Agent Depth Charge had always assumed he was high ranking within his agency, Omicron. He had the most authority within his unit. He was the one that gave the orders on his floor. He managed the hunts. He got the biggest paycheck. He thought himself to be high on the corporate ladder, until his next assignment proved just how wrong he was. He was not nearly as high ranking as he believed.
Before today he had thought his workplace to be a bounty hunting operation. Tracking those with outstanding charges on the grid, and occasionally, tending to some less than legal contracts in secret. In any case, delivering justice was what they did. Cold hard justice. Outside of the law when necessary. Or so he thought. He didn’t think Omicron could run any deeper than that. He thought the ‘top secret’ information he was entitled to was all there was. He had no idea that they also apparently hunted targets that… weren’t human.
Had the file not been personally delivered to him after a promotion into a new division, he would have waved the idea off as conspiracy. He was a stark nonbeliever. Cryptids tended to be misidentified wildlife. Ufos were strictly human aircrafts. Aliens didn’t come to Earth. Boogeymen don’t exist. Aside from armed robbers, nothing went bump in the night. And it was an opinion he would have taken to the grave, but here he was.
The file he received was more redacted than actual information. Entirely blacked out. The few details and sparse words that were legible offered close to no insight. The subject was humanoid, and masculine in appearance. Standing at 7 foot 3, and was over 450 pounds of solid muscle, with hands that ended in vicious, knife-like talons. Though the key distinguisher was it’s helmet. A blood red motorcycle helmet, with a green visor, and a realistic depiction of sharp teeth, carved on the front.
More oddly were the warnings entailed. Stuff Depth Charge would have anticipated more from a cheap horror novel than an official document. It could sense emotions. Or ‘taste’ them, as it self described, and could heal from any injury, as long as it’s heart remained in its body.
A hot tempered entity that was naive, and kind, but could turn on handlers quickly. Resorting to animalistic savagery with no warning, but commonly noted as inquisitive.
Pages upon pages within that file, and that's all he had. It was frustrating, but again, really hammered it in how little he was clued in on the inner workings of the operation. But, he wasn’t the best of the best because he got caught up on details. He was the best because he got the job done. And that's what he would do. Bring Prototype: X in peacefully. Even if it did say at the bottom of the page ‘intact, or damaged’.
Depth Charge drummed on his steering wheel idly as he rolled down the dark roads. Slowly driving through quiet urban streets with the most conspicuous unmarked van in existence, staring into dark alleyways with the aid of night vision goggles. Frowning to himself as the subject’s last known location held next to nothing for him to follow. He wished he could order an aerial search, but he had strict orders. No one was to know this thing was out there. He wasn’t allowed to call in any specialists. He wasn’t allowed to request anything loud, and obvious - though he of course held the opinion that a black armored van, with pitch black windows, and bulletproof tires was all of that.
It was just him. Briefly it crossed his mind that this could be some prank, but he shoved it away. He wasn’t going to go doubting this on his first assignment in the division.
After driving for thirty minutes relentlessly, the relative silence was broken when he heard a shout a block down. An angry sounding one. Depth Charge sped up slightly. Skipping four or five alleys to investigate that instead. By the time he got past the red light, and was parking across the street from where the voice came from, it had devolved into full blown yelling. A janitor, holding a black garbage bag, and a man in a dress shirt, standing in an alleyway neighboring a bar that had closed down for the night about an hour ago.
“- and I’m supposed to believe you just found it like this?” The man in the dress shirt yelled.
“What, do you think I could have done this?” The janitor replied with a wide gesture to the dumpster behind him.
“What else could it be? A bear? WE DON’T HAVE BEARS IN THE CITY, DARREN, AND I’M PRETTY SURE BEARS ATTACK PEOPLE, NOT DUMPSTERS.” Depth Charge, properly intrigued, got out of his car. Crossing the street out of sight of the two, to get a closer look.
