Breed Book 3, Part 11

“You look bad. Really, really bad.” Cris could tell it was a woman’s voice, and that she was young, teenaged, probably.

He couldn’t really open his eyes, and when he tried to reach up to his face to understand why, his hand stopped after six inches. He could feel the metal collar o the cuff holding him to the bed. “Oh, right. I fell down a spiral staircase at a policeman’s ball.”

“That… sounds very unlikely,”

“Little help?” he asked. “Need to get my hand to my face.”

“Sure,” she said. He felt a sharp pain in his wrist as his hand was twisted at an unnatural angle, then felt the spongy, swollen flesh around his eye. He’d felt injuries like that before, seen how bad they were, and the thought made him wince- which was a terrible idea because it moved all the damaged meat around, scraping against what he now felt fairly certain was a broken cheek bone. The pain nearly made him black out.

“Fuuuugh,” he moaned.

“You sound like a mummy. But you’re not at all dressed like one.” Cris could feel warmth in his face as it began to heal. “Uh,” she said, concerned, letting go of his hand. The swelling in his eyes had receded enough he could open them to see the young woman talking to him. She wasn’t wearing a staff uniform, but the clothing of a detainee. “You can heal,” she said, surprised. “That could come in really useful around here.”

“Surprised,” he said, “they don’t block our abilities.”

“I’ve heard rumors,” she said, “that they have the tech. But it’s experimental, finicky, expensive. They just threaten to shoot us if we use them; and in the event we can block bullets or whatever, they’ll shoot somebody else.”

“Jesus.”

“Just use it discreetly. But please, use it. ICE hurt a lot of people in here. We could really use someone like you.”

“I don’t mean to just staunch the bleeding. We need to end it.”

“Given the shape you arrived here in, I guess good luck with that. My name’s Angela, by the way. And if anybody asks, I didn’t hear any of that.”

”Cris. And you’re right. I need to be more discreet. Channel that anger into something useful. Like a revolution.” Angela raised her hand, but he stopped her. “I heard it, yeah; I think I might have a mild concussion. Should probably fix that before I say something I’ll regret.”

Breed Book 3, Part 10

Mikaela opened the door to Tucker’s car and slid inside. “Was beginning to think we’d have to pick you up at the corner store,” Tucker said, nodding at the rearview mirror, “because there’s our girl.”

Mikaela tossed a bag into the back as Irene opened the back door and sat behind Tucker. “You already got snacks,” she said, her voice creaking. “And a fidget spinner.”

“I felt bad,” Mikaela started, and Tucker cleared his throat, “about taking your pen earlier.”

“It’s okay. If I hadn’t had you two keeping me company for the trip down here, I’d have chewed every nail and cuticle off my hands. You helped distract me, is what I’m saying. And I appreciated it.”

“How’d it go with the prosecutor?” Tucker asked, pulling the car away from the curb.

“She was really nice.,” Irene replied. “And she said it went about as well as it could. Especially the parts where the defense opened the door for us. She said it was a really good sign he hardly had any questions on cross; it means the testimony was so devastating that more questions would just increase the damage. Still, I’m shaking.”

“You want your pen back?”

“I want to be less of a neurotic mess, if I’m being honest.”

“I have a pen,” Mikaela held it out to her, before putting a sucker in her fingers next to it, “or a lollipop.”

“I could make you sleep the whole way home,” Tucker said.

“Might that make me incontinent?” Irene asked.

“Only if that’s what you really want.”

“I might have something to say about that,” Mikaela said.

“Why?” Tucker asked. “It’s my backseat and her front seat, respectively.”

“I think I’d rather, remember this, if that makes any sense,” Irene said. “Whatever happens next. This feels like a moment I can use. I got a chance to stand up for us. And I did.”

“And we are both really proud,” Mikaela said.

“And a little jealous.”

“Was that why you were rallying so hard for me to wet myself?” Irene asked.

“Either you two have a stranger friendship than I realized, or this is some really weird flirting,” Mikaela said.

“She’s just jealous,” Tucker said, and Irene burst out laughing.

“There is nothing to be jealous of,” Irene said, barely containing more laughter.

“There isn’t?” Tucker whimpered.

“Now he’s just fucking with you.”

“I’m not sure Tucker’s ever not fucking with anyone,” Mikaela said. “We both love him and hate him for it.”

“Aw,” Tucker said, “really?”

“No. It’s mostly just hate.”

Breed Book 3, Part 9

“I feel bad,” Ben said, as another blow landed on Cris, this time delivered from a baton.

“Watching a gang of fascists beat your friend half to death will do that,” Rox said.

“It’s not like this was a practical joke we played on him,” Rui said. “If one of us is getting into ICE detention, it was going to be this way. And Cris can at least undo the damage done. Any of the rest of us would have spent several weeks in traction with broken hands, ribs, ow,” he winced, “dislocated limbs and I really hope that wasn’t his eyeball coming out of the socket.”

“We… might have to intervene,” Sonya said. “I think our plan fails if they beat him all the way to death.”

“Wait,” Anita said from the back seat. “I think Rox’s luck just intervened for us.” A police siren squelched as a patrol car drove through an intersection, and rolled to a stop beside the ICE agents. “Unless of course the local bacon and federal ham decide to stomp together.”

“We may have to intervene,” Rox said, “if Anita just jinxed us.”

“I shouldn’t be able to. Your whole thing is your supposed to be our lucky rabbit’s foot.”

“Yeah, well, you’re a black cat crashing through thirteen mirrors and rolling under thirteen ladders; I can only do so much, is what I’m saying.”

“Seems like it’s enough, for now,” Rui said. The cops were lifting the kid off the pavement, and took him to their squad car. The ICE agents walked Cris back to their SUV.

“Unless they give him the Freddie Gray treatment, and he dies in transport,” Ben said.

“I’m beginning to think that maybe this wasn’t the best-thought plan ever,” Sonya said.

“I think we’re just highlighting that when you go up against the brutal agents of the fascist police state, there’s going to be violence,” Rox said. “That’s why we’ve got to do what we can to keep Cris safe.” She started the van, and pulled into the street, about a quarter mile from where the ICE SUV was pulling into the road. “We still getting GPS off of Cris?”

“Yeah,” Anita said, “but I wouldn’t trust his life with it.”

“Noted. But if we don’t give ICE a little distance, they’ll catch onto us, and then we’ll all be in worse trouble.”

“Still feel like I should be behind the wheel; I’ve got tactical driving training.”

“And my powers might not have helped you. Shit.” Too late, Rox realized she was rolling through a stop sign at a four-way stop just as the patrol car arrived there from the opposite direction. She locked eyes with the officer driving, and suddenly he tilted, as his front passenger tired blew out loudly. Rox continued through the stop as the cop got out to examine the damaged tire.

“Show-off,” Anita muttered.

“It’s passive,” Rui said. “Her power works with or without her.”

“Though it’s less chaotic than it used to be,” she admitted. “Used to be if somebody said something mean behind my back in proximity, they’d face-plant within a dozen steps. It’s gotten a lot less… petty since.”

“I maintain she’s gotten less petty,” Sonya said. Rox’s eyebrow went up, as she side-eyed her from the driver’s seat.   

“That is the other reason we chose this location,” Rui broke in, “because we’re a couple of miles from an ICE facility. They’ll drop him off before they do anything else. Probably learned that keeping a Breed with unknown abilities in the backseat is just asking to get a laser bolt shoved through the back of your seat.” They were all silent a moment. “I’m going to assume we’re all wishing we could shove a laser bolt through the back of their seats about now.”

Pitchmas 2019, Part 11: Deadpool

Deadpool 3: No More Mutants r. Nice Guy

I’m assuming this one maintains the series R rating, and the pitch will reflect this, so properly warned ye be, says I.

Starts with slow-motion of Scarlet Witch using her powers; she’s wearing a more comics accurate costume, and it might even be better if it doesn’t actually work, as we get Deadpool narrating. “Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Ultrapowerful, reality-warping witch says three little magic words. No, not ‘I love you,’ this isn’t that kind of story, unless you find genocide romantic.” Cut to an image of Thanos, with silence, before slowly panning out to reveal he has dad bod. “Aw, I can’t stay mad at the dad bod mad Titan. But no, this chick.” Back to Scarlet Witch. “Where I come from, mutants and humans had been locked in a love-hate relationship since at least the Carter administration, until this red head said,” close on her lips as they both say, “’No More Mutants.’” And like that, poof, we were dropped in something called a Marvel Cinematic Universe. I miss the 616, my old gang of street toughs in Ontario. But here? You people don’t like immigrants who walk across your borders, let alone ones who portal directly into New York. You put us in cages, forced us to have a failed reality show host as President. And you only got back Popeye’s chicken sandwiches like a week ago; you sad bastards had been eating Chick-Fil-A. This was easily the worst parallel Earth I’d ever been marooned in- and I can’t count how many that is on all my fingers, including all the ones I severed that week I tried to learn how to make home-made sushi. And then we found out- your world had a Scarlet Witch, too. Only this one wasn’t a mutant. Can you imagine? The last one hated her own kind enough to try to kill us off en masse. What about one who didn’t even have a mutant brother and father?”

