Chapter 1: Chapter Index
So, FeralCreed and I will throw around random "what ifs". Some of them are crack!fic quality, others are epic adventures, and still more are "I hate myself and therefore I much make myself horribly depressed by torturing my characters". Pairings you can probably expect to see are: Loki/Murder (Joseph), Loki/Clayton (including some When Ashes Falls ideas!), Frank Castle & Murder, Frank Castle & Clayton, and probably some other random shit. No, I'm not abandoning WAF, yes it's still being worked on, yes The Guide to Murder is still being worked on.
Expect the "chapters" to be of varying lengths since the goals of these is to basically write as much as I can in roughly an hour.
"He Who Would Be King" Lady Loki/Murder; shapeshifting tribe AU
"Bowls Not Required" Loki/Clayton; When Ashes Fall-verse
"A Late Night Stroll" Murder; non-specific
"Mission Impossible" Lady Loki/Clayton; When Ashes Fall-verse
Chapter 2: He Who Would Be King
Quietly, Joseph moved through the forest and clutched the handle of his axe tightly. Behind him, various men and women followed him as they slowly approached the village. All of them were exiles of some form. There were a few petty criminals in the bunch, but most were exiled due to their inability to shapeshift. After all, a person from a race of shapeshifters who was unable to shift? Unheard of! He, however, had learned how to shift thanks to forbidden magic. It had nearly killed him, but in the end? It’d be worth it.
The scent of the festival fires caused him to pause and hold up a clenched hand, causing those behind him to stop. He gestured at a woman with amber eyes who stood behind him. When she approached, he whispered, “Shift and check it out.”
She gave a curt nod and broke away from the group, shifting into a dusky colored canine as she did so. Joseph watched her duck into the undergrowth before looking back towards the village. Supposedly, they were hosting emissaries from another world. Which world, he didn’t know, but he knew the guards would be distracted with the festivities. It’d be a prime opportunity for them to attack since it was likely that most people would be drunk already. While they only numbered twenty, he just needed one shot at Quinn, the tribe leader.
Another man joined his side, unlike the woman from before, his eyes were plain. It hinted at his inability to shift. “Are you sure about this, Joseph?”
“…No, but if the signs the shamans claim to have seen are correct, the winter will be bad and we likely won’t survive it. You and I both know they,” he nodded towards the village where he faintly heard the drums beating out a song, “won’t show us any mercy and would rather us all die.”
“So, we either die from hunger and exposure, or potentially die in battle.”
“Always the pessimist, Jaxom.” He quietly laughed and then shrugged. “One’s slow and you’ll be forgotten. The other, no matter if we win or lose, we’ll be remembered in some fashion.”
“Stop trying to be so fucking noble about it. We all know it’s you wanting revenge.” Jaxom snapped and looked behind him at the others who didn’t meet his gaze.
“My parents died trying to keep me from being exiled. I’m not going to lie about wanting revenge, but I also don’t want to be found as a frozen corpse when the spring thaw comes. I didn’t make any of you come with me, and you damn well know it.” He tilted his head to look down at the other man. “If you’ve changed your mind, then leave. I don’t care.”
Jaxom snorted and looked away after a moment of being under Joseph’s intense stare. Whatever forbidden magic the other man had done to gain his ability to shift…It’d turned him into something else. Everyone knew it, but no one said anything. “No, I’m with you. As stupid of an idea as I think it is, I want to see Quinn dead just as much as everyone else.”
Two quick barks caused Joseph to look towards the village before he whistled back, the sound surprisingly close to that of a bird. Then he gestured towards the village and the group started moving again. The furs they all wore helped them to blend into the forest in the slowly dying light of the evening.
In front of them, the village had numerous fires built with animals set up for roasting. Loudly, people celebrated and drunkenly bellowed out words to songs. At the far end of the village sat the tribe leader’s home and standing on either side of the door were guards. Joseph quietly sighed as the woman from before joined them.
