XvX Round 22: Gambit v Bishop

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Gambit versus Bishop, the ultimate X-feud! In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook… Bring on the next battle!

Bishop knew something was wrong the moment he opened the front door.  He’d been party to too many battles, had been responsible for too many deaths himself, and the stench was unmistakable.  Someone had died – and recently.  So it was that, for Lucas Bishop, an ordinary day turned into something quite different.

Bishop was tall and muscular, a man who walked with the kind of confidence only the law enforcers could muster; the M tattoo over one eye meant something, in his own twisted future.  Now, though, recognising that Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was under attack, he moved swiftly and silently across the hallway.

His heart was racing, but his iron self-control kept him stable – even when he came to the foot of the Grand Staircase, and recognised the broken body of Storm lying at the foot of it.  He quickly checked her skin; cool to the touch, far too cool for there to be any chance of resuscitation.  Emotion threatened to overwhelm him, but Bishop closed that down beneath a layer of cold professionalism.  He swiftly checked her body; she’d fallen down the stairs, accounting for several broken bones, but she’d not been reacting.  The broken neck had come first, and the body had been tossed carelessly down, he deduced.

Something of a human power generator, Bishop was currently running at full tank; still, only a fool proceeded without getting all their weapons.  He moved with a surprising amount of stealth, heading up the stairs and into the corridors.  He somehow managed to keep from gagging as he came across other bodies.

Members of X-Force had also been living in the School at present, and they too had fallen victim to this deadly assailant.  Up here, though, the signs of combat were far more prominent; Domino, for example, was lying in an area where the panelled walls had been blasted apart.  Meltdown showed signs of burning, as though a superheated object had skimmed close to her flesh at one point.

The pieces were coming together all too clearly for Bishop’s liking.  His heart felt heavy, but he somehow continued to move.  He made his way to his own room, opening the door silently – he’d always kept the hinges well-oiled.  Once inside, he armed up, grabbing the massive guns he liked to use in combat and checking that they were fully charged and had not been tampered with.  The coolness of the metal against his flesh brought him a strange measure of comfort, somehow.

Now, Bishop began the grim task of making his way through the Mansion, checking for survivors.  He moved slowly and cautiously, all the time aware that the bodies were still cooling and so the attacker may not be far away.  It was in the West Wing that he found a very different body – one he recognised from the X-Men’s files as one of the Marauders.  He frowned.  Riptide had been an ally of Sabretooth; perhaps he’d misinterpreted the earlier signs…

No, he decided.  He believed that the X-Men had been betrayed by one of their own.  This traitor must instead have been working with the Marauders.

The Professor’s study was a mess.  Cyclops had evidently stood by his mentor’s side, but even these two mutants had fallen.  Xavier had received a sniper’s bullet to the head, destroying that great mind in a cruel twist of fate, while Cyclops – well, Bishop suspected that the X-Men’s greatest leader had simply lost it.  Suffice to say that his attacks had destroyed half the back of the Mansion as his optic blasts raged out of control.

The surface levels had been checked, and Bishop knew he had a tough call to make.  He could proceed into the lower levels, check for the dead, and see if everything had played out as he suspected.  Or he could simply drive away, perhaps call for back-up.  The latter was the second option – at least on the surface he had the option of falling back if his enemies were too potent.

And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to retreat.  What did his life matter, now that the X-Men had fallen?  Now that the future had proceeded on-track?

He took the lift down to the sub-basement.

. ~ .

The X-Man named Gambit walked among the dead.  He couldn’t describe what he felt as he saw Rogue’s body, flesh and bone stripped away by some kind of superheated plasma.  He fell to his knees at her side, tears streaking down his face, and reached out to touch her cold cheek.

“Oh, chere,” he murmured, grief-stricken.  “It shouldn’t have been like dis…”

He was in the past.  He’d known that ever since that weird time-storm had brought him here, to the Mansion that had long since been destroyed.  But this was a past that had never happened, one in which the X-Men had somehow been slaughtered.

After longer than he cared to consider, Gambit rose to his feet.  His heart was burning with rage; he would learn who had done this to his family, who had somehow changed the past in such a terrible way, and he would have his vengeance against them.  His hands delved into the pockets of his jackets, tugging out playing cards; with a flicker of conscious will, he super-charged them with kinetic energy as a weapon.

Step by step he made his way through the Mansion’s sub-basement.  He found Hank McCoy’s broken body in the Blackbird Hanger, and moments later found Psylocke – her body shot to ribbons.  He’d always rather liked Betsy, Gambit mused, anger building in intensity.  She’d been flirty and fun, just like all the best women.  He’d liked her style of clothing, too – plenty to admire.

Gone, now, Remy mused.  Unless I can change it…

That was when he heard the scream, and set off running.  Someone was still alive down here!

He froze as he entered the War Room, staring in horror at the tableau.  Jean Grey’s body lay on the hard metal floor, and standing over her – his body seeming to writhe with anger – was Bishop.  Bishop, the guy Gambit had last seen in his own time trying to kill the Professor.  Bishop the time-traveller.

Bishop, the X-Man who had gone insane and was presumably now trying to rewrite history.

“Always knew you were too good to be true, mon ami,” Gambit hissed as he launched  himself into the air, bo staff twirling around him and cards seething with energy in his hands.

. ~ .

Somewhere not too far away, in a hidden control room in this replica of Xavier’s School, the man named Arcade sat back and crunched on popcorn.  This had been an elaborate one, of course; a tremendous opportunity to rig a fight between two men who hated each other on sight.  Bishop, who had believed Gambit a traitor; Gambit, from a time when Bishop was a traitor.

Stuffing another mouthful of popcorn into his mouth, Arcade leaned back and got ready to watch the show.

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