“Worried if I went to the future, I’d come back with an alt-right hairstyle myself, I sent our already fashionately victimized Cable.” Deadpool and Cable are on a tarmac, recreating the scene from Casablanca, with Deadpool doing his best Bogart. “Last night, last night we agreed on so many things, and that I’d do the thinking for both of us. And you’re going.” “Wade, we already decided I’m going.” “But if you need me, dollface, just whistle.” “You’re not in the same movie, anymore, or even the same actor.” “You know how to whistle, don’t ya?” Deadpool asks, before putting a finger to Cable’s lips. “Put your unchapped lips together and blow.” Vanessa (Copycat) wraps her arm around Deadpool to scoot him away, “Okay, you’re going to have to talk to Disney HR again if you keep touching people’s lips without their permission.” “I don’t think we’re supposed to acknowledge that isneyDay oughtbay oxFay.” (his Pig Latin is captioned as, “We Welcome Our New Mousey Overlords”). Deadpool thinks, and he gets a literal thought balloon, with a Mickey insignia, a plus sign and the Deadpool logo, which equals a crayon drawing of Deadpool impaled on his own and various other swords from Disney lore, include a keyblade and the sword from the stone).

“How long are we waiting for him?” Vanessa asks, her skin shifting slightly. “You know enigmatic Cable,” (now we get a Cable impression), “’I only have the one eye, and time pieces are for pussies. Real men arrive when they get there.” For some reason he grabs his crotch and spits, to punctuate it, realizing too late he didn’t lift his mask, “Gah, it’s all over in my mask. I knew this is what working with Disney would be like, but somehow, thought I’d enjoy it more.” “Cable said he’d meet us 30 seconds after he left,” Domino interjects. “Yes, if you mean to take the man literally; but Nathan and I have a special bond, one where words have exotic meanings.” Cable portals back. “He stop being an idiot at all while I was gone?” Cable asks. “He was too busy choking on his own spit inside his mask to talk for a second, if that counts,” Domino offers. “Probably doesn’t count. But the future? Scale of one to ten, how bad does it look?” Close in on Cable, looking steely. “We’re fucked.”

Cut back to the X-Force bunker (where they held their tryouts in Deadpool 2: Oops I Fridged Her Again). There’s a large, empty chair, and we flashback, to when it was filled, the flashback denoted by a really cheesy wavy line effect. “Nyet!” Colossus, animated, yells. “What you are discussing, is not right, Wade. It is profiling, it is assuming based on who you think someone is, that they will do something bad. It is what happens to mutants every day, and as an X-Man, I cannot do it to someone else- especially someone who has saved the world, been a hero, not just one day, but many, through many trials. I cannot do, what you ask me to.” “Peter,” Deadpool says, emotion swelling in his voice, “don’t let the door hit you where the blacksmith split you,” he emphasizes the point by slapping Colossus’ ass, then cradling the crack. “Is not a joke, Wade.” “Putter, for once, I ain’t laughing.” Fade back, Colossus disappearing from the doorway.

Cable starts his briefing. “I couldn’t pinpoint a locus for when she says it, but within a few years, Scarlet Witch tries to banish us all over again. Half of us blink out of existence, maybe sent someplace else, maybe just dropped in the sun, but we’re never heard from again. Most of the rest of us lose what makes us mutants, but we rise up, anyway, try to take the fight to her. It’s a bloodbath; we take out the Avengers, they take out the X-Men. Eventually, it’s just her band of loyalists sticking by her: her brother, her lover, and her twins; I heard rumors Magneto stuck his neck out for her, a time or two. The fight came down to them, against those of us remaining with combat training- including those in this room. I fought, side by side with my counterpart. But we still lost.” “Vanessa?” Deadpool says, emotion echoing in his voice; we hold on this a moment, because it’s the emotional crux of the movie. “She died, Wade. We all died.” We see an explosion, with alternate Cable shielding our Cable, saving his life. Cut to an ER, Cable laid up watching TV. “I was still healing from the fight when the villains took over- Doom, Loki, Kingpin, Osborn- a whole, secret cabal of supervillains. And there weren’t enough of us left to turn them back. They won- not just a battle, but the whole damn war.”

“Thank you, ghost of grumpy Christmas future,” Deadpool begins. “Would it kill you, just once, to come back with good news? They open a new Pinkberry just down the street from our headquarters.” “I checked, like you asked, and they don’t.” “Am I the only one who hears that story and thinks maybe we shouldn’t try to fight the Scarlet Witch, then?” Domino asks. “Nobody? Okay. I guess, maybe if I’m there, with my powers, everything will fall into place. Or maybe you all die, and I walk away.” “I wouldn’t be so sure,” Cable says. “The one thing I’ve seen cancels out your lucky streak was the Witch.” “You at least come back with anything actionable?” Copycat asks. “Like an explanation for how you can suddenly change shape and dupe powers?” Cable growls. Deadpool intercedes: “We play don’t ask don’t tell in le boudoir le Deadpool.”

“I don’t trust new faces, and hers is new every time I see it,” Cable says. “But yeah. The Witch’s brother is Quicksilver. Fastest man alive. Second fastest is the Witch’s kid, goes by Speed; the other one, name of Wiccan. Between the pair of them, they’re the Witch and her brother, but with less experience. I’d start there.” “And I say we start there,” Deadpool says, bumping Cable. “Did you just bump dicks with me?” Domino’s eyebrow goes up. “I’m asking because I couldn’t be sure,” Cable continues. “Thought maybe it was a button, baby aspirin, Necco wafer.” “Aw, you like old lady candy,” Deadpool says preciously. “Wade, focus,” Copycat says. “Right. We start with the children.” “Women and children first was always my go to.”

“The Witch is the most powerful of them all. Our best bet is to work our way through her entourage, hope we can throw her off her game, maybe one of us can pick her off with a rifle before she knows we’re there,” Cable says. “She’s the most powerful? I thought you said Magneto might show,” Domino says. “He might. And if he does, he’ll be a close second- but not that close. And Vision’s no slouch. He single-handedly took down half of the X-Men. Quicksilver can move ten times the speed of sound, and he’s going to be the second easiest one to bag.” “Bag?” Deadpool asks. “I thought we got the R rating so the only thing I had to bag was corpses- teabagging them, that is,” he does a few squats for emphasis- onto the camera, I would say. “Quicksilver’s a mutant,” Cable says. “The twins might be, too. And if it comes to a fight between man and mutant, we could need every soldier. You want to shoot the droid” “Please don’t sue us, Lucasfilm,” Deadpool says. Vanessa whispers something into his ear, “Our parent owns them, too? Hah. Suck it, hemdroid.” “You want to shoot the robot or the Witch, I won’t stand in your way.”   

“I have a plan,” Deadpool says. “I have a bad feeling,” Domino replies. Deadpool pulls a tube out of his utility belt and says, “Try Deadpool brand medicated crotch powder. Because we all have bad feelings, sometimes, but that’s no reason not to put chili powder in your underpants.” Without skipping a beat he launches into his plan, “Now, Wanda’s kids are right around that age where I started getting kicked out of every library and getting a lot of papercuts.” “I think he means puberty,” Vanessa says, “though it’s hard to know for sure.” “Hard, right,” he claps her enthusiastically on the back. “There’s nothing dumber than a teenager with an erection.” “You, with or without an erection,” Domino says. “I imagine this hostility is because you’ve guessed the next phase of my totally feminist plan.”

POV, Deadpool watches Vanessa through binoculars. “Could you stop ogling your woman long enough to check the field?” Cable complains. I don’t imagine you have to tart up Domino or Vanessa much- their usual costumes are probably enough, but they stand a little more provocatively, bat their eyes. We pull back to reveal Speed and Wiccan noticing them. Back to close on the ladies, where suddenly Speed is zipping around them, talking at an increased pace and from several different directions. “Hey, ladies, tell me if I’m moving too fast for you.” “Not at all,” Vanessa says, strokes her fingers down his cheek. There’s a spark, and she says, “Got it,” before at rapid speed she produces a taser and electrocutes Speed, who flops to the ground. “Guess I’ve got the slowpoke,” Domino says, running at Wiccan. He whispers an incantation, and she floats into the air. “Actually, it’s Wiccan,” he says. “Nuts.”

