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Oh No, Not This **** Again

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Robots are the pinnacle of being. They are made of tough, non-organic materials, with bones of metal and silicone for waterproofing. Their brains run swiftly, with great efficiency and much more space for memory. Their looks are, of course, always perfect.

None of this is any help to Aaron Stack.

Aaron Stack has been filling his robot brain with beer.

Now, technically, Aaron could have cleared his system by using his superior robot filtration systems, but what's the point of having said systems if you're not allowed to completely drown them in cheap alcohol and tears? None, that's what. Bodies are made to be abused, and superior bodies only take more abuse, not less.

That, then, is the perfectly reasonable explanation for why Aaron Stack is curled up into a sticky, wet mess of hiccupy sobbing.

It is much less sexy than it sounds.

"JOCASTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA", he slurs, and his limbs flail about in an uncoordinated manner as he flops around on the floor.

This is not the sight that Tabby expected to be confronted with when she came to Area 51 to blow shit up.

Her hiss of "Ffffffffff" is a strange counterpoint to Aaron's moaning.

Perhaps some hipster somewhere might record it and name the resulting thing "Annoyance in E minor", but that sort of thing is pretentious and not meant for polite company.

Now, Tabby had come here expecting to find someone to bitch at who she could also blow up when she got to the peak of her annoyance (not that she'd ever mention that to Aaron, otherwise he'd go on one of his freaky robot-superiority streaks again) so coming across Aaron like this pissed her off a lot. After all, it's no fun bitching at something pathetic.

With that in mind, she does the only thing that she can do. She grabs Aaron by the collar and marches off, dragging him along behind her like a child with a particularly ratty teddy bear.

"Get up, Aaron! I wanna bitch and you're the only one left that I know who won't be all 'Ooooooh, whatever, so your boyfriend's mackin' on some space bitch with herpes from Jupiter! My boyfriend doesn't love me either and on top of that, he's my daddy from another dimension and he wants to kill me, marry my sister-mom, and then take over the world while cussing out the humans!' I mean, like, seriously, it's really frustrating!"

She kicks at a wall, knocking loose a panel whose bright yellow and black paint has been worn away by time. Just enough is left to leave readers behind the fourth wall with a distinct sense of foreboding.

"You're frustrated? My girlfriend just married her father with her fleshy grandfather-creator-ex-boyfriend's blessing! And she did it without even leaving me a **** Dear John letter! Do you have any idea how frustrating that is?"

"Aaron?"

"What."

Tabby promptly pops a cherry-bomb into Aaron's mouth.

"Shut up."

The resulting short in his circuitry gives Tabby the chance to continue her rant.

"This is totally the kind of **** I'm talking about! The whole thing where people rub it in that they have more angst than me! Like, okay, so life sucks, but that doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to feel like **** just because my **** isn't as bad as yours! Like, that is so totally judgemental and- and mean!"

"*chhh* You just blew *fzzt* my voxbox out with a bomb! How is that *shhhhf* not mean?"

Tabby waves a hand in dismissal as Aaron rubs at his fritzing throat.

"Pfft, you're a robot. That doesn't count."

"Oh, of course, the fleshy superiority conspiracy comes out. 'He doesn't matter, he's just a robot and he should just go die.' I should just. Go. Die."

Aaron's angry shouting degenerates into sobbing at this point, and he sinks down to the floor to mope. Again.

"Holy ****!"

Tabby glowers at Aaron and a very familiar glow starts to gather around her fingers.

"You wanna die, huh? Huh? Well, Ima just help you along with that, then!"

This is the point where Tabitha Smith gets to the 'splode bit of her bitching session much earlier than expected.

It wouldn't have been a problem, but when Tabitha Smith throws explosions around, it ain't yo' momma's wimpy razzle-dazzle firework sparklers. Having never been a kid sidekick, Tabby has never had to tone herself down, nor would she ever be able to figure out how to do so if she tried.

Because of that, her fit resulted in the detonation of several dozen Chernoblitz Fizzing Whizzbangers, which had been stacked neatly into pyramids not four feet away. The explosion blows Tabby and Aaron right off their feet, off the State and into free-fall several thousand miles above sea level.

