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Second and last part of the catch-up posts for this story.

Title: Let Slip the Dogs of War
Summary: War wasn't telling the whole truth about what happened to the Deadpool of his universe.
Characters/Pairing: Cable/Deadpool, guest staring the New Avengers
Chapter: 3-5 / 8
Word Count: 4880
Rating: R
Warnings: Not explicit, but contains references to torture, non-con and assorted other Evil Overlord AU-related staples. Also: Contains Deadpool.
Previous Parts: Part 1, Part 2



III.

They made camp in a half-ruined building in the city outside. There were plenty to choose from.

It might have been for the best that he'd had no warning they were going to find Deadpool alive, Cable reflected. There was nothing he could have done to prepare himself that would have helped. Confronting as it was to be faced with the reality of exactly what kind of monster you had it in you to become should all your worst impulses ever be brought to the fore – to see so much destruction wrecked against the world with the aid of your own hand – even that paled against such bleak evidence of all that malice turned against a close friend; that had a personal touch that went right to the bone.

It took ten minutes of babbling (inane even by his usual standards) for Wade's hands and feet to regenerate completely, but barely were his toenails done before he was off, frolicking – there was no other word for it – over the rubble piles like a drunken acrobat, celebrating his new freedom at the top of his lungs, until the others yelled at him to shut up before he attracted them attention of a kind they couldn't afford. It would have been a touching sight if not for the ever-present reminder of just exactly what he'd been through to inspire so much joy at simple freedom, or at whose hands. Cable had done his best to keep his distance through the regeneration process; he didn't like to think what kind of associations the sight of his face might trigger for Deadpool – especially after being injured so badly. Wade showed no outward signs of trauma, but that didn't mean there weren't any buried deeper down.

What could you say to someone who'd spent so long imprisoned and tortured by a man who shared your face? Futile as it was to assume responsibility for the actions of his alternate self, Apocalypse's influence could only excuse so much.

Almost as bad had been finding confirmation that the Façade Virus incident had taken placed in this world – and it was hard to imagine that the same genetic transfer could have happened any other way. It was a discovery that put a date on War's fall from grace that was almost too recent for comfort. Perhaps no more than a few months had passed since this timeline diverged from their own, and yet so much damage had been done.

It probably was fortunate he'd been too surprised for the full implications of what they'd found in War's prison to strike him right away. Anything he'd prepared to say could only have been woefully insufficient.

“So since when are you an Avenger, anyway?”

Cable startled out of his thoughts to find Wade crouched on a rock beside him. But for the way his hands and feet poked awkwardly from holes in his costume, he looked as relaxed and comfortable as Cable had ever seen him.

“Aren't you on at least two different X-teams already, depending what title's running this month?” Wade went on. “And running like two countries at once? I thought Wolverine had exclusive dibbs on that power.”

“I'm not an Avenger officially,” Cable explained. “Circumstances have simply pushed us together over the last few months.”

“So what brings you all to Apoco-land? 'Sides saving my ass, of course, which was totally awesome of you and all, but if you came all the way out here to recruit another mutant-messiah-type to help you keep up with all that work then hooboy did you guys pick the wrong one.”

“It's a bit more complicated than that,” said Cable, with nothing but honesty.

“I got nowhere to be, do you?” said Deadpool, settling himself cross-legged on his rock. “Exposit me a tale, storyteller-Nate!”

Cable glanced at where Captain America and Tony Stark had been deep in debate, the latter's helmet removed.

“You may as well bring him up to speed,” said Stark, with only a slight trace of the exasperation all the Avengers experienced whenever they were unavoidably reminded of Wade's existence. “We can quiz him for whatever intel he can give us about War when you're done.”

Cable nodded and turned back to where Wade was watching him expectantly. “Two days ago,” he began, “the Providence of our world was hit by a devastating act of sabotage. To keep the technical details to a minimum, a crucial component in the power converter for my teleport matrix was damaged beyond repair. The system is running on backup power for now, but once that runs out, the unit will become useless. The technology to repair it simply doesn't exist in our time.”

“So you came to steal a new one from Evil-You!” Wade guessed. “But isn't that, like, against the Prime Directive or something?”

