Decision

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Decision

Post by Asenath on Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:51 am

Title: Decision
Author: Asenath
Fandom: BLoSC
Character(s) / Pairing(s): Warp Darkmatter, etc.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count:
Warning(s): None yet...
Disclaimer: Disney/Pixar
Summary: After the space mummy incident, Warp has changed. He thinks differently about a lot of things, and he's considering returning to the old life-though he knows it won't be easy, and nothing will ever be the same. He has no idea just what kind of job awaits him back at Star Command.

A Warp fanfic. My first fanfic, so constructive criticism is welcome! I'll upload it chapter by chapter. None of the original italics were preserved when I uploaded this here; so please bear with me. If you want to read it with italics, please check it out on FF.net: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8227699/1/Decision

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5


Last edited by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Chapter 1

Post by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:22 am

Warp sighed deeply as the sound of the engines of his ship lulled him to sleep. He was tired; it had been a long day.
As he drifted into the dark recesses of his neverland, he wondered for the millionth time, Why?

Why indeed? Why was he working for the most evil person in the galaxy? The thrill of his often-dangerous missions had long worn off, and he no longer got any satisfaction from beating the good guys. What made him keep at it?
I've never before had a job I didn't like. I wonder why I used to like this one; why I've stayed here so long. Maybe it's because of the pay.
Warp had always had something of a problem with greed; laziness also tended to overtake him if he wasn't careful. If he was doing something he liked, like fighting, he wasn't lazy at all. However, when it came to things like the office work he had had to do sometimes at Star Command... he just didn't care enough to do a good job.
He pushed the autopilot button as he fell asleep.

Half an hour later, he awoke with a start, a sweat breaking out on his face and arms.
He began breathing heavily, deeply, trying to wipe the memory of the dream from his mind.
She was standing in front of him, her face questioning, streaked with tears.
"Warp, why? You could have stayed with Star Command and rescued my family! Or you could have just left us alone. Why? Why?"
Darkmatter's memory was all too good when it came to her. She was beautiful indeed; probably still was. So sweet, innocent, everything he used to be and now was not. They had grown up together, and when he had turned twenty and she nineteen, he had asked her for a date to a fancy restaurant he knew about.
Those clear memories of the days, those beautiful days when he hadn't had anything to hide were almost too much for the hardened warrior.
They had never even gotten to kiss; she believed that one's first kiss should be saved for the day of her marriage.
Warp had once believed that, too, but he had kissed many girls since then.
His blue hands tightened on the ship's throttle.
Where have my morals; my values gone? They used to be there,even if I was something of a rogue.
Warp's train of thought changed abruptly as he sped by a certain planet he remembered too well.
I wonder if she's married. Probably. She was far too pretty, too perfect for her to stay unmarried this long.
A crazy thought crossed his mind, and he gave a short, bitter laugh that came out more like the sickening yelp of a kicked dog.
In your dreams, Warp. There's absolutely no chance she would stay unattached, waiting for a handsome jerk like yourself.
He pulled on the joystick of the ship, turning it a fraction, enough to send him into a circle around the planet he had just passed. He had to have time to think.
Think about what, dummy? Mull over your unhappy past, think about your oh-so-pitiful future? You've got a moon of your own and a vacation asteroid to boot. If you keep up the 'good' work, you won't have to give any of it up. You won't have to give up your huge salary, all your comforts, your fancy spaceship, your luxury, your liberty. One silly girl shouldn't stand in the way of your life.
And one silly girl was making him waste valuable fusion crystals circling around and around her home planet.
He grunted in disgust, but couldn't bring himself to pull the purple ship out of orbit.
I have to know if she's OK. I'll just drop down next to the civil office, right here, and ask if she's alive. Maybe I'll ask if she's married, give her a call if she's not...

Maybe you'll also ask if you want to get arrested, Warp. You've got a pretty thick skull there! You're a wanted criminal.

Gritting his teeth against the conflicting thoughts, he pushed the autopilot button once again and went back to the tail of his ship to enter the launch tube. Once in space, Warp headed down into the atmosphere of Nurengea. As he approached the surface, he realized how stupid his endeavor was.
You can't find one blue-skinned, black-haired girl in a city of a thousand blue-skinned, black-haired girls. It makes it especially hard to find said needle in a haystack when you don't even know where she works, or, for that matter, if she works.
It's especially difficult when you're in prison, and if Warp ended up on the surface, that's where he would be.
He turned around, heading back out of the atmosphere. Whatever made him think she would still like him?

As he pulled his ship out of Nurengea's orbit to head back to Planet Z, a depressed, yet resigned look came over his face. He would never even see her again.
Then a new thought came to him-he could go back to Star Command, make himself worth something, then go back to Nurengea a changed man, and ask for her hand.
He hit his head on the dashboard. All this because of a dream?
You need to go back, Warp. You know it. Dream or no dream, you have an obligation to her, to Star Command, to the galaxy. You need to change your life for the better.
A rare look came across Darkmatter's face. Most who had seen him would not believe it if they saw it.
Warp turned his ship toward Star Command, a boyishly joyous grin spreading on his face.


Last edited by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:25 am; edited 1 time in total

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Chapter 2

Post by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:23 am

The space station where Warp had spent so many years was coming closer and closer to him. For a moment, Warp broke out in a cold sweat, his hands clinging tightly to the throttle and joystick, his heart pounding wildly. He felt trapped, as if he was a tiny insect leaping into the giant web of a spider much bigger than himself.
He forced himself to relax, knowing he never would end up at Star Command if he kept this up.
Calm down, Warp. Everything's alright. You're doing the right thing, for once. Shouldn't that make you happy?
It did, but he was still terrified. He feared he would never leave PC-7 if he ever entered.
And isn't that exactly what you deserve?
He knew it was, but he still felt trapped.
As he prepared to dock, be greeted, or something else-to be quite honest, he didn't know how he had expected to actually get back to the station-he took another deep breath.
Sure enough, the lights in the top of the space station began glowing for a red alert.
Maybe I should tell them I come in peace. Of course they won't believe me, but it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
Several white-and-green ships shot out of their portals in the launch bay, and he could just envision Team Lightyear getting into their ship, readying themselves to battle Zurg's most powerful minion-once again.
I wonder if I'll get to keep my arm, he thought, glancing somewhat ruefully at the metal arm with its dual-function claw at the end. He would miss it, to be sure, but they probably would give him something less... dangerous, to replace it.
Yeah, they'll give you a nice new arm to escape with as soon as you get to PC-7.