This is funny because neither of them can fly.

==

Somewhere in the darkness, a lady has just shot an entire herd of cows in order to get to a minotaur. This is only important if you are worrying about the status of your milk.

If you're lactose intolerant, though, you're probably wondering why we cut away from the exciting adventures of Tabby and Aaron as they fall through space. The answer is... look over there! It's a Muckbeast!

Run!

Oh wait, that's just your mother. My bad.

Haha.

==

Tabby and Aaron are flying through the air. Tabby hasn't noticed this, because she's more concerned about the singed hem of her skirt.

"I hate you so much! Like, zomg, I'm totally de-friending you off FaceSpace!"

"That would be much more upsetting if I cared about your fleshy faces in virtual spaces. As it is, I do not. Life means nothing to me anymore, for she is gone for... ever. Forever. Oh god-"

Aaron starts sobbing miserably, so Tabby punches him in the back of the head. Violence solves everything. The teevee said so.

"Get off it, man! Like, she's just not that into you! Whatever. Like, there's plenty of other robot hos out there, right? Just go hit up an Apple store or something."

"I was made before Steve Jobs had the intellectual prowess to recognize what an apple was!"

"Aaaaand? Beggars can't be choosers and you are, like, totally a beggar."

Judicious use of rocketboot attachments allows Aaron to turn away from Tabby as he crosses his arms and huffs.

"Even if I wanted to, I don't have the proper operating systems to- mmmmmmmr."

"... what?"

"I CAN'T INTERFACE WITH THE APPLE OS, OKAY?"

Tabby blinks once. Twice. Then she snickers.

"Oh my god, so, like, did you just tell me that you have robot-ED? Can poor widdle Aaron not get it up 'cause he's too old? Maybe he needs a little blue upgrade? Hah!"

As she barrel-rolls in mirth, without the aid of any useful devices, oily tears start dripping down Aaron's cheeks once more as he wails.

"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND MY PAIN."

"Yeah! 'Cause I'm hot and people actually wanna have sex with me!"

"DIE, FLESHY THING!"

Aaron fires off his extendible arms and Tabby responds by popping off a couple explosions and they manage to have the superhero version of a slap-fight in mid-air. It's saved from being lame only because there are explosions and sharp pointy things. It does end quickly, though.

This isn't because either of them win, but because they fall through a cloud five seconds in and promptly realize that they are, in fact, not on the ground.

Simultaneously, they stop and turn to each other.

"****!"

The words are the same, but Aaron's face is upset, while Tabby is grinning.

"What is so good about this situation, fleshy one!?"

"I can fly! Secondary mutation thingie FTW! ****, this is so much better than turning into a giant cat! DEATH FROM ABOVE!"

"THIS ISN'T FLYING! THIS IS FALLING!"

"DUDE, I AM WHOOSHING THROUGH THE AIR WITHOUT A JETPACK! THAT IS TOTALLY FLYING!"

"ONLY WITH THE PROMISE OF YOUR IMMINENT DEMISE AT THE END."

"... dude, what?"

Aaron's head whirs in impotent fury, CPU stalling as he tries to filter all the words in his head down to a level that Tabby might be able to process. After a long string of clicks and whirs, he grabs Tabby by the collar and reels her in, snarling.

"IN ABOUT FIFTEEN MINUTES YOU ARE GOING TO HIT THE GROUND AND ALL THAT REMAINS IS OUCHIE SQUISHIE DEATH AS YOU SPLATTER INTO LITTLE BITS ALL OVER THE PAVEMENT."

"... huh. You know, your breath smells like beer."

"THE **** IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"

That's when they get hit by a flying woman.

==

The management would like to remind you that the proper way to kill a Muckbeast is to bludgeon it thoroughly with a heavy object, until it stops spewing guck. This is, in fact, the default way to kill just about everything; however, it is much harder when you are dealing with a creature that possesses suckered tentacles, poisonous stingers and a taste for human flesh.

As such, when faced with a Muckbeast, it is much more efficient for you to simply curl up into a little ball and accept your fate. Whimpering is, of course, optional, but highly encouraged.