“Our goal is Quinn’s. It looks like most people are going to be too drunk to put up a fight.” He spoke softly from where he’d crouched down. “We’re not wanting to kill anyone but him…But if push comes to shove, defend yourselves. Ready?”
The soft murmurs of agreement caused him to nod, more to himself than anything. While he doubted he’d die, he knew those that followed him were a lot more…Delicate, but it was too late to back out now. He tightened his grip on his axe and charged forward, shoving his way through the celebrating revelers as he made his way to the house at the other end of the village.
When he reached the house, a guard grabbed at him only to be punched by Jaxom, who then wrestled the man to the ground. Joseph shoved at the door once and then shoved it open the second time. Quinn stood from his spot on the ground by the fire and glared, his eyes reflecting the light. Also sitting around the fire were strangely dressed people; Joseph ignored them for the moment and assumed them to be the delegates from the other world.
“Exile.” Quinn all but snarled. “Decided to come die?”
Joseph grinned, showing too sharp teeth, and knew the decorative green paint on his face gave him away. Good. “Been nine years, and I’m not dead yet. Don’t think tonight’s going to be it, either.”
Slowly, the delegates began standing and backing away from the fire. All except a pale, black haired woman. Instead, she simply picked up her drink and settled back on the cushion, as if she was ready to watch a show. One of the other people tugged at her arm and she scolded them in another language.
Joseph looked back to Quinn who slowly slinked around the fire like a predator sizing up a rival. The comparison wasn’t too far off, all things considered. “Going to be a shy kitten, or are you going to show your claws?”
The blatant insult caused Quinn to bare his teeth and make a throaty hiss of anger. But the hiss was also tinged with fear; he knew a far larger predator lurked under the skin of the young man in front of him. “You’re that boy I threw out. Killed your parents, if my memory serves. You’re not the same as when you left. Why?”
“Funny thing, that. Found a cave, made a few sacrifices, and what do you know, shit happened.” Rather than allowing Quinn to speak again, Joseph suddenly swung the axe at his side upwards. It slammed into the older man’s side and buried itself into his ribs; all the delegates but the woman moved to the front of the building.
He yanked the axe out and kicked Quinn in the chest before swinging the axe again. This time, he decapitated the man. Looking to the delegates, he nodded at the door. “Get out.”
Clearly, they didn’t need to be told a second time…Except the woman remained. She sipped her drink and finally spoke. “Good riddance. By the Nine Realms he annoyed me. All he cared about is how things would benefit him and only him.”
Joseph glanced down at Quinn’s body before looking back to the woman. “Is that why you didn’t leave with the others?”
“Partially, yes. I was also curious about the man who decided to declare himself leader, in a particularly gratifying way.” She gestured at the body, but then focused back on Joseph. “It seems I’ve forgotten my manners. I am Loki, of Asgard.”
“I can’t say I’ve heard of it.” He admitted as he crouched down to pick Quinn’s head up by the hair. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to declare that I’ve killed him.”
“Of course. Though, I have a question. Asgard, despite Quinn’s death, would still be interested in some sort of trade deal. Given that you’re the new leader, it’s up to you to continue the discussion.” Loki lazily stood up and moved to stand in front of Joseph, uncaring about the head he carried that still dripped blood. “The other Asgardians will want to cut their losses, since they figure things will devolve down into a civil war. However, I think differently.”
“So, you want to stay after they leave in order to talk things over? It might take a few days for things to settle.”
“I’m patient. Besides, I prefer…Private discussions.” She tilted her head as she looked up in front of the man in front of her.
Joseph raised an eyebrow at the coy look Loki wore. “How private?”
“Private.” She lightly nodded towards the doorway behind Joseph that led to the tribe leader’s private quarters. “After you redecorate, of course.”
He quietly snorted but gave a faint half smile since he immediately got what she was implying. “Like I said, it might take a few days…But I’ll strongly consider. Though, you might be vying for something bigger than you can handle.”
This only caused Loki to smirk. “I enjoy a challenge.”