Have you considered that Zurg will probably come to rescue you? You've made yourself quite valuable to him.
"I won't let him," muttered Warp, under his breath. He had to battle this out alone.
The Star Command ships rapidly surrounded Warp's red vessel. He wondered what he should do-he had never been taught how to surrender during his work on either side.
Still wondering if it was the right thing to do, he went to the tail of his ship to get into the launch tube, memorizing his surroundings, knowing he would probably never see them again.
I'll miss this ship, he thought, looking over the sophisticated controls in the cockpit, the tidy appearance of the relatively-small craft.
He launched off into space, then rapidly activated his jetpack and flew back to his ship, to stand on top of it.
I don't know what you do to indicate surrender when you don't have a white cloth, he mused. Maybe I can just use body language.
He held his arms out wide, bowing his head slightly.
One team evidently got the gist and left their ship, flying toward him in a capture formation. At first, he readied himself for defense, then reminded himself that rangers were no longer enemies to him.
As they approached, Warp cursed under his breath. Why did it have to be that arrogant creature? Rocket Crocket was awful when it came to his ego.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Warp, why exactly are you doing this, again?

Crocket and company were coming closer. Warp swore again, and he saw Crocket's face instinctively harden as he did so.
You know, you'll probably have to stop that at some point. Why not now?
"I come in peace."
"Good luck getting me to believe that, Darkmatter! You're under arrest!"
Warp knew Crocket probably didn't find it worthwhile to read off all the charges he was accused of; he knew them well himself. Had once been proud of them. Would he ever get out of PC-7? What would happen to his moon, his vacation asteroid?
"Come with me. There's no use in trying to get away." Warp could almost smell Rocket's self-confidence from here. He instinctively wrinkled his nose.
Two members of Crocket's team grabbed Warp's elbows. A team member that had evidently stayed in the ship maneuvered it right against Warp's ship, getting ready to haul it back to Star Command. One of the team that was holding his elbows put handcuffs on him. Warp didn't really see how that incapacitated his cybernetic arm, because the end was still free to grab with the claw attachment and shoot with the plasma blaster. Oh, well, the temptation would soon be gone with the arm.
"He's not resisting, team. There's something fishy about this. Watch him. I'll chew you out really good if you let him escape!"
The team members that were holding Warp's elbows jetted back to their ship, which was, by now, not far away.
"Check him for bombs. I don't want to lose this ship," ordered Crocket. Once they had gotten him into the ship, they peremptorily began doing so.
"Nothing, sir."
"I still feel like something's fishy."
Hmm, maybe it's time for a vacation, Crocket! Your ranger sense has gone bad... or is that powerful odor your ego?
Rocket's team wordlessly took him to the brig and locked him in the first cell to the right.
"I wonder what my cell at PC-7 will look like?" he remarked quietly in the silence after their footsteps receded.
It wasn't far to Star Command, and he knew when the ship docked in the landing bay. Rocket's team came, pushed a button to retract the bars in front of the door, and led him out of the ship.
Guess you never thought you'd see the inside of this place again, the blue man remarked to himself. Nothing much has changed.
Rocket's team took him out of the launch bay, into long corridors he barely remembered. The color scheme was a big change from what he was by now quite used to; mostly white with some green and purple here and there. At least that much was familiar; everything on Planet Z that wasn't red or yellow was purple.
They took him into a side corridor, lined with prison cells, and put him in one.
"Don't try anything," they told him, and left him alone again.
He wondered vaguely how long it would be before they got him out.
The thought only had enough time to flit across his mind before the communicator on his cybernetic arm beeped.
Zurg.
An image of the evil emperor's face flickered on screen.
"Darkmatter!"
How many times have you heard that? Boy, that's one thing I won't miss.
"Yes, Evil Emperor."
"Where are you?"
"Somewhere in the galaxy."
"Very descriptive. Now tell me where you are."
"What does it look like? he asked, turning around to to give Zurg a view of his surroundings.
"Prison? What are you doing in prison?"
"Paying my dues to society. Any more questions? 'Cause I'll be glad to answer them now. I'm afraid I probably won't be doing too much more talking to you."
"Are you defecting?"
"Yup, Evil Emperor. You don't need to worry about me for a while, though. What you've commissioned me to do in the past will keep me in PC-7 for a good long while."
"Oh, craters."
Warp, with difficulty, bent to turn off the communicator by pushing his face against it.
Who thought I'd ever be so undignified?
Well, now to wait.
What must have been only half an hour, but what seemed to Warp to be a hundred years, finally pulled by, and a squad of Rangers arrived at the door.
"Where am I going?" he asked.
"To the science bay. You can't be taken to Capital Planet with that arm-thing," said one of the rangers, a blonde woman with a ponytail.
"Ok." Warp knew it sounded weird, but he didn't know anything else to say. He looked down at his arm, trying to memorize it as he had memorized his ship.
They entered the huge science bay. The rangers took him to a group of LGMs.
"Please lie down over there," asked one of the LGMs, and Warp marveled at his politeness to even an enemy.
Warp lay down on the table.
"Please lay your arms flat by your sides."
He did so, and metal clamps to hold them to the table were immediately applied.
Another LGM approached.
"Is your arm detachable or semi-permanent?"
"It's never come loose on me before. Come to think of it, I really don't know."
The LGMs investigated the joint between his shoulder and the arm.
"It's semi-permanent," said one, then smiled politely at him.
One of them held out a mask. Warp must have looked apprehensive, because the LGM said, "Sleeping gas. We'll need to do an operation to remove the arm."
"Will I get a new one?"
"Probably."
He tried to relax as the mask was put over his nose and mouth, but he didn't have time before he drifted off.

