El Scorcho (twbasketcase) wrote,
El Scorcho

FIC: Our Last Memory 18/23

Category: X-Factor (Volume 3)
Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar, Longshot, Dazzler, Siryn, Domino, X-Factor, Skids, Spiral, and Doc Samson.
Pairings: Rictor/Shatterstar, Longshot/Dazzler
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst, humor.
Rated: NC-17 for extreme violence, language, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: I don’t own a thing. I just play in the world of those who can't appreciate.
Story Summary: When X-Factor gets help in defeating Arcade, they get a new member of the team, Longshot. But in return for his assistance, Longshot needs some help with his own problems -- on Mojoworld. What they find there opens up a whole pile of old wounds for other members of the team, and they learn that sometimes memories are all that are left to hold onto.

Chapter Summary: Shatterstar and Domino train, and the team gets an (un)expected visitor.

Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen,
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
Extra Scenes: Chap 9, Chap 14, Chap 16.

Shatterstar crouched low to the ground with his hands out and his eyes narrowed, focusing dutifully in front of him. The dull golden glow of the afternoon sun allowed for an excellent contrast against the metallic blades of Domino’s swords, and he was easily able to watch her movements based on reflections alone. She moved very gracefully; light and sound on the balls of her feet as she leapt about the roof of X-Factor Investigations. The Mojoworlder had his own swords secured on his back in easy reach. He would unsheathe them at the very last moment, opting to use his body as his weapon of choice for the time being.
The very second Domino leapt over the ventilation system and landed on the gravel roof, Shatty made his move. Using his leg muscles, he propelled himself into the air and flipped over the woman’s shoulder. She swung her blade arm toward him, but he managed to twist at the last moment to evade her attack. However, she was fast; a lot faster than her looks gave her credit for. Shatterstar had to quickly grab his sword to prevent her from having an open shot at his side. The metal of their blades clanged together loudly, and again he propelled himself in the air and over her reach.
“You know, you used to get pissy at me when I jumped around,” she smirked and chased after him, springing out of the way of his swing and on top of the small roof covering the exit. “And here you are leaping around like a bunny!”

“Don’t compare me to such things,” he rolled his eyes. They jumped toward each other again; Domino sprung off of the roof and evaded his blade to land square on his shoulders. The weight was awkward and caused him to lose his balance, and she grinned devilishly at him as he fell.

“Getting slow, kiddo.”

Before she could get herself out of harm’s way and off of him though, Shatterstar managed to wrap an arm around her thigh and pulled her to the ground. Domino landed gracelessly on her side next to him, and he quickly rolled over to pin her down. His hands managed to secure her wrists above her head, but she was much too quick to allow him to gain access to her feet. She swiftly twisted her torso around and landed a kick to the side of his head, and again he was caught off guard. The distraction was enough to allow her to squirm free below him.

“Fekt! How can you keep escaping me?!”

“I told you, ‘Star, these things always go the way I want them to.”

“That’s cheating!” he growled and pushed himself up from the ground. Both combatants momentarily forgot the swords they had been using, and went back to their hand to hand techniques. Shatterstar opted to go on the offensive for such things, and Domino took a defensive position. He swung his fists and attempted some kick combinations, but the mercenary used her flexibility and speed to twist and dance around him. She spun under his legs and around his arms until she was able to go full circle around his back. Frustrated, Shatterstar threw an elbow back behind him and managed to steal a shot to her jaw.

“Fuck,” she cursed, and rubbed the side of her face gingerly. The Mojoworlder quickly dropped to the ground and used his hands to balance; he swung one leg around and swept her feet out from underneath of her. Domino fell to her back, but managed to reach a sword. She held it up in front of her as Shatterstar dove forward, and the tip of the blade impaled his shoulder. Blood sprayed behind his body and dripped beneath him, coating both Domino and the gravel roof with scarlet.

“Fekt!” he scrunched up his face and dropped down to his knees. The woman climbed to her feet higher and higher the lower he dropped, but her violet eyes never left his.