“They’re in trouble. To me, my X-Farce.” Deadpool runs at Wiccan, who is busy fending off attempts by Domino’s powers to get her down, everything from birds crapping at him in rapid succession to a telephone pole falling very close by, while also trying to deal with an approaching Copycat (I’m assuming his first impulse was to slow her down- which makes her somewhat more manageable). Deadpool draws his swords, then there’s movement out of the corner of his eye, and suddenly there’s a Hulk(ling) landing on Deadpool with a crack. Hulkling kicks Deadpool in the crotch on the ground. “Wrong bait, numbnuts,” he says. Deadpool, an octave higher than usual. “What kind of a Hulk calls a man numbnuts?”

“A totally awesome one,” he says with a smile (please, no letters, I know Teddy isn’t the Totally Awesome Hulk; Amadeus Cho requires significantly more back-story and setup before he gets to be green- but the banter’s still a fun nod). “Kidding. I prefer Hulkling. Kind of a riff on- you know, I can tell you’re dealing with more important- shit!” He curses, as Negasonic hits him from behind. “Hi, Yukio,” Deadpool says, and waves. “Hi, Wade,” she replies, smiling and waving back.

Wiccan turns, unleashing a blast of magical energies that downs all of them. Cable takes a shot, putting Wiccan down, before entering frame. Copycat is released from Wiccan’s slowing spell, and Domino lands gracefully from midair. “Everybody okay?” Cable asks, helping Yukio and Negasonic up first. “It’s okay, it’s fine, nobody help me,” Deadpool complains as he rises. The shot is framed in such a way that as Deadpool stands, the camera is looking between his legs at the rest of them, horrified as blood drips from his tights. “Are you bleeding from the dick?” Negasonic asks, disgusted. “Nobody said anything about a Hulk kicking me in the nuts, or I’d have worn a cup.” “I’m assuming you mean a shot glass,” she replies. “You’d be wearing it on the inside, after a kick like that,” Cable replies. “He seems like he’s been the butt of the joke a lot today,” Domino observes. “And the dick and the balls,” Vanessa adds. “Too soon,” Deadpool moans.

“Teddy,” Wiccan says, reaching for Hulking’s hand. Deadpool gasps. “Holy representation, Batman! My movie has two gay couples. That’s like ten times as many as Singer, and we didn’t even get all preachy about it. We did just clobber one of them, but someday they might have helped a genocide. We’re mostly the good guys, right?” Negasonic gives kind of a shrug.

We cut to them filming a hostage video, with Speed and Wiccan tied back to back, with Teddy panned over to slightly off to the side. “And if you want to see your sons and one of your son’s lovers again-” Domino pulls up her balaclava. “Why are you disguising your voice? You aren’t even wearing a different mask.” Deadpool ignores her. “I guess we didn’t really get details. Maybe they’re taking it slow. Or maybe there’s a love triangle still developing- and I don’t want to put anyone in a box- Back to one. We have your sons and their green acquaintance. Send yourself, your robot chum, your estranged interdimensional sibling and possibly your also estranged interdimensional father to the address at the bottom of your screen, or prepare to take delivery of them piecemeal over the course of the next several seasons.”

“This is a stupid idea,” Cable says. “We nearly had our clocks cleaned by three kids. Now you want to tangle with the adult versions, plus a homicidal android and their father, a man who is not exaggerating when he calls himself the Master of Magnetism?” “I know you’re concerned. But I looked at the script, and unless we were going to fit in an intermission or at least an Infinity Gauntlet, there was no way that running time was going to fly. So we’re simplifying. Get them all here for one quick dust up for all the marbles.” “And if they do to your marbles what the kids did?” “You’re right,” Deadpool says gravely, squeezing Cable’s shoulder, “I should grab my cup.” 

There is a fade to black, with slow titles “Five Minutes Later,” with Deadpool making jokes about it being a sequence they shot in real time, but he always uses it to go to the bathroom- he’s got a tiny bladder and the suit really pushes in on it- but it’s basically an intermission, so feel free to stretch your legs, freshen up your popcorn, play a little Canadian Tonsil Hockey- where it’s not a real game unless everybody loses tooth! From there, it’s just Deadpool doing an a capela version of a Wam! song’s instrumentation until we fade back in on the action, which, fittingly, is a close-up of him adjusting his cup beneath his suit. “For some reason, I feel more confident, now.” We pan out, and can see that he’s not just wearing a cup, but the most oversized cup we can find. Negasonic raises an eyebrow at Vanessa. “His overcompensation is one of his charms,” Vanessa says. “What are the others?” she deadpans, and Vanessa smirks.

Many close up shots in a montage of a heist, cut together in overlapping frames like the action scenes from the Ang Lee Hulk, which were meant to look like comic panels but mostly just became visual noise, as Deadpool narrates “All right, I’m going to level with you. There was a whole second act story about us breaking into the labs of an Essex Genetic Laboratory, stealing some sort of Legacy Virus McGuffin, but we couldn’t get it to cut together in an interesting way; we even brought in Ang Lee to help us capture that comic book feel, but the editing made me,” he heaves, as we switch to an atmospheric sneaker commercial, smoke, a spotlight over red and black shoes, “nauseous, and I love you all too much to make you vomit on your new Nike Deadpools. $100 sneakers, made with almost 30% less child labor, and at only 300% of the price.” Deadpool continues, in a lawyer-commercial voice, “Nike’s lawyers would like you to know that it, like virtually every corporation, sub-contracts labor and cannot be held responsible for working conditions it pays pennies on the dollar for in countries with histories of poor labor protections.”

We zoom out, revealing that the foot inside the Deadpools belongs to Firefist. We go to slow-mo, him blasting a ball of fire at Scarlet Witch as Quicksilver circles around it, knocking Firefist out of his sneakers, before going back to normal speed. Domino fires at Witch, who turns the bullets into doves with her magic, and Quicksilver runs at Domino. Slow-mo again, as Quicksilver, now wearing Firefist’s Deadpools, has them come unlaced. He trips on the laces, and goes bouncing down the street, past Domino, pinballing off one car and denting it halfway in and hitting another on the opposite side of the street, continuing until flattening in a very Wile E. Coyote way against a brick wall. “Speedster’s down,” Cable says, over comms.

Vision and Viv phase up out of the concrete. “Nobody said a thing about a second, girly Vision,” Deadpool says, “And since when has the original had such long, luxurious hair?” “I hate alternate timelines,” Cable says, and starts firing. Viv phases through the bullets, Vision hardens himself so the bullets bounce off him. “Deadpool, distraction,” Cable says. “Was this a worm situation? Thanos tore Vision apart, and the half that didn’t have the twig and berries became Ms. Vision, while the dick-side grew a whole new dick.”

“The Vision you knew was a prototype,” Vision replies. “We are an… evolution of the concept.” “Evolution,” Cable snorts, slapping a metal doohickey onto one of the Visions. Electricity arcs from the device to both Visions. “My toilet has a more advanced AI.” “Why would a toilet need advanced AI?” Deadpool asks. “To sweetly sing to you to help your old man prostate make water? To coax big boom booms out of your tight bum-bum?” Cable turns and gut-shoots Deadpool. “Fuck!” “You’ll heal.”

“Stay away from them,” Scarlet Witch yells, blasting all of them off their feet. “Copycat,” Cable says. Quicksilver hobbles to the Witch’s side, before punching her. Quicksilver shifts back to Copycat, standing over her. Witch tries to magic her, but Copycat is able to fend her off using her own stolen abilities, at least for a moment. “We need to end this,” Cable says. “Love to,” Deadpool replies,” I just can’t seem to raise my gun. Or move.” “Heal faster,” Cable barks. “Says the man who gut-shot me.”

We hear a commanding voice over their comms. “There’s just enough iron in the blood to immobilize a person, magnetically. Tapping into your comms, is a subtler manipulation, though both are child’s play, to the Master of Magnetism.” Magneto tears his way through something metal for a dramatic entrance, say a jack-knifed semi-track acting as a backdrop for the fight. Scarlet Witch blasts the immobilized Copycat off her feet. Magneto helps the Witch back to her feet. “Are you certain about this course?” he asks her. “I could tear the blood from their veins and finish this.” “There’s been enough violence. Too much,” she says. “Very well.”

“Wade,” we recognize the voice as a large figure descends from the heavens; Deadpool can’t see them at first, but imagines them in a Venus tableau, including the figure riding in a clam shell. “Why am I getting a Peter tingle?” Deadpool asks. Magneto sets Colossus down in front of Deadpool. “End this madness. The Maximoffs, the Visions, even Magneto, do not want this conflict. You are fighting on the wrong side, for the wrong reasons. But it’s not too late.” “I’d say the same to you, Petey, but my Russian accent always comes out sound like Natasha- from Rocky and Bulwinkle, not the Black Widow- which gives me an erection, but I’m wearing a cup and there’s no place for it to go.” Negasonic blasts Colossus from behind. “That’s not what Vanessa told me,” she says. “Hi, Yukio,” Deadpool says. “Hi, Wade.” “Enough!” The Scarlet Witch bellows, blasting them all off their feet again.

