Title: Another One Bites the Dust
Disclaimer: Right, I actually went and checked to be sure this time… after being passed around like a slut at a frat party over the past few years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel: the Series, and all associated characters now belong to Warner Brothers. With a myriad of writers, artists, and editors, actual rights are a nightmare when you go near a comic book universe. Suffice it to say that Marvel Entertainment LLC owns all of the property printed in their comics, along with the television and movie adaptations of said same property. Not mine, don't sue, and so forth and so on.
Summary: "I am Illyria the Merciless, God-King of the Primordium and Shaper of Things." "I am Groot!"
Joe's Note: This was written as a response to LisaGorman's "Illyria in other hero movies" challenge. I'm not sure who's going to be the one who fulfills the third requirement of the challenge quite yet, but I've got three entire chapters to make it happen and so I'm not terribly worried. Yet.
When her time on Earth came to a close, it wasn't with a bang but rather with a whimper. Dozens of magic users were among the forces that the Circle of the Black Thorn sent against them in Los Angeles. Diminished greatly by her resurrection and further weakened by Wesley's damnable Mutari Generator, it was all too easy for them to defeat her through the ultimate act of cowardice: banishment. One moment, she was fighting three demons at once, inwardly amused at the fact that they thought themselves capable of defeating her. And then the world rippled around her and she realized that they had no desire to defeat her, only distract her.
They called her new home the 'Kyln', a prison that floated deep in the blackness between stars. Guarded by the 'Nova Corps', it was their place to dispose of beings who posed too great a threat to the populace to remain in terrestrial prisons. While at first she did not qualify as such, that soon changed when several of the inmates attempted to assert dominance over her. She painted the walls of her cell with their blood as a warning, and took the head of the most interesting-looking male as a trophy.
The next morning, her daily meeting with one of the Nova Corps members deviated from the expected script: they were no longer interested in removing her from the prison and sending her to live on Xandar while they tried to figure out a minimally disruptive way of returning to Earth.
So she remained in the Kyln. She hungered not, thirsted not, and required no sleep. After the first twenty deaths, she took a twenty-first life and claimed their cell as her new domain; she had begun taking trophies from each challenger as a warning to others and had run out of room in her original, smaller cell. The inmates grew to respect or fear her, leaving only the new arrivals to commit 'suicide by Illyria' as she heard one woman refer to it.
And then one day, everything changed. Her supernatural hearing could not penetrate every corner of the station, nor did she wish it to, but it did reach the processing area that new arrivals were herded through. One of them possessed the song of the green in addition to being able to speak like an animal. The other was even more fascinating.
"Hooked on a Feeling, Blue Swede, 1973, that song belongs to me!"
While he'd seen her in passing several times during his first evening there, it wasn't until halfway through his first full day in the Kyln that Peter Jason Quill was sure that he had an admirer. Or perhaps a stalker. A watcher? He wasn't quite sure what to classify the woman as, given that he had no clue what her intent was. All he knew was that one of the more human-looking female inmates was constantly watching him with a unblinking, icy blue gaze, moving around the common areas to keep him in sight wherever he went. Oh, and that whoever she was, she caused the crowds to part like the Red Sea whenever she moved.
Finally, as they sat down for lunch, Peter couldn't contain his curiosity any longer. Given that Rocket seemed to know everything about everyone, at least when it came to the seamy underbelly of the galaxy, he decided to try his luck with the… Rocket insisted he wasn't a raccoon, but c'mon. "Hey, Rocket. Your left, second level, the chick with the blue eyes and hair who's sitting on the catwalk and staring at me. Who is she?"
Rocket craned his neck as he peered in the indicated direction before hissing lowly, his fur bristling. "Aww shit." Turning back to Peter, he shook his head rapidly. "That? I don't care how exotic your tastes are, humie, that is someone you want no part of."
"First of all, I don't care what you've heard about me and that Aaskvarian, nothing happened. Second of all, bluebell over there seems to want a part of me. Or something. She's been staring at me since the minute we got here." Looking at his other dining companion, Peter noticed that Gamora actually seemed to be a paler shade of green than normal as she stared at the woman. "So seriously… who is she?"
After exchanging glances and several gestures with Rocket, Gamora sighed in resignation before answering. "Her name is Illyria. We have never crossed paths before, but she has built quite a reputation for herself over the decade that she has been incarcerated here. If the Nova Corps records are to be believed, she appeared in the middle of this cell block one day and then refused to leave. When interviewed, she claimed to be of your world and yet she does not register as a Terran on scanners. She has strength, speed, and reflexes far in excess of what one of your people should have, but does not eat, drink, or sleep the way that Terrans should. With the exception of killing one man to claim his cell for herself, she only does violence when attacked by other prisoners… at which point she responds with breathtaking levels of brutality. None who have challenged her have survived to tell the tale."
