Marc was walking down the long corridor of the storage facility, his gym bag clutched tightly in his grasp. His legs were sore, his head was aching. He was still recovering from the flight home. Every bone in his body protested the constant strain and movement, he was desperate to go back to the flat and let Steven handle the rest. If Steven was fronting, Marc was able to have a break, maybe he'd actually get some shut eye.
Unlocking his storage unit, he flicked on the light and stepped inside, the cold air nipping at his exposed forearms. He hissed softly at the sudden chill that enveloped his body, closing the door behind him as he made an advance towards the cot. The bag was loosely tossed atop a stack of crates, Marc groaning as he took a seat at the edge of the cot.
He was in so much pain, more discomfort if anything. Khonshu' healing armor was heavenly, it made his job a lot less painful and easier, but that didn't save him from the fact that years and years worth of previous beatings and combat made his body croak every time he shifted. Marc stared down at his feet, never realizing the gum of his boots still had small droplets of blood, though it was dried now. He winced at the memory of getting his lights knocked out; the nose bleed was nasty.
Finally finding the motivation to step out of his clothes, he started by peeling off the sweat-soaked grey t-shirt he had worn for the flight home. Next was his dark wash jeans, but not before kicking off his boots and practically moaning at the relief he felt. He bit his tongue as he stood on shaky legs, walking over towards a crate tucked away in the corner and undoing the clasps.
Inside was an array of clothing he had purchased from a local thrift store years ago and stored away in the unit for this very occasion. It would've been very suspicious for Steven to just wake up one day with new additions to his wardrobe, even though their style of clothing wasn't exactly too far off from one another. Marc didn't wanna risk it though, so here he was, sifting through the clothes to find a new shirt and jeans.
A shower would've been preferred, but he didn't exactly have the luxury of being picky. In the midst of shaking out a semi-clean short sleeve, he honed in on the sound of hushed, yet hurried footsteps from outside of his unit. He glanced over his shoulder, eyebrows furrowed as he continued listening in, waiting.
His fingers twitched where they gripped the fabric of his shirt, and he tossed the clothing onto the cot while carefully stalking over to where he threw the gym bag. Getting on his knees, he unzipped the bag slowly as to not make a lot of noise, and pulled out the pistol that was stored at the very bottom of the bag, buried beneath money, his passport, and the scarab. He locked eyes on the golden beetle in front of him, and quickly swiped it, pocketing the scarab.
The door to his storage unit was flung open, and he practically shot around with his pistol raised in the air, but he was only met with the god he served. Annoyed, he up onto his feet and glared daggers at Khonshu. "What the fuck is wrong with you? Did you have to do that dramatic ass entrance?"
'Dramatic'? Please, you of all people know that if I don't make a grand entrance, I might as well not appear at all.
Khonshu tapped his staff on the concrete floor, the linen that levitated around his slender body billowing at the rush of air. Marc' curls bounced ungracefully against his forehead from the sudden breeze.
You may lower your weapon now, Marc.
The man huffed under his breath, "I could, but this position we find ourselves in is tempting," Marc chided, raising his gun higher and aiming right between Khonshu' hollowed eyes. The god cocked his head at an angle, a deep rumble of a chuckle sounded off as the god' shoulders gently bounced. He genuinely sounded amused, and in an odd way it made Marc' skin crawl, his firm grip on the gun faltering.
Khonshu lifted a hand and flicked his wrist, sending Marc' gun across the room and into the wall without ever laying a hand on it. The clatter of the metal against the concrete floor echoed within the 12×12 unit. Marc dropped his hands to his sides, finally reaching around to grab at the shirt he discarded on the cot. "What a show off you are."
I should tear you apart from the inside-out, making it slow and unbearable, then lazily put you back together for that stunt, Marc Spector, but I'm feeling quite generous, Khonshu muttered, dissipating into what could only be described as a fog and appearing behind Marc. The man stumbled forward as Khonshu came back into his physical form. Put some clothes on, I sense danger is near.
With those words, Khonshu vanished once again, not uttering another word to his Avatar. Marc quickly pulled on the shirt he had been cradling and retrieved his gun from the floor. With his gun raised towards the door, he stalked back towards the cot to retrieve his boots. He leaned over and slipped his foot inside, messily lacing them up one handed.
The door creaked open slowly, almost comedically slow, and Marc quickly dropped his other boot to the ground and aimed his gun to the door.
"Don't come any fucking closer! I'll put one right between your eyes!" Marc shouted, his body locked in place as silence filled the space. There was a shuffle, complete silence, then a clink, clink, clink...