“Give up?” she taunted. With a flick of her wrist the sword dug in him further, and he groaned. Metal scraped bones and ripped muscles, and Shatterstar was in absolute agony. Something in his brain glowered at the forgotten feel of such pain though; he forgot how much he enjoyed it. The merc shoved the blade in all of the way before lifting her boot and kicking him in the face. Again, warm blood flowed from the shot and covered his lips and chin. The warrior fell on his back unceremoniously and grinned up at the sky.

“I don’t quit.”

“I know,” she smirked as she once more came into view above him. She bent over and grabbed the handle of her weapon before roughly pulling it free from Shatterstar’s body. “In spar rules though, I win. You’re down for the count.”

‘Star smirked and flipped off of his back and onto his feet. He leapt at her at an inhuman speed and twisted behind her. He grabbed her by the shoulders and tossed her forward and over the edge of the roof. One gloved hand managed to snag the ledge, however, and she dangled over the side.
“Shatty, you shit!”

He peered over the edge and grinned down at her. “No, I win.”

The older woman glared at him and flung her other arm up to the ledge, and she started climbing up. “You’re a brat.”

“Sore loser,” he retorted smugly.

She scoffed and propelled herself up over the side. The second her feet landed on the edge, she jumped up into the air and landed a hard roundhouse kick to the side of his head. Shatterstar struggled to maintain his balance, but ended up toppling over the side of the building as well. A fire escape two floors down broke his fall, and the back of his skull connected with the steel steps. “Ow.”

“Ow is right!” she called down, and raised her hands triumphantly. “And your winner – who’s way better and cooler and more talented than Shatterstar – Domino! Woohoo!”

The warrior sat up and blinked up at her. “You are not better!”

Before she could retort, the window next to the fire escape opened and Jamie Madrox popped his head out. “Did you just fall off of the roof?!”

Shatterstar wiped the blood off his chin with a gloved hand. “No, I was thrown off.”

The Multiple Man raised his eyebrows disbelievingly and craned his neck to look up. Domino waved down at the younger man goofily, and Jamie just blinked. “Oh, well then, in that case keep at it. Wouldn’t want to, you know, kill yourself or anything.”

“Fekt it would take more than a very tall building to kill me,” Shatterstar scoffed and peeled himself off of the steel. He looked down at Madrox once more before making his way up the steps and back toward the roof. “I’m surprised I did not fall right through it…”

“Yeah, don’t do that, okay? I can’t afford to replace that!”

Shatterstar just rolled his eyes and continued to ignore the incredulous Jamie, and made his way back up to the roof. Domino was still standing at the edge and looking mighty proud of herself, but Shatterstar could not blame her. Defeating him was an honour, and she should be proud. Her abilities were very impressive, and it was nice to have someone whose skills measured up to his own. The only person who had been at the headquarters previously that could compare was Longshot, but Shatterstar got the feeling that he did not enjoy being very violent when he trained. How boring.

“You are an excellent warrior,” Shatterstar held out his hand, and she instantly shook it. “I like you.”

She smirked arrogantly. “Yeah, I figured that’s why you followed me around all these years.”

“I can see why I would,” he replied seriously. “It’s nice to finally have a decent training partner. I have been feeling rather crazy without the ability to fight someone worthwhile.”

“You used to spar with Terry all the time,” the white skinned mutant pointed out.

“She claims she is out of shape,” Shatterstar muttered. “However, she does use her powers against me and I try to engage in combat with her as she is using them. I get thrown back mostly, and she often gets bored.”

Domino laughed loudly at that. “Yeah, she would. I’m surprised you don’t though.” 

“No, her abilities are strange and I like to try and defeat them. I only wish she were as energetic as you are,” Shatterstar admitted.

Dom smirked. “Yeah well people like us are hard to find, Shatty. It’s probably a good thing there aren’t a lot of them though or else this world would be in a whole lot of trouble.” She picked her sword up off the ground and began to polish the blade. “You should see the crew I’m running with now. They’re good fighters and all but they have zero personality sometimes.”


“Oh, just some girls our old boss has me hooked up with to do some jobs,” she shrugged and turned away from him as she began to clean up their mess. “No one you would particularly be fond of, might I add.”

“You should let me come back with you.”

She turned to face him and furrowed her eyebrows. “What? Why?!”

