kiev4am: (underwood)
[personal profile] kiev4am
Moar RicStar. 100% less gloomy than the last one.


Title: Force Of Habit, pt 1 of 3 : X-Force Rules
Fandom: X-Factor
Pairing/Characters: Rictor/Shatterstar, Jamie Madrox, Banshee (formerly Siryn), Monet St. Croix, Longshot, Strong Guy, Rahne Sinclair, Layla Miller, Pip the Troll (all Marvel Comics)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Swearing. Reprehensible amounts of comic-book violence, but mostly off-panel ;)
Words: 1,539
Comments: This is a lot more fun than my last one, I promise. It's an angst-free three-act action movie of Rictor and Shatterstar getting their X-Force on and demonstrating their awesome old-school teamwork to the rest of X-Factor. Uh, which teamwork would of course be measured in cracked skulls, property damage, creatively interpreted orders and other frankly appalling mayhem which Terry might have warned Jamie about if she'd thought about it in time. Poor Jamie; exploding warehouses are so not noir. In my head this comes with a David Yardin cover showing Ric and 'Star in scowling badass mode, back to back, surrounded by soon-to-be-terribly-sorry bad guys. And that hat is my personal fanservice. Somebody in X-Factor ought to have a fedora, right?



1. X-Force Rules

"I think we've got too many people on this," Jamie Madrox said.

Terry peered through the binoculars. "Guido's informant said they'd move today for sure."

"That's the same guy who told us Halloween would be quiet this year," Jamie said bitterly. The team had not appreciated interrupting horror movie night to fight zombies in Central Park - except for Shatterstar, who'd appreciated it a little too much, clearly hoping he could hack and slash his way back to credibility after jumping so badly he'd spilled popcorn on everybody during The Ring. The film had hit where it hurt, at his innocent love of TV. Eventually, following a near-evisceration in the kitchen and dire threats from a furious Rictor, Jamie had to ban Guido and Monet from ringing 'Star's mobile with screened numbers and hissing "Seven days..." at him.

They perched high in the cabin of a dockside crane. Below them, in its empty compound, the warehouse was doing its best impression of being derelict and not full of batshit homegrown terrorists. Beside the compound gates, Longshot and Monet lurked and bickered in a rusty van; Pip was somewhere in the warehouse, sneaking around, ready to give the alert and teleport out of there at the first sign of activity; and at the far end of the compound, in another crane, sat 'Star and Rictor.

Jamie opened the radio channel. "Guys, report."

"If nothing happens, I'm going to kill you," Monet informed him. "I gave up a diamond auction for this."

"Rictor?"

"All quiet," Ric said. There was a baleful mumble in the background and he laughed wickedly. "Somebody doesn't think surveillance is the best use of his skills. He'd kill for some Doombots right about now." The mumble became a sullen growl of confirmation.

"Tough," said Madrox. "Tell him he's a detective now, he's gotta learn to be discreet."

Terry pointed the binoculars at the other crane as Ric gleefully relayed this. "Oh my, he's really sulking. He looks like a kid who's been grounded." She chuckled. "Ric's still got that hat on."

"I hate him," Jamie said fervently. Rictor had found the classic brown fedora in a thrift shop. It was an ideal hat for him since it combined absurd levels of scruffy cool with the potential to aggravate his boss every time he wore it; he looked about as noir as Lethal Weapon, but it still worked better on him than it did on Jamie and everybody knew it. There was no justice. "I preferred him when he was miserable," Jamie muttered, safe in the knowledge that he didn't completely mean it. He flipped on the radio again. "Pip should be back soon. If he thinks today's a bust, I'll let you two go home."

"Hey, not fair," Longshot objected. "Why do they get to - "

The radio spluttered static and suddenly Pip was there in the cabin, his coat and hair trailing weird light. He was gasping for breath. "Madrox - they're - you gotta - "

"Pip, what the hell?"

The troll leaned on a chair, ashen-faced. "Bad news, boss. They - they ain't terrorists - I mean, not just terrorists. The terrorism's a cover."

"What?"

"There's about two hundred more goons in there than we thought. They got all these freaky machines running, and a generator. There's some sorta portal tech, I saw 'em open it. People came through."

"Oh, perfect." Why couldn't a stupid little splinter group just be a stupid little splinter group for once? Jamie scowled at Pip. "Is that all?"

Pip shook his raggedy head, his eyes huge. "They're serious business. They just executed a bunch of their own people - cut their heads off right there on the warehouse floor. The main guy made some speech about dealing with traitors on the eve of their biggest deal."

"Biggest deal?"