“I don’t know, maybe it was a bear… Hadn’t crossed my mind…” The janitor continued, quieter, as Depth Charge leaned against the wall, waiting for them to head back inside.
“Ugh… I can’t afford this right now… I hope I don’t have to pay for repairs or something…” there was a long pause. “Just… dented, and cut like that… Its like someone took a sledge hammer to it, and followed up with a saw its ridiculous. They’re not gonna believe it was accidental…”
“What should I do? Its jammed shut.”
“I don’t care, just put in on top or something. I’ll worry about this tomorrow.” There was a thud, and shortly after the sound of a door opening and closing.
“Prick.” The janitor muttered, just for the door to swing open again. Hitting the wall from the sound of it..
“I heard that!” It closed again.
Depth Charge waited a minute or so longer, before finally poking his head around and assessing the damage himself.
It looked like a goddamn crime scene. The aforementioned dumpster was beat to hell and back. Deep gouges like claw marks decorated the sides, like something had either tried to rip it open, or scramble up it. Then one side was concave, crumpled like a tin can. But the janitor there dissuaded him from risking a further examination.
“Prick… how could he think this is my fault…” A clang. “I think there’s a grizzly bear on the loose or something… Or a polar bear, the zoo has those I think…” Depth Charge sighed quietly. Drumming his fingers on the wall as he waited.
“Could even be a lion.” Was his final verdict before finally heading back inside.
Depth Charge was quick to round the corner, and do a quick loop around the scene. The structural damage of the dumpster was immense. He doubted this ruined hunk of metal could be salvaged. It was shoved back with enough force to crack the concrete wall behind it. A dent at the front made it look like something rammed it with enough force to accomplish the move. Or someone was slammed into it. The agent felt his back ache in sympathy, as he imagined Prototype: X slamming some patron into it.
This was a lead if he’s ever seen one.
Depth Charge dropped his goggles to rest on his neck. Investigating the scene under the flickering back door light of the bar, as opposed to the green tint of night vision. He circled around it once more. Noting the broken bottle scattered on the ground. Some of the shards had blood on them. He grabbed a bloodied shard, put it in a baggy, threw it into his coat, and moved on. Examining the depth of the scratches. They were deep, and clearly five fingered. Four matching cuts, and a thumb gouge. This matched his target well. He looked upwards. Up the wall behind the dumpster. He hadn’t noticed the claw marks scraping a trail over it before. Or the dried blood that trickled down from the top…
Depth Charge climbed onto the flat side of the dumpster, avoiding the garbage bag resting on it, and vaulted over the wall with ease. Landing on the other side. His feet landed square in the middle of a set of much larger, clawed, foot prints. More alarmingly was a small puddle of blood directly in front of him, with a trail leading further down. He had no hesitation in following the clear trail of dried blood, that of which looked earned from a fairly serious injury.
He followed it for two or three blocks down. By that time, the steady flow slowed to a trickle. Finding the droplets became hard, especially across asphalt. He had almost considered calling it quits, heading back to the car, and continuing to head this direction, to spare his feet. Then, in a miraculous moment of good timing, that was when he finally found his culprit. A giant of a man, tucked away in a dumpster behind a food market. Barely visible. Depth Charge likely wouldn’t have seen him, if it weren’t for the massive leg hanging out of it.
For a startling moment, Depth Charge feared he’d stumbled upon a victim of X, until he walked up next to it, and peered inside. Minus a crack in his helmet’s green visor, it matched the description and pictures well. He was still in the outfit most of the pictures had him in. A uniform he supposed. A grey jumpsuit with a big red asymmetric line running down the side - oh… that was blood wasn’t it? His blood. Coming from a slash in his chest, right through the uniform. He was attacked…
Depth Charge was a bit of a loss. This guy was supposedly not human? Sure, he was big, and the claws (which looked like they’d been dipped in ink) were weird, but he just looked like a normal person, and… despite himself, he felt pity. He pulled up his communicator. Sending a quick message with his current location to Omicron, and the note ‘subject found’ before tucking it away into his suit jacket again.