“Because I like to fight with you. And I’m sure there are much better things to do than pretend to be a detective. There’s a mediocre training facility here, and…” he trailed off and raised his arms to retie his ponytail. “I don’t feel as though I fit in here well. The people are much too calm and more worried about socializing than doing anything worthwhile.” 

"Uh, ‘Star, look…” she scratched her head awkwardly, but the warrior did not want to hear excuses.

“I was with you before this happened though! That must mean that I was happier doing what we were doing, or else I would have been here to begin with. Besides, it is obvious most of the residents here just think I am strange, and I do not want to live with my parents. That is lame.” 

She sighed. “But what about Rictor?” 

Shatterstar averted his eyes. “He’s only helping me because me feels obligated to. I do not wish to invade on his life.”

Domino pinched the bridge of her nose and stood in silence for a few moments before she dropped her arm and stared at him. “I’m not bringing you.”

“Why not!?” he demanded.

“Look, you weren’t with me before this because you wanted to be, okay? We were working for SHIELD against our will – as punishment. And the only reason you were hanging around me before that was because you needed a job to get some money for awhile,” she explained and stepped toward him. “I’m a mercenary and you came along on a couple of jobs with me. The only reason I even agreed to take you with me was because I can trust you more than anyone else. You’d never stab me in the back, you know how to keep your trap shut when you need to, and your skills are definitely above par to get the job done.”

“So what’s the problem then!?” he scoffed. “My skills are still the same, and I can assure you I am no traitor!”

“I know that, but you’re missing something important now,” she told him seriously. “All your knowledge of Earth and missions and everything is not the same as it used to be. Because of that, you’re a liability. You may not understand it, but I ain’t willing to let you trail along with me when you’re like this. No way.”

“Fekt!” he rubbed a hand over his face and turned on his heel to begin pacing.

“I know you can take care of yourself, ‘Star, but I’ve already gotten you into enough trouble as it is. I’m not willing to do that again,” she tried to explain to him, and grabbed him by the shoulder to stop his movements. He spun around to face her, and something soft and strange shone in her eyes. Almost maternal; similar to certain expressions Dazzler gave him, and the warrior glared at her. “Shatty…just stay here awhile, okay? Just until you get a little bit better with the brain stuff and then you can go out and get your hands dirty wherever you want. You can even call me for a hook up then, but not now. Not yet.” 

"I don’t think you heard me when I said I am not going to stay here,” he clenched his fists at his sides. “There’s nothing--”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it!” she snapped. “You’ve always had this problem with thinking you can’t fit in, but you can. Your friends are here and so is your family and no one’s gonna cast you off as a weirdo. They know how you are, ‘Star, so stop being so self conscious.”

“I am not,” he spat.

“Look, the only reason why you took off on Ric in the first place was because you needed to figure some personal shit out, okay? You moved away to Madripoor only because you wanted to try your hand at tackling society on your own. You didn’t want to need anybody,” she grabbed him by the shoulders and looked straight into his eyes. “You only hooked up with Adam because it was spur of the moment. Being that way with someone else made you realize that you only wanted one person that way. One. Then you tried finding a spiritual route with your life, and you tried going back to being a weapon. When you realized that you didn’t want either you joined X-Force again.”

Shatterstar felt his heart rate speed up as things began clicking together like a puzzle. He swallowed and squeezed his eyes shut. “Just figuring?”

“You were only trying things out,” she repeated. “X-Force was your way of getting back into the swing of things, and you took up the merc work with me for money. That’s it. You wanted to get on your feet and just try to be normal again. You knew what you wanted before we got stuck with SHIELD. And I’m telling you, ‘Star, you didn’t want SHIELD, you didn’t want to be killing people, and you didn’t want to spend the rest of your life running around with me for cash scores.”

“I figured it out?” he echoed again, once more just for clarity.

“You did,” she nodded, and let him go. “In this business we’re in it’s not easy to try and live like the rest of society. Look at Ric; he’s not even a mutant anymore and he still can’t find a way to get out of this life. But you do what you have to do, and right now you need to get back to your old self. You need to get your memories back and deal with this Mojo shit, and you can worry about training and fighting later.”

