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Title: No Way Around It
Prompt: #96 Bitter
Category: X-Men Universe
Characters: Shatterstar, Spiral, mentions of others
Summary: Shatterstar has to face up to his past when he discovers something is out of place.
The wall was painted crimson; sprayed violently with blood. The first spatter had hit when the man was stabbed through the chest and lifted into the air. The second hit when the man was flipped over onto the ground. The last spatter rained across the formerly flawless white wall when Shatterstar tore the blade back out of the body again, leaving it a lifeless heap on the floor. Absently, he ran a gloved hand over the side of his face, trying to rid himself of the itchy sensation drying blood brought to his own flesh.
It was as bad as having sticky soda on him.
It was a routine he had with every kill. Looked his victim in the eye, ignored their screams, assaulted them with whatever weapon handy, rid himself of the splattered remains, and left. Same job, different day, and it never changed. He loathed it.
He did not have a choice. Shatterstar was still SHIELD property, and he was to do whatever they told him to do. Punishment from destroying billions of dollars worth of equipment during the Civil War, he had a duty which he would finally be relieved of at the end of the week. Both he and his former team mate, Domino, had been given orders. She was assigned to the Six Pack – stealth and sabotage and hunting. He had been assigned to rid of prisoners the government did not want to deal with anymore. Shatterstar was an executioner.
For many months he killed. He killed when he woke in the morning, and he killed after his afternoon lunch break. Men and women slaughtered everyday by his weapons, and he would go to bed every night to sleep and wake up and do it again. SHIELD considered him skilled and efficient. A criminal himself forced to carry out dastardly deeds to evade being sent back home. Even if home was not all that different, at least on Earth he still had his freedom.
At home he would be forced to live in a cell and eat whatever left over garbage the Spineless Ones did not want. At home he would not have made money for his jobs, and he would have been beaten and spit on. Then he would be forced to kill. It was worse than being an Earth slave, so he stuck it out and took his chances with SHIELD.
However, it did not make working for them enjoyable. The people he killed were bad people, yes – terrorists – but he still questioned the reason why he was killing those who were already imprisoned. They held no skills compared to him, and sometimes it felt like an ambush on a defenseless person.
There was no honor in that.
He also still stood by his choices. What he and Domino had done was a rescue mission. The mutants being held at Xavier’s had the right to freedom, and Shatterstar had always been a freedom fighter. He would not stand by and watch his fellow mutants be kept from freedom outside the walls. SHIELD was punishing him for doing a good thing, and the Cadre warrior was still bitter about that fact.
However, that day brought upon a different feeling. That particular kill had been bittersweet because it would be his last as an agent of SHIELD. He cleaned his weapon of remains and sheathed it, stepping over the twisted limbs with a small smile. Two days of paper work was all that he had left, and he would be a free man. He had yet to decide what he was going to do. There were not many places that he was allowed to live, nor were there many jobs out there he was qualified to work. All of his old friends had split up and gone their separate ways, and all of the X-Teams had disbanded.
He did not have many options.
The last few days at the office had allowed him a little extra time as he readied his belongings to pack, and he had done some looking into names and databases. A lot of old names had come up – both friends and foes – and one name in particular had stuck out to him.
The woman that had been after him his entire life had popped up in the database as a former SHIELD employee of Freedom Force. Wrap sheets and information on the six armed woman had been available in abundance with just a small amount of hacking on the warrior’s part, but he had uncovered enough information to worry him.
It had all started weeks ago. The woman had been popping up again for the first time since he had defeated her for the Five Fingers of Annihilation. She would stand back amongst the shadows and watch him. Follow him home. She was forcing him to watch over his shoulder even more than usual, and he had enough. So he looked her up for any information that may explain her presence, but what he had found was something different entirely.
Since his stint with SHIELD was mostly done, it was safe to make a move. The mangled body at his feet would be cleaned up later by staff, and Shatterstar would go out for the night and hunt for a new kind of prey. A confrontation that had been held off for far too long. He stepped out of his victim’s cell quietly and spoke to no one on his way out. He had quickly stopped by the locker room to rid himself of his uniform, and replaced it with a clean one. His badges, keys, and identification tags were left behind in his locker, and he grabbed his personal cell phone and his weapons. At the sinks he washed his face and tidied his hair. And just as quickly as he had entered the room he left it again, silent and contemplative.
