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Fabian Cortez

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Character Quote: A wolf without a pack
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Menagerie

X-Men Gold

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Jul 13 2018, 12:48 AM
Merry took the lift up to the seventh floor and leaned heavily on the wall while she waited. She was exhausted, a bone wary, soul-aching fatigue that came with loss but there was a small sense of accomplishment in her dogged steps as she let herself into the Bronx apartment she shared with her fiance. Boyfriend? Merry wasn’t sure anymore. The wedding was, to her knowledge, off. It wasn’t postponed. It was simply no longer happening in the wake of Neena’s death and Merry didn’t want to think about it. She didn’t want to see so much as a scrap of white, a single flower, a roll of tulle.

The graveyard shift in Mount Sinai’s ER had been night after night of nonstop work and the feral welcomed the distraction. She wasn’t in there as a paramedic, either. Beast had apparently left out a pretty important detail of Merry’s education as he tested her and drilled her and set up skills lab after skills lab. Merry wasn’t a critical care paramedic at all. She was a first year surgical resident with a strong focus in trauma. Thanks to McCoy, Merry could accomplish things in an the back of an ambulance that most couldn’t manage in an OR and she did it under his medical direction. The people at Mount Sanai seemed to think the pupil of Hank McCoy was invaluable but Merry caught them staring, clearly wondering what flavor of freak she was.

The lift let her out on the seventh floor and Merry padded down the hall to her front door. Jeez and Bandit both greeted her with enthusiasm and she went about the business of refilling their bowls and emptying the dishwasher from the night before. The place was far larger than their loft apartment had been, less cozy, more professional, and Merry wasn’t entirely sure she liked their new living situation. She’d taken the first thing that was both available and in their price range and close enough for Trevor to continue work on his doctorate. There was just nothing homey about the upscale residence and it didn’t feel like them. But to be fair, Merry wasn’t sure who they were anymore.

Maybe this was it.

Trevor was still asleep when she snuck quietly into their room, water from her quick shower still beaded on her body as she slipped in beside him. “Wake up, cowboy,” she whispered, leaving a trail of kisses over his shoulders. “I miss you.”

Trevor Radigan
Jul 5 2018, 06:44 PM
They won.

That’s what everyone kept saying. They saved the world. They did what X-Men did best. They fought the evil and preserved the good. Meriel stared blankly down at the box on her desk. Several more were by the door, the last of her earthly possessions saved only by the fact they had been stashed in her office instead of her room when the school was blown apart. Most of the things in the office weren’t her’s. The desk, the cabinets, most of their contents, but the photoalbums, the crayon drawings, the little things that she had added over the last eighteen months were all packed neatly away.

Nothing felt real from the moment the news dropped and the realization that Neena, the real Neena as far as Meriel was concerned, was never coming home. They saved the world at the cost of one little girl. They’d been so focused on he Brood they had failed where it mattered most. For Merry a world without Neena wasn’t worth saving. That baby was the reason Merry did everything. Why she had been fighting for a better future, one where Neena would be safe and accepted. That dream was as dead as...

It was dead as Merry was on the inside.

She’d spent the last several days simply crying, the sort of full body mourning that left her muscles sore and her throat raw. The kind of sobbing that shook you from the inside out until you were too tired to move but that was exactly what Meriel had to do. She had to move, to leave, to get the fuck away from Xavier’s before it she lost the very last thing she had. Trevor had been a zombie for days and she was scared, terrified, that he would try to follow their little girl into whatever passed for an afterlife. She was unwilling to lose him, too. So she’d found a place in the Bronx they could afford for a few months, with plans to head to Texas once Trevor got his degree. They couldn’t stay where they were. They would never survive.

The last of the medical texts was packed away, hiding the stack of drawings that Meriel simply didn’t have the heart to throw away. The glitter crayons she had managed to leave behind but she couldn’t bear to part with the sheets of wild creativity they had created with the help of sticky little hands. Drawings of bugs, of skate decks, of what Neena wished the school piano looked like, pictures of the other Alphas.

Pictures of her family. A tree with a cloud of smoke. A pink blob with a tiara. A fluffy dog with wings. A ballcap on fire. The names were scrawled out on each little portrait. Stamford. Not quite right. Livi. Mama. Da. The last two had left her weeping in the corner of her office, on the floor with her face buried in her arms, knees drawn tight to her chest. She should have stayed home, made sure the alpha squad was secure. Should have held onto her sisters and brother, protected them, made that her priority instead of running off to be a hero. She should have preserved her family.