“That doesn’t mean I want to stay here,” he stuck his chin out stubbornly.

Domino sighed and rolled her eyes. “You don’t have to. But at least think about what I said, okay?”

He nodded and watched as she backed away and headed toward the exit. “I feel the need to listen to you. I can’t explain it, but…” he rubbed a hand over long red locks and frowned. “I respect you. I will try and take your word for it.”

She shot him a small, reassuring smile and nodded back. “Good. I’m not trying to get you down, kiddo; I’m just looking out for you.”

Shatterstar sighed in frustration, wondering idly when he had become so dependent on people. On Mojoworld such a thing was unheard of, but here there were so many people fulfilling so many roles in his life. Some were positive and some were negative, but they were all being played. This Domino woman was definitely a positive role, he decided, but he still did not like how much influence she had on his actions. Even if her words held much logic and she knew those missing gaps he was unable to fill in, Shatterstar was still annoyed. Annoyed and very confused, he felt like he was completely directionless in his life, and he had absolutely no idea how to fix it. Picking up where he left off before he was captured made the most logical sense in his mind, but if that was not where he desired to be before it would not make sense to go back now.
The warrior plopped down onto the roof in a sitting position to clean his weapons. Just as Domino pulled open the large steel door to enter the lower areas of the building, Rictor was coming up. A few hushed words were exchanged between them, and Shatterstar could only roll his eyes. He was so sick of people whispering around him as if he did not know. They needed to realize that he was not a mere child and he was quite capable of figuring things out on his own – and that included business that some people were not willing to share with him.

“Hey, amigo,” Rictor greeted as he walked across the gravel. “I’ve been looking for you for awhile now, and Jamie said that you were up here.”

“Yes, he yelled at me not to break his ladders,” the warrior mumbled and began removing the tape off of his wrists.

“Yeah…this place tends to get destroyed a lot, and if he gets stuck paying for stuff it comes outta the budget,” he explained.

“Looks like you need better funding.”

Rictor chuckled at that and stared down at him. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Did you need me for something?”

“No, I, uhm, just wanted to see what you were up to I guess. How was training with Domino?”

Shatterstar eyed him disbelievingly, but went along with it anyways. “Good; I missed training very much. Workouts are decent at best.”

“Yeah, I ain’t very useful in that department anymore. Sorry about that,” the Mexican cleared his throat, and scratched the back of his head. “We used to train together all the time though. I miss that.” 

"I thought I always trained with Siryn?”

“You did after I left,” he mumbled.

“Why did you leave?”

Brown eyes looked away and out across the rooftops distantly. “A bunch of stuff. I just went back home to see my family for a bit, mostly. You weren’t too happy about that, so you kinda buddied up with her for awhile, I guess.”

“But you came back. Why did you come back?”

Rictor swallowed and finally looked at him again. “Because you needed me. I mean, I know you don’t like to think that, uhm, you need anyone, but…uhm, times were tough and I just—I came back for you.”

Shatterstar gazed up at him and wondered why he would just not come out and say it. Was he scared or was he embarrassed? Domino had said that the warrior had realized he only wanted to be with one person 'that way' after what had happened with Adam, and he was very sure he knew who that one person was that she was referring to. But if they were that close, then why would Rictor not just say it? It hurt Shatterstar in strange places, and he did not like it.

"You seem to always do things for me when I ‘need’ them,” Shatterstar continued.

“Of course,” Rictor replied hoarsely.
Shatterstar stared down at his hands for a few moments without looking back up at him. “Why?”

“I told you why, you’re my best friend--”

“No. Why?” he asked again, that time more forcefully. He still had very little memories to back up his claims for their relationship, but others had confirmed it. The lack of memories prevented him from understanding the dynamic of it though. What could he do or say, and what was considered normal and acceptable between them? He needed Rictor to just say it and show him what was expected. He needed. Shatterstar did not like that, but he could not help it.

But Rictor just stood before him tense and silent. Shatterstar did not have to look up at him to know that the gears in his head were turning. The way he shifted his weight from one foot to the other was a definite hint of his panic. Shatterstar was unsure how he even knew the meaning behind such a personality quirk, just that he did.