The night air was moist and cool; a slight drizzle had begun to fall, and the wind whipped red hair around the warrior’s face messily. The streets were quiet, which was better. If things were going to get messy, then he would prefer no innocent casualties. Clenching his fists at his sides, he stepped out to the sidewalk and began walking. He only got four blocks before something caught his eyes.
Bionic arm, gleam of metal, dull glow of yellow eyes.
Shatterstar seethed and turned down the alley. Easily he could see her smirking at his presence, and the sight of it was enough to make him growl in irritation. Just the very idea of her being there was enough to cause passionate hate to boil up within him.
“Come out of hiding, Spiral, you coward!”
“Is that any way to greet me, warrior?” she hissed, stepping forward to reveal her face fully.
“You’re lucky I don’t greet you with my sword through your head,” he replied.
“You are smarter than that, I would hope,” Spiral laughed, and placed one hand over the handle of a katana at her hip. “You know better than anyone that I cannot be cancelled. I just keep coming back.”
“Unfortunately for us,” the warrior snorted humorlessly. “What do you want? You have been following me for far too long now.”
“You noticed? How sweet,” she cackled. “Here I thought you were growing weak in your time on Earth. You are too soft now, Shatterstar. I don’t like it.”
“I do not care what you do or do not like,” he rolled his eyes, and reached for his sword. “I did not approach you for silly prattling.”
She bared white, pointy teeth. “Never one for tact, you were. You should have some more respect. After everything I’ve done for you.”
“Done for me?” he snapped angrily. “You have done nothing but cause me grief! I do not care if you saved my life, Spiral, I would much rather have died than owe you anything.”
“Don’t speak to the time dancer that way!” she shrieked and unsheathed her sword. “I have watched over you for your entire life, given you life, and made sure you were to be trained by the best. You are Mojoworld’s greatest accomplishment, and it is because of me!”
Shatterstar clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes. “I know what you did.”
“Then you should be bowing before me!”
“I do not bow before baby stealers, you attention hungry ho.”
Yellow eyes widened with shock, and she jumped down off of the ledge she was standing on. Spiral stood before him, every fist clutching a weapon and prepared to strike. “How dare you speak that way to me, boy!”
“Do not call me that,” he seethed. “You have no place to call me such things. Not anymore.”
She glared at him menacingly before snapping her fingers. Instantly, a series of portals opened, circling Shatterstar. The younger man looked around him, scoping out the positions of his new enemies. Each was armed and staring him down, only holding back as they waited for Spiral’s command. The woman had not budged from her place, and the cold, angry look remained on her face. She was absolutely livid, that much Shatterstar knew; however, he was confused as to why she had not yet attempted battle with him. Something was causing her to hesitate.
“I raised you,” she hissed slowly. “It does not matter where you came from biologically, warrior, you must know your roots and embrace them.”
Silver eyes settled on the woman in front of him once more, and Shatterstar scoffed. “I have lived my entire life in shame thinking you were my maternal unit. Thus far it has all been a lie. Everyone who knows me thinks of me as a genetically bioengineered warrior. All of my opponents, the rebellion, my friends on Earth…I would rather dishonour myself with lies then admit the shame of my connection to you.”
“I thought as much, you ungrateful failure. That is all you are,” she shook her head with disgust. “Just like your father.”
“He has accomplished more than you ever have,” Shatterstar replied, keeping calm.
“You know?” her eyes widened once more.
“I told you, I know,” he reached into his uniform and pulled out a package of papers. “I know everything about you. And, in turn, I found out a great deal about myself. That is why I sought you out. I am prepared to end you once and for all. You deserve the death of the lowliest of class, and I am going to give it to you.”
All the weapons around him rose and cocked, aimed and ready to fire. Shatterstar did not flinch. Spiral, on the other hand, smiled a disgusting and arrogant grin. “You cannot stop me, or are you that stupid, child? It matters not to me what you know now. Any destiny you were to have fulfilled is a long way from being done now. You failed in that regard, and for that I no longer need you.”
“I have no desire to fulfill a destiny that would only be of benefit to you,” he replied slowly. “I also have no desire to see the Spineless Ones rule, but I will not put the innocent of their race at risk just for your own twisted revenge.”
“You’ve learned a lot,” she pointed out.
“I have, especially from my former mistakes,” he raised his sword. “And any hesitation I formerly had to kill you is now gone. I see your lies and you have dishonored many. It ends now, Spiral.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” she raised an arm, and that smirk reappeared. “I came back here for a purpose, and escalating my problems with you is not it.”
