Don’t own anything and this is just an example of why.
Author: Dimitri Aidan
Beta: Mechante Fille, who is the best in the world if she can somehow suffer through this 100_comm with me. She’s promised to help protect me from any pitchfork wielding crowds that may show up.
Universe: Young Avengers do Earth 295: Age of Apocalypse
Warnings: Major/Minor character death, OOC (Though Teddy is still Teddy at heart, it’s just buried underneath years of training.). And really really inappropriate "Princess Bride' quotes. Like I said, he's still Teddy and thus a dork.
Pairings: Various implied things.
Prompt: 89, She
Timeline: If I had to give this a timeline I’d say…after the Scarlet Witch died and before Factor X 1.
Notes: I look back on AoA fondly, mainly for X-Man and Blink, and I think every title should suffer through it. As always, the table gave me an excuse.
Linky: My Big Damn Young Avengers Table
Summary: Sinister created hybrid soldiers using alien material. Shifter, a member of the Elite Mutant Force and one of Sinister’s ‘sons,’ is one of those hybrids.
Prompt 89: She
Better when I’m older
The Breeding Pens, a literal sea of humanity and low-level, non-conforming mutants, packed in so tightly they had to learn to sleep upright or risk being trampled into the mud like so much trash. The place reeked of sweat and filth and death all the time. The Pen he was floating above was a good three days from their turn in the showers and, even though he was carefully downwind, it was nearly overwhelming.
Fortunately he had the option of taking a form with no nose; the others weren’t so lucky.
His wings flapped, taking him higher into the pre-dawn sky, before he looped around and allowed himself to fall towards the steel and concrete wall that separated the individual pens from one another. They were topped with steel gates, just high enough that most of the humans could stand with a fair amount of comfort. The walls themselves put out power dampening fields around four feet off the ground, leaving the guards unaffected.
Mudir Rictor, the leader of the Infinites, and the elder Prelate Summer were talking to Cannonball, undoubtedly about the suspiciously empty pens. One of the gates had been shredded from the inside during the night and then a few others slashed open. The Breeding Stock had escaped in numbers upwards of two hundred and Father was furious, so he’d sent the Elite and Infinites the minute the alarm had gone off in his area.
He landed next to Rictor and the older men turned to look at him, Cannonball apparently dismissed. Cannonball glowered at him for a moment but, when he blinked and arched an eyebrow, turned and stalked off. He and Samuel Guthrie were roughly the same age, for whatever that was worth since he’d bypassed the first twelve years of his life in under a year inside of a containment tube, but in the ranks game Sam lost. He was one of Sinister’s Elite and Sam…Sam was a twit. Why Sinister allowed him to run the Pens when Amazon or the Bedlam brothers or the Beaubier twins could do a better job easily was beyond him.
Maybe not the Beaubier’s. Considering Aurora’s tendency to suddenly become another person who thought they were all cold-blooded killers and blights upon the face of the Earth doomed to an eternity burning in hell, it was probably best to not let her be in charge of anything.
“So, Shifter, you up for a game of herd the humans?” Rictor asked, brown eyes gleaming in the light of the rising sun. Prelate Summers arched an eyebrow, one of the few visible shows of emotion he had, before shaking his head in what was either annoyance or amusement.
“We’ve already rounded most of them up and have them contained. Bedlam tracked the remaining ones to the west quadrant; it looks like they’re trying to make a run through the woods to the river. Amazon and Unus are already at the river waiting.” He sounded almost bored as he relayed the information. Maybe he was; he’d been at this a lot longer than Shifter and it went without saying that almost no one could challenge him. The one man who had was missing a hand in spite of having a healing factor. “Adam, Vanisher, and Delgado are already in the woods.”
Shifter nodded, glancing at Rictor and motioning upwards. The brunette nodded a yes to the silent question of whether or not he wanted a ride. He looked back at Prelate Summers. “Are you coming too?”
The older man snorted. “I don’t chase flat-scans or low-scans, Teddy.” Shifter frowned, catching the insult hidden underneath the words. Rictor didn’t look pleased either. “If Guthrie could handle his post neither would you. Be quick, Alex is trying to convince Father we should let Beast take possession of the escaped Stock and then let him do whatever he wants with them.”
