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
Chapter Summary: Longshot introduces X-factor to some old friends.
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
A/N: I do not know a thing about magic or sorcery. I don't have any interest in it whatsoever. I did a tiny bit of reading up on it for the part I needed, but please be advised that my continuity and facts may be fucked. I'm not a regular reader of Doctor Strange, so if I portray him badly, I'm sorry in advance.
Also, anything like "*this*" is in Cadre Alliance language.
“It looks empty.”
Longshot perked an amused eyebrow as X-Factor circled an old, dreary looking building. All of the windows had been knocked out, and parts of the roof were caving in. If Rictor did not know any better, it looked just like a bunch of the old warehouses X-Factor had busted in on when they had taken a few cases involving mutant growth hormone drugs.
“This place is special,” the Mojoworlder explained with a wave of his hand. “It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside, the inside is what counts.”
Ric groaned. “Please don’t say that. Last time you said that we fell on our asses into magic land.”
“Who says we aren’t going to do that again?”
“This is where Doctor Strange is stayin’?” Theresa asked incredulously. “It looks like it’s in absolute shambles! Why would a man like him want tah--?”
“It’s just the outside,” Longshot explained again, and tilted his head to the side to observe a strange pattern of symbols on the wall. He brought his three-fingered hand up to trace them. “This is a spell. I would bet that he’s using something like this to cloak his base! Like a disguise-- for buildings!”
Jamie nodded. “So he plays dress up with his house. Interesting.”
“That’s not all he can do,” Longshot grinned before continuing on his way. “He can bend reality and time and open all sorts of portals in different times and dimensions.”
“Wait,” Madrox stopped and held up a hand, causing everyone else on the team to stop and watch him. “He can open up portals in other times-- and even bring people back from them?”
Longshot nodded. “Yes. I’ve been able to return from and visit my home world many times with his magic. And bring people with me.”
“So would it be possible to track down Layla this way!?”
“Layla?” the warrior questioned and looked at the others. “I don’t know who--”
“We can think about that later,” Rictor rolled his eyes and spun on his heel to keep looking for an entrance to the building. “You can go through time whenever you want, so we can worry about that when we’re done this.”
“Is someone in trouble?” Longshot questioned curiously behind him.
However, Rictor did not answer him. Truth was, as guilty as he felt for allowing Layla to go to Xavier's mansion with them, they had more important things to worry about. His mind was absolutely reeling from all the revelations Longshot had made that afternoon, and the Mexican was worried his best friend’s life would never be the same. Rictor had already seen what an identity crisis had caused Shatty one time, and the prospect of him becoming like that again was frightening. Shatterstar was not able to deal with such things well, and him going through it once more -- on Mojoworld of all places -- was just not welcoming a good outcome for them.
If there was one person in the world Rictor would drop everything to go help, it was ‘Star. He had done it once before; he left his whole black market family behind to return to him. And he would do it again. He was doing it again, and there was not a single other thought or person or prospect that would change his mind from doing so.
It was not an obligation either. When he and Shatterstar had parted ways in
Julio Richter never broke his promises. Because of that, and maybe just something else a little deeper, he planned on tackling this task head on. Going to Mojoworld-- the one place that had so long been the source of the boys’ nightmares-- and freeing ‘Star. Even if he did not have the mutant power to do so any longer, Rictor would damn well go through anyone and anything -- the whole planet included -- to get ‘Star and bring him home.
“I think I've found it,” Monet’s voice cut Rictor from his thoughts, and the Mexican spun around to face the younger woman. She had her arm outstretched to finger a strange looking handle. “There is a button here; it’s kind of rusty and battered, but if I push it--”
“How do you know it’s not a trick?” Guido questioned. “You could press it and spring a trap!”
“I’ll do it!” Longshot volunteered. “With my luck it would miss us…by a long shot!”
“Ugh,” Rictor groaned at the pun, but stepped back nonetheless. Expectant eyes watched the Mojoworlder curiously, and without any hesitation, he pressed his pointer finger against the button. The building rumbled slightly, and a few loose bricks fell from the walls above them.
“Take cover!” Jamie yelled as he was hit on the shoulder by a rock. The impact caused him to multiply, and his dupe grabbed his arm to keep him leveled.
“This place gives me the jeepers creepers!” he yelped. Jamie Prime rolled his eyes, and held the duplicate steady.
“I think it’s opening!” Terry exclaimed, and pointed up at the ruin above them. Sure enough, the bricks that fell to the ground fell to reveal a strange orange/yellow glow, and the team found they could not take their eyes away. Longshot beamed happily.
“That’s him all right!”
The second the words spilled from the warrior’s mouth, Ric found himself unable to stand steady. Their feet were ripped away from the ground beneath them, and they found themselves falling. From his peripheral vision, Ric saw the girls attempting to fly, but it was to no avail. Their mouths and hands were restrained, and they toppled downward until they made contact with the hard floor again.