Shatterstar narrowed his eyes curiously, and quickly scanned the group around him. “And that would be?”
“Mojo knows I am here,” she began with a wave of a wrist. “I wanted a chance to reconcile with you before I partook in my mission.”
“Never,” Shatterstar spat. “I will never reconcile with you.”
“Then I suppose now I will just have to take you with me,” pointy teeth bore again as she grinned maniacally. “I have been sent to retrieve Longshot. He has broken a contract with Mojo, and Mojo is not happy.”
Shatterstar raised his sword again, and bore his teeth right back. “You will have to go through me first.”
Spiral tossed her head back and laughed. “Nonsense. We will not be fighting.”
“You want to bet on that?”
Spiral gestured to the guards and they moved in closer. “You have two choices, warrior. You can come with me willingly and resolve this, or you can fight to your death like I know you want to.”
“I will never back down from you. I would rather die in the heat of battle than show cowardice such as that,” he spat angrily.
She narrowed her eyes. “So be it. If you do so choose to die, soldier, just remember that Mojo is watching. He knows where you are, where I am, and what will happen here tonight. If you kill any of us or yourself, he will go after all those you care about. The Protectorate will have them ambushed, and they will be hollowed and brought to Wildways for cancellation.”
Shatterstar loosened his grip subconsciously, but kept a straight face. “I know not what you are referring to. I have no friends or allies here. I no longer work for a team, just as a prisoner for SHIELD like you once had.”
“Don’t lie to me, boy,” she hissed. “You may be a prisoner right now, but I have been watching you for a long time. I know of your ties to the X-Force.”
“They are no more,” he announced. “It is just me.”
Spiral shook her head. “They are still alive, yes? Cable is only a future away, Domino is in
Shatterstar clenched his jaw. “You will not go after them. They have nothing to do with this.”
“Then there’s Rictor,” she grinned wolfishly.
“Fekt!” he shouted angrily. “Shut up!”
“I will kill them all, but not before torturing them first,” Spiral vowed and raised her sword. “And if you so choose to take my life this day just know that Mojo will be there to pick up the pieces.”
Shatterstar fought to level his breathing, and he slowly lowered his sword. “You are a coward, woman.”
“Drop your weapons on the ground,” she ordered, pointing a double bladed sword at his throat. “Every weapon, your belt, your communications devices, and that file you have on me.”
The Cadre warrior narrowed his eyes before doing what he was told. The three dozen or so guards surrounding him stepped closer to him, making sure to prevent any funny business or escape attempts. Shatterstar could have easily fought them off had there only been a handful of them, but each of the Imperial Protectorate guards had been genetically designed to be the equivalent of ten of himself. With three dozen, he would never make it through. He would have to outsmart them a different way…
“Don’t even think about blowing up that sword,” Spiral narrowed her eyes. “I am the one who enhanced those silly mutant powers of yours; don’t think that I do not know how to work them.”
Shatterstar scowled. “I will keep my end of the bargain if you keep yours.”
“That’s what I thought,” she cackled and gestured to her men. “Apprehend him. Destroy the belongings he has left behind, and remove his clothing. I want him restrained and checked for hidden weapons. Are we understood?”
“Yes ma’am,” came a series of replies.
Shatterstar grunted as he was pushed to the ground, face amongst a group of boots and the items he had brought with him. Portals cracked to life above him as the alley began to clear out, and he allowed the guards to take away everything he had. He was going back to Mojoworld – the one place he feared most in his life – and there was not a thing that could be done to stop Spiral.
A large hand grabbed him by the hair and smashed his face into the pavement as the men removed his uniform. A few loose papers remained below, and it was one photograph he could not remove his eyes from.
A sorrowful swell of emotion boiled in his chest as he looked at her. He would go back to his home world to protect those close to him, her included. Spiral had already done enough damage to the woman, and Shatterstar vowed he would not let anything else happen to her again.
That one promise alone would be enough to make the trip worth it.
Title: The Catch
Prompt: #88 Loss
Category: X-Men Universe
Characters: Shatterstar, Mojo, Dazzler, mentions others
Summary: Shatty’s finals thoughts before his incarceration.
A violent cough exploded through Shatterstar’s chest and up his throat. The most recent beating had been a little worse than the last, but he refused to give anything up. Mojo watched on with perverse interest as the Imperial Protectorate manhandled the Cadre warrior.