Marc cursed as an explosion of white filled the unit, his hearing shot and ringing. He doubled over and shot blindly in the direction of the door, a couple grunts and thuds as bodies hit the floor.
He cried out when the tear gas made his eyes burn and water, shoving his face into his elbow as he shot two more times, only to have his gun swatted out of his grasp, the weapon lost to him as he was met with a boot to the stomach. Marc coughed violently as the white powder coated the inside of his throat, tears and snot running down his face and he slumped against the wall.
A hand came and grabbed his ankle, effectively dragging him across the cold concrete. He thrashed and kicked at his attacker' stomach, shouting out curses and trying to keep his eyes closed so no more tear gas coated his vision.
He gasped as his body flooded with pure, raw power, his eyes no longer burning and he was able to take in a deep breath of air. Marc' back arched off of the floor and his eyes grew milky white as linens circled and wrapped around his arms and legs, his mouth agape as the linens covered his face. His hood was last to appear, and he quickly swiped at the man' legs, sending him onto the ground. A crescent was ripped from his chest and he swiped at the man' stomach, not intending to kill him but to keep him out of the fight and out of the way.
Marc stood tall as he sauntered towards the door and kicked it open with great strength, sending two more men out of the fight. He huffed as he was met with bullets, the tiny pieces of shrapnel getting embedded in his plated chest. He used his cape as a shield and threw two crescents into two of the gunman' stomachs, then shouted as he pushed himself off of the wall and scissor-kicked another. Marc growled as he dispelled the bullets from his chest, the bullets clattering to the ground like hail against a tin roof.
He grabbed one of the gunmen and lifted them up off their feet and violently slammed him back against the wall. "What are you here for?"
The man spat blood onto Marc' mask, a sinister chuckle escaping his lips. "Praise Ammit.."
"You freaks," Marc grit out as he threw the gunman down onto the floor, only to grab him by his throat and throw him back up against the wall. His grip tightened as he the man sputtered and choked around his hand, the feeling of the man's throat bouncing in his grasp made him hesitant. "You're not getting your precious little scarab, so give it a rest."
"Sh-... She will be freed-! Y-You can't stop it..." He whispered, his hands coming up to grip at Marc' wrist. His legs kicked uselessly against the walls, Marc slowly watching the life leave his eyes before the man went limp. Marc tossed him aside, satisfied that the man had just passed out from oxygen deprivation.
He stared at the bodies that littered the hallway, his fingers flexing as he took in a few deep breaths. "How many more?"
A dozen, at most. Backup, most likely. You shouldn't stay here any longer than necessary, Harrow' followers are some of the most insistent bastards I've ever met, Khonshu chided, prowling down the hallway with Marc in tow.
"What about those guys? The kid up front saw me come in," Marc muttered, the suit falling away from his body as he stepped into the sunlight, quickly patting down his clothing. Relief overtook him as he pulled out the scarab. "He's gonna tell the feds about me, I don't need that attention."
Silly boy, you forget you're in the presence of a god. The bodies will be handled accordingly, but right now, you need to focus on protecting the scarab and getting the hell out of here.
"How do I do that?" Marc whispered, tensing up as he watches three of the same black cars turning the corner, the smell of burnt rubber overtaking the air. He jumped at the sound of a horn honking repeatedly. Turning out towards the other end of the street, he sees Khonshu laid back in the passenger seat of a cab, beckoning Marc to get inside. He took one look over at the three cars and took off towards Khonshu.
As he ran, bullets rang out and struck the areas surrounding Marc. Linen encapsulated his body and once he dove over Khonshu and slid into the driver's seat, he was covered head-to-toe in Khonshu' healing armor. The poor cabby had left the keys in the ignition, so Marc spun the wheel to the left and stepped on the gas, accelerating down the street.
The suit fell away as he glanced from the road to the rearview mirror, then to Khonshu in the passenger side. "This is such a shit show... They won't stop til they have the scarab!"
You know damn well you lose that scarab, I will kill you.
Marc rolled his eyes, jerking the wheel to the left as he rounded the corner. "You look stupid in such a small seat."
Khonshu erupted into a fit of laughter. You amuse me, Marc Spector.
"That doesn't make me feel better," Marc replied, grunting as bullets flew past him and out of the front windshield, splintering the glass. He tucked his head down and swerved to dodge some of the bullets. "A little help here?"
Khonshu vanished from the front seat, leaving Marc alone with three cars tailgating him. "Jackass!"
