Valerie Jones has been out of sight for three years. I believe that she will finish Game of Empires eventually, but I want a conclusion, so I can get the story out of my head, so I am writing my idea of where the story should go. When she reappears, if she wants, I will pull the down, but in the meantime, enjoy my idea of Game of Empires. This picks up right after Chapter 33.
"Oh, my head!" Betsy groaned.
Hank rushed to her bedside. "Nice to have you back amongst the living, Betsy," he said.
"What happened," she asked.
"You were on the receiving end of a very nasty weapon. What is the last thing you remember?" Hank asked as he went over her vital signs.
Betsy rubbed her eyes. "I went into a bar with ...with Gambit and Rogue. I think that Scott and Jean were there, but I am not sure. I can't think of the name of the bar. I know it, but I can't think of it," Her pulse started to rise as she struggled to remember.
"You were at Harry's," Hank said. "Your memories are coming back. You are on the way to recovery. Don't try and use your telepathy."
"I don't feel like I am on the way to recovery," Betsy said sullenly. She tried to look around, fighting the increased pain the movement caused. "Where's Warren?"
"He is looking for the people who hurt you. He is not very happy," Hank lied.
Betsy laid her head back on the pillow. "I wouldn't want to be them right now," she said as she fell asleep.
After hearing the good news that Betsy had woke up, Gambit headed for the front door. As his hand touched the door handle, he could almost swear that his time portal was opening outside, yet something didn't feel right. It felt like it was outside of himself. He yanked the door open to the buzz saw sound.
What he saw stopped him cold. Cody's portal was in the front yard! People started running out of the doorway and Gambit stood there transfixed. The second person out was a girl named Sylvia. She was one of the kids who had been in the Danger Room, when the Gamemaster had appeared. When Remi had been in that nightmare timeline, he had some regrets about not bringing all of the kids who were in the Danger Room into the discussion. Maybe they could have been saved if he had just not thought about talking with his close friends. Of course maybe the time wave could have caught them before he could have gone through, It had been close. Here she was, carrying a little girl over her shoulder like a gunny sack!
If seeing Sylvia wasn't shocking enough, the fifth person out was Rachel! She looked just the same as she had all those years ago! She was also carrying a little girl. Others came through. Some adult, some teenager, but mostly young children. Most of the young children were staggering out of the portal as if they were shoved through, falling on each other as the next person came through, stumbling through the pile of humanity The pile was suddenly telekinetically moved to the side to the cries of everyone. The last to come through was a teen aged Renee, an adult Chamber, Cody and a teen aged version of himself! His counterpart collapsed as the portals closed.
Young Renee took one look at Gambit and shrieked, "Daddy!" She jumped to her feet, across the lawn and threw herself into Gambit's arms and began to cry.
The intruder alarm began to sound when the time portal opened. X-Men and Generation X appeared at the front of the mansion expecting a battle. Seventy-nine people had come to the mansion. Older Renee took one look at Cody and screamed. When young Renee saw Older Renee, she pulled away from Gambit, looking at him in total confusion.
Remi wished that someone would shut that alarm off. He had never felt this badly before. He suddenly felt a warmth flow through him. Renee must have helped him. He opened his eyes to stare at a noticeably older Renee. This wasn't a girl, but an adult face staring down at him. No, not at him,but at Cody who was kneeling beside him.
"Thanks," Remi said as he rose to his feet.
Renee ignored him, not that such surprised him. What did surprise him was when he looked around and froze, in shock. It couldn't be! Gambit? How? He saw the Renee that he knew she was looking between himself and …Gambit.
Scott looked at the new arrivals and said, simply. "We need to talk."
They brought in some chairs and everyone sat in the rec room. The young children, almost all of them appeared to be first graders, sat on the floor. Gambit couldn't stop staring at his long dead friends who were busy staring back at him and Older Renee. He was missing something. How could they be here?
About half of the children were whispering to each other. The other half looked scared. Their eyes looking around furtively as if they expected an attack. Most of the teenagers sat together at one end of the group. The adults sat in chairs behind the young children. Some of the adults had children in their laps. What surprised Gambit was that his friends were not sitting together,
After an awkward silence, Scott said, "It is probably best to start with a simple introduction. Chamber, who are all these kids and how did you come to be here?"
Chamber, the adult version, was sitting at the end of the row. He composed his thoughts. Gambit took a moment and looked at the other adults. If he wasn't mistaken, one of them was Jean's nephew, Joe Bailey. Of course it would make perfect sense for Scott to not recognize him. He had never seen Joe as an adult.