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"It only loves me for the hate."-Eddie Brock, of the Symbiote
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Chapter 3

Post by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:54 am

The first thing Warp noticed was the bright overhead lights. He squinted and instinctively pulled his cybernetic arm over his face to shield his eyes. Where am I? Suddenly, his memories flooded back to him. He was in the science bay at Star Command.
Nothing came up to shield his face from the bright light, and he briefly looked down at his side. The arm was gone; he wore a simple cast on his shoulder.
An LGM walked over.
"Good morning, Warp. How are you feeling?"
"Weird."
"Weird is normal for this sort of thing."
"Do you know yet if I'll get another arm?"
"No. Commander Nebula would have to authorize it."
"Yeah, I guess so."
The LGM turned away and began rifling through some papers lying on a nearby table. Warp knew better than to ask him what he was doing, but he strongly suspected those papers had something to do with him.
"When do I go to PC-7?"
"You were planning on this?"
"Yeah. Changed my mind about a lot of things."
"I don't know when you'll go to prison. Probably after your trial."

Warp spent the rest of the day watching the LGMs scurry about in the bay from his vantage point in a hospital bed near the wall. He noticed that they weren't working on any of the inventions that he had heard they usually did; he also suspected that was because of him. They probably were taking into consideration that he might be a spy. Warp didn't blame them.
When the sun disappeared around the other side of Capital Planet, the LGMs stopped working and filed off through the tiny, low doors around the science bay to their rooms.
Warp couldn't sleep. It was dark enough, sure, but he had a lot to think about. In a simple matter of two days, he had left his old life completely. He had really nothing to remind him of the past now-even his suit was replaced by a prisoner's uniform. His cybernetic arm was gone and he had no idea where his ship was.
He briefly wondered if it had been a good choice, exchanging a busy, exciting life for years in a prison cell. But it was, and that was why he did it.
Warp didn't get a wink of sleep that night.

The next morning, the convict was still awake when a squad of rangers removed the metal clamps around his wrist and ankles and replaced them with electric shackles.
"Where are we going?"
Two of the rangers exchanged looks, as if asking each other if it was a good idea to tell him.
"To the briefing room. Commander Nebula wants to talk to you."
Another ranger added, "He told us to ask you if you're feeling good enough to walk, or if you'd rather go in your bed."
"I'll walk."
One ranger held his elbow while another awkwardly stood there, wondering what he should hold. Warp had only one elbow now.
"I won't run away."
None of the rangers looked like they trusted him, understandably.
"Ok, if you have to, you can hold onto my ear or nose or something."
The ranger looked embarrassed.
"Are we going, or not?"
The ranger holding his elbow marched on down the corridor, and the other rangers followed, surrounding their prisoner.
It wasn't a long walk to the briefing room.
"Hello, Warp."
The commander was older than Warp remembered, and he had a very tired, sad look on his face.
"Hello, Nebula."
"Please sit down."
Warp sat down in the only other chair in the room, and metal clamps immediately came up over his arm and the arm of the chair where his cybernetic arm would have been.
"You're in trouble, Warp."
"It's pretty obvious, isn't it?"
"Well, I wanted to talk to you about your future."
Good thing. I was wondering when I would get to know where I'll spend the rest of my life.
"You've done enough stuff to send you to prison for life."
"I know."
"Are you happy with what you've accomplished?"
"No." Warp hung his head.
"I'm sorry, Warp. Real, real sorry. But there's nothing I can do, at least not right now. Your trial is tomorrow. Oh, and the LGMs were asking if I'd authorize a new arm."
"It would be nice."
"I really don't know if I can trust you with one."
"Ok."
Nebula opened his communicator.
"You can come and get him."
The rangers took Warp away, and he was dropped back off in one of the prison cells, this time with a softer bed to accommodate for his recent surgery. He rubbed the cast with his hand, missing his claw dearly.
The rest of that day was nothing short of monotonous. Warp hated forced inactivity.
He couldn't sleep well that night, but at least he managed to get an hour or two. He made a mental note to find some way to tell time; it was going to drive him up the wall at PC-7 if he didn't find some way to count the hours.
Warp really couldn't tell if it was morning when he heard footsteps in the hall outside his cell. The bars retracted, he was handcuffed and shackled, and the rangers took him to ship number 20 and boarded. He was put in another cell, they launched, and he sat on the hard metal bench until they docked at Capital Planet.
When he left the landing bay, he was instantly blinded by the lights of hundreds of camera flashes. He instinctively lifted his phantom arm to his face, then remembered it wasn't there and lowered his shoulder.
Warp moved on, out of the crowded pavilion in front of the Galactic Alliance headquarters and into the spacious, artistic interior. It was a huge room, and senators from more planets than he could name sat at their desks inside.
Madame President was at the head of the room, but it wasn't her job to judge cases, so a judge stepped forward in her place as Warp entered the room.
"The defendant may stand there," he said, gesturing to a seat in front of and to the right of the podium. "Since there are many plaintiffs for this case, we will take the responsibility upon ourselves and Madame President will take the place of plaintiff."
The trial was long, and Warp cringed at every accusation that was piled on top of his head-he hadn't realized just how much he had done.
He left the headquarters with a sentence of life at PC-7.
Why did you do this? You are so, so stupid sometimes. Why? Can't you see how this won't help you get back to your beloved? You'll probably never see her anyway, and you'll spend the rest of your entire life in confinement. A cell, Warp. A cell where you'll never see the light of day.
Warp was led to the ship that would take him to PC-7. He was seated in the middle of the plane, just for safety's sake.
A metal clamp came up over his good arm, and likewise over his phantom arm on the other side. He felt trapped nevertheless; like a bird with its tail caught in a snare.
He heard the faint sound of the thrusters firing up, and they were off. Warp felt a strange emptiness inside, as if the fingers of his one arm had just barely grazed off the trophy he had been aiming for and now it was gone, never to return.
It took nearly half the day to get to PC-7, by which time Warp's restlessness had driven him to exercising his phantom arm; pretending it was real and whole and there.
Guardbots advanced down the center aisle, one grabbing his arm and the other loosely resting its hand on his shoulder, just in case he tried something.
A couple days ago, these wouldn't have been any obstacle at all, Warp.
Something he had no explanation for kept him from striking out at the guardbots as he had done numerous times before. His goal was gone; vanished like the mist in the wind. He didn't know what kept him from freeing himself.
The guardbots watched him carefully as he descended the ramp from the hatch in the side of the ship.
PC-7 sure is big, thought Warp as he stared at the huge interior of the landing bay. After the center had been almost destroyed by Torque and his duplicate henchmen, security had been tightened still more. Warp seriously doubted that Zurg would be able to get him out of here with anything short of a huge explosion. And he was not interested in losing his other arm.
He was led to his cell, a special one designed for the most dangerous criminals. It wasn't a typical prison cell, one of the kind they put greasy little weasels like Crumford in, with its ghost-proof, blast-proof walls and bars.
It looked fairly comfortable. There was a bed in the corner, a sink at the other side of the cell, and a simple blanket on the bed. That was it for the furnishings, but Warp admitted he could have done worse. It was staying here day in and day out, year in and year out, that scared him.
I wonder where they have exercise. I hope I get to see other people sometimes. Wonder if I can ask for visitors?
Determined to have his question answered, he called loudly, "Guard! Guard! Come here a minute!"
There was no answer for a moment, so he called again.
Warp, they're not here to wait on your every need, you know.
A guardbot arrived outside the bars on his cell a second later.
"Can I ask for visitors? Call people?"
The guardbot held out a datapad.