Rather than replying, Joseph moved past her to walked outside. There, he raised Quinn’s head and bellowed out a yell to silence the chaotic crowd. Behind him, Loki slipped out to join the other Asgardians and he presumed she planned on telling them about her intension to stay. Regardless of what she was doing, he had more important matters to deal with. Namely, shoving away the sudden anxiety of having the entire village’s attention on him.
“Quinn’s dead by my hand and by the laws, I take his place. If any oppose this, feel free to come fight me. I’ll kill you all the same. If you supported his rule and are too cowardly to fight me, get the fuck out. Otherwise? The damn food isn’t going to eat itself.” Short, sweet, and to the point. He tossed Quinn’s head at the feet of the crowd, then stomped down the steps of the house to find himself something to eat.
Chapter 3: He Who Would Be King
As she had said she would, Loki remained in the village while the other Asgardians left to return to their home world. Honestly, Joseph didn’t know what the think about them either way…Although ‘uptight’ seemed to be a fitting word, even if Loki didn’t seem to fall into that category. Still, he had other things to contend with, namely, rooting out what few supporters Quinn had. The former leader hadn’t been overly popular, but ran things decently enough that no one wanted to challenge him.
Over the next few days, he worked on getting things organized and redecorated, as Loki had put it so coyly. He couldn’t stand the smell of feline that permeated his new home and immediately hung the skins so they could air out. It’d take time to settle into things, but he felt that he really wasn’t having much of a chance to settle. If he wasn’t making changes to village law, he was trying to sooth raised hackles over the rest of the exiles joining the tribe.
Loki wasn’t helping, either. The woman was a flirt, and had no shame in the matter. Sometimes she was coy about it with subtle innuendos about what she’d enjoy doing with him. Other times, she wasn’t so subtle. He blatant references tended to be in private since she insisted on presenting a more reserved face to the public. Honestly, he didn’t know what to think about her. She smelled differently than the other Asgardians had…Like cold winter mingled with some sort of herb. Who knew? Maybe she simply had a favored perfume.
Joseph shook his head to knock the thoughts of the strange woman out of his head. Attractive as she might be and as much as he wanted to take her up on her repeated offers, he had more important things to think about. Unfortunately, the woman in question who he did not want to be thinking about swanned into the house and helped herself to a cushion at the fire. He hid a frown and simply stirred his stew. “Yes?”
“I was going to make small talk, but I’ll cut to the chase: you don’t know what you’re doing.”
He didn’t care for being called out, but he also couldn’t deny her words. While he’d managed to land himself as leader, he didn’t have any experience. All these years, he’d trained for the sole idea of killing Quinn without much thought of the end result. Maybe he expected someone to have taken the man’s place. Then again, he didn’t always think things through. “And what are you suggesting?”
“That you need help. Besides, you’ve refused to discuss the matter of your people and Asgard.” Loki leaned forward to pluck up a slice of bread off the plate by Joseph’s knee.
“So, I’ll enlist someone from the tribe.” He sighed and rolled his eyes at the mention of Asgard. “And I’ve told you: I don’t want to make any agreements until everything is settled on my end…Which, as I’ve also told you, could take several months. It might be better for you to leave and come back in the spring.”
“I’m patient.” She leaned forward to pick up Joseph’s cup, only for him to pluck it away from her, prompting her to briefly pout. “I wanted that.”
“Get your own. My food isn’t for you to graze off of.”
“How rude. Is this how you treat guests?”
He snorted loudly as he moved the plate of bread away from Loki when she went to grab another slice. “Guests are invited. You invited yourself into my home, there’s a difference. Frankly, I have half a mind to just throw you out.”
Loki glared at where the plate used to be, but didn’t say anything regarding it. “And why haven’t you?”
“You’re small, delicate, and I’m certain you’d break when you hit the ground. Coincidentally, that’s also why I have continuously turned down your offers.” He shook his head. “You’re attractive enough to be able to woo anyone you pouted at, I’m sure there’s no shortage of men in the village who’d have you…The same is likely true for Asgard.”