Just his luck too; he had just escaped from being restrained that day!
“Welcome,” a low, eerie voice greeted them.
Their mouth ties were removed, and everyone gasped for air. Well, except Longshot. “Doctor Strange! Boy, am I happy to see you!”
“Longshot, is that you, child?”
“You bet!” the alien exclaimed, and flipped up onto his feet. The second he was standing, the Doctor released him and his arms were free. “These are my friends, X-Factor. They’re safe.”
“Hmmm,” the Doctor waved his hand, and the rest of them were freed as well. Jamie’s dupe was still completely bewildered (right along with Jamie Prime), and Monet and Theresa did their best to look casual. Rictor was right pissed at being thrown on the floor so rudely, while Guido looked absolutely astonished.
“Wow, this is incredible,” the big man murmured.
“Thank-you, and welcome to my home,” Doctor Strange replied. Ric had forgotten how irritated the man made him.
“Ah, it’s the arrogant one,” the Doctor shook his head amusedly and regarded Longshot. “You had to bring that one back?”
“Jerk,” Rictor muttered.
“We need to get back to Mojoworld again,” Longshot explained, ignoring Ric’s protesting. “Mojo has kidnapped two people from, er, this dimension, kinda, and we need to save them! Those are the only two we know about too; for all we know there could be more!”
“I see,” the older man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I am going to assume you are having trouble with the time-dancer again?”
Longshot frowned thoughtfully and scratched his head. “Yeah, they were trying to imprison me, but took my wife instead.”
“I see,” Strange regarded the rest of the group. “Besides those of you I have met before, I would like to warn you that attempting such travel will fatigue you not only physically, but emotionally as well. There is great risk in such journeys for those who are inexperienced.”
“We’re prepared to take them,” Jamie spoke up on behalf of the group. “I’ve time traveled before.”
“Okay,” the older man nodded, and returned his gaze to Longshot. “I can cast a spell that can thrust the group of you into the nexus realm. From there you will be redirected to Mojoworld.”
“Uhm, I don’t want to sound like a cynic or anything, but…” Guido chuckled nervously and ran a hand through his little strip of hair. “How would we, uhm, you know…get back?”
Doctor Strange perked an amused eyebrow and spun around to approach a large looking book case. “I have two amulets here. With them you may summon me when you do so choose, and from there I can cast a spell to have you returned to this reality.” The older man stepped forward and gave one to Longshot and the other to Siryn. “The will and energy reflected from your two souls calls out to me. I believe you two to be the most suited for the spell’s power.”
Terry’s eyes widened and she fingered the necklace after putting it around her neck. “It feels strange. Like it’s heavy.”
“Indeed it is,” he nodded. “It houses a massive amount of power and energy.”
“When can we go?” Rictor snapped irritably. “The longer we stand around here, the better the chances of Mojo eating people’s brains for dinner.”
The Doctor shook his head amusedly and folded his hands in front of him. “Ah, the arrogance of youth. If you’d only give me a few moments to prepare myself and obtain a few necessary objects, we will be all set.”
Jamie’s duplicate shuddered and grabbed onto Jamie Prime’s arm. “Yeah…you can take me back now. There’s no way in heck I want anything to do with this!”
The trip had felt long and stressful, even though in reality it had only taken a few seconds. However, time travel had never really settled well with the Mexican. Rictor felt as though he had just finished an entire turkey dinner and then participated in a decathlon. A magnificent array of color and blinding flashes of light had overtaken them, replacing their surroundings at the old building completely. Within seconds it was swapped with the swirling, chaotic beauty of the nexus realm -- the in-between of all realities. And once they had reached Mojoworld, Rictor felt worse.
He was face to face with everything he hated most: hate, war, guns, weapons, death; that place was like a living hell. It was, in a way, for the people who lived there. Luckily, too, X-Factor had not been thrusted down upon them either; for they were outsiders who did not belong, and the people of the land would be quick to defend their territory. Rictor remembered distinctly the way they had been greeted the last time he had made the trip, and he was quite thankful he did not have seven dozen guns aimed at him again.
“This is it,” Longshot announced as he got to his feet and brushed off his knees absently. “I wonder where everyone is!”
Terry got to her feet and looked around. “Where exactly are we anyway? Do ye have any idea?”
He nodded and crouched down, splaying his fingers across the dirt. The golden glow of his eye intensified, and he smiled slightly. “We are behind Cadre Alliance territory lines, luckily. My army has a few set ups around this area, so we shouldn’t be far from at least one of them.”
Jamie groaned. “You think they have a rest stop on the way?”
“You can rest there,” Longshot scratched his head confusedly. “Why would you need to?”
“Never mind,” Jamie chuckled and shook his head. “Let’s just go.”
