This is the first story in the series, plotted by myself and Jelsi4Life. I'm going to try not to be so heavy-handed on the accents, as I have been known to do.

Meridian, Mississippi: 4:15 pm~

A young woman of 17 is upstairs in her room with her boyfriend, David, who is reclined on her bed, watching as she indicates a pre-determined route on a hand-made map posted on the wall.

"An' then I'll head up north through here, endin' up...here." The pretty girl with long, auburn hair and sparkling green eyes informs her boyfriend, who is preoccupied with the view she is giving him.

"When do ya plan on goin'?" David inquires a tad mischievously, as she turns from the map and looks at him with a shy smile.

"I-I don' know. Maybe after graduation. Jus' take some time off ta travel." She answers quietly, while pushing a strand of hair behind her ear and bashfully glancing away. David rises and moves in front of her. He strokes her hair and leans in, touching his lips to hers. They deepen the kiss and then something horrendous happens, taking her completely by surprise. She feels a strong pull of energy, flooding her mind with strange memories. She pulls away quickly and he drops to the ground, unconscious. She begins to scream hysterically, alerting her parents to the trouble at hand. They rush up the stairs and into her room, stopping suddenly at the terrible sight before them.

"Marie! What happened here?" Her father demands, running over to the boy, as her mother stands there in the doorway with her hands over her mouth in shock.

Marie is still screaming and is barely intelligible. "I-I don' know. He was kissin' me an'..." She can't say anything more, wailing as she slides down the wall. Her mother doesn't know what to do. Should she go to her daughter, help David....what?

The answer presents itself to her as her husband shouts: "Go call 911." She is still frozen in place as she watches the scene unfold before her. The boy is breathing, but is unresponsive.

"Now!" Her husband shouts again, but louder, causing her to bustle out of the room to do as she is bidden.

Marie is inconsolably wailing and crying. Her first boyfriend might be dead, for all she knows.

"Tell me everything that happened, Marie." Her father commands.

"W-we were talkin' a-an' he leaned in ta kiss me, Daddy. All he did was kiss me an'...I'm so confused, Daddy!" She exclaims as she starts to sob again.

"We'll get this sorted out, after they take him to the hospital." Her father tells her as wailing sirens approach the house.

They go into the house, where her father whirls around and glares at her with disgust in his eyes.

"If I knew ya were gonna turn out ta be one a those filthy mutants, I never would've taken ya in. From this day forward, you ain' my daughter!" He snarls, then stalks off, leaving Marie in hurt shock, tears rolling down her face.

Her mother refuses to come closer to her. "Ya better get your things together. Ya can' stay here any longer. What would people think, us raisin' a mutant daughter? It jus' won' do."

Choking on sobs, Marie rushes upstairs and throws her things into a large duffel bag. She comes back down and gazes at the people who were her parents, looking every bit like a lost little girl. "Momma......Daddy?" She questions softly, daring to hold on to the small amount of hope she possesses. Her 'mother' looks away as her 'father' scowls. Marie begins to cry again, her last hope dashed, as she walks toward the garage to her car, an older model that was bought for her on her last birthday a few months ago. She climbs in and casts one last glance at the house, finally pulling out and driving away.

As she cruises along the highway, her thoughts are a tormented mess. "I can' believe I'm a mutant." She murmurs to herself miserably, the radio on as background noise. "I guess them tellin' me that they'd always be there for me was conditional, huh?" She asks herself sourly. "So long as I wasn' a mutant."

After several hours, she stops at a cheap motel for the night and turns on the TV. As she is drying off, the news comes on. She watches as a Dr. Jean Grey-Summers expounds on the rights of mutants and why the Mutant Registration Bill goes against their basic rights as people. "Huh. Anti-mutant sentiment seems ta be widespread." Marie mutters as she watches a Senator Kelly argue that mutants need to be accounted for and how they are abominations to society.

"Prejudiced much?" Marie mutters in a snarky tone and switches the channel to MTV, turning it up to drown out the noise of the couple next door.

Two days later, she gets as far as Seattle, when her car quits on her. "Oh no, no, no! C'mon baby, start for momma." She pleads as she turns the key repeatedly. Several futile attempts later, she angrily slaps the steering wheel. "Great, jus' great!" She shouts. Going to the backseat, she pulls out the bag and hoists it on her shoulder, walking to the truckers plaza she'd passed a few moments ago. Upon arriving what seems like hours later, she slides into a booth and orders a small, inexpensive meal. She asks the waitress if there is anyone she knows that's going into Laughlin City, saying that she was meeting family that lived up there. Marie notices that the waitress is familiar with several of the truckers, who seem to be regulars at this place.

An older man approaches her. "You the one needin' a ride to Laughlin City?" He questions gruffly, though not unkindly.

