Chapter 1: Prologue
It was just another peaceful day on the Milano. Despite the small bickering between Rocket and Drax, everything was good. Groot was growing as a healthy sapling, Rocket finally found a hobby other than bounty hunting, Drax, once again, found a reason to live for, Gamora started to learn how to relax, Peter found somebody he could talk to without worrying what they'd think about him and the Guardians of the Galaxy became a name well-known throughout the galaxy. The five misfits finally found a place to call home and a family to call their own.
The sound of Peter's music filled throughout the Milano. It was a sound that all of the Guardians grew to love. As much as most of them didn't want to admit it, the melodies were soothing and pleasant to listen to. For the most part, it was the only sound that could be heard...besides the consistent banging of Rocket building new inventions.
"Rocket! Will you stop that ruckus?!" Drax exclaimed, holding one of his daggers in one hand and a rock in the other.
Gamora was sitting in front of him in the co-pilot seat, facing towards him. She was reading something on her data-pad. She glared up at the two and rolled her eyes.
Groot was still just a sapling. He was sitting in his pot on a small, triangle-shaped ledge near Gamora, buckled in a makeshift seatbelt. He started to cover, what must have been his ears, grimacing at the crashing sounds of arguments and music.
Peter was sitting in the pilot seat, facing the same direction as Gamora. He sat sideways with his legs propped up on the armrest, analyzing Gamora's face.
As the bickering continued Gamora groaned and turned her head to face Peter. His eyes grew big as they made eye contact. Peter slowly turned his head away as Gamora sighed and dug her face back into the data-pad.
"I am trying to make a FRICKIN' BOMB HERE!" Rocket finally yelled, slamming his wretch on the coffin-shaped table that sat in the center of the common area.
"I AM ONLY TRYING TO SHARPEN MY KNIVES IN PEACE!" Drax yelled back.
"YOU DON'T NEED PEACE TO SHARPEN KNIVES, YA DAST IDIOT!"
"I WANT TO LISTEN TO QUILL'S MUSIC IN PEACE AS WELL!"
"WILL YA SHUT THE HELL UP?! YOU'RE MAKING MY EARS BLEED!"
At this point, both Gamora and Peter were rubbing their temples. "DRAX! ROCKET! BOTH OF YOU NEED TO BE QUIET BEFORE I SLIT YOUR THROATS!" Gamora finally yelled. Everyone looked at her in shock; even Rocket climbed up to the cockpit to look at her. "For once in your lives, can you stop arguing?" The woman grabbed her data-pad and stormed off.
Peter glared at Drax and Rocket and followed Gamora.
As much as she loved the Guardians, she hated the constant bickering between Rocket and Drax. It never ended and some days, she wish she could just get a break from it. She pressed the button that opened the door to her cabin and threw her data-pad on her dresser and herself onto her bed. It was a long twin-size bed covered with a plum-colored; the top folded over to reveal a white sheet underneath. Two silky pillows, one colored lavender and the other mahogany, laid against the padded wall. She stared up at the ceiling and took a deep breath.
It was days like these when Gamora wondered what her life would be like if she had never of met the Guardians. Would she be happier or would she be running for her life from Thanos? To be completely honest, she never wanted to know because no matter how annoying the Guardians got at times, she had never felt closer to home.
Suddenly, somebody was knocking on the door. Gamora rolled her eyes and got off of her bed. "No, Rocket, you can't use my-" As Gamora opened the door from inside, she realized that the raccoon wasn't there, but Peter. "Peter? What are you-"
Peter walked into the room and sat on her bed. He laid back and put his head against the wall. He turned his head towards Gamora. "They were annoying the shit out of me. I had to get out of there before I literally exploded." Gamora sat down next to him, in the same position. "I know they were annoying you, too."
"Yeah. They were really pissing me off. If Drax really wants some peace and quiet, he should sharpen his knives in here. He knows Rocket loves to tinker and he knows it makes a lot of noise. Why does he have to throw such a big fit about it?"
"Like you said; he's a princess."
Gamora chuckled and turned her head to face Peter. "You're more of a princess than him."
Peter chuckled. "What?! When?"
"You can't leave your Walkman here when we go on missions. Even though, you know there is a risk of it breaking. Please, tell me how that is reasonable?" They both chuckled again.
"Come on, Gamora. You know I can't kick ass without music."
"Why don't you sing?"
"See that's my distraction."
"Hm. I see. What would you ever do if you left it here on accident?"
"I would never do that and if I did, I would go back and grab it."
"If we were on a mission?"
"Still go back."
Gamora chuckled and looked at the small, holographic screen that was attached to the wall above her dresser, on the other side of the room. "You're an ass." Peter did the same. The screen projected a beautiful view of the galaxy: milky ways, constellations and planets. The view relaxed Gamora, which was why it constantly played on a loop in her cabin.
"But, i'm not 100% a dick." Peter stated, breaking the silence. They both chuckled again. For several minutes, Peter and Gamora sat there in silence. Peter turned to face the emerald woman again. "Gamora?"
When she heard her name, Gamora's eyes made their way to his. "Hm?"
"I-" Before Peter could finish his sentence, a loud crash was heard throughout the Milano. Both Peter and Gamora, flew out of Gamora's cabin and into the common area in a matter of seconds.
"What the hell is going on?!" Peter yelled as he and Gamora climbed over broken objects and tools that were scattered on the floor, around the table. Rocket, who was picking up the mess, stopped what he was doing and turned around to face them.
"Why don't you ask Dumbass?" Rocket snarled. He turned back around and continued to clean up the common area.
Peter looked at Gamora. She was pissed; finally through with all of the immaturity between Rocket and Drax. She started to walk up the stairs that led up to the cockpit. She was finally going to give Drax a piece of her mind...until Peter's hand cuffed her arm. Gamora's death stare found its way to Peter. He looked at her sternly and shook his head. Her stare softened as Peter pulled her aside to the other side of the ship.
"Please try not to murder them." Peter said rubbing the bridge of his nose with an exasperated sigh.
The green woman sat on top of a crate near the back window and looked up at him. "They never stop arguing. They act like children. Groot is even more mature than them and he's still a sapling-"
"Actually," Peter interrupted with a slight smirk upon his face. "I witnessed the little guy climbing out of his pot, yesterday. Pretty soon he's gonna be running around..." His smirk faded and a look of fear replaced it. Gamora's eyes lit up as a slight chuckle escaped from her mouth.
"You're afraid of Groot roaming around freely on the Milano?" She chuckled again.
"He's technically a baby again! Think about all the shit he could get into." He turned over a crate and moved it next to her's, sitting on top of it.
Gamora shook her head. "Don't worry, your precious collection of Terran memorabilia will not be touched." Peter glared at her, as her chuckles subsided. "What did you want to say earlier?"
Peter gazed into her eyes for a moment; then, shook his head. "It's not that important anymore." Gamora looked at him, unconvinced and started to stand up. Peter quickly did the same. "Oh, but hey! I found a job for us. What do you say; you and me go check it out? We could get away from hearing those two bitch for a few hours?"
"Doesn't sound like the worst idea you've had..." Peter raised his eyebrows. "Fine." She rolled her eyes as Peter held his hand up with a cheeky grin on his face.
"I'm not giving you a high-five." Gamora crossed her arms.
The man slowly put his hand back down. "Aw, come on Gam!"
"Its a pain enough I have to be seen in public with you." She joked.
Peter sarcastically put a hand on his heart. "Wow, that-that really hurts." Gamora rolled her eyes again, but this time playfully. She walked back into her cabin, chuckling quietly. "Shot through the heart, Gamora! Shot through the heart."
Chapter 2: Maia
After explaining their plan to the rest of the Guardians, Gamora and Peter head off into Knowhere to meet up with their dealer. Meanwhile, Peter hears a young girl singing Earth songs and has a gut feeling that she's unlike any other kid...
WARNING: The end of this chapter gets a little gorey, but it isn't too bad.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Peter, Drax and Rocket were all waiting in the common area for Gamora. The green woman was fixing Groot a glass of water and placed a straw in it. She had become the motherly figure of the young sapling as Peter became his fatherly figure. Rocket acts like his big brother and Drax...well, he doesn't know what Drax would be to him. The muscled man never seemed to be very fond of the young sapling.
When Gamora joined the group, Peter took a deep breath and stood in front of everyone. He clasped his hands together and projected a map of Knowhere on the screen near the silver table that everyone was gathered around. He zoomed in on certain sectors and marking them.
"Since you two can't seem to get your act together, you're going to stay here." Peter said with a smirk. "Also, Groot's still a sapling. We're in Knowhere; it's not safe for him to be out there. Somebody needs to stay behind with him while we're out."
Rocket glared at him and wrinkled his nose. "What act?"
Gamora gave him the death eye. Peter shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Anyways, Gamora and I-"
"Wait, Gamora's going with you?" Rocket gasped dramatically. "I'm so surprised! Don't have too much fun. Don't want anymore little Quills running around."
Peter grew red, while Gamora turned a dark shade of green. They both took a deep breath and clutched their fists. "No, we're both going to get a break from you two assholes fighting." Peter said, trying not to go off on them.
"I do not see the problem." Drax said innocently.
Gamora stormed out of the room and into the cargo hold. "We're leaving, now." She called back to him, already opening the hatch.
Peter gave the guys one last glare before following Gamora. "Everything better stay the way it was before we left!" He yelled behind him.
The last time the team was in Knowhere was when they first met a month ago; when they first became a dysfunctional, but caring family. It was just how they remembered it; grungy and nothing but trouble spelled all over it. However, a job was a job and if they accepted the offer, it would only be because it wasn't going to get them locked up.
As they were on their way to the warehouse, where they were meeting the dealer, Peter and Gamora heard something different. Something that was familiar and rare at the same time; singing. What was unique about it; the lyrics were in English and it was coming from a little girl with an extremely beautiful voice.
Peter turned his head toward the harmonious sound and had a gut feeling that the little girl who produced it was someone extraordinary. She had beautiful brown eyes that were tinted green and lit up as she sang. Her ebony hair was grungy and gradually blended into a dark purple at the tips. Her ivory skin was covered with dirt and grime, but underneath it all, she was a beautiful girl.
A crowd of people were gathered around her, tossing small amounts of units into a rectangular, metal container that sat in front of her. "She has a beautiful voice. How do you think she knows Terran songs?" Gamora asked, snapping Peter back into reality. He turned his head towards her and bit his lip.
"I don't know. Maybe she's been to Earth?" Gamora looked over at her and smiled. "She's cute."
Gamora chuckled. "That's a new one."
Peter looked at Gamora confused. "What do you-"
"Normally it's women you're looking at and complimenting."
The man stopped and scoffed. "Okay, when have you ever seen me checking somebody out?"
Gamora stopped walking and turned around. She approached Peter with her arms crossed. "Xandar. Before we met."
Peter scoffed again and shook his head in disbelief. "Okay and how long ago was that?" Gamora was the one who scoffed this time and placed her hands on her hips. "Listen, I've changed, you've changed, we all have. Our whole lives changed when we met."
"Rocket's right; that orb did change you."
"Woah. Woah. Woah. What? Is that a bad thing?"
"No. It's just...different." Peter smiled a little and they started walking again.
After walking for a few minutes, talking and laughing, Gamora and Peter finally reached the warehouse. The outside of it was filthy and looked like an old metal shed, except bigger. The two analyzed it for a moment.
"What the hell?" Peter asked rhetorically.
"It's cleaner than your ship." Gamora joked, smirking at him.
Peter turned to her with his hands on his hips. "Is this how you're going to act the whole time we're here?"
Gamora shrugged and started to walk inside. Peter chuckled a little and followed her.
The inside of the small building was just as grungy as it was on the outside. There was nothing inside of it, besides hundreds of crates filled with illegal goods, a small metal table and some chairs.
A lavender skinned man walked around one of the crates. He had white feather-like hair and unfriendly golden eyes. Gamora already had a bad feeling about the job offer, but continued on with Peter.
"Hello, Mr. Quill and Lady Gamora. My name is Vladimir and may I say what a pleasure it is to finally meet you." He walked over to the duo, slapped Peter's back and kissed Gamora's hand. He backed up several inches and clasped his hands in front of him. "Where is the rest of your team?"
"They had some problems to fix back on the ship." Gamora responded quickly, smiling darkly. Peter glared at her and turned his attention back to Vladimir.
"You said you had a job offering?"
Vladimir smirked. "Of course. I need you to sneak into your friends', the Nova Corps, headquarters and retrieve me a prototype of a highly destructive weapon called the 'Rathinizor'."
"No. We just got our records expunged a month ago. We're not taking the job." Gamora said with her hands on her hips.
"Sorry, dude. She's right."
"I'm offering 200,000 units in return for the Rathinizor."
Peter's eyes widened. "So, what are you planning to use it for?" Vladimir smirked and Gamora slapped Peter, looking at him unbelievably. "You know what? I think we're good." The green woman rolled her eyes and shook her head.
Vladimir clicked his tongue and sighed. "The lady's always right. You're lovers?" He asked.
Peter took a deep breath. "No." He said, trying to prevent his face from turning red.
Gamora, just as embarrassed, turned around, pinching the bridge of her nose. "We're leaving." She said sternly, walking out of the warehouse. Peter went to say something, but followed the woman in silence instead. Vladimir watched them leave in anger and left behind them.
"What's with everyone thinking we're lovers today?" Gamora asked as they walked further away from the warehouse.
Peter exhaled loudly through his nose. "Well, a lot of people say we act like an old married couple. That might have something to do with it." He said with a playful smile upon his face. They both stopped walking and Gamora glared at him. She shook her head and continued her way to the Milano.
Then, Peter heard it again; the sound of the little girl singing in the distance. He turned his head towards her. She was now singing a familiar tune; Fox On The Run by Sweet.
Gamora turned around, knowing Peter was no longer following her and walked back to him. "Peter, come on! I don't know how much longer Drax and Rocket are going to survive being alone together." Peter held up a finger and started walking towards the girl.
"I don't know why but, there's something about her..." Peter started to say as they got closer to her. When they reached the young girl, the emerald woman placed a few spare units into the metal container.
After listening to the girl for a few minutes, Gamora placed a hand on Peter's shoulder and smiled softly. "We can't stay any longer. We have to go." The man nodded and they started to walk away.
I hope you don't mind/I hope you don't mind/that I've put down in words/how wonderful life is, now you're in the world.
The girl finished another song as the crowd cheered. Her thin pink lips turned upwards into a huge smile. Suddenly, a rough hand grabbed her arm and whipped her around.
"Scram! Get out of here before I kill every last one of you jackasses!" A voice shouted towards the crowd as they all fled.
Peter and Gamora turned around to see what all the commotion was.
"Vladimir." The young girl said in fear.
Vladimir, still not letting go of the girl's arm, grabbed the metal container and dumped all of the units in his pocket.
The girl ripped her arm out of his hold as several men who looked similar to Vladimir gathered around them. "Hey! I earned those fair and square!" She yelled in a cute, high-pitched voice.
"By what? Singing your wittwe heart out?" Vladimir asked rhetorically, mocking the young girl. "Please Maia, you can't sing for shit. You didn't earn those units. What are you gonna buy anyways? More parts for your stupid inventions?"
"They aren't stupid!" Maia yelled. "I make them to learn Terran songs!"
"And what is so special about Terran music?"
"I-I don't know! It's pretty and I like it!"
Vladimir laughed. Maia got even more pissed and punched the man, making his lip swell and drip with blood. She grinded her teeth and started to pant. Vladimir turned away from the girl and felt his bleeding lip. "I took you in when your father left you here to die. Two years of keeping you alive and this is how you repay me? I was your big brother."
"You were nothing, but a huge meanie who deserves to rot! I'd rather die than live any longer with you jerks!" Maia said, puffing out her chest. Vladimir yelled in rage and slapped her across the cheek, sending her flying.
"Okay, that's it." Peter pulled out one of his quad blasters and shot at Vladimir. Gamora ran towards his men and started knocking them out one by one. Vladimir stood up and punched Peter. Maia, who had a red handprint across her cheek, pulled out a small dagger and jumped at Vladimir's face. She slashed at his forehead, causing blood to start trickling out of it. She did a backflip and flung the dagger at one of his men who was running at Gamora. He fell to the ground with the dagger still stuck in his arm. As he cried out in pain, Maia pulled the dagger out and stabbed him again in the chest. Another one of Vladimir's men caught Maia off guard and sliced her arm open. She cried out in agony before backhanding him. Gamora finished him off by stabbing him on the chest.
As the trio continued to battle Vladimir and his men, hundreds more came running after them. "Peter, there's too many of them. We have to leave now!"
"You're right." Peter looked at Maia, who was barely fighting, grinding her teeth. "She's hurt, Gamora!" Gamora nodded and picked up the young girl, placing her on her side and covering her head.
"Let me go!" Maia yelled. Gamora and Peter started running towards the Milano. "I said, let me go!" Maia struggled out of Gamora's grasp, but it hurt to much. She finally gave up, realizing that it was no use. Her vision started to blur and her hearing became distorted. Everything was in slow-motion and the shots coming from Peter's blaster became three times louder, causing her ears to ring.
"Peter, she's losing consciousness!" Gamora yelled. She saw the young girl's eyes rolling to the back of her head as her eyes closed.
"We're almost there! We'll out run them!"
"There's no time!"
"Shit." Peter whispered to himself. He pushed a button on the side of his earpiece and yelled into the intercom. "Rocket! Drax! We have an emergency! Open the hatch now!" The trio came into the view of the Milano, but the hatch wasn't opening at all.
"Peter, she's out!" Gamora yelled.
"God dammit! Will you two stop being dumbasses and be useful for once? Open THE GODDAMN HATCH, NOW!" Peter finally screamed into the intercom.
"Jesus Christ, we're coming! Calm down!" Rocket replied as the hatch started to open and the ramp lowered down.
"Get the medical kit out, too!" Peter turned off the intercom as him and Gamora ran faster than ever into the Milano. The hatch closed and the ship flew off.
Next Chapter: After returning to the ship, Drax and Rocket see that Gamora and Peter brought back an injured little girl. Who is this girl? Why did Peter and Gamora go through all that trouble to rescue her? Most importantly, how will the rest of the Guardians react to her presence?
Chapter 3: Who the Hell is That?
After bringing Maia aboard the Milano, Gamora realizes that her wound is worse than she thought.
Peter and Gamora raced into the common area. "Clear that off." She told Peter, pointing at the silver table. The man raced over to it and slid all of the objects onto the floor, with the exception of Groot, who he placed gently onto one of the padded chairs. Gamora sat Maia gently onto the table, holding her up with a supportive hand on her back. She took off the petite girl's raggedy old leather jacket and tossed it to the side. She laid the girl on her back and analyzed the wound a bit better. It was puffy and had a purple ring around it. The blood was still rapidly flowing from it. Gamora grabbed the old jacket off the table and pressed it against the wound. "Dammit." She whispered. "Peter, I need the medical kit, now. Whatever she was cut with was poisonous; the wound is infected."
Rocket and Drax ran down the stairs from the cockpit. They looked at the girl, confused. "Who the hell is that?" Rocket asked.
Peter ran back in, handing the medical kit to Gamora. He stomped over the Rocket and Drax. "None of your damn concern right now. What part of get the medical kit, now, did you not understand?!"
"I'm sorry, but we we're kinda busy trying to save your asses! Now, who's the girl?!" Rocket responded with just as much anger.
"Peter, I need your help." Gamora said, trying to put pressure on Maia's wound and prepping the needle at the same time. Peter glared at Rocket before running over to Gamora. She gestured to the kit with her head. "Grab a guaze and put pressure on the wound. If the dirt from her jacket gets into the wound, it'll infect it even more." Peter did as he was told. Gamora quickly pulled the jacket off as Peter replaced it with the gauze. "Just hold it there."
Rocket and Drax walked over to the table in curiosity. Rocket's ears fell. "It's justa' kid."
"What happened to this child?" Drax asked, not taking his eyes off of her.
Gamora pushed the needle into the girl's arm and watched the fluids exit the syringe. She tossed in onto the table and grabbed a needle and thread. "She was on the streets of Knowhere, singing for money. We passed her on the way to meet Vladimir." She started stitching up the wound, moving Peter's hands as needed. "You can stop putting pressure on it. It stopped bleeding. Thanks." She told Peter, moving his arm completely out of her way. "On our way back, she was still singing. We stopped for a bit, gave her some units and started walking away. She must have known Vladimir because when we turned around, Vladimir yelled at the crowd and they scattered. He and his men were ganging up on her. We weren't going to leave her alone, so we helped her fight them off. Hundreds more came and we were able to escape, but one of Vladimir's men nicked her with something poisonous." She tied the last stitch and removed the access thread with her teeth. Rocket, Drax and Peter helped her clean up. "I have a tank top she can wear for now."
"What do you mean 'for now'? That thing ain't staying with us." Rocket pointed to the unconscious girl. Gamora rolled her eyes, picked up the first-aid kit and walked into the short hallway that led to the only bathroom on the ship.
"It isn't permanent, ya' puss. She's gonna stay with us until we can figure out who she is, how she learned to fight, why Vladimir wants her dead and if she's friendly or not. Then, we'll let the Nova Corps figure out what they want to do with her." Peter explained. "She can sleep in one of our beds. She might be scared when she wakes up, so I don't want to hear anymore of your bullshit." He pointed to Drax and Rocket as Gamora walked back in with a black tank top, a white cloth and a bucket of water.
She began to wipe the dirt and dry blood off the young girl. "She'll stay in my cabin." Peter nodded.
"Quill, I will try my hardest to make that young child's stay here memorable." Drax said with a cheeky smile.
Drax walked towards his bed, while Rocket approached Peter. He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "And I'll try my hardest to not fight with Dumbass..." Rocket said sarcastically as he made his way down to the engine room. Groot chirped happily as Peter placed him on the table.
Peter walked over to Gamora, confused on what just happened. He looked over her shoulder, resting his hands on the chair that she sat down in. "Why did we rescue her?"
"Well apparently we're the Guardians of the Galaxy, now. Our job is to help people. We helped her. We're just doing our job."
"I know, Gamora, but this feels different. She's different."
"Of course she is. She can fight and somehow she knows Terran music."
"That's not what I mean." Gamora put the cloth in the bucket of water. She carefully sat Maia up. Peter helped hold her up as Gamora put the tank top on her, careful not to touch her wound.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. I'm just confusing myself, now."
Gamora shook her head as she took the bucket of water and walked towards the bathroom. "You're not the only one confused."
Hours away from Knowhere, the Guardians were exhausted and all headed to bed. The only one who was not fast asleep was Gamora. She wasn't known to sleep very well and Maia being with them wasn't helping. She stared up at the ceiling, lying on the makeshift bed she made for herself. She sighed and quickly sat up, focusing her attention towards the young girl.
Normally, on nights she couldn't sleep at all, she would go up into the cockpit and look at the stars, while everyone else slept. However, tonight she got up and sat next to the sleeping girl. Her tangled ebony hair covered her face. Gamora moved a strand that covered her face and tucked it behind her small ear. She traced her finger down to the girl's chin and smiled softly.
Gamora wasn't used to children. Besides Groot, she only saw them in the streets; giggling as their fathers placed them on their shoulders, running around with other children their age and looking at everything in awe. She had always wondered what it'd be like to have a normal childhood, but as the days went by, she wondered what it would be like to have a child of her own. It was a foolish thought: being an ex-assassin, a current Guardian of the Galaxy and a person that no man would ever dare to love. To Gamora, that thought was just as sad as it was true.
For a moment, she had the slightest thought of being the mother of the beautiful girl in front of her. She shook her head, erasing the foolish thoughts from her mind. "Why am I thinking this way?" She whispered to herself as she continued to play with the girl's hair.
"She'll be fine. Get some rest." A voice whispered from behind her. Gamora stopped playing with the girl's hair, but didn't move her hand. She decided to keep her door open, in case something bad happened and she needed to help the girl immediately.
"I've tried. I never rest, Peter; you know that." Peter sighed and sat next to her. They sat there silence for a few minutes. "Peter? Have you ever thought about something that maybe one day, in the future, you would love to have, even though you know it would most likely never happen?"
Peter looked over at Gamora and gazed into her eyes. "Yeah. All the time."
"Do you think you would ever be given the chance to have it?"
"Well...I mean I'm speaking to an alien for the love of God." He chuckled quietly. "Anything's possible. Why are you asking me this? You normally don't ask questions like that."
"I don't know." Gamora started out rubbing her face. "I'm probably overthinking everything from how exhausted I am."
Peter stood up and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Don't overthink too much. Just try to get some sleep, okay?" Peter smiled softly at her before getting up and walking to the door. "Night, Gamora." He whispered.
Two weeks had passed and Maia was still unconscious. The Guardians started to worry and Gamora almost told the crew to transport her to the nearest hospital. However, those thoughts changed when the young girl's eyes started to flutter open.
Gamora, who was currently standing in the corner of her cabin, afraid of Maia waking up even more frightened from nobody being there, slowly made her way to the side of the bed that Maia was resting in. The young girl tried to say something, but couldn't due to the dryness of her throat. The only thing that escaped her mouth was a small groan.
"She's awake." Gamora called out, informing the rest of her team. She grabbed a canteen that was sitting on her dresser, filled with water and brought it over to Maia. The poor girl tried to move, even though she was too weak to. Gamora propped Maia's head up and pressed the top of the canteen to her lips. She tilted it up as Maia drank what was left of it.
"Thank you." Maia whispered shyly as the rest of the Guardians flew into the room.
Gamora walked back over to her dresser and placed the canteen on it. "How are you feeling?" Maia didn't answer and stared at the amount of people in her room. The woman followed her stare that led straight to the rest of the Guardians. She walked over to them. "She seems to be overwhelmed by the amount of people in here. Peter and I rescued her-maybe it would be a good idea if we were the only ones in the room for now." She whispered, quiet enough to where the young girl wouldn't be able to hear. Rocket and Drax nodded, understanding her point and walked out of the cabin.
Gamora took a deep breath and sat down next to Maia, while Peter stood next to the bed. They both smiled softly at her. "What's your name?" The young girl switched between looking at them and her lap. "I promise, we won't hurt you." The woman said gently. Maia looked up at her, not breaking eye contact this time. "We saved you from that man-I'm Gamora and that's Peter." She pointed to Peter, who was waving at her.
She blinked for a moment, before looking back down at her lap. "Maia." She whispered, fidgeting with her shaky fingers. She flinched and looked at her bandaged arm.
"Yeah, be careful with that." Peter warned, subconsciously reaching out to her. Maia moved back, flinched again and nodded.
Gamora glanced at Peter and focused her attention back to Maia. She gave her another genuine, soft smile that she rarely showed to anyone, but Groot. "You can trust us, I promise." The girl nodded again, holding her wounded arm. The green woman, leaned in with a playful smile. Surprisingly, the young girl didn't move back anymore in fear. "Do you want breakfast?"
In the common area, Peter, Drax, Gamora, Maia and Rocket were sitting in chairs that were surrounding the table. The chairs were very similar to the ones in the cockpit, red and cushiony, however, not very comfortable. They were all eating some sort of space cereal, that was similar to Fruit Loops. Nobody spoke and everyone looked at Maia, who was using the spoon in her good hand to play with her share. She lifted her head up and looked back at the Guardians, who were all staring at her in curiosity.
Gamora, who was seated next to her, propped her head up with her hand, her elbow on a 90-degree angle on the table. She was facing Maia and gave her a soft smile. The young girl stopped playing with her cereal and looked at the woman. Gamora crossed her arms on the table and put her head on top of them. "It's really good. You should try it." Maia dug out a spoonful of the cereal and popped it into her mouth. Her eyes got wide and she smiled a little. She continued eating as Gamora sat up and looked at the rest of her team. The room was still filled with awkward silence.
"Well, this is...inconvenient..." Drax said aloud, taking a bite of his cereal. Everyone slowly turned their heads towards him.
"I better get Groot. He's back in the engine room." Rocket said awkwardly as he stood up, placed his spoon back in the bowl and walked towards the engine room. Gamora shook her head and looked at Maia, who had just finished eating.
"Better?" The young girl nodded with an expressionless face. "Maia, we need to ask you some questions. Is that alright?" Gamora said, as the young girl looked at her. Maia nodded again and put her spoon back into the bowl. Peter walked over to the other side of the table and leaned against it, looking at Maia. Drax just sat and watched as he finished eating.
"Why were those men after you?" Gamora asked.
"How do you know Terran songs?" Peter asked quickly after, earning a glare from Gamora. "What? I really want to know."
"One question at a time." She focused her attention back to Maia. "Go ahead."
Maia took a deep breath and for the first time, she actually spoke. "Two years ago, my Papa left me on Knowhere. He said I was in danger and that he was never coming back for me. He said he would probably die before he made it out of Knowhere. Then, after that some kids, who were a little older than me...they attacked me. I didn't know how to fight...I was too young to know anyway. Although. my Papa did say I was smarter than most kids my age. Vladimir came to my rescue. He taught me how to fight. He taught me how to read, how to write...he made me smarter than I already was and he as well told me I had the intelligence of a teenager, but the mentality of a child. He treated me badly, though. He hurt me. He yelled at me. He stole every bit of units I made." She looked at Peter. "Then, I heard of Terran music. I don't really remember how I found out about it, but I heard it was beautiful and I wanted to learn more about them, so I made a device that could tune into Terran radio waves from even millions of light years away. I taught myself how to sing and I started performing in front of audiences. Before we met, I was singing for units and Vladimir came. He said some really mean things and took all of the units I made. I was tired of how Vladimir treated me, so I punched him. He got mad and made his men attack me. Now, I'm here."
Gamora, Peter and Drax looked at the girl, astonished. Not just because of her past, but because of how incredibly intelligent she was. Rocket walked in not too long after with a gaping mouth. He had a potted Groot in his arms and set him on the table.
Maia squealed and ran over to Groot, flinching a little. "Oh my goodness!" She giggled. "He's so cute!" She continued to giggle as the Guardians watched her curiously. "What's your name?"
"I am Groot!" The small sapling chirped.
"Hi, Grootie! My name's Maia!" Groot looked at her and smiled.
The young girl stopped giggling and cried in pain. Drax and Rocket ran over to her. Gamora grabbed the medical kit that was she sat back on the table after Maia woke up and pulled out a syringe, injecting pain medication into Maia. She quickly stopped whining.
"Why don't you go get some rest?" The emerald woman asked with a soft smile. Maia nodded and the two girls walked to Gamora's cabin.
"Oh, hell no!" Rocket burst, when the door had shut behind them. "She is not calling Groot, Grootie! Groot is GROOT!"
Peter scoffed. "Rocket, she's a little kid. Leave her alone."
"I think she will start calling Rocket, Rockey." Drax said, chuckling a little.
"Aay! Rockey Raccoon!" Peter said, snapping his fingers at Rocket. "That's a Beatles song!"