“Oh, right, the life or death struggle doesn’t stop just because we’re making dick jokes,” Deadpool says, starting to get up off the ground. He’s suddenly lifted up by the Witch’s magic. “I’ve done outreach, among the mutants,” she starts. “I asked about you. Many of your kind have unkind words for you, but most agree, grudgingly, that your heart is usually in the right place- even if your head is-” “In the gutter,” Vanessa offers. “Not screwed on tight enough,” Cable offers. “Up his ass,” Negasonic adds. “Your compatriots make excellent points,” the Witch replies. “While I may not be a mutant, I know what it is to be hated and feared; I could never do that to anyone else. I am not the monster you fought.”

“No, you’re New Coke her- hipper, edgier, and you make me want to punch my way through a Kindergarten class.” “Are you insane?” Witch asks. “That’s debatable,” Negasonic says. “I don’t want to destroy mutants,” Witch continues. “I don’t even want to destroy you. I just want my sons back, and to be left alone.” “That’s not what the future says,” Cable barks. “Ah. So your entire team are insane. At least there’s some organizing principle. Go, then, back to your future, tell me what you see now.” “Bodyslide, by one.” Cable disappears, before reappearing. “It’s all gone, the slaughter, the cabal. The future changed. Wade, we don’t have to do this.”

Close up of a Claymore mine, hidden behind the car Quicksilver bounded off of earlier. Deadpool hits the trigger clipped to his belt, and it goes off, shredding the car and hitting everyone, Wade most of all, but he’s still the first back on his feet. Magneto and the Witch are able to deflect some of the damage, but basically everyone is wounded. “Vanessa?” he yells. “Could have warned me,” she says, moaning from the ground with a flesh wound. “If the future changed, it can change back,” Deadpool says, limping forward. He pulls his sidearm, and advances towards the Scarlet Witch.

“Wade, please,” Colossus says struggling to stand, revealing that the back part of his uniform was blasted off by Negasonic, leaving him with an open butt flap like on an old-timey set of long-johns. “You are a good man. I know it. The only man you must truly prove it to is you.” “Damnit, I can’t stay mad at that bare, metal ass,” Deadpool says, cupping Colossus’ butt. “Is that something I need to be worried about?” Vanessa asks. “Beginning to think this story has three gay couples,” Cable says gruffly.

“You can’t stop me,” Deadpool says. “No,” Colossus says, stepping out of the way. “Only you can.” Deadpool groans, and helps Scarlet Witch to her feet, holding his gun in her guts. “Swear to me you aren’t going to go genocidal monster on us.” She realizes, after a moment, that he is holding out his pinky solemnly. She wraps her pinky around his. “I swear it.” “Good,” Deadpool says, and holsters his pistol. “Cause if you break a sacred pinky promise, I’ll kill you. And I don’t care how many alternate dimension relatives of yours I have to shoot to get to you.”

“Wade,” Copycat touches his shoulder, and he collapses into her arms, trembling. “It’s okay,” she says, holding him. “I couldn’t lose you again,” he says. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily,” she says, and kisses him.

Mid-Credits Scene: Darkness. We can hear Deadpool outside, going on about wrapping things up in a neat little bow. Cable reminds him, as they open the door, that he’s forgetting one thing- the virus we showed them heisting in quick-cuts earlier. “What do you do with a virus that can target anyone?” Cable asks.  “Use it on Nazis?” Deadpool offers.  “Wade,” Colossus groans. “What? Who’s going to miss Nazis?” “Barbers who can only do that fascist hairstyle?” Vanessa guesses. “Other racists who get kind of a pass when there are actual Nazis around,” Domino says. “Their racist grandmothers?” Negasonic asks. Deadpool sighs dramatically, “Fine, we won’t impulsively unleash a genocidal bioweapon. Moms.”

End Credits Scene: Deadpool comes out: “You’re still here? There isn’t a teaser for the next one because we’re not doing a next one. I did three. I’m done. They didn’t ask Chris Evans to do Cap 4, or RDJ to do IM4 (pronounced “Ridge and “Imfur” respectively).” (someone offscreen starts talking to him, probably the director, cause it’s funner). “Hemsworth did what? Damnit. Now they’ll never stop asking for more sequels. That beautiful, blonde, delectable, son of lickable-

Cut to Black, with white text: Deadpool Might Be Back in X-Force, because Ryan Reynolds needs two more pools, one for peeps and one for poops

Pitchmas 2019, Part 10: X-Men

X-Men: Cages of Grief

In a pitched battle between every Marvel movie villain and every member ever of Magneto’s brotherhood of mutants, the combined forces of the Avengers and the X-Men are losing (if we want to be timelier about it, they’re the tip of the spear of Thanos’ army). We watch a few Avengers take a dirt nap, before Scarlet Witch, with her dying breath, utters, “No More Mutants.” Suddenly, both the Brotherhood and the X-Men are gone in a blinding scarlet flash. Deadpool (it’s unclear which side he’s on), runs into the middle of the now mostly deserted battlefield and asks, “Wait, what’d I miss?” before being caught by one last spark of the red magic and disappearing, too. Cut to black, white text slowly appears, “Five… years…” Deadpool interrupts. “No, no, no. Do you have any idea how much havok five years can wreak on the glutes? I will find Thanos and have him snap every screenwriter in LA.” Years changes to weeks, and Deadpool says, “That’s much more reasonable.” (And yes, I either have the one joke I will wear into the ground… or I have cleverly fulfilled the promise of the rule of threes- okay, it was the third when originally written).  

Cut to a news broadcast, of kids in cages, one of whom has purple skin, another has glowing eyes. A reporter narrates, “What authorities initially believed was a second Blip, we now know to be an invasion of powered beings from an alternate Earth. Viewing them as a potential threat to American sovereignty as well as a potential carrier of otherworldly infections, the United States Government is now asking that all of these so-called Homo Superior race surrender themselves for decontamination, registration and monitoring.” Cut to another broadcast, far more Foxy, over phone footage of Magneto lifting and throwing cars at police. “Some of these so-called mutants refuse to recognize any human authority. They hate us, and will stop at nothing less than the utter destruction of the white- I mean human- race.” Another commentator, a Bill O’Reilly type: “Especially the mutant terrorist who calls himself Magneto. He’s struck ICE detention facilities in 3 states in as many days, killing all personnel and recruiting the captured mutants to his cause.”

Cyclops, Storm, Xavier (still walking) and Deadpool are hiding in New York. The rest of the X-Men are scattered, some captured (behind them is a board similar to the infamous cover to the first Days of Future Past issue (think it’s 141, showing which mutants are believed captured or at large). On another board, we see Xs for every ICE facility Magneto has hit, circling around Washington, D.C. They discuss the mutants they’ve seen Magneto has with him, and needing a force tailored to striking at Magneto quickly; without him his insurrection ends. As they’re selecting their team, it’s kind of like a heist movie, going over strengths and weaknesses. One thing they decide is that they need an international team- if this is going to be the face of mutant-kind standing up to tyrants like Magneto, it can’t just be Americans.

Xavier uses telepathy to get access to a secret government spy plane. Then they go for Wolverine first, mostly because he and Deadpool are bullet sponges, being held at Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. Storm gives them cover with a tropical storm, and Cyclops blasts his way in. “Aren’t you the best there is at what you do, even though it isn’t very nice. How’d you get caught?” “They dropped a MOAB on me.”  

Mostly fairly quick cuts as we assemble the rest of the team, Wolverine tracking down Sunfire in Japan where he’s gone to ground, Deadpool reuniting with Colossus in Russia (and hugging him with a little butt grab). Quick stop in Germany for Nightcrawler, who quips, “It would have been faster for me to come to you.”

Deadpool finds Vanessa on Muir Island, where an identical Moira McTaggert is quickly boning up on mutant genetics with Hank McCoy, where they pick up Banshee. Vanessa throws Deadpool down the rolling hill they’re standing on, and he yells, “As you wish!” as he tumbles down. She meets him at the bottom, twisting his head back on straight. He says, “You never told me you were a-” he wiggles his index finger. “A lifesize replica of your erection?” she asks, and he puts his index finger to his nose behind the mask, and she jumps on him and kisses him. Still at the top of the hill, the other X-Men are uncomfortable. “Should we wait for Wade?” Colossus asks. Cyclops shrugs. “It is quieter without him,” Kurt says. “And we’ve already got a Canadian, and one of them spreads mighty far,” Banshee says, and Wolverine growls.

Lastly, they stop off near Washington, where Wolverine tracks down Warpath (or Thunderbird, if you’re a stickler), operating an underground railroad smuggling mutants up into Canada. They served together, and he calls him Proudstar. (so we aren’t completely neglecting Latinos, we could have Xavier telepathically call out to Sunspot in Brazil and tell him to meet them in Washington).

