Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Quaxo9 »

A stronghold in the Alps

They were not alone. Small beams of light danced over walls and piles of rubble. Voices called out and muffled radio static could be heard in reply. The lights came to rest on the little group in the centre of the chamber and began to intensify as their holders approached. SHIELD agents holding rifles came into view even as others with a mix of strange pulsating sticks or medical kits pushed through the debris. More hands made light work. Encouraged the injured to back off.

The cavalry was here.


Rhiannon sat – well, hovered – outside the medical rooms. In this antechamber, she could see everyone, which decreased her anxiety somewhat. Of course, it also meant that they could see her and her insides twisted with the pain of being unable to protect her own children. Neither from the witch, nor the stones, nor from the medical tests being performed on them now.

She wasn’t stupid. Rhiannon was well aware that SHIELD was not simply checking the children over for bruises. They were gathering information. She suspected that her children would also possess a meta-gene. Of course, what might come out of that meta-gene was a complete mystery. Would it be so terrible to have some input from an agency who specialized in these sorts of things?

She knew what Cait would say. And her burden doubled.
Cait knew that she was in a medical facility from the smell. She could sense her sister nearby. The shrieks of the bean sidhe still rang in her ears and the pictures still played in her mind from so many people’s close calls that should have been curtain calls. The visions blurred with time…but usually she didn’t have this level of cognisance when this happened. Babies cried a lot anyway – no one guessed that she wailed from the fearful images eternally plastered in her psyche.

But, they faded. With time.

She stirred and opened her eyes, with immediate regret. Too bright. Cait put her hands over her eyes…and they flew open wide at her touch. Pulling them away from her, straight up toward the ceiling, she stared at her own hands. Oh no. Pulling up the neckline of her hospital gown, she looked under it and threw her head back with a groan.

“Oh no. I cannot be this young again. I just got through puberty…UGGHHHH”

Cait cringed at the sound of her own voice and covered her face with her arms. Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But it also gave her just the tiniest bit of privacy from the eyes she felt on her. She was a pre-teen. Been there enough times to know exactly what she looked like at any age. Why. Why this young. How had the banshees picked up so many years? How was she going to explain this to Marshal? How was she going to manage herself - her much older self - inside this body?

It wasn't right. This should never have happened. At this moment, Cait couldn't tell if she was angrier at Fate, Morgan le Fay or herself. She never should have let this happen. But now that it had, she'd be damned if she was going to lie down and take it.

While McIvors were filling up a medical ward, Agents lay in wait for the rest.

"Knox! Debrief. Now." An agent waved Marshal toward a small, unobtrusive grey door in a hallway of similar doors. It was standard procedure, really. One of their people had just been magically teleported across the globe - what SHIELD needed to know was 'why'.

"You too, 'Mr. Collins'." If Imiel listened hard enough, he'd be able to hear the air quotes. While he did have two children with him, and as such they couldn't be too hard on him, SHIELD likewise wanted information from someone whom they felt owed them. Or at least, someone from whom they'd have a better chance of detecting a lie.

"What happened? Take us through from the beginning...where were you before you were transported?" Both men received these exact two questions. Both would probably know that SHIELD knew the answer to the second question already.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Imiel and Marshal Knox

"This will need to wait," Imiel said, sounding just a bit snappish. Realizing he was angry at the circumstances, not the agent delivering the message, he softened and went on, "I'm sorry. We've all been through a great deal today. I know very little about what happened, and I'm very worried about my daughters. If you are able to provide them with some medical attention? Just to make sure they're okay? Then we can talk."

The agent nodded. "Yeah. Sure. Okay." He made a quick phone call. "Mkay, the doctor is on her way. Let's talk while she's doing her thing with the kids."

Imiel frowned. "I'm not comfortable with that. I want to be with them during the exam..."

"That's fine," said the doctor, entering the room. "I don't have a problem with a parent being there." She leaned in to shake Imiel's hand - the free one not involved with balancing Mia. "I'm Doctor Virginia Thornton. I assure you, your little girls are in good hands."


Marshal had been pacing outside Cait's door, unsure what to do. He wanted to offer support. To be there for her. She was, after all, his friend. But he also knew how deeply she valued her space, and he didn't want to intrude on her privacy. What to do...?

The arrival of the agent was almost a relief. It simplified the choices.

"Look," Marshal said. "I genuinely have no idea. One minute we were just sitting in the house talking, and the next all hell broke loose. I don't know about this magic shit. Pardon my language. That's for other people. I'm just along for the ride, and I'll help where I can."