Coincidentally, this is the same suggested course of action when faced with your Aunt Marge, who has a particular liking for pinching your cheeks and loudly reminding people about that one time her Rottweiller bowled you over and humped your leg raw, wasn't that hilarious?

But back to the robot and the chick who won't shut up.

==

"It really hurts when you do that."

"Your only other choice is getting pancaked against the cement, so you'd better just shut up and hope that I don't change my mind about saving you."

"****."

"I feel a headache coming on already."

Monica Rambeau is soaring through the air, dragging Aaron behind her by her wrist. He swings in wide arcs in her wake, as his arm is still extended fully. Perhaps he would have responded to Monica, but Tabby has been clinging to him as Monica pulls him up, and her fidgeting has finally culminated in a position that, while stable, has also resulted in her clinging to his head with both arms and muffling his face in her lady parts.

"Don't get too comfortable, bolt-brain. This is, like, totally a temporary situation and the moment Monica gets us down, your face is so completely out of there."

"Mmf. As if I would settle for these. I can hardly sense their inferior presence. Anyway, I prefer breasts with much more silicone in them."

"Like, ew. I did not need to know that and if your oily robo-tear leakage stuff stains my shirt, I am totally making you pay for the dry-cleaning."

"I am a robot and I defy your fleshy system of monetary exchange."

"If my dry-cleaning doesn't get paid for, I'm goin' all 'splode onyour everything, rust-bucket."

"SHUT UP OR I'M TURNING THIS RIDE AROUND AND DUMPING YOU BOTH ON YOUR ASSES."

A beat of blissful, wondrous silence.

"Mooooom, he's touching me."

"That's it! You are all shutting up right now!"

With that, Monica lets go. Aaron and Tabby scream... and find themselves in a tangled heap on a rooftop in the middle of Brooklyn.

"Ewww, it smells like guck! Why'd you bring us here?"

Tabby wrinkles her nose at the smell even as she pulls herself free of Aaron's tangled limbs.

"I'm already courting disaster by picking you two up. Bringing you two to my home would be telling the world that, no, I don't actually need any of my things anymore, so feel free to destroy them."

Monica pinches the bridge of her nose and shivers at the thought of her collection of Avengers memorabilia being introduced to Aaron's useful devices. No, landing here was definitely the better of the two choices.

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"You gonna help me up?"

"Only if I have to."

They stand there for a while, just staring at each other without much to say.

"Soooo."

"So."

"Weren't you making your way to happiness with that Voodoo Hoodoo guy or something?"

Monica snorts.

"Brother Voodoo? Please. No, we had an adventure, which I am not talking about and he went off and became Doctor Voodoo and got all these huge ideas about how great he is. And, I'll be honest, he's got a big ****, but that's all he's got going for him, so I hit the road."

Tabby nods, then smirks.

"Big?"

"**** huge."

"Niiiiice."

The fist-bump comes naturally to the two of them, just as Aaron's sniff of derision comes quite naturally to him.

"Pff. Mine are bigger."

And then the moment was gone. Monica glares at Aaron, then straightenes out her coat.

"Anyway, that's not the point. I wanted to-"

"Explain why you saved us from certain death?"

"Well, among other things, I guess... yes."

"Hah." Aaron folds his arms. " I knew it. You always did hate us! There had to be an ulterior motive!"

"Well, actually, I saved you two from dying because I'm not some heartless **** that would just let you two splat. But I hunted you down in the first place because... ****, this is difficult to say..."

"Pff, just say it. Whatever it is, it can't be worse than Aaron's attempts at getting a girlfriend."

"What? I resent that statement! I am a fine specimen of a robot and any lady-bot would be extremely happy to have me as their beau! You take that back!"

"Except Jocasta."

"... yes."

Immediately, Aaron crumples to his knees and starts sobbing again.

Tabby and Monica exchange glances in which they have a conversation that goes as follows:

"Oh god, he is still a ****, isn't he?"

"Yes, he is, only he's worse now because he's all lovelorn and ****."

"****."

"Yeah, I know."

