Thank you everyone who read and reviewed the last chapter :) Just as a little FYI for those of you who are interested in the fantasy genre, I've recently published my novel, Dragon Guardian: Fire, and it is available for purchase on Amazon as well as on Kindle. So if you or anyone you know enjoys a good sword & sorcery adventure, be sure to check it out! :D
Disclaimer:I don't own any of the cannon characters pertaining to BMFM...unfortunately. The character of Cassidy was created by my friend, Lenadexil. All other OCs belong to me :)
"Will I lose my dignity?
Will someone care?
Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?"
-'Will I' from Rent
"When can we go home?" Anya asked Throttle as she sat on a stool at one of the lab stations while Emily checked her eyes and vitals.
"Eyes are completely back to normal," Emily said while stepping back.
"Why are you all looking at me like that?" Anya asked. "And by the way, can anyone tell me why I woke up in a glass box here in the lab?"
"You don't remember anything?" Charley asked cautiously.
"Remember what?" Anya asked before looking to Throttle. "Baby, what's going on?"
All heads turned to the doorway to see Stoker approaching.
"Our fellow Martians are more understanding of Anya's behavior since they know what kind of twisted bastard Karbunkle is, but the humans on the base? They want Anya's blood."
"What?" Anya jumped to her feet. "Why? What'd I do?" she asked with wide eyes as she looked back and forth between her friends.
Stoker blinked and tilted his head to the side a little as he regarded Anya. "What's that last thing you remember?"
"Leaving your office this afternoon after you denied my request to return to active duty," Anya replied. "What?" she asked upon watching Stoker exchange glances with the others.
Stoker slowly breathed a heavy sigh. "Anya, that was three days ago.
Anya took a shaky step back. "That can't be right," she whispered. "My blackouts never last that long."
"This one did," Stoker replied. "And you went completely amok. You killed two people and landed twenty more in the infirmary."
Anya's knees buckled, and she would have fallen if Throttle had not caught her and helped her back onto the stool upon which she had previously been sitting. Her eyes were wide as she stared at Stoker. "I...I killed someone?" she asked in a frightened whisper. "Two someones?"
"It wasn't you, Anya," Throttle soothed while smoothing his wife's hair. "It wasn't the real you. It's all because of what Karbunkle did to you...which is a lot."
"How do you know what he did to me?" Anya asked in a whisper as her eyes became fixed on the floor. "I don't even know what he did..."
"We conducted tests while you were unconscious and compared all your scans," Sydney answered. "The simple answer is that Karbunkle completely changed your genetic makeup."
Jax nodded and took a step forward. "You're like a human-cat hybrid," she explained. "Your skeleton has been altered so it's more like a cat, you've got fangs-"
"I do not have fangs," Anya protested before wincing. "Ow...I just bit my tongue..." Her voice drifted off when her tongue brushed against her canines and found them to be much longer. "God almighty...I've got fangs." she paused in clenching her hands into fists when she saw her nails lengthen. "Shit...!" she whispered.
Throttle wrapped an arm around Anya's shoulders. "It's going to be okay," he murmured softly.
"Easy for you to say. You're not the one who's been turned into a freak," Anya snapped before sniffling and leaning into Throttle for some measure of comfort and support.
"We'll figure this out, Annie-girl," Throttle murmured while wrapping his other arm around Anya.
"What's there to figure out?" Anya asked morosely. "I'm a ticking time-bomb. I have no idea what set me off, which means that I have no way of keeping it from happening again."
"But Throttle brought you back," Rimfire said with a hopeful smile. "That must mean there's a chance to help you."
Anya blinked and turned her gaze to the younger Martian. "Brought me back?" She returned her gaze to her husband. "Throttle, what's he talking about?"
"When you were fighting the cat," Throttle explained.
Anya stared at Throttle silently for a few moments. "You mean..." She blinked. "Wait a second...are you tellin' me that was real? It wasn't some nightmare? That was really you in my head?"
"It was really me," Throttle answered with a nod. "And believe me when I say that it wasn't easy to find you, angel. Whatever thrall you were under...it had the real you buried so deep inside your own head." He sighed softly. "Until you finally took control and stopped letting it run its rampage."
"Is that what that giant cat was?" Anya asked softly after several moments of silence.
"I think so," Throttle answered softly with a small nod.
"What is this giant cat you two are talking about?" Stoker asked.
Throttle looked to his mentor. "When I went and found Anya so I could bring her back, she was fighting this giant monster of a cat."
"It had me pinned…" Anya said softly as she stared blankly off into the distance. "It was going to rip my throat out..."
Charley softly cleared her throat. "At the risk of sounding crazy, it sounds to me like you…the real you was fighting the feral, killer version of you on a subconscious level."