“Uhm…do you…” Rictor trailed off, and finally Shatterstar looked up at him. Brown eyes were searching his face for any sort of hint.

“Do I what?”

“Do you know?”

Shatterstar clenched his jaw and bit back all of the frustration that was forcing its way through him. “Do I know what, Julio?”

The Mexican just stared at him unblinkingly as he continued to figure out something to say. Shatterstar could see that it was on the tip of his friend’s tongue, and he should have expected it to be another instance of awkwardness that made communication between them difficult. Apparently the two of them were very bad at talking about serious matters, and that was very infuriating. He was very unsure of what Rictor had to be scared of; he was a human who seemed to be very aware of his emotions all of the time. He was not a warrior and he was not failing an entire race of people by being a loving man. Rictor was not the freak in the situation, so why was he so hesitant?

Maybe…that was why he was so hesitant; because Shatterstar was a freak.

“Shatty, look I…”

A sound quickly averted 'Star’s attention and he whipped his head around. A figure stood many feet behind Julio and was pointing a weapon toward them. Shatterstar lunged off of his feet and collided roughly with Rictor and knocked him to the ground. The larger body guarded the smaller one from the attacker, and Shatty looked down at him apologetically.

“What did you do that for!?” the Mexican shouted just inches away from his face. Shatterstar just quickly unsheathed his sword and pointed it toward the other person.

“Show yourself, coward!”

“I was only testing you,” the wicked voice replied with a laugh. Instantly the warrior recognized it and growled before climbing off of Rictor and getting to his feet.

“Fekt, what are you doing here, Spiral?!"

“Making sure you weren’t off of your game, boy. I’m glad to see that you are not,” she stepped around the ventilation system and bared her pointy teeth at him. “You will need to be in perfect shape after all.”

“No!” he yelled and ran at her. Rictor cursed from behind him and called his name, but Shatterstar paid no attention. He wanted this woman’s head more than anything else; she deserved to bleed and to die for all of the horror she had caused to everyone. Spiral was prepared for the attack though, and released a massive concussive energy blast at him. 'Star dropped to his knees and glared at her. “I will kill you. Fight like a warrior, and not like the coward you are.”

“Later,” she rolled her eyes. “There are more important things to take care of right now.”

Rictor ran to his side and grabbed him by the arm to help him to his feet. Shatterstar did not remove his attention from the white haired woman, however. He did not trust her, and his thirst for blood intensified with every word that she spoke. “The only thing that is important, Spiral, is that your life ends.”

She folded two arms under breasts as the others reached for weapons. “I would love to fight you, you despicable brat. But I need you to accompany me.”

“Fekt, I will go no where with you!” he shouted.

“Not even to Wildways? Because Mojo plans on releasing his Protectorate on Earth this night. Many innocents may die, but mostly they have been ordered to ambush this very base of operations,” she narrowed her eyes and neared him. “You can try and kill me if you want to, yes, but I am willing to give you the advantage here.”

Memories of the power the woman once held over him made him slump before her, and it took everything within him to not eagerly go along with her. He was mad at her and he could not trust her no matter how helpful she was willing to be. Rictor must have sensed his distress because he tightened his hold on the Mojoworlder’s arm and leaned closer. “It’s all right, amigo. We just need to get Longshot…”

“That you do,” Spiral agreed, and that made Shatterstar even more suspicious.

“Why would you want to assist us?” he questioned. “You were the one who had us attacked in the first place! I have no reason believe that your intentions are good.”

Her yellow eyes narrowed further. “I may have caused you pain, young warrior, but any pain in your life I have ever caused was all for good reason. The bipeds of Wildways rely on you for their freedom, and though you have been a disappointment thus far, nothing angers me more than Mojo himself. His end is what I seek, and this is an opportune time to obtain it.”

Her words stung, and he was unsure why. “Good reason? The only reason you put me through pain was for your own gain.”

“Believe whatever you want, Shatterstar. Of course that maternal unit of yours would tell you such things. But she was not there for you and she does not know of what we strived for and how hard we worked for it.”