“It wasn't a decision we took lightly,” Cable assured him, and even that came close to being a criminal oversimplification of the full argument it had taken to convince the Avengers to agree to this. “Forge had this reality... bookmarked, so to speak, from a previous misadventure. If our mission required us to deprive an alternate world of an irreplaceable piece of technology, we felt it would only be excusable if we could be sure to do that world a favour in the process.”

“I still say I could have reverse-engineered something that would have done the job,” said Stark.

“Time we don't have, Stark,” Cable replied. It was an old argument.

“So is this before or after you all lay the epic smackdown on whoever sprung the leak in the bottom of Providence?” asked Wade. “'Cause that had to be one of the big names, right? Like Doctor Doom or...”

“The US government,” said Cable dryly.

“Not that we'll ever be able to prove it,” said Cap, without any more enthusiasm.

“Whoa, way to go Nate!” Wade crowed. “I mean, they always hated your guts for being so totally un-American with that big hippie island paradise you run, but you must've really pissed in their Cheerios this time.”

“In a manner of speaking,” said Cable. “What you need to understand for context is that six months ago, the US government passed a law requiring all metahumans to register themselves or be hunted down as felons.”

“Ah, the good ol' U.S. of A: truth, justice and anything that panders to the voters-slash-comic-buying-fanbase. I love a good crossover event, don't you?”

Cable had to squash down an uncomfortable impulse to tell Deadpool that he'd certainly been loving it at the time. Explaining anything to Wade always became a constant battle against getting sidetracked.

“As you could imagine,” he went on instead, “I was among a large majority of the superhero population who opposed the act – a majority that only increased as the overwhelming corruption behind how the act was being enforced became apparent.” Cable very carefully did not glance over his shoulder, but you could practically hear Tony Stark's jaw clenching.

“Did the temperature in here just drop about fifteen degrees?” asked Spider-Man.

“It's amazing how much less traumatic it sounds in summary,” commented Stark.

“Wow,” said Wade. “You guys have all the fun.”

“Oh yeah, good times,” said Spider-Man. “My favourite bit was when two of the politicians who drafted the act turned out to be Skrulls. What about you guys?”

“How 'bout the part where they still wouldn't overturn it after that went down?” said Luke Cage.

“This isn't the time to bring up the full debate again,” said Cap sternly.

“A long story,” Cable repeated, rubbing his head. “But for my part, when it became clear there was little hope the matter would be resolved quickly – and that the government wasn't going to stop hunting down unregistered heroes while the debate dragged on – I had Providence offer asylum to any American metahuman who preferred not to register. A number have been using my Bodyslide technology to keep up their crime-fighting work in public view without getting caught – and with considerably more effectiveness than most of the government sponsored teams, given the amount of red tape they're fostered with nowadays. Not least since it became apparent that the authorities had been instructing them to prioritise capturing unregistered metahumans over apprehending real criminals. The act has been losing support fast since that became public knowledge, but it isn't going down without a fight.

“In other words, the ability of unregistered superheros to teleport in and out of the country at will has become a lynchpin in our bargaining position. If we can't get the teleportation matrix running again soon, and the US learns the sabotage was successful, then even at best they'll have the ammunition to justify extending the debate yet again.”

No-one had wanted to think too hard about the worst case scenario.

“So basically,” said Wade, “you could've said you guys 'ported in to lay the smackdown on Evil-Alternate-Cable to piss off the government, right? I played a video game like that once, but I got kinda fed up around when I had to go down the cave to collect a billion bottle caps from flying frog monsters to trade in with the ugly dwarf who had the key to the tower to save the princess from the...”

“You get the idea,” Cable cut in quickly.

“But this does still all come back to the bit with you guys handing War his armour-plated-butt on a decorative platter, right? Because I am down with that like you do not even know.”

“That is the plan, yes. To be honest,” Cable admitted, “after all these months of arguing with politicians, we were all about ready to jump at the chance of doing anything resembling a little old-fashioned superheroing.” The other Avengers all took on faintly sheepish looks that did nothing to subtract credibility from that notion.

“Great, sign me up! What do I do to help?”

“You can tell us everything you know about War,” said Captain America.

“Starting with anything with tactical significance,” Cable added quickly.