He would be safer, contained back at the facility.
He glanced back in. Looking at those horrible talons again, and realizing that… that was his skin tone. A patch of exposed skin on his neck, and where the jumpsuit was torn, were the same shade. A flat inky black, like obsidian… or no… obsidian was shiny wasn’t it? Perhaps asphalt was a better comparison. Maybe he wasn’t a normal guy after all.
“You look pretty awful.” The man - no, the creature - lifted his helmeted head up slowly. Picking it up off of a garbage bag that was serving as a pillow. He looked groggy, and not quite there, then suddenly he was awake enough to have the sense to scramble to his feet, and all but jump into the corner of the dumpster. Back pressed to the wall. His horribly sharp claws poised as if he was ready to tear Depth Charge apart. He felt a prickle of fear, considering from this height, a tackle could do some devastating damage - nevermind the goring those claws could dish out - but it quickly was overcome by more pitty. Such a flighty response... He let himself feel it. Hoping perhaps the file was right, and the target could sense it. Against all odds, Prototype: X did seem to ease a bit, though it could easily have also been equated to the agent’s calm posture, and lack of visible weapons.
“You lost a lot of blood.” Depth Charge observed flatly, not moving an inch. Slowly Prototype: X lifted a claw up to his chest. Brushing over the cut in his clothes. It looked healed now, but still, indeed, quite a lot of blood staining the fabric. Either it cut an artery, or super healing came bundled with super bleeding.
“Amateur. If you are hoping to finish me off, you should have done so while I was off guard.” Depth Charge wasn’t sure what he was expecting the target’s voice to be like. Limited vocabulary, and monstrous probably. Mostly grunting, maybe. But he was well spoken. Growly, but with flawless annunciation. A slow, calculated manner of speaking. Almost perfectly human.
“If I wanted to finish you off, I wouldn’t have woken you up from your little dumpster nap, idiot.” Depth Charge countered. X actually flinched at that, before dropping the combative posturing entirely.
“What’s your name?”
“Agent Depth Charge. I’m here to get you out of the city.” X shifted slightly. Not making a move. “As I can observe, it hasn’t treated you well, and I’m sure you’re eager to get out of here.”
“Actually I like it outside of the lab. It’s so wide open.” Depth Charge noted the use of the word lab. He made a point to try and see what other details the target would cough up later.
“Yeah, but you’ve been here for two hours, and in that time, you’ve gotten stabbed, and had to sleep in actual garbage.” X almost looked guilty.
“True, yes, but that is focusing on the negatives. Observe, the positives: I got to try new food, and taste new emotions. It smells weird here, but I like it, and I am allowed to roam free.” The agent suppressed a comment on the smell likely coming from the frequently mentioned garbage. Suddenly an idea hit him.
“Oh, what did you eat?” He asked with sincere curiously, taking a few steps to the wall opposite of the subject. X looked startled at the movement at first. Flexing his claws menacingly, but eventually just mirrored the agent. Sitting down across from him after some substantial hesitation, and a small jump onto the concrete. Jesus Christ, the guy was tall.
“I found some stuff that smelled good in the box - the dumpster, as you called it - it was quite delicious.” X elaborated happily. Depth Charge forced himself to give a smile to encourage him to continue. “There was a… a purple lumpy thing that was white on the inside. It didn’t smell like anything, but it felt like flesh, so I gave it a try. It didn’t taste like anything either, but it wasn’t bad, per say.”
Eggplant..? Or grapes? No. Grapes definitely had a flavor to them. Eggplant.
“Doesn’t sound too good to me.” Depth Charge commented truthfully.
“It was far better than what the scientists feed me.” He joked, with a quick cackle at the end, but really it was just plain sad… the guy thought raw eggplant out of a dumpster was the pinnacle of fine dining.
“Anything else good?” The agent urged him to continue.
