I don't even want to think about how many times I've gone to see this movie right now (more than my bank account could reasonably afford is my best guess). Not as good as the first but damn if it didn't hit me right in the character development feels. Got a couple of one shot ideas in the works, but this is something I churned out instead of working on my KHR fics, to help me deal with the fate of the loyal Ravagers and the poor lone survivor that is Kraglin.
With Yondu given a proper send off, it didn't take long for Kraglin to remember the loyal men the mutineers had cast out the airlock the day before, and even less time to convince Quill and the others to turn around and attempt to find their location.
It took nearly 3 days to find all the bodies, dependent on the Quadrants travel log and Rocket's analysis on how far the bodies could travel given the length of time and speed of average movement, but they finally had the engine prepped and bodies prepared to give Yondu's faithful a Ravager send-off. There would be no other ships this time, since none of the bodies were former captains, but they'd rigged the systems to flare the colours in a proper farewell motif.
For Quill, it was a bitter moment to prepare the bodies. Some of the men he didn't know, but Tullk and Bargan had been on the ship when he'd been abducted, and Oblo and Gismik both recruited during his time. It wasn't the first time he'd had to say farewell to someone he'd tentatively called friend amongst the Ravagers before, but never so many at the same funeral.
And certainly not because of a mutiny caused by their Captain's reluctance to hurt Quill himself.
Unlike Yondu, none of the others really knew the Ravagers, and so left Kraglin and Peter to it. Rocket had helped to start with, before retreating into the ship to prep the flares, and the two Ravagers were left in peace, sending the bodies in one after another, before heading to the window to watch the colours burst over the ashes. With each body, Kraglin would slam his fist against the flames on his coat, a ceremonial farewell to his brothers.
Peter didn't. For all that he'd been raised one, none of the men would have expected or wanted Peter to salute them in Ravager fashion – he wasn't a Ravager, not in a way that counted anymore.
Finally, when the last flare diminished in the night sky, Peter dragged himself from the window and activated his comms.
"Okay Rocket, set a course for Berhert" he ordered. "We've given the guys the best send-off we can."
In the distance, he hears something crash to the ground, and Rocket mutters something derogatory before answering.
"Dammit Quill, I only got the two hands. I'm already stuck fixing up this side project of yours. Get to the flight desk yourself!"
Quill rolls his eyes.
"Seriously? The one time I actually want you to fly and you're busy?"
"Oh, go jump off a- Groot! No!"
Something else crashes in the distance, and Quill winces, cutting the connection.
"You're heading back to Berhert?"
Peter glances back to see Kraglin frowning at him.
"Well yeah. The Milano's not gonna repair herself" he replies. "Rocket might need to butcher a bit of the Quadrant, but I promise she'll still be space worthy when we part ways."
"Part ways?" Kraglin repeats. "Do you not remember the part where I called you Captain, Quill?"
Peter shrugged, slightly embarrassed. "I know you did, but…c'mon Kraglin, you don't want to stick around me. This ship, that arrow…they belong to a Ravager, and I haven't been one of them for a long time. It belongs to you, just like the Milano belongs to me."
"Your ship was in pieces last time I saw it Pete" Kraglin reminds him. "Exactly how are you going to get it space ready again with no supplies?"
"Hey, you don't know how resourceful Rocket can get" Quill tells him. "Seriously, the guy's Magyver with a tail. I once saw him take down a Doogerant Bull with a gun he made from a piece of pipe, duct tape, a speakerphone and a bottle of rotgut."
Kraglin's eyebrows raise, suitably impressed.
"Okay, the rat's a genius" he agrees. "But I bet he can't fit ten gallons of fuel in a five-gallon tank."
Peter frowns in confusion, and Kraglin sighs, looking at him in frustration.
"Pete, the Milano is an M-class ship" Kraglin warns. "It's designed for three people, max. I don't know how you've managed to keep your team from killing each other so far, but now you've got the bug girl to take care of, not to mention what'll happen when the twig grows up. There's no way you can all fit on that ship comfortable."
Peter frowns at the Ravager. Technically, the man isn't wrong – growing up amongst the crimson clan's men had made him very comfortable and tactile when it came to his crewmen and cramped space…while most of the Guardians were most decidedly not. Nobody but Quill likes the idea of sharing sleeping space and there's been more than one fight over bed space on the Milano, especially considering Rocket leaves inventions all over a bunk and Drax likes to eat in bed. The hoops they jump through just to give Gamora some privacy are borderline ridiculous. He doesn't even want to discuss the hassle of the bathroom schedule – he swears Rocket lets the drains clog on purpose and Groot has NO concept that water on a spaceship is not infinite...
"You need to upgrade to something with more space" Kraglin continues, bringing him back to the conversation. "The Quadrant would suit your needs proper."
"Ravager code says the ship falls to the next senior officer should the Captain fall" Quill replies. "That's you. I aint taking away what's yours."
Kraglin just shrugs. "Depends on your point of view" he argues. "Technically the ship didn't belong to Yondu after the mutiny, and we both know if he were here, the Captain would give it to you."