"Yeah…and a fat load of good it did," Anya replied. "I blacked out for three days and went completely amok." She pulled away from Throttle and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Yes, but you won," Throttle soothed. "You beat it."
"For now," Anya said softly. "And only because you were there to help me."
Throttle shook his head and gently turned Anya's body on the stool so she was facing him. "No, that's where you're wrong," he said while placing his hands upon his wife's shoulders and giving them a squeeze. "You beat that thing because you're strong. You don't believe me? You were fighting that giant cat for three days. A lesser person would've succumbed and let that beast takeover completely right from the start. But not you…not you, my warrior-woman. You were too strong to let it take you completely."
"That still doesn't change what I did," Anya whispered. "I killed two of our own and landed twenty more in the infirmary. I'm a monster."
"You are not a monster," Throttle said firmly.
Stoker softly cleared his throat at last after having simply listening to the exchange. "If I may…it could've been a lot worse. You only killed two of our own…you could've just as easily have killed the other twenty, but you didn't." He slowly let out a breath. "Now, I believe there is merit to what Throttle said. I believe that on some subconscious level you knew what was happening…what you were being forced to do, and you made yourself go to the surface so no more innocent blood would be spilled."
Modo nodded and took a step forward. "You went after Plutarkians once you were on the surface. You left Martians and humans alone, and you went after the ones responsible for what happened to you."
"See?" Throttle asked while tucking a strand of hair behind his wife's ear. "You're not a monster, Anya, and I swear we will fix this. We will find a way to make you like you once were."
"I already know how to fix this," Anya said simply while pulling away from Throttle and standing so she could close the distance between Stoker and herself. "Take me away," she said while holding her wrists out. "Exile me to the surface."
"No!" was the unanimous cry of protest from the others as Stoker simply stared at Anya bemusedly.
"Anya, no," Throttle said emphatically as he strode to Anya's side and firmly gripped her arm. "I'm not letting you do this."
"Throttle, there's no other choice," Anya said evenly as a lone tear rolled down her cheek. "Throttle…I don't know what set me off three days ago, or any other time before that when I had my other blackouts. I don't know what will set me off again." She wiped away a second tear that fell. "It's not safe to keep me around."
"You don't know that," Throttle said as he turned Anya so she was facing him fully.
"Yeah, Anya," Vinnie said from beside Charley. "You don't know that."
"Don't I?" Anya asked simply.
"You beat your darker side before," Modo added.
Anya sighed softly and hung her head a little. "Because Throttle was there to pull me out. What happens next time when he's not? What if he's on duty on the surface when another blackout happens and my darker self takes control? Throttle can't be with me every second of every day like some nursemaid. At least on the surface, if I lose control again then I channel my violent tendencies into something productive like killing Plutarkians."
"Alright, then I'm coming with you," Throttle said simply.
"No you're not," Anya said with a shake of her head.
"Yes, I am," Throttle said firmly while tightening his grip upon Anya's arms just a little. "You're my wife, Anya. Wherever you go, I go."
Anya set her jaw and narrowed her eyes just a bit while squaring her shoulders. "Fine…then I want a divorce."
"You can't have one," Throttle said simply. "My people don't believe in divorce."
"Well mine do!" Anya snapped while freeing herself from her husband's grasp.
Not about to let Anya go so easily, Throttle grabbed a hold of her wrists. "Tough shit," he growled. "You're stuck with me."
"Throttle, you stupid, stubborn…" Anya freed her hands before throwing them up in frustration and snarling as she turned on her heel, took a step and then turned to face her husband again. "Can't you see that I'm trying to protect you?" A tear rolled down her cheek, and her entire body trembled. "Throttle…if anything were to happen to you because of…if I were to hurt you in any way…" She covered her face with her hands as she sobbed and all but melted into her husband when he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "I'd never forgive myself."
Throttle cradled Anya against him and buried his face in her hair for several moments as he simply held her tightly—as though afraid that she would suddenly run from him. "You wouldn't hurt me," he murmured after a few moments. "You want to know how I know that? It's because I was in that cage with you for three days, and you never once tried to hurt me even though you had plenty of opportunities. On some level, you knew who I was…what I am to you."
Anya raised her gaze to her husbands. "What if that doesn't always hold true?" she asked in a whisper. "What if the next time my darker self rears its ugly head…what if next time I'm not able to fight it? What if it takes over completely…and I no longer recognize you?" She slid her hands up and lovingly cupped Throttle's face in her palms. "Please Throttle…please, you have to let me go."
Throttle gave a small shake of his head. "Never," he murmured while lovingly kissing away his wife's tears. "Never." He captured Anya's lips in a long, tender kiss.
Stoker cleared his throat. "Not to interrupt this tender moment, but we need to think of something."