The agent looked skeptical. "I see. And what is your relationship to the McIvors, exactly?"

"Cait's friend," Marshal volunteered just a hair too quickly, as if he'd been rehearsing the statement over and over in his head before it came out of his mouth.

The agent raised an eyebrow, and made a note.
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Quaxo9 »

The McIvors

Cait lay staring at the ceiling, organizing her thoughts and slowly testing her muscle control. Usually she was “born” in a baby’s body and grew into this age – to be suddenly moved backward meant that she would need to spend some time re-learning how to move. Stair steps would seem higher. The typical gawky, klutzy teenager stage was coming. And all this when they had an enemy poised to attack. All this when she needed most to be on her a-game.

She sat up and took in her surroundings. The same glass windows as her previous medical ‘cell’ greeted her, but her eyes were focused on the singular spot of colour in the room. A pile of clothing. Carefully, she lowered herself out of bed and walked along it, testing her legs. She didn’t feel weak, per se, but she did still feel…odd.

The jeans went on without hesitation. They were a little loose, so she took the shoelaces out of the pair of sneakers sitting next to them and made a string belt. Cait shook out the t-shirt and stared at it for a moment before shrugging out of the medical gown and stuffing the shirt over her head. She was just stepping into the sagging shoes as the door next to her opened wide.

“Ah, Miss McIvor, you’re…up…wait, we haven’t finished your exam!”

“Yes you have.” Cait’s voice sounded tinny in her ears, but the tone had been firm. She side-eyed the reflective surface and used it to successfully dodge the doctor’s hand. “And if you keep treating me like a child, I will put you on your ear.”

This stopped the doctor short – and caused Rhiannon to look up. The sisters’ eyes met. Rhys looked…tired. Cait said nothing, but hopped up on the chair next to her and followed her gaze to the two rooms ahead of them. Ewan and Charis lay on identical beds in twin white rooms, unmoving as nurses busied themselves around them.

“You’re letting them experiment on them.”

Silence. Then, “This is not up for debate. They need help and I don’t know what to do.”

Cait considered replying, then decided against it. Now was not the time. She was much, much too late.

Hopping off the chair, she walked past the doctor who was still trying to corral her and heard him sigh.

“Miss McIvor?”

Hell no. She was not getting any more tests done. Rhiannon may have given them free rein with the children, but she was her own person. She’d make the decisions about her body – as much as she had control of it. Rolling her shoulders, she lifted her head and took a deep breath. Marshal. He was nearby.

Cait had no hesitation in her step as she walked down the hallway and opened the door on Marshal’s interrogation room. She didn’t stand in the doorway, but helped herself to the second chair on her friend’s side of the table. Baggy blue jeans. A bright pink t-shirt with the word ‘Princess’ emblazoned on it in silver sparkles.

“Not a word.” She muttered, then flashed him a grin. Somehow, that grin still looked very much the same as it had on her older face the day previous.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Marshal Knox

"Of course not," Marshal said sympathetically. Then, under his breath and barely audible, he whispered, "Princess." A cheeky grin briefly crossed his face as he waited for the inevitable swat that would be directed his way.

For a moment - just that one moment - it felt like old times. Just him and Cait, sharing an uncomplicated friendship. Well, maybe not totally uncomplicated. There was his unrequited crush. But he would have gotten over it eventually, and they would have been just buddies. It would have been so easy.

Nothing seemed easy anymore. Nothing seemed simple.

He didn't know how to help - or even if helping was his place. He didn't want to be some creepy guy following around a teen. Maybe she would rather just have her family around her for right now. But he didn't know how to ask without seeming like he was abandoning her, which he didn't intend to. Not unless she told him to go.

"Is everyone okay?" he asked, though he expected limited information in response in front of SHIELD. Turning to the agent, he added, "Like I said, I don't know anything. Am I free to go?"

The agent looked dubious about his claim of ignorance, but seemed to realize he wasn't getting anywhere. "You can go as soon as Dr. Thornton clears you," he said dispassionately.

Marshal blanched.
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Quaxo9 »

Cait McIvor

"I really don't know..." she started to explain, but paused when Marshal asked to leave. Getting out of this room would be preferable, so she waited. And her next sentence nearly exploded out of her.

"Why would she need to clear him? She's not even a real doctor!" Cait heard a hemming come from the door where her doctor was waiting and jerked a thumb in his direction. "I mean, is he even a real doctor? I didn't see any credentials!"

Cait suddenly lowered her voice to something lower than a whisper, while keeping her face staring straight at the SHIELD agent behind the table and her lips just barely parted.