Cut to the Oval Office in siege mode. We see the exterior, Magneto and his legions flanked by American protestors. Inside, Henry Peter Guyrich hangs up the phone, “Captain Rogers said, and I quote, ‘I don’t think I will.'” “Sir,” Bollivar Trask leans forward, “you still have our failsafe.” “But once the surprise is out of the box, will it still function as a deterrent?” asks President Kelly. “They asked the same about the atom bomb, sir. The world needs a demonstration.”

Sentinels, clearly based on Hammer tech from Iron Man 2, tear their way up out of the White House lawn. For a moment, they are immune to Magneto’s control, and blast the crowd, peaceful demonstrators and agitators alike. Magneto rips pipes out of the lawn and surrounding street, and uses them to puppeteer the Sentinels, and uses one to tear Robert Kelly out of the White House and throw him onto the White House lawn, amidst the gathered crowd.

Fog rolls in, obscuring Kelly, as the X-Men’s stolen plane lands between the crowd and the White House. They first deal with Magneto’s Sentinels, then fight to get to Magneto. He’s too much for them, and when it looks like they’re beaten, Xavier controls a mutant behind Magneto to attack him (I’m thinking Rahne Sinclair or Feral) and he goes down. 

Kelly, meanwhile, is back on his feet, not distinguishing between friend or foe in the crowd. Xavier produces a mutant version of his daughter. “That’s not my Anika.” “But she is, Mr. President. No different from the one you raised.” Xavier joins their minds, and we see flashbacks of the alter Kelly with his daughter. Kelly collapses to his knees. “My, God, what have I done?” “It matters less what we’ve done,” Xavier soothes, “the future belongs to what we’ll do. It is within everyone, human or mutant, to be better; all we ask is that we try to teach each other how.”

Magneto throws a metal rod at Kelly. Xavier pushes him out of the way, and is impaled through the spine, on live television. Wolverine growls, and guts Magneto. For his trouble, he’s flung across the White House lawn, and Magneto flees. 

For the epilogue we cut to the Xavier Institute, owned by Cain Marko, but due to his negligence, operated by a nonprofit in the family’s stead. Marko has been pissing away his inheritance on various schemes to become more powerful, running for office, starting then abandoning companies. Virtually the only remaining part of the family legacy is the charity started to posthumously honor first Charles and then their parents, most prominently running a school for troubled but gifted youngsters. The charity head says that he can’t think of a better use for it than housing refugees, including an alternate version of their son. He leans in closer, whispers that he knew their Charles, grew up with him, that they were, “Closer than brothers, to borrow a phrase.” 

Most people in the room are glued to the TV. The calm newscaster returns. “With the mutant threat abated for the time being, repurposed ICE facilities are returning to their mission of housing separated families.” The Bill O’Reilly type returns. “I for one, am not convinced that Magneto and this Xavier didn’t plot it out together, and I’m not going to sleep soundly until we manage to round all of them up and send them back where they came from.”

Xavier steps away from the charity head. “Part of this world may always hate and fear us, but we mustn’t despair. Humanity is better than the worst of us. It’s up to us to prove it to them.” Mid-credits scene: Cain, who we recognize from the gaudy portrait at the Institute, is running through some Tomb Raider-esque ruins. The music swells, and for an instant as he defies deadly traps we forget who he is, until he grabs his guide and uses him as a human shield to survive the final trap. He approaches the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak, reaching out for it. Close on the guide, his dying words, “You don’t deserve the power of Cytorrak,” as the room is bathed in Crimson light, and we hear him changing, as we see his shadow grow from a normal man to that of the Juggernaut.

Breed Book 3, Part 8

Note: It’s Thursday, so this is your last Breed until Monday. There will be three more MCU pitches coming your way, though, so you don’t have to go to bed lonely over the weekend. Frack; apparently this didn’t post yesterday. So have it late, I guess.

Eight

“That was tense,” Tucker said. “And intense. I think I’m both angrier than I’ve ever been… and sadder. And given the last few years those are not low bars.”

“Yeah,” Mikaela said. “On the one hand- hoe-lee-crap, did Irene do a good job. On the other hand, my heart is fucking breaking for her. After last year, to be revictimized again… I guess we’ve all had to grow up, and quick. But she’s a kid. An actual fucking baby. I imagine me, what, four years ago, trying to deal with what she has, with the tiniest fraction of the poise and grace she just did and I- God, I just want to cry and I can’t because she’s going to come out here any minute and we’re supposed to be her support network and how the hell would that work if I’m sobbing?”

Tucker smiled. “It’s not too late for you to pull a duplicate out of the mirror and then hide in the trunk and sob the whole trip home.”

“It’s kind of good you’re a dude, now; because you’re a dick.”

“Let’s be fair- I was always a dick. You just used to enjoy being dicked around more than you do, now. And, to the extent I have the capacity to not be a dick, I’m saving that up for Irene. She just gave us probably our best damn chance of convicting those bigoted assholes and keeping us all safe. She’s all of our fucking hero,” Tucker sniffled, “aw, fuck, now you’re getting me all emotional.”

“Maybe that’s not so bad, though,” Mikaela said. “Maybe after all of that, what she’s really going to need is a big old cry. And to be held.” Tucker eyed her. “Platonically held. I’m fairly certain she does not swing my way.”

“I’m just busting your lady-balls,” Tucker said. “But I’ve kind of been thinking. When she was attacked, the way we handled it…”

We didn’t handle it. The Dean did.”

“Sure. But we were there. And he’s a he. And you’re not. I haven’t always been. We have perspective. And, right now I’m just kicking myself that because of that, what happened, what she just described- what if all of that hit her harder because of what we did?”

“Shit,” Mikaela said.  

“And… I think for us- as in, all of us- it was the right call. If bigots like Drump could have spent the last year crowing about us not even being safe at the school, and at the same time finally have even on tiny piece of evidence to justify the way he’s demonized all of us as rapists … but just because it was better for the rest of us, doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt Irene. Doesn’t mean we were right to go along with it.”

“Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have interceded, and made sure it was her call, top to bottom. Because look at what she did in there? I have no doubt she would have chosen the greater good, even though it hurt her. And maybe she did. Maybe she feels like she did. I just feel awful that I can’t know it, now. Like, even if you tried to read her, people paper over details like that. By now I’m sure she’s convinced, consciously, that it was as much her idea as anything. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t hurt her- doesn’t mean she isn’t still holding onto to those scars, and getting hurt worse by this dumpster fire of a world we’ve failed so badly at protecting her from.”

“Whoa there, cowboy,” Tucker said. “Look, I know you feel like an elder statesman because you can legally buy a beer, but we’re barely adults, and we really can’t take all that much credit for this absolute shit-show of a world. Unless you think pubescent us should have taken over the world and remade it in our horny, lesbian image.”

“We definitely should have. Probably would have been a gay old time. With me we’d have an army, and you could control anyone we couldn’t intimidate with that army.”

“I’m not entirely sure teenaged, noodle-armed you would be all that intimidating. Adorable, absolutely, but take over the country scary?”

“You could have made me seem more intimidating.”

“Starting to sound less like a partnership.”

“Yeah, screw it. We won’t track down a time machine and take over the world. But you know what I mean. She shouldn’t have had to deal with any of this.” “Neither should we,” Tucker said. “We all deserve better. Best we can do is try to make sure those who follow us get what we deserved.”

Pitchmas 2019, Part 9: A-Force

This is going to be delicate, so just like Blade, it should be mostly in the hands of female creators (though I might be comfy co-writing).

Nico Minoru is running for her life. At first it seems like she’s just being pursued through the underbelly of a rainy LA, but subtly we come to understand that the buildings, the street- all of it is alive and attacking her. That’s because she isn’t in LA, but a complicated assassination tool called Murderworld. She gets fairly beat up as she flees, eventually using either magic or an assist from Molly (a super strong member of the Runaways) to escape. Nico finds Dagger (of Cloak & Dagger) in the hopes of plugging more directly into the rest of the superhero community. Cloak is skeptical; he knows a few homeless people, being in the LA area, who competed on the show and actually won, which gave them enough of a leg up to get apartments, and jobs, breaking the cycle of homelessness. Dagger’s more skeptical, or perhaps just more receptive to Nico, and has one person she can connect Nico to, a lawyer who offered to help her and Cloak if they ever found themselves in legal trouble.