Peter laughed as Rocket rolled his eyes and walked up to the cockpit. "I ain't a raccoon!"
"Who are these Beatles?" Drax asked in curiosity. Rocket turned towards him and shrugged his shoulders.
A few hours later, a creaking sound came from Gamora's cabin. The woman, who was in the common room watching the news, heard the noise and ran into her room. "Maia." She said softly as she entered. "Are you alright?"
"Sorry, I can't sleep." The girl whispered. Gamora exhaled loudly through her nose and walked over to Maia. She sat on the edge of her bed as Maia sat up.
Maia tried her hardest not to make eye contact and looked slightly uncomfortable. "Are you afraid of me?" Gamora asked, hesitantly. The young girl looked up at her, quickly and shook her head.
"No, no, no. I'm not scared of you. I'm just not used to people being nice to me." Gamora smiled as the young girl lightly brushed her fingers over the woman's scars. Maia smiled as well and lowered her hand. Her smile quickly fell off her face, being replaced with a frown. "I have a lot of nightmares. If I go to sleep, I'm afraid that they'll return." Gamora clicked her tongue, trying to think of what to say. Instead of speaking, she silently stood up and walked over to the dress. She grabbed something that sat next to a vase of exotic flowers and walked back over to Maia.
Peter walked in and leaned against the door. Gamora sat back down and handed the object to Maia; it was an old, purple stuffed flerken. It was pocket-sized and covered in dirt and grime, but it was still cute as a button and extremely soft. Gamora smiled and playfully bumped Maia's good shoulder with hers. "This is Teeka. She's a good flerken, who fights the bad ones. I used to help Teeka fight off some of her greatest enemies, but now i'm afraid I have a bigger galaxy to save. Now, it's your job to help her." The young girl looked up, confused.
"Why are you helping me? You could've saved me and dropped me off at Nova Corps. Why am I still here?" She asked, feeling the stuffed flerken in her hands. "Why are you giving me new clothes and Teeka? Why are you being so nice to me, when everyone else I knew was being so mean?"
"Because,-" Gamora started to answer with a sigh, furrowing her eyebrows and shaking her head. "Some people...some people, deep down, aren't so mean after all." She thought of her newfound family. Despite their constant bickering, at the end of the day, they were always there for each other. They were the ones who showed her that not everyone in the universe were complete dicks. "But, you need to rest now." She added, smiling as she stood up. "Go to sleep and help Teeka stop the bad flerken." Maia returned the gesture and laid down.
Gamora walked out and stood to the side of the room, unaware of Peter's presence. The man grew a huge grin on his face and crossed his arms. "Teeka, huh?" He chuckled. Gamora glared at him. He stopped laughing, knowing a serious conversation was about to happen.
"Before Thanos came to my home world and rid me of my childhood, my mother and father gave me that stuffed flerken for my birthday. I used to play with it all the time. I had it on me when he came. I hid it in my clothes and I haven't parted with it since. It's the only thing I have left from my past and now I realized that it's of no use to me anymore. That's why I gave it to Maia." Gamora smiled sadly as a tear rolled down her cheek. Peter watched her as she walked towards the common area with her head bowed down.
Next Chapter: Each of the Guardians bond a little with Maia, including Rocket. However, when Gamora brings up the idea of making Maia their apprentice, controversy ensues throughout the Milano. Will Maia be the reason for the Guardians' split? Or will she be the key to keeping them together?
Chapter 4: Bonding
After waking up from her nap, Maia spends the rest of the day bonding with the Guardians; Gamora suggests that it would only be best if Maia stayed with them.
Maia stretched her arms up as the soft, purple, stuffed flerken fell off the side of Gamora's bed. She yawned and pulled the purple comforter off of her. What was weird; her wound was still there, but it didn't hurt at all. She shrugged the thought off and as her bare feet hit the cold metal floor, Maia rubbed her eyes. She looked around and realized that she was still on the ship. The pillow and blankets that made up the makeshift bed Gamora had made for herself, were folded and set upon the dresser. She glanced them before walking out of the room, in search for Gamora.
Gamora was the only person Maia trusted. The other Guardians seemed...friendly, in a way, but there was something about the green woman that made her even more trustworthy. Maybe it was because she had treated her with such kindness ever since she boarded the Milano or maybe it was because she saved her life. However, Peter has done the same. So, what made Gamora so special? How could she not trust Peter just as much?
Rocket seemed pretty nice. However, he seemed grouchy all the time. Groot was adorable and the cutest little sapling ever, except he was still a baby. Drax hadn't paid much attention to her and it seemed like he didn't care too much about her presence.
The other question that was on her mind: what are the Guardians going to do with her? Were they going to let her stay or were they going to make her leave as soon as she healed? Time would only tell how long until that question would be answered.
Maia finally found her way to the common area, which was right below the cockpit. Nobody was around, which probably meant that they were hanging out on the level above her. It was uncharacteristically quiet. She came upon the metallic, coffin-shaped table that sat in the middle of the room. It was covered in scraps of metal and various types of tools and wires. Maia immediately became curious and started gathering certain materials.
The young girl started to build a hand-held rectangular device. It was only minutes before Drax starting complaining about the noise. Rocket walked into the common area, which meant he wasn't in the cockpit.
"SHUT THE HELL UP! IT AIN'T ME!" He yelled up to the muscular man. He glanced over at the table to see the young girl glued to her invention. The genetically modified raccoon scurried over to her side and ripped the tools out of her hands. "What the hell do you think you're doing with my krutakin' tools?!" Maia jumped, unaware of his presence and looked at him like a child being caught stealing a cookie.
"Listen kid, I'm telling ya', if you connect the red wire to the yellow wire, more sound will be produced." Rocket said, sitting next to the slightly shorter girl. Maia carefully did as he said. She tossed the pliers she was holding onto the table and wiped the sweat off of her forehead.
"What would happen if I added another piece of metal here?" The young girl asked, gesturing to a part of the rectangular object.
Rocket tapped his foot, thinking. "It shouldn't affect anything, but I'd probably use a thinner piece." Maia nodded and added a thin piece of metal to the device. "A few more tweaks and that thing will be good to go!"
"Thank you, Rockey!" Maia squealed, subconsciously hugging the raccoon. Rocket gently pushed her away with wide eyes.
"My name ain't Rockey! It's Rocket...and don't hug me!" Rocket started to walk out of the room before stopping. He turned his head around to see the young girl ducking her head. "Put my shit back the way it was when you're done...and you're welcome..." Maia softly smiled as she watched Rocket exit the room.
Maia had finally finished her invention as Peter descended down the stairs. "And...done!" She exclaimed to herself.
"Did Rocket say it was okay to use his tools?" Peter asked, startling the young girl.
"Um...no, I-I didn't." Peter scoffed in amusement. "B-but," She stuttered. "He saw me and looked like he got mad, but he helped me."
The man nodded his head and chuckled. "Nobody can really convince that dude to do anything at times." He curiously looked at the object behind Maia. "Watcha making?"
Maia looked at it as well. "Well...I call it a hand-held universal tuner." She presented nervously.
Peter picked it up gently and studied it. "What does it do?"
The little girl ripped the tuner out of his hands and turned a knob that was on the front of it. Peter kneeled in front of her. "Ever since I found out about Terran music, I wanted to know more. This is similar to the device I created to tune into different radio waves from Terra." She turned a different knob that controlled the volume. 'Ella se hace la bruta pa cotizar/Asi conmigo enfrente ella se hace la gata en celo contigo/Te cotorrea el oído pa tenerte en alta/Ella muere por ti, tu por mi es que matas.'
"That's a Spanish station." Peter said, chuckling. "Try finding one in English." Maia nodded and continued to turn the first knob. 'Des yeux qui font baisser les miens/Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche/Voilà le portrait sans retouche/De l'homme auquel j'appartiens.' Peter chuckled again. "I'm pretty sure that's french." Maia giggled turning the knob further. 'Isn't she lovely?/Isn't she wonderful?/Isn't she precious?' He held out a hand. "Wait, wait, wait."
"Is this it?!" Maia asked excitedly.
"Holy shit! This is Stevie! I haven't heard any of his songs in decades!" The young girl's smile grew larger than ever and the twinkle in her eyes shined brighter than ever. Peter started laughing in amazement and stood up. He began to dance, forcing Maia to giggle. "Come on, Kid! Dance with me." He held out his hands and Maia cautiously grabbed them. Peter spun her around in circles as she continued to giggle. This moment lasted for several songs. Eventually, both Maia and Peter got tired and decided to take a break.
'You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one/I hope someday you'll join us/And the world will be as one.' Gamora heard a familiar high pitched voice softly singing. She followed the beautiful melody to the common area.
Maia was cleaning up the mess she left on the table. 'Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can/No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man/Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world, you... ' The young girl continued to sing. Gamora quietly made her way into the room. ' You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one/I hope someday you'll join us/And the world will live as one.'
"Maia?" The little girl jumped and quickly turned her head towards Gamora. "Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you." The green woman slowly approached Maia and kneeled down in front of her. "You have such a beautiful voice."
"Can you sing me a song?" Gamora asked with a small smile. Maia nodded and closed her eyes for a moment. She turned around and put the last of the supplies away before she started to sing.
'Meet me where the sunlight ends/Meet me where the truth never bends/Bring all that you're scared to defend.' Gamora's smile grew. 'And lay it down when you walk through my door/Throw all of it out on the floor/Your sorrow, your beauty, your war/I want it all, I want it all.' Maia giggled and accidentally snorted, causing her to laugh harder. She continued to sing. 'Bring your secrets, bring your scars/Bring your glory, all you are/Bring your daylight, bring your dark/Share your silence/And unpack your heart.' She stopped singing with a shy grin upon her face.
Gamora shook her head in amazement. "Where did you learn how to sing like that?"
Maia shrugged and blushed. "My Papa used to sing to me." She said shyly. Maia's sparkling eyes grew dim as tears started to flood in them. "And then he left." Gamora unconsciously placed her hands on the girl's tiny, but muscular arms. She removed them quickly after she realized she had put them there.
"Um...Drax is going to cook dinner. Maybe you'd like to help?" Maia wiped the tears off of her cheeks and ran off in search of the muscular man. Gamora watched her with sympathy filling her eyes. Little did she know that Peter was standing against the ladder of the cockpit.
When she saw him, she glared. "What do you want?"
Peter held up his hands in defense. "Listen, I didn't realize how special that stuffed flerken was to you."
"Why are you bringing this topic back up?" Gamora stood up and grabbed a data-pad off the table.
"I don't know." Peter said, scratching the back of his head.
"Don't pity me, Quill." Peter knew Gamora was pissed when she called him by his last name.
"I'm not pitying you. Listen, we've all been through a lot and I was an ass."
"You always are." She interrupted, glaring at him.
"True." Gamora took a seat on one of the chairs, while Peter hopped onto the edge of the table. They both sat there in silence: Gamora reading something on her data-pad and Peter cracking his knuckles. The green woman glared up at him. He looked back at her. "You don't talk much about your parents."
"Neither do you." Gamora said, looking back down, sighing.
"What's there to talk about? My mom, she...ya' know...and my dad, haven't met him. Don't know him. Don't know where he is." Peter leaned back on his hands. "My life story; what's yours?"
"I know. You told me and I already told you mine." Peter sat up and folded his hands.
"How about this? You tell me one good memory you have from your past. I'll tell you one of mine." Gamora looked at him, confused.
"Why is this so important to you?"
"You're my friend. I might be an ass, but I'll always listen. Sometimes, I've found it's better to think about the good times than the bad."
Gamora nodded. "Alright." She put her data-pad on the chair opposite of her. "When I was younger, before Thanos took my childhood away from me, my father also used to dance with me."
Peter smiled softly and scoffed. "I thought a warrior slash assassin doesn't dance." Gamora rolled her eyes. Peter cleared his throat. "Continue."
"I would always stand on his toes. He-" Gamora chuckled a little. "He always used to call me his little warrior. I was always the fighter. I was always so stubborn-"
"Nothing's changed with that." Peter chuckled. Gamora threw a scrap of metal at him. Peter dodged it. "Careful!"
"Trust me, if I wanted it to impale you, it would've." Gamora leaned back in her chair. "It's your turn."
Peter took a deep breath. "Surprisingly, I wasn't the most popular kid in school. I was actually beaten up a lot."
"You said these were good memories."
"Just wait for it. The morning before my mom died, I went to school and these kids were torturing this Earth animal. It was called a frog. They're like slimy and yeah..." Peter cleared his throat. "Anyways, these kids killed it with a stick and I got pissed and beat the shit out of them. I mean I got a black eye, but afterwards I felt like I did something good. Maybe, beating the shit outta those guys wasn't the smartest idea, but I'm Peter frickin' Quill. What'd you expect?"
Gamora smiled a little. "Nothing less." Peter returned the gesture.
Maia finally found Drax in the galley that was located next to the bathroom. It consisted of a stove, a small counter and a compact refrigerator. The muscular man was cutting up some sort of space vegetable that looked like purple carrots and threw it into a pot of bubbling liquid.
The young girl, who could barely reach the counter, stood on her toes. Drax looked over at the girl, whose nose was barely over the countertop. She stood there in silence. "I am making my popular stew that everyone loves." He said with a small smile.
"Nobody likes it!" Rocket shouted up from the engine room that was in the same hallway, opposite of the kitchen. The man rolled his eyes and sighed.
Drax grabbed a stool, which was originally created for Rocket, and placed it near the stove. "Come, child. Tell me, do you know how to stir properly?" Maia shrugged and stood on the stool. She grabbed the wooden spoon that was in the pot and started stirring it, quickly. Drax grabbed her hand and guided her to stir the liquid in a smooth, gentle motion. "Like that."
Drax continued to chop up several other ingredients. "Tell me, how old are you?"
"Five." Maia replied, not looking up from the pot.
"My daughter was only a year younger than you when I had taught her how to cook. She was quite horrible, but I knew she would improve in time. Unfortunately, she never lived to that day." Maia's eyes filled with remorse.
Drax sighed as he added more ingredients. "You remind me very much of her." Maia looked down at the pot, smiling softly.
After dinner, the Guardians gathered in the common area. Maia was standing in front of Groot, whose pot was placed on top of the table and Rocket, Drax, and Peter were watching them converse.
"I am Groot." Maia giggled and continued to chat with the small sapling.
Gamora stood next to Peter. "She's lost. She has no where to go. Peter, I don't know if leaving her with Nova is a good idea." She whispered.
All of the Guardians whipped their heads around towards the woman. "Gamora, we can't take care of a kid."
"Plus, Nova will take care of her." Rocket added.
"What about Groot? He's an infantilized tree and we're doing a pretty damn good job taking care of him." Gamora countered.
"As much as I have grown fond of the young girl, Peter is correct; we cannot take care of her." The woman scoffed at Drax's words and crossed her arms.
"Gamora, it's been almost three weeks: two of which she was unconscious." Gamora rolled her eyes at her leader.
"You guys can't be serious."
"She's too young. She can't take care of herself and she's not old enough to be a Guardian."
"Peter, since when has there been an age requirement for being a Guardian? Groot is technically younger than her and he's a Guardian."
"It's common sense, Gamora! You aren't thinking straight. That little kid, makes you blind!" Peter threw his hands up in exasperation. "And Groot-Groot can regenerate himself. Maia can't."
"We keep her here, she's in danger." Rocket added.
"She's in danger no matter where she is. She already knows how to fight and I can train her to be even better. It doesn't matter if she's with us or with Nova. She'll always be in danger. At least, if she's with us, she'll feel safe." Gamora pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Hello, where's Gamora?" Rocket asked sarcastically.
Gamora ignored his question. "Peter, listen to me."
The man gazed into her brown eyes. Something about the way Gamora looked at him at that moment, made him realize how much that girl meant to her, whether she admitted it or not. To be completely honest, Peter also felt a strange connection to the young girl as if she had the power to make people feel those connections.
As Peter snapped out of his thoughts, he realized that his crew was staring at him. He turned to Rocket and Drax. "What if she becomes an apprentice?" Gamora asked. Peter turned his attention back to her.
"As in Sword in the Stone, we're her mentors, apprentice?"
"I don't know what the hell the Sword in the Stone is, but yes." Gamora clarified.
"I-I don't know, Gamora. We should all really think about this." Peter suggested looking away from her.
"That is the first thing you've said that wasn't completely idiotic..." Rocket said with big eyes.
Peter rolled his own and left the room.
Next Chapter: While still contemplating on whether or not Maia should become the Guardians' personal apprentice, the team lands on Xandar to get the young girl new clothes. Not too long into their trip, the Guardians get asked to meet with Nova Prime, who meets Maia for the first time, offering the Guardians something that will complicate their decision even more so.
Chapter 5: Return to Xandar
The Guardians finally arrive on Xandar and with Maia's wound fully healed, they decide to buy her some new clothes. While shopping, they bump into Nova Prime and are asked to meet with her at the Nova Corps. building.
"What if she becomes an apprentice?" Gamora asked. Peter turned his attention back to her.
"As in Sword in the Stone, we're her mentors, apprentice?"
"I don't know what the hell the Sword in the Stone is, but yes." Gamora clarified.
"I-I don't know, Gamora. We should all really think about this." Peter suggested looking away from her.
"That is the first thing you've said that wasn't completely idiotic..." Rocket said with big eyes.
Peter rolled his own and left the room...
Three Days Later...
Maia's arm was fully recovered by the time the crew was starting to arrive on Xandar. She put her old, raggedy clothes back on, with the exception of her shredded jacket, which was still covered in dried up blood. The young girl took a deep breath and walked towards the common area, where Gamora sat at the table and Groot, still potted, was seated on top of it.
Gamora inspected Maia as she walked in with a slight smile. For three days straight, all the woman could think about was Maia and whether or not she would be able to stay with them. She thought about the consequences of taking Maia under their wing and letting the Nova Corps decide what to do with her. If she had stayed with the Guardians, she would not only be endangered having to go on missions with the Guardians, but she would also become the Guardians' vulnerability. However, on the contrary, if she was taken into the hands of the Nova Corps, she wouldn't be able to be herself and wouldn't be around people who she could relate to. Therefore, they had two options: they could take her under their wing, endangering her and she could feel safe or she could actually besafe and feel trapped. To be completely honest, Gamora felt that the first option was the best, but over the past few days, she started to see through the other Guardians' perspectives. Although she started leaning towards giving the Nova Corps custody of Maia, Gamora saw something inside of the young girl that she hadn't seen in anyone else: herself.
Maia reflected Gamora. She had been through absolute hell at such a young age. They've both dealt with the deaths of their parents, murdered beings, felt like a demon grew inside of them, were tortured, turned into lethal living weapons and most importantly, had hearts of gold. Since Gamora hadn't met anyone who reflected herself, she wanted to give Maia what she never had growing up; an actual family, who loves her.
The woman sighed. "Hi, Maia."
"Landing in T-minus ten minutes!" Peter yelled down from the cockpit.
Maia walked over to the chair opposite of the woman and sat down. Because of her small size, she had to scoot the rest of her body back to sit correctly on the chair. "Are you guys gonna give me to the Nova Corps?" The little girl asked, fidgeting with her fingers. Gamora made eye contact with Maia, giving her a sad smile
"We're going to Xandar to get you new clothes. I promise we're not taking you to Nova."
"Then why do you look so sad?" Maia asked in curiosity, placing her hands in her lap.
Gamora sighed. "I've just had a lot on my mind." She softly smiled at the girl and stood up from her seat. "Are you all ready?"
"Yup!" Maia said popping out of her chair. She ran towards the stairs leading up to the cockpit and started to climb up them, Gamora following behind.
Xandar hadn't changed much since they had last been there. Thanks to high-quality space tech, the destruction that was caused on Xandar was almost completely fixed. The only thing that had changed was the crowds of people gathering around them as they walked off the ramp of the Milano. Various Xandarian reporters threw themselves at Peter, asking him ridiculous questions about what they were up to after the battle against Ronan. Peter, being 'Star-Lord', stood there for what felt like forever, answering their questions. However, when the subject changed to why a little girl was traveling with them, Peter had enough and finally pushed past them.
"Drax. Rocket. Distract them. Show them Groot and ignore any questions they have about Maia. We need to get her clothes and get out of here before we get surrounded again." He said to the raccoon and musclebound man before walking off with Maia and Gamora.
"Why didn't want to tell them about Maia? Wouldn't the crowd go wild about 'Star-Lord' taking care of a little girl?" Gamora whispered as she watched Maia skip in front of them.
"Well, for one, we don't even know if she's even staying with us." He whispered back. They walked in silence for a minute, watching the young girl skip and giggle in front of them.
It was strange to Peter. He wasn't normally too fond of little kids. However, Maia was different. She was highly-intelligent and had great taste in music, for the most part. Even when she was hyper, she normally didn't tend to get on Peter's nerves. In fact, for some reason it made him smile. He even started to change his thoughts when it came to Maia leaving. "I don't get it."
"She's been through complete hell, yet she's so bubbly and innocent. Why?" He glanced at Gamora.
"She's with people she thinks she can trust-people who she can relate to. She thinks she's safe with us." The young girl ran over to a shop with a red, leather trench coat on display. Peter and Gamora followed her inside as she looked at it in awe.
After two hours of chasing the young girl around the store, the trio finally left with Maia clad in one of her new outfits. She wore a black tank-top with the red knee-length trench coat covering her arms. Her black leggings stretched down to her ankles, which were barely visible with laced white socks covering them. Her hair was pulled up into pigtails and black flats covered her feet. Peter and Gamora walked out of the store, carrying various bags filled with clothes.
"Did Drax give her sugar?" Peter asked, panting. Gamora, who hadn't broke a sweat, rolled her eyes playfully and followed the girl. The man took a deep breath and continued walking.
Maia, quickly slowed down and yawned. She rubbed her eyes and waited for Peter and Gamora to catch up to her. "I'm tired."
"That's what you get when you run for two frickin' hours straight." Peter muttered. Gamora slapped his arm and knelt down in front of the girl.
Before Gamora could say anything, a familiar figure confronted them. She looked up to see that it was Irani Rael, holding a data-pad in her left hand. Gamora stood up. "Nova Prime."
"Mr. Quill, Gamora and...who is this lovely, young lady?" Irani was now the one kneeling in front of the small child.
"I'm Maia." The young girl said shyly.
"Maia! What a lovely name that is!" Irani stood up. "I'm glad that I had bumped into you two. I was on my way to the Nova Corps building to call the Guardians in for a meeting. Since you're already here, I would say in an hour?"
"Of course, Nova Prime."
Before Irani left, she knelt down to Maia one last time. "I am looking forward to seeing you again, Miss Maia." Maia smiled softly at the woman, before watching her walk away.
An Hour Later...
Rocket carried Groot through the halls of the Nova Corps building, the other Guardians following him. Several Nova Officers looked at Maia with a blank face, causing her to walk closer to her newfound friends. Peter looked down at her huddling near his leg. Not sure of what to really do, the man wrapped his finger in one of her pigtails and curled it. She looked up at him with fear spread throughout her face. He gave her a goofy smile, forcing her to giggle as she loosened up.
When the Guardians entered the meeting room, they gathered around a round, metallic table. Irani entered not too long after. "It is nice to, once again, see the Guardians of the Galaxy." The woman took her place at the table. "It is also nice to see you, Maia." The young girl smiled up at her. "Could you go out there for a minute, please?" She asked, pointing to a garden, outside. Maia nodded and followed Irani's finger, grabbing Groot off the table, bringing him along. "The reason why I called you all here today is because a terrorist is invading the galaxy. This terrorist, who goes by the name of 'Friah', has been known to set up explosives in various markets and bars full of innocent people. We've been tracking him down for a few days now and his next target is a small bar in Xandar. We need your help to track this lethal man."
The Guardians eyed each other for a moment and nodded in agreement. "We'll help you."
"Thank you. We all appreciate it." Peter simpered as the Guardians started to walk away from the table. "Before you go," The Guardians stopped and turned around. "I am curious about Maia. Why is she living with a group of ex-criminals?"
Peter took a few steps towards the woman. "We found her on Knowhere-had nothing but, an abusive mentor and a beautiful singing voice. We rescued her just in time and she had no where to go. She didn't have a family, so-"
"You let her stay with you." The woman finished his sentence. "If it makes it any easier, the Nova Corps would be more than willing to let her stay here until we could find her a foster home."
"She can't stay in a foster home." Gamora stated a little too quickly. She looked at the young girl outside, who was curiously looking at the different plants. "She's dangerous in a way. Not only has she been abused, she's been trained to fight and kill. Maia is a sweet girl but, people are after her. If you put her into foster care, not only would the foster parents be at risk, but any other foster kids that would live with her."
"We could still keep her here. We might have to take necessary precautions, but she'd be safe." Now, everyone was looking at the young girl.
"The question is," Peter started out, slowly taking his eyes off of Maia and forcing them to look at Irani. "Where would she be safest?"
The woman clicked her tongue and grabbed her data-pad off of the table. "You may not know this but, there is an underground city in Terra known as Attilan. A race called the Inhumans inhabit it. They are well-known for being half-Terran and half-Kree. They are a very strong group of individuals and I believe they would be more than happy to take Maia into their care." She glanced past Peter, noticing Maia playing with a potted Groot outside and the rest of the team gathered around the glass door, watching her with soft smiles upon their faces. Irani focused her attention back to the man in front of her. "In all honesty, Mr. Quill, I would suggest that she join the Guardians. I do realize it would be a risk, but think about what it would do to not only Maia, but to the rest of your team, if she were to leave."
"I've already talked to my team about this, Prime." Peter crossed his arms, a look of guilt in his eyes. "They all believe she would be in more danger with us, than anyone else."
"And where do you stand in all of this, Mr. Quill?"
"I don't know. At first, all I could think about was having a kid on board of the Milano; how much stuff she could screw up and that. Plus, common knowledge said that kids shouldn't be traveling with a group of ex-criminals, who still kick ass. Then, I realized how frickin' smart she was; damn, she's smarter than me." He chuckled. "It's funny, there hasn't been as much bickering between Rocket and Drax since she arrived. And Gamora-I haven't seen anyone who reflects her so much and she knows it, too."
"It sounds like you don't want her to leave anymore than the rest of your team does." Before Peter could answer, Irani kept talking. "She would be in danger, despite of who she is with. If she were to stay with you and the rest of the Guardians, she would at least have the protection she would need. Whether you want to admit it or not, Mr. Quill, you care so much for that young child. Nobody would ever get their hands near her."
Peter sighed and glanced back over at Maia. The young girl had just walked back into the building, carrying Groot. She handed the young sapling Rocket and giggled when he started dancing. "Let's say we do take her in, what happens when she gets hurt?" Peter asked, not taking his eyes off of Maia.
"She will have you and the rest of the Guardians to care for her."
Nova Prime's speech had made it's way into Peter's thoughts as the Guardians left Xandar with the young child on board. On their way back to the ship, the Guardians had picked up a mattress and bedding for the young girl. Rocket had turned Gamora's single bed into a bunk bed, giving them a place to put Maia's mattress. The rest of that day went by quick and most of the Guardians had passed out. Peter and Gamora were the only ones who were still awake at the late hours of night. Peter tossed and turned in his bed, while Gamora sat in the cockpit gazing at the stars.
Peter decided that he wasn't going to sleep anytime soon and got out of bed. He grabbed his Walkman and headphones before walking up to the cockpit. It wasn't until he saw a spec of green before he realized that he wasn't the only one having trouble sleeping. "Hey." He whispered.
Gamora continued to stare at the stars, with her knees up to her chest. "Hey." The man plopped down in the seat beside her. He went back and forth between gazing at the stars and gazing at Gamora. "What?" She asked, confused at why he was doing what he did.
"Nothing." He replied with his eyes glued to the stars. A moment of silence passed by them before Peter broke it, finally looking at her. "What's going on?"
"What do you mean?" She asked, defensively.
"I don't know. You just haven't really been acting like yourself, lately." Gamora sighed. "Does it have to do with Maia?"
The woman glared at Peter before sighing once again. "She's just like me."
"And that's a bad thing? Listen, Gamora, I normally don't say sappy shit, but to be completely honest, you're one of the most generous and caring people I've ever met. I see that part of you in her."
"That's not what I meant. She has gone through similar situations as I have. Situations in which she was forced to do things that she didn't want to do. I was stripped of my childhood, I didn't want the same to happen to her." Peter subconsciously placed a comforting hand on top of Gamora's, who didn't move her hand.
"And now she won't. She has us now and whether we like it or not, we care about her. No matter what, we'll make sure she has what none of us had before we met: a family." Gamora nodded and the two sat there for the rest of the night, gazing at the stars.
Next Chapter: Friah arrives on Xandar as the Guardians prepare to fight; Gamora bonds with Maia.
Chapter 6: Friah's Arrival
Friah finally arrives on Xandar.
"Okay-" Peter clasped his hands together as a blueprint of the bar was projected on the holographic screen in front of him.
Nova Prime had called the next evening, informing them of Friah's arrival. As soon as the call ended, they had flown to Xandar as quickly as they could.
"Here's the plan: Gamora, Drax and I will enter through these doors-" Peter pointed to a spot on the blueprint. "Rocket, Groot and Maia will park the ship right here-" He pointed to a large alley only a block away from the bar. "And communicate with us through these transmitters." As the man picked up one of the transmitters, Rocket scoffed.
"Why is it I always have to miss out on all the fun?" He asked with an exasperated sigh.
Peter rolled his eyes. "First of all, you don't miss out on all the fun. You're being overdramatic."
"Also,-" Rocket continued on, completely ignoring Peter's comment. "Why does the kid have to stay with me?"
All of the Guardians glared at him, including the small sapling. "It's a bar, Rocket. They're not gonna let a little kid in." Gamora slapped Peter upside his head, causing Maia to slightly giggle.
"Furthermore, a bar is no place for a little girl in general." The green woman softly smiled at the young girl in her arms. "Right?" Maia smiled back and nodded her head. Ever since the team told Maia she was staying for good, the young girl had barely left Gamora's side.
"Can I get back to the plan, now?" Peter said, rolling his eyes and rubbing the back of his head where Gamora had slapped him. "Thank you. Now, what I was saying-Gamora, Drax and I will enter. The transmitters also have a small camera, so you guys can see what's going on. Rocket, Maia and Groot will be our third eye-"
"How can they be a third eye?" Drax asked, confusedly. "If one of them were to give up an eye, they would not be able to see as well."
"It's a metaphor. It just means they're going to keep an eye on our blindspots." Drax nodded, still slightly confused. "Nevermind. Let's just get this over with." Peter grabbed his quad blasters off of the metallic table and turned the holographic screen off. He turned towards Gamora, who was putting Maia back on the ground. "I'll meet you guys outside."
As Peter opened the hatch and exited the ship, Gamora knelt in front of the young girl. Maia looked up at the woman with a small pout on her face. Gamora smiled and placed her hands on the girl's arms. "We'll be back soon, I promise. Stay here with Rocket and help him keep an eye on us." Maia returned the soft smile and nodded. She reached her arms out towards Gamora. The woman wrapped her arms around the small child.
