Word count: 1,269
Warnings: Some language.
Fandom: City of Heroes/SITL ("Shadows in the Light"/mirror universe Sunday 9s)
Characters: The same as from the first fic.
Note: This is alternate-universe compared to the regular Sunday 9s fics.
Copyrights 'n stuff: The City of Heroes universe is copyright Cryptic Studios/NCSoft. The individual characters of the Sunday 9s were created by their players.
Comments welcome, as always.
Doc Rayvn still didn't know what Triseti was up to. She'd give them odd jobs, ranging from "deliver this package to this person" to "guard this warehouse from dusk until dawn" to "go recover this person from the Vahzilok." Nothing that the group couldn't handle, really. If anything, it was likely a shaking-out period: Triseti wanted to know what these five people were like. Could they work together? Could they follow orders? Did they have, in short, a clue?
As they'd metaphorically jostled for position within the group, they'd learned something about each other's tactics, though not anything personal, for which Doc was glad. Having allies was one thing, but... Of course, these other four were... different somehow.
Push, the big Freak, for instance. Doc had expected a kill-crazy Freak tank, but instead Push turned out to be almost entirely defensive in tactics: creating force field bubbles, trying to keep the group safe. Doc had never thought Freaks would even think like that – most of those he'd had the misfortune to encounter had proved themselves chaotic fighters, never thoughtful support.
Deathhead Drake, on the other hand, would probably fit just fine with the Freaks. Doc had the impression Drake had started a minor cult about himself, which seemed at least as plausible as the Vahzilok or Freaks or Circle of Thorns or any of the other cultlike organizations out there. So why would the Drake be involved with Triseti's work? Maybe he'd had a recent setback. Doc couldn't think of another reason why the half-dragon would spend so much time with this group if he had followers to use instead.
The Skull – jeez, Skulls were pretty close to the bottom of the Paragon City criminal hierarchy. Triseti had called Boneshatter "the most powerful Skull in Paragon City." That didn't mean a whole lot to Doc; it was akin to being the biggest rat in the zoo. Boneshatter kept very quiet, and never removed his mask, just watched. He also seemed to spend little time among his fellow gangers. Of course, "most powerful" didn't mean the guy was highly ranked within the Skulls, either. Maybe he was on the outs with them, just like the Drake might be on the outs with his gang.
Of course, the hero was the real odd man out. He didn't go by Heat Lightning any more. Now he was Firefly of all things. It didn't even make for a good hero name, much less something for those on the other side of the fight. He'd changed costume, but still wore body armor, now in black and dark red. The dark green hair was hard to miss, though. And the guy must've wanted everyone to know he was a hero first – why else show up in J-Star insignia? But then, what the hell was his motivation? Why was he with this group?
Unfortunately, Firefly was also the one most likely to be the voice of reason. Sometimes too much, but he did appear to want to work with the rest of the group.
Maybe Triseti couldn't find a blaster she could trust, Doc thought. As it was, she'd put together a team that had a reasonable chance of working together: Push for defense, the Drake and Boneshatter for melee offense, and Doc himself for... crowd control, as he liked to think of it. Control being the key word. Maybe there hadn't been any villainous blasters down on their luck, so she'd turned to this one. But still – what was his reason for doing this?
Doc would never admit that the mystery was bothering him so much. He knew his own reason for joining – the university was starting to investigate his research, and it never hurt to have a fallback position. And he was learning quite a lot about how his powers worked – laboratory results were definitely not the same as those "in the field."
~ ~ ~
They waited for Triseti now. She always made them wait a few minutes. Once they'd attempted searching up in the klieg lights, but the light was too powerful. Shooting out the lights would likely be... frowned upon.
"We need a name," Boneshatter said, a little hoarsely. He spoke so rarely that Doc often forgot what the Skull's voice sounded like between jobs.
"A what?" Drake turned toward Boneshatter, tossing a rock from hand to hand. The rock itself was the size of a human head, though not the right shape.
"A name," the Skull repeated. He tried to stay as close to the shadows as he could, although the harsh lighting in this cave meant shadows were few and far between. "To refer to ourselves."
A sudden wheezing came from Push, and it took Doc a moment to realize the Freak was laughing. "Why?" Push said at last.
Boneshatter shifted slightly, his body language indicating annoyance. "Because it's old already callin' ourselves 'the others' or 'the group'."
"He's got a point." Firefly had found a rock niche partway up the wall and sat up there. Typical blaster, Doc thought - keeping away from anything dangerous. At the moment, Firefly was picking at his nails, one of those minor tics that at the university caused Doc to single out that student for sudden difficult questioning. "Triseti wants us to work as a group. Right now we don't have any identity together. We're just a bunch of whacked-out nutjobs who happen to work alongside each other."
"Who asked you?" the Drake snarled.
"Nobody," Firefly grinned. "But I think some semblance of 'team spirit' might help us get a little farther with our employer."
"You'd know all about that, I suppose?" Doc asked casually. He walked over to look up at the former (?) hero. "You were part of the J-Stars, after all. So why are you here with us? With the 'whacked-out nutjobs,' as you called us."
"I called myself that too," Firefly said with a shrug. "As for why I'm here – well, I'll share that if and when I feel I can rely on my teammates. Right now I'm looking at people who work together, not a team."
The Drake snarled at the perceived insult, but Doc considered Firefly's words. He was probably right, galling as it was. And the Skull knew something about it as well, then. Solidarity. Wasn't that part of being a gang, as opposed to, oh... a cult leader? Give them something to wrap around themselves, make them feel like one of a special group.
"Well, then," he said, a bit loudly to forestall any actions the Drake might take next, "what would you suggest?"
Firefly shrugged. "Ask Boneshatter. He's the one who brought it up."
All eyes turned to the Skull, who for once appeared to not wish to disappear. "I don't know," he said, looking at all of them in turn. "Just thought it was something we should do, 's'all."
"Greetings." Triseti's voice came from the center of the lights overhead, and she dropped down slowly again to where they could see her silhouette. "I trust you were not waiting long?"
The Drake growled and raked the floor with his clawed hands. "You make us wait too much."
"Patience, Drake. Learn patience. Now then. Your job tonight..."
Doc listened with half an ear. Perhaps Firefly was right. If they banded together as a team, with a team mentality, perhaps Triseti would change her behavior toward them. Or, possibly, such a team might find it advantageous to work toward a specific member's plans.
He caught Firefly's eye, and as the latter grinned, Doc realized that the blaster was probably thinking much the same thing.
~ ~ ~
Author's Note: Any and all suggestions for a team name are welcomed.