“Aww, are you sure? You're going to miss some awesome goss from when the paparazzi caught him sneaking into the X-Mansion to make Emma Frost an 'offer she couldn't refuse' –”

Tactical significance please, Wade."

“Spoilsport.”



IV.

The sight of the ruined city was really starting to get to Peter. There were just enough recognisable parts left for it to be no good trying to pretend it was anywhere other than New York – a city he'd spent the best (and plenty of the worst) years of his life working overtime to keep intact. One measly universe away from home and all of that was for nothing. Even the rats and the tabloid reporters must have abandoned this place by now.

According to Cable, there was an evil version of him out there somewhere. Out of a group of four evil horse(less)men with cool names like 'War' and 'Death', he would be the one to draw 'Pestilence' – but at least he wasn't the loser stuck with 'Famine'. Unlike Cable though, Peter would have been perfectly happy to get this job over with without having to meet his evil counterpart. Great Power might come with Great Responsibility, but Avengers' membership came with the welcome luxury of leaving the big decisions to other people once in a while.

That was probably for the best, because a team with Cap and Tony and Cable was a team which already had about three times more leadership than was healthy. Sometimes up to four times more when Luke Cage got into it.

Why had this sounded like such a good idea? Had they really thought they'd just stop by, get a little real Avenging done as a change from all that politics, and be back in time for dinner? People could be committed for less than that.

Something twinged at Peter's spider-sense, making him jump in a seriously undignified manner, but it turned out just to be Deadpool come to get some fresh air or whatever.

“Oh, it's you,” said Peter. “They done grilling you in there?”

“Told me to go play while they talked grown-up stuff,” shrugged Deadpool, rolling a shoulder with the exaggerated enthusiasm of someone who wouldn't be taking basic mobility for granted for a while. “Hey Spidey, race you across the city! Last one to the other side has to picture Famine naked for ten minutes.”

“Yeah sure,” said Peter, “or how 'bout we do something that won't advertise where we are to everyone this side of the Atlantic?”

“Hey, I don't get out much lately, why waste the good weather?” said Deadpool, sprawling happily down backwards on the ground, arms and legs spread. “I mean, look at that view! Clear skies, fresh air, neo-Egyptian pillars on every street corner and all the rubble you can eat!”

“You can almost smell the asbestos,” Peter grumbled, though he had to admit that after being chained up in a cave for god knows how long, he'd probably be ready to welcome a sight like this too. “Has it changed a lot since last time you were outside?”

“Nah,” said Deadpool. “It's only been a couple of weeks, the Fab Four keep their city-renovation schedule way tighter than that.”

“Wait, two weeks?” Peter blurted, almost laughing. “That's all? We were thinking you'd been down there for, oh, months or something!” It shouldn't have been funny. Even an hour chained up like that with no idea when (or if) you'd get out would be a miserable experience (unless you were, well, into that sort of thing, which was one of those mental places Peter was going to avoid going at all costs). Two weeks would be levels of suck that even Peter's life only descended to on rare occasions, but the dungeon had looked like it'd been there pretty much forever.

“Don't ask me, I can't tell what day it is down there,” Deadpool grumbled. “Two weeks is just mostly how long I figure it was since he let me out last.”

“He let you out? That's awfully... nice for an evil overlord.”

Deadpool shrugged. “It beat spending another night in the cave, but it's not like he took me anywhere nice. Apocalypse had just set him up on a murdering spree down in some resistance camp they dug up and he didn't have a date.”

It was so not a good sign when a mere statement set off Peter's spider-sense. “He took you out to kill people? Okay, that pretty much cancels the 'nice' part.”

“Reprogramming me into an insane killing machine is all part of his evil plan to... turn me evil, or whatever,” Deadpool explained, waving a hand around in a dismissive sort of way. “It's this whole 'BWAHAHAHAHA WE ARE NOT SO DIFFERENT YOU SHALL BOW TO MY POWER' sorta thing for him. The keeping me locked up part is just until I crack. Now and then he takes me out to see if it's worked yet. He offered me the chance to stay out of the cave permanently if I did my best Conan impression with enough of those Resistance bozos.”