Peter and Drax were already waiting outside. "Gamora, come on!" Peter shouted up the ramp. The woman rolled her eyes and stood up, caressing the side of Maia's cheek before walking down the ramp.
Maia waved to the woman as Rocket closed the hatch.
"Remember, we're just having a night out." Peter stated as they walked into the bar. "We grab a few drinks, walk around and find this maniac."
"Sounds like a horrible plan." Gamora retorted with an expressionless face.
The bar was fairly small and crowded with every single race you could think of. The three decided to split up, knowing that each transmitter had a camera installed in it. Gamora sat up front near the barista, Peter sat at an empty table near the back of the building and Drax started gambling in a game similar to the one he played on Knowhere.
'Okay, so far you guys are clear.'
The three kept their guard up, constantly looking around their surroundings. Several exotic women gathered closely around Peter. Gamora glanced over at him and rolled her eyes. She turned around and started to stir her hourglass-shaped drink with the thin straw that was floating in it.
Peter flirtatiously smiled at them until he saw Gamora turn around, unamused. His smile faded as he walked away from the women. The whole team was completely aware of the man's affection towards the former emerald-skinned assassin. Peter had felt something for Gamora that he hadn't felt for any other woman before. She had changed him for the better and the feelings he had for her were delicate. He already had screwed up several times, receiving a knife to the throat or a knee to the...well-as he said before, he never learns. Although he would never say it out loud, Peter would do anything for her. Anything...
A tall, muscular Rainerian man sat on the barstool next to Gamora's. Peter couldn't help, but to keep his eye on him. The ex-ravenger had a gut feeling that the Rainerian spelled trouble all over him. Peter propped his foot up against the wall, leaning back towards it.
"Well, well, well. If it isn't the deadliest woman in the galaxy." The man said in a deep voice, leaning towards Gamora. The woman, who's face was expressionless, continued to stir her drink. The Rainerian leaned in further. "What's a hot chick like you, doing in such a filthy-ass pub?" Peter subconsciously reached for one of his blasters.
"When you live with a bunch of childish men, it's nice to have a night out." Gamora said, staring at her drink.
"Why not have a night out with me? We could go back to my place. I promise you won't regret it." He started to wrap his arm around her waist. Gamora shifted uncomfortably on her stool and pushed the man's arm away.
"Thanks for the offer, but I'm not interested." Gamora took a drink as the man stood up.
Suddenly, a loud blast was heard as the Rainerian fell to the ground. Gamora whipped around around to see Peter lowering his blaster and Drax running to the scene. That was when everything went erratic.
The quality of the transmitter cams weren't as good as Rocket had hoped. The picture was quite fuzzy, but decipherable. Rocket and Maia gathered around the holographic screen, while Groot was set down onto the table.
They watched as the trio entered the bar and went their separate ways. "Okay, you guys are good so far." Rocket said into the transmitter.
Maia looked at the video coming from Peter's transmitter. She grimaced at how close the women were gathering around him. "Better get used to that. Quill is a magnet to chicks." Maia continued to stare at the screen, watching the way Peter moved away from the exotic women when he saw Gamora turn away, presumably upset.
"Do they love each other?" Maia asked curiously, moving closer to the screen.
Rocket broke down in cachinnation. "You're serious, right?"
"Quill just wants to get laid and Gamora doesn't even know what the hell she's feeling most of the time." Rocket threw his arms up in exasperation as he turned away from Maia.
"What's 'laid' mean?" The young girl asked innocently.
Rocket's eyes got larger than normal. "Oh, shit. I forgot I was talking to a kid..." He slowly turned back towards Maia. "You'll learn when you get older, Kid. Just forget that conversation ever happened. It stays between you and me, got it?!" Maia nodded her head quickly. "Good."
An hour later, Maia had fallen asleep, curled up in a ball on a maroon, leather seat that was near the screen. Rocket, who was fighting to stay awake, almost fell asleep until the screen started beeping. He shot up, looked at Maia and sighed. He turned back around and saw that Gamora's cam went dead, but her audio was still working. The raccoon watched Peter's transmitter cam footage as a Rainerian man got too close to her from behind. Peter's transmitter detected a grenade in the Rainerian's pocket. "Oh, shit." Rocket whispered to himself. "Quill! That man-whore is Friah!" It wasn't even a second later that Peter's blast made a hole through the man's chest. Then, all of the transmitters went dead.
Next Chapter: Gamora, Peter and Drax get caught in the explosion of a Xandarian bar; meanwhile, Rocket tiptoes his way around the Milano to find a way to rescue the rest of the Guardians without waking up Maia.
Chapter 7: "T" Stands for Trouble
Drax, Gamora and Peter have to find a way out of the burning bar before is collapses on them. Meanwhile, Rocket tries to figure out a way to contact them without waking up Maia.
The cams went dead. The static and blackness of the screens, made Rocket panic. He quieted down when he realized how loud he was being. Maia was still asleep on the chair and he knew if she were to wake up, manners would only get worse. The genetically-modified raccoon tried to get the system running again. He wasn't able to get live feed, but he was able to restore earlier footage from right before the explosion.
Gamora's cam was still dead at the time, but Peter and Drax's were up and running. He watched Peter's feed first. The sound of Rocket's voice echoed through the audio. 'Quill! That man-whore is Friah!' Rocket watched as Peter quickly pulled out his blaster and aimed it at the man who was dangerously close to Gamora. In the blink of an eye, the blast was fired and Peter dived on top of Gamora, causing the both of them to slide onto the bar counter and fall behind it. That's when Peter's cam went dead.
Drax's cam was the last to die. After the blast was fired, Drax ran into the main room. He saw the grenade falling from Friah's jacket as he dove behind the wall at the last second. Then, static.
Rocket scratched his head. "They have to be alive." He whispered to himself. His button nose twitched as he shuffled around room, trying to find a way to contact the rest of the Guardians, in hopes that they were still alive.
It all happened so fast. His unbelievably accurate shot and the explosion that came just seconds after. Peter was barely able to process the whole event. The only thing he remembered was seeing Gamora, whip around as soon as the blast fired. It wasn't long after that he saw the grenade dropping out of Friah's jacket. He flew across the bar and dove on top of Gamora. The two fell behind the bar counter.
The grenade hit the ground and the bar burst into flames. Gamora held Peter close, covering the back of his skull with her hands, protecting him from the flying residue and debris.
Peter slowly lifted himself off of Gamora. He looked down into her dark brown eyes as she started coughing. "You okay?" Peter asked in a hoarse voice, caressing her cheek, causing her to look up at him. The green woman nodded as she continued to cough.
"I'm fine." She gazed into his eyes for a moment, before noticing the large gash on his forehead. "Oh my God, Peter!" Gamora gently felt around the wound, inspecting him for a broken skull. She accidentally touched it, causing Peter to flinch and fly backwards.
Peter stood up. "I'm fine, Gamora. It's just a scratch." He felt the wound and looked down at his fingers, which were covered in blood.
"Just a scratch, my ass." The woman's black and red ombre hair flipped around as she frantically searched for one of the cloth napkins, the bartender used when he was serving drinks. She found one beside her and handed it to Peter. The man dabbed his forehead with it, giving Gamora a soft smile.
Gamora's eyes grew huge as she stood up and whipped her head around. "Where's Drax?!" She asked in a slight panic.
"I am right here." The muscular man stumbled into the room, coughing. Gamora and Peter let out a sigh in relief.
"Well, this wasn't how this night was supposed to go."
Gamora looked down at her feet and saw burning bodies of innocent men and women. She gasped, stumbling backwards into Peter. He grabbed her arms from behind, steadying her. "We were supposed to prevent this." She turned around to face the two men behind her.
"There's nothing we could've done, Gamora."
The woman nodded. "We need to get back to the ship and contact Nova Prime."
"I'll contact Rocket now and let him know that we're okay." Peter reached for the piece of metal behind his ear. He pressed the button as his mask materialized over his face. However, something was wrong. When he tried to call Rocket, there was nothing but static on the other line. "Shit." Peter said under his breath.
"Let me try to contact our furry companion." Drax reached for his prototype transmitter, but it crumbled into shards in his hands. Gamora tried as well, but the same happened to her's. The impact from the explosion destroyed them and they had no way of contacting Rocket.
"I guess we're just gonna have to walk back." Peter let out an exasperated sigh and dematerialized his mask.
As if things couldn't get worse for the trio, the ground started to crumble underneath them and before they could even move, they were pulled into the cellar of the bar, trapped underneath the remains of it.
Rocket glanced over at the sleeping child once again. He turned his head towards Groot, who was wide awake in his pot and had tears in his eyes. "Don't worry, buddy. We'll find em'."
The raccoon sighed. "We can't leave her behind and if we take off with the ship, she'll wake up." He lowered his ears and wrinkled his nose. "I guess all we can do right now is wait."
The cellar was dark and quiet. The only sounds came from the trio coughing, the debris falling and Peter's Walkman softly playing 'Don't Fear the Reaper'. The ex-ravenger was the first to stand up. "Well, this day just keeps getting better and better!" Peter exclaimed sarcastically. He brushed himself off as Drax and Gamora stood up, both in coughing fits. "So, we have two choices; we can either try to get out of this dump or we could wait for the Nova Corps to get here and dig through all the rubble."
"I would rather get out as soon as we can." Drax stated, grabbing his daggers out of his boots.
"Me, too." Gamora replied, reaching for her Godslayer. It was gone. "Dammit."
"Don't worry, I have my quad blasters." The man reached for his blasters, but one was missing. "Well, one." He sighed and twirled the weapon in his hand.
Peter aimed at one of the hollow pieces of rubble. The emerald woman beside him lowered his arm. "Wait. We need to plan this out. One bad shot will make this whole building crash down on us."
"Isn't that what just happened?" Gamora glared at him with her hands on her hips. Peter sighed. "You're right." He clipped the blaster back into his holster. "Any ideas?"
Gamora scanned the cellar, which was filled with crates and shelves crammed with foreign alcoholic beverages. She noticed a small crevice above the staircase and walked towards it. "We could start pulling out the looser pieces and go from there." Peter nodded as he and Gamora started digging through the rubble. Drax placed his daggers back into his boots and joined them.
After what seemed like hours of digging through rubble, the trio were finally able to increase the size of the crevice. However, they pulled out too much and the rest of the building started to collapse. Peter quickly grabbed a prototype aero-rig out of his pocket and placed it on his back, activating it. He put an arm around Gamora's waist and the two of them levitated into the air. They flew to a sturdier part of the lot and Peter released his arm from the emerald woman's waist, allowing her to jump to the ground.
He flew back into the building, which was still in flames. Several minutes later, he managed to escape right before the building completely collapsed, struggling to carry Drax with him. He threw himself onto the ground, landing onto his hands and knees and groaned. Gamora rolled her eyes as Drax lifted an eyebrow in confusion. "Jesus, you're heavy." Peter moaned. He picked himself back up and adjusted his jacket. The man pulled something out of his jacket; Gamora's Godsayer. He handed it to her, earning a small 'thank you'. "We should wait for Nova to get here. Don't wanna make this look worse than it actually is."
Gamora shook her head. "No." Brown eyes met hazel as the woman crossed her arms. "We need to go back to the ship first. We don't have any way of contacting Rocket, Groot and Maia and they have no clue if we're alive or not."
"I know, but-"
An emerald hand found its way to Peter's arm. "They'll understand. Nova trusts us. We'll call them as soon as we get to the ship." They stood in that position for a moment, gazing into each other's eyes. Drax shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. Gamora violently drew her hand back and started walking back to the ship. "I'm already almost to the ship! You two are too slow." She teased, trying to hide her slight embarrassment.
Gamora entered the refurbished ship, covered in ash and soot. The two men followed closely behind. Groot was the first to see the trio walk in. "I am Groot!" He chirped cheerfully. Rocket whipped around with a slight sigh of relief.
"Where the hell were ya' guys?! I had to watch this little dimwit longer than I intended to!" He stage whispered, trying to hide his concern. He approached them slowly and crossed his small, furry arms.
"Cut the shit, man. We know you were worried about us." Peter took off his jacket and threw it on the ground.
Rocket rolled his eyes and scoffed. "Sure."
Peter grabbed a data pad and walked up to the cockpit, ignoring Rocket's snide remark. Drax stretched his arms up and he and Rocket walked to their beds.
Groot whined a little trying to get Gamora's attention. The green woman approached him, softly smiling. She stroked his cheek with her finger; something she had found herself doing often subconsciously."Hey there, big guy. Were you good for Rocket?" Groot nodded, his big eyes glued to Gamora's. "Good boy." The woman's brown eyes traveled to the sleeping child on the chair as her smiled faded. Her finger slowly trailed off of Groot's cheek as she approached the young girl.
Her small eyelids were squeezed shut as if she was having a nightmare or had trouble falling asleep. Her lower lip started to quiver and her petite, curled-up body became tense. She started to tremble and the grip on her stuffed flerken tightened. Gamora knelt beside the chair and gently shook the young girl. Maia's hazel eyes fluttered, but didn't open. She stretched out her whole body, letting the stuffed flerken drop to the floor. "We're back." Gamora whispered, rubbing her hand in circles on Maia's back.
The little girl rubbed her eyes roughly. "Mommy?" She questioned, sleepily.
Gamora's eyes widened as a inaudible 'what?' escaped her mouth. She became alarmed; she wasn't a mother, nor did she deserve to be one. She quickly realized that Maia never woke up and was still deep in slumber. Maia continued to tremble. Gamora tucked an ebony ringlet behind her ear and started to thumb the temple of her head. The young girl leaned into her touch, loosened up and grew a soft smile.
The woman stood up and lifted Maia into her arms. The half-asleep child wrapped her arms around Gamora's neck and her legs around her abdomen. She dug her head into her neck. Gamora carefully bent down and grabbed the stuffed flerken that Maia refused to part with. She turned around to a once in a lifetime experience; Groot climbing out of his pot. She started nudging Maia excitedly. "Look, Maia, look!" She whispered. The girl opened her eyes and grew a large smile as she watched the, now toddler, tree waddle around, stumbling over his own two feet.
"He's so cute!" She squealed quietly, rubbing her eyes.
"He is, isn't he?" Maia nodded. "So are you." The young girl giggled quietly as she leaned her head back on Gamora's shoulder and her eyes fluttered shut. "Let's get you, both, to bed." Gamora gestured for Groot to follow her. He stumbled multiple times as he followed her to her cabin.
Next Chapter: After waking up from a nightmare, Gamora runs into a drunk Peter, who reveals an embarrassing secret about his past.
Chapter 8: Zardu Hasselfrau
Gamora has trouble falling asleep and realizes Peter is too. He reveals a slightly embarrassing secret to her.
A/N: Hey guys! This is where spoilers start for Vol. 2 and even though this chapter has very minor spoilers, they are spoilers. If you want to remain spoiler-free until you have seen the movie, I would suggest not reading from here-on until you have. Thanks and enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had been the first time Gamora had tried to sleep in what seemed like years. Her legs were tucked into her chest and her emerald skin was covered in goosebumps, due to Drax always turning off the heat at night. The plum comforter that was draped on top of her, fell to the ground as she tossed and turned.
She silently groaned and grabbed her pillow from underneath her. She turned, face-first into the mattress and slammed the pillow on top of her head. Realizing that this wasn't going anywhere soon, Gamora pulled the pillow off of her head with one hand and rubbed the side of her cheek with the other. She threw her legs to the side of her bed and quietly stood up, trying to prevent waking up Maia and Groot, who were cuddled up next to each other. She smiled softly at them before exiting the room.
She quietly tiptoed into the main hallway of the ship, careful to not wake up Rocket or Drax, who were snoring loudly. Her bare feet shuffled across the cold floor as she finally reached the stairs to the cockpit. Gamora grabbed a hold of the railing on the side of the staircase and lazily climbed up them.
When she reached the top, she saw him: Peter in a grey pair of sweatpants and no shirt. He was sitting in the pilot seat with a bottle of exotic space beer with several empty ones surrounding him. His hazel eyes were glued to the stars on Xandar. He must've known of Gamora's presence because she could feel him tense as soon as she entered. He kept his eyes on the stars, careful not to make eye contact with her.
Gamora sat in the passengers seat next to him, curling her knees to her chest. It was colder in the cockpit and the only clothing she had on was a thin, black, racer back tank top and a pair of black dolphin shorts. She wrapped her arms around her legs and stared at the stars.
For a moment, they sat like that: saying nothing. They didn't need to. Gamora knew why Peter was up here, all by himself, drinking away all of his problems; he missed his father. The one who was never there. The one who he'd never met. The one who abandoned him and his mother before he was even born. It didn't matter; he missed him and he would drink that all away on nights like these. Gamora was going to ask him about his small debriefing with Nova Prime, but decided against it. She would ask him tomorrow. Right now, she just needed to be there for him.
Finally, he sighed, breaking the silence. Peter took a crumbled, but folded piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Gamora without looking at her. He took another drink of beer.
Gamora unfolded it, revealing a picture of a man with brown, curly, shoulder-length hair cropped out of an old Terran magazine. She studied it closely, not recognizing the man.
"That's David Hasselhoff." Peter whispered almost inaudible. Gamora finally faced him. His eyes were still glued to the stars. "He was a singer and actor from Earth. Really famous." He shifted almost uncomfortably in his chair. "When I was a kid, I used to carry that picture in my pocket. I would tell all the other kids that he was my father. I told them that he was never around because he was always out of town, shooting 'Knight Rider' or traveling with his band in Germany..." Peter chuckled a little and finally looked at her with a sad smile. "In 'Knight Rider', he owned a talking car."
Gamora looked at him sympathetically. Without thinking, she reached out and placed her hand on top of his. She thumbed the back of it and gave him a comforting smile. "I know it was hard for you growing up. I can't imagine what that must've felt like, not even ever knowing or meeting your father."
Peter's sad smile slowly developed into a frown and dropped his eyes to the ground. "What about you? Your life was a lot shittier when you were growing up than mine. You got to meet your dad, but you also had to watch him..." He couldn't finish the sentence and looked back up at Gamora who was frowning as well, almost in tears. "And then, Thanos. Jesus Christ...he's such an ass. How could he do that to you?" The green woman folded the piece of paper back up to its original shape and handed it back to Peter. He took it from her and placed it back in his pocket. "We're both pretty screwed up, huh?"
The woman didn't say anything. She grabbed the beer bottle from Peter and took a drink out of it, gazing back up at the stars. "We all are, but I think that's what bonds us: the longing for a family." She took another sip as Peter turned his head to face the stars as well.
"Yeah..." The man said. "Family."
A/N: Sorry for another short chapter. I just wanted to create this fluffy small chapter. I know the characters might be slightly OOC and I'm sorry for that. The next one will start the plot for Vol. 2. Thank you all so much for the supportive reviews and just reading this story in general. I love these two and they are my parents! XDD Next Chapter: Peter explains what happened during the small debriefing with Nova Prime. The Sovereign contact the Guardians for a job with a reward they cannot refuse. Meanwhile, Maia and baby Groot bond with Peter.
Chapter 9: Fox on the Run
Peter tells the crew about the debriefing and a really interesting request from the high priestess of the Sovereign. Maia and Groot spend time with Peter.
Gamora and Peter hadn't spoken about the night before. After hours of sitting in the cockpit, stargazing and having deep talks, they had decided to try and get some sleep once again.
It was now morning and the sun was shining brightly on Xandar. Peter was the last to wake up and unfortunately, he was hungover. He reached the common area to find a walking Groot and Maia playing, what seemed to be, tag. They ran past him as he stumbled off to the side.
The young girl's universal tuner was hooked up to prototype speakers that Rocket had build, projecting the melody of a unfamiliar Terran tune. 'I know that it's gonna take some time/I've got to admit that the thought has crossed my mind/That this might end up like it should/And I'm gonna say what I need to say.'
It was a good morning; Drax was chuckling lightly, sharpening his daggers, Gamora was eating breakfast and Rocket was building something with wide eyes. "He grew legs…" He whispered unbelievably, letting out a harsh breath.
Peter chuckled a little, flinching at the painful migraine he was having. He approached Gamora, who was sitting on one of the maroon, leather-padded chairs, eating the same type of purple fruit that she was eating when she first met him.
The emerald woman bit into it. "You drank too much last night." She stated as she chewed the fruit. Peter nodded and disappeared into the galley to get a glass of water. "So, what happened with the debriefing?"
The man returned and placed his glass on the metallic table. "I told them what happened and they understood, but…" Peter's eyes furrowed in confusion. "I also got a call from the high priestess of a race called the Sovereign."
The room went silent, the only sound coming from the soft music playing, Maia's giggles and the loud thumps from her and Groot running around the ship. Rocket, Drax and Gamora stopped what they were doing to look up at him. "What'd those jerks want and will somebody turn up the music?! Those two are killing my ears!" The genetically modified raccoon asked.
"This intergalactic beast...an Abilisk, has been feeding on their batteries that are highly valued. They want us to kill it."
"Why don't we just steal the batteries? I mean think about it! We could be rich-"
"We're not stealing their batteries." Gamora interrupted the raccoon before turning to Peter.
"What's the reward?" Rocket asked with a sigh, rolling his eyes.
The emerald woman scoffed and rested her hands on her hips. "Why do you always care about profit? Why can't we ever do something because it's the right thing to do?"
"What's it worth?" Rocket asked again, ignoring Gamora's previous statement.
"Not what...who." Everyone looked at him, confused. "They have Nebula held as their prisoner." Gamora clenched her fists and sneered at the mention of her 'sister's' name. The last time they saw each other, the Luphomoid called her crazy and chopped off her hand, escaping to God knows where. Now, the Sovereign have her? "The Nova Corps put a huge bounty on her."
"I just want her locked up." Gamora admitted.
"Not in the mood for a sisterly reunion, huh?" The woman glared at Rocket.
Peter clasped his hands and rubbed them together. "So, are we doing this or not?"
"This mission sounds intriguing...I will take part in it." Drax placed his newly sharpened daggers in his boots and stood up.
Rocket sighed. "I'd rather steal those batteries, but I guess Baldy is good enough." The three men turned their attention towards Gamora, who was still trying to process the thought of her sister still being alive. She jutted out her hip and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Fine." The woman's brown eyes found their way to Peter's. "We're going to kill the Abilisk, retrieve my sister and turn her in for the bounty. That's it. I will contact the Sovereign and set the coordinates." Peter nodded as she climbed up into the cockpit.
Maia and Groot ran back into the meeting room, giggling. Rocket rolled his eyes and slammed one of his tools on the metallic table. "That's it! I'm going into the cockpit!" The raccoon stormed up into the cockpit.
Drax guffawed. "Welcome to parenthood, my furry companion!" He yelled up to the raccoon. Groot stopped chasing Maia and angrily ran towards the tattooed man. He started whacking him with his vines, causing the young girl to fall to the floor in an unstoppable belly laugh. "Why must you whip me with your vines, dumb tree?" Drax asked as the tiny tree continued to whip him.
Peter took in a sharp breath, rubbing his temples. "Hey, guys? Can you keep it down for a bit? I have a massive headache." Groot immediately stopped whipping Drax and approached Peter with glossy eyes and a large frown. Maia's belly laugh finally died down as she, too, approached the man in concern. Peter sat down in one of the leather-padded seats.
The hazel-eyed girl placed her hand on Peter's arm and gave him a reassuring smile. He returned it and lifted her onto his knee. Groot climbed onto Peter's shoulder and sat down, letting his tiny legs dangle downward.
"Quill, would you like painkillers?" Drax asked in concern.
Peter nodded. "Yeah. Thanks, man." The tattooed man smiled as he left the room. He came back a few minutes later with two white pills. He handed them to Peter, before leaving the room again.
Suddenly, Maia's universal turner started to spark, alerting the young girl. "Uh-oh..." She whispered with wide eyes.
Peter turned his head to face the speakers. An uproar of static burst through them, causing a sound of distress. Without thinking, the man lifted Maia off of his lap and set her on the ground. He ignored the subdued throbbing pain in his head and ran over to the sparking speakers. He was able to disconnect the cables before they started a fire. However, the young girl's invention was beyond repair.
Hazel eyes welled up as Maia's lower lip quivered. Groot climbed off of Peter's shoulders and wrapped his small arms around the girl's leg. Peter looked down at the petite child. He felt a great amount of guilt, knowing how hard she worked to get the device working. Suddenly, he hatched an idea.
The man sprung to the large cassette deck that he hadn't used since Maia had built her universal tuner. He placed a cassette in it and turned up the volume. 'I don't wanna know your name/'Cause you don't look the same/The way you did before/Okay, you think you got a pretty face'
The young girl's eyes lit up as Peter slid over to her. He held out his hand and bowed. "May I have this dance, M'lady?"
Maia giggled and curtsied, pulling out the sides of her black dress. "I'd love to!" She squeaked, bouncing on her toes. The man bent down and grabbed both of the girl's small hands in his own. He created a train-like movement with their arms, pulling one of her arms and pushing the other, rotating to the rhythm of the song. He let go of one of her hands and spun her around.
Groot wanted to join in on the fun. He climbed up onto Maia's head and held on as the three of them danced together.
"We're almost there." A soft, yet firm voice announced. Peter jumped, unaware of Gamora's presence.
Maia ran to Gamora, jumping into her arms. She chortled and looked at Peter. "Peter was teachin' me how to dance!" The young girl exclaimed excitedly.
Gamora gave her a friendly smile. "That sounds like fun."
"You know I can teach you how to dance as well…" Peter suggested, acting innocent.
The woman laughed. "In your dreams, Star-Lord." She teased, placing Maia back on the ground. She looked down at her. "I need you to keep an eye on Groot while we fight this beast. Do you think you can handle that?" Maia nodded happily. "Good."
Next Chapter: *This will be the start of the second movie* The Guardians land on the Sovereign's planet/While they fight the Abilisk, Maia is in charge of watching over Groot.
Chapter 10: Soon Comes Mr. Night Creepin' Over
The Guardians arrive on Planet Sovereign; Rocket, Drax, Gamora and Peter fight the Abilisk; Meanwhile, Maia has a hard time keeping an eye on Groot.
A/N: BEFORE YOU READ THIS! From here and on there will be SPOILERS for Guardians 2. You have been warned!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Planet Sovereign was almost completely structured in gold. If an object wasn't made of gold, it was made of a similar metal in various colors. The Guardians stood on a large, circular platform where the batteries were located. Metallic, cylinder-shaped objects held the batteries that they were supposed to be protecting. They looked like bright, yellow glow sticks. The metallic objects were wired up to large, semi-spherical energy generators that reflected bright lights off the ground.
Peter, Gamora and Rocket were all wearing the enhanced aero-rigs that Rocket had been working on the whole ride there. Peter pulled out a tracker that the raccoon had made from his old, handheld electronic football game. Several dots, that sensed each of the Guardians' body heat, tracked their every movement as another dot appeared, slowly making its way towards theirs. The moving spot sensed the body heat of the inter-dimensional beast that was coming at its accustomed time to feed.
"Showtime, Assholes!" Peter yelled, keeping his focus towards the direction of the approaching Abilisk.
The petite child next to him, who was clad in white leggings, a navy blue, long-sleeved blouse and black sneakers, scrunched up her face at him. She crossed her arms over her chest, mimicking Gamora's frequent pose. "Peter," She singsonged. "That's not a nice word."
Drax and Gamora snickered as their leader sighed. "Okay, fine." He played along. "Showtime, A-holes!" The man looked back at the tracking device. "He'll be here any minute."
"Which will be his loss..." Gamora cocked the large gun she had brought with, attracting the attention of both Peter and Maia. The young girl chortled at her mother figure look like a total badass.
Peter kept shifting his eyesight between Gamora and her gun. "I thought your thing was a sword."
The woman rolled her eyes at her leader. "We're hired to stop an inter-dimensional beast from feeding on those batteries-" She glanced at the batteries and returned her glare to Peter. "And I'm gonna stop it with a sword?"
The man looked away, slightly embarrassed. "It's just swords were your thing and guns were mine, but...I guess we're both doing guns now...I just didn't know that." He pressed his lips together as Gamora rolled her eyes once again. Maia chuckled.
Gamora turned her focus towards the musclebound man standing next to her. "Drax," He quickly looked over at her. "Why aren't you wearing one of Rocket's aero-rigs?" She asked, gesturing to her own.
"It hurts." He replied, casually turning back around.
"It hurts?" The woman questioned, raising her eyebrows in disbelief.
Drax glanced back at her and quickly turned away. "I have sensitive nipples..." He admitted, embarrassed.
The young girl in front of him, tried to hold back a laugh, her shoulders raising up to hers ears. Rocket couldn't help, but to belt out a laugh. He stood up from what he was doing and turned to his teammates. "My nipples hurt! Oh goodness, me!" He teased, while laughing hysterically and gesturing towards his own. Maia couldn't help, but join in, earning a light smack upside the head from Peter. She immediately stopped as they both turned to the raccoon, who was now in tears from laughing so hard.
The tattooed man pointed at Rocket. "What about him?! What's he doing?!"
Rocket gestured to the speakers that Maia used to play the music from before her universal tuner had bit the dust. The raccoon had modified it to connect to Peter's Walk-Man. Maia had knelt down beside him, studying the speakers. "I'm finishing this, so we can listen to tunes while we work."
"Will it even work?" The child beside him asked. Rocket shrugged his shoulders.
"How is that a priority?" Drax looked at him with an expressionless face.
The raccoon gestured to his leader. "Blame Quill! He's the one who loves music so much!"
"No, I agree with Drax on this one." Peter countered, interrupting Rocket. "That's hardly important right now." Gamora rolled her eyes in disbelief.
"Oh, okay. Sure, Quill." Rocket winked at him, oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to do it when Drax wasn't aware.
"No," Their leader said firmly. "Seriously, I side with Drax."
Rocket continued winking. "No, I understand that. You're being very serious right now." The young girl beside him started to giggle again.
Drax looked at him in disbelief, holding his hands out in front of him. "I can clearly see you winking!"
"Damn, I'm using my left eye?"
Groot, completely oblivious to the whole conversation, chased three Orloni around the platform. As soon as they ran back towards the rest of the Guardians, the toddler pushed one of them and punched another, angrily. "I am Groot!" He growled, stomping his foot.
The raccoon continued to work on the speakers. "They were not looking at you funny." He explained.
Suddenly, the clouds in the sky went from a dark black to several shades of green, blue and pink. A large, tentacled creature entered through them, escalating down towards the Guardians. It was salmon pink and had hundreds of razor sharp teeth. Maia quickly hid behind Gamora. The woman knelt down in front of her.
"Well, that's intense." Rocket stated, not taking his eyes off of the beast before him.