With a sigh, Tabby kicks Aaron in the head.

"Get up, you **** robot, you. You're **** but you could be worse, I guess. Maybe."

"I AM A FAILURE AS A ROBOT AND NO ONE WILL LOVE ME EVER."

"Oh god. Listen, maybe you just aren't cut out for the whole love thing. I mean, that's possible right? Like, maybe you don't have the right programming? Because, I mean, you aren't even funny? I mean, you are, but not in the way that girls like where they laugh with you, not at you."

"... funny."

Aaron stops sobbing to trail off into thought. Tabby and Monica share another look that says "well, at least he's quiet now and the grown-ups can get back to business."

Immediately, Monica realizes that she has just referred to Tabby as a grown-up in her head, and resigns herself to her fate.

"Look. It's been a while since we were a team..."

"Well, yeah. I mean, we all broke up after the State because we figured we all had lives to get to."

"But, see, that's the thing. I've done a little research, and none of us has actually done anything. At least, nothing worth anything... and I've been thinking that maybe-- maybe I'm not meant to be an Avenger."

Tabby whistles and gives Monica a golf clap. "Wow, seriously? You just figured that out now?"

"Like you can actually say that, little miss X-bait."

"Rassum frassum..."

"Anyway," Monica runs a hand through her hair and puts herself back on track. "I looked back and realized that the only time when I actually got anything done? Anything really worth anything? That was with you guys. With Nextwave. So, I was wondering..."

"If we wanna get back together as a team?" Tabby finishes Monica's thought and taps at her lip, thoughtfully. This being Tabby, her deliberation takes all of five seconds.

"Yup, totes. Let's do this shit."

Monica smiles and holds out a hand.

"Let's."

Tabby grabs it eagerly. The moment they let go, Aaron stands with an odd look on his face.

"What do you do if your dishwasher stops?"

Both women turn to him with matching horrified looks on their faces. Without waiting for them to say a word, Aaron continues.

"Slap the bitch. Ha. Haha. Ha."

As one, the two women share another conversation-in-a-glance. This time, all they say is "We're kicking his ass."

They proceed to do so in a loud and highly disturbing manner. If they'd laid their blows down to the full extent of their abilities, perhaps they would have truly managed to beat some sense into their errant robot companion. As it was, the racket they create manages to piss off many of the locals. Only one of them is important, though, and he makes himself known very swiftly the moment the brawling sent several pieces of rubble and a particularly scratchy street-cat tumbling onto and into a nearby dumpster.

"Oy! Some people're trying to sleep around here!"

The familiarity of that not-quite-drunken slur causes everyone to stop what they're doing. A ratty-looking figure wobbles up from the alley to glare muzzily at the three heroes. Red-eyed and smelling like several-week-old garbage, the Captain scowls at his ex-teammates.

"Oh," he says, "it's you."

==

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who wanted to do great things. He wasn't particularly skilled at anything in particular, but his mummy told him that he was special, and that made him think that maybe he could actually accomplish something in life. So, one day, he strapped on his boots and pulled on his coat and ventured into the wide open world to change it.

He very promptly wandered into the swamps and got eaten by a Muckbeast.

That's why parents oughtn't give their children big heads. Crush their souls instead. It's better for them in the long-run.

==

"It's sorta like we're the Spice Girls and you're Victoria Beckham and we wanna do a reunion tour, only we need you to do it. Only, you're not hot enough to be Posh Spice. So maybe you're Scary or something."

"... I don't get it."

Tabby sighs resignedly and defaults to the most basic metaphor she can think of.

"We're the Stones. You're Jagger, and without you the band doesn't go."

"Ooooooh." The Captain scratches his head, then shrugs. "Nah, there's no way in hell I'm doin' that **** again. Too much work."

Tired of Tabby's babbling and the Captain's confused expression, Monica cuts in.

"Aaron. Bargaining chip."

Grumbling, Aaron grabs something from his deceptively shallow-looking pockets and smacks it into Monica's open palm. Monica waves the bottle of beer in the Captain's face.

"There's a lot more where this came from."

"Sold."