“Had enough yet?”
Shatterstar spit a glob of blood and a tooth on the floor, and clawed at the tile to get back up. “Do it again,” he groaned.
“Masochist, are we?” the Spineless One grabbed his belly and shook as he laughed. “I’ve had my eye on you a long time, boy.”
“You’re not even my Mojo,” Shatterstar managed to say as he clambered to his knees, ignoring the aching throbs of his body. “Mojo V is my dictator.”
“Mojo V is part of me, brat!” Mojo spat and pointed a finger in Shatterstar’s bleeding face. “And it was me that you annihilated with your sorry excuse for a team the last time! I should cancel you right now in front of the whole audience! Bloody and naked like this, it would be the ultimate end to their ‘hero,’ don’t you think? Humiliated like the no good animal that you are, ugly one!”
Shatterstar looked up at him with sunken in eyes, but still managed to grin sadistically. “It would be the ultimate high as well, Spineless One, to go out making a prime time scene.”
“You were always an attention whore,” Mojo sneered. “Grab him! Get him out of my face!” he yelled at his guards and moved to the screen controls on the other side of the room. “I want the neuro-reader in place.”
Shatterstar could not even find the energy to fight them anymore. He had been assaulted for what he guessed was hours at that point, and the guards only managed to strike him more before his healing could even effectively assist him in anyway. He was truly exhausted for the first time in a long time. He was all too aware of what a neuro-reader was supposed to be, however, and he could not help but struggle when he saw it. “No…”
“Oh yes!” Mojo cackled, and turned in his chair to look at the younger man. “You do know that I've traveled to your future, right?”
Shatterstar grunted. “You lie.”
“They think you’re dead,” he continued with an increasing chuckle. “They sent you off to Earth to be their saviour – the martyr! But as soon as you left they thought you died! All you were was a fictional example in their mind for a sense of hope! HA HA! Isn’t that hilarious? All this time you’ve been fighting and it’s been for nothing! You’re nothing to them!”
“No,” Shatterstar struggled, and was forced down into a chamber by four guards. His wrists, ankles, and hips were tied into place, and he frowned frantically. “You are a filthy liar!”
“Oh, but the funny thing is, I’m not!” Mojo shouted and laughed even harder. “You’re a nobody around these parts, kiddo. Just an urban legend. Doesn’t that just grind your gears? Irk you? Cheese you off?” Mojo burst out laughing and pointed at him. “What a sad face you have. You look so distraught…so crestfallen! Don’t like to have your failures rubbed in your face, do you?”
“Fekt,” Shatterstar heaved on his arms as he tried to free them. He pulled so hard on his right one that his shoulder dislocated. Grunting through the pain, he glowered at Mojo. “You lie! You Spineless fuck!”
“Oh! Language, kiddo! This isn’t a rated R show, you know!” he laughed louder. “Well it won’t be much of an issue for longer. You won’t even remember being sent to Earth in the first place.”
Silver eyes widened, and Shatterstar struggled more. His left shoulder popped out of place as well, and blood began seeping down where his restraints held him – digging into his flesh and tearing. But Shatterstar paid no heed. He needed out. “You can’t! No! Fekt, I cannot--”
“Settle him down!” Mojo yelled, and instantly a guard reached out and blasted ‘Star in the face with the butt end of a gun. The warrior ceased his moving, and Mojo closed in. “Interspecies freak is all you are. You’ll be hollowed and left here in the dungeons, and no one will even miss you. Do you understand that? No one! You’re too alien to live on Earth, and too human to fit in here.”
“Damn you,” Shatterstar muttered through cracked open lips.
“Maybe so, but the joke’s not on me, is it, failure?” Mojo cackled. “Oh, by the way…"
Shatterstar narrowed his eyes, but did not respond. So Mojo continued. “Remember that whole thing about not liking your failures shoved in your face?”
“You only said that mere seconds ago, so yes,” Shatterstar rolled his eyes.
Mojo shook his head at the sarcasm, and pointed a long finger to the two way mirror behind him. “Looks like your failures are going to come back and haunt you.”
The Cadre warrior felt his heart rate speed up, and he craned his neck to see through the darkened glass. There was no movement for a few seconds, but it only took that long for his hearing to pick up on a struggle. A woman was yelling, cursing at someone. Shatterstar was sure he recognized the voice, and it made him swallow down a massive swell of panic. Oh no…it just had to be her.
