2 Weeks Ago…
Gunfire, uproarious like applause, acknowledged his presence. Rising and falling, it was a lethal curtain call. Or, at least, at the behest of its wielders, it was meant to be. Against a normal threat the oppressive expulsion of ammunition would have certainly proved a deterrent. It would have pinned down and ripped through an ordinary foe, but time and time again Fantomex was quick to impress upon anyone met with his presence just how extraordinary he was. Born within the sterile laboratories of The World, a Weapon Plus facility home to the technological marvels utilized when creating living tools of war, inclusive to the likes of Wolverine and Deadpool, he was among a league of highly classified killers. Unlike his kin he'd been purely manufactured. Engineered to be both mutant and Sentinel from artificial birth, the very unnatural result was entirely anomalous.
Triplicate brains made him exceptionally intelligent and imaginative. They also allowed him a supernatural reaction speed, neurons firing along his synapses at an accelerated rate, powering muscles to move while his mechanical minds simultaneously processed sensory information into computer-like logic. For instance, while ducking for cover behind the dismantled, though impenetrable, Russian Gvozdika 5--a tanky, self-propelled howitzer--he was reloading a man-portable missile into a shoulder cannon, seeking, peripherally, any vehicles not already thrashed in the motor pool, and
deciphering that the bullets pelting futilely into the other side of the amphibious-but-grounded tank were cased in fragmentation shells. They impacted on the Gvozdika's chassis with small but unique explosions, as opposed to the thumps of regular rounds.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd think they want me dead.
Speaking to no one in particular, the white and black clad mercenary pushed the rocket down until it clicked into place within its launcher. On the other side of the mounted howitzer, his aforementioned imagination had produced an illusion of himself. Not telepathy, the sight was born from his mutant-branded hypnotism. It was made all the more powerful by a fourth, displaced brain, E.V.A.
, which doubled as a transport vessel. The mesmerized soldiers loosed their weapons into the faux Fantomex, until it was splayed out on the rocky terrain; gear stained by dark, sanguine marks.
Though E.V.A., his fourth, extraneous, brain had been silenced by the telepath, Betsy Braddock, smote out by her psychic blade when plunged through his vulnerable minds, the ship was still bound to him symbiotically, and so served him well remotely nonetheless. It fed him information picked up by aerial scans. From high above the grayscale clouds looming overhead, Fantomex was made to understand the placement of all twelve men; their ballistic armor unable to shroud their heat signatures from the techno-organic extension of himself. Knees bent, he crept swiftly but smoothly to the back of the tank, prepping to heft the cannon into position over his right shoulder. The outlier agents had ceased their marching fire, closing in on their felled target like vultures massing to roadkill.
So focused on the false victory they'd been presented, Fantomex capitalized on the skewed perceptions he'd so effortlessly manipulated, rounding the corner with launcher raised.
" The announcement probably drew the eyes of his thickly dressed opponents, but those were blocked by the dark lenses of goggles set below their hard helms. There was hardly any chance for a greater reaction, and hardly any recoil. The missile fired with a heated hiss, traveling ahead of a white line of evaporation, made when its propulsion singed the air. Its target was the ground underfoot of the unit. The imagery rolled out in slow motion. Rocks and dirt flew upward from the explosion, obscuring the middlemost of the pack. Dropping the Bazooka, Fantomex slipped further into view, illusion dispelled, leaving nothing where his would-be corpse had lain.
Somewhere between blinks, while the lower limbs of those nearest the blast joined with rubble strewn to the sky, he'd reached beneath the long sides of his exorbitant jacket, retrieving the pistols harnessed to his thighs. Being Sentinel, his aim was robotic and precise. A sharpshooter at range, being a mere handful of meters from his opponents was an unfair advantage. Preferable odds, so far as the Frenchman cared to count. Cross-stepping smoothly, his gloved index fingers drew back on twin triggers, the resounding iteration of BLAM, BLAM, BLAM
, accenting each discharge of specially designed bullets. The projectiles ignored armor, and with the exception of stray rounds being shot off erratically as the remaining soldiers were dropped to the earth, none were spry enough to fire back before having their vital organs shredded.
His paces had taken him towards a bullet-ridden Humvee, its tires flattened before the sporadic foray Fantomex had brought unto it. It was meant to be cover if needed, but twelve little army men had been no match for one super-soldier. "Simple math,
" he remarked under a breath, blue eyes surveying through the window carved into his balaclava. Dust, dirt, bone and stone, rained down on the dead and dying.
It's important to understand not all of them were served their end instantaneously. Pained moans joined the rain of debris and rubbished limbs. Then, at last, he
"You are gnat!" Arkady Rossovich's carbonadium tentacles curled about readily available metal. His silhouette was barely visible through the dust, but E.V.A. detected him, and there'd have certainly been no need for her when making out the frame of a dilapidated Jeep being hurled through the scattering debris. Fantomex lunged, diving toward his victims while the vehicle sailed overhead, smashing into other occupants of the motor pool. The collision with another tactical van sounded with a hideous CRUNCH
, and already Omega Red's prehensile coils wrapped about the bodies of those still sucking down labored breaths, groans intensifying as they were hoisted from the ground and subsequently robbed of their remaining life force.
