Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar, Longshot, Dazzler, Siryn, Domino, X-Factor, Skids, Spiral, and Doc Samson.
Pairings: Rictor/Shatterstar, Longshot/Dazzler
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst, humour.
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: The rebel teams faces off against some new and old opposition, and things look bleak back at base.
Part: One, Two, Three,
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
“Shatterstar! Stand down!”
At the sound of Longshot’s voice, X-Force’s former weapon tilted his head to the side. Looking over Rictor’s shoulder, Shatterstar studied Longshot and scowled. “Who is this man? He wears our symbol!”
“Lord Longshot?! Is it really you?” a raspy voice spoke from their left. A sickly, purple skinned biped with pointy ears crawled forward. “It is the Cadre Lord!”
Rictor looked back at Shatterstar hopefully, chest tightening at the confused look on his friend’s face. Dazzler did not fare any better. She looked absolutely suspicious. “Longshot?”
The alien stepped forward next to Rictor at the sound of his name and nodded. “Yeah, it’s me, Ali.”
“Ali?” she narrowed her eyes, and her hands glowed brighter.
“Fekt,” Longshot muttered. “Fekt! No! This is not supposed to happen!”
Rictor suppressed the urge to freak out. No other time did he ever wish he had his powers back as much as he did right then. To unleash a backlash of energy and just crumble that god forsaken place on top of him. Mojo had done something really bad, and what it was Rictor did not know. All he knew was that a tattered and torn Shatterstar was pointing a weapon in his face as though he were the enemy. As if anything that had ever happened between them never did. Rictor was so confused.
“If you are Longshot from legend, you are here to free us, Za?” Shatterstar interrogated, not dropping his sword.
“I am,” Longshot explained slowly, and looked around the room at all the other prisoners. “All of you.”
The rest of the rebel group stepped further into the room, and began inspecting the people inside. Most of the prisoners were apprehensive at being approached, but were much too weak to put up a fight. Quark and the rest of the Cadre Alliance grabbed their captured men and sent them out the door to run.
“How did you know my name?” Shatterstar demanded. “And what did you call Dazzler?”
Longshot sighed. “There is no time for this. We must leave now, and I’m taking you both with me.”
“What makes you think we’ll go with you?” Dazzler asked.
Longshot pointed to the symbol on his chest. “I am Cadre just like you. You can trust me.”
“It is a ploy!” Shatterstar told her, and unsheathed his other sword.
“What the fucking hell is going on!?” Rictor finally yelled angrily. “Why are you acting like this, ‘Star? It’s me! And it’s Longshot! You know who the fuck we are!”
Cold silver eyes moved back to the Mexican, and his lip quirked up in a scowl. “I know not who you are, measly warrior. I have nothing holding me back from removing your head.”
“Yes you do,” Longshot stepped forward and pulled out a sword of his own. “You have me to stop you, and you will obey me, warrior.”
Shatterstar glared angrily, and gestured back to Dazzler. “Shall I destroy him?”
“No…” she trailed off, placing a hand on his shoulder. “If he is the one we heard about, then he is fighting to stop Mojo. He can help us kill him!”
“I do not need help,” Shatterstar scoffed, and returned his gaze to Longshot. “I will accompany you to escape, but that is all.”
“We're leaving,” Longshot told him.
“What the hell is going on!?” Rictor yelled and shoved Longshot’s shoulder. “What is wrong with them!? Why are they acting like they’re brainwashed?”
The blonde warrior averted his eyes and clenched his jaw. “It looks like they’ve been hollowed.”
“Hollowed?” Ric scrunched up his face and turned to look at Jamie. Madrox looked absolutely stunned at everything that had been revealed. “Jamie? What is he talking about?”
“I-I don’t…” he shook his head and shrugged.
Rictor grabbed Longshot by the front of the uniform and growled. “What!? Tell me!”
“Their memories…” he trailed off, and pried Rictor’s hands from his shirt. “We don’t have time for this! We have to summon Doctor Strange and go! The alarms have been sounded, and if we don’t move soon we’ll be caught and possibly all imprisoned!”
In that second Rictor felt as though his heart dropped down into his gut. 'Hollowed', 'memories'-- he recalled Longshot referring to his mind wipe as being ‘hollowed’ but…that could not have possibly happened to ‘Star too, could it? His memories being gone would mean that he did not remember his time on Earth. He did not remember X-Force or
An icy numbness took over the Mexican’s body then, and he could not move.