Peter had to bite down on a couple of scathing remarks about the distance between Deadpool and evil even on a good day – they were only remotely funny even when they weren't right. “You're not telling me you actually...”

“Hey, don't you go all moral on me. He was going to kill them anyway!”

“You think that makes it okay?

“Do I look like a guy who turns to the 'ethical dilemmas' page in the Saturday morning puzzles? You try being locked down in a cave with only me for company for a few months and see how you like it.”

“But he still locked you up again afterwards.” Peter was clinging to this detail with all the web he was worth.

“Yeah, I dunno.” Deadpool sounded honestly confused. “Maybe I didn't look enthusiastic enough for him? Or I didn't make the high scores for dramatic disembowelling and eyeball-popping. Or maybe he was worried I was going to beat his high scores. Bastard never said, just locked me back up and told me he expected me to do a better job next time.”

Peter made an attempt at feeling reassured. It didn't work. Shit, what was he supposed to do with this? It wasn't exactly news that Deadpool would kill if the price was high enough, and he had been locked up... but if he'd been going along with War's instructions to the point of helping hunt people down that couldn’t be a good sign. Or was this just standard Deadpool-crazy? How were you even supposed to tell the difference without a degree in abnormal psychology, and maybe a PhD or two to go with it?

So much for this being less complicated than home-world politics. It was quite a relief to get interrupted by the other Avengers before the conversation could go any further into TMI territory.

“Deadpool?” The voice was Tony's, Luke standing behind him. That meant Cap and Cable had been left alone inside, probably either locked in the staring match to end all staring matches or arguing obscure points of philosophy. They really knew how to make a guy glad he'd generally left 'great responsibility' defined at well below federal level or international level.

“Speaking.” Wade craned his head backwards in an uncomfortable looking way, the sole obvious benefit being to allow him to see who was behind him without technically getting up.

“We need you back inside. You too, Peter – we're ready to start talking tactical options.”

“We still going with the virus-thingy?” Peter asked, getting up and dusting himself off.

Tony nodded. “From what Deadpool's told us,” this was delivered with only the barest hint of sarcasm, “it's still our best option.”

“Virus-thingy?” said Wade. “You're going to fight Evil-Nate with techno-herpes?”

“...I'll let Nathan explain,” said Tony, turning quickly back the other way. Whether this was to avoid Deadpool or hurry back before Cap and Cable demolished the place was pretty much a moot point.



V.

“Actually,” explained Cable, “it's a modified strain of the Façade Virus.”

Most of the interior wall area of the building was now all wound over with a mess of wiring, which had emerged butterfly-style from Tony Stark's briefcase. Connected at points were the various components of a camouflage and alarm system – makeshift work, but functional. The Avengers, mostly seated on the more comfortable pieces of available debris, listened with a kind of trainwreck fascination to the spectacle of Cable trying to get the plan through Deadpool's skull.

Deadpool scratched his head. “The one that gave everyone really bad sunburn and turned us into goo? I thought you destroyed it.”

“Deactivated, not destroyed,” Cable clarified. “This particular strain is based on the one the One World Church used to block my telekinesis.”

“Oh, now that's devious. You kept it all this time?”

“I had a suspicion it would come in useful someday,” said Cable, looking more than a little smug. “So I kept a vial, hidden in a hollowed-out book entitled 'Economics of the Textile Industry of the 16th and 17th Centuries'. I was relatively confident no-one I didn't want getting their hands on it would look there.”

Deadpool made a face like a monkey trying to comprehend advanced mathematics. “Someone probably asked this question before I got to class this morning, but why go to all this germ warfare hoo-hah when you could just waste him the old fashioned way? Evil-Nate's still getting his solo career off the ground, while we've got Good-Nate and the Nate-ettes.”

There was a brief pause as everyone in the room tried to parse Advanced Deadpool into English.

“Okay, okay, Good-Nate and the Avengers, you don't all have to glare at me at once.”

“The difference,” said Cable, catching up first, “is that he is in possession of all his telekinetic and telepathic abilities at the height of their power. I'm... not. Anymore. Even my technological replacements won't work here – too far from home.”

Deadpool drooped a little. “Well that sucks. So, we give Bad-Nate a case of the melting-STD, the playing field see-saws back the other way, Cable and the Avengers (and I would so buy that record, by the way) go straight to the top of the charts. That about the size of it?”