They waited until Prelate Summers was far enough down the wall, heading for the ladder that lead out of the Pens and up the main level of the compound, before speaking again. Shifter glanced sideways at Rictor who smiled wanly before speaking, voice a mocking deadpan.
“He doesn’t chase flat-scans and low-scans Teddy. You should know better.”
“Of course he doesn’t.” Shifter rolled his eyes as he left the ground, arms crossed over his chest. “Prelate Summers and Summers can never be seen dirtying their hands with such banal work for they are Sinister’s Elite Two. We are merely bio-engineered to be near indestructible, which isn’t nearly as impressive when you think about it.”
“Banal? You been hanging out with Northstar again, amigo?”
“Aurora, actually.” He shrugged before grabbing Rictor under the arms with practiced ease. Julio was, as far as carrying people went, one of his usual passengers. Rictor had a problem with Vanisher’s teleportation and tried to avoid it when he could. “She’s always around.”
“Can you blame her?”
Shifter didn’t reply, though he silently agreed. The guys he slept with all had a very depressing tendency to defect, be demoted to the Pens, or just plain die. It had never really bothered him before because Scott had taught him not to care and to never get attached. Losing someone you cared about hurt a lot more than losing someone you were just fucking that month. They died in one form another and he had to find someone else to occupy his time with until the next guy died as well.
It’d been three months, two weeks, and three days since he’d been inclined to spend his nights with anyone except himself. Victor had died, exposed as a traitor to their Lord Apocalypse and executed, and Shifter had come to the very sickening realization that he’d cared.
Caring was a weakness and the fact that he was better off with Victor dead was obvious. He would have clouded his mind, made him doubt the cause with his crap about living with humans peacefully and going against Apocalypse’s word. He would have wormed his way deeper, turned him against his family and teammates, made him care about him more than any member of the Elites was permitted to care about anyone except other Elites and that would have been the end of them both.
Better it be just Victor than both of them. It was better that he was dead.
It still hurt like that time one of Magneto’s X-men had gutted him and left him to die though, which was exactly why this was better. If he had lived, his inevitable death would have been much worse.
“I’m not after Northstar. The psychotic twin thing is a turn off.”
“You hear that?” Rictor asked. They’d touched down at the edge of the woods and, fifteen minutes later, had successfully chased the Stock hiding on their end north-west. Delgado and Vanisher were to the north, pushing whoever they could find south-west and, assuming everything went according to plan, they’d end up in at the river by the dam, where the others were waiting. Adam would be in the trees, shaking out stragglers.
“Hear what?” Shifter asked, turning in the direction Rictor was looking. Now that he was listening he did hear a faint rustling off to the left, as if someone was trying to walk around quietly but failing at it. “Right. You wanna flip a coin?”
Whatever response he may have gotten was lost as a white-hot fireball went hurtling past their heads, close enough that Shifter could feel the brief blast of heat as it went past. It landed in some bushes, which instantly burst into flame.
“I hate when low-scans escape.” Rictor muttered before inclining a head towards the right. Shifter nodded then turned his eyes back to the tree. Old tactic, Rictor would go in from the right and try to force whoever was in there out to him with small tremors. It was simple, easy, and almost always worked.
He just wasn’t as scary and most people seemed to think they stood a better chance against him.
He didn’t see it coming; his vision was clouded by sharp bursts of light and then pain bloomed from the back of his head. He shook his head, starting to turn when something sharp dug into his side, piercing skin and sinking deeper than he would have liked.
He grunted and turned, extending his arm and grabbing the head of the first person he spotted before really realizing what he was doing. He slammed him back a few meters into a tree with a sickening crack. He pulled his arm back, hand shrinking for ‘wrap around a grown man’s head size’, without a thought, even as a woman holding a tree branch took a swing at him. That explained the stars he was seeing at least. He dodged, most of his focus on the piece of rusty metal in his side.
Hadn’t these people ever heard of tetanus? He was going to have to get shots now, and there was no way he was ever going to hear the end of this. Letting flat-scans get the drop on him, the teasing would be immediate and merciless.