"Hey," The emerald woman said, looking up at the frightened child. "I know it's scary-looking, but he won't hurt you. I promise." Maia nodded, clearly still afraid of the large monster. Even though she had the intelligence of the average young adult, the young girl still had the mentality of a child. She was still frightened of things that an average child would be afraid of: monsters, the dark, etc. Gamora understood that. She also understood how much the young girl had been through since she was born. However, she wanted Maia to be a stronger person. She couldn't force Maia to be fearless, but she knew, deep down, the child was a warrior; a brave, selfless warrior, who would protect the people she loved with her life. Gamora smiled softly at her. "Can you be brave and watch over Groot for us?" The little girl returned the gesture and nodded. "There's my brave, little warrior."
Peter heard the last sentence and quickly turned his head towards her. He remembered the story she told him when they first started opening up to each other;'he always used to call me his little warrior.' He smiled a little at the thought of Gamora using her father's pet name for her on Maia. Her little warrior. Their little warrior. Maia was significantly connected to each of the Guardians in different ways: Gamora was her mother, Peter was her father, Drax was her uncle, Rocket was her cranky older brother and Groot was her adorable little brother. He quickly turned his attention back to the Abilisk. Gamora's soft expression turned serious as she stood up.
Drax unsheathed his daggers from his boots and stood in front of the beast. He let out a battle cry and ran towards it. Gamora, Rocket and Peter all took off behind him on their aero-rigs.
Maia watched in concern as they all charged towards it. She looked beside her to see Groot struggling to connect the two wires of the speakers together. She knelt down next to him and smiled. "You need help, buddy?" She asked, holding out her hands. The tree shook his head and managed to connect them as the speakers produced sound. The opening instrumental of Mr. Blue Sky filled throughout the battle.
The small tree started swaying his hips to the beat. Maia joined him, spinning around in circles. While Groot was doing his adorable baby dance, Maia was practicing the moves to a dance Peter calls the 'Charleston'. She started practicing small kicks and spins. When the girl wasn't looking, Groot moved towards the battle, discovering a light on the ground and started dancing on it.
Peter was knocked to the ground by a tentacle. He shot at the huge beast, staring at the tree beside him. He stumbled as he got up and wiped sweat off of his forehead. "Maia, get Gro-" His sentence was cut off as another tentacle smacked him across the platform.
Maia heard Peter and stopped dancing. She saw Groot near the dangerous beast and ran to him. She quickly picked him up and moved him out of harms way. "No, Grootie." She scolded adorably. She lightened up and smiled at the small tree. She grabbed his tiny hand and spun him. They continued dancing on their own, Maia occasionally looking at Groot to make sure he wasn't near the Abilisk. The two children accidentally moved closer to the battle, their backs towards the action.
Gamora lowered herself onto the ground. She aimed her large blaster at the beast, but before she could fire at it, the beast spat colorful flames towards her. She covered her face with her arm and glanced over at the two children. "Groot! Maia!" She hollered. The two quickly whipped around. "Get out of the way! You guys are gonna get hurt!" Maia picked Groot up and moved back. The little tree waved at Gamora. She smiled at them. "Hi!" Maia returned the gesture as the woman flew back in the air.
She set Groot on the ground. "Grootie," She started out sternly. "I told you to stay away from there."
"I am Groot!" He countered.
"I know, I know! I wasn't paying attention either..." Maia started watching the Guardians finish their battle. Groot, still completely oblivious to the battle, started dancing again. Drax got thrown across the platform and landed behind Groot. Maia gasped, asking if he was okay. The man nodded and looked at the tree in front of him. Groot sensed a pair of eyes land on him and stopped dancing. Every time Drax looked away, Groot started dancing again, forcing Maia to giggle. The young girl watched as he finally brushed it off and ran back towards the Abilisk.
As soon as Maia took her eyes off of Groot, the little tree saw a fly-like created and chased it. He caught up with it and put it in his mouth. Rocket glanced over at him and rolled his eyes. He landed behind the toddler, placing holstering his blaster on his back. "No, no, no! Spit it out! Spit it out! Come on-" He smacked the back off Groot's head, causing the creature to fly away. Rocket turned his attention to Maia. "Hey, brat! You're supposed to be keeping an eye on Groot!" The girl ran over apologizing. He shook his head as he flew back off. "Disgusting!"
"Grootie," The young girl started off in a small whine. She watched Rocket begin to fight the beast again. "Why can't you just-" She turned around to no Groot. "Stay still..." She whipped her head around the entire platform and saw him holding on for dear life on the back of an Orloni. "Grootie!" She yelled out. The creature ran around the platform, through the battle and made its way back towards Maia, throwing Groot off its back. The little girl ran over to him, as he brushed himself off and started dancing again. She sighed in relief and clenched her chest.
The Abilisk threw Drax again. The musclebound man landed on top of the speakers, crushing them with his entire weight. Groot turned around as music stopped. He screamed and started whipping Drax as he began to sit up. Maia tried to grab the tree, so he would stop smacking Drax, but she failed. He finally stopped when Drax stood to the side of Gamora. She was firing blasts at the beast. Her eyes got wide when she realized how close Maia and Groot were to the battle.
"You two, move out of the way! You're too close!" She yelled to them. Maia nodded, grabbed Groot and ran further away from the battle.
She aimed at the beast again. "The beast's hide is too thick to be pierced on the outside...I must cut through it from the inside!"
"Huh?" Gamora lowered her weapon and whipped her head towards Drax. "No,no,no. Drax! Wait a minute!" Drax laughed like the maniac he was and charged at the Abilisk. "Drax!" Gamora yelled even louder. The large man ignored her and jumped into the mouth of the beast.
"Drax!" Maia screamed out with nothing, but concern in her eyes. She tightened her grip on Groot.
Out of the corner of his eye, Peter saw the Abilisk close its mouth with Drax inside. He dematerialized his mask and shock spread throughout his face. "What is he doing?!" He lowered himself next to Gamora.
She was a mix of anger and concern. She tightened her grip on the large gun in her hands. "He said the skin is too thick to be pierced from the outside-"
Peter looked at her in confusion. "What? That doesn't make any sense-"
The emerald woman gesticulated towards the beast. "I tried telling him that-" She yelled in exasperation.
"The skin has the same level of thickness from the inside as it does on the outside!"
"I realize that." Gamora glared at him.
"Guys!" Maia yelled from the side, gaining the attention of the two Guardians. "Stop fighting! Drax needs your help!"
Peter nodded. "She's right." He loaded his quad blaster, looking at Gamora. "There's a cut on its neck." He explained. "Rocket! Get it to look up!" He pressed the button on his earpiece and ascended from the ground as his mask materialized over his face.
Maia and Groot watched Rocket and Peter shoot at it from above as Gamora aimed her blaster. When the timing was right, she pulled the trigger. However, she ran out of ammo. She threw the blaster to the side and unsheathed her Godslayer. She charged at the beast, while Rocket and Peter were still distracting it. The woman scaled up its tentacles and lunged herself at the cut with her sword in front of her. The sword went straight through the cut and slid the rest of the way down with Gamora attached to it. Yellow ooze gushed out of the cut as she landed swiftly to her feet. The Abilisk let out a loud cry as it fell to the ground. Gamora retracted the blade and sheathed it.
Maia ran over to her with Groot on her shoulder. The tiny tree climbed hopped off and stood next to Gamora. "Is it dead?" The little girl tapped the beast with her foot. "Yup! Woohoo!" She jumped up and down in excitement. "You guys did it!" Gamora gave her a soft smile.
Drax pushed his way out of the beast's cut as Rocket and Peter descended to the ground. Peter removed his mask as Drax began to laugh loudly. "Yes!" He held up both of his daggers. "I have single-handedly vanquished the beast!" He continued to laugh as Gamora crossed her arms. Groot scrunched up his face and threw a pebble at Drax. "What?" He asked brainlessly, lowering his arms.
Next Chapter: The Guardians finally retrieve their reward from the Sovereign for slaying the Abilisk. Before they leave, the high priestess questions Peter and Maia about their heritage.
Chapter 11: Hello, Sister
The Guardians change out of their clothes that were covered in goo and head to Ayesha's palace to receive their reward.
They all gathered around one of the towers, containing the energy from the batteries. While Drax, Peter and Rocket studied the object, Gamora sat on the edge of it, buckling her boots. Maia, who had changed into a maroon, sleeveless empire dress, ran up to Drax and handed him a towel. He thanked her and continued to look at the batteries. The young girl sat down next to Gamora. Peter detached the aero-rig from his back, while the tattooed man continued to wipe off the yellow goo off of his body.
"What are they called again?" He asked, still analyzing the batteries.
"Anulax batteries." Peter replied, letting out an exasperated sigh, while putting on his jacket.
"Harbulary batteries." Drax tried, tossing the goo-covered towel to the side.
Maia watched Peter like a hawk as he passed her, heading over towards Drax. "That's nothing like what I just said!" He exclaimed, slightly annoyed at Drax. "But, they're worth a thousand units a piece, which is why the Sovereign hired us to protect them." Gamora lightly tapped the young girl's shoulder and gestured to the two men, who were already walking off of the platform. She stood up and Maia quickly followed suit. The ebony-haired child had to speed-walk in order to keep up with the rest of her crew. Peter continued talking. "Be careful what you say around these folks; they're easily offended. The cost of transgression is death."
Maia gulped at the thought of being killed for making one snide remark on accident. She thought of how sarcastic and rude Rocket could be at times; he could get them all killed. Her small, pale hand found its way to Gamora's. She grabbed it and squeezed it, asking for reassurance. The woman squeezed it in return as purple highlights whipped around to face the furry creature trailing behind, stuffing something into the bag, he had brought with. Maia furrowed her eyebrows in suspicion. The raccoon smirked at her as she slowly turned around to see where she was going.
They entered a large building that reminded Peter of his grandfather's old wire bingo cage. The only difference was that it didn't look like wire at all. It was made completely of solid gold. The inside of the building was more detailed and added a tinge of some sort of shiny, neon blue metal. The whole crew had to admit that it was what luxury looked like.
The throne room wasn't much different. The walls were decorated with designs that looked like blue, white and gold, striped lightning bolts and behind, had the illusion of a galaxy. The floors were checkered the same colors and were also spotless. Maia's eyes grew wide when she saw the gold aliens guarding a large, golden throne. It was occupied by a woman of the same species. She was clad in a gold, armored gown and had soulless gold eyes.
"It's a princess..." Maia whispered to herself in awe. The others must've not heard her because they all continued their way to the edge of the throne. They stopped a few feet from the steps. The young girl pulled out the sides of her dress and curtsied. "Your majesty." She said elegantly. The high pigtails that Gamora had put in her hair, smacked her in the face as she bounced back up. Rocket pinched the bridge of his snout and shook his head.
The high priestess ignored the young girl as if she wasn't even there. "We thank you, Guardians, for putting your lives on the line." She glared at the young girl below her and watched as she dug her head into Gamora's leg. "We could not risk the lives of our own Sovereign citizens." She continued on, staring back at the group as a whole. "Every citizen is born exactly as designed by the community; impeccable both, physically and mentally. We control the DNA of our progeny, terminating them in birthing pods."
"I guess I prefer to make people the old-fashioned way." Peter stated, earning an eye roll from both, Gamora and Maia.
"Well," The golden woman replied, smacking her lips. "Perhaps you could give me a history lesson...in your cake ways of our ancestors?" One of the men guarding her, smirked. "For academic purposes." She added.
"I would be honored. Yes,-"
Maia glared at Peter. Did he really just say that? She thought. But, he loves Gamora! How could he say that?!
"In the name of research." Their leader continued, smiling a little. "I think that could be pretty, uh..." He looked to Gamora, who was glaring at him as well. His eyes traveled down to Maia, whose face was as red as a tomato and eyes were filled with rage. The young girl looked more upset than the woman beside her and seemed like she could let out scream in a manner of seconds. "Pretty repulsive." Nice save. He thought to himself. He looked back at the high priestess and continued talking. "I'm not into that kind of casual-"
"Oh, please." Gamora finally interrupted with another eye roll. She walked a little farther towards the steps, letting go of Maia's hand. "Your people promised us something in exchange for our services." She looked at the woman sternly. "Bring it and we shall gladly be on our way."
Peter looked back down at the little girl beside him and gave her a goofy smile. With heat still staining her cheeks, Maia ripped her glare away from him, focusing back on the gold woman. She crossed her arms and let out a small 'hmph'.
The high priestess pointed to a set of doors that were several feet from her. The Guardians followed her finger as the doors flew open. Two Sovereign guards dragged a hooded figure next to the throne. One whipped the hood back, revealing a bald, blue Luphomoid: Nebula. Gamora looked down at her sister in disappointment.
"Family reunion. Yay!..." Peter tried, breaking the awkward silence. Instead of receiving the usual, high-pitched giggle from the young girl beside him, he felt a glare and quickly became silent.
"I understand she is your sister."
Gamora couldn't take her eyes off of the Luphomoid in front of her. "She's worth no more to me than the bounty due for her on Xandar." She pulled her up with one arm and started to drag her out. Maia and Groot began to follow her.
The high priestess stood up. "Our soldiers apprehended her, attempting to steal the batteries-" Gamora stopped to look at her. "Do without it, please." Maia and Groot followed Gamora as the woman pulled on her sister again, leaving the other three men in the throne room.
"We thank you, High Priestess, Ayesha." Peter bowed and pivoted on his foot, while the rest of the team started to join.
Ayesha caught him in his tracks. "What is your daughter's heritage, Mr. Quill?"
The men turned back around. "Wait, Maia? She isn't my daughter," Peter stated, staring at the ground. A small amount of pain flowed through him. She wasn't his daughter by blood, but he sure as hell treated her as one. Who would've known the 'legendary' outlaw, known as Star-Lord, would ever become a father? The womanizer? The criminal? However, that was in the past. He was different, now; all of the Guardians were. "I don't know what her heritage is." He looked up at the high priestess, a sad smile making its way onto his lips. "We found her on Knowhere...she was left there by her father when she was three; taken in by this one asshole. He treated her like crap and abused her. We saved her and if it weren't for us, she would've died." His smile faded.
The high priestess' face was expressionless; almost as if she could care less. "I see." She replied. "What about yours?"
Peter sighed. "My mother was of Earth." He answered. Drax and Rocket stood by his side, impatiently waiting for the conversation to end.
"And your father?" She asked curiously.
Rocket and Drax both looked at their leader, knowing of his past. The sad smile returned to Peter's face. "He ain't from Missouri; that's all I know."
"I see it within' you," It seemed like the gold woman had paid more attention to him now than she did when they first arrived. "An unorthodox genealogy." She continued. By now, all of the Guardians were bitterly staring at her. Rocket showed a hint of teeth, though nobody noticed. "A hybrid that seems ticularly..." She paused for a moment, her glare deepening at Peter. "Reckless."
Peter and Ayesha had a brief stare-down, until Rocket spoke. "You know, they told me you, people, were conceited douchebags," The high priestess ripped her eyes away from the raccoon's leader and focused her glare on him. "But that isn't true at all." Rocket winked at the other two Guardians. He gained the attention of everyone in the room.
Angry Sovereign guards aimed their weapons at them and Ayesha's glare formed into a scowl as she started to bare her teeth at the raccoon. Peter quickly turned his attention over to Ayesha, breathing heavier than he intended to. Sounds of quiet gasps and whispers filled the silent room.
"Aw, shit...I'm using my wrong eye again, aren't I?" Peter and Drax turned around. The raccoon, who had turned to face his companions, looked at the ground and then to Ayesha. "I'm sorry. That was-" He was interrupted by an angry Drax, grabbing him by his fur and dragging him along. "That was meant to be behind your back." He continued as the man dropped him.
Drax slowed down to let Rocket catch up to him. "Count yourself blessed, they didn't kill you." He looked down at the small mammal, who had started to open his bag.
"You're telling me." The raccoon said, giggling. Drax looked into the bag, which were filled with the glowing batteries they were supposed to protect.
Peter ran to catch up with Gamora, Groot and Maia, who were already halfway towards the ship. "Hey," He panted, tapping Gamora's arm when she was in his reach.
She continued walking, unaware that she was starting to pick up her pace. Groot couldn't keep up and decided to climb onto Maia's shoulder. The young girl could barely keep up as it was; she had to run in order to catch up to Gamora.
"Slow down!" Peter exclaimed, stopping in his tracks with his hands on his knees. "Just gimme a sec."
Gamora listened to his wishes and halted to a stop, causing Nebula to stumble in front of her. She tightened the grip on her sister's arm as she looked over towards Maia, who had skidded several feet in front of her. The young girl turned around and ran back with a small Groot clutching tightly onto her partially dark purple tresses.
"Okay, I'm good." The emerald woman nodded and turned to walk again. "Wait. Can we talk about what happened back there, real quick?"
Gamora sighed. "We need to get Nebula back to the ship." She continued walking, not even glancing at the man behind her.
Next Chapter: When the Guardians return to the ship, Gamora has no choice, but to listen to Peter; Drax has a personal conversation with Peter about Gamora; Meanwhile, Maia becomes more suspicious of Rocket's actions back on Sovereign.
Chapter 12: Lake Shore Drive
When the Guardians finally return to the ship, Maia keeps a close eye on a certain raccoon. Meanwhile, Drax gives Peter an interesting speech about women.
Once Rocket had entered the ship, he headed straight towards the cockpit. He made a quick stop at Peter's tape deck to play the cassette that was already inside of it. He smiled as the intro of 'Lake Shore Drive' filled the ship and turned up the volume. Content with the music playing, he climbed up the stairs, unaware of the young girl following closely behind him.
Maia suspected that Rocket was up to something, ever since she saw him sneak something into his knapsack. She knew of Rocket's past behavior getting the Guardians into trouble before and didn't want it to happen again. Before climbing up to the cockpit, she looked behind her to see a small Groot, spread out like an eagle on the large, back window of the Milano, staring at everything in awe as they flew off. She turned her attention back to her task at hand and climbed up the stairs.
As Rocket was starting up the engines, Maia plopped herself onto one of the rear seats in the cockpit. The raccoon finally sensed her as his whiskers started twitching. He glanced back at her before continuing to fire up the Milano. "What's up, Kid?" He asked, a little more gentler than usual.
"Nothin'," Maia responded, sitting on the side of the seat, propping her feet up on the arm rest. She leaned her head back and looked at Rocket. "Just wanted to sit up here for a bit. I like lookin' at the stars!"
"Oh...um...okay, then." Rocket said, raising a eyebrow in confusion. He shook his head and leaned back as the Milano started ascending. "Alright, let's get Baldy to Xandar and collect that bounty!" He exclaimed into the intercom of the ship. Maia leaned further back into the seat, watching Rocket closely.
Peter was sweating up a storm. He hadn't changed yet from battling the Abilisk. Plus, he was pissed at what Ayesha had said to him, which wasn't helping either. He was also confused. Why did Ayesha ask him what Maia's heritage was? Why did she think she was his daughter? If anyone could be mistaken for Maia's parent, it would be Gamora. The young girl may not look like her, but she does share a headstrong personality with her. Gamora also acted like her mother. So, why?
The man shook off his thoughts and took off his shirt, revealing muscular arms and abs. He threw the shirt aside and searched the area around him, finding one of his shirts lying on the ground. He picked it up and smelled it. 'It's dry and it doesn't smell as bad as the one I was wearing.' He thought to himself as he put the grey, long-sleeved shirt on.
Gamora stood on the opposite side of the metallic table, placing new bonds to Nebula's wrists. She glanced over at Peter. When he met her eyes, she quickly looked away.
"That stuff she said about my father...who does she think she is?" Peter looked down and adjusted the bottom of his shirt.
"I know you're sensitive about that." She said, refraining from looking at him. She jiggled the bonds on her sister's wrists to make sure they were secure.
Peter looked back up at her with a slightly scrunched up face. "I'm not sensitive about it; I just don't know who he is." The emerald woman finally allowed herself to look at him. "Sorry if it seemed like I was flirting with the High Priestess," Gamora rolled her eyes and once again, looked away. "I wasn't."
The woman exhaled loudly through her nose. She grabbed Nebula and pulled her over to the back window of the ship. "I don't care if you were."
Peter rested his arm on the top of a wall arch, leaning against it. "Well, I feel like you do care. That's why I'm apologizing, so sorry!" He called out to her. Gamora ignored him and continued walking. He watched her walk away, a small amount of guilt flooding over him.
"Gamora is not the one for you, Quill." Drax stated in a deep voice, making Peter jump out of his skin. The tattooed man literally came out of no where! Peter caught his breath and exhaled.
"Damn shadow..." He whispered to himself. Drax must've not heard him because he continued talking.
"There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance-" He gestured to Gamora with his head. "And those who do not." The man looked at his leader with an expressionless face. Peter objected his opinion, but didn't even attempt to argue with the tattooed man. Instead, he just nodded and let out various 'mmm hmm's. "I first met my beloved at a war rally,-"
"Oh, God..." Peter said under his breath, knowing that another long, life lesson story from Drax was about to be told.
"Everyone in the village flailed about dancing except one woman, my Ovette. I knew immediately she was the one for me. The most melodic song in the world could be playing. She wouldn't even tap her foot; wouldn't move a muscle. One might assume she was dead-"
Peter looked up at him with an eyebrow raised. "That does sound pretty hot." He conciliated.
"It would make my nether-regions engorged-"
"I get it," The leader said before Drax could continue. The man next to him placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Yes. I am a dancer, Gamora is not." Peter put his finger behind his ear, trying to dig out the rest of the Abilisk's bodily fluids that managed to get behind it.
Drax was still eyeing Peter as he continued talking. "You just need to find a woman who is pathetic," He paused for a minute, gaining Peter's full attention. "Like you." Peter smiled thinly at the man and let out a small 'hm'.
Gamora pulled Nebula over to a metal ceiling lever. The blue lumphomoid saw a bowl of exotic alien fruit and whipped her head back towards Gamora. "I'm hungry. Hand me some of that yaro root." She ordered. Gamora gave her a quick glare before pulling down the lever and attaching Nebula's bonds to it.
"No, it's not ripe yet...and I hate you." The emerald woman grabbed a towel that was on a nearby shelf and wiped her hands on it.
"You hate me?" Nebula asked rhetorically. "You left me there while you stole that stone for yourself and yet, here you stand, a hero." Gamora threw the towel back on the shelf and started to walk away. "I will be free of these shackles soon and I will kill you." The green woman stopped and turned around to look at her sister. "I swear." Nebula promised.
Gamora glared at her again. "No,-" She said, making sure she had her sister's attention. "You're gonna live out the rest of your days in a prison on Xandar,-" She cocked her head a little to irritate Nebula. "Wishing you could." The blue lumphomoid tried to lash out on her, but was caught by the bonds holding her.
Suddenly, the ship's alarm starting going off. Gamora glared one more time at her sister before running up the stairs to the cockpit.
Rocket was in the pilot seat, Groot sitting on the edge of the back of it. Peter sat in the co-pilot seat and Drax stood up, holding onto a grab handle. "This is weird,-" Peter started out, looking at the small, holographic screen in front of him that projected a view from behind the ship. "We've got a Sovereign fleet approaching us from the rear." Sure enough, hundreds of Sovereign ships were trailing them from behind.
Gamora entered the cockpit and saw Maia sitting in the back seat without a seat belt on. She simmered with anger as she approached the chair. "Why aren't you wearing a seat belt?" She asked Maia in a voice that was more concerning than angry. She picked the girl up and quickly carried her to one of the other seats in the back of the cockpit. She fastened the young girl's seat belt harness before turning her head towards the men on the ship. "Why isn't she wearing a seat belt?" She questioned them with more assertiveness, climbing into the seat that Maia was originally sitting in. All of the men's eyes grew wide as they avoided eye contact with the pissed off woman. "You three are irresponsible."
"Groot's not wearing a seat belt and he's perfectly fine." Rocket challenged, continuing to help Peter pilot the ship.
"He doesn't fit in a seat belt!" The woman responded in exasperation. "Anyways, why would the Sovereign do that?"
The ivory skinned girl crossed her arms and glared at Rocket, knowing he probably had something to do with it. "Perhaps because Rocket stole some of their batteries." Drax suggested, proving Maia's theory. The young girl looked at him, rolling her small, upturned, hazel eyes.
"Dude!" The raccoon exclaimed, giving Drax a betrayed look.
"Right. He didn't steal some of those. I don't know why they're after us. What a mystery this is." Drax said awkwardly, trying to pretend to not know what he was talking about. Gamora and Maia rolled their eyes in sync.
Suddenly, the Sovereign ships started shooting at their signature M-Ship. The only girls on the ship shrieked in surprise. Peter made a sharp right turn to dodge the blasts, causing Maia to grip onto the seat belt harness.
"What were you thinking?!" Peter shouted, quickly glancing at the raccoon.
"Dude, they were really easy to steal!" Rocket replied proudly with a smirk on his face.
"That's your defense?!" Gamora pulled the holographic screen, that was attached to the seat, towards her and started tapping various buttons that were projected on it.
"Come on! You saw how that High Priestess talked down to us! Now I'm teaching her a lesson." The raccoon continued to pilot the ship, ignoring the quick glares Gamora kept sending his way.
The ship spun around some more, dodging the attacks. "Oh, I didn't realize your motivation was altruism." Peter quipped, glowering at the raccoon for a moment. "It's really a shame the Sovereign have mistaken your intentions and are trying to kill us."
"Exactly." Rocket replied.
"I was being sarcastic!"
"Oh no! You're supposed to use the sarcastic tone! Now I look foolish!"
"Can we please put the bickering on hold until after we finish this massive space battle?!" Gamora barked through her teeth, pressing the buttons on the screen more viciously.
More ships came at them, shooting blasts their way. "More incoming!" Peter alerted his team.
"Good! I wanna kill some guys!" The raccoon started to let out a battle cry as he started to return fire.
"You're not killing anyone." The woman informed him from behind. "All those ships are remotely piloted."
A blast hit the ship, causing everyone to shake. "What's the nearest inhabitable planet?" Peter questioned loudly through the deafening sounds of the space war.
Gamora pulled out another screen from behind the one she was using. She swiped it multiple times before finding a planet that was inhabitable. "It's called Berhert." She yelled up to him.
"How many jumps?"
"Only one...but, the access point is forty-seven clicks away...and you have to go through that quantum asteroid field." She informed him with a faint look of hopelessness on her face.
Peter took a deep breath and glanced at the asteroid field that Gamora was talking about. He turned the ship towards it as a smirk crawled on his face.
The emerald woman checked on the small child behind her. Maia's death grip on her seat belt harness was turning her knuckles a bright shade of red. Her hazel eyes were flooded with terror and her eyebrows furrowed. She stared at the battle happening in front of her. Hiding fear in battle was one of the newer things Maia had been taught by Gamora. Although she cried at times when she was scared, she learned to take a deep breath and focus on her surroundings. In the corner of her eye, she finally noticed soft, brown eyes looking at her and met them with her own. 'It's okay.' Gamora mouthed to her. 'Be brave.' Maia nodded and loosened her grip on the harness.
Gamora turned back around and focused on the battle, once again. "Quill, to make it through that, you'd have to be the greatest pilot in the universe."
"Lucky for us, I-" Peter started to say upon entering the asteroid field.
"I am." Rocket interrupted, taking over piloting controls. He started to dodge the attacks from the Sovereign and the asteroids in their path. Peter switched the controls back over to him. "What are you doing?!"
"I've been piloting this rig since I was ten years old."
The raccoon took over the controls once again. "I was cybernectically engineered to pilot a space craft." He boasted, smirking as he continued to pilot the Milano.
"Cybernectically engineered to be a douchebag." Peter yelled, glaring at the raccoon for a brief moment before switching the controls back to him.
"Stop it..." Gamora warned the two.
Rocket ignored the woman's warning and continued to bicker with his leader. "Quill, later on tonight, you're gonna be laying down in your bed ...and there's gonna be something squishy in your pillowcase. And you're gonna be like, 'What's this?' and it's gonna be because I put a turd in there!" He once again stole the controls from Peter. Gamora heard a small giggle escape from Maia's mouth.
Peter turned his head towards the raccoon. "You put your turd in my bed, I shave you."
The raccoon smirked. "Oh, it won't be my turd...it'll be Drax's." Peter took over the controls, once again as Drax let out a cachinnation.
"I have famously huge turds." The tattooed man said with a proud smile.
Gamora shook her head in disbelief as he spoke. She rolled her eyes as annoyance filled her veins. "We're about to die and this is what we're discussing?"
The Milano flew through the asteroid field as Peter and Rocket continued to fight over the piloting controls.
"Son of a..." The leader said as they almost flew into a asteroid. "Dude! Seriously!"
"Hey, let me..." Rocket was cut off when a large asteroid collided into the side of the ship.
Maia screamed as it violently spun around, holding onto her harness for dear life. Groot was tossed off of Rocket's shoulder. Peter caught the small tree, but threw him to Drax, who caught him with a single hand.
The collision tore the entire back off the bottom of the ship, trying to suck Nebula into space. Peter quickly turned on the emergency force field to prevent any further damage. Nebula fell on the ground as her bonds broke off the lever. "IDIOTS!" She yelled up to the cockpit.
Rocket shrugged at her comment and smirked a little. "Well, that's what you get when Quill flies."
"Be nice, Rocket!" Maia yelled at the raccoon.
Peter glared at him, while Gamora threw a piece of metal at his head. "We still have a Sovereign craft behind us." The green woman growled at him.
"Our weapons are down!" Peter informed his team, not taking his eyes off the field.
Gamora looked down at her screen. "Twenty clicks to the jump!" She shouted from behind.
Drax gave the squirmish tree to Gamora and walked down the stairs without a word. The green woman helped the small tree steady himself on her as he grabbed her hair. "Hold on." She said, finally letting go.
The space battle continued; the ship still violently shaking and Gamora frequently announcing how close they were to the access point. Drax had managed to grab a spacesuit and a large blaster. He left the ship, hanging by a wire, taking the place of the ship's weapons. He blasted the last spaceship that was on their tail, reliving the team of being chased down...at least it was like that for a short minute.
As soon as they were past the asteroid field, they were surrounded by a hundred more Sovereign ships. Peter's eyes widened as he saw them emerge from the sides of the Milano. "Son of a...they went around the field!" A worried expression fell upon all of the Guardians' faces as they helplessly flew through the group of Sovereign ships shooting at them.
All of a sudden, two large blasts came out of no where, destroying all of the Sovereign's ships. Everyone gaped as the ships exploded, one by one. "One click!" Gamora shouted as Rocket spotted something in the distance. It looked like an over-sized egg, but was clear to be a satellite or spacecraft of some sort.
"What is that?" The raccoon asked, studying it a little more closely.
"Who cares?!" Peter shouted at him, having a hard time piloting the ship. "There's the jump point! Go, go!"
Rocket continued to study it, squinting to get a closer look. "It's a guy?" The ship finally reached the jump point and immediately started to go down; they were going to crash.
Next Chapter: The Guardians crash land on Berhert; Maia sings a familiar Terran tune to try and ease the tension; a mysterious man shows up only minutes after they land.