Marc growled under his breath as the car behind him slammed against his back bumper, sending him flush against the steering wheel and at the edge of his seat. "Goddamn... Fucking PSYCHOS!"
He pressed down on the accelerator, taking the opportunity of an empty street to get some distance between him and the three cars. Marc continued on forward, violating multiple traffic laws as he began to feel a tingle in his fingers.
He gasped as he tried to concentrate on staying in his body, the pins and needles sensation slowly circling up his arms. Marc groaned, annoyed as he started to slap at his arm and the back of his hand. "Steven- stop it! Horrible timing, dude... Horrible fuckin' timing as always-"
Marc jerked the wheel to the right, grabbing the parking brake and pulling it up as the cab swerved towards an open lane, resulting in him scraping the sides of a dormant car and his head slamming against the driver's side window.
Marc lost consciousness on impact.
The cars slowed as they approached the somewhat totaled cab, debating whether or not they should advance on the car holding the mercenary.
Marc, get up! Goddamnit... Marc!
A deep groan escaped Marc' body, his head lifting up to the sight of a smashed windshield, a throbbing in his temple, and lacerations littering his arms. "Bloody hell... A-Ah what the hell...?"
Steven hissed as he sat back against the seat, his vision blurry. He touched his forehead and immediately cringed away from the pain that shot through him, it was enough to make him feel dizzy. "What the hell, oh God where am I..."
He gasped when his vision went into focus, and was met with three men, with three very big guns aimed at him. Steven struggled against the binds of the seatbelt, fumbling to unbuckle himself as the men stalked forward like a unit.
"Get off of me- get off!" Steven was dragged out of the car and thrown on the floor, landing on his hands with a grunt. He looked back to see two of the guns trained on him, the other gunmen was standing over him with a smile.
"So, you're the infamous mercenary Harrow was raving on about, hm?"
Steven was dumbfounded. He was terrified and confused and most of all he was no mercenary! He wanted to laugh at such a thought but it quickly died as the barrel of a gun was put right between his eyes. It was still warm from the last time it fired.
"I think now's the time you give me that little scarab, Marc Spector."
Steven blinked at him. Huh?
"I... I'm not Marc Spector, I'm Steven Grant," he whispered, his body hadn't stopped trembling. "I don't know what's happening- I don't know! I-I just woke up here, please..."
The three gunmen exchanged glances at each other, and Steven was not prepared to be pistol-whipped right across his nose.
He fell over onto his side and cried out, cradling his face with a hand while the ache spread all across his face. Steven sobbed as he was grabbed by his shirt collar and lifted onto his knees, the warm barrel most likely leaving a circle on his forehead by how hard the pressure was.
"Please! Y-You have the wrong guy! I'm not Marc Spector..." Steven' voice cracked as he fought against the grip on him, a new gush of blood running down his face, past his lips, and dripping from his chin onto the warm pavement. He shuddered at the intensity of the staring from all three men. "I'm begging you, please don't do this..."
The lead gunmen, Steven assumed, looked over to the man on his left and did a hand motion towards him. A nasty chill ran up his spine as the man approached and started frisking him, digging into his pockets and groping at everything. Safe to say Steven was frozen in place, tears and more blood flowing down his cheeks and nose.
The man came away with a miniature beetle, plated or made with gold. Steven stared up at it in shock more than anything. He definitely had zero recollection of ever even seeing that tiny thing, let alone have it on him.
"The scarab, sir," the man mumbled, dropping the scarab into the leaders opened hand. He inspected it and messed around with it between his fingers, giving Steven a smile so vicious it made goosebumps rise all over his skin. "What do we do with, Spector?"
Steven and the lead gunman made intense eye contact, and he hummed. "Dispose of him, Harrow doesn't need anymore unwanted attention."
The man to Steven' left came up and pointed his gun at his forehead, a sob escaping past Steven' lip as he stared down his fate. He was actually gonna die, this is it.
"Praise Ammit." The click of a reload made Steven flinch so violently he fell forward onto his hands, heaving.
"Wait wait wait-!"
His eyes fluttered open to see he was driving down a road, and he gasped as he saw in the rearview mirror the bodies of the three men that were about to kill him. His hands, all the way up to his elbows, were covered in crimson. His clothing didn't look any better either. Steven winced at the ache in his nose, and he grunted as he tried to lift his hand from the wheel.