"Yeah. Get this - the whole place is stacked with fancy metal crates. I got a look inside a couple. Guns. Funny-lookin' sci-fi guns. Lotta other heavy stuff, things that could be bombs or launchers, but mostly these totally not-Earth-issue, big freaking guns. Best guess, these guys are some sort of cross-dimensional arms dealers or gun-runners, with their own private army for security, usin' our back yard as a storefront. I guess today's the day the buyer comes calling."

Looking back, the word Jamie most wished the radio hadn't been accidentally left on for was gun-runners.

He reached for his phone and called the funeral home. "Hey, Jamie," said Layla.

"How did you - oh, forget it. Listen, I need you, Rahne and Guido over here now. Shit's happening."

"Okay," she said brightly. "We might be a while, you know what the traffic's like at this hour."

"Run the red lights, this is serious. And tell Guido to call up his snitch and fire him." He hung up and looked at Terry. "Goddammit. This might be too big for us."

"Speak for yourself," Monet drawled over the radio, making him jump. "It sounds just the right size for me."

Terry gave him her sternest face. "Decision, Jamie; what do you want to do?"

"Uh, okay. Terry, call S.H.I.E.L.D. We've got to know our limits, people. There's too many unknowns. If we're going to disrupt this 'deal' we've got to do it safely and covertly, and we'll need help."

"Nah... I think we've got this," Ric's voice cut in. He sounded strange, a bit wired, like there was a joke only he was getting. "Don't you, 'Star?"

'Star's voice was clear, close to Ric and the radio. "Absolutely."

"X-Force rules?"

"Oh, I think so." Damn if the two of them didn't sound like they were grinning like idiots.

"Wait, X-Force rules? What X-Force rules?"

"I think that's the point," Terry said gently.

"Oh, no," Madrox muttered. "Nonono. Ric, 'Star, don't even think about it. That's an order. Do not do what I think you're going to do." Silence. "Did you hear me, goddammit?"

He hated silence. Silence always meant the same thing: someone was about to either ignore his orders, or obey them with such imaginative latitude that he'd wind up wishing they had ignored them.

"Uh oh," Pip said with relish.

In the corner of Jamie's eye the other crane started to move, swinging out over the roof of the warehouse. He grabbed the binoculars. Somehow, with his usual eerie speed, Shatterstar had already climbed out of the cabin and was crouched on the end of the jib like a little white gargoyle, hair like a match-head, swords glinting. Jamie swore. "Just where the hell did Rictor learn to drive a crane?"

Terry coughed. "Worry more about where he learned to hotwire one."

Jamie turned on her. "It's not funny," he said accusingly.

She pulled her face straight, her eyes dancing. "No, of course not."

A sweep of the binoculars, and suddenly Longshot and Monet were on top of the compound wall. "Hey!"

"Oh, I saw 'Star and thought you'd given the go-ahead," Monet lied sweetly. She gave him a flirty little wave, grabbed Longshot by the collar and flew them both to the shadow of the warehouse's wall where they crept towards the nearest door and edged inside. Ric had parked the crane and was clambering briskly out along the jib like he'd never in his life felt the siren call of a long drop. 'Star leapt straight off the crane to the warehouse roof, some forty feet; landing swords first, he sliced a neat hatch in the corrugated iron and vanished through it in one of those single whatthefuck moves of his that ought not to exist without wirework and CGI. Descending on the crane's cable, Ric trailed him by just a few seconds. Crammed jauntily on the back of his head, the fedora went with him.

"Bastard thinks he's Indiana Jones." Jamie threw down the binoculars. "I hate my team. Terry, get me down there. Drop me from a safe height, I'm going to need a lot of dupes. Pip, follow us."

Almost beneath hearing rose a low, thick noise that made their skulls buzz like a dentist's drill. The windows of the cabin shook. There was a scattershot sound that, in retrospect, was the noise made by thousands of loose bolts popping free at the same time. Gracefully, the whole front wall of the warehouse peeled away from the roof and fell outwards with a stupefying bomb-loud clang.

Pip cackled. "I think that means come on in."

"Oh God," said Terry. She laughed weakly.

"What?"

"I just remembered. Layla... she said it was nice that you were putting Ric and 'Star together on a job."

A dulcet little air-raid siren of anxiety went off in the back of Jamie's head. It was terribly familiar. "Nice?" he said slowly.

Terry winced. "The phrase she actually used was 'quality time.'"

From inside the warehouse came the festive whoomf of something flammable exploding. Jamie shut his eyes, remembering too late Layla's crack about the traffic. "She knew. That's why they're late. She knew, but instead of being here in time to help, she's making sure they're almost on their own..." He slammed his hand on the driver's console, irritably reabsorbing the startled dupe before he had a chance to speak. "I hate my team. Get me down there."

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kiev4am

May 2012

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