Something was wrong with Aban. Remi could not sense his presence telepathically, at all. He glanced over as Chamber rose to his feet to answer Scott. Remi was glad that Chamber was there to speak for the group. He knew that he could do it if he had to, but that didn't mean that he wanted to
"We are actually from the future. A little over half an hour ago, our time, we were at our school in Kyrgyzstan. Magneto and I were about to run a large scale training session in the Danger Room. We had arranged for our first grade students to watch the exercise, so we had the kids with parents and teachers, and various chaperons in the Danger Room. Charlie here," he indicated a boy, who looked to be thirteen. "He decides to bring a girl in to meet Remi. Her ability was to see people's past and to be able to generate what she saw into the air. She took one look at all of us and shouted that our history was being erased and showed us what looked to be some kind of dark, almost malevolent wave. Magneto said the paradox was collapsing. He told Remi to open his time portal and push as far back as he could. He told Cody to open a portal within Remi's portal. We had discussed the possibility of group time travel as a defense if this should ever happen, but we didn't know if it would work. When the portals were open, Magneto grabbed as many people as he could and shoved us in. I was one of the last to go. As I went in, I could see Gladiator rushing to give Remi and Cody a push. I don't even think that half of the people in the Danger room made it, including the girl who warned us."
The explanation rocked Gambit. They were duplicates from another temporary timeline who had managed to escape the paradox without the Gamemaster's help! He looked at himself. Confident, but not arrogant. Gambit thought about how much he had wished that there had been someone like Chamber to be the center of attention when he had come through time.
Chamber continued. "We arrived at some undetermined point in our past. It was night. Cody and Norma went upstairs to scout around. The city was without power. We came quickly under heavy telepathic assault. Those of us who were telepathic, generated a shield around everyone else. Since I felt our position was untenable, I told Remi and Cody to open portals again. This is where we came out. What is the date?
"May 2, 1998."
"Do you understand what I meant about the paradox?"
"Yes," Scott answered, glancing at Gambit and the professor.
"When can we go home?" one of the little girls asked.
There was an uncomfortable silence as the X-Men glanced at each other. "About that," Iceman said. "Gambit, maybe you should tell them how you got here and what you learned along the way."
Gambit glanced at Young Renee. He knew what he was going to say would break her heart. Talk about deja vu. He took a deep breath and began to tell them his story. As the story came out, Renee went from incredulous to hurt. What he didn't expect was the rage.
"Great, just great! Now our whole timeline doesn't exist because of you! I'll never see my daddy or my momma because of you! I hate you Rem'aillon Neramani!" She rose and fled the building.
"What was that about? I was hurt when it happened to me, but I never felt like I hated Remi," Older Renee said.
"She has been like that for years," Cody said.
"Is that true? We'll never get to go home again?" one of the little girls asked quivering.
Jean joined the conversation, In her softest voice, she said,"No, sweetheart" At that all of the little children started crying,
Collapsing temporary timelines! Remi felt his heartbeat race. He should be dead, no, absorbed, no erased. No what.. His mind was terrified at the possibles. Everything and everyone he knew was erased in favor of the real timeline. He had to fight the temptation to just black out.
I should finish the story, Gambit said telepathically. He focused on the adults and the teenagers. The little kids were no longer paying attention and he didn't want to try and shout over their wails It took an hour. He transmitted to the adults and the teenagers, his memories of San Francisco and the Dresden. He could tell that it rattled Cody and Rachel that their counterparts had died. By then, they children had stopped crying, for the most part, their eyes to the ground. No one as whispering. They were each in their own thoughts.
Adult Chamber shared his memory of their first stop. There was no doubt in Gambit's mind that these people had spent a few minutes, in the same timeline he had been in. They had been on the other side of the world. If their Cody had opened his doorway to the mansion, he would have meet this group when he was fifteen. The idea stunned him. What if Cody had done that? Would his Cody be alive?
Jean called for a lunch break. She said that the new arrivals needed some time to take it all in. Everyone went into the kitchen. Materials for sub sandwiches were pulled out of the fridge. As soon as everyone had food, Jean took her plate outside the back door. On the porch was a plastic set of lawn table and chairs that the people who had cleaned out the mansion chose to leave behind. If it weren't for Shi'ar replicator technology, the mansion would still be without furniture. Jean found Scott and a young couple with two small children sitting with Rachel. On the lawn, some of the young children were sitting together with a teacher. They all looked scared and sat huddled. Naturally, they were barely touching their food.
As Jean joined sat next to Scott, she heard Rachel say, "It's hard to believe that you are only eleven years older than me."
"They are probably about my age," the young man said, a little boy about six years old huddled on his lap.
Jean couldn't place the man. He was familiar. Sensing Jean's reaction, the young man smiled and said, "Joe Bailey, Sarah's son."
"Little Joey?" Jean said, shocked She would have never guessed.
"All grown up, Aunt Jean," the man said. "This is my wife, Carrie. My boys Matt, who is six and Lenny who is four. If Carrie hadn't been chaperoning the class..." He turned to Rachel. "How are you doing, Rach?"
Rachel chocked. "I am never going to see them again, will I? My parents. My brother Brian. They are really gone!"
Scott and Jean each took a hand. "Yes. They are gone." They sat with Rachel as she cried, which set off Matt and Lenny to tears. The little boys may have been too young to understand what the problem was, but they knew something was wrong.
Two Renees. Rogue didn't know what to think. She never thought that she would ever have a child. Now she had two children who were basically the same person and a son. She could see herself in the boy. Cody. He and that other boy, Charlie came up to her and Older Renee, each with a plate full of food. Rogue and Older Renee had sat at a card table in the rec room.