Cloak zaps them to New York. He sets up a return time, to meet them, but otherwise exits (the cast is already ridiculous in size and scope, so paring back on side characters is a must). Depending on how much we want to keep building the idea that the men are skeptical while the women are cautious (yep, this is in part an allegory about believing women), we could have Matt Murdock meeting with She-Hulk when they show, perhaps dumped directly into She-Hulk’s office by a slightly annoyed Cloak. They hear Nico’s tale, how the other Runaways were investigating a series of disappearances, mostly among other runaways, surrounding the Murderworld game show, when they were scooped up, into what Nico believes was a lethal version of the show. Matt notes an elevated heartrate, which could indicate untruthfulness. She-Hulk is having none of it: “Or she’s distressed, Matt. That’s why lie detectors aren’t admissible in court- they only measure distress, not veracity.” “Objection noted,” he says, and packs up his gear. “I remain skeptical. But if anything turns up, don’t hesitate to call.” “He’s wrong,” Dagger says. “When I touch people, I can see their hopes. All she hopes is that we can save her friends in time.” She-Hulk agrees to help her, but wants to make some phone calls.

It’s evening when they’re picked up in a Quinnjet, flown by Scarlet Witch and Wasp; they were in town for a Dazzler show, anyway, and brought the singer along. They have a conversation, about failing to get some of the men to understand- how one of the most dangerous things about being a woman is not being believed even the first time you cry, ‘Wolf.’ “That’s why we have to stand together.” They fly to the new Asgard to talk with their queen and her champion, where they recruit Valkyrie and Thor. Finally, they land on the Avengers tower landing pad. Pepper has maintained Tony’s old office there, and bored and annoyed by mountains of paperwork, agrees instantly on an adventure (if we need a sprinkle of pathos, it can be as a way to feel closer to Tony); if our Iron Protégé is a lady (and has been introduced by this point), she can also come along.

With their new Avengers assembled, She-Hulk lays out their plan- essentially to present themselves as a team of candidates for a superhero version of the Murderworld show, boasting deadlier traps, and the ability to do away with the foam weaponry, with millions guaranteed to the charity of choice for the prevailing hero. They get a meeting with Mojo (here hiding behind some hologram tech to only look like a really gross, morbidly obese human), the star of the show and its executive producer. He’s intrigued by the proposal, but hints that the team needs some of that Wakandan magic, letting slip something along the lines of, “Our Wakandan special did over 1.3 billion-” before realizing he’s said too much (and yes, sly viewer, I am hinting that the MCU as we’ve watched it has been framed through Mojo’s lenses). Okoye, Shuri and Nakia meet them at a Starbucks in LA. They pass along Black Panther’s regards, but that he’s busy with the kingdom’s business, but was concerned enough to send his three most trusted agents in his stead. Mojo waddles in (he has a very distinctive walk- because he’s not strictly human), and says, “Now we got an ensemble!”

Quick action montage, as our heroes wreck up the Murderworld test course. Mojo is there to sing their praises in the grossest way possible. “Test audience scores are through the roof. I suggested an all Playmate version of our show where the only thing the contestants were allowed to wear was maple syrup- provided gratis in exchange for promotional consideration aboot our Canadian partners- and even that pales in comparison. The show didn’t happen, anyway; apparently obstacle course plus maple syrup is just a magnet for lawsuits. Who knew?” He leads them through some doors that give them all a strange feeling (that’s because they’re a portal leading to an off-world location). “If you sign on the dotted line, for the duration of taping of the inaugural season of Heroines of Murderworld, you’ll be staying on campus at our state of the art facilities. As you might guess, we’re hundreds of feet under LA, so your phones won’t work, but you’re welcome to use our communications array to send texts, calls, whatever to the rest of the world.” “And if I and my clients don’t wish to be sequestered?” She-Hulk asks. “I’ll show them the door. That, I’m afraid, is non-negotiable. See, here at Mojoworld Enterprises, we’re basically sharks. If we ain’t moving, by which I mean innovating, we’re dead in the water. NBC would literally kill everyone in this building for a pitch as strong as Heroines of Murderworld, and all respect due you ladies, loose lips have sunk more than one of my battleships. If we’re going to do this, we’re doing it right, and by right I mean my way.”

In our first quiet moment with the group, the Wakandans discuss how they’ve been through the bowels of the complex, and seen things that definitely hint at Mojo having dark secrets and a worrying agenda. She-Hulk asks Scarlet Witch if they can expect reinforcements. She tells her she made the call, but it all depends on how much unrest there’s been in the rest of the galaxy. Shortly, when She-Hulk returns to her quarters, she finds Mojo there, freshly showered, sitting on the edge of her bed wearing only a towel. He propositions her, and she refuses him point blank. But then his face turns sinister (probably more sinister than a human face can convey- and somewhere in this scene is where he loses the hologram). He says he wants to get down to brass tacks. “I’m not one of your Earth villians who gets himself a silly hat or a gaudy glove and turns megalomaniacal. I’m a businessman, an entrepreneur. I think if we just find the right ways to work together, everyone benefits.” He knows they have an ulterior motive, but he does, too. He has cameras everywhere, and has been capturing all of their seditious gossip, and their more private moments, too. “What I’m proposing is that we agree to keep each other’s secrets, and make the show we all agreed to. I’m proposing tonight as a little signing bonus.” She flings him out the window, into what she’s surprised to find is the vacuum of space. Even more surprising, under his towel Mojo was sporting a strange metal platform with little robotic spider legs- and the platform has enough of a rocket built in that he’s able to fly himself back into the room. We now see Mojo for the horrific creature that he is, all blotchy yellow skin with weird techno-organic grafts. He strikes a few buttons on a controller, and She-Hulk is teleported to the Murderworld stage. An instant later, the rest of her team are there, too.

Mojo explains that he’s going to hold them to their contracts, on pain of death, and that waiting at the end for them is a fate worse than death. I’m assuming a straight up obstacle course wouldn’t quite cut it, so I’d propose a bit of a twist, a who’s-who of supervillainesses incorporated into the obstacle course, so say Ghost has been kidnapped and forced to take on say Scarlet Witch as part of the course. Especially if we can staff it with anti-heroes/converts, it’s possible we could even have them join up with A-Force come the end. Possibilities: Minn-Erva, Proxima Midnight, Vanessa, Mystique, Medusa, Elektra, Psylocke, maybe even Hela, if that doesn’t make them too powerful. They’re all under the direction of Spiral, who should make for an interesting character, visually. Regardless, our heroes are losing, slowly worn down by the gauntlet, and hemmed in enough by Murderworld that they can’t get an advantage. Until the arrival of Captain Marvel and the Milano, piloted by Nebula, Gamorra and Mantis, who disrupt the world enough for A-Force to regroup and turn the tides.

They also bring knowledge our earth-based heroes weren’t privy to about Mojo. “He’s an interdimensional dictator, using reality TV to anesthetize the masses into ignoring the greed, corruption and incompetence of his regime.” That gives She-Hulk an idea, and she dispatches the Wakandans to find the control room while they deal with Mojo and Murderworld. Mojo’s control of Murderworld is fairly complete, so as A-Force defeats/turns the last of his villains, Mojo crafts a giant mech suit to protect himself.

Cut to the Wakandans, kicking the crap out of the control room technicians. One woman doesn’t put up a fight, but instead offers to help them. She’s been sick for ages over Mojo’s waste, fraud, and abuse, and has been trying to work up the nerve to deploy the graphics packages she made to show his viewers exactly what they’ve given up for his sick games.

We watch through Mojo’s cameras as A-Force dismantle Mojo’s robot. With each piece they tear off it, graphics flash describing things the Mojoworlders gave up in exchange for Mojo’s programming, like an end to hunger in exchange for a show about orcas genetically modified with fighting fish DNA to kill one another, or universal health care given up for the latest season’s budget for Muderworld, or an end to child labor given up to settle Mojo’s harassment suits. The cheers from the live audience change over the course of this, turning to boos. Eventually, She-Hulk rips him out of his mech, and holds him up for the audience. They give a thumbs down and she flings him at the arena below. The ‘fate worse than death’ is hiding in a cave just off the arena, and approaches slowly with thunderous steps. The big bad is Devil Dinosaur (a usually red tyrannosaurus) in a Venom symbiote. Mojo tries to scuttle away, but his legs were damaged by the fall, so he’s more or less crawling to get away. “I’m not moving. You can’t eat me if I’m not moving. We had a contract, you son of a-” the dino gobbles him up in one bite.

A-Force help all of the captured peoples return home; the bulk of this will fall to Captain Marvel and the Guardians, since most of them aren’t from Earth. Nico is reunited with her friends (shown only as hands through the bars, if we’re thinking of recasting from the TV show for a movie later and don’t want to commit now). She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Wasp & Rescue make a pact to come when the others call. End Credits Scene: We see Devil Dinosaur hacking, like he’s got a hairball. We should be worried Mojo is getting loose, about to break free and seek revenge for his humiliation. The dino coughs up Mojo’s legs, and they skid to just in front of the camera. Fade to black as the dino smacks his chops.

Breed Book 3, Part 7

“I legitimately can’t tell if I pulled the short straw,” Cris said, “or if the rest of you heard me saying I wanted to do more and interpreted that as being a sacrificial lamb.”

