Jubilee settled onto the cushions next to Jo, her new beau. The Boston Guild's version of Sunday school was conducted by Emmaline, the heir to the Guildmaster's position. She and Remy were the same age, but she was strictly a thief with no outside commitments. Jubilee almost envied her that. The X-men, though, they would always have her heart.
Jo was a little taller than she was, with highlighted brown hair and an impressive tiger tattoo that ran up his arm. He normally hid it with long sleeves, but today it was out, proud, and soon wrapped around her shoulders. He smelled spicy with a layer of soft soap next to his skin. Jubilee snuggled into his side a little bit.
The group around her gossiped gently. She listened avidly for any information that her Master might be able to use. She didn't understand all of the Guild politics yet, but she was catching on. Today there was nothing beyond who was in love with who. It was all the same bullshit that she hated about the Academy. She'd report it all back to Gambit though. He seemed to find it interesting.
Emmaline cleared her throat. The room quieted instantly. "We've been focussing on techniques recently and how they were developed. Today, I want to focus on something else."
"But we were in the middle of the code system," Jenny said. Her blonde pigtails twitched as she turned around to face the front of the room.
"If you can't remember the codes for a few weeks, what good are they?" Emma asked.
Jenny shifted under the flat stare. "I can remember them," she said finally.
"Good." Emma looked around the room. Then she walked to the window and drew the curtains. She lit a single candle on the mantle. When the main lights were turned out, the flickering candle made the room seem larger than before. Jubilee repressed a shiver, but settled her hand on her knife all the same. Jo tightened his grip on her shoulder. He slid his knife out of his pocket and held the blade ready in his other hand.
"I'm going to tell you the story that was taught to me as a child. It's the story of who we are, who we were, and who we will someday be. We walk in shadows today, but it was not always so." Emma's voice took on the cadence of a storyteller. Once we lived in light, the harsh light of the desert sky. We were keepers of wisdom and protectors of wealth. We protected our people fiercely. But we were human and made mistakes. We attacked an army coming through our lands. The horsemen ran savagely through us, cursing our people with illness, destroying our crops, and killing the wise ones among us. We could not heal from those wounds.
Our knowledge burned, but the new leaders, mere children to us, but adults there and then, made a vow that we would wait and watch and destroy our enemies.
They divided the survivors into small groups and gave them the lessons that would protect them. Silently, the civilization we had been slipped into the shadows of other nations. We went into the service of kings and queens, scurried like rats into the poor corners of countries, dedicated ourselves to learning and joined armies that protected the land.
But we never forgot who we belonged to or the elders who raised us. We met in secret places and shared what we had learned. We trained new members and rebuilt our numbers.
We were one people, one guild, though that did change, it was not always so.
We remember our ancestors still and honor their spirit and sacrifice. We hold to the traditions and live by our word in the shadows of yet another nation we have helped raise. One day, when we have defeated our enemies, we will stand strong as a nation again.
The room was quiet for a long moment. Jubilee shivered. She really needed to talk to Remy. She fiddled with her earring.
"What this story tells us has been debated for years. There are those who believe that our enemy is dead, but our eternal patrons argue against that."
"Maybe our patrons are afraid of us," Jo stated.
"He's real," Jubilee said quietly. "He goes by Apocalypse, but his name is En Sabah Nur. He created his horsemen with technology stolen from the future."
"How do you know?"
"I've had a run-in with the Horseman of Death. Well, one of them at least. He's better now. And I know of one of his followers."
"You didn't answer my question." Emmaline's voice indicated that she was asking as a Master Thief to an apprentice, not as the friend or mentor she was becoming.
"I have a prior oath of silence," Jubilee said formally, "which I share with my Master." She sat up straight and Jo's arm fell away.
"What can you tell us about our enemy? Why has your Master not told us?"
"I reckon because ain't no one here gonna believe it," Remy drawled from the back of the room.
"But the Prophecies," Emma began.
"I got good knowledge of that Emma and I think I got a fix on who's gonna be our champion, but that, ma petites, is a story f' another day. We got t' roll, Jubilee." Remy bowed formally. "Master Spinner."
"Master Gambit." She returned the bow, but she was scowling at him.
"Merde," Jubilee muttered.
"I ought t' tell y' papa t' wash out y' mouth wit' soap. Let's go."
She kissed Jo on the cheek. She put her hand out, sure that Remy would take it. He did. He led her out of the room and into the bright spring sun. "We got a job?" she asked, vibrating a little from just the possibility.
"Oui. Get on." He swung his leg over the motorcycle and handed her a helmet. "Y' get a new lesson t'night."
"And, petite, don' believe everythin' y' hear. Folks 'round her got different ideas on legends than you an' me."
"Don't worry. I've noticed."
She settled her arms around his waist. She let out a whoop of delight as they pulled away from the Boston Guildhouse and into the spring afternoon.
La Vie X-Men Index