"Yeah. I've got a cousin up there." She tells him.

"Ain't you a little young to be travelin' by yourself?" He asks suspiciously.

"I'm 18." She answers shortly, managing to sound convincing.

He gazes at her frankly for a few minutes. "You know it ain't safe for a young lady to travel by herself."

"Got no choice. Car broke down and I have no money ta fix it." She shoots back.

He considers his options. "Okay, I'll give you a lift, but only because I don't want to see you get hurt. Not all of us are trustworthy, not that I'm sayin' I am, but I won't hurt you, at least. You about ready to go?"

"Yeah, I'm ready an' thank ya so much." She looks up at him with a small grin ghosting on her lips.

She thanks the waitress as they take their leave.

"So, what's your name?" He asks conversationally.

Marie thinks quickly, not wanting to use her real name, she sees a sign along the road and likes how the name sounds. "Rogue." She informs him.

XXXXXXXXXX

Somewhere at an undisclosed location: 2:36 am~

The nightmare never ends. He can smell the death and destruction as he travels from place to place. First it's Luxembourg, fighting the Germans in their first attempt at world domination, after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Austria, then it shifts to the Battle of Normandy, much for the same reason, as one man fought for supremacy, going so far as to attempt to wipe out an entire race of people in his misguided beliefs. Later, the Pacific Rim, fighting the Japs. The death toll was great in those battles. Then images of Korea fill his mind and finally, the worst experiences play out, as memories of fighting the Viet Cong in Vietnam, come to the surface of his sub-conscious. He can hear the screams of the women and children fighting to survive a harsh, unyielding regime. Then again, he has heard the same screams in all of the battles, including Desert Storm.

The man tosses and turns in a cold sweat as the sounds of war assail him over and over again. The anguished cries of men dying all around him, the shrill whistle of artillery coming from every which direction, the shouts of an advancing enemy, women being raped and their children being murdered before their very eyes, all to slake man's bloodlust and his need to dominate.

But the worst of it was, he couldn't claim innocence. In the name of war, he has committed atrocities, all for the Special Ops squadron he was in. An officer by the name of Stryker led them, using their individual skills for the benefit of the government.

Hearing the growls of "No...no...no..." and the noise of his associate tossing and turning, Remy LeBeau, or Gambit as he likes to go by, having just returned from a date, glances into the burly man's room. Not that he's all that sympathetic toward Victor, but he figures he'd better wake the guy up, if he's to get any sleep on this night, his room being next to his. He moves over to the bed and reaches down to shake Creed awake, only for the man to suddenly sit up and shout "NOOO!", grabbing Remy by the throat and rising to pin the younger man against the wall. As Remy struggles to release Sabretooth's hold, the feral man snarls menacingly: "I won't do that again!" Remy reaches up and grabs at the strong hand holding him in place, attempting to pry it off and free himself. Those nails are just way too close for comfort. His motions alert Victor, awakening him and causing him to release his iron grip. Remy falls to the floor in relief, holding his throat and taking deep breaths, as Victor takes in his surroundings.

"Wha's got inta y', homme?" Remy rasps irritably. "Was jus' goin' ta wake y' is all."

"None of yer business!" Sabretooth snaps as he strides to the door. Before he can take his exit, Magneto walks through the open door.

"Gentlemen, what have I told you about playing nice?" He inquires idly, looking at the two of them with a miniscule amount of amusement.

"I was willin' ta, but I t'ink ol' Sabes here, needs ta be tol' again." Remy drawls with a smirk, gaining him a black look and growl from Sabretooth.

"Do not worry, the two of you will have plenty of time to get to know each other better. I'm sending you out to apprehend someone for me. This mutant is extremely valuable to my little...project, so use the utmost care. Mystique is already in place for part one, the two of you are in charge of seeing to part two. Am I clear?"

"Y' mean I gotta go wit' him? Him?!" Remy asks, all traces of teasing gone, incredulity and outrage warring in his expression.

"Yes, both of you." Magneto replies calmly. "I believe that both of your skills will work very well together in this instance. You will be able to put your amazing thieving abilities to work, as well as using your charming ability to lure said prey to our designated meeting place. You see, you will need Sabretooth, as he is familiar with the territory where you will be heading.

"An' jus' where is dat?" Remy questions sarcastically, causing Magneto to raise a brow.

"Come with me and I will brief you on everything you need to know." Magneto invites. "And I would highly suggest you never address me in that manner again, Gambit. Remember who signs your paychecks, besides, you have no idea how much metal the human body is comprised of. Would you like to discover that firsthand? Come along, Sabretooth. You may just get an opportunity to sharpen those claws of yours." Magneto jokes drily as he strides down the corridor.

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