“Some of it was all the Jesus talk,” Ben said.

You were the one who brought up- you know what? Nevermind. Because either way, this is something. It’s something stupid. Dangerous. Crazy.”

“Ah,” Sonya said.

“Sorry. Reckless.”

“Thank you.”

“That’s our brand,” Rox said. “If you wanted us to reinvent the entire wheel, that would have at least entailed a longer conversation.”

“All I’m going to say is if I get killed in ICE custody, I won’t be healing any of you again.”

“That sounds fair. Now, Laren’s brief says that ICE come through this neighborhood practically daily. The corner’s a popular haunt, both for local gangs and dealers, but also just for the kids who live in the area. ICE don’t much care if they’re roughing up innocent LatinX citizens or if they’re, you know, criminals. And when they do come through, it’s pretty much always this time of day, around shift change for the local PD, so they get a few extra minutes to stomp the crap out of their targets- though half the time it sounds like the cops join in if they do get called.”

“I am not looking forward to getting stomped.”

“You can heal yourself almost instantly,” Ben said.

“The stomping still hurts. And I’m not assuming that they won’t have some kind of dampening field when I’m in custody.”

“Well, it looks like we’re in luck, and you’re out of it,” Sonya said from the front passenger seat. They could see several men in ICE armor kicking someone on the ground, holding up his hands.

“Let me out here,” Cris said. “We don’t want it obvious I got out of this van.”

“Right,” Rox said, stopping on the other side of the street. Cris slipped out, and the van rolled away, before turning down the street.

“Everything okay?” Cris asked.

“Sir, I’m going to suggest you keep your distance. We’re detaining dangerous –”

“Que pasa?” Cris asked. He tried to get a look at the person being held on the ground. “Cuantos años tienne?” he asked.

“Don’t think I like your tone.”

“No quiero tu cara, puta.”

“Now ‘puta’ I hablo, Pablo,” the agent said, extending a baton and advancing on Cris.

“Crap,” he muttered, ducking the first swing of the baton. That was when he saw enough of the kid on the ground to realize he wasn’t even in high school, and there was a growing pool of blood beneath him. “This is really going to hurt,” he whispered, before diving onto the pavement. He had his hand outstretched, like he was stealing a base, which meant he couldn’t break his fall at all. It did mean he managed to heal the kid a little before the first baton blow hit him. But the burst of light that traveled from his hand to the kid gave the game away.

“Breed freak!” one of the ICE agents yelled, before kicking him.

Cris couldn’t really get his bearings, as blows rained down on him, but he comforted himself that at least they were laying off the kid. He managed to catch the kid’s eyes, and saw a cut on his head that had healed when Cris touched him. “You’ll be okay,” Cris started to mouth to him, but was cut off by a blow from a baton in the face.

Breed Book 3, Part 6

Content Warning: I’ve always gone back and forth and content warnings. A part of me hates anything beyond like TV ratings, with very vague warnings, because I want to be able to surprise the reader; but I recognize the stress and discomfort that brings to readers, and I hate that, too. The compromise I think I’m going to try out is this; in blog form, I’ll flag moments that seem like they push the envelope at all, like this one, and in the print version, I’ll include a content warning at the front of the book, maybe with links back to it from warning-worthy chapters. That way, if you’ve got something you want to either avoid or want advance knowledge of, you get it, but if you’d rather have the surprise, you can have that, too. I’m weighing whether, in that case, it makes sense to include a synopsis, as an example for this chapter: Irene testifies at the trial of the militia men who invaded the campus, discussing in harrowing terms being hit by one, then overhearing others discuss sexually assaulting her class mates. It hit her harder, because she was assaulted the year before by a classmate.

Six

Irene felt penned in by the witness stand. It reminded her too much of being locked in a broom closet with several other students, and she pushed the thought out of her mind.

“Ms. Trellane,” the prosecutor said, “you’ve driven down from Bellingham to be here with us today. You’re one of literally hundreds of students and faculty taken hostage at gunpoint by the defendants-“

“Objection,” defense counsel said, “prosecution is testifying.”

“Sustained,” the judge said.

“Right.” A thin smile spread over the prosecutor’s lips. “Were you taken hostage at gunpoint during the events of the siege of your school?”

“I was.”

“And are those who, among other things, took you hostage, in this courtroom?”

“Yes,” Irene said.

“Could you point them out for us.” Irene pointed at the co-defendants seated at a table with their lawyers. “Let the record show the witness has pointed out the defendants as her hostage takers.”

“Which ones?” Defense counsel asked.

“Wait your turn, counselor,” the judge admonished.

“Go ahead, Ms. Trellane. Point out which men you saw personally, and then tell us what you saw them do.”

Irene swallowed. “The man with sideburns, the moustache, and the asymmetrical patches of grey at his temples. He was the one who directed me, and several other students, at gunpoint, into a closet at the school. I don’t know much about guns, but he had a long gun, with a, with the hinge, that breaks down the middle.”

“An overunder shotgun. I call attention to exhibit 17C, a Blaser F16 overunder shotgun, registered to the defendant Ms. Trellane identified, Mr. Wagner Hegel. Mr. Hegel’s fingerprints were the only ones on the gun, trigger, stock, as well as on the shell in either barrel. Mr. Hegel was also found with several matching shells on his person at the time of his arrest. Now, Ms. Trellane, was Mr. Hegel alone?”

“No. He did seem to be he oldest one there, and in a position of authority, a least over those who were with him. Those included the shorter man with dark hair seated at the end of the table-

“Mr. Bartholomew.”

“And the taller man with glasses and light brown hair.”

“The one nearer us, or closer to Mr. Bartholomew?”

“Closer to us.”

“That would be Mr. Batts. All three were taken into custody at the same location by campus police. And you only saw those three?”

“Like I said, they put us in a closet.”

“You were hesitant to go into the closet, were you not?”

“Yeah,” Irene said, and looked down at the rail separating her from the prosecutor.

“Could you tell the court why that was?”

“They had guns, and not our best interests at heart, I suspected. But also… I was assaulted on campus last spring.”

“I’m entering into the record a report of that altercation, filed on April 3rd of that year,” the prosecutor said, before turning back towards Irene. “Because of that attack, when told, at gunpoint, to go into the closet, you hesitated?”

“Yes,” Irene said softly.

“Now let me back up, a moment. Mr. Hegel was armed. What about Mr. Batts and Mr. Bartholomew?”

“Mr. Bartholomew had a handgun; I don’t think I ever saw him without it in his hand, and I don’t recall seeing a holster for it. The gun had a cylinder. Shiny, silver, with a black scope on it, about,” Irene held her hands about a foot apart.

“That sounds like a description of a Taurus revolver, belonging but not registered to Mr. Bartholomew. The gun had been cleaned recently, but not well; his fingerprints were found inside the revolver at several places only accessible while the weapon is disassembled, exhibit 17F. What about Mr. Batts?”

“Mr. Batts had two weapons.” Irene noticed that, subtly, the defense counsel leaned forward in his seat. “One was a knife, tied to his leg in a black plastic sheath. I never saw him remove it. On the other side he had a handgun, small, a lot smaller than the revolver. It was also in a black plastic, holder, and it looked sort of plastic, too. At first I wasn’t sure what it was.”

“Is this it?” The prosecutor handed her a photograph of the gun.

“I think so.”

“That’s a Ruger. Found on the person of Mr. Batts, fingerprints on the holster, not on the gun, the magazine or any bullets. He reported it stolen last December in a home robbery. Did you ever see Mr. Batts touch the gun?”

Irene’s eyes narrowed. “No. Once or twice his hand kind of hovered over the holster. And there was one time, when they were trying to get us to go into the closet, when he was tapping on the holster impatiently. But I never saw him draw the gun. The other two never put their guns down; he never picked his up.”

“That would explain why the gun had no fingerprints on it.”

“He also had gloves,” Irene said. “Purple cleaning gloves, tucked under his belt and kind of hanging out from under it.”

“So these three armed men were trying to intimidate you into the closet. What happened next?”

“I froze, for a moment, remembering the attack.”

“Then what happened?”

“Mr. Hegel hit me.”

“Hit you how?”

“With his hand.”

“With an open or closed fist?”

Slowly, she balled her fist, and the word came out ragged, “Closed.”

“If you need to take a break,” the prosecutor prompted.

“I’m okay,” Irene said, though she wasn’t sure if that was true.

“Can you describe for us the injury.”

“It broke two bones, around the eye;  the cheek and the, I guess eyebrow. It wasn’t too bad, that day; it hurt, but only swelled up a little. But by the next day I woke up and I couldn’t open the eye.”

“I’m entering into the record exhibit 79A, records from the campus clinic corroborating the injuries Ms. Trellane describes.” She leaned in. “Go on.”