Despite her own losses, her many deaths and terrors while wearing the X she had longed for since she was fifteen, Meriel never dreamed for a moment that anything like this could happen. Proof of Neena’s survival was right under their roof, a sixteen year old version that survived. But in Alpha’s future, Neena was safe but the world was lost. In their current timeline the world was saved but... Nee. She was too high a price. Too high. Being an X-Man was taking everything away from her piece by piece. Her life. Her identity. Liv. And now Neena was dead because Merry had fancied herself a superhero. When what she really was was that little girl’s mother in every way that counted.

She’d had everything and not even realized it.

“So you’re really going?”

Merry glanced up as she laid the last piece of packing tape across the top of the box. Her whole life reduced down to three boxes. Even if her little sister wasn’t dead, that should have been enough of a wakeup call that her life was not working out in Salem Center. Liv stood in the doorway, her jacket buttoned up and her flight goggles slid up to the top of her head. She was eyeing Merry with the same look she’d been giving the older woman since Merry had come back from the dead. Pure, undiluted disappointment.

“If you were smart, you’d go too,” Merry said quietly, adding her latest box to the pitiful pile by the front door. “Arlo and Noah will come back and get you, you know, if you change your mind. Or I can take you. I don’t mind driving you back to Roff.” She didn’t want Liv staying until it was too late. Until she’d lost everything. Merry was getting the fuck out before her position on the X-Men took Trevor away from her along with Neena. She wasn’t sure he could take another defeat. She didn’t think he’d survive any more loss.

The pink teenager scoffed derisively at the offer to follow behind their parents. The Myles had come to pick up all their children but Liv had declined. Stan had practically thrown himself into the truck, pausing only long enough to hug his two remaining sisters. “No, thanks. I’m not running away.” Liv was tense with rage and grief. She’d gone flying to try and get her head on straight but by the time she landed all Olivia felt was anger and she needed someone to take it out on. Meriel had always taken Liv’s emotional backlashes without complaint and as Liv fixed her eyes on her big sister they narrowed unkindly. “I don’t blame you, though. If I’d killed Neena I’d bolt, too.”

If Merry hadn’t been having those same thoughts, she might have bothered to look hurt. Instead her empty expression simply regarded the static slinger with dull acceptance. She didn’t expect anything else from Liv. The girl had always been driven by an impulse to bully and belittle, her time with Scrambler had only made Olivia worse. She had become a cruel little thing and when Merry looked at her, she finally saw what Liv had been seeing for months. A stranger. The haughty, curious little girl with a thirst for knowledge that Merry had left behind when she was twelve had grown into an emotionally abusive, ungrateful bitch and Meriel no longer had the patience or motivation to pretend that every word that fell out of the Omega’s mouth was acceptable or would continue to be tolerated.

“A simple ‘no’ would have done the job, darlin’. At least call me if ya need anythin’.” Merry paused by the door. Liv had planted herself there and didn’t seem keen on moving so Merry could leave. “Was there somethin’ else, Olivia? Ain’t sure I got it in my today to verbally spar with ya.”

There was a moment between them, a beat in which Merry thought Liv was about to apologize for the last six months, maybe even finally let Merry hug her but instead five small words came out of the New Mutant that flipped a switch in Meriel and made her eyes flash yellow. “I wish you’d stayed dead.” Merry didn’t even pause to think about whether it was right or past due, she smacked Liv hard enough across the face to make the smaller girl whip into the wall. Liv clutched her face and let out a howl. “You can’t do that! I’m a student!”

Merry hauled Liv up by the front of her jacket. “I’m no longer a teacher.” -SMACK- “And you’ve made it pretty clear over the last few months I ain’t your sister no more either.” -SMACK- “So how about ya keep your fuckin’ mouth shut for a change or I swear to god, Olivia, I’ll shut it for ya.” Merry let the girl fall to the ground, battered but no major or permanent damage done. “Goodbye, Olivia. I hope ya never get what ya deserve.” She picked up all three of her boxes and headed toward the lift, leaving Liv behind with a rapidly swelling face and tears of humiliation threatening to spill down her stinging cheeks.

That’s when Liv saw what Meriel had left behind on her desk, her tears started to fall in earnest. She had no idea why she had taunted Meriel instead of begging her to stay. Liv didn’t want to be alone, and regardless of what she said, Merry was still her sister. She counted on the animal girl to always be around but once she caught sight of the round, golden circle on the desk, the one enclosed around a golden X, she knew Merry was out for good, no siblings, no pack...