“Oh! Yes, something very good! There was a red cardboard box that smelled marvelous, so I ripped it open, and ate that. It was full of brown powder, and was very sweet, and rich!” He seemed proud of that one, but what pitiful attempt at an encouraging smile Depth Charge had attempted, had long since been replaced by a full on grimace. “Kind of dry though. Turned into sludge in my mouth… that was uncomfortable, but it still tasted good. Next time I’ll eat it slower, rather than pour it into my mouth all at once.” Depth Charge cringed at the thought
“Wh… what did the box say it was called?” He hesitantly asked. X shrugged.
“I don’t know. I can’t read.” stated as if obvious.
God, he couldn’t read.
That was it. Last straw.
“Come on, lets go. I’m going to get you some real food.” Depth Charge ordered, getting up, and turning down the alleyway, back to the road. He didn’t even need to look back to see if X was following. His body language when he said it was that of pure excitement.
In a moment, X was on his feet, and walking side by side with Depth Charge. The big toothy grin etched into his helmet seeming to finally reflect the wearer’s mood. For a moment, he wondered if he would have to look away for X to take off his helmet, and eat the food, but didn’t dwell on it. Instead, focusing on the way the big guy practically bounced along next to him.
He was gonna make this guy’s year.
When they got to the car, X eyed the van from the outside for a long moment. Clearly apprehensive about the vehicle. He was trying to peer through the pitch black window - likely trying to see if anyone else was in there, but gave up after roughly a minute of only being able to see the reflection of his cracked visor. He turned his helmeted head to Depth Charge, with a hopeful tone, and accompanying tilt of the head.
“May I sit in the front seat?”
Depth Charge audibly scoffed, and shook his head. Smiling to himself over the audacity of the guy, as he continued sifting through the van’s keys to find the side door key. There were entirely too many, considering it was just one vehicle.
“I’ll behave. That, I promise you.” The subject continued. He sounded mere moments away from begging, and while it was amusing, there were rules for a reason. “I like talking to you.”
It shouldn’t have affected him, but it did. His heart melted. He was well trained. He’d killed people - many people. He’d always stuck to the rules when he’d done so. Rules existed for a reason, as he saw it. But here he was, breaking as many engagement guidelines today as he could. Like that was his real mission. But he couldn’t help it. He felt X deserved the treatment. X reminded him of a kid. Depth Charge had always had a soft spot for such innocence.
“Alright, but no scratching the interior, and don’t tell anyone about tonight okay? I’m breaking a lot of rules for you.” X nodded his helmet quickly, almost frantically, and clasped his claws together in a hopeful manner. Depth Charge was distracted by the ebony talons for a moment. The sound they made when they met. Almost like metal…
He shook his head, clearing the thought away, and circled back through the key ring. Unlocking the passenger door to let the big guy in.
After a quick verbal prompt of “Right, get in.” X approached. Once again, cautious. Taking stock of everything in the vehicle, and going as far as to test the seat cushion with his fist, before finally setting foot in there.
“Bad experience with cars?” Depth Charge questioned, before he really processed the statement. He almost immediately regretted it. The second he said it, was the second X had decided to put his first foot on the floor mat. He retreated quickly, and shook his head. Bad liar.
“No judgement here, I’m just… worried.” Depth Charge continued, forcing his voice softer. He decided that being right behind X probably wasn’t helping his obvious anxiety, and thus, circled around. Opening the driver side door, and plopping down in there. Starting the car, and sending one more message to command.
‘Subject in custody. Might have a tail, taking a longer route.’
He tucked it back into his suit, and swapped it for his phone. Frowning as he sifted through its gps, to try and find any drive through still open. The options were slim. Pretty bad too, considering he promised a ‘real meal’.
“What kind of flavors do you like? I’m looking at what we could get.” Depth Charge asked. Glancing over to X, who had now ventured as far as to put his knee on the seat.