"Well, whatever it is, we're doing it together," Charley said.
Regaining control of herself, Anya sighed once the kiss ended and turned her gaze towards Stoker. "You said it yourself...the humans are out for blood. You can't protect me, Stoker. I won't put you in that position. Send me to the surface...and make a public display out of it."
Stoker sighed and put his hands on his hips. "Anya..."
"Hear me out," Anya said while holding up a hand. "It'll put me in a position to take out Plutarkians vigilante-style while getting me out of your hair so you don't have a massive revolt on your hands. It'll kill two birds with one stone."
"I'm going with you," Throttle said firmly. "And I don't want to hear another word about it." He smoothed Anya's hair. "Besides...you'll have a better chance of surviving with someone watching your back."
"There has to be some other way," Rimfire protested.
"There isn't," Anya said softly. "Not until Sydney comes up with some permanent fix."
"Or until you learn how to control your darker self and use it to your advantage," Jax ventured.
"If such a thing is possible...the surface would be as good a place as any to work on it," Charley mused.
"I don't like it," Modo growled while crossing his arms over his chest. "The two of you on the surface without any backup...I don't like it."
"It's not up to you to like it, Modo," Anya said softly while stepping out of Throttle's embrace so she could slip a hand into his. "Besides...we'll be each other's backup."
"Stoker, you can't let this happen," Sydney entreated as she approached her husband. "Anya had no control over what she did. She can't be punished for that."
Stoker sighed heavily and hung his head before straightening. "Anya's right...there is no other way. I have been trying to explain the situation for the past three days...that's three days of trying to appeal to the sympathies of all who live on this base. The Martians are willing to look the other way, but the humans are not. To them Anya is a threat that must be dealt with...and as much as I hate it, I have to deal with her in order to keep a riot from breaking out."
"Well you can't just send them out there without anything," Emily protested.
"I won't be," Stoker assured. "They'll have their bikes, blasters, communicators, and enough water and rations to last them the next few days until Modo, Vinnie and Rimfire can come up with a system of getting supplies to them." He fixed his gaze upon Anya and Throttle. "If the two of you find yourself up against the ropes, you contact me on my private channel, and I will get word to Vinnie and Modo to go help you. Do you understand me? The two of you might be up there by yourselves, but you're not alone."
Anya gave Stoker a small nod as a single tear rolled down her cheek. "Thank you," she murmured with a small smile.
Stoker closed the distance between the pair and himself before resting a hand upon Anya's shoulder. "You're one of us, Anya. We take care of our own." He looked to Rimfire. "Go make sure their bikes are ready and loaded with what they'll need, and then stash them outside the garage so Throttle and Anya will have access to them once they've been booted out...and whatever you do, do not breathe a word of our plan to anyone outside this room."
Rimfire nodded. "Understood, Coach."
...Infirmary; two hours later...
Pluto looked down the length of the infirmary to the door where he could hear a commotion taking place and he furrowed his brow in confusion. Upon seeing Cassidy approaching to check in on him, he softly cleared his throat. "What's going on out there, blue eyes?" he asked.
Cassidy smiled shyly as she checked Pluto's IV. "Stoker is exiling two people to the surface," she answered. "Everything looks good here. Now, the doctor said he wanted your catheter taken out today, so...do I have your permission to work 'down there' or would you rather I got one of the male nurses to do it?"
Pluto's smile was easy. "Knock yourself out, blue eyes. I'm not shy. Please excuse my language, but it's gonna be really nice to not pee in a bag," he said with a soft chuckle.
This was not the first catheter Cassidy had ever removed from a patient, or the first time a male patient had flirted with her while she did it. But there was something about Pluto's relaxed demeanor and smile that caused the softest of blushes to color her cheeks as a soft giggle escaped her. "Yeah, well...not peeing into a bag means you'll have to actually get up and go to the bathroom. While it's necessary to get you up and moving to keep your muscles from atrophying, I'm not going to lie to you...it's going to be painful. Getting up and moving, I mean."
Cassidy lifted the sheet and could not stop her eyes from widening. Even flaccid, Pluto was impressive. Were all Martians endowed like this? Then there was the fact that Pluto's member looked exactly like a human's…nothing remotely alien about it. Cassidy had not been expecting that. She softly cleared her throat to snap herself out of her reverie when she realized she was staring.
While he could not help but grin just a bit at the fact that the lovely nurse had been staring, Pluto nevertheless cleared his own throat and sought to put Cassidy more at ease by changing the subject. "So...who's getting the boot?"
"You're going to feel a slight pinch," Cassidy warned as she carefully removed the catheter. "Throttle and Anya Thorneboy."