Fantomex fought back a sick grin beneath his mask, while his eyes took in the sight of it. The ghost-faced Russian, with his crown of blonde hair drawn back and bound to the top of his head, had recuperated quickly from their last encounter. He'd drawn strength and accelerated his healing factor by sacrificing his allies, pulling their vitality through the long whips protruding from the thicks of his forearms. Though they were distant kin in a way, Fantomex's healing factor was rather lacking comparative to some of the other Weapon Plus graduates.
Rolling onto his back and kicking up, another slew of bullets were unleashed, this time into the visible red bodysuit encasing the vampiric mutant come back from the brink. He roared in response, tossing the drained corpses carelessly in the direction of the bright flashes caused by Fantomex's dual guns.
"Some might call me tenacious!
" was his retort, easily maneuvering through the discarded soldiers.
"The black portal speaks to me, fool. I am chosen one
." Rossovich's blood-red eyes were bright with his approach, closing distance between them at a slow walk, like the demon encroaching on Doctor Faustus. "Your death shall feed my power."
On he went again. Babble that was incoherent and seemed rather out of place, seeing as Omega Red had been contracted to protect the base Fantomex had just finished successfully infiltrating. It was inane and insane, and terribly boring. So it was disregarded. Noxious poison was released into the air, dispersed by Rossovich to incapacitate the intruder. Fortunately for Fantomex, once-designate Weapon XIII, nano-tech blood, another benefit of being part machine, prevented him from succumbing to sickness.
"Fight or flight, comrade?
" A French accent, manufactured like the rest of him was, made the query flippant. Arkady was susceptible to misdirection--hypnotism--and was stopping in place to observe the howitzer atop the tarnished Gvozdika pivoting on its base. A mechanical whirring sounded from the turret itself, its barrel twisting until it was aimed at the mad Russian placed before it. Sight and sound posed a warning and he heeded it, relenting his pursuit in favor of snapping his tentacles out to the tank itself; hoping it to snatch it up before the gun would fire. Too late.
The illusion was cast, and Omega Red lifted the tank in his coils only to have its weapon sound with a mighty BOOM
. He howled, the blast seeming to shake him so that he dropped the Gvozdika. For an instant he'd braced himself, mind reeling to understand how he stood unharmed. Madness made his pale lips curl triumphantly, splitting to display a terrible grin that would have rivaled the most wicked Cheshire. He laughed a raucous sound, feeling invincible, because a dream had told him so. In truth, the howitzer was defunct like its perch.
Jubilation, as brief as it was, provided Fantomex the opportunity to move in close. Rossovich yowled to the sky a song of victory, then he bellowed in pain.
" Left arm wrapped across Omega Red's throat, he was tilted backwards while Fantomex stabbed him along the spine. Three, consecutive punctures were delivered by the combat knife carried on his belt; each administering technology into the rapidly closing wounds. "I like the sound of that, you know?
Taking him by the wrist, Arkady flung the merc around and away, hissing as microscopic invaders flooded into his bloodstream. Reverted plasma, pulled from Fantomex's own blood, made the base for a potent poison. It served to attack and disable the healing properties which credited the fellow living weapon's ability to recover from even the most egregious wounds. Yes, the dagger's lesions closed, but near instantly Omega Red began to feel the effects of the toxic diseases he'd released into the air around him. Delight made Fantomex's blue eyes burn bright while he watched, with a gun poised on his enemy. Interest in his own weaponized blood inverting the immunities he possessed into an autoimmune disorder, when brewed up as a virulent concoction in his lab, made the haste at which Rossovish folded highly fascinating
, to say the least.
The spores of Red's airborne illnesses were breathed in to disastrous effect. His first step towards Fantomex was a stomp, the next a drag. Dark blood began seeping from his eyes, running down his cheeks. It rolled from his nostrils, and probably every other bodily orifice.
"I'll kill you," he promised, the bite gone from his voice while his white face ran red with the rest of him. Carbonadium extensions went limp, hanging from his arms to coil along the ground, and then he collapsed forward; flopping to the sullied earth among his demolished peers.
"Looks like it's the other way around.
" Pistol lowered, Fantomex surveyed the havoc while summoning his ship with a thought--the only telepathic connection allowed while his ceramic dampeners were sleeved into his mask. Psychics didn't mesh well with his many minds. He holstered his gun, having completed his work. And then some, considering proof of his experiment was splayed face-first across the shattered asphalt. "More than either of us bargained for, I suspect,
" he said to the enemy, a carmine puddle forming around Omega Red. In the distance, E.V.A.'s spherical, saucer-like, form became apparent.
"If you were the 'chosen one', what does that make me, I wonder?