“I get a lot of pain, and fear. Its bitter, but I’ve learned to get used to it. My favorite is joy, and love, but I only ever get traces… Usually a scientist thinking about something else.” The answer completely blindsided him. Depth Charge was stunned for a moment, giving a quizzical look, before recalling that bit in his paper. The apparent self proclaimed ability to taste emotions. The paper said it had been tested through many trials, but Depth Charge was - ever the skeptic - kind of uncertain about that.
“I meant more like solid, people food. Not emotions - though I would like to hear a bit about that too…”
“Oh… er…” he seemed out of his element. “Meat..?”
Depth Charge frowned a bit. That narrowed nothing down. So instead he just went with closest. A taco place. Could be worse.
X seemed to finally get over his anxiety, and finished climbing in. He was massive, and the van highlighted it. The way the whole thing rocked with his weight for starters. He had to sit at an awkward angle to keep his head from touching the roof, and his arm occupied the armrest in its entirety, despite the fact he was leaning towards the door. The thought crossed his mind that X could absolutely destroy someone in a fight, with his bulk alone. It was an amusing mental picture.
“So, ever had a burrito?” Depth Charge began nonchalantly, reaching over X to pull the door closed.
“No, I have not. The name sounds fun though.” X responded. Depth Charge nodded with a small smile, and decided to take this a different route.
“What kind of food have you eaten then?” Depth Charge asked innocently. He buckled himself in, and gestured for X to do the same. The reaction was a growl, and an adamant shake of the head.
“You have to strap in. It keeps you in your seat if something bad happens.” Depth Charge quickly advised.
“I refuse to be strapped down, for any reason.” X growled back, and Depth Charge simply raised his hands, in mock surrender, and set them back on the steering wheel. Dropping it as quickly as it had been brought up.
“Anyway. Food?” He brought the conversation back to that, and X seemed just as eager to.
Depth Charge pulled out onto the road, and started driving. Keeping the GPS on, but quiet. It offered directions in an unintrusive whisper, to help navigate through the unfamiliar city.
“Well, the scientists gave me scraps of their lunches sometimes when they felt generous, if I was well behaved. Er… fries, and chips. Neither are very good, flavorless compared to what I’ve tried. I greatly prefer the cuisine I’ve sampled here.” Depth Charge would have laughed at his low standards, had the alternative not been as frightening.
“What about the other times? They didn’t just let you starve, did they?”
“No, they fed me. It just wasn’t good. Or… solid. I don’t think there is a name for it. It is a drink they gave me. It is gray, lumpy, and thick. Hard to swallow, once you’ve made the mistake of tasting it.” his tone veered off into a growl “I hated it.”
“I think I’d hate that too.” Depth Charge commented. X nodded sagely.
“I’m never going to drink anything ever again.” He pointed to himself with his thumb. “Solid foods only, for me.”
“Hey, most drinks are pretty good. Soda, juice… beer… some people enjoy tea - you should give other things a shot.”
X stared at Depth Charge. He couldn’t tell if it was annoyance, - was that too patronizing? - or disbelief.
“For example, those french fries were bland. Barely compares to what you scrounged up in a dumpster, right?” The agent elaborated. “That drink they gave you wouldn’t compare to something of quality.”
“Also water is necessary for survival.”
“Really?” X was quieter.
“You can die of not having enough fluid.” For a moment, he doubted himself. X wasn’t all human, he couldn’t really say that with 100% certainty. How could he know his biological needs, without knowing what he even was?
“I will keep that in mind. It would not do to die of something so mundane.” A beat. “I stay dead the longest when I starve.” The tone made it sound like he was showing off. Like he wanted the agent to ask.
“You’ve died?” Depth Charge took the bait. Or at least he assumed it was bait.
“Many times.” Depth Charge could hear a smile in his voice. “You see, I do not stay dead. No matter how torn apart I am, I always stitch myself back together. A blessing, say the scientists who can only observe it from the outside. Inflicting but never feeling. I say its a curse.” X’s voice lowered from the brilliant enthusiasm, to a rather frightening rumble. “A curse, when my entire life is defined by my capacity for punishment.”