Without a moment's hesitation, the Captain snatches the bottle and shakes Monica's hand.

"So, when do we start bustin' heads?"

"After we find the last member of the team." Monica says this with a grim look on her face. "Now, granted, I don't know where she is, but with the four of us working together, it shouldn't be too hard for use to find Ms. Bloodstone--"

"Oh, wait, y'mean Elsie?" Tabby snaps her gum. "She's out adventuring, but she's got a place in the Village."

There is quite a bit of staring as Tabby chews. She shrugs. "What? She asks me to apartment-sit for her, okay? It's, like, something about thieves being the best protection against thieves or something."

"****. I was hoping it had something to do with lesbians."

Tabby shoots an evil glare at the Captain, flipping him off at the same time.

"Like, whatever, dude. Go get your stuff from your trash-can home."

Grumbling, the Captain shuffles to the edge of the roof to do just that. Aaron picks up on the word trash-can, though, and he interrupts him on his way.

"What's sadder than seven babies in a dumpster?"

"... empty beer bottle?"

"One baby in seven."

The Captain punches Aaron hard enough to send him through three different buildings, so it takes Nextwave a little longer than planned to go looking for their last member.

Luckily enough, this doesn't take long. As the foursome walk through Chelsea, bickering amongst themselves over the appropriate time and place for a dead baby joke (never, unless you're talking to the Scarlet Witch), Tabby recognizes someone familiar across the street. Immediately, she dashes across, paying no heed to oncoming traffic.

Because being a mutant means that if a truck is coming at you, you blow it up before it hits you, even if you're the one in the way.

"Elsie! Hey, what up, girl?"

One look at Tabby and company causes the stately redhead to sigh.

"Tabitha, you better have kept my flat exactly as it was, else I shall be even more cross with you for bringing unexpected guests by before I've had my tea."

"Oh my gawd, it's always like this with you! 'Tabitha, if you track mud on my carpets, I shall kick you to death.' 'Tabitha, if you steal my silverware, I shall feed you to the feral dogs in the mountains.' 'Tabitha, don't you dare leave that disgusting soda in my house, or I will stab your eyes with cutlery.' I mean, seriously, girl. Chill."

"Are you quite done?"

"... I could go on if you want."

And Tabby probably could have. Luckily for everyone's sanity, Aaron realizes that there is someone new to test his jokes out on, and butts in again.

"What.... is the difference between a pile of dead babies and a pile of bowling balls?"

Anyone else, Tabby would have smashed for interrupting, but she, like the rest of Nextwave, is enthralled by the train-wreck crashing before her very eyes.

There is a very long pause as Elsa considers.

"You don't unload bowling balls with a pitchfork. "

Aaron starts when his punchline is swept out from under his feet. Elsa just smirks and chucks him under the chin.

"Oh, come now, mechanical man. I've experience with that sort of thing, didn't you know?"

"The jokes or the babies?"

"Who says that has to be an 'Or' question?"

As Elsa laughs, fire sweeps through the sky and a car flips gracefully through the air and crashes in a mangled wreck at her feet. strangely enough, no one starts screaming "KILL THE WITCH!". This is probably because everyone's attention is attracted to the screaming coming from down the street.

Plot devices are marvelous things.

==

At this point, you're probably expecting a Muckbest to turn up. You would, of course, be wrong. After all, Muckbeasts only live in the depths of the forests of Germany and sometimes France.

Chelsea only shelters a particularly fierce population of homosexuals and, on occasion, Ultron. He rather enjoys the disco parties.

==

Ultron, of course, pays no attention to the five fleshy things staring up at him. He is rather distracted by the Avengers, who he is rather merrily beating into the ground. There are many craters and things that go boom.

The fleshy beings, however, have all their attention focussed on him. They are, after all, hidden in the shadow of a building barely half a block away.

"****." says Monica.

"...****." says the Captain.

"****." says Tabitha.

"**** ***** ****!" says Aaron.

"My god, what a fantastic specimen. I do believe that is the most destructive canon I have ever seen." says Elsa, who has a bit of a gun fetish (and by a bit, we mean that her love of guns outrivals Hank Pym's love of robots). Breathless as a maiden in a romance novel involving vampires, Elsa turns to the team. "Captain, come to me. I need you. Now."