Shatty looked at him again, silver eyes piercing him without a single hint of recognition. Cold. Flat. Gone. He straightened slightly and sheathed his sword, moving his gaze away from Rictor just as though he were no one important. Those same eyes that used to gaze at him in the night-- that lit up when he looked at him. The same eyes that had burned through him the first time Shatterstar told him that he loved him. Eyes that were so full of life when they fucked.
Rictor brought his hands up to his forehead and fisted the hair there, suppressing the urge to just scream. He had to keep his cool, but he knew he was going to lose it. There was absolutely, positively no way this was going on. It had to be a dream. A nightmare.
“Rictor!” Longshot yelled, cutting the Mexican from his thoughts. “We must go!”
He stood still for a couple of minutes, glaring at the floor of the hellish room before turning around. Dazzler and Shatterstar still stood in their places, watching the group with suspicion.
“Where do you plan on taking us?” Dazzler questioned.
“No where,” a high pitched, gravelly voice called. The entire group spun around and was faced with the grotesque sight of Mojo. He was surrounded by Spiral, Gog and Gog n' Magog, as well as a few more security officials. “I believe that is my property! And oh boy! Would I ever like to make the rest of you it too!”
“What have you done?!” Longshot yelled at him, immediately going for his throwing blades. The group closed in together, ready for whatever fight the monsters were looking to start.
“You broke your contract, Longshot,” Mojo grinned perversely. “I was making you an ultimatum. You could have prevented all of this had you just come back willingly.”
“What is he talking about?” Shatterstar questioned.
“You were imprisoned because of him,” Mojo waved his hand. “He would not come, so I took you instead.”
“Liar!” Longshot snarled. “You took her! And you took him without my knowledge! Nor was there a bargain!”
“Would I ever do a thing like that?” Mojo cackled, and grabbed his giant belly. “We’ve been playing this game for years, Longshot, and it’s time for it to end! It’ll be a prime time spectacular! A main event! A championship round up for the ages!” he narrowed his sickly eyes, and bared his snarling teeth. “And it will be on my show, my terms. Today will be the day you all die!”
“More men?” Jamie questioned Longshot with a gulp.
“No,” he whispered. “Reabsorb them all now. We’re going to have to make a quick exit.”
Jamie nodded, and began sucking his dupes back in. For a brief moment, Mojo was transfixed on the sight, but Spiral pointed her sword and glared. “They’re going to get away!”
“Not on my watch!” Mojo bellowed and swiped a gun from Magog’s belt. Rictor’s eyes widened as the giant blob pointed it straight at Madrox.
“No!” he screamed.
Quark jumped forward just as the shot rang out, and Longshot grabbed onto Shatterstar and Dazzler. “X-Factor! Hold on!”
“We have tah go!” Terry urged and held up the amulet. “Come on, Doctor Strange!”
“Blast you, Mojo!” Longshot cursed as a pink glow came over the group. The megalomaniac only laughed and held up his gun again. A shot rang out, but the bullet passed through the group, as they were faded between the realms. From what was left, Rictor could see Spiral, Gog, Gog n' Magog, and the rest of the Protectorate leap forward and attack the Cadre rebels who had remained behind. It would be a bloody battle, but X-Factor had escaped with those they had come to retrieve.
“Quark…” Longshot muttered. “Fekt!”
“Where are we going?” Dazzler demanded, and tightened her hold.
“Earth,” Longshot murmured. “Where you’ll be safe.”
Travel had only taken seconds, like last time, but again it had felt like hours. The team teleported straight back to Doctor Strange, and quickly returned to headquarters after a brief thanks to the Doc. Shatterstar had protested their running almost endlessly, but Dazzler had reasoned with him, saying it was better to have fled than to have been held captive. The argument had continued and dragged on amongst the family, but Rictor did not have much to add to it. What could he say? Any meaning his voice or opinion would have had on Shatterstar at one time was now gone. He meant nothing.