“You wouldn’t be wrong.” She suddenly slipped into his lap, catlike, and straddled his lap with a smirk. “However, you’ve caught my eye and I always get what I want.”
“Spoiled.” He noted with a hint of exasperation. “And if I say no?”
He tilted his head to the side and examined her face for a moment before tracing his thumb along her jaw. Everything about her seemed delicate, and spoke of someone who’d spent their life in some fancy palace. She seemed wildly out of place with her fancy green and silver dress among people who wore animal hides and furs. As tempting as her proposition from a few days prior sounded, Joseph felt certain that he’d break her. She was easily a foot shorter than him, after all.
Finally, he leaned down, as if he were about to kiss her and noted how she tilted her chin up to meet him. Instead, he bypassed her lips and leaned down to whisper into her ear, “No.”
Loki jerked back and glared at him, clearly unaccustomed to the idea of being denied. However, she seemed to compose herself after a half moment. “What would convince you?”
“Try working for it. I think you intend to manipulate me with sex in order to gain something that favors Asgard. I won’t lie and deny that I enjoy a good romp, but a quick fuck says to me that the relationship with Asgard wouldn’t have much substance to it. Learn some patience, earn my trust and favor…And maybe I’ll entertain you on both accounts.”
Rather than being insulted, she smiled. “You’re smart and you don’t tolerate bullshit. I like that. Quinn was annoyingly arrogant. You’re more cautious and wary. Not bad traits for a leader.”
“I lived in the wilds for a good part of my life. Those who were arrogant and bold met an early death by a hungry predator.” He slowly pushed her off his lap. “Now let me eat in peace.”
Loki quickly plucked up a slice of bread, took a bite of it, and briefly raised her eyebrows before she turned and sauntered out of the house.
Chapter 4: Bowls Not Required
Prompt: Eating ice cream out of the container
Time: 30 minutes
While having nightmares wasn’t out of the ordinary for Clayton, they rarely left his stomach twisted up and nauseous from anxiety. This one had been a blend of past events and fears of what might happen. He’d finally found himself at a spot in his life where he felt happy, so of course he’d fear losing it…Feared losing Loki, despite how much of a pain the other man could be at times. Admittedly, Clayton knew he could be a pain in the ass at times, but despite all that, they made it work.
Over the years, he’d learned to hide his anxiety and emotional state from Xena. While he didn’t always mind her mothering, he still had issues at times with showing Loki how vulnerable he could be. Most of this he blamed on being raised in the south. Showing weakness and emotion was seen as being less of a man. While an archaic and unhealthy mindset, he couldn’t quite shake how he’d been raised.
After breakfast and cleaning up his mess, he glanced around the living area and wondered what he could do to distract himself from the still lingering anxiety he felt. Loki took great care in keeping Norna brushed and because of this, very little of the feline’s fur accumulated on the ship. Frankly, Clayton felt surprised at how dutiful the Asgardian was concerning her care, considering how he ignored his own wellbeing at times. Then again, Loki had admitted that it was easier for him to care for something else than himself. Either way, it made the other man happy, so Clayton didn’t complain.
“Clayton, the engine threw an error last night. Do you mind looking at it? I believe one of the coupling filters needs to be changed.”
Clayton looked up at Xena’s voice and gave a slight nod. “Yeah. Sure.”
At least now he had something to do. However, once he was elbow deep in the engine, he’d started to suspect that Xena had just thrown something at him to keep him busy. He wasn’t sure if she’d picked up on his anxiety due to how he’d acted or if Loki rated him out.
All of the filters looked fine and didn’t need to be replaced, which couldn’t be the reason the engine threw an error…If it even had. This caused him to frown to himself as he accessed the panel and brought up the last diagnostic report. Clayton annoyedly rolled his eyes when everything checked out, then looked to the camera. “Did you just send me on a wild goose chase for nothing?”