“Okay,” Longshot grinned, and held up his amulet. “My army will help lead us to where we need to go, but as soon as we have who we’re looking for, it’s very important that we leave right away. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mojo and Spiral will be very angry with us and I can’t let any of you get hurt.”
“So who, or what, exactly are we looking for?” Jamie questioned. “Someone who looks like you?”
“Far from it,” Longshot grinned crookedly. “We all differ greatly in looks. While most of us do look humanoid, there are some that Mojo created differently for whatever reason. Some with animal heads, multiple limbs, different color skin; there’s a large variety of beings here.”
“Looks like you’ll fit right in,” Monet snorted and smirked at Guido.
“Har har, you’re a riot, Monet,” he rolled his eyes.
“Sssh!” Longshot shushed them and jumped up onto a large rock. “Do you hear that?”
“No…” Rictor perked an eyebrow.
“I do,” Monet lifted up into the air so that she was at Longshot’s height. “What is that?”
“Someone's coming!” he spoke excitedly and reached into his bag. “Over there, near the trees!”
“If you can call them that,” Jamie joked. “They look more like firewood to me.”
“That’s because Mojo killed them,” Longshot said. “Everything he touches or goes near basically dies.”
“Cute,” Terry scrunched up her face.
“Hardly,” Longshot laughed and flipped off of the rock. Monet followed close behind him, and the two held battle stances. Rictor, not wanting to fight any weird aliens without having his powers, stood back behind Terry and Jamie and watched on. Longshot observed carefully, and didn’t move a muscle until two heads were visible over the hill.
“Stand at ease!” he yelled.
Instantly the two soldiers dropped their weapons, and smiled. “Longshot?”
“It’s me!” he called, and replaced his weapons back into his bag. Monet lowered to the ground and tilted her head to the side as she regarded them.
“I think you need hair stylists on this world.”
“Who are these interlopers?!” the taller man yelled, and Rictor remembered him from his last visit. The guy with the goat-head, Quark. “Give me the word, Longshot, and we shall cancel them!”
Longshot held up his hand and shook his head. “They’re friends. Don’t worry! We’re all here to help.”
The rest of X-Factor approached the group slowly, and were quickly put under the scrutiny of the Cadre rebels. “Fine then. Come along; we have to get back to the safe house before night falls.”
The house was not much of a house. It was a shelter created from rock and concrete that looked as though it used to be some sort of cave. However, it was still stunning. The rock appeared as though it had been strategically carved to help camouflage, while the inside was full of all sorts of technological devices and weaponry. One giant sized screen sat at the center of the main room, surrounded by a series of computers and controls. A couple of seating arrangements were located around the room, and a series of doors circled the walls. Rictor had learned that each door either hid a sleeping quarter, weapons cache, or uniforms and equipment closet. One door held a bathroom, and one more a food storage facility, but the rest were all for battle preparation.
It was cold and it was uncomfortable, and it nearly broke Rictor to know that this place was like Mr. Rogers compared to Shatterstar’s generation’s upbringing. Mojoworld was a horrid place now but one century in the future it was even worse, and his best friend had grown up in it.
It also did not help that every being that they had come into contact with thus far had looked down on them with mistrust. Longshot had tried to assure them that the group had practically been X-Men in a sense, but they were still put off. Rictor did not blame them though from what he knew of their history.
“We believe they’re all being kept in the bottom dungeons under the fortress,” Quark explained. “We have had hundreds of slaves disappear down there, as well as about five dozen of our ranks. At this point it’s near futile.”
Longshot shook his head. “Only in your mind, Quark. You’re always so negative about everything.”
“At this point I have every right to be,” he insisted. “Mojo has been defeating us for many months now. We have not gained any upper hand on him in a long while.”
“I wish I could have been there to help you,” Longshot frowned. “I have been such a horrible leader.”
“Don’t say that,” Quark scolded. “Without your hope and luck we would not have made it at all. Besides, you had been captured and hollowed. It’s not your fault.”
Longshot nodded. “Well now I have even more reason to be here. They have Alison, and that’s bad enough. But Mojo has Shatterstar, too.”
“The martyr, yes?”
“My son,” Longshot told him.
Quark’s face did not betray him. “Spiral told you?”
“Not entirely,” Longshot turned away from him and regarded a few of the other soldiers. “Have you heard any word?”
“No,” one man replied. He was tall -- about six foot six inches -- and he had short brown hair, save for two long, thin braids tied off behind his ears. He was incredibly handsome, and had two colorful brands over both eyes. Rictor thought the soldiers were so beautiful, as unique as they were; it always astonished him how perfect some of them looked.
“Okay then, we move out,” Longshot announced and packed up his artillery. “We can’t waste anymore time.”