Surprisingly though, Longshot was taking it all in stride. Ric was unsure if he was just keeping his emotions in check or not, but either way he was doing a phenomenal job of keeping his cool. His right hand man had just been shot in front of his eyes, and his wife and son mind wiped -- and yet all he cared about was reassuring them and getting them comfortable. Terry had taken Dazzler up to a spare room to get her settled with a change of clothes, and since Rictor had shown no interest in moving or talking, Guido had volunteered to set Shatty up.
Which left Longshot, Madrox, and the Mexican in Jamie’s office alone.
Not many words had been spoken since the rest of the group had parted ways, and the only sound in the room was the clock ticking on the wall. Ric sat numbly in a desk chair, while Jamie leaned against his desk. Longshot paced thoughtfully across the room.
“I’m sorry,” Jamie finally spoke up after many minutes.
The blonde turned to face Madrox. “What are you apologizing for?”
“I’m just…sorry that happened to your family,” he explained.
Longshot blinked before turning to continue his pacing. “You helped free them. You aren’t guilty of anything, Jamie.”
“I know, it’s just…” Jamie rubbed his forehead, trying to find the right words to say. “It was bad what happened, and they didn’t deserve it. We agreed to help you, and I just feel like we didn’t do much. Like we didn’t make it in time, or…”
“You did help; you got them back,” Longshot pointed out. “And for that I owe you everything.”
Jamie nodded. “I can get some help, you know. I know some people…who can take a look at them, maybe help us figure out what we can do to help reverse this.”
Longshot nodded and stopped pacing to face him fully. “Perhaps. If they are willing to accept it, that would be great.”
“Doc Samson is a great psychiatrist, I can get a hold of him right now,” Jamie offered.
Rictor snorted humourlessly. “Oh yeah, I bet that will go over just fucking swell.”
“It’s at least something,” Jamie shot. “Unless you have any better ideas.”
He did not. Except maybe climbing up a building and jumping off. Or lighting himself on fire. Or hiring a telepath to erase his memories too, so that he did not have to live with the fact that all the good he had left to hold onto was now gone. No powers, no friends, no family. Nothing. Just cold, black emptiness.
“Call him,” Rictor muttered under his breath instead.
Jamie sighed. “Are you all right? You haven’t said so much as a word since we got back.”
“I just did,” Rictor snapped, and dropped his head into his hands tiredly.
“Look, I know you’re upset, but I want you to know that I’m willing to do anything to help you and your friends right now,” Jamie insisted. “And I mean it. I’m willing to put everything else on hold, including running off back to Doctor Strange to figure out a way to get Layla back.”
“Mojo will come back,” Longshot interrupted. “Now that we’ve fled there’s a very good possibility that he will come back looking for us. It’s just a matter of time.”
“Which is why we handle this first,” Jamie sighed. “As much as it pains me to say, she’ll have to wait. This is our biggest problem right now.”
Rictor nodded mutely, and watched as the two older men stared down at him worriedly. He hated that look. The look of pity. He did not need their fucking pity.
Jamie stood and walked to his office door. “I’ll leave you two alone. I’m going to give Samson a call and then make sure everyone is settled in. Then I’ll probably buy supper. Or something. I don’t know…if you guys need anything…” the Multiple Man frowned as he opened the door. “Just call me, all right?”
Longshot nodded and watched him leave before turning his focus back to Rictor. “This isn’t the end.”
“I know,” Rictor muttered.
“There is a very good chance he can get his memories back,” the Mojoworlder explained. “I have done it, and so has Ali. All you have to do is work at it, and just believe you can do it. Anything can happen if you just try.”
The Mexican glared at him. “Yeah, says the guy with good luck powers! If anything, the only luck I’ve ever had is bad!”
“Only because you think negatively,” Longshot pointed out. “If you expect the worst, then you’re going to get the worst.”
“Easy for you to say,” he slumped further in his seat. “How can you be so optimistic at a time like this?! Your family, the one woman you love -- your wife -- doesn’t even know who the hell you are!”
“I have to be optimistic,” Longshot replied seriously. “If I’m not, then bad things happen.”
Rictor scowled and rubbed his hands over his face. “Well I can’t do that. You can be happy and smile and think everything is going to turn out okay, but not me. I don’t work that way, amigo. And neither does Shatty,” he added just because.
“The last time I was hollowed it only took me a few days with Ali to get the important stuff back,” Longshot told him. “The more time you spend with him and work on it, the better the chances are of you jogging something in his memory.”