Visitors:
No visitors are allowed except on visitor days. Visiting hours are Monday 8-10 and every other Sunday 2-4. One visitor at a time.
Calls:
You may not make a call to anyone at any time. You may receive censored and screened calls from select persons.

"Thank you. What day is it today, anyway?" Warp couldn't believe he had lost track already, but it was true.
The guardbot pushed a button on the datapad and held it out.
Sunday.

"Thanks. That's all."
The guardbot changed something on the datapad and held it out for Warp to see again.
You have used up 1 of your 2 non-emergency guardbot attendances today.

The guardbot turned and headed back down the hall.
"Everything, everything regulated."
Warp sat down on the bed, feeling more depressed than he had in his life. Always before, there had been some new adventure to look forward to; some new event that he knew would take place soon and that he didn't want to miss for the world.
Now he was stuck in one room for the rest of his life.

Warp was so exhausted that he was able to sleep a few hours after the curtains shut on the bars of his cell door. He assumed that was the way prisoners told night from day here; curtains shut to curtains open.

He awoke next when the curtains opened. He called for a guardbot, not caring that he was using up the first of his attendances for the day.
"I want to request a visitor."
The guardbot gave him a datapad.
He rapidly typed in her name.
The guardbot turned away briefly to make the necessary call to PC-7 headquarters. It turned back to Warp and gave him the datapad again, to type in her phone number and password (to prevent people she didn't know from calling her). He hoped desperately that they were still the same.
The guardbot took the datapad and zoomed away. Warp held onto the bars, craning his neck to see where the bot went.
Fifteen minutes later, if Warp still had any perception of time, the bot returned.
Visitor has been notified.
Now to see if she would show up.
Warp found himself pacing back and forth in the narrow cell, wondering whatever he expected to say to her once she came. He should know not to hope that she still liked him; even that she still remembered him as he used to be, before he started working for Zurg.
What must have been an hour later, a guardbot escorted a woman up the aisle to Warp's cell. She wasn't skinny, but not overweight, and she had long black hair that fell easily around her shoulders. Her blue face looked sad, disturbed, and more than a little angry.
The guardbot left her at the barred door of Warp's cell. She softly cleared her throat, and the big, powerful-shouldered man sitting on the bed, facing away from the door, turned to see who was there.
He was at the door of the cell in a second. She gasped instinctively.
"What happened to your arm?"
"Doesn't everyone know?"
She was surprised at the sadness in his tone. Warp had never been one to regret his actions.
The blue-skinned woman had difficulty fishing up the anger she had kept so long against this man. Just the sight of him, and so sad, so broken, too, made her lose her pent-up fury. She made a weak attempt at an angry comment on his state.
"Look at your life, Warp. What have you done with it except for evil?"
Though she didn't know it, her comment hurt Warp deeply.
"I'm-I'm... sorry." The last word was barely a whisper.
"Me too, Warp." Laina's eyes filled with tears.
"It's too late now, though, isn't it? I'll never be able to fix things."
"Are you really sorry?"
"Yeah."
"I heard you told Zurg you didn't want to be rescued."
Of course. Stupid security cameras!
"You heard right. I was a blundering fool..." he stopped to stare blankly at nothing.
"You did the right thing, Warp. That's far from a fool."
Her words brought him some comfort, even though they wouldn't get him out of PC-7.
"I want to apologize, Laina. I know it won't do any good..."
"It's OK, Warp. I know you're sorry."
Laina readied herself to leave.
"Will you come to see me next week?" asked Warp.
"Uh, Warp, I really can't come down here every Monday. Fusion crystals are expensive, and my ship barely passed emissions last year."
"Oh."
He ventured to ask one more question. He knew he had to ask it, even if he had thought he knew the answer earlier. There was still some small hope...
"Laina, what about us?"
She closed her eyes, and a silent tear rolled down her cheek. She shook her head and bent to pick up her purse, her hair falling into her teary eyes.
"Laina, please."
"Warp, I can't see that happening, not with you here. I can't even afford to come here often... maybe once every few months."
He sobbed silently after the sound of her shoes clicking on the hard floor finally was gone.