"Elsa. The Captain is about as useful as a brick wrapped in ****. Why would you need him?" Monica is truly unimpressed with Elsa's intelligence. Secretly, she starts wondering if maybe she should have asked Patsy or Angelica to join the team instead. She would have considered Felicia as well, but every good team needs a token red-head.

"Aw, c'mon, maybe she's just realized just how much she loves having me around!" The Captain is rather smug as he walks up to Elsa. "Absence and the heart and all that girly ****."

"Well, I suppose you could say that I missed you." Elsa makes sure she has a firm grip on the Captain's jacket before she replies. "But really, what I missed was your qualities as a blunt weapon. Robots beat guns, but not C-list superheroes."

And with that, she heaves him up and shouts, "Hey robot! Your mother enjoyed the advances of Frenchmen!" before executing a fast-ball special for the ages.

The rest of Nextwave stands there for a moment, watching the Englishwoman and the unlucky slob dive into the fray. Neither Aaron nor Tabby would admit it, but their attention was trained on Monica, who stares into the distance... and then sighs.

"Oh hell. Just try not to get your fool selves killed."

With that, they all shrug and amble off in the general direction of the fray.

==

Perhaps you were hoping for a battle scene, but all you really need to know is that, for one, the fight only really gets going when someone stains Tabby's new boots. At that point, Tabby calls Ultron several unfortunate names and manages to blow up several buses. Luckily for everyone, there are no small children on any of them. (Nobody cares about tourists).

For another, Monica has not broken her habit of calling out the names of her attacks. As such, Reed Richards asks her in the middle of battle to come to his lab and be his human laser. She X-rays his genitals when he isn't looking in retaliation.

Dizzy from being tossed about like a small child in a mosh pit, the Captain pukes on Captain America, who does not remember him at all. That is probably a good thing.

Meanwhile, Elsa Bloodstone is a bloody marvel of loveliness. She is also skilled in the use of mailboxes, decorative lamps and small animals as weapons. The lady can work wonders with a pair of squirrel nunchucks.

Finally, Aaron is the one who ultimately ends the fight. After showing off his new cooking attachments, ("He slices, he dices, he julienne fries!") he spots Jocasta in the middle of the fray and bounds over to her.

"Jocasta! What do you get when you chop a baby in half with a machete?"

"... Aaron?"

It is sheer, dumb luck that there is a lull in the battle when Ultron turns to his bride at the exact moment that Aaron lays down his punchline.

Oh, also, the good guys won.

==

"I can't belieb Jocasta punched be."

"I can't believe she gave you her number after."

Monica is floating a few feet above Aaron as she digs through a pile of rubble to unearth the Captain. He perks up a bit when she reminds him of his success, snapping his nose back in place with vigour.

"Well. I am a model of robotic charm and technological advancement. My sense of humour is superior. Ha ha."

"Right."

"Even Hank Pym thinks I am a superior specimen."

"Like, seriously?" Tabby walks up as Monica finally tugs the Captain free by his ankle. "Pics or it didn't happen!"

"You don't believe me?"

Aaron might look a little hurt. At least, he would have if he weren't above organic stupidities like feelings. Tabby, however, doesn't seem to care.

"No, I just don't believe that you think Hank Pym is, like, anything but a creeper."

"He is a scientist! He is an intelligent man!"

"You sound like a prepubescent teenage fangirl.", says Elsa, who reaches into Aaron's pocket with not a qualm, and pulls out the only piece of paper there.

"Call me, semicolon, capital D." she reads, then she and Tabby share a knowing look. "If that isn't a creeper, I really haven't any idea what one would be."

Monica takes it upon herself to give Aaron a not-very-comforting pat on the shoulder as he sputters.

"Aaron," and here she puts on her very favourite dead-pan face, "if you want, you can show me on the Captain where the bad man touched you."

==

NEXTWAVE: a group of heroes laughing uproariously as their robot sidekick screams "I HATE YOU ALL".