Menagerie was no longer an X-Man.
May 5 2018, 05:22 PM
Merry had been through this simulation when she was seventeen. She’d lasted exactly six minutes and eleven seconds before being eliminated from the program. It wasn’t the record, that honor was still held by Colossus, a staggering eight minutes and forty-two seconds. It was a program that only came out when needed, tough as anything the gold team trained against (except if you asked Logan). It was designed to do one thing and one thing only.

Lead by example.

The seemingly innocuous simulation was misleadingly labeled TEAMBUILDING. Alt X. Tactic 01 but what it actually was was Hank McCoy’s own goddamn Kobayashi Maru. Merry had been chewing on this idea for her Gammas since her first squad meeting when she’d been amused but disappointed by all of the singular members of her squad. They were smart, or powerful, or skilled. Sometimes they were all three but there was one thing they were not... They were not a team. Not even a little bit. Lots of egos, lots of pride, and lots of lone wolves had landed in the Gamma along with big personalities that might have concerned her initially. But if there was one thing the animal girl was familiar with was pack hierarchy and lone wolves rarely survived.

Merry knew she couldn’t protect them if they didn’t want to be protected, but she could offer them every tool necessary to fight. If they were going to take risks and put themselves in danger anyhow, Merry was going to make sure they did not go down quietly. And so help her god, she was going to train them to have each others’ backs.


The school might have been gone but the Danger Room was fully operational and when the Gammas came in, their feral squad leader was kicked back in a lawn chair with an ice pop. “Mornin’,” she drawled pleasantly. “I know it’s early. I know you guys are not worried about squad training.” Oh, how she knew. “And you’re right. There are things you can do alone that most other people could only dream of... I won’t give you the part of the speech that includes ‘So imagine what you can do together’. Instead I’m going to show you.”

“This isn’t about trust falls and leading each other around blindfolded. This is about successfully knowing your teammates well enough to anticipate their moves, knowing who can do what, and then trusting them to do it. Knowing that the person next to you has your back when things get messy. I never wanted any of you to have to fight.” Merry looked over each of them slowly. “But that isn’t the world we live in yet. There are threats to you kids that can’t be defeated with plucky attitudes and grit. You need to be smart. You need to rely on each other.”

“Being capable of working together is more important now than ever. I can’t help you in this sim. The safeties are off and you’ve only got each other. When the simulation begins, you might be tempted to treat it like a joke. I highly recommend that you do not.” There was a fierce pride in Merry’s eyes as she looked over the young New Mutants that had been placed into her charge. She didn’t need them to like her. She didn’t even really need them to listen to her.

But she desperately needed them to figure out for themselves how best to work together.

The feral smiled, her whole body suddenly becoming pixelated before falling apart into hundreds of tiny Merry colored squares on the floor of the Danger Room and only her voice remained. “No one has survived past nine minutes,” the gravelly southern drawl echoed around them. “Good luck.”


There was no holographic scene. The metallic walls stayed just as they were. This was not about the atmosphere of the program but who was programmed. They stood in a loose line behind the Gammas, determination and focus on their faces. Well, almost. The smallest of them was grinning like an idiot, a snowball in his hand. They were young, around their age and perfectly recognizable.

“Oh, shit.” Stan gaped at a 17 year old Jean Grey. “I am so writing her a song after this.”

The Original Five, still in their teens, stood tall and proud, ready to fight and looking at the kids like strangers. Scott Summers, older than the Scott that was currently running with the Omengas didn’t hesitate to assess the threat and attempt to neutralize it. Scott simply picked the largest Gamma and sent three consecutive concussive blasts strait at Ash, enough to send him flying. John got a face full of snow from Bobby, even as ice appeared on the ground under him and Tommy. Alice, though she could fly, was unexpectedly lifted off the ground and dropped directly onto Hana with jarring force. Hank McCoy, still flesh-toned, still human looking, moved like a flash, skidding past Chris and spinning to catch the boy low and whip him across the room to send both him and Stan into a wall.

Within 20 seconds the Original Five was already schooling the New Mutants.


There is no rush to this thread, post when you can, no particular order but only once between ‘ST’ posts
Daisy Chain Darkhawk Faust Gunslinger Honeybear Phantom Speed
May 1 2018, 02:51 PM
For being a force of good, Meriel sure knew where to go to find the bad people. That was entirely courtesy of Logan. Back when she was getting to know Hellfire all over again, they had followed the grumpy old Canadian into a place in Hell’s Kitchen. The whole place was gross but the overall atmosphere of the place matched Merry’s mood, chaotic and mean and full of ugly.