He squinted at the camera and simply felt irritated. While he knew she was trying to help his emotional state, her mothering only soured his mood further. Turning back to where he’d been working, he started picking up his tools in order to put them away.
The unmistakable sound of a tool falling into the open access port caused him to freeze and then mutter out a curse. He grabbed his flashlight and peered down into the port, then spat out several curses in different languages. Not only would he not be able to reach it, to get it out he’d have to tear a bunch more things apart. “Mother shitting, bastard of a chucklefuck.”
He’d already spent an hour checking the coupling filters, and it’d take him another hour to tear everything apart to get the stupid tool. After spitting out another curse word, he set to work. Admittedly, he did find a few things that needed adjusted while he was half hanging into the access port, but it did nothing for his mood.
“Clayton, are you hungry?” Loki asked curiously.
Clayton merely lashed his tail around in irritation, prompting a quiet ‘…never mind’ from the other man.
When he finally got everything put together, he stalked back upstairs and briefly stopped at the bathroom to wash his hands off. Then, he beelined it to the fridge where he pulled out a container of ice cream, pulled the lid off, and scooped out some ice cream to shove it into his mouth. Turning around, he started for the helm, his tail still swishing around in irritation.
Loki glanced up with a slightly raised eyebrow. “I made lunch, Clayton.”
He pulled the spoon out of his mouth and used it to indicate the container of ice cream. “I’ll have some later. I’m eating this.”
“Shouldn’t you be using a bowl?” He’d never seen the other man eat directly from the container of ice cream, only from bowls.
Chapter 5: A Late Night Stroll
Totally not inspired by that Jurassic World short film that got released.
He didn’t quite know what time it was, just that it was long after dark and the occupants of the camp site had gone to bed. The camp fires had all burned down, leaving dark orange embers to peek out through the ash. Slowly, Murder meandered out of the tree line to begin poking around the camps. While fully capable of hunting for himself, he couldn’t turn down the prospect of relatively fresh BBQ.
Most of the food had been put up, it seemed, a smart move since he’d encountered a few bears in the local area. Still, he sniffed the ground around one of the grills, just in case something got dropped. No such luck at this site. Continuing on to another camp, he began sniffing around again. This time, he found a package of lunch meat that had been dropped and forgotten near the campfire. Picking it up with his teeth, he grabbed it with his hands to rip it open.
Raptor hands weren’t as dexterous as human hands, but he made due…And delighted in the sweet flavor of ham. While he would have enjoyed to gnaw on it for a bit to savor it, his mouth currently wouldn’t allow for it. At least, not without dropping the food everywhere and he really didn’t want that to happen. Further poking around yielded a cooler that’d been shoved over by a stack of wood.
Gently, he nudged it with his nose and heard the sound of ice filled water sloshing around inside. After hooking a claw around the handle, he dragged it closer to him in order to examine it more intently. It didn’t take much effort to undo the snaps that kept it closed, then dump the contents out. He took a step back to avoid his feet getting soaked with cold water and quickly pawed through the ice to see what it held. Bottles of water, it looked like. Nothing that interested him.
The faint light of a flashlight bouncing on the truck to his left caused him to look up and over at the camper to his right. He only saw the flashlight for half a second before it flicked off. Apparently, his pilfering hadn’t gone unnoticed and he felt curious enough to wander over. Inside, he heard muted, whispered words…Too low for him to make out.
Tilting his head, he raised up enough to peer into the window. Crouched down under the window were two, he assumed, teenaged boys. Both of them whispered furiously to each other. Raising his hand, he tapped on the glass with a claw, prompting a startled squawk from one of them. When they both looked up, he tilted his head a bit more and made a soft, curious churr.
The older looking of the two stood up on his knees, followed by the other teen a moment later. Murder simply watched them with bored curiosity. Any wild raptor would have already tried to attack them, but Murder didn’t see the need. It’d just cause a scene, cause people to come looking for him, and otherwise cause him a massive hassle. As it stood, he doubted anyone would believe them if they talked about what they’d seen.