“Daddy!” Someone, a girl most likely, shrieked. Indeed, looking around the woman, he could see a girl with long blond hair come rushing out of somewhere—where the hell were these people hiding anyway?—and stopping next to the body of the man, bare feet mere centimeters from the steadily expanding pool of blood.
“Cassie get away from there!” The woman shouted, swinging again. “Stay away from my daughter, freak!”
He grabbed the end of the branch, stopping her mid-swing, and pulled it away. She stumbled forward from the force, more than close enough for him to catch her with the branch and send her sprawling. She wasn’t going to be getting up, so he looked back down at the metal in his abdomen, considering. It hurt but he didn’t think it was in so deep that he’d yank it out and lose anything important.
A metallic blur darted past his eyes, just missing his ear, and a soft squeak met his ear. It came from the girl and Shifter watched as she pulled a small blade out of her arm, eyes wide. Someone dropped out of the tree behind him, blond hair and burning red eyes. The girl screamed, eyes rolling back into her head as her body jerked and contorted in pain, and dropped.
“I was getting to her.” He was perfectly capable of handling his own finds. It wasn’t like she’d been going somewhere, or had ranked high on the danger scale.
“Of course.” He could hear the smirk without bothering to look at him. “You need help pulling that out?”
Shifter shook his head even as he wrapped his hands around the now slick with his blood piece of shrapnel. One hard yank and it was sliding out wetly. He eyed it for a moment, determining it to be part of a fence post, and tossed it aside.
“She’s what, twelve? I had it under control.” He stepped over the mother and Adam followed. A second later and he was kneeling over the girl, ignoring the way the body was still twitching, and picking up Adam’s lost razor.
Maybe she was a little older than twelve, but still younger than he was by a few years, fifteen at the most. Long, filthy blond hair and the wide light blue eyes were her most distinguishing features; otherwise she looked like every other person in the pens; caked in dirt, dressed in rages, and covered in scars and scabs, nameless and unimportant.
Cassie whose parents had thought they could…what? Stop him? Hold him off long enough for her to run away? Annoy him to the point where he had to kill them on pure principal of the matter?
Stupid. Were the Pens really worse than death?
“You didn’t have to kill her.” He said finally.
Adam scoffed. “Please. You never know which one might pull an ‘Inigo Montoya’.”
“Inconceivable.” He said, standing. He held out the razor and watched as Adam put it back wherever it was he kept those things. Adam was probably the most easy going of the brothers and the closest to his age, somewhere around twenty, created just like Shifter had been and so utterly content in the knowledge he’d never have to worry about a more powerful mutant coming along and knocking him down in the ranks.
Really they were all pretty calm, save Alex. Alex seemed to run solely on paranoia, ability to absorb the sun’s energy be damned.
A tremor, undoubtedly Rictor’s work, shook the ground. Adam glanced over his shoulder then looked back at him, lips quirking into a sardonic smile. “Busy later?”
“Other then helping Scott with the executions, I don’t think so. What’d you have in mind?”
“Circus is in town.”
Someone burst through the trees, head surrounded by bluish-white flames. The man was looking over his shoulder instead of where he going and was probably taken by surprise when Shifter grabbed an arm and swung him towards the ground on his stomach. There was a curse and then the entire body burst into flames, licking at his skin. It only hurt for as long as it took to make his skin thicker, tougher and less aware of the pain.
“The circus?” He wrenched the arm, pushing up at an angle until he heard the snap and the howl of pain that followed. “I could do the circus.”
Rictor rejoined them a few moments later, a little singed but mostly annoyed. The pyro was hauled to his feet and dragged off by the Mexican, a string of angry Spanish following in his wake.
Shifter followed, Adam quietly mocking Rictor as they went, but couldn’t help but glance back at the small family they’d left behind them.
It was weird, thinking that she’d had a name. They didn’t usually have names.
*Shifty look* Sooo. Don't hurt me, otherwise there can be no resolution and...that would suck.
*Crosses this off his to-do list and wanders off to see what Tommy and Jay are up to*
Prompt 76: Rebirth