched his right hand, knowing what was there, left scarred on his skin, and hating it. He couldn't help but theorize that Sinister was responsible for all this somehow.

But the nanos were gone. They had harmlessly self-destructed when he had destroyed Sinister's lab, which had held the equipment controlling them. He remembered holding the power in his hands, charging the room where he and the other X-Men were being held, with kinetic energies fueled by his newly recovered Omega abilities. He remembered releasing them, staring into Sinister's eyes as the madman realized what he was about to do. He remembered the world disappearing around him. He'd been told that he had been successful in managing to direct the impact away from the X-Men, only a few of them walking away with minor burns. And the explosion had taken out the force fields surrounding their glass cages, and much of the glass itself too. But there was a lot of commotion, and when the smoke had cleared, Sinister was gone.

Not dead. Gone. It was never that easy.

He ran his hand through his hair—or lack of. The X-Men had taken him directly from Sinister's destroyed lab back to the mansion, but when Hank and Cecilia, the resident doctors, had seen his injuries, they had rushed him to the hospital. The hospital had shaved his head to make it easier to treat his wounds, and most of his hair had been singed anyway. It was almost two weeks since he'd been released and all that had grown was a one-inch fuzz. His hair usually grew pretty fast, he hoped it would this time. As of now, he'd officially decided it looked horrible.

Looking down suddenly, and raising his right hand in the dark, he stared at it, outlined in an eerie, pale halo from the moonlight shining through the opposite window. He focused on the scar. Ugly and clear. Traced on the back of his hand. A perfect diamond etched in red, centered so that it lined up with the knuckle of his middle finger exactly. Looking like a diamond etched in blood.

He turned away suddenly, disgusted, and rolled over in the bed, hoping for sleep and hoping that the nightmares wouldn't come.

¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨ ¨

Sleep brought restless dreams, turning, churning, dizzying, swirling. Terrifying. Green mist surrounded an empty, dark scene, absent of anything, of touch, smell, sight, feeling. There was a sense of loneliness, an absence, an unnatural fear bred by the vertex of nothingness. He spun uncoordinated within it, drifting on an ever-changing axis, images drawing faded shapes through the opaque green shadows that permeated everything and nothing. But slowly, the suppressing green mist relented, parting to let in brief sensory glimpses of worlds he did not know. Or want to know.

There were the sounds of war. Shouts, screams, shrieks. Battle cries mixed with the electric explosions of weaponry. Yelps of agony mixed with sobs of anguish. There were people, mutants and humans, united in their hatred, their violence, their murders, killing each other with zealous determination. But it was distant, unreal. Not dreamlike unreal, but unreal as in a feeling that this was something that had taken place long ago in a place far away. The type of feeling you got watching a documentary of World War II on TV. And there was something attached to it, an intuition, a feeling that the images had something to do with New Son, and something to do with himself.

The green mist filled in again, and there was silence, full and complete, until it parted again to show a face. A man, old, wrinkled with age, but still strong somehow, still sharp. Red eyes that pierced through minds, black pupils that were dull with pain and past tragedy. Long white hair, tied neatly in a ponytail, held by a long piece of leather tinted a dark reddish brown and wrapped tightly around it. Angled features thinned by years of hardship, tight lips stretched and hardened by reality. A face without any impossible fantasies to keep it aglow, without any illusions or hopes. The face of a hardened killer, a murderer. The face of a future Remy. There was the sound of a quiet whisper, riding on the swirls of the mist, giving a nametag to the image that he saw.

The Witness.

And then Remy awoke with a sharp intake of breath.

He couldn't sleep the rest of the night.

end Part 1