“How do I even know what he remembers!?” Rictor snapped. “How do I know what he even wants to remember? How do I even know if he cares to remember me?”
“You just have to find out,” the warrior replied. “And you can’t find out unless you try.”
Ric stared up at the older man in defeat. “When I first met him, he barely even had any feelings. He came to this world and all he wanted to do was fight people and kill for honour and all this other crap. It took so fucking long to get him over that. Just to be able to talk to him and be his friend…it took months,” the Mexican croaked and bowed his head sadly. “And now that’s all undone. He’s just right back to square one. It’s like…it’s like he’s a shell, you know?”
“I know,” Longshot nodded. “That was me when the Exiles found me. Exactly that way.”
“That’s not very reassuring.”
“Yeah, but you know what? He overcame all that soldier stuff once because of you,” Longshot pointed out. “And I have faith that you can do it again. If anyone is able to do it, Rictor, it will be you.”
“It’s a little risky putting your faith in a guy like me,” he muttered.
“I saw you last time you lost him,” Longshot tried to smile a little reassuringly. “You care. You care enough to do anything to save him, and you’ll do this too.”
He hoped to fucking God he was right.
But Rictor’s inner cynic spoke otherwise. It was way too easy to just say that Shatterstar would up and remember everything just like that. It was false hope and pointless optimism that had only landed him in a bad spot so many other times in his life. Rictor had already lost his father, Rahne, his mother, his cousins, and every friend he ever had. He had also lost his powers. For his family, he had returned to
Shatterstar was it. And even though they had not seen each other in months, it did not mean things were over between them. All the warrior had wanted was a little time to himself to explore the world, and Rictor had gladly allowed him so. They had agreed they would meet up again when ‘Star was ready.
Only figures something had to fuck that up, too.
“What do I do?” he sighed shakily, and finally peered up to look at Longshot.
“Just talk to him,” he urged. “He’s still the same person. It’s not a robot, he’s Shatterstar.”
“So why aren’t you even taking your own advice?” the Mexican demanded.
Longshot smiled, albeit sadly. “Because I know Alison. Barging in and demanding things would never go over well with her. I just have to take my time and work with her. Hope for the best.”
“Yeah, and blasting Shatty for answers will get me far,” Ric scoffed.
“No but for someone as stubborn as him you’ll have to be persistent,” Longshot pointed out, as he leaned against Jamie’s desk and folded his arms. “And I’m sure persistence wouldn’t be a problem for you.”
“Yeah, well, for that jerk I’ll need a lot of it,” Rictor glared at his shoes and folded his arms over his chest.
“You know, you’re lucky Mojo hasn’t really come after you two more,” Longshot started. “I mean, I know he did that one other time, but…usually he doesn’t let his ‘property’ get far.”
Rictor swallowed and stuck his thumbnail into his mouth. “Shatty was always worried that he would.”
“He had every right to be.”
Rictor sure as hell knew that now. “I know.”
“And Mojo got him this time,” Longshot muttered. “So he’ll need you now more than ever. If anyone can help him piece together his life, it’s you. I haven’t been around him long enough to know much of anything.” The Cadre leader looked a little sad at that revelation. “So you can’t avoid him now.”
“But what about me, huh!?” Ric snapped. “You think it’s freaking easy being able to remember everything when he can’t!?”
“No it isn’t,” Longshot admitted. “But just because something is hard doesn’t mean you give up on it.” He narrowed his blue eyes slightly. “Besides, this isn’t about you! You’re being selfish, and being selfish never got anyone anywhere, now did it?”
Rictor glared. “Who even said I want any part of this!?”
“You did,” Longshot pushed off of the desk and headed toward the door. “You said you would help, and I know deep down you want to. More than anything,” he grasped the knob and shook his head. “But you’re scared, and you just want to run away from your fear.”
Brown eyes narrowed, and Rictor scowled. “I don’t run away from anything, cabron!”
Longshot nodded. “Good. Then when you stop being a big baby, do something useful. Our side is going to win. Mojo won’t fool me again.”
Rictor just watched the warrior leave the room, and as soon as he left, the Mexican huffed and slumped in his chair. Stupid Longshot with his stupid optimism was always making him feel like a jerk.
Especially because Rictor knew he was right.
Go to Chapter Five.