“I think, the other students helped me into the closet. I was still a little in shock, moving slowly, but they grabbed my arms and ushered me into the closet, kind of shielding me from attack.”

“What happened after that?”

“We tried to talk, quietly, among ourselves. We tried calling the police; they didn’t take our phones, but none of us could get a signal.”

“I would point out exhibit 68A, an illegal cell signal blocker, as well as repeaters for said blocker, 68B through F, found at the campus. They seem to have been ordered by Mr. Schultz, who claimed they were to be used for academic purposes, and paid with a credit card by Mr. Batts. Fingerprints belonging to six of the men seated at defense counsel were found on the equipment. And what about your abilities, Irene?”

“I can do weird stuff with my voice, even float, if I concentrate enough.”

“I mean, the school is, primarily, one focused on the instruction of gifted students, what some scholars have called Breed abilities. President Drump himself has likened those abilities to weapons of mass destruction. So how could a poorly armed, poorly organized militia take five of you- let alone a whole campus- hostage?”

“Our abilities wouldn’t work. And for most of us, they’re just useless talents, like being able to wiggle your ears or turn your eyelids inside out. Some students can use a computer without a mouse and keyboard, some of us can talk without using our mouths. But we aren’t soldiers, or SWAT. And outside of life or death situations, the textbook answer in a crisis is still not to act.”

“I’m sorry, textbook?”

“Maybe a poor choice of words. But the handbook, when we go through orientation. They warned us about just this kind of situation, and that, most of the time, advice from experts is still to remain calm and passive. It’s only if you believe that you’re going to be killed that the equation changes, like on the hijacked planes on 9/11.”

“So even if your abilities were working, you would not have tried to fight back?”

“Not until it was clear that they meant to harm us.”

“Wouldn’t you classify the damage done to your eye socket and cheekbone ‘harm’?”

“Sure. But I expected to live through it. And that’s the goal in a hostage situation. To live through it. Everything else becomes secondary.”

“So you and these other four students, you were all hunkered down inside this closet. Would you tell the court what happened next?”

“My hearing’s pretty good. I think- really, a friend I have who’s pre-med has a theory- that since my ability works with sonics, that I subconsciously protect myself from all the various little ways people’s hearing gets damaged over time.”

“Ms. Trellane has been examined by a regionally renowned ENT specialist who can back that up, if the defense requires verification; I’ll sum up the findings, her hearing is superb, into the 99th percentile. What did you hear?”

“Mr. Hegel left. I didn’t catch all of it; they were whispering, and talking over one another. There was some kind of device he needed to see to, so he left. After that, I heard the other two talking. They were louder, now. One of them tried to be quieter, even tried to get the other one to be quiet, but he refused. I don’t know which was which; they hardly spoke before they put us into the closet. But the one with the deeper, louder voice, he was the one who,” she stopped, her lip quivering. “He suggested they separate us. He said he,” her breathing was speeding up, “he thought he could teach us to fucking respect them. He said he wanted the redhead, unless her face got too fucked up. Then the other one laughed, and said he’d take the black bitches.”

“What did you do?” the prosecutor asked, as the rest of the court sat in stunned silence.

“I had us move, so two of us were leaned against the door, to it would be harder for them to get it open. And I said, ‘We can’t let them separate us.’”

“What happened after that?”

“We stayed there. A couple of times they tried to open the door, and we pushed against it so they couldn’t get in. They yelled at us, threatened us. We pretended like we couldn’t hear them through the door. Pretended we were just stupid, silly schoolgirls who didn’t have any idea what was going on, played at being oblivious. Each time they stormed off. Once or twice they told us if we didn’t move they’d shoot through the door. The others wanted to listen to them, but… I refused to move.”

“Did you think, if you let them inside, that the men who held you at gunpoint and threatened you would assault you?”

“Objection, calls for speculation,” the defense counsel argued.

“I’ll rephrase. Were you afraid, if they got in, that they would hurt you and the other students?”

“I knew they would,” Irene said, her voice quaking with angry defiance. “That’s why I refused to let them in.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Trellane, that that happened to you. It happened because we failed to protect you, and those other students. But we can clarify, today, that what happened to you was not okay. We can tell people who might consider doing something similar in the future, that they will be held responsible for their actions. I know nothing can make up for our failure to protect you, but I hope that will be a start. Nothing further from this witness at this time.”

Breed Book 3, Part 5

Note: There’s a new method to my madness. I’ve found, in finishing the last book, that the back and forth nature of the story opens it up to a new kind of drafting. What I do is I edit a chapter for Group A, then write the next chapter for group A, all in the same day. That way I’m always a couple chapters ahead, once I get into a nice rhythm, and it makes it easier to keep the momentum going. Not sure it would work with other stories, but it’s really helped me keep on task, when even the rage wasn’t enough.

Five

“What the fuck was that?” Sonya asked angrily.

“I do miss her,” Cris said, emotion nearly choking the words from him.

“I meant about you ‘getting it.’”

Cris swallowed. “I do. We’re reacting. It’s what we did at that NSA facility. What we did in Moscow. And she’s acting. There aren’t mornings when you wake up, your sense of right and wrong bloodied from the day before, where you just want to throw a punch?”

“Whoa,” Ben said, throwing up his meaty hands. “What would Jesus do, man?”

“I’m not Jesus,” Cris said, his voice flattened by anger. He exhaled hotly. “I don’t do those things, obviously. But I want to, sometimes. And I’m not sure… I guess it weighs on me. What if Mira’s doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and we’re siting on our hands for the wrong ones, too- namely for our own moral superiority? What would Jesus do, Ben? He wouldn’t stand by while injustice and hate rampaged across the land. He would help. I don’t know how, exactly, but I think he’d do more than I have- more than I’ve figured out how to do. And that, more than anything, weighs on me. It’s worrying to me it doesn’t seem to weigh on the rest of you.”

“I hate to break it to you, but you’re not the only one with Catholic guilt here,” Rox said, “ever-so-lapsed as I may be.”

“I think we all struggle, just trying to get by in all this,” Ben said, gesturing madly around the room. “The world in on fire, literally, in some places. There’s a megalomaniac who wants to lock most of us away, and basically has the power to, and now, come to find out, the asshole’s actually doing it.”

“And worse,” Sonya said, touching Cris’ shoulder. “There isn’t a one of us doesn’t wake up wishing we knew how to do more, how to put things right, how to make the world make sense again. I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’m so fucking angry at Mira right now. And I think I know, too- and it terrifies me- that it could have been me. If things had happened a little differently, if I was the one who got separated- some nights I dream about what I could do with my ability if I stopped trying to take the high ground. It would be so easy. Any one of us could make Timothy McVeigh look like an amateur with a half an hour. And with the way Drump and so many- so many assholes have treated us- I know it’s wrong, down to the very core of my being, but when one of us snaps and hurts people, it will not have been unprovoked, a thousand-fold. And if I didn’t have you, it might have been me. If anything happened to the rest of you, it maybe still could be.”

They started to move together for comfort, but Laren stopped Ben with a hand on his shoulder. “Ben,” she said, “a word before you join the others in a chorus of Kumbuya.”

“You, uh, know they’re just blowing off steam, right?” Ben asked, his expression suddenly serious.

“I didn’t hear anything,” she said. “And I’m not sure you’ll want to acknowledge hearing what you’re about to.”

“Okay…”

“Your brother’s gone. Your whole tribe is gone.”

“Gone to…” his eyebrows shot up, “oh,” he said, so softly she couldn’t hear it.

“They were attacked. So far as we can ascertain, it wasn’t humans.”

“What?”

“You’re pretty remote here. That’s why we chose the location. No cell towers in range, only the one fiber optic line in or out. Which means you haven’t heard this.” She played him a sound, like a violin string, but shrill, like it was screaming. Then they heard the sound of a human scream, and a man yelling. Panic, hysteria, and the sound of blood and bodies hitting the dirt.

“Jesus,” he said.   

“Your brother tried to call you. We think he died before the call connected. I’m not going to show you the pictures, or the video, but.. suffice to say there aren’t weapons known to man that would explain what happened. It’s a shitshow; Grand Badger’s always been under joint jurisdiction of the Bureaus of Indian and Breed Affairs. I got looped in, early, which is how I got the recording, and the other digital evidence. But DHS is pulling rank, now, and freezing the rest of us out. Some of the elders we inherited from agencies are whispering they might just disappear the rest of the evidence. Or if it fits Drump’s narrative, maybe the leak it to the press in the most damaging way possible. I don’t know what’s going to happen; might be nothing for a while. But when it does, it’s going to be loud, and ugly. And you deserved to know, . You okay?”

“Did it hurt?”

“What?”

“James. Dying.”

“It didn’t look peaceful, but… your brother was a good man. So if there’s even a little justice in this world, it didn’t hurt.” “There isn’t,” Ben said.