“Apart from a couple of minor complications,” Tony Stark put in, with only mild sarcasm.

“Oh good, for a second there I was worried you guys were trying to sell me the idea this was going to be easy.”

“The issue,” added Cap, “is how we get the virus to War without him knowing.”

“What, no flash photography? Did I miss the signs?”

“The light-based vector for delivering the virus was meant to be one of our options,” explained Cable, ruefully. “Unfortunately, the one carrying the device we needed to deliver it that way was Spider-Woman. Providence doesn't have the power to spare to send her or it to join us.”

“Oh, buuurn.”

“That leaves us with the option of transmitting the virus by direct means, and in that form it takes longer to spread through the body. That's a problem, because we've confirmed that War has been exposed to it before. There's a real possibility he'll be able to use his telekinesis to block its effects before the virus has a chance to block his telekinesis.”

“So after you guys already spent an hour testing my knowledge of War's favourite bands and boxers vs. briefs preferences, now my million dollar bonus question is how do we get our Trojan under his firewall without him knowing? Ooh, that's a good one. Am I out of lifelines?”

“We're open to anything you can suggest,” said Cable.

Wade appeared to think for a moment.

“Seriously, was I on the right track calling it an STD? 'Cause if so, I've got an idea.”

At least three palms in the room connected sharply with their owners' foreheads.

“Wilson,” said Stark, through gritted teeth, “even if we could find someone willing to volunteer for something as ridiculous as what you seem to be suggesting –”

“Whaaaat, Tony Stark dancing around talking 'bout the birds and the bees? I never!

“ – and even if there was any plausibility to the idea that War would fall for such a ruse – ”

“Even megalomanic mutants got urges just like the rest of us.”

“ – even if that was possible,” Tony continued, with the strained patience that bespoke just how barely he could believe he was arguing this seriously, “then I remind you that War is telepathic, and would read the plan right out of the mind of whoever we sent!”

“BZZZZZT, wrong! The million dollar bonus round goes to me, 'cause lucky for us, I'm telepath-proof!”

There was a short, awkward silence.

You?” said Tony.

“Who else? No offence, Mr-three-times-voted-most-eligible-superhero, but you're just not his type.”

“And you are?” barked Luke Cage, taking a crucial minute too long to catch up.

Deadpool explained.

The awkward silence returned.

“Whaaaat, you guys didn't know?” said Deadpool, just a little insulted. “Is it because I wasn't wearing my Princess Leia Slave Bikini on when you guys came in? Because I offered to wear one – I seriously did – but he wouldn't let me. Why did you think he was keeping me down there, the scintillating conversation?”

“I don't know about the rest of us, but I was trying really hard not to think about it,” said Spider-Man, voice hitting an octave higher than usual.

“Oh sure, just contribute to the culture of silence surrounding victims of unrelenting kinky sex at the hands of bondage-obsessed over-villains, why don't you?” Deadpool grumbled. “Hope you realise people like you are exactly why survivors have such a tough time coming forward. 'Cept around here, where it's because everyone's dead, but out in all those other universes...”

Wade,” said Cable, voice slightly hoarse. “You can't think this is going to work.”

“What's not to work? I sneak in, pretend I'm trying to kill him – which is going to be really convincing because of how I'm going to be seriously trying (and if it works, great! We can all go home early!) – he catches me in the act, shows me what a baaaaaad boy I've been, leave him to simmer for a couple of hours then you lot run in and clean up.”

“You realise,” said Cable, “that even if you do this, he'll have access to your healing factor. That's the same thing I used to defeat the Façade Virus last time.”

“It's not going to make me melt this time, right? So he'll be minus his mind-whammies, minus use of all his arms and legs, and plus a skin condition from a sci-fi B-movie, whereas I'll be good, dependable ol' Deadpool, taking ass and kicking names!

“And if he chains you down before the virus takes effect, what then?”

“We aren't seriously considering this?” asked Captain America in disbelief.

“Well, Cap,” said Deadpool, “last I checked, the bonus question wasn't multiple choice. What was Plan B? Anyone?”

The loudest answer was Luke Cage swearing quietly to himself. A lot.