Chapter 13: Origins
The Guardians crash land on Berhert, causing tension between Peter and Rocket. Meanwhile, a man claiming to be Peter's father, invites the Guardians to come to his home planet and learn about Peter's heritage.
The blue and orange M-Ship had made it through the jump point. However, the front of the ship caught on fire as it entered the atmosphere of Berhert and started to plunge to the ground. Drax was still connected to the wire attached to the ship, being dragged along with it. He screamed as the Milano continued to pick up speed.
Gamora looked down at the holographic screen that was attached to her seat. She saw Drax flailing about connected to the destroyed rear of the ship. "Oh my God." She said in shock. "He's still out there?" She stood up from her seat and sat Groot down in her place. Before the small tree could attempt to follow her, she grabbed a bowl of space candy from one of the shelves in the cockpit and handed it to him. He happily ate the candy that looked similar to MnM's, forgetting that he wanted to follow the emerald woman.
"Gammy?!" Maia cried out from the rear of the cockpit. "Where are you going?!" After spending several weeks with her new family, the young girl had came up with pet names for most of the crew. Gamora only allowed her to call her a pet name and would threaten anyone else who started to use them on her. Rocket was the same way and even though he would never admit it out loud, he found it cute that Maia called him Rockey.
"I'll be right back I promise!" The woman's black and red tresses kept flying her face as she carefully pulled herself down the stairs.
As the ship got further towards the ground, Peter had a difficult time keeping the ship under control. He saw Gamora leave the cockpit in the corner of his eye. "What the hell?" He muttered under his breath. Not long after, the leader heard distressed screams coming from the back of the ship. He glanced down at the rear view screen to see Gamora holding onto the ship with one hand and Drax's wires with the other. His eyes got big, remembering that Gamora was the last one to watch Groot. He quickly whipped his head towards Gamora's seat to see the young tree eating his candy, oblivious to the danger they were in. He turned his attention back to the windshield. "Groot, put your seat belt on!"
"HE CAN'T FIT IN A SEAT BELT!" Maia yelled at him.
"WHATEVER! Just hold on, then! Everyone, prepare for a REALLY BAD LANDING!" He screamed before the Milano finally hit the ground, crashing into multiple trees before coming to a complete stop. "Everyone okay?" He looked around the cockpit; Rocket was still gripping onto the controls with wide eyes, Maia became paler than normal before vomiting and Groot continued to eat the space candy that was given to him. "For the most part, I'll take that as a yes." He closed his eyes and leaned back into his seat, letting out a loud sigh. His eyes shot open when he remembered that Gamora and Drax were still holding on for their lives outside the Milano. "Oh, shit." He turned to Rocket. "Gamora and Drax!" He hopped out of his seat before jumping out of the cockpit, not even attempting to use the stairs.
"LOOK AT THIS!" Gamora yelled in rage as the whole crew stood outside of the damaged ship. "WHERE'S THE OTHER HALF OF OUR SHIP?!"
Maia turned her head towards her motherly figure with a frown creeping on her lips. She was lying on her back on the remains of the metal floor that was left of the ship. Groot stood beside her, making sure she was okay after puking all over herself when they crashed. Before scolding Rocket and Peter, Gamora had helped the girl change out of her vomit covered clothes. She was changed into a thin, black, long-sleeved shirt with a maroon and black ombre, leather tunic vest, buttoned over it. Her black and purple hair fell loosely over the notched collar of her tunic. Her black leather leggings had ridges descending down the sides of each leg. The leggings were tucked into black, mid-calf moto boots that perfectly enclosed around each foot.
"My ship..." Peter muttered before Gamora could continue scolding them.
"Either one of you could've gotten us through that field, had you flown with what's between your ears instead of what's between your legs!" She pointed at both of them accusingly. The emerald woman turned away in anger.
"If what's between my legs had a hand on it,-" Peter gesticulated with his hand. "I guarantee I could've landed this ship with it." He finished sarcastically.
Gamora turned around and rolled her eyes at him. She put her hands on her hips. "Peter," She sighed. "We almost died because of your arrogance."
"More like, because he stole Anulax batteries!" The man exclaimed, pointing at the raccoon.
Drax let out a loud sigh. "They're called harbulary batteries."
Peter threw his hands up in exasperation. "No, they're not!" He retorted in frustration.
"You know why I did it, Star-Munch?"
The man shook his head in disbelief with a sneer on his face. "I'm not answering to Star-Munch." He stated, raising his eyebrows.
Rocket ignored him, continuing to talk. "I did it because I wanted to!"
"Dick." Peter muttered under his breath, turning away from the raccoon.
"Why are we even talking about this for?!" Rocket exclaimed. "We just had a little man save us, by blowing up 50 ships!"
"How little?" Drax questioned as Gamora knelt down next to Maia for a moment, checking up on her.
The raccoon eyed his fingers, making a small gap in-between his thumb and index finger. "I don't know, like this?"
The emerald woman stood up and placed her hands on her hips. "A little one-inch man saved us?" She repeated back questioningly, raising her eyebrows.
"Well, if he got closer, I'm sure he'd be much larger."
Peter looked down at the raccoon, holding out his hands in front of him. "Yeah, that's how eyesight works, you stupid raccoon."
"Don't call me a raccoon!" Rocket barked at him, showing teeth.
"I'm sorry. I took it too far." He paused for a moment before adding, "I meant Trash Panda."
Rocket looked at Drax, confused. "Is that better?"
The tattooed man shrugged. "I don't know."
Peter started chuckling as he looked at him. "It's worse...it's so much worse."
The raccoon bared his teeth and growled at his leader. "You son of a..." He jumped at Peter, who moved back to avoid being attacked. Maia sat up and pressed her lips together, fixating at them. "I've about had it with you!"
The young girl stood up and fixed the bottom of her tunic vest. She looked around at her surroundings and walked further up the metal flooring. She took a deep breath and started bopping. "He rocks in the tree tops all day long/Hoppin' and a-boppin' and singing his song." She started to sing, walking around the flooring like a stage, shrugging her shoulders up and down with her hands spread out flat at her sides. Gamora, Drax, Groot and Nebula turned their heads towards her. Rocket and Peter stopped fighting and did the same. "All the little birdies on Jaybird Street," Maia started side floating. "Love to hear the robin go tweet, tweet, tweet." She started doing the twist before kicking out her legs lightly in front of her. "Rockin' Robin."
Maia knew that the Guardians loved to hear her sing. They would always relax and that was exactly what they did. Gamora, Groot, Drax and Peter grew huge smiles, while Rocket's expression softened. Nebula rolled her eyes. "We just crashed and you are all infatuated with her childish behavior?" They ignored her remark and continued to listen to the young girl's soothing voice.
Peter walked over to her. "Look at you, Rockin' Robin." Maia giggled and clasped her hands in front of her.
Nebula rolled her eyes. In the corner of one, she spotted something in the sky. She looked up and noticed a ship flying towards them. "Someone followed you through the jump point." She informed the people around her.
The group circled up back to back. "Get behind me." Gamora demanded, pulling Maia behind her. She peered at her from over her shoulder. "Do you have your blaster?" Maia nodded as the emerald woman turned back around.
The young girl pulled out her blaster from the small holster that was attached to her leg. It was identical to Peter's; the only difference was that her's was black with metallic mauve accents. Gamora and Peter found it for her one time when they were out shopping to restock the ship.
"Set me free. You'll need my help."
"I'm not a fool, Nebula." Gamora stated, not taking her eyes off the descending ship.
"You're a fool to deprive yourself a hand in combat."
"You'll attack me the moment I let you go."
Nebula's eyes widened and her body stiffened. "No, I won't" She lied.
"You would think an evil super-villain would learn how to properly lie." Peter noted, closing in the circle a bit more.
"I bet it's the one-inch man!" Drax exclaimed, looking up at the sky with the expression of a child opening presents on Christmas Day.
The egg-shaped ship finally landed on the ground. The circle broke apart, the group now standing in a line. Groot, who was still on the flooring of the ship, finally climbed down and joined them. All seven of them studied the ship, not letting their guard down. The entrance to the ship opened, revealing a bug-like woman and a older man, who had the appearance of a Terran. The Guardians gaped at the man, knowing where this could go.
"After all these years, I've found you." The man said with a smile.
"And who the hell are you?" Peter asked, still as a statue.
"My name is Ego and I'm your dad, Peter."
A Few Hours Later...
The darkness of night finally came. The atmosphere around them grew cold and the only heat remaining was from the bright orange flames of the fire Rocket had built. The group had made chairs of anything they could find from crates to pieces of the ship to broken tree trunks that fell during the crash. They were all eating some sort of glowing blue soup that Drax had made. Nobody talked, the only sound coming from the sparks of the fire and Drax's obnoxiously loud chewing and slurping. The rest of the group stared at him in disgust with various eye rolls from Gamora and Nebula.
"Dude." Rocket finally said, still glowering at the man.
"What?" Drax asked innocently, looking up from his bowl.
"Dude." Peter repeated.
Maia exhaled loudly. "They mean stop being so noisy." She explained, pinching the bridge of her nose, while shaking her head.
A few more minutes of silence ensued after Drax stopped slurping his soup. Ego finally broke the silence, looking up from his bowl. He cleared his throat and turned his attention towards Peter. "I hired Yondu to pick you up when your mother passed away, but instead of returning you, Yondu kept you. I have no clue as to why."
The younger man stared at him solemnly. "Well, I'll tell you why. 'Cause I was a skinny little kid who could squeeze into places adults couldn't." He looked down at the fire. "It made it easier for thievin'."
He looked up at Ego as he started talking again. "Well. I've been trying to track you down ever since."
Drax furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "I thought Yondu was your father."
Everyone whipped their heads towards the tattooed man. "What? We've been together this whole time and you thought Yondu was my actual blood relative?" Peter questioned in shock.
The man gaped at his leader. "You look exactly alike." He stated as if it was obvious.
"One's blue!" Rocket exclaimed in exasperation.
"How could you possibly see that?!" Maia asked in unison with the raccoon.
"No, he's not my father!" Peter grumbled. "Yondu is the guy who abducted me, kicked the crap out of me, so I could learn to fight and kept me in terror by threatening to eat me."
"Eat you?!" Ego repeated in disbelief. Peter let out a quick 'yeah' in clarification. "Ah, that son of a bitch!"
"How did you locate us, now?" Gamora questioned in suspicion.
"Well, even where I reside, out past the edge what's known, we've heard tales about the man they call Star-Lord." He stood up. "What do you say we head there, right now? You're associates are welcome, even that triangle-faced monkey there."
Maia glanced over at Rocket, knowing that Ego was talking about him. She saw the raccoon feeling his snout with hurt lingering in his eyes. Part of her heart broke for the raccoon while the other filled with rage. How could Ego be so mean?! Why isn't anybody saying anything to him? She wanted to stand up from Gamora's lap and yell at him, but she couldn't. Maybe it was because he was Peter's father or maybe it was because the pain Rocket felt would fade away eventually.
"I promise you," Ego continued. "It's not like any other place you've ever seen and there, I can explain your very special heritage." Peter nodded. "Finally get to be the father, I've always wanted to be." The older man gave him a soft smile. "Excuse me, I've gotta take a wiz."
Peter looked at Gamora and Maia as he left. Maia whispered something in her ear. Gamora smiled and nodded as the young girl slid off her lap and sat on the log, in between Drax and Mantis. He glanced back at his 'father' before meeting Gamora's eyes. He shook his head with a humorless smile on his face. "I'm not buying it."
Gamora inhaled a quick breath. "Let's go take a walk." Peter nodded and stood up. The emerald woman did the same and followed him into the forest.
Maia watched them as they left before turning to face Mantis. "You're very pretty." She looked up at Mantis' antennae and pointed to them. "What are those?"
"Oh." Mantis' antennae twitched as she spoke. "They are my antennae."
"Woah. They're so cool!" The young girl exclaimed in awe. "My name's Maia."
"I am Mantis." The woman tried her hardest to smile at Maia and Drax. They both looked at her in confusion.
"What are you doing?" Drax asked, raising an eye brow.
"Smiling." She replied as her lips twitched, trying to maintain what she interpreted to be a smile. "I hear it is the thing to do to make people like you."
"Not if you do it like that." The man replied, taking another bite of his soup. Mantis bowed her head in embarrassment and let out a small 'oh'.
"Drax!" Maia hissed, receiving a shrug from him in return.
"I was raised alone on Ego's planet. I do not understand the intricacies of social interaction." The bug-lady glanced at Rocket, who was cleaning himself like a cat. Her eyes grew large and a genuine smile crept on her face. "Can I pet your puppy? It is adorable."
Maia's ADHD was kicking in as she got squirmy sitting in one place. When the Guardians realized that Maia had ADHD, they knew that they had to keep a closer eye on her since she wondered off so easily and fast. However, Drax and Rocket were horrible at it. Peter suggested they put a tracker in her neck, receiving a slap upside the head from Gamora. The woman insisted that Drax and Rocket should become more responsible, instead of treating Maia like a test subject. So, here she was, under the supervision of Drax and Rocket, neither of whom were paying attention to her...again.
The young girl stood up and started to walk in the direction of Peter and Gamora. Drax glanced at her before shrugging his shoulders and turning back to Mantis.
The forest was beautiful at night. The lights of the various moons of Berhert lit the forest just enough to see. Peter and Gamora walked through it in deep conversation.
"Give me a break," Peter started out in frustration. "After all this time, you're gonna show up and just all of a sudden, you wanna be my dad?"
"I hear you-"
"You know, by the way, this could be a trap?" Peter stopped walking and turned to Gamora. "Okay? The Kree Perus, the Ravengers; they all want us dead. Not to mention, we now have an actual kid on the ship. Any of them would be more than happy to hurt her to get to us."
"I know, but-" The green woman crossed her arms.
"But, what?" Peter interrupted.
"What was that story you told me about Zardu Hasselfrou?"
Peter gave her a confused look. "Who?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
"He owned a magic boat." Gamora said, trying to clarify what she was saying.
The man looked at her for a second. "David Hasselhoff?"
"Not a magic boat, a talking car." Peter mumbled, slightly rolling his eyes.
"Why did he talk again?"
"To help him fight crime and to be supportive."
"As a child, you would carry his picture in your pocket and you would tell all the other children that he was your father, but that he was out of town-"
"Shooting Knight Rider or touring with his band in Germany." He interrupted. "I told you that when I was drunk; why are you bringing this up now?"
Gamora's expression softened as she got slightly closer to him. "I love that story." She spoke softer and more sympathetically than she normally did. It was a tone that she only used around Maia and Peter.
"I hate that story!" Gamora sighed and turned away from her leader. "It's so sad. As a kid, I used to see all the other kids playing catch with their dads and I wanted that...more than anything in the world."
The emerald woman whipped back around. "That's my point, Peter!" She closed the gap between them and held his hands in hers. "If he ends up being evil, we'll just kill them."
They both looked down at their conjoined hands before Gamora quickly pulled hers away. They stood there awkwardly for a moment. Peter rubbed the back of his head. "Should we split the team up?"
Gamora looked at him in disbelief. "What?" She whispered, almost too soft to hear.
Peter shook his head. "Not like that." He started to walk back towards the crashed ship, Gamora following closely behind. "Some of us stay behind, while the rest of us go with-" The emerald woman nodded, now understanding what he was saying.
The sound of leaves crunching came from the direction they were headed. The two Guardians shared a look. Peter pulled out his blaster and Gamora pulled out her sword. The closer they got, the louder the crunching of the leaves became. A figure peered around the corner of one of the trees. They tightened their grips on their weapons.
Before they could attack, Gamora caught a glimpse of purple tresses. She put her arm in front of Peter and walked closer toward the figure. A loud, high-pitched scream escaped from the figure's mouth. It was soon muffled by the emerald woman's hand, the other gripping it's arm. "Maia!" Gamora stage-whispered through her teeth.
"Jesus Christ." Peter let out an exasperated sigh, placing his hand over his heart. "You know for someone who had a daughter, Drax is really bad at keeping an eye on kids."
"What are you doing out here?! We told you not to leave unless you're with someone!"
"Sorry, Gammy." The young girl apologized, gripping her elbows with her hands. Gamora let out a huge breath and hugged her.
Peter looked down at them. "Yup, she's definitely going with us." He sighed, placing his hands on his hips.
Next Chapter: Peter, Gamora, Drax and Maia leave to go to Ego's planet; Mantis reveals an interesting secret about Peter; Maia encourages Peter to tell Gamora how he feels.
Chapter 14: The Pendant
While the team gets prepared for their temporary split, an action that Gamora makes surprises Peter.
The next day was hard on the team. Most of them didn't like the idea of splitting up for a few days. However, they knew that Peter going with Ego meant a lot to him and they also needed to fix their ship. They knew that if for some reason Ego turned out to be evil, Peter would need back-up. He hoped that wasn't true. He hoped Ego was his actual father and was everything he dreamed of.
Peter walked out of his trashed cabin and looked across the hall into Gamora's. Her cabin was the same way; completely destroyed from the crash. She forced Maia to stay on the side of the room that wasn't covered in shattered glass and plaster. The young girl ended up sitting on the edge of Gamora's bed. Her own mattress was thrown onto the floor and both her and Gamora's bedding were scattered everywhere.
Gamora walked around the room with a triangular backpack. It was the color of chocolate and had a single strap that slung across her body. She pulled out various metallic drawers of the dresser that she shared with Maia, placing multiple pairs of clothes for each of them inside of the bag.
The young girl watched her gathering their belongings, nibbling on her lip. She took a deep breath and forced her eyes down to her lap. "Gammy?" Her voice was small and almost inaudible. It was a tone she used when she was shy, scared or even nervous. She fiddled with her fingers as the woman turned to face her. "Did you find Teeka?"
A small, gentle smile found it's way onto Gamora's lips. "Not yet, but I promise I'll find her."
Maia returned the smile, gazing at the woman. "Why can't Groot come with us?" She asked, the smile slowly fading off her face.
Gamora placed the bag on her dresser and lifted Maia's mattress back on top of her bunk. Well," She started out with a huff of breath. "If Ego happens to be a bad guy, we won't have enough people to keep an eye on you and Groot."
"Why would Ego be a bad guy? I thought he was Peter's dad. If Peter is his son, wouldn't Ego be just like him?" The young girl asked in confusion.
The woman sighed and took a seat next to Maia. She tittered a little before looking at the girl somberly. "Heredity doesn't always work like that, Maia. Everyone has the choice to change their way of thinking. That's one thing you can't really inherit from your parents. However, you can learn how to act depending on your surroundings. Even so, we don't even know if this man is actually Peter's father."
"Oh...then, why are we going?"
"Peter grew up with no father and if Ego is telling the truth-"
Maia nodded before she could continue. The girl perked up, looking up at Gamora like a light-bulb just went off in her head. "I can watch Groot!"
Gamora placed her hand on Maia's shoulder. "That's very sweet, but remember what happened the last time you watched Groot." The young girl's shoulders slouched as a frown formed on her lips.
"Can't I stay here with Rocket?"
The woman looked down at her, watching as her spirits fell. Groot and Maia had became best friends; even more than that. They thought of each other as siblings. They rarely fought and kept each other occupied when they got bored. It broke Gamora's heart forcing them to separate, even though it was only for a few days, but she knew it was also healthy for them to learn how to become independent. She shook her head at Maia. "Rocket can barely keep an eye on Groot as it is. There's no way he can watch you, too. I promise, we'll have fun; you, me, Peter and Drax. And if Ego ends up being evil, we'll kick his butt." She smiled like the Cheshire Cat, forcing Maia to smile as well, letting out a small giggle.
The young girl spotted a soft, purple object hiding under some of the bedding on the floor. She jumped off of the bed and ran towards it. "Careful!" Gamora shouted as if it would make her slow down. Maia ignored her and threw herself on top of the bedding digging through the pile of blankets, pillows and comforters.
Peter walked in leaning against the door frame with a vertical duffle bag slung over his shoulder. Gamora's eyes met his and the two smiled at each other for a moment. Their eyes tore away from each other when a loud squeal escaped from the girl's mouth. She pulled out her beloved stuffed flerken from underneath the pile of bedding. "Teeka!" She hugged it and noticed Peter standing in the doorway. "Hi, Peter!" She popped up from her kneeling position and excitedly ran to the man.
Peter bent down a little before she reached him and picked her up in his arms. "Hey, Peanut!"
"Peanut?" Gamora asked, raising an eyebrow. "Where did that come from?" She grabbed the bag off of her dresser and slung it back over her chest.
"There's this type of nut on Earth called a peanut. They're small and-"
Gamora rolled her eyes. "I know what peanuts are, Peter. I meant why."
He let out an exasperated sigh. "Back on Earth, my aunt used to call my little cousin 'Peanut' because of how small she was. So, I thought I'd start calling Maia 'Peanut' because of how small she is."
The woman crossed her arms. "Don't you think that's a little demeaning?"
"Look, all I know is when I was on Earth, that's what a lot of father's called their daughters." Gamora smirked at him, causing Maia to giggle. "Listen, let's just go, okay?" Peter put the small girl down and watched her run over to Groot.
Peter had always thought of Maia as his daughter, but that was something he would not admit out loud. Even though it was obvious to everyone, it felt strange for him to actually call himself a father. He had always been so irresponsible, selfish and a person who couldn't even take care of himself. He doesn't even know how he became the Guardians' leader. However, when he was with Maia, a paternal instinct kicked in and forced him to do things, he wouldn't normally do.
He started to follow the small child until a green hand gently grabbed his and slightly pulled him back. "Peter, wait-" Gamora murmured in a gentle tone. She reached in her bag and pulled out two leather necklaces that were attached to pendants: one looked like a golden global symbol surrounded by silver molecules and the other, an oddly-shaped, bronze quadrilateral that looked like it was missing a piece to it. She handed them to Peter, not removing her hand from his. She quickly drew her hand back and cleared her throat. "Um, I found these awhile back at a kiosk on Xandar. I was going to give them to you, but we've been so busy between taking care of Maia and going on missions...I kept forgetting about them."
Peter analyzed the pendants as she spoke, thumbing the side of the bronze one. He shifted his head up as his eyes traveled to hers. He didn't know what to say; it was a side of Gamora that he only saw towards Maia.
The woman placed her hand back in the bag and pulled out-what looked to be-the missing part to the bronze pendant. She lightly took Peter's bronze pendant out of his hand and connected the two, forming a pentagon. The expression on her face lowered, thumbing the middle of the combined pieces. "During our battle with the Sovereign, it shattered in two."
Peter saw the disappointment on her face and gave her a small smile. "I love them, shattered or not. Thank you, Gamora." She handed him back both parts of the shattered pendant, still showing a bit of guilt. Peter twisted his mouth, thinking of a way to make her guilt dissipate. He suddenly remembered something from Earth and gave the broken piece back to Gamora. She looked at him in confusion. "Back on Earth, I saw these two girls at school wearing pieces of pendants attached to their necklaces. When they connected the pieces-" He guided Gamora's hand to connect the pieces of the pendant together. She stiffened at his touch, but slowly relaxed. "It created a complete pendant." He finished as she stared at the two pieces and their conjoined hands, still looking as confused as before. "My mom told me it symbolized friendship and loyalty and...love." They both stiffened a little at the mention of the word, but neither one of them moved their hands. "She said it also symbolized that no matter how far the two were from each other, they would always remain best friends...family. I want you to have the other half."
Gamora finally looked up at him. "We're best friends?" She asked in confusion.
The half-Terran scoffed and gave her a look combined of disbelief and ridicule. "Hell, yeah. I mean don't get me wrong, I'm pretty close to everyone on this ship-" He glanced over at Nebula who was yelling at Rocket. "Except maybe her, but...out of everyone on this ship, you're the only one who really understands me completely." Peter whispers the last few words, gazing into Gamora's dark eyes.
"HEY, LOVEBIRDS!" The sound of Rocket's loud, obnoxious voice startled both of them. They jumped out of their skin and quickly tore their hands apart from each other, causing Gamora to almost drop her half of the pendant. She shoved it in the pocket of her jacket, while Peter put both necklaces on. "LET'S GET A MOVE ON, HERE! HUMIE'S POPS ISN'T GONNA WAIT MUCH LONGER!"
"YOU'RE LEAVING ME WITH THAT FOX?!" Nebula yelled in disbelief after Gamora had told her that they were splitting up.
"He's not a fox." The emerald woman turned towards Rocket. "Shoot her if she does anything suspicious." The raccoon let out a small 'uh huh' as he continued to fix the ship. "Or if you feel like it." She added, kneeling down next to Maia in front of Groot.
"Don't be sad, Grootie. I promise we'll play as soon as we get back." The small tree's shoulders slumped farther down at Maia's words.
"Hey." Gamora said softly with a gentle smile. "It'll be just a couple of days." She stroked the side of his cheek. "We'll be back before Rocket's finished fixing the ship." She tapped Maia's shoulder, notifying her that it was time to go. Groot and Maia waved sadly at each other as the two girls exited the ship.
Drax stopped in front of Peter and turned around. "What if the Sovereign come?"
"There's no way for them to know we're here." Peter assured him. "Let's go."
The began walking again. "I'm uncertain about parting ways."
"God, you're like an old woman." Peter said sarcastically.
"Because I am wise?" The leader of the Guardians rolled his eyes, humorlessly smiling.
Drax walked out with three large bags attached to him in some way. Gamora glared at him. "Why do you have so much luggage?"
"I don't want Groot getting into my things. I trust Maia more than him."
While the musclebound man continued walking, Peter stopped at the end of the ship and turned towards Rocket. "I hope daddy isn't as big of a dick as you, Orphan Boy." The raccoon stopped fixing the ship for a moment to glance at the man in front of him.
The half-Terran turned around for a moment, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. "What is your goal here?" He rolled his eyes skyward. "To get everyone to hate you? Because it's working."
Rocket regret what he said immediately and turned around as Peter walked away. Maia grabbed Gamora's hand and the four Guardians walked into Ego's ship, leaving the rest of the team on Berhert.
A Few Hours Later...
Peter, Drax, Maia and Mantis were sitting on a oddly-shaped, semi-circular bench in the common area; Gamora and Ego were standing. Maia was tucked into Peter's side, her head leaning heavily on his shoulder as she fidgeted with Teeka's soft ears. They all remained there for a moment in awkward silence. Ego pressed his lips together and nodded. "Well, I am exhausted. If you guys get thirsty, drinks are right there on the side-table." He pointed to a small, white-curved table where a pitcher of water and a few opaque, cone-shaped cups sat.
Drax immediately stood up and grabbed a glass. He stopped in front of Ego, before sitting down. "Thank you for your hospitality."
Maia eyed him as he sat back down. She turned towards her fatherly-figure with wide-eyes. "Peter, can I have a drink?" The petite child whispered, loud enough to where the rest of the group could hear.
Peter nodded and patted her shoulder, watching her hop off of the couch with a huge smile on her face. He looked up at Ego, only to see a frown upon his face and an eyebrow raised.
Maia ran back, her soft black-ombre hair slapping her in the face. She took a large drink and hummed in satisfaction. "Gammy! You need to try this!" She exclaimed. "It's really good."
Ego turned to Gamora with the same expression. "She calls you two by your first names?" He questioned, drawing his attention back to Peter.
The half-Terran grimaced in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Well, isn't she your daughter?" It seemed as if the awkward silence in the room had become quieter. Drax suddenly spat out the water that was in his mouth, letting out a loud cachinnation. Peter's face became as red as a tomato and Gamora's-greener than usual. Mantis and Maia sat there in confusion, clueless as to what just happened.
"No, no, no!" The two repeated several times. "I'm not-"
They both said at the same time, tripping over their words as Drax's loud laughter roared through the ship. "We're not her, quote-on-quote 'parents', but I guess in a way, we act like it?" Peter made it sound more like a question that an actual statement.
Once Maia understood why the atmosphere of the room became so chaotic, she started giggling herself. Gamora let her embarrassment get to her and picked up the small child a little rougher than usual. "I think not sleeping well last night is getting to your head. I think it's time for you to take a nap." She carried Maia out of the room and brought her to a small cabin that the group had threw their things in.
As Drax's laughter calmed down, Peter finally got up to get himself a drink. Ego cleared his throat awkwardly. "Well, I think it's time for me to be getting some rest as well. Mantis?" The bug-lady nodded and followed him out of the room.
Ego's ship had finally came into orbit of his planet. Gamora was wandering around the ship, Ego was taking a nap and Mantis, Maia, Drax and Peter remained in the common room during the whole flight. "Hey, can I ask you a personal question?" Peter asked the bug-lady, looking curiously at her antennae and occasionally shifting his eyes back towards her. Maia, who was sitting on his lap, mimicked him in sync.
Mantis' huge bug-like eyes grew larger as she turned her attention towards Peter. "Ooh," She started out in satisfaction. "Nobody has ever asked me a personal question before."
"Your antennae-what are they for?" He asked curiously. Maia poke them and they twitched, causing her to giggle. Peter lowered her hand. "Don't do that, kiddo. It's kinda rude." He whispered in the petite child's ear.
"Their purpose?" Mantis asked in clarification.
"Yes," The bug-lady turned her attention towards Drax. "Quill and I have a bet."
Peter chuckled under his breath. "Dude, you're not supposed to say that." Maia softly giggled herself, making her curly pigtails bob with her.
"I say that if you're about to go through a doorway that's too low, your antennae will feel this and keep you from being decapitated." Peter and Maia lightly chuckled as he explained his prediction. The half-Terran turned his head slightly, noticing Gamora entering the room. Their eyes met, a large beam shared between them. Gamora laughed a little herself, overhearing what Drax said as she poured herself something to drink.
"Right-" Peter started, immediately after Drax finished. "And if it's anything other than you specifically not being decapitated by a doorway, I win."
"They are not for feeling doorways." Mantis mocked as Peter let out a quick laugh. She squinted her eyes as she pondered on what they are for. "I think they have something to do with my empathic abilities."
Gamora tilted her head to the side in curiosity. "What are those?"
Mantis quickly scanned the room, noticing everyone looking curiously at her. "If I touch someone, I can feel their feelings."
Peter mimicked Gamora's movements. "You read minds?"
"No. Telepaths know thoughts. Empaths feel feelings...emotions." She turned to the closest person to her...Peter. "May I?" The bug-like woman asked him to use as a demonstration. She would've asked the young girl sitting on his lap. However, she had never tested her abilities on a child before and wasn't sure of how it would affect her.
"Oh, all right." Peter shrugged, moving Maia further back on his left knee and laying a hand on his right.
Mantis stretched out her hand towards him and placed it on top of his. She closed her eyes for a moment as her antennae lit up. She smiled in admiration and looked up at him. "You feel...love."
Peter started to panic a little, knowing where this conversation could go...his feelings for Gamora. "Yeah, I guess feel a general unselfish love for just about everybody-" He elaborated, trying to move the conversation away from his love life.