Depth Charge thought on that for a moment. Internally debating if he should take X back to the lab at all. He absolutely couldn’t go free, and just roam on the streets, but… that sounded like too much. What he described was torture, plain and simple. And he had morals. Standards of operation. Things he would, and wouldn’t do. Sure, Depth Charge operated under the law sometimes, and had absolutely no problems doing so, but that was just because sometimes the law didn’t allow the necessary punishment. The kind of law breaking his line of work condoned tended to align with his own ideals. It was convenient.
If someone killed, and would kill again, and again, then they should die. Simple. Easy. Black and white.
However this wasn’t that. This wasn’t something he had ever had to question. Blame it on stupidly getting attached to his target, but X seemed innocent. Unworthy of this punishment. This wasn’t a job he signed up for.
“I can taste your fear. Your unease. At whom is it directed?” Depth Charge jumped when X spoke again. He was closer. Helmet level with his face, leaning into the agent’s seat. He tried not to be intimidated by it, despite not having noticed him shift so close at all.
“The scientists I suppose… that sounds like an awful life…” Depth Charge answered honestly. Trying his best to focus on the road. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw X nod, and draw back to his own seat.
“When I tell most, they become a spring of hatred, and jealousy. They fail to see what I mean. They think I just do not appreciate the gift of my immortality.” A pause. “I wish you could taste emotions like I can. You would taste my gratitude. I appreciate your willingness to listen, and advice, friend. They’re light, pleasant flavors. Very sweet.”
The statement was kind. A compliment in a strange, alien way. X was weird. Such an oddly endearing creature. X must have tasted that too, because then he started purring.
Stange, and endearing.
About a minute later, they had finally arrived at the taco place, and made it through the drive through. Depth Charge had pushed X’s seat all the way down as they went through. Another witness being the last thing he wanted. X was compliant, thankfully, and $6, and two minutes later, Depth Charge was pulling X’s seat back up, and rooting through the bag. He’d gotten the biggest thing on the menu for X - it seemed fitting - and something off the dollar menu for himself.
"Here. Just make sure you don't eat the wrapper. Its supposed to keep everything held together, but tastes pretty bad." Depth Charge advised amiably. X gave a quick nod, and a short "Thank you." As he took the burrito from Depth Charge's hand.
"Sorry I couldn't get you something better, it’s just that not much is open this late..." He glanced to the car's clock. “Or early, I suppose." God, it was 4 am....
X didn't really acknowledge that. Instead just peeled the entire wrapper back, and looked at it appraisingly. Depth Charge was about to correct his form, when X tilted his head all the way back, and his helmet split open. What he previously considered to be some sort of custom done carving, was quickly proven to be an actual mouth, as the monster parted his horrifically sized maw, and dropped the burrito in vertically. Swallowing it whole.
Depth Charge was utterly frozen in shock, eyes wide. Mouth agape. Completely motionless, and half pulled out of the drive through, his own burrito untouched in his hand. X closed his mouth with a snap that reminded him of a crocodile. That big grin on his helmet seeming just as amused as ever, as he regarded the agent but now it somehow had a mocking quality to it. A tongue wormed out of his maw, swiping over the teeth in a quick motion that made Depth Charge feel nauseous.
“Is that one for me too?” X asked eagerly.
Depth Charge blinked. Shutting his mouth, and glancing back to his food.
No, but he probably couldn’t eat anything for at least 24 hours without thinking about that display.
“Uh… yeah, h-have at it buddy…”
X took it from his hand. Tearing the wrapper off expertly with a single claw, and providing a repeat performance, that forced Depth Charge to rest his head on the steering wheel as he suppressed the urge to gag.
“You want more?” He cautiously asked, though immediately regretted it when X nodded. Depth Charge took a couple deep breaths before pulling back around.
He reminded himself one last time, that X wasn’t a human. He was nowhere close, if this showed anything.
How hadn’t he noticed?