“Neither do I!” he shouted, pointing a finger toward his chest. “I don’t remember! I know not of what you’ve done to me! All I know is that when I needed you all you did was slam doors in my face! The only benefit you gave me was the honing of my skills!”

“And your skills are all you are good for,” she replied.

Shatterstar growled irately and attempted to leap at her, but again Rictor held him back. “It’s not true!” the Mexican hissed at him. “Don’t listen to that crap!”

“You’re smarter than you look,” Spiral grinned at Julio. “Now, are you two going to take me to your team mates, or do I have to move you myself?”

“No,” Shatterstar grunted and pointed his blade at her. “I’ll take you no where! Not until you tell me what you want!”

“Are you stupid, boy? You can deal with me within the confines of your home. I have no backup and not nearly enough weapons to destroy you all single-handedly. I am here to give you an advantage over Mojo. His attack is coming and you can either be prepared or not. He will never stop coming after you until he gets what he wants, and you know this.”

Shatterstar dropped his arms to his sides and just stared at her dejectedly. He was so angry, confused, and disturbed at the very sight of her and he was unsure what to do. He never knew what to do when it came to her. “Why do you do this? First you try and give me everything and then you destroy my life. Now—now you want to assist me?! Fekt, woman! You make me crazy!”

“I have my reasons for everything that I do,” she replied just as lowly. “Especially where it pertains to you.”

“Don’t act like you care about me.”

She narrowed her eyes. “And don’t you dare give me orders.”

Shatterstar narrowed his eyes and glanced down at Julio. “I don’t know what to do.”
Rictor stared across the rooftop at the six armed executioner and swallowed. “I—I don’t either. I don’t trust her.”
“You are willing to enter our base and face our team?” Shatterstar questioned.

“Yes,” she sheathed all of her weapons and held out her empty hands. “I am not looking to attack.”

The warrior sighed in frustration and clenched his fists. “You walk toward the door and you stay in front of us the entire way down. And…” he paused and remembered prison for whatever reason. “And keep your hands in the air! All of them!”

She nodded and approached them slowly, and every single step that she took put Shatterstar more on edge. But her face remained indifferent and dead serious, and she did not make any move when she stepped past the two young men. As promised, each hand remained at level with her head and she moved straight toward the roof exit. Shatty tightened his grip around his sword and proceeded to move behind her with Rictor in tow. Then he hoped to the Gods that he was not making a mistake in trusting her words.

No matter how hard he tried, Longshot could not take his eyes off of the woman in the corner. Spiral remained silent and indifferent as the team argued around her, but Longshot could not mutter a word. She was not at all the being that she once was; she was a bitter and insane shell of her with the temperament of a hurricane. 

However, Jamie Madrox also remained silent. He sat at the large chair behind his desk and pinched the bridge of his nose as he listened to all of the arguing voices around him. Some spoke their clear dislike of the woman and voted on ending her right then and there, while others remained open to hearing what she had to say. A portion of the people in the room figured they should not believe her any which way, while the others were more concerned with Mojo than her. Longshot’s standpoint was right smack in the middle of all the opinions. He did not know what to think. 

All that he knew was that Mojo and Spiral would always be after him no matter what the circumstances were. His head would always be their most wanted prize, and because of that her visit was no surprise to him. After all, it was only going to be a matter of time before she was to show her face.

Jamie finally held up his hands and told everyone to shut up. He folded them in front of him and peered around at all the faces. “We have to figure this out. There’s just no time to fight amongst ourselves.”

Longshot looked at Spiral again. “Say what you want to say.”

“Mojo plans on sending the Protectorate here tonight. They have been ordered to kill anyone who gets in the way of their mission target. That includes humans, mutants, and civilians.” She folded two hands in her lap and smiled viciously. “And who knows? He could send ten men or ten dozen.”

“Who is the mission target?” Shatterstar demanded.

“I am,” Longshot answered before Spiral could even speak. “I always am.”

Spiral nodded. “Indeed.”

“No way!” Alison scoffed. “They’re not taking him anywhere!”

“Which is why I’m offering you my assistance,” Spiral explained calmly. “We can spare the lives of many if this war were to take place on Mojoworld. You could ambush them before they get the chance to ambush you. Your mutant powers would be valuable in the fight, as the Protectorate are enhanced mainly for hand to hand combat. Very few are equipped with powers.”