"No." Mantis interrupted. "Romantic, sexual love." Both Peter and Maia's heartbeats raced, Maia's eyes also growing large.
"No. No, I don't-"
Mantis perked up and pointed to Gamora. "For her!"
"No!" Peter quickly pulled his hand away.
Maia felt her heart pop. 'Oh no,' She thought. 'Peter...' She looked away from everyone, especially Peter and Gamora, tears welling up in her eyes. 'It shouldn't have happened this way. Peter had to tell her himself...'
"That is not-" Peter was interrupted by Drax's boisterous laughter. Gamora gaped, trying to take in what had just happened. "Okay."
"SHE JUST REVEALED YOUR DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET!" He pointed at Peter as he continued to laugh.
"Dude, come on. I think you're overreacting a little!"
"YOU MUST BE SO EMBARRASSED!" Peter gave up, hanging his head down in embarrassment. He shook his head in disbelief as Maia finally looked at everyone for the first time since Mantis revealed Peter's feelings for Gamora.
The green woman closed her mouth, giving Peter a sentimental look. She felt bad for him. Peter wasn't normally the person to become embarrassed about anything. However, a personal and private secret that he was trying his best to keep from everyone, especially Gamora, was revealed. He was going to tell her, but he knew she wasn't ready to hear the truth...he wasn't ready. She knows he cares about her and Maia more than anyone else in the world and he would do anything to keep them safe and happy. She was his best friend...he was hers. She also saw Maia, eyes red with tears being held back. She was probably feeling just as guilty. Gamora wondered if she had known the whole time. The thing that confuses her most: Peter loves her? She was not only confused about Peter's feelings for her, she was confused about her feelings for him.
"DO ME, DO ME, DO ME!" Drax bounced up and down on the bench like a young child volunteering for a magician. Mantis walked over to him and placed a hand on his chest. She broke down in laughter as well.
"I'VE NEVER FELT SO MUCH HUMOR!" She exclaimed, laughing uncontrollably.
"So unbelievably not cool..." Peter muttered as now both, Mantis and Drax were laughing and pointing at him. He quickly glanced at Gamora, seeing that she hadn't taken her eyes off him.
Gamora continued to analyze her leader with a look of remorse. In the corner of her eye, she saw Mantis approach her. Her remorse expression turned into annoyance. She couldn't tell if she was more pissed that Mantis and Drax decided to embarrass Peter or because of the fact that Mantis was approaching her to try and feel her emotions. To be completely honest, she didn't know how she felt at this point-she didn't want to know. She caught Mantis' wrist before she could touch her. She bared her teeth and looked at the smaller woman. "Touch me and the only thing you'll be feeling, is a broken jaw." She glared at Mantis, releasing her wrist.
The bug-lady turned around sadly. "I can also alter emotions, to some extent."
"Yeah, like what?" Peter spat, tightening his grip on Maia, who was nuzzled into his chest with her arms around his abdomen.
"If I touch someone who is sad, I can ease them into contentment. For a short while," Mantis turned to face Gamora. "I can make a stubborn person, compliant." The green woman looked at her in disbelief. She quickly looked back at Peter. "But I mostly use it to help my master sleep. He lies awake at night, thinking about his progeny." Peter loosened his grip on Maia and stared off into space, thinking about what she said.
"Do one of those on me!" Drax requested excitedly. Peter turned his attention to Drax, not realizing that, once again, Gamora's eyes were glued to him.
Mantis shrugged at Drax's request and walked over to him, placing the palm of her hand on his forehead. "Sleep." She commanded as her antennae lit up. Drax immediately fell back into a deep sleep, snoring. She turned towards Peter and folded her hands in front of her. "I will leave, now. I do not wish to wake him." And with that, she pivoted and left as if nothing happened.
Peter faced the direction where Gamora was standing in hopes she would still be there and talk to him about the whole scenario, but she wasn't. She left. Maia hopped off of Peter's lap and peeked out of the room to see the green woman leaning against the wall with her arms crossed. Her eyes were still huge, trying to take in everything as she let out a harsh breath. The young girl turned back around to Peter, who was bobbing his knee and raking his hands through his hair.
He bowed his head, rubbing his face with both hands. "Dammit..." He whispered to himself.
Maia slowly approached him. She stood in front of him and stared, unsure of what to do or say. He lifted his head up and smiled sadly at her. "She rarely stopped looking at you, Peter. She likes you."
"Not like that, Maia. She likes me as a friend. The only reason why she was looking at me is because she felt bad for me."
The young girl sat herself down next to him and shook her head. "No, Peter. She does like you. Trust me."
"Maia, you're only five. You haven't experienced that kind of 'like', yet."
"Neither have you." She countered with a smirk.
Peter gaped at her. "Yes, I have!"
She crossed her arms sticking her tongue out at him. He mocked her, causing her to laugh. "I might only be a little kid, Peter, but what you have with Gamora-I haven't seen anything like it. The past two years I've been on Knowhere-even before then-I've met and seen a lot of people...none of them have what you guys have." Peter looked at Maia as if she was a ghost, amazed of how wise she could be at times, especially with how young she was. "You need to tell her, in person, how you feel. She needs to hear it from you."
"You're right. Thanks, Peanut." He wrapped an arm around her.
"Peter, what's sexual love?" Maia asked out of nowhere.
The man's eyes grew wide. 'Oh, shit...'
Next Chapter: The Guardians land on Ego's planet; Peter learns more about his heritage and spends time with Ego. Meanwhile, Gamora suspects Mantis is hiding something.
Chapter 15: My Sweet Lord
The Guardians arrive on Ego's planet. When they arrive, Ego tells them about Peter's heritage. Meanwhile, Rocket and Yondu get thrown in a jail cell together.
Peter sat there, listening to 'Awesome Mix Vol. 2'. He was trying to think of a way he could finally tell Gamora how he felt. He knew Maia was right; he knew there was something between them. He knew Gamora felt something, too...even if she didn't admit it-
"Peter." Speaking of the devil, the green woman stood in the doorway with Maia's stuffed flerken in her hand. Peter quickly took his headphones off and hooked them around his neck, pressing down the stop button. "We've landed. Ego said the ship will transport our belongings to our rooms." The man nodded, having a difficult time looking her in the eye. Gamora tapped her nails on the thin wall beside her before walking out uneasily.
Ego had instructed the group to stand on an eggshell white platform that had a solid barrier surrounding the front and sides. As soon as everyone had stepped onto it, the ship's wall in front of them disintegrated, revealing a beautiful green planet filled with different plants and various pools of water, some even connected to large waterfalls. Everyone looked at it in fascination with their mouths gaping.
As they floated slowly through the air, Gamora saw Maia biting her nails, clutching Teeka with a death grip against her chest. She was paler than usual and looked like she'd seen a ghost. It was obvious why the young girl was so nervous; earlier that morning, Gamora had told her that there was a possibility that Ego could be evil. Although she was with three of the bravest people in the universe, she was still scared. She knew she should be as brave as them, but she remembers how it felt to be hurt. She didn't like that feeling. However, she didn't want to disappoint Gamora and show her how weak she was. So, she tried to hide her fear, but failed due to how well Gamora knew her.
The ex-assassin picked up the small child and placed her on her hip. She allowed a reassuring smile to project itself onto her face. Maia returned the smile and leaned her head against the woman's shoulder.
Ego turned towards everyone with his hands presenting the sights of the land below them. "Welcome, everyone, to my world!"
"Wow." Peter said in astonishment. "You have your own planet?"
Ego turned back around. "Come on, it's no larger than your Earth's moon."
"Humility," Drax stated, holding onto the buckle of his belt. "I like it. I, too, am extraordinarily humble."
A cluster of rainbow-colored bubbles came floating towards them. The Guardians looked at them in amazement. Gamora reached up to touch one with her free arm, but hesitated, not wanting to destroy the beautiful sight of it. Drax had no desire to hesitate and popped one in curiosity. He laughed when the bubble formed another cluster of bubbles in a variety of different colors. Maia looked up at the bubbles above her head. Her skinny arm reached up and popped one near her. She giggled when it did the same as Drax's, causing Gamora to giggle as well.
Peter looked behind him once he heard the childish giggles and smiled. Here he was, with possible blood and unbiological family. He saw Gamora and Maia looking at each other as a mother and daughter would, giggling as their noses were centimeters apart from touching. Maia's legs were wrapped around Gamora's abdomen and her arms were wrapped around her neck, Teeka being held on by a thread. Peter remembered watching movies as a kid with mothers and daughters in the same position. They were so close. Maia was also very close to Peter, but nothing is stronger than a relationship between a mother and daughter and that's exactly what Gamora was to her...a mother. He turned back around to take in more of the scenery around him.
The floating platform connected itself to a terrace, forming a bridge. A large fountain sat in the middle of the it followed by a large set of golden stairs that led up to an emerald green building. The Guardians followed Ego and Mantis onto the terrace and around the fountain.
Gamora scanned their surroundings before looking at Ego in suspicion. "You own a planet and can destroy two dozen spaceships without a suit-" Maia lifted her head off of the woman's shoulder and looked intently at her as she spoke. "What are you, exactly?"
"I'm what's called a celestial, sweetheart."
Gamora stopped in her tracks, her teammates doing the same beside her. Peter looked at his father with narrowed eyebrows. "A celestial like a god?"
Ego and Mantis stopped at the stairs and turned around. "Oh, a small 'g' son-" The man explained, gesturing with his thumb and finger. "At least on the days I'm feeling as humble as Drax." He let out a soft chuckle, continuing to guide the Guardians up the stairs.
"Woah." The leader gasped as they slowly entered the building. The inside was just as beautiful as the outside. Even Maia, Drax and Gamora looked around in awe.
Maia squirmed in Gamora's arm with a large smile covering her face. The woman put her down and watched as the young child giggled and ran around, taking in everything she saw. She looked up at the tall ceiling, almost falling over in the process. She ran down the steps that sat in the middle of the room and spun around. However, she stopped giggling and carefully walked back up the stairs when she came across something fascinating; multiple large objects that resembled the ship they arrived in, lined up like soldiers against the walls. Her pigtails smacked her in the face as her head whipped around towards Ego. "Woah, what are these?" She asked, pointing to the large objects.
"Well, my dear, I will show you." He walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder, guiding her to the mysterious objects. The front of some of the egg-like objects were open, displaying various dark images in each one. Ego lifted his hand off of her and stared at the pitch black image. "I don't know where I came from, exactly."
Mantis, Peter, Gamora and Drax followed them from closely behind. Maia fell back to Gamora and reached for her hand. The woman grabbed it without hesitation and gave her a gentle smile, before turning her attention back to Ego.
The first black image lit up to reveal a glowing brain surrounded by stars. It slowly spun as Ego talked. "The first thing I remember is flickering. Adrift in the cosmos, utterly and entirely, alone. Over millions of years, I learned to control the molecules around me." Suddenly, a bunch of glowing specs surrounded the brain, eventually creating a planet, the planet, that they were on. "I grew stronger and smarter." Ego turned around and started walking the opposite direction. The image in the egg object behind them lit up, revealing the planet shown in layers. "And I continued building from there-layer by layer-the very planet you walk on now..."
"Woah." The only thing Peter could manage to say as he exchanged an impressed look with Gamora.
"But, I wanted more. I desired...meaning." Ego held a finger up in the air before he started walking again. "There must be some life out there in the universe besides me, I thought. And so, I set myself the task of finding it." He gestured at another one. It presented the brain sending up energy to the surface, creating an actual living being. "I created what I imagined biological life to be like-down to the most minute detail-"
"Did you make a penis?" Drax asked in curiosity, despite a child standing next to him. Gamora quickly covered Maia's ears before sending a death glare his way.
"DUDE!" Peter shouted with wide eyes, cupping his hands over Gamora's. Maia looked up at them in curiosity as to why they just covered her ears. She couldn't hear anything, besides the muffled voices of her parent figures reprimanding Drax.
"What is wrong with you?!" Gamora exclaimed through her teeth, shifting her eyes between Drax and Maia.
The tattooed man shrugged with no recollection of doing anything wrong. "If he is a planet, how could he make a baby with your mother? He would smush her!"
Peter took a deep breath and let it out. "I...ugh-I don't to hear how my parents..." The look on his face finished his sentence as he continued helping Gamora block the conversation from Maia's ears.
Gamora rolled her eyes. "Well, for one reason, there is a child standing right in front of you, hearing every part of this conversation!"
"Why are you so concerned about her knowledge of sexual interactions at such a young age?" This time it was both, Peter and Gamora, rolling their eyes. "My father would tell the story of impregnating my mother every winter solstice."
"It was beautiful!" Drax countered. "You Earthers have hangups."
"Yes, Drax-" Ego interrupted, moving the conversation along. "I've got a penis."
"HA! Thank you!"
"And it's not half bad." Ego added. Drax and Gamora gawked at him, surprise of what he'd just said aloud, while Peter grimaced in disgust.
Gamora let out an exasperated sigh. "Are we done talking about this?" The rest of the group looked down at the small child, remembering that she'd been there all along. Ego nodded as Peter and Gamora released their hands from Maia's ears.
The young girl raised a brow. "You guys are weird." She stated in a squeaky voice, reaching up to grab Gamora's hand once again.
Everyone stood in silence for a moment before Ego cleared his throat. "I also have pain receptors and a digestive system and all the accompanying junk." He started walking again towards another one of the large egg objects. "I wanted to experience what it truly meant to be human. As I set out amongst the stars,-" A replica of Ego's ship was presented in the object, flying through the cosmos. It landed on a rocky planet as the replica of Ego stepped out and met a young Krylorian. "Til' I found what I sought...life. I was not alone in this universe after all."
Peter stared at the projection, lost in thought. He wanted to know when-where-how Ego met his mother. He was surprised neither of them had mentioned it, yet. However, he was losing patience. He needed to know now. 'This is your chance,-' He thought to himself. 'Ask him.' As the rest of the group stood there, staring at the projection, Peter hesitated to ask Ego about his mother, but decided it was now or never. "When did you meet my mother?"
Ego turned around, giving his son a gentle smile. "Not long after." He replied, walking to yet another object. Various parts of the egg-shaped object spun around, revealing Peter's mother, along with a young Ego. The elder man was embracing her from behind. "It was with Meredith that I first experienced love." The parts spun around again, revealing the two about to kiss. "I called her my River Lily." Ego stared at the projection with a soft smile, as it spun around once again, revealing a pregnant Meredith Quill. "And from that love, Peter...you." It spun around for the final time, revealing Peter's fetus inside of her.
Peter stared at the model of his mother, speechlessly. Ego, however, was no longer staring at the projection, but at his son. "I've searched for you for so long." The man stated as his son tore his eyes away from the replica of his mother and forced them to look at Ego. "And when I heard of a man, who held an Infinity Stone in his hand without dying...I knew you must be the son of the woman I loved."
The ex-Ravenger looked at the celestial with a scrunched up face. "If you loved her, why did you leave her?" Ego was speechless; he didn't know what to say. The two looked at each other for what felt like forever.
Eventually, Gamora cleared her throat forcing them to take their eyes of each other. "Drax, Maia and I will wait outside."
"Mantis, why don't you go with them? Show em' around?" The bug-lady nodded at her master's order and followed Drax out the large door.
"I need to talk with Gamora for a minute." Peter stated, unable to look Ego in the eye. The man nodded and walked out in the opposite direction.
As Ego left the room, the green woman knelt in front of Maia. She gave her a soft smile and put both of her hands on the girl's arms. "I'll meet you out there in a minute, okay? I need to talk to Peter about something." The young girl nodded and ran out the door as Drax closed it behind her. Gamora stood up, watching her leave. She turned towards Peter with her arms crossed over her chest. They looked into each others' eyes for a moment, saying nothing.
Peter closed the gap between them, until they were only inches apart. "He says he loved her." He whispered with a small scoff. She let out a small sigh.
"You should talk to him. He has to have a reason for why he left." The man shook his head, taking a few steps back and running a hand through his hair. He turned away, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Hey," Gamora started out gently, grabbing his hand. He hesitantly turned back around and gazed into her beautiful brown eyes once again. "Talk to him." She took something out of her jacket with her free hand...her half of the pendant. She let go of his hand and connected their pieces together. "You gave me a chance."
Peter looked down at her hands, slowly placing one of his on top of them. He started thumbing them, forcing the woman's eyes to look back up at him. "Okay." Gamora took a deep breath and released her hands from his, placing her half of the pendant back inside of her jacket. "Go ahead and see if Mantis knows where we're crashing while we're here. I'll meet you guys there in a bit." Peter watched as she walked to the door before walking in the opposite direction.
Gamora looked behind her to see that Peter had already left. 'Maia? Drax? There's something I must tell you-' She heard Mantis' soft voice faintly through the door and opened it.
How'd they manage to end up here? First, the Ravengers found them, making a deal with the High Priestess to deliver them to her. Then, this moronic shitbag, who goes by the name of 'Taserface', started a mutiny against Yondu. Now, he's stuck here with the big, blue idiot, himself...locked up...together, waiting to apparently be delivered to the Kree. He had no idea where Groot was, but he needed to get them the hell out of there and fast, but first...
"Hey, tell the other guys we said 'Hi', Taserface." Rocket had to make one last joke to that jerk. He walked away from the cell door and sat down, leaning against the wall. "No offense, but your employees are a buncha' jerks."
Yondu ignored him, staring off into space. "I was a Kree battle slave for twenty years when Stakar freed me. He offered me a place with the Ravengers. He said all I needed to do was to adhere to the code. But I was young and greedy and stupid...just like you stealing those batteries."
"That was mostly Drax." Rocket lied.
"Me and Stakar and the other captains; we weren't so different from you and your friends...the only family I ever had. When I broke the code, they exiled me. This is what I deserve."
Rocket stood up. "Slow down, Drama Queen. You might deserve this, but I don't we gotta get outta here."
"Where's Quill?" Yondu asked in curiosity.
"Went off with his old man. Hey, you know he's gotta kid now?"
The Centaurian's red eyes grew wide. "Wait, what?" He sighed. "Told him many times...gotta be careful around dem' damn women."
"She ain't really his kid, though." Yondu looked up at the raccoon. "I mean, he and Gamora...they took this kid in. She was in a bad place, man."
"Quill gotta girl, now?"
Rocket looked at him like he was insane. "You crazy? Gamora would kill herself before hooking up with Quill."
Yondu shrugged. "So, he's off with Ego, den'?"
"Yeah...guess it's a day for dumbass names." The blue man laughed, showing his rotting teeth. Rocket smiled for a moment, as well. "You smiled. There for a second, I got a warm feeling, but then it was ruined by those disgusting-ass teeth."
Yondu quickly frowned and glared at the raccoon. "You like a professional asshole or what?"
Rocket shrugged. "Eh, pretty much a pro. Why didn't you deliver Quill to Ego like you promised?"
"He was skinny. He fit into places we couldn't. Good for theivin'."
"Uh huh." Rocket muttered, unconvinced.
"I got an idea on how to get out of here...but, we're gonna need your little friend."
Back on Ego's Planet...
"How'd you get to this weird, dumb planet?" The tattooed man asked Mantis as they sat with Maia on the steps of the golden building, looking out at the pools of water in the distance. They were large and surrounded by beautiful exotic flowers.
"Ego found me in the larvae state," Drax and Maia looked at Mantis when she started talking. "Orphan on my homeworld. He raised me by hand and kept me as his own."
"So, you're a pet."
"I suppose." Mantis shrugged, continuing to look out at the pools of water.
"People usually want cute pets...why would Ego want such a hideous one?"
"DRAX!" Maia exclaimed with her mouth hanging open.
"I am hideous?" The bug-like woman asked in a hurt tone.
Drax scrunched up his face. "You are horrifying to look at, yes." Maia facepalmed and shook her head in disbelief. Mantis turned away with a quivering lip. The tattooed man felt guilty and let out a sigh. "But, that's a good thing."
"Oh?" Mantis wanted to know more. How was being hideous a good thing?
Drax looked back at the fountains. "When you're ugly and someone loves you, they love you for who you are. Beautiful people never know who to trust."
A huge grin appeared on Mantis' face. "Well, then I am certainly grateful to be ugly!" She exclaimed.
"Am I ugly, Drax?" Maia asked with wide eyes.
"Yes, very." The young girl giggled with joy. They all stared back at the pools of water. "These pools...they remind me of a time when I took my daughter to the Forgotten Lakes of our homeworld. She was like you two."
"Disgusting?" Mantis asked, still smiling.
"Innocent." He corrected, tears welling up in his eyes. Mantis' expression quickly dulled as she hesitantly placed her hand on Drax's shoulder. Her antennae lit up as she started to feel his grief, tears streaming down her face. Maia heard the woman's quiet sobs and hugged her from the side, tears starting to form in her eyes as well. Drax let out a loud sigh as the sobbing simmered.
Mantis stopped crying. "Maia? Drax? There is something I must tell you-" Before she could finish what she was going to say, Gamora walked out, closing the door behind her.
Maia immediately popped up and hopped into the green woman's arms. Gamora gave her a soft smile before looking at Mantis and Drax in suspicion. "What's going on?"
"This gross bug-lady is my new friend." Drax replied, gesturing towards Mantis.
The woman smiled. "I'm learning many things like I'm a pet and ugly!"
"Me too!" Maia exclaimed with just as much excitement.
"You two are not ugly." Gamora said sternly. "Drax?"
The man gestured between both of the girls. "What are you talking about?"
"Mantis, can you show us where we'll be staying?"
"Why are there no other beings on this planet?" Gamora asked after walking for almost a half-an-hour. They weren't very far from their sleeping quarters, but she knew something wasn't right. One way or another, she was going to find out, but she wasn't going to just shrug it off like it was nothing.
"The planet is Ego." Mantis explained, continuing to guide them. "A dog would not invite a flea to live on his back."
"And you're not a flea?" Maia yawned in Gamora's arms, her eyelids fighting to stay open as she laid her head down on the woman's shoulder.
"I'm a flea with a purpose...I help him sleep."
The green woman started to lose patience and walked in front of Mantis, blocking her from going anywhere. "What were you about to say to Drax and Maia before I walked out?"
Mantis started to look nervous, turning her head back and forth, between Gamora and Drax. "Nothing." She finally spat out. "Your quarters are this way." She announced, walking around the taller woman.
Gamora shared a look with Drax, before tightening her grip on Maia and starting to follow Mantis again.
It was getting late by the time Peter had arrived at their quarters. After getting dressed for the night, he quietly opened the door to the room he was sharing with Gamora and Maia. The room was just as classy as the rest of the planet. It was pretty big and consisted of a silver table and two matching chairs, a king-sized bed, a couch and a balcony with two lounge chairs. Maia was fast asleep on the couch, Teeka tucked under her arm and a silky brown sheet covering her body. Her braided hair was already messed up, but she looked as adorable as ever. He smiled as he passed her and walked onto the balcony in search of Gamora.
She was sitting on one of the lounge chairs with her nose shoved into a data-pad. Her hair was loosely braided the same way as Maia's and laid over her shoulder, covering the rest of her face. Peter leaned against the doorway and watched her intently look at the data-pad. She was wearing a dark grey cardigan with sleeves that were slightly too long for her and a pair of black boy shorts. She appeared to be cold, due to her free hand being balled up in a fist, hiding beneath her sleeve. It was pressed up to her mouth, thumbing her lips from underneath the fabric; something she did when she was deep in thought.
"You don't have to stand there." Gamora's muffled voice whispered from underneath her first. Peter scratched the back of his head and slowly approached her. "How'd it go with Ego?"
"Actually, it wasn't that bad." The woman looked up from her data-pad. She wanted to tell Peter about Mantis' strange behavior, but she didn't have the heart to tell him, at least not tonight. He probably wouldn't believe her anyways. She decided to look further into it in the morning. So, instead she gave him a soft smile.
"I told you." She whispered before standing up. She never noticed how much smaller she was than Peter. She was so used to wearing heels that made her almost as tall as him. Without them on, the top of her head reached right below his nose.
"Ego put us in the same room together?" Peter asked, raising a brow.
"I requested it." She spat out quietly, walking into the room and placing the data-pad in her bag. She turned to face him. "There were only two quarters available. I figured that you would at least like to try to get some sleep."
Peter chuckled a little, following Gamora. "Drax could wake an entire planet up with that snore." She smiled at his joke, quietly closing the balcony doors.
She climbed into the right side of the bed. Peter raised an eyebrow, unsure of why she was allowing him to sleep next to her. He hesitantly climbed in next to her, both of them having an arm under their heads. They were so close; their noses were barely touching. "I have my Godslayer on me. Try anything and I will kill you." The man nodded with wide eyes.
"I'm not gonna try anything, I promise." She felt his warm breath on her lips. They laid there for a minute, gazing into each others' eyes. "Gamora?"
"Would you murder me if I wrapped my arms around you?"
"Why would you wrap your arms around me?" She asked, raising a brow.
"Because I know you're cold." Before the woman could respond Peter kept talking in a quiet, raspy growl. "I know that you can't sleep at night because of the nightmares you have." She nodded, still gazing into his hazel eyes. She shifted closer to him, until her head was on his chest. He wrapped his arm over her abdomen and started rubbing her back. She placed a gentle hand on his chest.
"Peter?" The man grunted in response. "Best friends do this, right?"
"Hell, yeah. All the time." She nuzzled further into his chest as he lightly kissed the top of her head. "Night, Gamora."
Next Chapter: Gamora's suspicions about Ego get worse; Peter talks to Gamora about their feelings for each other; Maia overhears an interesting conversation between Ego and Mantis.
Chapter 16: Bring It On Home To Me
Peter finally gets to talk to Gamora about their feelings for each other and Maia overhears a suspicious conversation.
"There." Gamora breathed in satisfaction as she finished tying a red ribbon behind Maia's semi-ebony hair. The top of it was perfectly braided into a headband with the ribbon woven in between strands, whereas the rest fell down in ringlets. "You're good to go." The young girl spun her head around with a large smile.
"Thanks, Gammy!" Maia exclaimed, wrapping her short, skinny arms around the green woman's neck.
Peter walked in from the balcony not too long after, bobbing his head to the chorus of 'Mr. Blue Sky'. He softly smiled once he saw the two girls. The youngest was clad in a white, knee-length dress. It had a mesh layer of white dots over it. Her tan, worn-out combat boots securely fitted around her foot and the maroon leather jacket, covering her arms, was a little too long. He chuckled softly at how adorable she looked.
"Can I play with Mantis?!" The young girl asked excitedly.
Gamora hesitantly nodded. She smiled, watching the girl squeal in excitement and run out the door. It soon faded as the door closed behind her. She looked at Peter with a worried expression. "I don't know how I feel about her running around unsupervised." She admitted aloud, standing up from the couch.
"Psh, she'll be fine. Nobody's here besides the six of us, not to mention my dad is the actual planet." He pointed out. "Speaking of my dad," Peter walked in front of her and held out his hands. "Apparently, I inherited a celestial gene from him. I can use the light within the core to make sweet things." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Gamora stared intently at his hands, waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, a glowing sphere of light started to form in his hands.
Gamora's eyes grew large; she was speechless. "I-I...wow."
"I know, right?" A proud smile formed on Peter's face.
The ex-assassin smiled back. As the man walked onto the balcony, her smile faded. She definitely knew something wasn't right. First, Mantis was scared and now, Peter all of a sudden has powers? She knew she had to talk to him about it, but she didn't know how. She was the one who told him to come and now, she had to tell him that something wasn't right.
"Hey, where'd you learn how to braid hair so well?" Peter asked curiously, breaking her from her thoughts.
"Oh-uh," Gamora stared down at her lap, rubbing her shoulder. "I, um...I rarely slept when I was under Thanos' control. When we were allowed to sleep, I just-I couldn't, Peter." She huffed, no longer rubbing her shoulder. She looked back up at him. His jaw was clenched and he looked like he could pop at any minute, but the look in his eyes said otherwise; they were filled with sentiment and remorse. Every time she would start talking about Thanos, he couldn't help, but to fill up with rage. She didn't deserve what he did to her; she didn't deserve any of it. "So, I always played with my hair, trying to replicate the various braids my own mother would use on me. Eventually, I started adding my own twists to them; making them unique." Gamora gave him a sad smile.
"For what?" Gamora asked in confusion.
"I know you don't really like talking about Thanos and..." Peter couldn't even finish the sentence.
The woman shook her head. "It's fine, really. It happened. It's over. It's done with. It's in the past-"
"Hey, you can't just throw it over your shoulder like that. You can't just brush it off like it never happened. I know you're still haunted by it; you don't have to hide it anymore."
Gamora didn't know what to say. All she could do was nod. She knew was so speechless; she was starting to realize how she felt about Peter. Each and every second they were together, he would treat her like a queen. When he screwed up, he would apologize and he would mean it. He was overprotective of her, even though he knew she could handle her own. He would stay up with her at the ungodly hours of night, talking about the most random things, when she couldn't sleep. He was the only one she felt comfortable sharing her secrets with. He was the only one who could make her heart drop to her stomach in a fight. He was the only one she felt this way for.
"Have you heard from Rocket, recently?" Peter asked after a few minutes of silence.
"No. I'll call him and see how the ship's repairs are coming along." Gamora sat back down on the couch and dug through her bag. She pulled out one of the transmitters that Rocket had built and followed Peter out onto the balcony.
As the woman fidgeted with the various knobs on the rectangular device, Peter walked to the end of the balcony and held onto the railing. He looked at the beautiful scenery before him. "So, I guess this could all be mine someday."
Gamora, too distracted with trying to reach Rocket, didn't hear him. "Rocket? Rocket, are you there?" She let out an exasperated sigh in frustration. She continued to fidget with the knobs as a soulful instrumental started filling through the air.
Peter turned around as soon as he heard the song starting to play. The corners of his lips rose a little. The song he deemed his and Gamora's was playing at that very moment. It was the perfect time to talk to her about their feelings for each other. He ignored the fact that she was trying her hardest to contact Rocket and walked behind her with a gentle look in his eyes. He gazed down at her and placed his hands on her arms.
As much as the woman secretly loved what he was doing, she needed to focus on her task. Something was not right, there. Now, she couldn't get a signal at all? She couldn't be distracted by him; not right now. "What are you doing, Peter?" She asked in a toneless voice.
"Dance with me." He closed the gap between them, hugging her from behind. Gamora could feel his head gently leaning against hers.
"I'm not going to dance with you." She knew that wouldn't stop him from being so stubborn, but it never hurt to try.
Peter took the transmitter out of her hands and threw it on the golden lounge chair beside her. He grabbed her hands with his own and gently pulled her away from the transmitter. "This is Sam Cooke; one of the greatest Earth singers of all time."