"Ask for a jacket. Or a hoodie. Something."

"Look, Miss McIvor, we don't really owe you an explanation here. You need to return to the medical ward until you are cleared to leave. If you don't go on your own, you will be placed there, do I make myself clear?"

The Agent was coming into his own now. Of course, she didn't blame him. She and her family had brought quite a bit of trouble with them, but that didn't mean that their lives were suddenly forfeit to some secret government agency.

"Where's that other chap? Coulton? Coulson? Coulson. Yeah, that guy. I'll talk to him, if you bring him by. Then we'll see about whatever passes for a medical clearance around here."

She hoped the excuse might buy them both some time. Cait had no intention of leaving Marshal to deal with Ginny Thornton on his own - especially not on Gin Gin's home turf.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Marshal Knox

Marshal's cheeks colored a little when Cait said Ginny wasn't a real doctor, and he stared down at the table, careful not to make eye contact with either of them.

Ginny was a real doctor - a doctor of psychiatry, with an M.D. They may have been clearing the others medically for their various bumps and bruises, but that wasn't their concern about Marshal. He was a super soldier; any bumps and scrapes would heal. They were worried about the same thing they always had been.

His mind. Whether he was too crazy to be released. Whether he had finally become such a danger to others that he had to be locked up for everyone else's sake.

That was why Ginny had to clear him.

He didn't particularly want to say that in front of Cait, though. Even less so in front of this random S.H.I.E.L.D. grunt.

"Yeah, we'll wait for Agent Coulson," Marshal agreed - only because Cait wanted to. Marshal had met Coulson a few times, and he seemed like a decent guy, but it wasn't clear to Marshal why they needed him in particular. He trusted Cait, though. "Oh, and can I get a jacket or something? Kinda cold in here, isn't it?"

Maybe he'd be able to snag a cool hoodie with a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Quaxo9 »

Cait McIvor

This idea was well and truly stupid. Moreso considering that SHIELD was presumably used to dealing with the sort of trouble she was about to get into. Still, she felt it worth the risk. There was no way she was leaving Marshal to face that woman alone - and there was no way that she, a 12-ish year old human girl, was going to get to along to Marshal's debrief.

An Agent appeared with a jacket for Marshal, affording a temporary distraction. She had to act quickly. The benefit of appearing as a child meant that she was being underestimated. This wouldn't last long, Cait realized, but she'd take it while she could. She stepped back into the room, slightly behind the desk so that the pile of clothing she was about to leave behind wouldn't be too obvious. And...she vanished.

A small, reddish mouse scurried across the floor, up the back of Marshal's pant leg, and up the inside of the jacket until she reached his neck. It was at this moment that she realized that she would have no way of telling Marshal that she was a mouse. A truly stupid idea indeed. Still, she was committed to the bit and ran her whiskers over his skin and snuggled down into the jacket's collar. Cait was fairly certain he wouldn't swat her, but beyond that...well, she'd just have to play it by ear.

The doctor glanced down beside him and did a double take. He stepped back into the room, looked behind the door, then stepped back out and looked out the hall in the direction of a side hallway.

"Miss McIvor, really. Now who is being unprofessional? Agent! Did you see which way she went?"

The mouse let out a tiny squeak of amusement.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Marshal Knox

For a single, stupid second, Marshal wondered if Fievel had somehow snuck along on this escapade; the feeling of rodent whiskers was so familiar. A moment later, his brain caught up and put together the appearance of the mouse and the sudden disappearance of Cait. A small smile crinkled up the corner of his mouth - as usual, it looked like a smirk because of his scar, but he was genuinely amused - but then he shrugged and forced an innocent look onto his face when the agent questioned where Cait was, and then presumably rushed off to find her.

"Good one," he muttered under his breath.

When the door opened for a change of personnel, Marshal expected Ginny, but instead it was a harried-looking nurse who entered, apparently to take his vitals. Marshal pulled the jacket off one arm, careful not to dislodge Cait, so the blood pressure cuff could be applied...

"Good lord!" the nurse said - then apparently doubted what he was seeing, and went to reposition the cuff.

"No, it's fine, it's always like that," Marshal said, hastily pulling his jacket back in place before another attempt could be made.

When applied to his finger, the pulse ox machine immediately began beeping frantically.

"It's fine," Marshal said again, prying it off and handing it back. "I have a pretty weird metabolism."

"Sir, you should be in the ER..."

Marshal shrugged. "Nah, I'm okay. I'll go get a checkup at the V.A. once things calm down. Alright?"