Life at PC-7 soon settled into a regular pattern. The highlights of Warp's average day became mealtimes and exercise on a treadmill in his cell. He was allowed books from approved reading lists to keep his mind from turning to mush. Warp had read of times when people who were put in legal prisons went insane from boredom; he was very glad he had something to do.
Still, the long hours dragged on and on, and it wasn't long until he began to hunger for companionship. He hadn't talked to anyone but a guardbot for weeks, and they didn't even talk back.
Surely it's OK to ask for someone to visit me. The only person I can think of at the moment is Laina.
Laina informed him that she was unable to visit; her father was dying and she had to be there.
The Monday after that, she had a different work schedule.
The next Monday, she was at her father's funeral.
Both Sunday and Monday of the next week were busy too.
And so it went. When the crisis of Laina's father's death passed, she found other excuses not to come. Finally, he gave up and stopped asking.
One day, just another among countless others just like it, Warp raised his head to take a look at himself in the tiny mirror above the sink while he was brushing his teeth.
He'd been able to keep his haircut and beard looking nice, pretty much like they had before. His eyes had shadows under them, but the rest of his face looked good.
What was different about him?
It's your demeanor, Warp. You're humbler.
He looked away from the mirror and his self-reflection to see one bar slide back in the door and his food come through. Warp took the plate and ate the food from it. It was good food, but the same day in and day out quickly became tiring.
As soon as he finished the food, he called for a guardbot to activate the treadmill in his room. He now used one of his attendances for exercise, and saved the other just in case.
The treadmill only was on for hour-long periods at a time, and if you got tired of exercising before the time was up, you could stop when you wanted to.
Warp liked to run on it for the whole hour; he needed exercise or he became very restless. He had learned his weaknesses well in the past year.

Warp was halfway through his exercise when a guardbot came to his door, escorting an entirely unexpected visitor.

_________________
Sike! Made you look!
---------
"You pulled my tail, man!"-Kurt Wagner, X-Men: Evolution
"It only loves me for the hate."-Eddie Brock, of the Symbiote
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Asenath

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Chapter 4

Post by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:42 am

Commander Nebula!
Warp's dulled mind refused to comprehend it for a few seconds; someone had actually come to see him! He had to make the most of this visit; had to appreciate the conversation he was allowed.
"Hello, Warp."
"Hello, Commander!"
"How's it going?"
"As good as can be expected. There's no change in the routine, but other than that, I'm well taken care of."
"Good."
"Why did you come?"
"Well, there's something I want to discuss with you."
"What?"
"Well, I wanted to talk a little about my past, and a little about your future."
Here comes. The lecture about how wonderful you were in the past, then how desperate and sad my future is because of my choices in the past. Brilliant! So original.
Nebula must have seen Warp shut his mind, because he said, "Warp, I'm talking about an alternate future for you."
His ears perked, and he was listening again.
"Well, not many people know this, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to tell you because of your own past. I've gained a lot of trust in you during the past few months, you know. It would have been easy for you to tell Zurg to come rescue you in that cell, and you resisted. Since you've stayed here so long, I'm beginning to believe that you have changed."
Warp's fist clenched. Was Nebula offering him a chance to leave this place?
"When I was your age, I had done a lot of stuff too. And none of it was any good."
"You mean, you worked for somebody bad too?"
"I worked for Zurg, no less. That was before Shiv Katall became someone the innocent could trust."
"So Shiv Katall was real before you turned to the good side."
"I didn't turn to the good side-not in time, anyway. But my dad helped me put my life back together, and the Commander of Star Command at that time helped him. I hadn't done as many things as you have-so my sentence was a lot shorter. I did spend six years here, though. As soon as I left, I went to Star Command and began ranger training. I've been a ranger ever since."
"What about your leg? I thought you lost it while you still were Shiv Katall."
"I did. I lost it while I was actually working for Zurg, just like you lost your arm."
"But you have a peg leg now! Why don't I have an arm?"
"I didn't have one until I left PC-7. Don't you want to hear more about your future than a silly new limb?"
"Yeah. Just kinda hope a new arm's included in said future," he said, halfway under his breath.
"Well, do you want to go be Agent Z again, in a manner of speaking?"
"Agent Z!"
"I said, in a manner of speaking. You won't actually take on the identity of Agent Z-you'll get a different identity so you won't have as much of a chance of being discovered. Shiv Katall isn't working for us anymore, not since our cover's been blown. We need a new bounty hunter; a new soldier; a new plant in the dark side. You know all of Planet Z's weaknesses."
Warp instantly saw years of excitement and business; high-speed chases and the defeat of those he now considered his worst enemies.
Then he saw himself. The muscles in his one arm weren't all they once had been, and he wasn't sure he could learn to use a cybernetic arm again.
"I would love to, but I'm not anywhere near in shape."
"We'll retrain you, so you have the advantage of both Star Command and Planet Z training on your side."
He paused a moment.
"This will involve a lot of trust. Warp, I'm offering you a big chance, and if you run and become Agent Z, this will hurt a lot of us worse than it did when you switched sides the last time."
"I'm sorry about that."
"I'm going to depend on the fact that you are."
"When do I leave?"
"Tomorrow. Then you'll begin combat training, so you'll be good and ready by the time you leave Star Command. Do you think you need any help re-learning interaction with people?"
"No," he said. "Do I really sound that bad?"
"Nope, just asking. Well, see you tomorrow!"

Warp sat down on the bed, his future suddenly stretching out like a rich tapestry before him. He didn't care that he didn't have his moon, his asteroid, his wealth, his arm. He just cared that he was back in business, and doing something he knew he would love.