Gamora let out a sigh and lazily followed him. She knew if she wanted to, she could easily escape his gentle grasp and leave. However, she couldn't find it in herself to do so. She watched her left hand make its way up to his shoulder, letting out another sigh. Her eyes shifted from his lips to her hand on his shoulder. He moved his head towards her line of sight with the same gentle, caring look in his hazel eyes. She looked up at him and smiled. He returned the gesture, spun her and reeled her back towards him, causing her smile to only grow. Her eyes eventually met his and she couldn't help herself, but to gaze deeply into them. They stayed like that for a moment, swaying and looking at each other like they were the only people in the universe.
"Drax says you're not a dancer." Peter stated softly, breaking the silence.
"If you tell anyone about this," Gamora started out sternly. "I will kill you."
Peter couldn't take her seriously; he knew she was bluffing. He couldn't wipe the soft smile off his face. "When are we gonna do something about this unspoken thing between us?"
The emerald-skinned woman cocked her head in confusion. "What unspoken thing?"
"This-Cheers, Sam and Diane, 'guy and a girl on a TV show who dig each other, but never say it because the TV ratings will go down', sort of thing."
Gamora was confused. What was he talking about? Mantis already revealed Peter's feelings for her. How was it 'unspoken'? "There's no unspoken thing, here." Her voice was toneless again.
"Well, it's a catch-22 because if you said it, then it would be spoken and you'd be a liar," The woman opened her mouth to speak, when Peter interrupted. "So, by not saying it, you are telling the truth and admitting there is."
"That's not what I-" He was confusing her even more so. She finally broke free of his arms and pushed him away from her. She immediately regretted it, but she didn't know what else to do. Mantis' worried expression couldn't leave her mind. She needed to tell him, now. "What we should be discussing right now, is there's something about this place. It doesn't feel right." She grabbed the transmitter off the chair and walked inside of their room.
Peter followed slowly behind her with an expression mixed of rage and frustration on his face. "What are you talking about? You're the one who wanted me to come here!"
"That girl, Mantis-she's afraid of something..." Gamora sat down on the couch.
"Why are you trying to take this away from me?"
"I'm not trying-" She held out her hands to the sides of her.
Peter furrowed his eyebrows. "He's my father; he's blood."
Gamora was digging through Peter's bag, trying to find an antenna for the transmitter. "Well, you have blood on Earth; you never wanted to return there." She countered, a little more aggressive than she meant.
"Again, you made me come here! And Earth-Earth is the place where my mother died in front of me."
"No, it's because that place is real and this is a fantasy!" She knew this would happen, but she couldn't believe that he trusted Ego more than her. He had literally just met him a day ago! Gamora walked over to her bag, continuing to search for the antenna.
"This is real!" Peter started to raise his voice and it was something Gamora wasn't used to being directed towards her. "I'm only half-human, remember?!"
"That's the half I'm worried about." She was being completely honest. He might be part celestial, but he was still human and she did worry about him...a lot.
"I get it; you're just jealous because I'm part god and you like when I'm the weak one."
Gamora couldn't believe what he was saying. She wasn't jealous that he was part god, nor did she show any signs of her being jealous. "You were insufferable to begin with." All Peter could do was scoff. She couldn't handle the argument any longer. She needed to get a hold of Rocket and warn him about the planet. "I haven't been able to reach Rocket. I'm going to go outside and try to get a signal." The woman explained calmly, attaching the antenna she found to the transmitter.
"You know what?! This is not Cheers, after all! This is whatever the show is where one person is willing to open themselves up to new possibilities," Gamora started to walk to the door as Peter started raising his voice at her again. "And the other person is a JERK, who doesn't trust anybody! It's a show that doesn't exist; that's why it would get zero ratings!" He extended his fist towards her, making a zero with it.
The ex-assassin turned around in frustration. "I DON'T KNOW WHAT CHEERS IS!"
"I FINALLY FOUND MY FAMILY...don't you understand that?"
Gamora felt tears welling up in her eyes. How could he say something so selfish? She thought the Guardians were his family: Drax, Rocket, Groot, Maia...her... She felt her heart sink into her stomach. "I thought you already had it..." She turned around to walk the other way and just as she thought things couldn't get any worse, a young girl with curly, ebony and dark purple tresses was standing right behind her. Her hazel eyes were red as a single tear fell down the side of her small, pale cheek. The green woman felt her heart break even more and had to leave before she broke down. She rubbed her hand across the young girl's cheek as she speed-walked down that hall.
Maia stood there for a moment, staring down Peter. "Maia, I-"
"I thought we were family..." The young girl burst into tears and ran in the direction of Gamora.
"MAIA, WAIT!" Peter let out a large breath. "Shit."
She ran for what felt like hours. When the tears stopped, she sat down on, what seemed to be, a ridge of red dirt that lasted for miles. She dug something out of her jacket; her half of the pendant. Gamora thumbed it, allowing one last tear to fall. She placed the pedant back in her jacket and sat there deep in thought.
She'd never fought with Peter to that extent and it hurt...badly. Especially with what he had said to her, 'I FINALLY FOUND MY FAMILY...don't you understand that?'. She kept replaying the scene over and over again in her mind; the anger in Peter's face, the way he spoke to her, finding Maia behind her in tears. Maybe he was right, though. She was the one who talked him into coming and now, she's telling him that they might be in danger. She could understand why he would be frustrated, but the words he had said still hurt.
A light breeze started to make some plants near her rub together, making a soft, yet annoying, scraping sound. She unsheathed her Godslayer and sliced both of them without looking. After the scraping sound had stopped, Gamora placed her precious sword back in its sheath.
"Dammit." She whispered to herself. Suddenly, she heard a spacecraft descending down towards her. She stood up and looked towards the direction of the ship. Her eyes grew wide when she saw who was piloting it; Nebula.
Maia ran until she was out of breath. She had reached the first building they had visited and walked inside, tears still streaming down her face. The tears subsided when she heard Ego's manly voice.
"If it doesn't work, we'll just give him the same fate as his siblings." When the young girl heard the strange statement, she hid behind one of the egg-shaped objects and continued to listen.
"I understand, Master, but he has a family; a young child who looks up to him." Mantis. Something wasn't right. Maia had to run back and tell Peter and Gammy, but she couldn't stop listening.
"I DON'T CARE, MANTIS!" The man boomed. He let out an exasperated sigh. "Listen, if it makes him feel better she can join him...hell, they all can."
"Yes, but-" Ego put a hand over Mantis' mouth.
"Someone is here..." He was quiet for a moment. Maia couldn't move. She stood there in shock, too scared to do anything. The man removed his hand from the bug-lady's mouth. "Maia, sweetheart, you can stop hiding, dear. I promise I won't hurt you."
Maia couldn't feel her legs, but she knew they were moving. She escaped out of one of the doors and ran as fast as she could. Not in control of her own feet, the young girl ran into a bush. Her hair got caught in it and she couldn't move. She painfully ripped it out of the bush and continued to run...right into Mantis. She looked up at the woman in fear.
'MANTIS! PUT HER TO SLEEP, NOW!'
Mantis whispered an apology to the young child before placing her palm on her forehead. "Sleep."
Next Chapter: Peter can't stop thinking about the fight he had with Gamora; Maia wakes up in a strange place; Mantis feels guilty about what she did to Maia and finally tells Drax what's on her mind.
Chapter 17: Rescuing Peter
Maia wakes up, locked in a dark room. Meanwhile, Peter can't stop thinking about what happened earlier that day.
"HELP!" Maia screamed as she banged on the large, golden door in front of her. She stopped pounding on it and started to viciously pull on the door. It wouldn't budge and she knew it was locked. She turned her back to the door and slid down it, wrapping her arms around her legs. She flinched when she accidentally touched a small, bleeding scratch on her leg. Muffled sobs escaped her mouth, after she dug her face into her knees, whispering for the people she loved to come and save her.
If you're ever in battle or held captive, I know it can be terrifying. Don't show the enemy you're scared of them. It will only make them more confident. She remembered Gamora's wise words in one of her lessons in training. 'I will not show Ego that I am afraid.' The young girl thought to herself.
The tears stopped and she lifted her head to scan her surroundings. The room was pitch black, the only light coming from the small gap between the door and the tile flooring. She dug in the pocket of her jacket and pulled out a small, circular object. She pressed the button on top of it, causing a ray of blue light to escape from the front.
The young girl stood up, wiping the last of her tears with the sleeve of her jacket, and looked around the room. It was completely empty and looked exactly like the quarters that they were staying in. However, it didn't have a balcony or windows. There was no way out, but Maia didn't lose hope. She knew the Guardians wouldn't rest until they found her. All she could do was wait...
It had been hours since his fight with Gamora. He couldn't forget the look on her face when she left...on Maia's face. He just broke the heart of the purest little girl he had ever met. The little girl who somehow managed to wrap herself around his finger. Gamora-the most beautiful woman who he had ever met-he broke her heart, too. Usually, he could care less, but this was Gamora. He cared about her...he loved her. So, he laid on that damn couch, listening to Vol. 2 for the third time, unable to think about anything besides those two.
They fought, like they as did. Only this time was different. Nebula had said something to her that she never saw coming: 'You were the one who wanted to win and I just wanted a sister!'. It took Gamora a moment to process her words. Why would she say that? She never wanted to win...she wanted to survive. She never thought about the consequences that her sister would have to face.
Her entire world turned upside down. Nebula was right; she was the enemy. Peter was right; she was a jerk. The whole universe had a reason to hate her, want to kill her. For as long as she could remember, she would obey Thanos and slaughter thousands of people, regardless if they were innocent or not. She didn't have a heart. If she did, she wouldn't let Nebula suffer the way she did. She would've fully given into her and Peter's 'unspoken (spoken) thing'. And Maia...if she didn't have a heart, she never truly cared for Maia. Maybe, taking care of the young child was to atone for the sins of her past.
Deep in thought, searching for a way out of the caverns of Ego with Nebula, Gamora recalled of a conversation her and Peter had on Jannah, a few days prior-
"How's Maia's training coming along?"
"She's definitely improving that's for sure. I found out she works best with a blaster."
Peter chuckled and popped the collar of his jacket. "She learned that from me." Gamora rolled her eyes playfully at him. "She really idolizes you, you know that, right? A few days ago, she told me she wants to be like you when she gets older."
Gamora scoffed. "An assassin? A murderer?"
"A hero." Peter corrected. "You know the badass ones who kick ass, but sometimes have a little fun. Do some good, some bad and a bit of both, at times?" Gamora chuckled at that.
"I never told her what I did." Peter curiously looked at her. "I only told her that Thanos made me do bad things that I didn't want to do." The man gave her a sympathetic look.
"Well," He said, returning his attention to where he was going. "Eventually, she's gonna find out."
"I know, but-"
"And she will understand. She know's we've all been through hell. She know's we've all done shit that we were forced to do that we didn't want to."
Peter was, once again, right. She never wanted to harm any of those people. She never wanted to hurt Nebula. She was a jerk at times, but to be honest, who wasn't? She didn't fully give into her 'unspoken (spoken) thing' with Peter or feel like she truly cared for Maia because she didn't remember what love felt like. Now, here she was, with Nebula, rediscovering it for the first time since Thanos made her childhood a complete living hell. As soon as she got back, she needed to talk to Peter.
It wasn't until the two sisters stumbled upon a pile of skeletons, both small and large, sitting at the end of the caverns, that Gamora realized they needed to get back sooner than they thought. "Oh, my God..."
"We need to get off this planet." Nebula added with wide eyes.
The two Luphomoid and Zen-Whoberian women ran as fast as they could to the building that held the Guardians' temporary quarters. Gamora skidded to a halt when she noticed something red caught in a bush nearby. Her heart pounded through her chest as she cautiously approached it like it would attack her at any given minute. The bush was the same height as Maia.
She gasped when she realized that it was the red ribbon she had woven into Maia's hair earlier that day. It was covered in strands of black hair that was ripped from they young girl's scalp. Grabbing it out of the bush, Gamora frantically looked around for traces of footprints. Unfortunately, the only marks in the red sand was from her and Nebula's boots. "Gamora, what are you doing? We need to leave, now."
"I wove this into Maia's hair this morning. It was fairly secure-and the strands of hair tangled in it-Nebula, this isn't right. Something's wrong."
"You're right...it's this damn planet. We need to leave." Nebula stated a little more firmly.
Gamora, who was completely tuning her sister out, noticed a trail of small spots on the sand leading to the building where their quarters were located. "Blood?" She breathed. She thought for a minute before her eyes got large. "MAIA!" She ran towards the building without saying a word to Nebula.
"You know I'm a dreamer
But my heart's of gold
I had to run away high
So I wouldn't come home low
Just when things went right
It doesn't mean they were always wrong
Just take this song and you'll never feel
Left all alone"
Maia sang softly, trying to stay calm and hide her fear. Her heart fluttered a little when she heard soft, frantic footsteps outside the door. She quickly popped up and started banging on the door. "HELP!" She called out desperately. The footsteps became louder as they approached the door. The young girl quickly moved back.
Suddenly, the door was kicked in by- "Nebula?" Maia asked in confusion.
The blue Luphomoid payed no attention to her. Instead, she turned around and yelled, "I found the girl!"
Scared that Nebula wasn't on her side, Maia's eyes grew big and she slowly moved back-at least until she saw a familiar green woman running in her direction. Tears began to well in her eyes as she bolted towards Gamora.
The woman crouched down just enough to pick her up. Gamora felt her eyes begin to water as well once the girl was in her arms, clinging onto her for dear life. She wrapped her own arms around Maia, placing a hand on the back of her head to hold her closer. "Shhh, you're okay. I'm here." She cooed. "I'm here."
"Ego-he's a bad guy." Gamora felt a rare, abnormal amount of rage built up inside of her-a type of rage that was only caused by someone hurting or endangering Maia. Peter would call her 'Mama Bear' when she lost control of it.
"Let's go." She said through her teeth.
Gamora got even more furious when she saw Mantis. She immediately set Maia down on the ground and stomped over to her, grabbing her by the neck and holding her against the wall. "Who do you think you are, knocking an innocent, little girl unconscious and locking her in a room?! Who the hell are you people? What is this place?!"
"Gamora, let her go!" Drax shouted from behind.
"Gammy, please!" Maia pleaded, moving to where Gamora could see her. "Mantis didn't do anything! Ego made her lock me up! It wasn't her fault!"
The green woman didn't loosen her grip, but turned to face Maia. "She had a choice, Maia!" She couldn't turn away from the young girl looking at her with mercy. "The bodies in the caverns, who are they?" She asked through her teeth.
"You are scared." Mantis caught her off guard and caused her fear to become more prevalent when she touched the green arm choking her. Gamora let go and backed away, starting to breathe heavily.
Everything was spinning and she felt like she had just run across the entire planet and back. Her brown eyes shifted down at her shaking hand. She looked beside her to see Maia's hazel eyes, filled with nothing but concern, staring at her. "What did you do to me?!" She asked in a panicked tone, turning her attention back to Mantis.
"Your fear-you conceal it inside of yourself. I only made it prevalent." Gamora finally managed to calm herself.
"Give me answers, Mantis. What's going on?"
"She already told me everything." The tattooed man interjected. Together, Drax and Mantis explained everything to the trio: who Ego was, what his plans were with Peter, everything. Gamora had to hold Maia as they spoke. The poor girl was scared senseless. She didn't want to lose Peter. She didn't want to lose her family. She clung onto Gamora as if the green woman would disappear.
"And the bodies-they are his children." Mantis added.
"Oh, no." Maia gasped, starting to sob into Gamora's dirty jacket. "He's gonna hurt Peter."
"We need to find Peter now and get off this damn planet!"
Mantis looked at the green woman with no hope. "Ego will have won him to his side by now...he has a way-"
"Then we just go." Nebula interrupted.
"No." The young girl and her motherly figure argued in sync.
"He's our friend." Gamora added.
"All any of you do is yell at each other, you're not friends."
"You're right." Drax stated, thinking of their little band of misfits: He, Rocket and Groot-brothers and Peter and Gamora-...he didn't know exactly what their relationship would be considered as but..."We're family. We leave no one behind." He looked around at everyone in the room: Gamora and Maia-mother and daughter, he and Mantis-brother and sister and Nebula- "Except maybe her."
The Luphomoid rolled her eyes. "Oh, my God." She muttered under her breath.
A beeping came from Gamora's transmitter. She put down Maia and answered it. "Finally." She sighed in relief, seeing who it was. "Rocket?"
'Keep that transmitter nearby so I can find you. We're in an old piece of construction equipment Yondu once used to slice open the bank of A'askavaria.'
The young girl walked over to the window and saw a blue light show coming from the building in front of them. Her eyes grew wide. "Peter." She whispered to herself.
Gamora looked over at Maia, who had tears welling up in her eyes again. She shook her head, not wanting to believe what was happening. "Ego's unhinged." She walked over to the young girl and knelt down in front of her.
'I know. Get ready.'
Rocket hung up as the green woman wiped the tears from Maia's red-rimmed eyes. "Hey, I know this is scary, but I need you to be brave, okay?" The young girl nodded with a sniffle. "Come on, my brave, little warrior. Let's go kick some ass." Maia chuckled at Gamora's rare swearing and followed her out of the building.
Upon reaching the first building they had gone to when they arrived, a burst of bright, blue rays shone from the windows, followed by screaming...Peter's scream. They all blocked their eyes from the light before sprinting to the door. Maia frantically tried to open it, but it was locked. "I can't open it!"
"Move out of the way, Maia." Drax ordered in a deep voice. She nodded and moved out of his way. Taking a step back, he forcefully kicked the door in. The team walked in there with, what Peter would call, their 'mean faces'. Maia gasped when she saw Peter being impaled by the light, screaming out in agony.
Ego stopped the Expansion for a moment once he noticed them and whipped around to see a Laser Drill coming straight for him. As soon as the vehicle struck him, Peter was released of the light and fell face-first onto the ground.
The door to the Laser Drill slid open, revealing a small, baby Groot waving at the group. "Out of the way, dumber, smaller Groot!" Drax shouted as he picked up Maia and ran to the opening. He lifted her onto the ship before climbing into it himself, getting punched multiple times by the small tree.
After Nebula and Mantis climbed in, Maia poked her head out, watching as Gamora quickly sprinted over to Peter and helped him up. They wrapped around each other and Gamora placed a hand on his chest to push him upright.
"I told you something didn't feel right." She quickly maneuvered herself to his side, letting him use her body as support to help him walk to the Laser Drill.
"'I told you so.' Just what I needed to hear right now."
"Well, I came back, didn't I?" They both ducked when pieces of the building started to cave in.
"Because there's an 'unspoken thing'."
"There is no 'unspoken thing'." She denied in exasperation. 'Why the hell was he still going on about an 'unspoken thing'? It was already spoken of!' She thought to herself.
Despite the anxiety she was feeling over the whole situation, the slight bickering between Peter and Gamora made Maia chuckle. In curiosity, she climbed up into the cockpit, wondering who was even piloting the ship.
When she reached the top, she discovered a blue Centaurian with a red thingy on his head. He looked like the guy Peter always talked about-Yondu. She remembered being on Berhert a few days ago, when they first met Ego. Peter told them that Yondu took him from his home and threatened to eat him! Maia furrowed her eyebrows, crossed her arms and approached him with a pout on her face. "So, you're Yondu-the guy who took Peter from his home."
Yondu, who was waiting for clarification that everyone was on board, jumped at the sound of her high-pitched voice. "And you must be Maia. Yer' little friend told me much bout'cha."
She raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Rockey?"
"Yup. Told me how yer' like Gamora and Quill's kid. Said yer' smart for yer' age." Yondu chuckled a little. "Told me not ta tell anyone, but he thinks yer' cute."
Maia wrinkled her nose and cocked her head at the blue man. "Ya know, for someone who took a little kid from his home and told him he was gonna be eaten, you don't seem that bad."
"Lemme tell ya somethin', I might not be an angel, but I wadn't gonna let the kid die." Yondu gestured his head towards the ladder. "Go check on em'. Make sure everyone here." The young girl nodded and climbed back down.
"There's a center to him." Peter started to explain as she reached the bottom. "His brain, his soul, whatever it is-some sort of protective shell..." He walked toward the ladder and stopped when Maia blocked him.
"Are you okay?" She asked in concern.
Peter looked down at her with a serious, yet gentle expression. "Yeah, I promise. Go by Gammy and don't leave her side." He started to climb up the ladder after making sure she did what she was told.
"It's in the caverns below the surface." Mantis informed them with anxiety swiveling around her.
While Yondu, Peter and Rocket were having a conversation of their own, Maia was dragged into her own world when she noticed Groot in front of her. "I AM GROOT!" The small tree cried, holding out his arms while running to Maia.
"GROOTIE!" The young girl picked him up and held him close to her chest. "I missed you so much!" He wrapped his vines around her and held her just as tight. A small smile crept on Gamora's face, seeing the dynamic duo reunite.
Suddenly, the Laser Drill started to move, causing Groot to fall out of Maia's arms. Gamora wrapped her arms protectively around the young child, making sure she didn't fall. "Hold on tightly!" She instructed Maia, guiding her small hands onto the bar that sat in front of them. As extra protection, she stood behind the petite girl, gripping onto the rail as well.
As they started making their way into the caverns, Gamora, Mantis and Maia gripped onto a sturdier bar that was behind Rocket. The raccoon started going on about how they could raise their prices if they became 'two-time galaxy savers', getting lectured by Peter about how unbelievable he was being. "That crabby puppy is so cute. He makes me wanna die!" Mantis exclaimed, making Maia giggle.
It wasn't long before a distracted Peter and Yondu crashed and skidded across the wall of organic material, tearing the door off the ship. They finally reached the caverns and the ride was smooth again. Maia let go of the bar and joined Mantis, Drax and Gamora, looking out the hole where the door once was. Mantis walked to one of the small windows behind them and looked through it.
"There-that's Ego's core." She pointed out.
"That ore is thick, Rocket." Gamora informed the small creature.
"I got it covered." He started to prepare the lasers to drill a hole in the core.
Mantis' anxiety only grew. "We must hurry." She warned. "It will not take Ego long to find us."
"We drill to the center, we kill him." Peter called down from the cockpit. Mantis, Gamora and Maia gathered around Rocket, watching as he started to drill a hole into the core.
'Cap'n?' Kraglin's voice echoed through the ship. Maia looked up to where the sound was coming from, even though she couldn't see anything.
"What is it, Kraglin?" Yondu answered, keeping his attention toward the hole being drilled into the core.
'Hey, remember that Ayesha chick?'
"Yeah, why?" Out of the corner of his eye, he saw them-more than a dozen Sovereign pods heading towards them. "Oh, hell!" He and Peter quickly turned the ship away from the core and fled in the other direction. The fleet caught up to them and started shooting. Not being able to grab onto anything fast enough, Mantis, Drax, Gamora and Maia fell out of the hole and plummeted to the ground.
A/N: If anyone thinks I made a mistake when Maia gets scared one moment and breaks down in tears, yet the next, she's completely fine, that was completely intentional. Maia is still a little kid (she's only about five), so she gets scared easily and if you think about it, through her eyes, space is a hundred times bigger to her than it is to the other Guardians. Gamora is trying to teach her how to stay calm in nerve-wrecking situations (such as what's happening on Ego) and although she is learning very fast, she still is a little kid. When she sees that the rest if the Guardians are calm in a situation, she feels that she should be calm as well. I hope this clears that up a little! ^_^ Hope everyone enjoyed Starmora Week 2017!
Chapter 18: Yer Daddy is Yer Father
The battle with Ego escalates quickly and the Guardians found out something shocking that will change their lives forever.
A/N: So, the last chapter mainly focused on Gamora and Maia's relationship, but this chapter will be mainly focused on both Peter and Gamora's and Peter and Maia's relationships. Anyways, enjoy! ^_^
They were plummeting from the ship. Maia was screaming at the top of her lungs, squeezing her eyes shut. Gamora immediately wrapped her arms around the girl's small frame. She landed gracefully on her feet with Maia still shaking in her arms. She tilted her head up towards the ship, watching as Peter, Rocket, Yondu and Nebula continued to fly away from the fleet of ships chasing them. She quickly scanned Maia for injuries. "Are you hurt?" The young girl shook her head and clung tighter to Gamora.
The ground started to shake, causing terror to flash in Mantis' eyes. "He's coming." She warned.
"Didn't you say you could make him sleep?" Drax asked, remembering of the day before when Mantis had put him to sleep.
The bug-like lady started fidgeting with her hands, looking away from the tattooed man as she spoke, "When he wants. He's too powerful-I can't!"
"You grabbed your blaster before we left, right?" Gamora asked Maia, setting her down carefully. The young girl nodded and pulled a purple quad blaster out of the sling holster beneath her jacket. Gamora took a deep breath. "Don't part with it, do you understand?" Maia nodded again.
Drax focused his attention on Mantis. "You don't have to believe in yourself because I believe in you!" He encouraged.
Suddenly, a head that resembled Ego's, appeared in front of them. It was created from the light of the planet and caused Maia's eyes to grow. Mantis quickly glanced at the child's petrified stare before looking back at Drax. She took a deep breath and started frantically shifting her eyes from Ego's head to the lit up cracks in the ground. Ego's mouth opened, rolling a ball of light at them. Gamora quickly covered Maia with her body, while Drax covered his skull with his hands.
Mantis knew she had to try; she had to help her friends. With tears welling up in her eyes, she shoved her hand into the crack closest to her. "Sleep!" She shouted as her antennae lit up.
The light disappeared from the cracks and the ball disappeared into thin air.
"I never thought she'd be able to do it with as weak and skinny she appears to be." The tattooed man admitted, earning looks of disbelief from Gamora and Maia.
"I don't how long I can hold him!" They knew they had to hurry. Mantis was trying her hardest to keep Ego asleep, but struggled.
Ships from the Sovereign fleet had found them. A few broke apart from the group that was following the Lazer Drill and started heading towards them. Maia was the first to notice and started running towards them, knowing that she had to protect her family. It was true, she was scared, but her family meant everything to her and she wasn't going to let them down.
In the corner of her eye, Gamora saw the young girl leave her side. She quickly whipped around and ran after her, unsheathing her sword. "MAIA!" She called out after her. Drax noticed the two girls had left. He turned his attention towards them and noticed the Sovereign ships approaching.
"We have to protect Mantis!" Maia called back.
The tattooed man didn't dare leave Mantis' side. He withdrew his daggers, awaiting for any to sneak up on them.
And together, they fought those golden douchebags.
With the laser generator down, they needed to think of a Plan B and they did; Rocket made a bomb using the detonator and Anulax batteries. All they needed to do was place it on the core and activate the timer. However, the only person small enough to fit through the holes in the metal was a certain small, baby tree.
Peter overheard the raccoon gradually raising his voice in frustration at Groot, when the poor thing pointed to the wrong button. Rocket's irritated voice was making him nervous. Peter yelled at him to stop and in return, he had to hunt for tape. He asked everyone-nobody had tape.
One annoying argument about frickin' tape later-Peter continued to help fight off the Sovereign. He landed next to Gamora, who was back to protecting Mantis with Drax. Maia was behind them, shooting at the ships with her aim slightly improving and Mantis was still struggling to keep Ego asleep.
"Listen, about earlier-" Peter shouted over the commotion.
"Really? You're going to talk about this now?!" Gamora interrupted, keeping her eyes on the Sovereign ships.
"I'm sorry!" He ignored her, having to get the words off his chest. "You were right-I was a dick and I'm sorry, okay?!"
Gamora opened her mouth, about to say something, when Yondu's voice came through their coms, 'Rear thrusters are out again! We're done for without that generator!'
"Oh, shit." Peter whispered. He was about to fly out to assist them, when he realized someone was missing. "Gamora, where's Maia?!"
The green woman's brown eyes got wide as they started looking around frantically for the petite girl. She finally spotted her on a cliff in the distance, trying to protect Nebula and Yondu. "Oh, my God." She started out in a whisper. "Peter, she's on that cliff near the Laser Drill!"
Peter started to ascend in the air before she finished her sentence. Gamora watched as he started to fly toward her. Peter noticed a Sovereign craft aiming at Maia and used his boot thrusters to increase speed. Just as the blast made contact with the cliff, the small girl was in his arms and they flew into the hole of the Laser Drill.
"You okay, Peanut?" Maia nodded and started to stand up, tightening the grip on her blaster. Peter noticed a small gash on her arm. It didn't look fatal, but it must've stung.
A loud scream coming up from the cockpit, stopped Peter from examining the young girl's wound. They both looked out the gaping hole of the ship and saw a plethora of lasers firing in all directions, destroying the Sovereign ships. Peter pushed Maia to the ground, covering her entire body with his, when burning pieces from one of the ships, landed in front of them. "WE'RE GONNA BLOW!" He warned the two blue aliens in the cockpit.
Within seconds, the ship blew up right in front of Gamora's eyes. A scream, so inhuman, ripped out of her throat. "MAIA! PETER!" At that moment, time began to slow down. Her Godslayer fell to the ground as she dropped to her knees with a hand over her mouth. Tears started to flood her eyes, overflowing onto her cheeks.
It wasn't until that moment, she remembered what love and pain felt like. She never got the chance to tell Maia how much she loved her. She never got the chance to hold her or kiss her on the cheek one last time. She realized that there were things left unsaid with Peter. She never got the chance to apologize to him. She never got the chance to tell him how much he means to her or let him know that she felt the same feelings for him. She never got the chance to say goodbye.
"No." She whispered through sobs, planting her face in the palm of her hands.
Suddenly, a loud THUD came from in front of her. She looked up from her hands to see Nebula staring at her. When the blue Luphomoid looked up, Gamora did the same.
Out of a cloud of smoke, three familiar figures started descending to the ground; Yondu was hanging onto his arrow and Peter was using his aero-rig, holding a dirty Maia in his arms. Peter looked up at Yondu and laughed.
"What?" Yondu asked in confusion.
"You look like Mary Poppins."
"Is he cool?"
Peter smiled up at him. "Hell yeah, he's cool."
Yondu grinned from ear-to-ear. "I'm Mary Poppins, ya'll!" He exclaimed, earning a chuckle from Maia.
When they landed, the young girl immediately ran into Gamora's green arms. Peter gave the two a heartfelt smile. The woman kissed Maia's cheek and picked her up. A tear escaped from Maia's hazel eyes as she tightly wrapped her arms around Gamora's neck. "I love you, Gammy."
"I love you, too." Gamora choked. She looked at Peter and started walking to him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." He started approaching her as well.
"You scared the hell out of me."
"And I'm sorry, too."
"I know." He gave her a soft smile.
Gamora sat Maia down next to her. Everyone looked around at the destruction caused by the debris of the Sovereign ships, waiting for Groot to return from planting the bomb on Ego's core.
It wasn't long before a large piece of debris hit Mantis, knocking her over. "Mantis, look out!" Drax warned, seconds after she was already down. Maia ran over and knelt by her side.
"Oh, no. Is she okay?" Maia asked, brushing a strand of hair out of Mantis' face.
Without the woman to restrain Ego from waking up, the light started to return to the planet as it started to shake. Pieces of organic material started to crumble to the ground. Maia quickly stood up, wobbling from the unstable ground. Drax bent down beside her, picking Mantis up bridal style.