Dubious, the nurse nodded and left the room after making some apparently pointed notes on Marshal's chart - probably about his lack of cooperation.

Marshal shrugged it off. He was a veteran, after all, wasn't he? So he could go to the V.A. when he got a chance. If he got around to it.

Before there could be more unnecessary hoopla about his physical state, Ginny entered the room. Marshal's breath caught in his throat. He told himself sternly that there was nothing to be afraid of. What exactly was she going to do to him in the middle of a S.H.I.E.L.D. enclave? She was only dangerous if she could get him alone - really alone - and he would do whatever he could to prevent that.


"Dr. Thornton."

She reached toward him, ran her hand down his side and inside his jacket...

And just for a moment, he was tempted. Just for a moment, he was weak. He could hate Doctor Thornton all he wanted, but his body was a mere body, and it was hard to go so long without intimacy, without touch...

He hastily pulled away.

What are you doing, you dumb shit? You know this isn't worth it. No matter how lonely you are. No matter how pathetic you are. You know how this ends. It's never worth it. Never. And in front of a kid? Get it together, Knox.

"You were supposed to clear me medically so I could go home, Dr. Thornton?"

Ginny sighed. "Fine, Marshal. Are you thinking about harming yourself?"

"No ma'am."

"Are you sure? Because you just..."

"No. Not today. Ma'am."

Ginny frowned. This was the wrong answer. "And are you thinking about harming others?"

"No ma'am."

"Have you harmed others in the past?"


Then, "We both know the answer to that. Tell the truth, Marshal."

"...Yes ma'am."

"You're too dangerous to leave, Marshal. After what just happened, you're clearly unstable. I can't release you when you're a threat to others."

"Dr. Thornton--"


"Dr. Thornton, I'm not!"

Ginny's finger hovered over a button - presumably to summon security to take him away - but then the door opened again.

"Marshal! Marshal Knox! So great to see you again, pal. Sorry to interrupt, Dr. Thornton, but me and Marshal go way back."

A blond, all-American superhero had entered the room in full blue, black, and gold spandex. Mr. Stalwart put his arm around Marshal's shoulders like they were long-time best friends.

Marshal was dumbfounded. Yes, he did know Mr. Stalwart - or Jameson Bryant, as he'd been at the time when they served in the army together. They'd always gotten along fine, but they'd never been particular friends. Certainly not buddies meriting the level of excitement the Certified Hero was showing about seeing him as he deftly steered Marshal - with Cait as a passenger - out of the room.

Ginny touched Mr. Stalwart's arm and whispered something to him as they exited, but Jameson shook her off so subtly that it looked like he hadn't noticed she was there. Marshal couldn't hear what Ginny had said, but from mouse position, Cait would: You'll never be enough.

If any of this fazed Jameson, he didn't show it. He walked Marshal a distance down the hall before releasing the arm around his shoulder.

"But yeah, it is good to see you, Marshal. Glad you're hanging in there. Hey, it's not my place to pry, but... we both know how Ginny is. Have you ever thought about getting some legit help? Here." Jameson fished in an almost invisible pocket and somehow produced - despite the tightness of his suit - a business card, which he handed to Marshal. "Dr. Laurel. She's really good. Not like Ginny. She'll help you out. She takes insurance. Give her a call. Take care, buddy."

Then he walked away.

For a brief moment, Marshal was forced to consider the possibility that Mr. Stalwart had been in a position to seek psychiatric help. But no, that was impossible. Not him. He probably carried around those business cards just so he could direct anyone he found in need to mental health help. Truly the perfect all-around superhero, wasn't he?

"I guess we should go find the others," Marshal told Cait.

Mr. Stalwart probably had enough pull to keep Ginny off their backs for awhile. Not forever, but at least until they could get out of here.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Doctor Virginia Thornton

Ginny was livid with rage. It had become abundantly clear that Marshal Knox was a problem - thus her attempts to get him to off himself, or failing that, to lock him up - but she hadn't anticipated Jameson becoming an issue too. Marshal had always been unruly and hard to deal with, but Jameson... that was a surprise, and not a pleasant one. Mr. Stalwart had always been pliable up to this point.

She'd get to Marshal eventually. Her immediate priority was teaching a lesson to a certain superhero.

Ginny wasn't going to try to ruin his career... at least not today. But he needed to see how much power she had, if she chose to exercise it. He needed to learn that he couldn't risk making her angry by protecting Marshal from her again. For today, she was just going to put a dent in the armor.