It was practically bolted to the steering wheel, he didn't register that he had absolutely no feeling in his arms or legs, his foot pressing down steadily onto the peddle to go faster. His head whipped back at the sound of tires speeding across the pavement, met with two black cars tailgating him. "Holy shit..."
"Eyes on the road, cabrón." Steven jumped at the sudden voice that rang so loudly in his ears he felt as though someone was in the car with him. He looked around hurriedly, no one was here.
"... Wh-... Who said that?"
"I don't know Spanish, mate. Sorry... What the hell is happening?"
His eyes glanced up at the rearview mirror while trying to figure out where that voice was coming from, and he cried out in fear as he was met with a reflection that was not his own. The smile that spread across the man's face made his cheeks flush. "Hey there, kid."
Steven was in pure disbelief watching his reflection move and talk except he wasn't doing the moving and talking. His mouth was agape as he openly stared, causing the man in the mirror to laugh. His voice was rich and velvety, some sort of tang to his accent that made Steven feel warm. "Cierra la boca, kid. You'll catch flies."
This was... Well, this was making Steven go mental. He wasn't able to process anything that was happening. The only thing he is able to gather from the past twenty minutes was that he was mere seconds away from getting his head blown off, he's driving a car like a madman except he doesn't think he's the one actually controlling the car, and his reflection isn't him but in fact a very rugged version of him with a cabby hat and mustache and is Mexican. Also; who the hell is Marc Spector!
"You never stop thinking in that pretty head of yours, don't you kid?" He glanced up at the rearview mirror and was met with an amused grin. Steven yelled as his arms suddenly jerked the car to the right in order to avoid slamming into someone' bumper. "¡Ay Dios mío! That was fuckin' close, huh?"
Steven' chest was heaving as he continued to speed down the road, suddenly feeling very ill at the spark of anxiety that just traveled throughout his body. "I'm gonna die... Holy shit, this is how I die, innit?"
"You're not gonna die, kid. Get badly injured? Most likely. Maimed? Probably so. Beaten to the brink of death? Absolutely, kid, but you won't die!" Steven stared at him with his eyebrows knotted together.
"... Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
The man shrugged, his lips going into a line as he focused his eyes back on the road. "No sé. Did it make you feel better?"
"Oddly enough... Yeah, it kinda did, mate," Steven mumbled as they weaved through traffic, the black cars still hot on their trail as they disregard any and all traffic laws. "So um... What's your name, mate?"
"Jake Lockley, at your service," Jake lifted his hand up and tipped his cap, a charming smile gracing his features. Steven realized he was staring a lot, this entire situation was leaving him gobsmacked. "I must say Steven, you're handing this surprisingly well."
"How did you know my name...?"
"I-... Okay um- what is happening, and why are those men after me, and why the hell do people keep calling me Marc Spector?"
"¡Híjole! Of course you ask to many questions," Jake mumbled as he made Steven' arms jerk the wheel all the way to the left, almost causing them to slam into another car's front bumper. "Okay, so, those gringos are after you because they want that little escarabajo in your pocket there, but we can't let them get their hands on it or else some bad shits gonna happen-" Jake made the car swerve left in order to not hit a pedestrian that was crossing on a red light.
"¡Pinche pendejo! ¡Podría haber sido asesinado! ¡Qué jodidamente difícil es ver que el semáforo está en rojo!" Jake growled out as he ran another red light. Steven grunted as he was rear-ended, Jake releasing another string of curses. "We can play twenty questions later, right now we gotta get these guys off our asses!"
"And how do you propose we do that?"
"You don't know me, kid, I always find a way."
Steven' hand gripped the steering wheel tighter and his foot pushed the accelerator all the way down into the floor. "H-How is this happening? I'm not doing this!"
"I know you aren't, cause I am," Jake snickered as Steven' arms moved on their own accord, adjusting the rearview mirror so Jake can have a nice view of Steven and the cars chasing them. "There we go... Sit back and relax, kid, I won't let them scuff your pretty face."
Steven flushed red as he averted his gaze from the mirror and back to the road. "Kinda too late for that, innit? Got me right on the nose..."
Jake' eyes hardened as he took in Steven' split nose and all the blood that had now been dried for some time. "Trust me, they won't get another chance to touch a hair on your head again, kid. Not while I'm around.."
Bullets flew past Steven' head, causing him to cry out and hunch himself over his lap to avoid them. "We'll get killed like this! Th-" Steven was cut off by his passenger window getting shot out, a whimper escaping past his lips. "There has to be something we can do to stop this! Is this bloody beetle really worth getting killed for?"