After another moment or so of watching them, Murder completely lost interest. Turning, he started wandering away, but paused when he heard the soft creak of the door behind him opening. Half turning, he watched one of the teens lob some small chunk of meat onto the ground. He stood there a moment, blinking at the sheer stupidity that he’d just witnessed. Still, he wasn’t about to turn down free food.
Lazily, he ambled over to where the meat had landed and sniffed of it before eating it. The door creaked open again and another bit of meat was dropped on the stair. At this point, he seriously started questioning the intelligence of the two teens. Feeding wild animals, at the best of times, was dumb. Feeding what was obviously a carnivorous dinosaur blew right off the ‘dumb actions’ chart.
Lucky for them, he wasn’t exactly ‘wild’.
Moving over to the step, he ate that meat as well. Then, someone tried to touch his head. Immediately, he tossed his head, causing someone to yelp in surprise and drop a plastic bowl that had leftovers in it. He shoved his head between the door and the door frame, causing more squawking. There, he started eating the dropped food.
“What the fuck are you two doing?!” A male voice demanded angrily, seconds before the light flipped on. “What the fuck!?”
Murder blinked a few times, momentarily blinded, then he tilted his head to look up at a man in his mid to later fifties. Eh, fuck it. He resumed eating and reached into the camper to hook a claw into the bowl in order to see if it still had food in it. Indeed, it did. Dragging it over to him, he started eating the food out of that.
“Boys, get behind me.” The man spoke softly and gestured at the two who seemed hesitant to move.
“It…Hasn’t done anything.”
By this point, Murder had eaten all of the dropped food and the food in the bowl. This meant that he’d also lost all interest in the camper. Stepping backwards, he let the door swing shut before turning then ambling away into the darkness. While he’d intended to raid multiple camps tonight, he decided against the idea since he figured that park rangers would get called.
Still, he had a nice snack, and had to admit: the chicken breasts were damned good.
Chapter 6: Mission Impossible
With there being a bit of downtime, Clayton had opted to do some much-needed maintenance on Xena. Namely, checking and replacing the numerous filters in the vents. This meant taking off all of the vent covers so he could move around easily within the vents while being able to duck out of the vents when needed. He also chose to take with him a flashlight with a camera on the end that essentially amounted to being a two-foot-long wire. There were a few things that he wanted to check on since he’d be crawling around in the vents, anyway.
Loki, meanwhile, sat at the table to sort through a number of her messages. In recent weeks, they’d gotten several trade and diplomat requests, which meant that she wanted to do some healthy research before she considered the requests. It helped to weed out the junk offers before she brought up the interesting ones to Clayton for discussion. Besides, with him being in the vents, she couldn’t help out beyond handing him the fresh filters. Barring that, she also knew that he enjoyed tinkering around on Xena.
Every now and then, she heard him skitter past the open vent as he moved to different parts of the ship. By the fifth time he’d done it, Loki had started to ignore it. While she had no idea what he was doing, she figured that he’d let her know if he needed her help. A slight banging noise from the spare bedroom caused her to look up, but when nothing else happened, she returned her attention to her messages. After a moment, she frowned and deleted a particularly insulting request.
Slowly and carefully, Clayton half oozed out of the vent above and slightly behind Loki. Softly, he hummed the Mission Impossible theme as he arched the flashlight-camera over her shoulder so that it went down the front of her shirt. Decidedly, she was not wearing a bra or anything of that nature.
It took Loki a moment to realize what had happened and she couldn’t help the amusement that rang clear in her voice. “You know, Clayton, you could have just asked to see them.”
“Shit! Mission has been compromised! Abort, abort!” Quickly, he pulled himself back up into the vent and scurried off to another part of the ship.
Loki managed a neutral face for half a second before she covered her face and simply laughed at the absurdity. Half the time, it amazed her at how he could be absolutely serious but then do something absolutely hilarious. If nothing else, it had proven to be a welcome distraction to what had otherwise been a monotonous morning.