The next day, a squad of top-secret rangers was there as soon as the curtains over his door opened to give him his new suit and take him to Star Command.
One of the rangers, the same blonde woman he had seen a year before when he had first been captured, punched in the right combination for his cell in the number pad on the outside wall.
The bars in front of the cell door retracted, and Warp was at a loss what to do for a moment. Suddenly having the freedom to leave the cell-it was shocking to him. He couldn't imagine what he would do if he had actually stayed here six years like Commander Nebula.
"Hello, rangers!"
Two rangers exchanged looks, and the blonde woman predictably shackled his arm and feet. It was pretty obvious they didn't quite share the commander's confidence that he was really changed.
They led him to the plane, and he spent half a day in the brig on the way to Star Command. Warp really didn't care at this point; he was overjoyed just to see something different than the cell he woke up to every morning.
Warp spent most of the time on the way to Star Command dredging up memories of fighting and hacking techniques; of the technology of Planet Z, and the technology he'd probably be given at Star Command. He wondered what his new identity's suit would look like.
I'll have to have a new arm. It'd be pretty obvious who I was if I went to work for Zurg with a missing arm, or worse, an obviously cybernetic one. I'll probably end up with a bionic arm.
The little boy inside him said, Cool! Something different! I've never had a bionic arm before! but the grown-up inside said, No built-in weapons. You'll have to change your fighting style quite a bit, if you still even remember it.
He didn't have too much time left to mull over anything by the time he started thinking about his arm; they docked at Star Command and he left the ship, somewhere other than PC-7 for the first time in a year. It was astonishing, how good you could feel as a free man. He noticed that the launch bay was empty; probably Nebula had conveniently called a meeting so no one would see Warp.
The rangers trotted him down one hall, then down another and another. Warp finally saw his quarters; a big room right off the training bay. He had to say, it would be nice to be able to train whenever it wasn't the rangers' turn.
It's weird, being here and not being a ranger, thought Warp.
His train of thought changed abruptly when he saw the room he was to stay in.
Wow, cool! It's nice and roomy, and I have the freedom to move from training bay to room, to training bay pretty much whenever I want to.
The rangers let him take a look at the room, then they took him to the science bay.
"Why am I going here?"
"New arm. You'll need one for training."

The LGMs were busy as usual. Warp honestly wondered whatever kept them busy all the time.
"Hi, everybody!"
The little green men turned and gasped. "Waarp." said one.
"Does he need a new arm?" inquired another of the ranger that held his elbow.
"Yes. A realistic-looking bionic arm."
"No weapons, right?" asked the LGM.
"No. Just make it capable."
"We'll need a few hours to make it."
"Keep him in here until then. Nebula can't make the meeting last much longer, and we wouldn't have time to get Darkmatter to his room and back to the bay in time."
Warp spent the next few hours sitting in a chair near the edge of the bay, patiently waiting for his arm to be finished. It wasn't boring to watch the LGMs work; in fact, he found himself fascinated as he watched his new arm take shape. It was meant to look and feel exactly like his other arm, but inside it had elaborate, well-designed electronics and mechanics. He wondered if they were adding any surprise features; he hoped so.
It was late in the afternoon by the time the little green men finally gave a collective sigh of relief. The arm was finally complete.
"All right, Warp, please lie down on that table."
Hey, I remember this table! Everything's the same... except this time I'm getting an arm instead of losing one.
Warp peremptorily obeyed. An LGM fitted the mask into place over his face and the science bay faded into darkness.

When Warp awoke, there were only a few LGMs standing by his bedside.
"Where are all the rest?" he asked, shaking his head to wake up.
The LGMs replied, "Sleeping. How do you feel?"
Warp craned his head to the right. "I have an arm! Wow! It looks just like my other one!"
"Good. Do you feel like staying in bed, or would you like something to eat?"
Warp looked up through the glass ceiling of the science bay and realized that the sun had gone behind Capital Planet and was already on its way around the other side.
"Whoa. I must have slept for a long time."
"You did."
"Hey, how about that food?" he asked, rubbing the back of his neck with his new hand.
"Coming right up."
He ate the food hungrily, even though it couldn't be called by any other name than rations. Warp had learned not to be picky; one of the many useful traits he had gained while at PC-7.
When he was done eating, he felt rarin' to go. Modern implant/limb replacement techniques often enabled the patient to be up and running within minutes. Pain from surgery was a rare thing nowadays; it had gone out with sterilizing instruments in alcohol. Now they were sterilized by a blast from a special kind of ray.
"Can I go back to my room now?"
"I'll check with the commander."
The LGM went over to one of the computers by the wall and made a quick vidphone call to make sure all was clear.
"Everyone's home or sleeping right now, so you're safe. If you feel up to it, he says you can practice using your new arm in the training bay."
Sounds cool, he thought.
He was walked back to his room by a team of very sleepy, annoyed-looking rangers; the same ones that had brought him to Star Command.
He didn't feel like staying confined in his room, even if it was big; he wanted to go train. Pushing a button to open the hatch into the training bay, he stretched both his arms, rolling his shoulders back. He was out of shape, and anxious to see what his new arm could do.
There was no one in the bay when Warp strode into it. It felt very strange indeed, to be here again, and at the wrong time. The hatch abruptly closed behind him, and he heard the sounds of the training challenges gearing up for combat. Warp instinctively took a defensive stance, ready to take on whatever came at him.
A line of guardbots approached. Since in this case, he was supposed to defeat them, Warp lifted his weight onto one leg and swung the other around him in a wide semicircle, knocking the bots to the ground. Then he lifted his arm/plasma blaster to finish them off - wait, he had a bionic arm now. Weird how one's mind keeps old memories so fresh.
However, he did have a laser in the Star Command standard issue suit-given him until he could get a permanent suit. He expertly aimed and fired, vaporizing the guardbots.
Ah, being back on the job is like a breath of fresh, fresh air.
"Bring it on, 'bots," he muttered to himself as the next line approached. If defeating Star Command's fairly advanced standard robots was this easy, vaporizing Zurg's dumb-as-shovels (as he had once heard Mira had said) hornets would be, to put it literally, a 'blast'.
This line of bots held out their weapons as they approached, and Warp decided on the immediate-fire approach. He held out his arm, pressing firmly on the fire button. He hadn't realized how much he'd missed these arm lasers. His claw had been better, though.
I wonder what exactly my arm can do, he thought.
As he glanced at it briefly after blasting that row of robots, he noticed a tiny button on it. It wouldn't have been noticeable to most people, but Warp's eyes had been honed by necessity to notice every detail in his job as Agent Z. He pushed it, and his eyes suddenly went wide as he rocketed to the ceiling, carried by his new arm. Upon pushing the button again, he dropped once more.
Warp noticed there was a row of nicely-sized holes burnt right out of his suit. They followed his new bionic arm, from his wrist to his elbow.
"Cool. Now I have a backup jet pack." He laughed, a low, confident laugh.
He faced the next obstacle. This time it was the infamous bubbles rolling out of the chutes in the walls and nets dropping from the ceiling; good old trap avoidance training. He wasn't too used to this anymore after his year at PC-7, he realized as a net barely grazed his bionic arm and he scarcely managed to jump a bubble rolling his way in time.
Next it was time for the big robots. He could get these pretty easily; he took a weapon from his belt and fired a few times to take them out. Warp easily avoided the next barrage of bubbles; he was already off the floor and pretty much safe from them to start with.
He had just finished off one giant robot when he noticed a huge bubble coming his way. Another giga-robot fired at his jet pack, and he lost height rapidly. He suddenly panicked, his heart sinking. Would he lose his first battle back at Star Command? Then he remembered something. A smug smile coming over his face, he activated the propellers on his arm and quickly flew out of the way, aiming his laser at the bubble, which, in turn, reflected it against the rest of the robots and peremptorily blew them up.
Warp heard the sound of the technology switching to lower gear. Things had to be cleaned up in here before the rangers came in for training.