She had ordered that hidden cameras be placed in the homes of all her patients. It was easy enough to justify - she needed to monitor their safety and well-being at all times. She had implied they would be informed; they hadn't been. That was how she'd gotten the compromising footage of Marshal dreaming about HYDRA. It was how she was going to trip up Jameson, too.

After a quick internet search, Ginny started typing an email from a throwaway freebie email address. She had selected a mid-range tabloid, seedy enough that they wouldn't do too much fact-checking before running a juicy clickbait article, but with a recognizable enough name that other media outlets would jump on the story too without much skepticism.

To whom it may concern:

I have information about the superhero known as Mr. Stalwart that your readers should know. Mr. Stalwart isn't as squeaky clean as he pretends to be. At the end of the day, he's just another horndog male on a power trip. He uses his star power to convince lonely, desperate fans to sleep with him. Someone needs to call him out for the sake of these poor, sad, lonely ladies he's taking advantage of by seducing. I'm attaching the proof you need.

Ginny then attached two pictures. The first appeared to be a publicity shot from a charity fundraiser, the kind of feel-good event that Mr. Stalwart constantly appeared at when he wasn't otherwise busy saving the day. Jameson was at a dog rescue, posing with multiple lovable mutts, along with a heavyset brunette woman of about forty who was presumably the owner of the animal shelter. The second was grainy, pulled from a hidden camera, an image that showed Jameson in bed with the same woman, clearly caught in a moment of passion. Ginny had chosen the frame carefully so that the woman's body was partly hidden by a strategically placed Jameson - it had to be juicy enough to sell, but not so racy that it couldn't be printed - and both their faces were clearly visible.

The tabloids had never had this kind of fodder about Mr. Stalwart before. S.H.I.E.L.D. cultivated his image very carefully - he was occasionally photographed on dates with model-gorgeous women handpicked by his image managers, but it was scarce and he was never seen with the same person more than a handful of times. Just enough to establish his heterosexuality, without diminishing the fantasy that his fans just might have a chance with him.

The perfect, chaste superhero.

Well, not after today. She'd given just enough narrative for the pictures to fill in the rest of the scandal.

Ginny smiled and hit send.
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Re: Welcome to the Suburbs. Population: Odd.

Post by Quaxo9 »

Cait McIvor

From her position at Marshal's neck, Cait the mouse could tell that the nurse's instruments were reading correctly. The way he brushed her off was suspicious. It was something she had a feeling he wouldn't be up to talking about. There was nothing saying that she couldn't keep an eye on him in spite of that. But still, it was concerning.

And she definitely needed to keep an extra eye on that woman. "Doctor" Ginny Thornton. It was only an immense force of will that kept Cait from transforming from a mouse into a lion and ripping the 'good' doctor's face off. She'd gladly get locked away forever for a good cause, but often the fast way was never the right way. It would be delicious, though. So incredibly delicious. It was perhaps fortunate that she was removed from the woman's presence by a new face.

Huh. Who knew that spandex could talk. The initial conversation seemed normal enough, but then...unexpected. A hero type who could not only see right through Ginny's trash psychology, but also saw someone struggling and stretched out a legit hand. Actual help from a superhero. Would wonders never cease. Cait gave him a mark in her good books. She'd remind Marshal about the card later. Just in case.

Her 'ride' moved through the hallways unimpeded back to the medical ward where Charis and Ewan stood with Rhys. She was relieved to see the twins up and about. Though she didn't remember what happened after she aimed Excalibur at Morgan leFay's heart, the smell of dust lingered in her nostrils and she'd seen the butterfly plasters on Ewan's forehead when she'd first risen. There must have been some sort of cave in and the kids were caught in it. They were lucky to be alive.

"Have you seen the sword?" Cait asked Rhys, now remembering that she'd likely dropped the family heirloom when she'd been repossessed by the bean sidhe.

Rhiannon gave no answer. She thought that was a bit cold, considering she'd just saved their lives with said sword.

"I'm sorry Doctor, we can't find her anywhere" a breathless nurse passed by Marshal, pausing to put a hand on her ribs.

"She's the mouse in Mr. Knox's collar."

Nice. Cait stepped out onto Marshal's shoulder, stared directly at Rhys, and turned into a rat. She couldn't help but notice the small smile on Charis' face when she did so - Cait was pretty sure she hadn't smiled in days. They really needed to get out of here and have an actual talk.

"I'm not having more tests done, so how about we pick up Imiel and the girls and get out of here?"

Reuniting with Excalibur could wait.
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