“And what’s your part in all this?” Domino demanded and eyed the woman suspiciously. “Last I heard you were playing for the bad guys.”

“I play for me,” the white haired woman hissed. “I may not be thrilled about working with the likes of all of you, but I also want nothing more than Mojo’s demise! He will not submit until he is brought down!”

“And I will never bring him down,” Longshot murmured. “That’s not my--”

“But we have him,” Spiral pointed a finger toward Shatterstar. “And it is his destiny.”

“Only because you choose so!” Alison shouted at her, anger and hate radiating off of her in giant waves. Longshot placed a hand on her shoulder and pulled her close. The pink haired woman just continued to seethe, however. “All of these destinies and outcomes are only one of so many, and you know that! You’re taking your ability to jump through time to see all possible directions this could go, and you’re only leading us where you want us to be – so that you benefit from it! That’s how you work! That’s how you’ve always worked.”

“Yes, but once again, Mojo’s fall will not only benefit me, but also all of the biped race, and you as well. You would be free from his hunting permanently.” 

The room erupted into an argument again, but Longshot kept his silent gaze on the woman. “She’s right.”

“Fekt, no!” Shatterstar scowled. “Longshot, you know that she will just take rule for herself, and that guarantees the safety of no one!”

“But it ensures biped freedom,” the Cadre leader replied miserably. “Besides, no one said Spiral has to take rule just because Mojo falls.”

Spiral just remained silent, and kept her gaze penetrating Longshot.

Jamie sighed, and cleared his throat. “So, uh, we going back or are we letting them bring the fight here?”

“They’ll destroy everything if they come here,” Alison told him. “You saw the Protectorate when we were on Mojoworld. You know and saw what they’re capable of.”

“Well if you guys are going, I’m coming with you,” Domino announced, and grabbed her weapons from her belt to start loading them. “There’s some unfinished business I’d like to take care of from last time we paid a visit to the fat bastard. I’m all game to help you guys.”

“Me too,” Skids piped up, but she did not sound as confident as the merc did.

“Skids, you don’t have to,” Rictor furrowed his eyebrows. “I know this fighting stuff is--”

“If you’re going, I’m going!” she scolded him. “At least I can protect you, Rictor! You have nothing to fight with!”

“I can fight just fine!” he protested. “I went last time, and I’m going again and I don’t care what any of you have to say about that either. I killed one of those Protect-a-whatever’s all by myself!” 

Shatterstar eyed him and sighed. “Then you take weapons with you this time as well.” 

Rictor nodded. “I will!” 

“I’m going,” Skids confirmed.

Jamie looked at the rest of X-Factor, and Monet, Guido, and Terry all gave him a nod of approval. Looking a little unsure himself, he stood and swallowed. “So we go. We said we’d help and stick through this, so we will. But we need a plan and we stay together no matter what.”

“I knew you’d come around,” Spiral smiled smugly and turned her head to gaze at Longshot eerily. “When would you like to leave?”

“Just dance and we’ll go.”

The white haired woman nodded and regarded the faces in the group around her. Longshot could see that she was sizing them all up, and the fact that he was allowing himself to trust her brought upon a whole flurry of conflicting emotions within him. On one hand, Spiral had led him into traps before. On the other, he had been able to trust her in the past – both times when the most important people in his life relied on her cooperation. Spiral could be a stark raving lunatic, but other times the heart and determination of his old friend, Rita, shone through and Longshot could rely on her. 

If he was lucky, things would fall into place and she would pull through. However, Longshot knew that he was the target in the situation, and if he was put into a position where he would have to sacrifice himself to save his family, his team, and his race of people – he would do it in a heartbeat. It was likely that it would come to that, and he was prepared to assume his role.

Spiral stood up from her chair and twisted her body around as she unsheathed her weapons and cast her spells amongst the bodies in the room. A dashing array of swirling lights and energies surrounded them, and soon they found themselves being pulled through the realms of reality.

Once again they were faced with a prospective war, and Longshot was determined to put an end to it once and for all.
Go to chapter nineteen.

Tags: fanfic
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