Alison Blaire came into view a few moments later as the guards brought her past. She was restrained, bleeding, and wearing torn clothes; she quite obviously just came from battle. But most notably she was alone without any Cadre rebels and was very much captured. Angry, Shatterstar moved his gaze back to Mojo. “You are slime!”
“Don’t tell me you still cry for your mommy at this age,” Mojo cackled and closed the view to the window. “You’re even more pathetic than I thought.”
“Spiral said she’d keep them out of this!” Shatterstar shouted angrily. “You lied!”
“Oh, no I didn’t,” Mojo shook his head and approached him so that he was only two feet away. “I didn’t promise you a thing, you snot nosed brat! My mission target was Longshot, but I got you two instead. And I will hold you here until I get him, I can assure you of that!”
“Fekt!” Shatterstar cursed as the guards struggled to place the neuro-reader on his head. He continued to pull at his restraints, but it was to no avail. He could not move. He could not be freed. He had failed himself.
“Any last thoughts?” Mojo questioned. “Because this is the last time you’re going to have any familiar ones. Say good-bye to everyone you ever knew and loved, soldier. Kiss their asses’ goooood bye!”
A panic filled him as he was held down and locked into the device. There was no way that he could let this happen. Every moral and value he had ever learned was going to disappear. Every friend and ally and acquaintance would be forgotten. Every happy memory that helped him get through his miserable, sorry excuse for a life would be left behind. He would forget that he was more than just a bioengineered warrior – that he was not one. That he had a family and that he had once learned to feel and to care.
He would forget how Longshot had helped him-- teamed with him and they had not even known they were related. He would forget Cable taking him in and helping him become an accepted member of society. He would forget Charles Xavier and his generosity and cause. Most of all, he would not remember the one person who taught him how to feel alive. Rictor, the only person he had ever cared enough about to lust for and to cherish…to touch and feel. Fekt, he loved him so much it had hurt. Gone.
All of it.
Biting back an anguished scream that was attempting to work its way up his throat, Shatterstar squeezed his eyes shut and tried to smash his head off of the wall behind him. If he could destroy the device…
“Don’t even try it,” Mojo laughed. “You should know that our magicks are unmatched. You’ll do no damage to my equipment.”
The warrior forced his eyes open and stared at Mojo. “What will you do to Dazzler?”
“Same as you,” he shook his head. “You’ll meet up with her soon enough down in the dungeons. But I do have one thing I will do for you.”
“What else can you possibly do?” he muttered, sounding so much more broken than he ever felt comfortable admitting. “You have what you want from me.”
“As a reward for being such a horrible prisoner, I will allow you one memory of your loved ones.”
A barrage of memories flashed through Shatterstar like a film strip, and he felt absolutely devastated that he could have just one. However, he would not let Mojo see how much it hurt. “What?”
“You can remember dear old Mom,” Mojo cackled insanely and switched open the view to the window once more. On the other side, Alison was strapped down to a similar machine, power negator on her neck with two large men beating her down like a rag doll.
“No!” Shatterstar screamed. “Let her go! Please! Fekt! Canshakta dur na moorika! Vejkah, soonar myet! No!”
Mojo burst out laughing. “This is your last memory, Shatterstar. That woman right there, your mother, you will remember that image for the rest of your life, I assure you. Wanna know the catch?”
Shatterstar squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to look at Alison any longer. “No…”
“She will not remember you,” Mojo approached him, and Shatterstar could feel the nasty man near his face. “She will not remember you because you are worthless. A failed hero who was only remembered in his time as a disastrous urban legend. You never accomplished a single good thing in your life, and for that you don’t deserve to be remembered.”
Shatterstar growled and thrashed forward, trying his absolute hardest to strike out at the fat blob. “Fuck you!”
“No,” Mojo shook his head and held out the remote control. “In the end I win. I always win. And, you know, I would say to remember that but it doesn’t look like you’re going to be doing much of that, huh? HA!”
“No!” Shatterstar struggled, but a bright yellow light took over all of his senses. Piece by piece he felt as his mind began to deteriorate, unlocking like parts in a jigsaw puzzle. And as they left his consciousness, his panic subsided. Peace overcame him. Calm.
His eyes fluttered closed and he drifted off to sleep, empty dreams invading his clear mind.
That's all she wrote! Go to chapter one of Our Last Memory.