"What?" Pluto sat bolt upright and immediately regretted it-wincing and groaning in pain as he pressed a hand to his bandaged middle.
Cassidy's eyes widened, and for a moment her fear did not matter. "Please, don't move like that. You could tear your stitches," she reprimanded while gently easing Pluto back down onto the bed. The Martian's fur was soft, and Cassidy was pleasantly surprised when the feel of it did not make her think of that night at summer camp. "Wait a minute…isn't Anya the one who landed you and a lot of other people in here the other day?" she asked while drawing her hands away.
"Yes, but you don't understand…" Pluto protested through his grimace of discomfort as his wound burned and throbbed.
"I understand that she's dangerous," Cassidy answered simply. "One woman doing all that damage on her own? It's better that she's not around, if you ask me."
Pluto opened his eyes and looked Cassidy squarely in the eye. "No, Cassidy…you don't understand. She shouldn't be punished for what she did. It wasn't her fault."
Cassidy raised an eyebrow. "Do you two have some kind of abusive relationship going on somewhere on the side?"
Pluto sighed. "You don't understand. Anya was taken prisoner by the Plutarkians, and while she was in their custody she was experimented upon by Karbunkle.
"Who's Karbunkle?" Cassidy asked.
"Sadistic psychopath? Raging sociopath? Self-proclaimed genius and mad scientist? Take your pick," Pluto answered with a growl. "To my people, he's the worst possible monster you could ever imagine. He would experiment on prisoners just to hear their screams…to see how much his victims could take before their bodies finally gave up and died. He didn't care if they were male, female…or even children." He clenched a hand into a fist. "I lost my little brother to that son of a bitch." His body quaked with rage. "When I found him after…his body was so mutilated that I could only identify him by the birthmark he had on the inside of his ear."
Cassidy's eyes were wide, and in that moment, she did not see a giant mouse but a man in pain. "Oh, Pluto…I'm so sorry," she murmured while sitting on the edge of the bed.
"When I think of what my brother went through…the pain…the fear…" Pluto bit his bottom lip and closed his eyes. "And to experience all of that alone…"
Cassidy gently took one of Pluto's large hands in both her smaller ones and gave it a small squeeze. "I'm sorry, Pluto…" she murmured softly. "That must've been truly awful for you."
"It was," Pluto answered softly. "I promised our mother that I would look after him…and I failed. I failed them both." Clearing his throat, he gradually regained his composure. "Anya might not look the worse for wear…but trust me, Karbunkle seriously fucked with her." His mind flashed to the day of his attack—how vicious and animalistic Anya had been. "And now she's being punished for something she had no control over."
Cassidy smiled softly. "I'm amazed that you're able to show such mercy in light of your current situation. Not many humans I know would be…" Realizing that she was still holding Pluto's hand, she slowly let go of it.
"That's the difference between humans and Martians," Pluto said with a sigh. "My people have experienced Karbunkle's evil in one way or another…your people haven't." His eyes were gentle now as they looked to Cassidy. "I really hope that you never experience that twisted kind of evil." He looked again to the door as the commotion grew in volume before finally fading as the crowd moved away from the door. "This is wrong…" he said with a shake of his head. "Even when he's not here, that sick bastard makes people suffer."
Cassidy offered Pluto a small smile. "Don't worry…he'll get what's coming to him."
Pluto gave the smallest of snorts while giving Cassidy a soft smirk. "I'm not going to hold my breath, blue eyes…but it's a nice thing to fantasize about."
"You sure about this?" Anya asked as she and Throttle carefully picked their way to where Rimfire had stashed Lady and Valkyrie. "It's me the humans rallied against…not you. You can still turn around and go back. It's not too late for you."
Though Throttle did not stop walking, his hand nevertheless found Anya's and he squeezed it gently after intertwining their fingers. "There's nowhere else I'd rather be than by your side, Annie-angel." He raised his wife's hand to his mouth and brushed a kiss to her knuckles. "So long as we're together, it doesn't matter to me where we are."
Finding their bikes hidden behind a pile of rubble, Anya drew to a halt so she could slide her arms around Throttle's neck and kiss him fervently while pressing her body against his. "I'm the luckiest woman in the galaxy," she whispered against her husband's lips. "I'm the luckiest woman in the galaxy because I have you."
Throttle wrapped his arms and tail tightly around Anya and held her close before claiming her soft lips in another kiss. "You will always have me," he murmured emphatically. "I'll be with you until the very end." He kissed Anya's forehead before slowly drawing away and helping his wife onto her bike. "Now come on," he said while mounting Lady and putting on his helmet. "Let's go find some shelter." He revved Lady to life.
Anya put on her helmet and then revved Valkyrie to life. "Lead the way, Throttle my husband. I'll follow you to the ends of the earth."