“You’re gonna have to lay back down again though. Same rule as before.” X complied easily. Hand quickly searching the side of his seat in search of the handle, and dropping himself again. Depth Charge glanced down at him and noticed the crack in his visor was gone. All patched up.
“How many more do you want?” Depth Charge asked. Deflecting his own questions as they pulled back around to the order window again.
“You got it.” holy crap that was a lot. Enough to feed an army. Though whatever he didn’t eat, Depth Charge would take home, so there was that.
“Did we forget something?” Came the muffled drive through attendant voice a second after.
“Nope. I did.” He answered with a quiet laugh. “Can I get four more number sevens? That’s all.”
“Sure thing! Your total will be $21.43. Pull around to the second window.”
Depth Charge cringed a bit internally at the cost. With his paycheck that was really nothing. Just more than he ever foresaw himself ever paying at a fast food place. Really this entire night was more than he ever foresaw for himself.
He pulled up. Handing the money, and taking the food, the process automatic, and smooth despite the whirlwind of chaotic thoughts and questions in his head.
The agent was quick with driving off. He didn’t even wait to get his change back. He was in too much of a hurry. X pulled himself back up as soon as he saw they were clear, and happily took the food bag when Depth Charge handed it over. X poked his head in, and took one out, with a rumble of approval.
Depth Charge pulled to the front of the building, and parked.
“So your helmet is your face?” Depth Charge was quick to ask. X looked over at him. Abandoning his half opened burrito. Claw still buried in the wrapper from the aborted motion.
“Yes. I apologize for scaring you. I assumed you knew.” It didn’t have too much sincerity. Flat in general, compared to how emotive he had proven himself to be. He wasn’t sorry, but Depth Charge hadn’t been after an apology.
“Nope. I had no idea.” He wanted an explanation. “How did it happen?”
X looked down at his lap. Slicing the package open the rest of the way, and proceeding to simply fidget with the torn paper.
“I… I heal. You know that, surely. I can heal from anything. No matter how grevious the injury, I will rise again. But… When there’s not enough left to regenerate, sometimes my body gets... creative.” X looked back up. Meeting Depth Charge’s eyes with his visor. “My skull was smashed open, and I couldn’t grow back the bone fast enough, so I assimilated the table I was strapped down onto into my own body. A graft of metal, over my flesh, to close it up.” Depth Charge couldn’t help grimace as he pictured it in his head.
“Of course now the scientists now had something new to study, so they pushed it. Hurting me, and destroying my head, until finally it was too much to look at, so they threw a blanket over the problem. The helmet. I took it into myself, and adapted it. And here I am.”
“Can you open your mouth again?”
X looked a little surprised by the question, and let out a cackling laugh.
“You didn’t need to /ask/ that of me, friend. I intended to do so anyway.” He joked, gesturing to the bag of food, but Depth Charge didn’t give as much as a smile in reply.
“Very well.” X said before parting his maw once more.
The jagged teeth on the helmet weren’t bone. It was plastic. That observation made him feel a little better about having not noticed. However there wasn’t any secondary set of teeth - a human mouth - to make Depth Charge think that perhaps it was a mechanism attached to a jaw underneath. It led right into a throat…
Depth Charge looked away, finding himself once again feeling sickened by it. Not X himself, but the fact someone would do this to X. He rubbed his temples, and thought.
This was his job.
Lots of people hated their jobs but had to do them anyway. This was no different.
Trying to assure himself of it made it no more true.
He had to bring X back, but… he would figure something out.
He pulled back out of the parking lot in silence after turning his GPS on again. He had been tempted to punch in some other address, and just hide X there - like a warehouse or something. Go back for him later, and just keep him safe in general. Depth Charge definitely had the resources to keep him out of the lab, but logic always came back to remind him that was foolish. That would get the two of them killed in the long run. An unfulfilled life of fear, and an early grave.
“Friend… When you take me back to Omicron, can you promise to visit?” X requested.
Depth Charge couldn’t promise that, but it did sound like the safest way to sate that stupid childish urge to protect X.
“Of course I will.”