“*And I suppose you are going to allow the interlopers to help us lead this battle? They can hardly be trusted!*” the other warrior, a man of Longshot’s height with green hair and a very hairy face yelled in the Cadre language. “*For all we know they are Mojo’s spies in disguise! They know nothing of our people, and gain no benefit from assisting us!*”
Jamie perked an eyebrow. “Uh, what's he saying?”
“I don’t know,” Monet told him. “I’ve never heard that before…”
Rictor furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Longshot. The warrior folded his arms over his chest. “*They are my friends, and I assure you they are fine. The gain no benefit from betrayal either. Stop being so cynical and trust me, please.*”
“*Why should we?!*”
“*Don’t talk to him like that,*” the handsome man from earlier snapped at his partner. “*He is Lord Longshot, and you shall respect him!*”
The hairy man scowled. “*Longshot! Fekt, you have not been around for nearly two years! For all we know, Mojo hollowing you out has affected your logic and tactics!*”
“*He is fine!*” Quark yelled at them. “*Cease your prattling or you will find yourself without an army to back you! He is our leader despite any absences, and you will follow his order. Even if the interlopers have not done a thing to gain our trust, they have gained Longshot’s and that is enough.*”
“*But they have not even shown any skill to fight!*” hairy face retorted.
“Hello!?” Jamie waved his arms wildly. “What the hell is going on!?”
“*They show no intellect by the looks of it, either,*” hairy man laughed.
Rictor glared and folded his arms. “*There’s enough intellect around here to actually realize we have people to save. Now are we going to go, or are you just going to stand around completely useless all day?*”
And no sooner had the fluent Cadre left his mouth, Rictor was pinned down on the ground with a sword at the hollow of his throat. Hairy man and the pretty boy had him restrained, and breathed angrily against his face. “How do you know this language?! Longshot! He’s a spy!”
“Get off of him!” Longshot scolded, and grabbed hairy man by the arm. Rictor squirmed nervously.
“Get them off!”
“What the hell did you even say?” Jamie demanded. “I want to know!”
“You have no business speaking that language!” hairy man yelled. “That is the language of accomplished warriors and soldiers of the rebellion! That is a secret of our heritage, and our heritage only!”
Rictor’s eyes widened; how the fuck was he supposed to know it was all supposed to be a secret? “Well don’t fucking chew my head off, cabron!”
“Yeah!” Longshot pulled them off. “We need his help, so leave him be. He’s my friend!”
“I don’t trust him!” hairy man yelled.
“Well learn to. He’s Shatterstar’s teammate, too, so he’s coming along whether you like it or not!” Longshot leaned down and grabbed Rictor’s wrist, and hauled him to his feet. When the Mexican was standing again, the warrior spoke quietly in his ear. “I don’t know how you knew that, but don’t try that again! They can be a little crazy here.”
“No really?” Rictor rolled his eyes and pulled away.
Longshot sighed and looked around the room. “Okay, we need to settle down. It’s time to move!”
Jamie nodded in quick agreement. “Just say the words and tell us where to go, man.”
“I will take Rictor and Quark with me,” he announced and looked back at Jamie. “And him too. With his abilities I can have an army all my own. Siryn, you have to lead the other team because you have the other amulet.”
“I can do that,” she nodded.
“Are your women skilled enough to fight?” pretty boy questioned.
“Do you want to find out?” Monet spat.
“They are,” Longshot assured. “They both have very extraordinary mutant abilities. Just as destructive, if not more, than Dazzler’s.”
The soldiers regarded the two women suspiciously, but complied nonetheless. Ric was not too sure how exactly women were regarded in the rebellion; the only one he had ever even heard of even being in it was Dazzler, and since she was Longshot’s wife no one would say a word anyhow. But the Mexican knew damn well what the two females were capable of, and even more so, they were more useful than he.
“We split up,” Longshot continued. “My team is going straight to Mojo’s fortress. We are going to look for Domo and invade the dungeons. Siryn, your team is going to go to the fortress as well, but you are to fight off the Protectorate.”
“Who we takin’ with us?” Terry questioned.
He pointed to hairy face and pretty boy. “Razar and Shasta will take you to another Cadre safe house. From there you will gather up any available soldiers you can.”
Pretty boy, or Shasta, stepped forward. “Do you wish for us to bring back-up transportation vehicles, Lord?”
“Bring what you can, but nothing that would be a liability against the Protectorate.”
“You got it,” he nodded, and sent a startling grin toward Siryn. “It will be my pleasure to serve you.”
“Traitor,” Razar spat.
“Dick,” Jamie muttered.
Rictor snorted in amusement and looked at Longshot. “And we go straight back to Earth when we find them?”
“That’s the plan,” the warrior nodded and adjusted his belt.
“And if we run into Mojo?”
Longshot frowned thoughtfully. “Here’s to hoping that we don’t.”
Go to chapter three.