He took a long look back at the mess he had made in the training bay, a slow smile spreading over his face, before he closed the hatch to his room.

All right!
So, there are some important new developments in Warp's life; there are more coming, though *ahem*. I feel like I need to finish a suit design for his new bounty hunter identity, though, before I write about big epic adventures.
And I apologize if Warp seems OOC, or if my version of Nebula's background bothers you. I know the story hasn't involved many canon characters so far, but so far, it's also been mostly about Warp.
You know, this fanfiction thing really suits me.
Thanks for reading, and, as most writers do, I really do appreciate reviews!

_________________
Sike! Made you look!
---------
"You pulled my tail, man!"-Kurt Wagner, X-Men: Evolution
"It only loves me for the hate."-Eddie Brock, of the Symbiote
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Asenath

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Chapter 5

Post by Asenath on Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:43 am

Nebula sat at the big table in the empty briefing room and cleared his throat.
"Well, Warp, the LGMs came up with a suit design for you."
"Can I see it?"
"Yup. Here it is," he said, motioning to a box next to the wall. Warp walked over to it and pried the lid off with the tips of his fingers.
"Well well. Looks nice."
The suit was completely black, and obviously built for both combat and stealth. A row of lasers circled each forearm just below the elbow, and there were fusion-powered jets in the bottom of the boots. Several weapons, blasters and stunners of various kinds, were hooked on to a belt at the waist. There were long gloves to conceal each arm, and Warp immediately noticed that there were no holes for the jets of his new arm; he would have no way to use it to advantage once he had the suit.
Wonder what the LGMs had in mind when they designed this thing? Why shouldn't I use my arm?
There was a black helmet attached to the suit. It closely resembled his helmet from his Agent Z days; however, it was missing the horns and was less boxy. There would be no way to tell it was Warp inside the suit; especially not since no one knew he had gotten a new arm.
He put his hands on his knees and stood up, facing Nebula at the table.
"It's cool, but how can I use my arm in this thing?"
"You won't."
"Why? When will I get to use it?"
"That's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. Warp, do you mind dying?"
His eyes went wide, then a sardonic smile slowly came across his face. "Yeah, what's the joke?"
"No joke. I was thinking that if you could 'die' in the public eye, your old identity, which is still, according to the books, back in your cell at PC-7, could be flushed for good."
"And how do you plan to make that happen?"
"It wouldn't take much effort. Make sure things are A-OK with the biggest officials of the Galactic Alliance, make a statement to the press, and you'll be free and clear of your old identity. The Alliance has had a lot of reason to gain trust in you over the past year."
"But isn't that... a bit sneaky?"
"We are in severe need of a new plant in the dark side. Zurg has been awfully quiet for a very long time, and we need someone to go check it out. Anything short of 'sneaky' won't cut it. Zurg usually doesn't let fully costumed space rangers into Zurgspace."
"How do you know he'll even hire me?"
"It'll be simple. There are four grubs and a brainpod preparing to defect, and we'll put the task of 'obliterating' them, or rather their identities, on you. It'll be a good practice mission; enough danger to prove yourself, but easy enough not to get hurt or found out."
"Oh, and that other thing I was going to talk to you about - you'll need a secret identity."
"And if I stroll across Alliance Plaza in casual clothes, no one's going to notice me. I have a pretty distinctive face, mister."
"I'm not talking about that kind of secret identity. You can spend your leisure time, if you end up having any, back here in your room next to the training bay."
"What other kinds of secret identities are there?"
"If you're interested, and I hope you are, you can be a space ranger again."
"Who are you kidding? I can't just take up my old job and not have anyone question it!" Warp was seriously wondering if Nebula needed to see Dr. Animus by now.
"Nope. Your secret identity wouldn't be you, it would be your ghost."
"What do you mean? I'm not dead!"
"But to everyone but a select few, you will be."
"Oh... I see!"
Warp collapsed into the chair set out for him. He suddenly envisioned years spent not only doing spy work, but also fighting hornets, blowing up all the ugly red buildings in Zurg's complex, and maybe even showing down Zurg himself. To ruin the creature who had ruined him; that would be his goal.
"Go back to the suit," commanded Nebula.
Warp did so.
"Push the button on the inside of the sleeve, there."
The blue man pressed the button, and suddenly jerked his hands back as the suit rolled up into a ring, then rapidly unrolled, this time in the colors and design of a ranger suit. The whole suit faintly glowed blue as the left sleeve finished unrolling.
Warp was at a loss for words. This thing was amazing. He picked up one sleeve-sure enough, there was a neat row of holes for his bionic arm's jets.
"Tell the LGMs thank you, heartily. I'll be privileged to wear it."
"Take it to your room. You should train in it a few times before you go to Planet Z."
"Sure thing!"
Warp had only a little time left for training in the bay before it was the rangers' turn. He wished he could watch them, if only to break the boredom.
Big deal. It isn't half as bad as it was at PC-7!