"Cody," Older Renee breathed. Her heart beat furiously. He was Cody. At one time, he had been her Cody. She couldn't stop staring.
"Hi Renee. Hi Momma," Cody said as he and Charlie put down their food and drinks on a nearby end table.
Charlie was nervous as a cat in a rocking chair convention, Rogue thought as he said, "Do you know what Age of Apocalypse was?" the younger boy said.
"Yeah. Why do you ask?" Rogue replied,
Charlie looked to Cody who replied. "In that timeline, Magneto and you married. Charlie is your son. Before the timeline was repaired, Magneto somehow sent Charlie into our timeline, complete with a note as to who he was. He showed up six months after Daddy died."
"Is that why Renee is so bitter? Because Momma accepted Charlie?" Older Renee asked.
Charlie looked morose. Rogue stood up and took his chin in her gloved hand. "No one is sending you away Sugah," she said.
"My real momma and poppa died. Now my second momma and poppa died, got absorbed, whatever. Here, Poppa is almost dead. What's gonna happen to you? It might be safer if you did send me away. People that love me have bad things happen to them." Charlie said. He started to turn away when Rogue grabbed him and pulled Charlie into a bear hug. He tried to pull away, but to no avail.
"Don' chu eveh say that! Don' chu evah think that! None of this is your fault! That kinda guilt will tear you up and you are innocent. You hear?" Rogue said. At that moment, she knew this young boy was hers. She looked at her children ad mentally did something she didn't normally do. She silently thanked God. After Charlie calmed down, Rogue let him go. He wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Cody, why is Renee so bitter?" Older Renee asked again.
Cody glanced at Charlie. "Charlie has been a lot more influential that he realizes. After Momma and Grandpa took him in, the government passed the mutant registration act. It got ugly and violent real quick. Magneto came to try and recruit people at the school for the war that was brewing."
"When Charlie came, he was just three. Magneto met Charlie. Grandpa showed him the letter that his counterpart had sent. He never did get along with Pietro. He saw Charlie as a second chance to have a family and he came with us when we moved to Kyrgyzstan. Eventually he and Momma married. They even had a couple of kids between them, Lana and Esther. They were eight and four. Renee rejected them all. Magneto, Charlie, Lana, Esther, pretty much everything. She thinks I'm betraying Daddy's memory by being nice to everyone. She'll talk to me, but it can be hard sometimes." Cody said.
"So Rachel.." Renee began only to be interrupted by Cody
"Rachel and Renee fell out about three years ago. " he said. "Renee had a pretty good relationship with Storm and that's about it."
"Charlie," Renee said.
"What?" he said, eyes downward.
"Look at me," Renee said.
He looked up.
"I'm not her. I don't resent you and I want to have a good relationship with you. Just like, I know this isn't my Cody, but I still want to have a good relationship with him. Are you willing to have a good relationship with me?" Renee said.
Her sincerity threw Charlie for a loop. "Yeah, sure. I uh, I am willing to be nice. I guess I haven't really thought about you either way."
Renee extended her right hand.
"Oh, you can take off you gloves. Your powers don't hurt me any more. You too, Momma." Charlie said.
"Hurt you anymore? You mean that she deliberately used her powers to hurt you?" Renee asked horrified.
"Sort of," Charlie responded. "Once."
Renee was furious. "When I get my hands on that girl!" She started to rise out of her seat to go after the younger girl, only to have her momentum stopped by Rogue's iron grip. Wait, Sugah. We need to know the whole story, first."
Renee started to argue, but like Charlie, she found Rogue's determination was only matched by her grip. "Fine! Cody, what happened?" Rogue released her grip.
Cody looked uncomfortable. "When Renee's powers kicked in, she was in the middle of an argument with Charlie about something and she shoved him into a wall. Charlie started to scream, but she wouldn't let go. If Rachel hadn't been there to yank her off of him, telekinetically, she'd have killed him. Momma made Renee go through a telepathic probe to find out if it was deliberate or not. Grandpa said that at first it was accidental, but after she got started, she didn't care that she was hurting him. Grandpa and Momma laid down the law on her after that. They'd get Grandma to banish for a couple of years on a prison world until Charlie was old enough to take care of himself if she tried anything like that again. After that, Rachel didn't want anything to do with Renee."
"Wow," Renee said softly. She had loved her Shi'ar grandmother, but the woman had a will of iron. She had no doubt that Grandma would send the other Renee somewhere unpleasant. She couldn't imagine having screwed up her friendship with Rachel like the other girl had done, but she understood Rachel, totally. She made a mental note to talk with Rachel and make sure that the other girl understood that she was a very different person than the teenage Renee..
"Right now, let's just eat our lunch as a family. We will figure out what to do about Renee later." Rogue said. The two boys moved their plates to the card table and found chairs.
I really have a family, Rogue thought. Despite the heartache regarding Remy, she felt happier than she had felt in a long time.