The last sentence is filled with bitterness, and Quill winces. Yondu had been a pretty lousy father figure, but the last few days have seen him looking back on his days with the Ravagers with fresh eyes. All the times Yondu let him get away with things that other Ravagers would have gotten arrows through the heads for. Teaching him to shoot rather than shoving him on another Ravager as punishment detail, giving him a personal ship to customise when the other men had to share 'Ravager ships.' Letting him keep his Walkman and helping him keep it functioning. A lot of it he'd always put down to his age, but now…
Yondu hadn't treated him like a son, but he hadn't treated him like a Ravager either. As such Quill ended up being this strange half and half, lacking the loyalty of Kraglin and Yondu's faithful that such freedoms should have required, and obtaining an independent streak that saw him leaving the Ravagers for longer and longer spans of time. Such actions would have gotten the other men shot unless they brought back regular tithes or a promise to create a separate clan that would ally with the crimsons, but Yondu let him go.
The Centurian had probably seen his double cross coming for years. Known his boy longed to be more than another faceless Ravager minion, unable or unwilling to beat it out of him. Dreaded it since it meant he'd have to drag Peter back and do something to save face in front of his men. Banked on Peter being able to talk his way out of it, and relying on his reputation when the shit finally hit the fan.
If it hadn't been for Nebula and Kraglin choosing that moment to speak up, it probably would have worked too.
With all that in mind…yeah, Yondu would have beaten him up and threatened him five ways to Sunday…but he'd have given him the ship. Three days ago he would have said otherwise, but…no, Kraglin's not wrong.
The former first mate can see him realising it too, and gives a sad smile.
"I've made my peace with it" he promises. "Never much wanted to be a Captain – too much of a follower."
Kraglin's smile fades, and Peter mentally curses at the look of loss that briefly passes the man's face.
"We can contact the other Ravager factions" Quill offers. "I'm sure Stakar would-"
"I can't be a Ravager anymore Peter" Kraglin interrupts, his whole body flinching at the words. "I caused a mutiny, stood by while my friends were killed. I helped Yondu take those other kids…even if they took me, it won't be home anymore. The Captain died protecting you, so I want to take up that mantle. This ship needs a permanent crewman, and I can do that. Saves one of you lot getting left behind each time."
He looks away.
"Course, you don't want me here, tell me to go and I'll jump off at the next space port. Sure I'll find somewhere to go."
Peter looks at the tense frame, the refusal to look into his eyes, and the fear all but emanating from one of the toughest men he knew, and understood.
He finally sees what Kraglin is saying. The man has been a Ravager even longer than Quill has, part of the crew from when he was abducted. For the last twenty years he's lived among a crowd of rowdy lawless men and watched the back of the man he called Captain. Been the man Yondu trusted more than anyone. And unlike Quill, it was a life he chose willingly, happily. Would have died for his Captain or his friends, prepared to burn under the colours should that day come.
Yet with one mistimed protest, he'd shattered his happy corner of the universe. His friends are dead, Yondu gone, sacrificed to save the one person he valued over every other member of his crew, and his home burnt down in flames. All that's left is an arrow, a ship that's far too large and too full of memories for one man, and his pride.
'Tell me to go' is the only way Kraglin knows how to say, 'please don't leave me alone.'
In the end, Quill just smiles, and claps the man on the back.
"We're still picking up the Milano, but I guess Rocket would probably appreciate being able to work on it in a proper dock. Sure you can handle us?"
Kraglin blinks in shock, before a smirk overtakes his face.
"Please Captain, you weren't the only one all but raised by Ravagers. There aint a creature on board that I can't handle.
"Oh, you say that now, but trust me, I've gone for quality crazy rather than quantity. In a week, you'll be glad to be stuck shipside if just to get away from us loonies on jobs. Basic rules of survival – Don't peek on Gamora, don't touch Rocket or his stuff, remember that Drax takes everything literally, and, considering what happened last time to had to help raise a kid, don't threaten to eat Groot or we'll all send you out the airlock."
"No problem Cap" Kraglin promises. "Not enough meat on him anyway. You want me to prepare for Berhert?"
Quill rolls his eyes, and starts heading for the flight deck.
"Might as well. Though I guarantee we'll get up there only to find Rocket's pre-programmed the whole thing to head off the second we set foot on the bridge because he's a jackass like that."
He smiles when he hears Kraglin choke back the chuckle.
"Yeah. Woulda fit right in with the Ravagers that one. The Captain liked him, and can't say I'm surprised. Saw too much of himself in the rat."
And Quill's right. The second he reaches the pilot chair; the damn ship goes flying through the first jump point. From the way Kraglin's promising to cook rodent stew for dinner, he'd thought Peter was kidding at how petty their gunner and co-pilot could be.
He'll learn. Especially when he finds the new prototype fin Rocket's been working on whenever he has the spare time on his bunk tonight.
Despite his stomach churning, Peter smiles. This isn't part of Yondu's legacy he ever planned to take on. Peter's never wanted to be a Captain, and certainly not to a Ravager who's clinging to scraps of a former life, but he'll be damned if he lets Kraglin down.
Yondu raised him better than that.