Buzz Lightyear, Mira Nova, Booster Munchapper, and the Experimental (or was it expendable?) Ranger everyone called XR sat in one of the window booths at Cosmo's Diner.
"I wonder when our food will show up," mused the Joadian ranger, giving an exaggerated sigh.
"You can wait, Booster. It wouldn't hurt you not to eat quite so much," he remarked, and Booster sighed again.
"I have been trying to diet. I really have. It's just so hard, especially when there's nothing to do but traffic duty."
"Now, Booster, that isn't so bad. Traffic duty isn't always boring," Mira remarked, laughing under her breath as she remembered the incident when Rocket had been able to go chase Torque and Team Lightyear had been stuck on traffic duty. That hadn't been boring, all right.
"You know, I really think it would be quite beneficial if they gave the nicest-looking girl rangers jobs as traffic regulators. I think ships would stop much faster that way, and I, for one, would be much more careful about checking each beacon."
"Now, XR, you'll give Team Lightyear a bad reputation if you keep chasing after every skirt in sight! I know it was tough for you after 42, but you don't need a girlfriend any more than you did before she gained artificial intelligence," Booster remarked.
"Oh, look at you. Mister perfect. Man, if you only knew how broken my heart was..." XR's words changed to unintelligible mutterings.
"Here comes the food. Bickering is officially over." A wide grin spread over Buzz's face as Sally set the bowl of cosmic chili down on the table. He waited until the other rangers had their food (and oil in XR's case) in front of them, then picked up his spoon and started shoveling the deliciously mouth-burning chili into his mouth.
XR, as he pulled the can toward himself, remarked, "Yesterday I was in the training bay, catching up on my lost knowledge of combat techniques, and I noticed something funny."
"What?" asked Buzz, through a mouthful of cosmic chili. Nothing funny's happened for nearly a year, in fact, barely anything remotely exciting.
"There were footprints on the training bay floor. Just one person, obviously, but footprints nevertheless. It couldn't have been anyone who was allowed to train in there; everyone trains at the same time. I have my suspicions, though, Buzz..." XR's voice changed from a dramatic whisper to an accusing tone.
"I haven't been in the training bay alone, I promise!"
"Come on, Buzz, we know how much you miss the excitement."
"I do miss it, but I have not been in the training bay." He directed a scathing glance at XR.
"Well, I didn't imagine them, that's for sure."
There was silence for the rest of the meal.

Warp cursed when he saw the footprints on his return to the training bay. He still hadn't been able to get rid of the habit; swearing when something bad happened had become part of him when he had become Agent Z.
Big blue lout! Warp hit himself in the forehead. Why had he had to go out again, right after the cleaning bots had finished sweeping up his mess? Such a simple mistake, and what a big one. If there had been anyone observant enough to notice the footprints in the bay during training, there would probably be questions.
Warp didn't feel much like training for the rest of the day; he read a little in the ranger handbook, not that it would help him any, as he wasn't really going to be a ranger.
The sun was completely blocked by Capital Planet by the time he finally got up the courage to go out into the training bay.
It had the appearance of the inside of the carcass of a huge monster, with the faint starlight slanting down through the windows near the ceiling.
Warp jetted up, fully dressed in his new suit. He had only tried out the bounty hunter version of his suit so far. Pushing a button, he allowed the suit to convert to his 'ghost' outfit. It glowed a faint blue in the dark room; good enough to scare a grub out of his shoes, Warp reasoned. He pushed the button on his arm and closed his eyes, happily jetting forward, pretending he was on Planet Z, circling in the reddish clouds of the atmosphere, driving all of Zurg's sentient minions nuts.
He was so caught up in his dream that he didn't notice the coming wall until it was too late. Warp steeled himself for the impact, shutting his eyes tight. It never came. He opened his eyes, shocked. What had happened?
Looking around him, the startled man saw that he was just outside the training bay, jetting rapidly away from Star Command, his arm carrying him. He quickly pushed the button and turned on his jetpack, flying back to the wall he had just apparently gone through. There was no sign of his passing through it; no hole, not even a dent.
What happened?
Suddenly, Warp thought of something.
No. It can't be they've come up with something for that too!
He flew a few feet back from the wall, then headed straight for it, bracing himself for impact just before he reached it.
This time he heard the sound; a distinctive, if faint, hum as he passed through the wall.
When Warp opened his eyes, he was in the training bay.
I can not only pretend to be a ghost, I can also 'ghost' through things! Y'know, now I kind of understand that Tangean Royal supremacy thing. It does make you feel pretty self-confident, this ability to glide through objects. I'm not going to assume the other version of my suit has this ability; I don't want a headache.
Warp left the training bay with renewed confidence and spirits.

_________________
Sike! Made you look!
---------
"You pulled my tail, man!"-Kurt Wagner, X-Men: Evolution
"It only loves me for the hate."-Eddie Brock, of the Symbiote
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