Jake thought hard for a moment, and cursed under his breath as he kept steady hands on the wheel.
"There is a way, but Marc would shoot me if I did it."
Steven stayed silent, waiting for Jake to continue. "I... I need control, kid. That's how we can make our odds better. You gotta let me in. ¿Entiendes?"
"I... I don't understand. Control? What does that even mean.." Steven trailed off as a pressure stirred against his temples, a tingly sensation running through his body. "What's... Whoa.."
"Relax, kid... Let me in. Perfecto, you're doing great..."
When Steven opened his eyes, he was standing in pure darkness. His eyes weren't adjusting to such a dark setting, but as he looked around he saw a small beam of light, so he advanced towards it.
It was a tiny circle window, and when he pressed himself against the glass he saw himself in the driver's seat. He was watching himself, except it wasn't himself. Steven pressed his palms against the window, watching in pure awe. Incredible...
"Oh my days... What is this?" Steven whispered.
"It's gonna feel a bit weird, kid, but you'll get better at it," he heard Jake say, but it was more of an echo, an afterthought. Barely able to reach his ears. "The mirrors should help somewhat, but it's gonna suck the energy right outta you."
"I don't understand, how is this possible? What are you?"
He could see Jake clenching his jaw, grinding his teeth and flicking his gaze back towards the three cars behind him. "I can't answer that right now, kid. Do me a favor, close your eyes and cover your ears."
Steven blinked at the request. "Why?"
"Cause I said so, that's why. Now do it."
Steven huffed under his breath but did as told. He turned away from the small opening and pressed his palms against his ears, everything becoming muffled.
Jake stared back at the cars behind him through the rearview mirror, and his eyes widened slightly as one of the men climbed out through the passenger window and onto the hood before jumping the small distance and landing on the trunk of the cab. He groaned deeply as he heard the thuds of the guy crawling across the hood of the car and jumping down onto Jake' hood. A gun was pointed at him and he quickly ducked behind the wheel as the guy fired.
Jake' hand shot up and smacked the gun away before reaching for the man' collar, and repeatedly slamming the guy' head against the lip of the windshield. He slouched down in his seat and brought a leg up to kick the man in stomach. He grunted at the impact and he rolled off the hood then down onto the street. Jake reached down and picked up the gun he had taken from the guy earlier and shot at the cars behind him from the shattered back window.
One of the cars swerved off the road and into a row of parked cars, the other ended up flipping over when Jake took out the front tires. "One more."
"That didn't sound very legal!" Steven yelled out as he pressed his palms harder against his ears.
"Híjole madre- what did I tell you?"
"My ears are covered! It's hard to drown out gunshots!"
Jake growled under his breath as he turned the wheel all the way to the right, turning into a long alleyway. He gripped the wheel tightly as the last black car slammed against his rear bumper, trying to drive him into a wall. "Steven, you're really making this harder, stop trying to front!"
"I'm not doing anything, I swear!"
"Well just stop whatever you're doing-" Jake trailed off as another car entered the other end of the alleyway, speeding right towards them. "Esto no está bien..."
"Oh my God," Steven breathed, finally looking out the small window to see what Jake sees. His stomach fell to his feet. "End of the line, mate."
Jake reached over and dug through the glove compartment, finding a roll of tape and with one hand, he duct taped the gas pedal to the floor. Getting up on shaky legs, he crawled forward through the broken windshield and onto the car hood, crouched with his hands in front to keep him steady. "Jake, what are you doing..."
The cab started turning towards the wall, and as the car flipped and both cars collided, Jake leapt off the hood as linens enveloped his body. The explosion caused an unruly gust of air to push Jake further and he was ejected out onto a busy road, rolling a couple times before he was thrown up against a parked car. He laid still, pedestrians circling around his body in assumption that he was dead.
He should've been dead, but it wasn't so easy.
His fingers twitched as his eyes shot open, taking in a deep breath of air. His chest rattled, and he groaned loudly. Waving the concerned pedestrians away he sat up, staring at the flames in the alleyway.
"Steven-... Are you okay?" Jake whispered, swallowing down the lump in his throat. He sighed in relief as he heard a faint groan, looking down to find a glass shard. Steven was standing there, looking like he was about to lose his lunch.
"God, this feels awful... I'm gonna be sick."
"Deep breaths, kid, deep breaths... It gets easier."
Jake tensed at the sound of sirens."I think now is the time where we book it, huh kid?"
Steven stared at the wreckage, a pit growing in his stomach at the sight.
"Yeah... Yeah, let's go."