"She's just unconscious." The tattooed man announced, feeling her chest lightly move up and down in his arms.
"How long until that bomb goes off?" Peter asked with his heart beating rapidly.
Rocket looked around the shaking planet, furrowing his eyebrows. "In the unlikely event that Groot doesn't kill us all, about six minutes."
The ceiling of the caverns started to split apart, sending sections of it spiraling towards the group and revealing rays of sunlight underground. Everyone looked up as the planet continued to tremble.
Yondu activated his com to contact Kraglin. "Kraglin, we need the Quadrant for extraction. T-minus five minutes."
"Somebody's gotta be up top when Kraglin arrives." Peter explained, still looking up at the rift in the ceiling. He deactivated his aero-rig and turned his attention to Drax. "Drax, take Mantis." He slapped the aero-rig on the tattooed man's back, watching as it materialized over his chest.
"My nipples!" Drax yelled, ascending to the top of the cavern in pain.
Suddenly, the ground from the caverns started to cave in. Maia fell to the ground, dropping her quad blaster on accident. She pushed herself up and stumbled towards it. After struggling to grab it, she was finally able to maintain a firm grip it and turned around to see her mother figure fall in with the crumbling ground.
"GAMORA!" Peter cried out, watching her plunge to the ground. If it weren't for Nebula diving in after her, he would've panicked.
"GAMMY!" Maia's cry was louder and more painful than any of them had ever heard before. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she covered her ears and fell to her knees, unaware of the blue light emerging from the ground beside her as she screamed at the top of her lungs. It flew towards the direction of where Ego's face once was and thrust into the organic material, causing it to crumble to the ground.
Peter was astonished once he saw the light near Maia. He ran to her, materializing his helmet and gently placing his arms on her. "Gammy's okay! Nebula saved her!" He yelled over her high-pitched scream. Her screaming subsided...and so did the tendrils of light around her. 'That can't be possible.' Peter thought to himself.
Ego's face appeared once again on another cliff of organic material. Peter and Maia stood up and started shooting at him as the light began to attack them once again. Yondu started whistling behind them, his arrow puncturing the tendrils around him. Rocket flew around with force fields surrounding him, using small bombs to fight with.
As he continued shooting, Peter saw Maia in the corner of his eye, sticking out her tongue in concentration as she finally started to succeed at aiming. Her red-rimmed eyes were gone and the tears stopped, only stains left on her cheeks. They looked so badass together-a little girl and her father figure, beating the shit out of her father figure's father. His lips twitched up a little underneath his mask, thinking about it. Never in a million years, would he ever have thought he'd be in space with a little girl he basically adopted, saving the galaxy for the second time with a group of misfits who barely have anything in common. However, that's what made them family. They bonded through learning about each other and their interests-that's just how they clicked.
His father's voice broke him from his thoughts, causing his small smile to quickly fade. "Come now, Peter. I know this isn't what you want. What kind of father would I be to let you make this choice?"
"A good one." Maia growled, shooting at him more aggressively, with a cute, yet dangerous frown upon her lips.
"Soon, Peter, we will be all there is. So, stop pissing me off!" He and Maia shot at the tendrils of light faster than before as Ego tried harder to pierce him. One of the tendrils whacked Maia and knocked her on her stomach. She skidded across the ground, getting covered in more scrapes and bruises. Her dress was torn, having various holes in it and she was covered in dirt from head to toe. Peter turned his attention towards the young girl, sighing in relief as she slowly stood up.
Suddenly, he flew back as well as Ego caught him off guard and sent him flying as well. His mask split in two, revealing a small gash on his forehead. He got to his knees and looked at his family: Maia hesitantly shooting, Rocket flying away and shooting, Yondu whistling and Nebula and Gamora trying to climb to the top.
It wasn't long before Ego recreated his human form and started approaching him. Maia stopped shooting and watched him create himself, layer by layer, with wide eyes. The light knocked her over once again, causing her blaster to fly across the ground and land in pieces. She tried to stand, but the light tightly wrapped itself around her small frame and lifted her off the ground. With every bit of strength she had left in her, she tried to break free, but it wasn't enough and she gave up from exhaustion.
Peter watched in horror as Ego trapped his family in the light. He needed to help them, but he couldn't. He didn't have his blasters and all he could make with the frickin' light was a ball. What good would that do?
"I told you, I don't want to do this alone." Ego continued to approach him. Peter wasn't even aware of the tendril of light behind him and before he knew it, he was once again his father's battery, screaming in agony. Even with the immense pain in his chest, he could see Maia in front of him, no longer being wrapped in the light, but in the same position as him-stabbed in the chest. She wasn't screaming though. It was almost as if the pain was too much for her. However, she didn't need to scream-the unbearable pain could be seen in her eyes.
"Maia." Peter breathed. He saw her squeeze her eyes shut, tears starting to stream down her face again.
"You cannot deny the purpose the universe has bestowed upon you and your daughter." Ego pointed an accusing finger at Peter as more tendrils of light punctured through him and Maia. The older man saw Peter's shocked expression through his pain. "Are you really that foolish to not even recognize your own daughter?" His voice echoed throughout the planet. Everyone had heard him, including Maia. "You were the last of my spawn; the only one to carry the celestial gene. You have passed it on to her, but it doesn't have to be like this, Peter." His son painfully turned his head to the little girl. Her face was scrunched up, tears still streaming down her face. Seeing her struggle to survive brought tears to his eyes as his father continued to talk, "Why are you destroying our chance? Stop pretending you aren't what you are. You and Maia are one in billions. Trillions. Even more! What greater meaning can life possibly have to offer?"
"I don't use my head ta fly the arrow, boy!" Peter turned his head towards the man who was talking. "I use my heart-" Yondu was cut off by Ego's light completely submerging him in organic material.
Peter shifted his attention towards Maia; she almost looked lifeless. All this time, he thought of her as his daughter without even realizing she actually was. His daughter was in danger. His family was in danger.
Yondu's words echoed through his head, 'I don't use my head ta fly the arrow, Boy! I use my heart.' His heart. Memories of his family, his true family, flooded his mind; his mom lying beside him at the top of a hill, his headphones between them, softly playing one of her old cassettes. Drax, standing beside him, laughing along with him at a hilarious story he told. Rocket, flying beside him as they tested out the aero-rigs for the first time with Groot hanging on for dear life on his shirt. Gamora, standing in front of him on Knowhere-the first moment he realized he was falling for her. Yondu, proudly teaching him how to shoot a blaster properly. And Maia-Maia was in his arms back on Jannah. She was in the water with him and Drax, tossing her back and forth. She was grinning from ear-to-ear, begging to keep being tossed. So happy. So innocent. Now, here she was, having her life slowly drained out of her. She'll never be the same ever again. Ego messed with his family and he was pissed.
Balling his hands into fists, Peter managed to use the light to his advantage, starting to break him and Maia lose from Ego's tendrils. The ground started to light up again as the rage inside him grew. He quickly glanced at Maia. She stopped crying and stared at Peter as he turned to glare at Ego. "You shouldn't have killed my mom, squished my Walkman and turned my daughter into a battery." Within seconds he broke loose from the tendrils of light and charged himself at Ego.
The Guardians all broke loose from the tendrils surrounding them. Maia fell ungracefully onto her hands and knees. She looked over at Yondu, who had just stood up from being trapped under organic material. She noticed his arrow, snapped in two, next to him on the ground and gasped.
"Come're, Girlie." Maia nodded, pushing herself up to her feet, and started to walk towards him. "Are ya' hurt?" She shook her head. Yondu knelt down in front of her to where he was at eye-level. "I want'cha ta listen, alright? I had a feelin' Pete wuz yer daddy all along. You have his eyes and curly hair. From the small time I've known ya, I've seen you also have his heart. Promise me you'll take good care of yer family, especially yer daddy."
The young girl nodded again. "I promise, but...you have to promise you'll stay alive and come with us."
A small smile crept on Yondu's face as he let out a huff of breath, amused. "You are yer daddy's girl, ain't ya?"
Rocket descended down seconds later with a small Groot on his shoulder. "Yondu! Maia! We're about to blow!"
"Get dem' two to the ship!"
"Not without Quill!"
"You need to take care of the twig and Quill's kid!"
"Not without you." The raccoon sighed.
"I ain't done nothin' right my whole damn life, rat. You need to give me this."
Maia looked at the blue Centaurian in disbelief. He had just promised her that he was gonna stay alive! If he doesn't come with them, he'll die! She watched as Rocket pulled out two objects from his, what Peter calls, 'fanny pack'.
"A spacesuit and an aero-rig." He explained, holding up each one in front of Yondu. "I only have one of each." Rocket handed them to him, picking up Maia by her abdomen. She was lighter than he expected, yet, then again, he was being held up by an aero-rig.
Yondu nodded in thanks as the raccoon started to ascend. Rocket turned around as if to say something, but nothing came out. "I am Groot." Maia slapped a hand over her mouth and started laughing in shock.
"What's that?" The blue Centaurian asked in confusion.
Rocket's mouth curved up slightly. "He says, 'Welcome to the frickin' Guardians of the Galaxy.' Only, he didn't use frickin'."
The huge smile on Maia's face quickly faded as Rocket started to fly away. Her and Groot waved at Yondu in sync with tears welling up in their eyes. Yondu waved back before shouting, "DON'T FORGET YOUR PROMISE, GIRLIE!"
"DON'T FORGET YOURS!" She shouted back.
Yondu stopped waving. "Bye, kids."
"We're gonna need to have a real discussion about your language." Rocket stated, earning a nod in agreement from Maia.
Rocket quickly flew into the Quadrant, gently setting Maia on the platform. The young girl ran into Gamora's arms. The green woman kissed the top of her head and looked up, realizing Peter wasn't on the ship yet. "Where's Peter?" Maia unhooked herself from Gamora and started searching the ship for any signs of him. "Rocket, where is he?" The raccoon pulled out the timer for the bomb-only fifty-three more seconds before Ego would explode. "Rocket." Gamora started to raise her voice in a panicked tone. "ROCKET, LOOK AT ME! WHERE IS HE?!" He shook his head, knowing that it was hopeless to go back and find him.
Maia ran back to the ramp with tears in her eyes. Gamora placed her hands on her arms, breathing heavily. "He's not on the ship, Gammy." She choked. "Where is he?" They both looked over at Groot who was pointing outside. The young girl's eyes grew wide as she felt the warmth of Gamora's hands leave her.
"No." The green woman shook her head and stood up. "I'm not leaving without him." She walked over to a cluster of blasters and grabbed one, cocking it.
As she attempted to leave, Rocket tased her, watching as her body fell limp to the floor. "I'm sorry." Maia ran over to her, shaking her with all her strength in an attempt to wake her up. "I can only afford to lose one friend, today."
"What?" Maia gasped, almost inaudibly.
"KRAGLIN, GO!" Rocket shouted up to the cockpit.
"No, Rockey! We can't leave, Peter! He's my daddy!" The young girl cried in hysterics, running to stand in front of Rocket. "Ego said he's my daddy! We can't leave him here!"
'Rocket, where's Quill?' Drax's voice echoed through the intercom. 'ROCKET! WHERE'S QUILL?!'
Rocket ignored both of their pleas and watched the ramp close.
"PLEASE! WE HAVE TO GO BACK FOR HIM!"
As the ship flew away from the planet, Rocket turned to Drax and Maia in guilt. "If we would've gone back," He showed them the timer-five seconds left. "We wouldn't have made it." As if on command, Ego's planet finally exploded.
Maia dropped to her knees and started hyperventilating. She crawled over to Gamora's unconscious body and curled up next to her, whimpering into her side. Rocket lowered his ears at the sight. He lost it when she gripped the woman tightly and started to wail. "I'm sorry, Maia." He choked, wiping tears from his eyes. "I'm so sorry." He then remembered Yondu, whom he had given an aero-rig and spacesuit to. "KRAGLIN! REEL AROUND! I GAVE YONDU A SPACESUIT AND AERO-RIG! HE'S STILL OUT THERE!"
It was done. Ego was dead. The light was gone. He was mortal and he was fine with that. He was going to die, but he didn't care because everyone he cared about was safe. His family was safe. Maia was safe. He was scared of death, to be honest, but he knew he would be with his mother again. So, he knelt there, watching as Ego's planet-form exploded before him.
However, he was surprised when Yondu swooped in from above, picked him up and flew them both to the sky. "He may have been your father, boy, but he wuzn't yer daddy." Peter looked at him in confusion. "I'm sorry I didn't do none of it right. I'm damn lucky you're my boy." The blue Centaurian placed a circular object on his jacket as it materialized into a spacesuit.
All Yondu could do was smile. "Take care of yer kid, Pete-she looks up to ya. Don't make the same mistakes as me, ya hear?"
It wasn't until they exited the atmosphere of the planet that he realized what Yondu was doing. "Yondu, what are you doing?! You can't."
"You gotta take care of yer kid, b-" Yondu could no longer speak. He was out of air, unable to breathe.
Gamora felt something vibrating on her arm. She opened her eyes, but immediately shut them when bright lights started to burn her eyes. She tried again, slowly fluttering them. Everything around her came into focus. She was in a ship, but it wasn't the Milano.
Suddenly, she remembered everything that happened that day: the dance, the argument, the battle on Ego, going back for-Peter. She turned her head, noticing that Maia was the one who was making her arm vibrate, crying hysterically. The young girl must've felt her move because her red-rimmed eyes found Gamora's brown ones. She found her eyes starting to water as well.
She sat up, pulling Maia with her. The child threw her arms around Gamora's neck and sobbed into the crook of it. "They left Peter behind!" She cried out, coughing from the amount of time she'd spent crying. "Ego exploded and Peter was still on the planet. I just found out Peter is my real daddy and now he's gone!"
Boiling hot blood ran through Gamora's veins. Fighting back tears, she told Maia to stay where she was and made her way up to the cockpit, where everyone else was.
It wasn't long before she saw the raccoon standing in front of the large windshield beside Drax, Groot and Mantis. She snuck up behind him and pinned him to the wall of the ship by his neck. "HOW THE HELL COULD YOU?!"
"Listen, Gamora, I-"
"SHUT UP!" She yelled, loosening her grip a little. "HOW COULD YOU LEAVE PETER OUT THERE TO DIE?!"
"Gamora, let him go." Drax said with barely any force behind his voice.
She ignored him, too focused on her anger towards Rocket. She didn't even notice the young girl behind her. "MAIA JUST FOUND OUT HE WAS HER ACTUAL FATHER AND NOW-" Her voice started to break and she couldn't finish her sentence. She let go of Rocket and fell to her knees, bursting into tears. Maia ran over to her and hugged her.
Their hearts broke, not only for their fallen companion, but for Gamora. They had never seen her so vulnerable and broken. Of course, she had her fair share of traumatic events in her life, but she always remained so stoic about them.
Maia on the other hand, they would all die to bring back Peter. The young girl had gone through so much trauma already that day and on top of it she found and lost her father in the span of an hour.
Kraglin cleared his throat, breaking the silence. "Uh, Cap'n...scanner detected a sign of life." The Guardians looked out the window and thought their eyes had deceived them. It was Yondu and Peter, floating in space.
The two youngest members ran to the cargo hold as Kraglin used the tractor beam to pull them in.
As soon as she saw him alive and breathing, she threw her arms around him and wept into his back. He was shaking underneath her, not attempting to sit up or return the gesture. Maia immediately knew something was wrong and untangled herself from him.
It wasn't until he finally pushed himself off of Yondu that she realized what the problem was-the blue Centaurian was lifeless, frostbite covering him from head to toe. Peter wasn't the one who died; it was Yondu. She gently wrapped her arms around him, once again, as he sat up. From all of the tears she had shed that day, she was surprised that she had any left.
"Oh, my God. PETER!" Gamora was the second person to enter the cargo hold-Groot still standing at the entrance with glassy eyes. She ran to Peter's side and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. She begun to cry anew, mostly out of relief, but partly from heartbreak.
Loud footsteps rang through the cargo hold as Mantis, Drax, Rocket and Groot finally entered. Rocket and Groot ran over to his side. The raccoon started to tear up and cursed unde his breath when he took Yondu's pulse. Drax knelt behind Peter, placing his large hand on his leader's free shoulder and Mantis just stood there in shock. They remained like that for what seemed like forever, together-as family.
Chapter 19: Forever a Family
After finding out Peter is her father and almost losing him, Maia is unable to leave his side as they attend Yondu's funeral.
The warm water running through her hair and onto her skin was relaxing. However, the unorthodox silence on the ship wasn't. No music. No laughter. Not even the slightest bickering. The only sounds were coming from the ship's engine and occasional, subtle whispers. She sat in the old, rusted tub with her knees to her chest. Drops of water beaded down her cheeks, but they weren't from the shower nozzle.
Bath time was normally fun for her. It was a time to not only relax, but have fun. Gamora and Peter would normally give them to her together, taking turns washing her hair and helping her dry off. It was strange to think that giving Maia a bath was something the trio bonded over. Starting out as just Maia and Gamora, Peter eventually joined in and made it a game, blasting music over the intercom so they would be able to hear it in the bathroom. Every time it was his turn to wash her hair, he would try to shape it into a mohawk using the shampoo. However, her hair was too thick and too long for it to stay up and flopped to the side once he let go. Maia's laughter was contagious and it always spread to them. She would start a splashing war when they least expected it, water almost flooding the bathroom floor afterwards. Rocket and Drax barely recognized them - Peter being so responsible and Gamora letting her walls fall. It was almost as if they were two completely different people around her.
However, bath time wasn't the same that day. Gamora was the only one in the bathroom, Peter nowhere to be found. Neither of them spoke. There were no mohawks flopping over. There were no splashing wars. Only silence.
All of the shampoo was rinsed out of her hair and the water started to drain. Maia stood up, water dripping from her body into the small amount still in the tub. Gamora grabbed a grungy towel with various holes that was supposedly 'clean' and wrapped it around the small girl's body, lifting her out. She sat her down on the ground and gently dried her off, noticing her fresh wounds. She had large bruises from where the tendrils of light once were, various scrapes across the front of her body from when she skidded across the ground, a small gash on the top of her arm from being thrown into the Laser Drill and another on her leg from earlier that day.
Maia's head was down, trying to avoid Gamora's worried gaze. She gently tilted the young girl's chin up and looked deeply into her hazel eyes. She felt small arms slowly wrap around her neck. The green woman almost felt guilty. If they would've let the Nova Corps take care of her, she wouldn't be in this position. She also knew that if it wasn't for the Guardians taking her in, she probably would've never found out that Peter was her father. Gamora was torn, but what happened was now in the past and all that mattered was that she was safe, once again.
The cabin was larger than the one she and Gamora shared on the Milano, but she didn't notice. She also didn't realize how much stiffer her temporary bed was. Zoning out was the only thing she could do, trying to process everything that just happened. She must have ran over the events a dozen times by now: almost seeing Gamora die, being impaled by tendrils of light, finding out that her father figure was her biological father this whole time, thought he had died and only to find out his father figure died, instead. She was so deep in thought that she didn't even realize Peter was watching her from the door way.
After almost twenty minutes of standing there, he finally walked in. Of the month they knew her, he'd never seen her so out of it. She wasn't herself. Maia was always energetic and tired them out, but she wasn't even moving a muscle. She was just sitting there, staring at the rusted wall in front of her. She didn't even look his way when his weight pushed down the mattress.
Peter took a deep breath. "Hey, Peanut." He breathed, trying his hardest to smile. Still no response. Footsteps approached the doorway as Gamora peeked her head in. They exchanged worried glances before he tried to talk again. "Are you okay?"
Maia finally looked at him, her red-rimmed eyes vacant of tears, and shrugged. "Was Ego telling the truth?" It was the first time she said a word since she told Gamora that she thought Peter had died. Her voice was rough and it broke as she spoke.
He knew exactly what she was talking about. Ego had told him that he had no other offspring and he killed all the rest. There couldn't be another explanation, but he didn't even know who her mother could've been. He slept with a lot of women and ever since he met Gamora, it made him feel sick to even think about it. All he could do was nod and give her a soft smile. She nodded in return and looked away.
A sudden image flooded the young girl's mind. An image of her, Peter and Gammy. It wasn't a memory, but a dream-a wish that she hoped would one day come true, but couldn't. They were on Jannah again, but it was only the three of them. She called Peter and Gammy her parents. They took her to the pond. They let her sleep in their bed once she had a nightmare. She would sit upon Peter's shoulders as they walked through the markets. And most importantly, Gammy was her actual mother. It couldn't have been possible though. Peter and Gammy hadn't even met each other by the time she was born. However, Peter was her actual father and it would only make sense for her to call him one. "Peter," She shifted her head towards him, but couldn't meet his eyes. She started to fidget with the holes in her clean, yet still torn, dress. "Um, do...do you think I could call you 'Daddy'?" Her black and purple tresses immediately whipped back around as if he was going to yell at her.
Daddy. He never thought of the day those words would be spoken towards him. Even before he found out that Maia was his biological daughter, he always thought of her as one. Though, he never actually thought of the day she would actually call him her dad. It was a strange feeling, but in a good way. A mirthless smile made its way to Peter's lips. "Well, yeah." He finally responded.
For awhile, she didn't react at all. It was almost as if she was still processing their conversation. Eventually, Peter felt her arms wrap around him, the light weight of her head leaning on his shoulder. He snaked his arm around her, pulling her closer. "Do you think Gammy would let me call her 'Momma'?"
Peter looked over at the green woman standing in the doorway as if he was asking for her consent. She gave him a soft smile and nodded slightly. "I think she'd like that." The young girl continued to stare off in the distance, but her lips twitched slightly up.
"This confuses me." Maia admitted, furrowing her eyebrows. "If the man who left me on Knowhere wasn't my dad, then, who was he?"
The young girl's father twisted his face and let out a loud sigh. "Well," He removed her arms from around him as he shifted her to his lap. "Sometimes, people can't keep their kids-"
"Why not? Don't they love them?"
"I mean," Peter sighed, knowing some part of the young girl would feel abandoned by her birth mother if she were still alive. "If they can't take care of you, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't love you. Sometimes, it's because they're not ready or they feel that it's best for you."
"Or they die?" Maia slowly wrapped her arms around Peter's neck, laying her head back on his shoulder.
"Yeah." The man answered somberly. "Sometimes, it's because of that."
An orange flame began to dance upon the wick of a white and red marbled candle that Rocket lit with a utility lighter. Various plants and oddities, that Yondu collected, surrounded his lifeless body. Together, Peter and Maia placed a strip of old fabric over his eyes.
The hazel-eyed girl reached her skinny arm down to Gamora's hand and grasped it firmly. Peter slightly swayed with her on his hip to help her relax and wiped a stray tear from her cheek before beginning his eulogy, "I used to tell Gamora how when I was a kid, I used to pretend David Hasselhoff was my dad-" Rocket, Drax, Maia and Groot all exchanged confused glances. "He's a singer and actor from earth, really famous guy." Drax nodded silently.
"Earlier, it struck me...Yondu didn't have a talking car, but he did have a flying arrow." Mantis smiled a little, her antennae twitching slightly. "He didn't have the beautiful voice of an angel, but he did have the whistle of one." Peter began to tear up as he heard his daughter let out a small yelp and tightened her grasp around his neck and Gamora's hand. "Both Yondu and David Hasselhoff went on kickass adventures and hooked up with hot women...and fought robots." Kraglin shared a teary glance with Peter before he continued, "I guess David Hasselhoff did kind of end up being my dad after all. Only it was you, Yondu." Gamora let go of Maia's hand and quickly placed a comforting hand on Peter's shoulder. "I had a pretty cool dad." And with that, a tear finally escaped his eye. "What I'm trying to say here is...sometimes, that thing you've been searching for your whole life...it's right there by your side all along. You don't even know it."
The whole team knew what he was talking about...family. It was something that they all hadn't really thought much about since they almost lost Peter. Maia glanced over at Gamora, noticing her eyes starting to well up. Peter's eulogy made her realize how much Nebula meant to her and how much she hurt Nebula. She took her hand off of Peter's shoulder and followed Nebula when she started to leave the funeral.
"I am Groot." The small tree said sadly, looking away.
"He did call you 'Twig'." Rocket looked at him in remorse.
"He broke his promise to me." Maia choked, not being able to take her eyes off of Yondu's lifeless body. "He promised me he would stay alive and come with us." She looked up at Peter as another tear fell. "He broke his promise."
"I know." Peter lifted his large, calloused hand to her cheek and wiped the tear away. She laid her head back on his shoulder, loosening her grip.
They all watched as Yondu's body became incinerated. Besides his second-in-command, Peter stayed there the longest, holding a heavy-eyed Maia on his hip.
"Pete." Kraglin called as the man finally built enough strength to start to walk away. His voice woke Maia up from whatever state of sleep she was in. She looked up in alert as Peter turned around. Kraglin slowly approached them, pulling out something from his pocket. "Cap'n found this for you in a junker shop. Said you'd come back to the fold someday."
Peter hesitantly took it from him with his free hand. "What is it?" Maia cocked her head and studied it.
"It's called a Zune. It's what everybody's listenin' to on Earth nowadays. It's got three-hundred songs on it."
It was completely obvious that Maia and Peter were related to each other in someway as both of their jaws dropped when he finished talking. "Three-hundred songs?" The man asked in shock, earning a nod from Kraglin. Before he could walk away, Peter remembered something. "Wait." He pulled out Yondu's yaka arrow from his boot, carefully balancing Maia on his opposite hip, and handed it to him. "Rocket grabbed the pieces and reassembled them. I think Yondu would want you to have it."
Kraglin looked up with tears in his eyes. "Thank you...Cap'n."
Three-hundred songs. Most of them he didn't recognize at all. Maia was still attached to him and he realized that she probably would be for the next few days. He could tell she was getting tired-her eyes heavy and small, quiet yawns escaping from her mouth. However, with everything that happened that day, she was restless.
Out of the songs he did recognize, he found one that was soft and relaxing. Before he pressed the circular button at the bottom of the small device, he handed Maia one of the earbuds.
The young girl marveled at him, gingerly taking the earbud out of his hand. Peter's lips twitched upward, placing the other in his ear. She mirrored him, returning the small smile.
The room was just how he remembered it. Although he was rarely allowed to even walk near Yondu's quarters, there were those few times he ended up having to go in there. Yondu always threatened to eat him if he ever dared to enter, but didn't really seem to mind the company once he was inside. Peter was sitting on the edge of the king-sized bed, Maia perched on his right knee and curled into his side.
Not too long after the song started playing, a small tree snuck in. Using his roots, Groot pulled himself on the bed and to Maia's shoulder. He leaned toward the earbud, gaping in awe. Peter wrapped his arm around the two.
It's not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You're still young, that's your fault
There's so much you have to know
"Um...Peter?" The half-Terran jumped at the sound of Mantis' voice. She was standing in the doorway with an arm behind her back. "I feel ashamed for not notifying anyone of Ego's plans earlier than I had. I was not able to salvage much, but-" She brought her arm in front of her, revealing a familiar, yet slightly dirtier, stuffed animal in her hand.
She pulled out her beloved stuffed flerken from underneath the pile of bedding. "Teeka!" She hugged it and noticed Peter standing in the doorway. "Hi, Peter!" She popped up from her kneeling position and excitedly ran to the man.
Her reaction was completely different from the day before. "Teeka!" She exclaimed blandly, her tired eyes crinkling. The young girl didn't even move a muscle when she saw her beloved stuffed flerken. Mantis gradually approached her, handing it to her. She took it and held it close to her chest, not taking her eyes off the bug-lady. "Thank you." Mantis gave her a soft smile before exiting the room.
As soon as she left, Groot noticed a fleet of Ravenger ships and pointed to them.
Curious as to what was going on, Gamora joined the rest of the group in the cockpit. "It's a Ravenger funeral." Peter explained as the green woman stood beside him. She jumped a little when Groot hopped off of his shoulder to hers. The tiny tree's black eyes gazed into hers like a child would to his mother when she held him to her chest. She glanced over at Maia, who had just fallen asleep in Peter's arms, and smiled.
The Ravenger ships started blowing off beautiful fireworks of various, bright colors. They sat there for a few minutes, watching them as they burst into space. Gamora's eyes quickly shifted back down to Groot as he started reaching for Drax. It was such a heartfelt sight to see.
However, she couldn't focus her attention back to the fireworks; her eyes shifted immediately to Peter. They started to well up when she started to think about everything that happened that day. She had just started to reconcile with her sister, before having to watch her leave and almost lost both her best friend and daughter figure in the span of an hour. Even though she was confused earlier on why he insisted that they had an 'unspoken thing', something that was clearly spoken of, she couldn't help but to admit that they didn't really talk about it. After almost losing Peter twice in the same day, she knew that if they didn't talk about it soon, it may never be spoken of.
So, she stood there next to him, analyzing every single detail of his face from the stiff hairs of the stubble on his chin to his gentle and loving hazel eyes. It wasn't long until he noticed her in his peripheral vision. He turned to her with the gentlest of all smiles. "What?"
"It's just-" She slightly shook her head, unable to think of how she was going to word what she was about to say. She gazed into his eyes lovingly and started to talk again, "Some unspoken thing."
Peter nodded in agreement with an 'I-told-you-so' look upon his face. To be honest, she wasn't going to roll her eyes at his cockiness. In fact, she couldn't have been happier to see that side of him, even if it wasn't as playful as it usually was.
Neither of them noticed the child in Peter's arm starting to awake. She smirked, hearing every word of their conversation, and started to close her eyes again.
All of the anxiety she was feeling was lifted once she felt his arm slowly snake around her to shoulder. Feeling his gentle touch let her know that he wasn't dead and she wasn't dreaming. He was real. He was alive. She took a deep breath before wrapping an arm around his back, laying her head lightly on his shoulder.
By the time the fireworks ended, Maia was fast asleep in Peter's arms. He and Gamora walked to the young girl's provisional bunk. Peter gently unraveled her arms from his neck and laid her on top of the bed, covering her in an old, white sheet.
A green hand tucked a strand of hair behind the child's ear and sat her beloved stuffed animal beside her. The woman's lips curved up as she backed away from the bed. She gave a single nod to Peter before following him out of the room.
Peter stopped at the doorway and turned around, staring at the rise and fall of the petite girl's chest. He jumped when he felt a hand gently lay itself upon his arm. He whipped around to see Gamora's soft brown eyes gazing into his in concern. "How?" His voice was barely audible. "I mean who is her mom? Why was I never told about her? How do we even know she's my daughter?"
"She was able to control the light. Ego even said that you were the last of his offspring." She replied after a moment in silence. "As for her mother...I don't know." Peter sighed as he turned back around to stare at a sleeping Maia. "Hey," Gamora maneuvered around him enough for him to see her. "We'll figure this out, I promise..."
A/N: That's the end of this chapter in Maia's story! A sequel is on it's way, though! Stay tuned!