Aliens.

They’d fought aliens and the only reason they survived was because of a twenty pound dragon and her little sister came back from the future. Merry was still baffled by the seventeen year old speedster that claimed to be Neena. DNA had confirmed it. The kid knew things only Nee or a telepath could, she smelled like Nee (with maybe less of that sticky sweet candy smell), and by god she was the spitting image of their mother. But there was a streak of something utterly unfamiliar in those big blue eyes.

The girl was angry.

Her whole existence was proof that at some point in the future, Meriel had failed her littlest sister. Merry’s job was to keep her Littles safe and instead she’d gotten herself contained by monsters for eight goddamn years while Neena grew up with psychopaths and killers. While Neena grew up without her.

It was enough to make any girl want a few shots without the addition of interstellar enemies, emotionally broken siblings, time travel, and out of control boyfriends. Liv wouldn’t even look at her. Stan was adamantly refusing to come down off his high. The Neenas were stalking Kurt. And Merry felt like Trevor was slipping away from her. Maybe it was stupid but after all they’d been through Merry didn’t know how to let him go. After seven years she didn’t even know who she was without Trevor Radigan. Trying not to clutch onto him for all she was worth was only one of the many things keeping her up at night lately but it was a problem within the realm of her control.

Who cared if the world ended if Trevor wasn’t ok?

Perhaps a flare for dramatics ran in the Myles family, despite So Sister Margaret’s, where a small woman sporting a dark green ‘leather’ jacket and dark, wild curls could sit with a total stranger and go shot for shot. It wasn’t her fault she could drink like a boss... And that her DNA could alter to accommodate all of that ethanol. She was pissed. She was mentally strained. And she if she could take five bucks a shot off of some idiot mercenary whose knife was bigger than his dick, more power to her.

“Thirty-four!” The guy was huge and Meriel was... a delicate little flower but despite a serious case of the wobbles, the animal girl had managed not to throw up yet. At least not outside of her mouth. The big guy was leaning heavily on the table, his eyes glassy and his words beyond understanding as he waggled a finger in her face and said something crude that only he could interpret. “Don’t... Don’t be a pussy,” Merry snapped. “Just put down your money and take your shot.”

Because this was definitely better than thinking about aliens and her broken, dwindling family.
Apr 20 2018, 04:03 PM
When the girls were brought down to medical, Meriel waited to come undone until everyone was gone. Those fucking kids... At least Ash had helped and already done that thing he did so well, healing her sisters until whatever horror they had been through was effectively erased. The rest of them, however... Laura had blood up to her wrists. Julian’s and John’s shirts had been sodden in dark red and given that there was barely a scratch on either boy so Merry could guess where it had all originated since Ash had been needed.

First she would make sure the girls were alright. And then those kids were going to run until they vomited. They would be doing pushups until they couldn’t lift their pencils. They would be doing squats until they were permanently stuck in that position. Merry was a girl who grew up getting routinely punished by Wolverine and at that moment, as she accepted her little sisters into medical, there was fury in her eyes. Nevermind that she would have done the same thing if her friends were in trouble, Meriel wasn’t looking at it with any context of impatient youth. She was looking at it with mind numbing fear that she might have lost two little sisters instead of just one. They could have lost a whole slew of New Mutants. So far the little shits had been lucky. One day their luck would run out and she was terrified that the next set of bodies brought down to her wouldn’t be sleeping.

They’d be dead.

Both girls had been out like lights when they’d been dropped off and Meriel set them up in the same room. Liv would want to see she had been successful when she woke up and Merry wanted them together simply so she could watch them both at the same time. She wasn’t letting them out of her sight ever again, if she was honest with herself. Olivia was a mean little thing but she was her mean little thing. And Neena was as close to a child of her own as Merry would ever get which was probably why instead of just depositing the very tiny form of the littlest Myles into a hospital bed and tucking her in, Merry simply reclined back in the bed next to Liv and tucked Neena against her.

They were alone. They were safe. They were protected.

So Merry figured it was a good time to quietly weep, her arms wrapped around Neena while Liv’s curled up against her like she did when she was little, her soft, even breaths proof that she was ok. They were ok. “We’re ok,” Merry whispered, brushing back their sweat-matted brown curls, clinging to her family. “We’re ok. We’re ok. We’re ok. We’re ok...”
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