“I can't believe I'm this close to encouraging this,” said Tony Stark, “but the theory of what he's suggesting is uncomfortably sound. I had Maya do a full analysis on a sample of the Façade Virus before we left – check for any uncomfortable surprises it might have in store for us. The trade-off this strain gives us for the longer incubation time is that when the symptoms do hit, they'll hit hard and fast. He should be near-paralysed within minutes. It's also,” he added, with even more reluctance, “highly sexually transmissible.”

“See?” said Wade. “The rest of you aren't going to argue with science, are you?”

“When we asked for suggestions,” said Cable, rubbing his forehead, “we were hoping for something more along the lines of slipping it into his food.”

Tough,” snapped Wade. “Y'see, Nate, I don't get to see a lot of his eating habits. Couldn't even tell you where the back door to his massive Gothic doom castle is. Pretty much all I got to bring to the party is where he likes oiling up his T.O.-joystick – and boxers or briefs, c'mon, didn't you guys even wonder about that one? I took six months of being his chew-toy, give or take, so what's another day? And between you and me, if I get to turn this on him so his fucked up ideas about consent get to be part of what takes him down, the beauty of it all is gonna be just about worth it. Still waiting for Option B, guys.”

“There has to be a better way,” said Cap desperately.

Wade spread his hands. “You could still charge him head first like the protein-powered hunks of manhood you all are. I'm not the one who's gonna have to mop up the mess when he's done with you. If I head for the hills now I might even get whole days before he catches me again.”

Cable looked him right in the eye, almost pleading. “You know none of us would ask this something like this of you.”

“I know, Nate. Damn, I know you're getting your second-hand-guilt on over me offering to go play prison bitch to Evil-You. But I'm volunteering, and so help me, you guys had better make it worth my while – if he chains me up before he keels over, I am going to be counting down the minutes until you all come busting through the windows. Counting the seconds.”

The staring match finally ended when Cable looked down.

“Trust me,” he uttered, “We'll be ready.”

Deadpool looked around the room.

“How's that Plan B coming along? Is it gonna involve cutting my favourite limbs off again? There's always the off-chance the title'll get the chop before we have to do anything if we drag it out another issue. Or who knows? The writer could die. How's eternal limbo sounding as Plan B? Coz even I'm not flexible enough to keep shimmying under that bar forever.”

Answers remained unforthcoming.



Part 6

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
storm_dragoness
Sep. 23rd, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Plan B is a lie, Wade. *Is shot*

This is a great excuse to re-read the whole thing. Still looking forward to the next part of this little piece of awesome. :D
rallamajoop
Sep. 24th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
...like the cake? I may be missing a reference. >.>

On which subject, sorry for making you wait so long for me to get up to the actual new material. ^^; At least I'm finally caught up, and have the next few chapters sent to my beta-reader.
storm_dragoness
Sep. 27th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
Yes, just like the cake. :3

Don't worry I don't mind waiting. x3
apocalipstick1
Sep. 23rd, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
I can't even tell you how eagerly I am looking forward to the rest of this....
rallamajoop
Sep. 24th, 2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear it. ^_^ Hopefully I won't have to keep you waiting too long.
kelseyg
Sep. 25th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
I've already commented. But I'm commenting again to say I still love this! *thumbs up*
rallamajoop
Sep. 25th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
And I thank you for taking the time to do so! =D Srsly, feedback is what keeps me going. *g*
zclover
Jul. 5th, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
“How's that Plan B coming along? Is it gonna involve cutting my favourite limbs off again? There's always the off-chance the title'll get the chop before we have to do anything if we drag it out another issue. Or who knows? The writer could die. How's eternal limbo sounding as Plan B? Coz even I'm not flexible enough to keep shimmying under that bar forever.”
YES.
your Wade is SO in character you should be writing the comics
(and if that's part of my evil plan to make Cable/Deadpool canon, so what?!)
amazing fic, btw!
rallamajoop
Jul. 5th, 2011 06:23 am (UTC)
your Wade is SO in character you should be writing the comics

Ahaha, I can only dream. Honestly, coming up with appropriate Wade-isms is a constant struggle for me, so I do love hearing people liked the results, thanks! =D
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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