Peter looked up at the woman in question as Gamora spoke, meeting that creepy blue gaze head on. If Illyria cared about being caught by him, she certainly didn't show it, continuing to sit there staring at him intently. Finally, his eyes began to burn and he blinked, looking away and returning his attention to Gamora. "So in other words, she's your blue sister from an Earth mother? Strong, fast, brutal, high body count?"
"I have a sister who is blue, Quill, and she is nothing like Illyria."
Snorting, Rocket shoveled some of the food that Peter was still afraid to touch into his muzzle and swallowed before pointing his spoon at Gamora. "Between you and me? If I had to pick one of them to be related to, I'd choose Illyria over Nebula any day. Strange lady who kills people for attacking her beats out a genocidal psychopath, at least in my book." Another name Peter didn't recognize… but since he hadn't known who Gamora was until Rocket had explained things to him last night, nor had he known who Illyria was despite her supposed reputation? It didn't really surprise him that 'Nebula' didn't ring a bell. "Anyways, we ain't here to talk about our families or Quill's love life. You wanted to talk about breaking out, which happens to be my specialty. And if we're gonna get outta here, we gonna need to get into that watch tower. And to do that, I'm gonna need a few things. The guards wear security bands to control their ins and outs. I need one."
As difficult as trying to score one of those security bands sounded - what with them being implanted in the guards' arms as best Peter could tell - it was his experience that people tended to go from simplest to hardest when listing things they needed acquired. Building up drama and all that. If the band was the first thing on the list? He didn't even want to know what else might be on it. But before he could volunteer to acquire it, Gamora beat him to the punch. "Leave it to me."
Before Peter could argue, Rocket was already moving on, nodding his head in the direction of an inmate who was shuffling past. "That dude there. I need his prosthetic leg."
Sneering, Rocket shot a glance back over his shoulder at the man in question. "Yeah. God knows I don't need the rest of him. Look at him. He's useless."
Wow. That was pretty ableist of the little bastard. Considering Rocket hadn't been to the Kyln before either, there was a good chance that he knew the man about as well as Peter did. Which was to say, not at all. For all they knew, he was an amazing hacker, or a sharpshooter who'd gone off the rails after being honorably discharged from the military because of his injury. But since Rocket was had the escape plan that they were hoping to execute… "All right."
"And finally, on the wall over there is a black panel. Blinky yellow light. You see it?" Peter looked to his right, spotting the panel in question and nodding. Rocket spooned a few more helpings of his lunch into his muzzle before laying the news on them. "There's a quarnex battery behind it. Purplish box. Green wires. To get into that watch tower, I definitely need it."
Even the seemingly unflappable - at least by all things not named Illyria - Gamora gave a start at that. "How are we supposed to do that?"
Rocket just shrugged and continued eating. "Well, supposedly, these bald bodies find you attractive, so maybe you could work out some sort of trade."
"You must be joking."
"No, I really heard they find you attractive."
Barely managing to stifle a laugh at the affronted look on Gamora's face, Peter did his best to force the conversation back on track. "Look. It's twenty feet up in the air and it's in the middle of the most heavily guarded part of the prison. It's impossible to get up there without being seen."
Looking up from his food, Rocket shot a glare at Peter before turning it on Gamora and then looking back at Peter. "I got one plan, and that plan requires that frickin' quarnex battery, so figure it out!" Peter raised his hands in surrender, and Rocket eyed him for a moment longer before sighing and shaking his head. "Can I get back to it? Thanks. Now, this is important. Once the battery is removed, everything is gonna slam into emergency mode. Once we have it, we gotta move quickly, so you definitely need to get that last." Before the raccoon could say another word, there was a dull whine and the room around them was plunged into darkness for a few seconds. Then it became a bit brighter as red lights began to flash, accompanied by the sounds of the prison's alarm system. Looking over, Peter found Groot holding the quarnex battery, grinning widely as he held it out in their direction. "…or we could just get it first and improvise."
"I'll get the armband."
"Leg." Hopping up, Peter raced across the common area toward where he'd seen the man with the fake leg headed, doing his best to ignore the words blaring from the watchtower's speakers. Turning a corner, he skidded to a stop as he came face-to-face with the blue-haired woman. Who - now that he could get a better look at her - was actually a brunette with blue streaks in her hair rather than a woman with entirely blue hair. And she was kinda cute, for a murderous not-actually-human being. Wait. Focus. "Listen, I don't know what you want from me, but-"
The woman tilted her head to one side, studying him for several seconds, before nodding. "This place is even more foreign to me than the world I awoke to. I had no desire to be here, and yet no desire to be anywhere else that the Nova Corps offered to send me. But you are of my shell's kind. You could serve as my guide. I will accompany you when you leave this place and resume your adventures among the stars."
Confusing, creepy, and definitely bordering on stalkerish if she was demanding that she be allowed to follow him around the galaxy. On the other hand, she seemed willing to help him and - if Gamora was to be believed - was possibly the most dangerous person in the Kyln right now. Peter could work with that. "…right. It's like this."