Fandom: Sky High
Characters: Cutter’s Crew, Son of Silver, Veronica Powers
Rating: R for language and violence
Word Count: 3,009
Spoilers: All of the film
Warnings: Violence, gore, sexual tension, language
Disclaimer: Sky High is owned by Disney. I make no money.
Notes: This is a transitions piece between the end of War and Peace In Mind and its sequel. You may want to reread chapters 12 and 47 of WaPIM to refresh your memory of the players. If you haven’t read War and Peace In Mind, this story really won’t make sense at all. This is one of three stories that will be happening during the six-month period between the academy attack and beginning of the sequel, which shall be entitled We Are Legend.
In this story I wanted to explore Cutter’s Crew a little. They’re the sworn enemies of both the Champions of Justice and the Redeemers, and frankly, I just love to hate the Crew. This is some insight into how our favorite villains roll, what they’ve been up to, and what the Bureau has been doing about them. Title unlawfully stolen from AC/DC’s song “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
Summary: The sworn enemies of our Sky High graduates have escaped. Defeated, wounded, and on the run, they mean to swear their revenge...
Cutter’s Crew (and I will be arbitrarily switching between using their supervillain names and real names, so you were warned!):
Cutter – Crissy Carlson a.k.a. Kristina Cutter
Skybolt – Lawrence O’Brian
Bloodtalon – Frieda Olaf
Viper – Alan Roberts
Saurian Lord – Brady Hamilton
Son of Silver – real name unknown
New York, New York, in an apartment in a neighborhood that most wouldn’t care to travel through at night… or during the day for that matter. Afternoon of the academy attack.
“Clear off this shit!” Cutter’s voice rang out as her teleportation dropped the Crew in a small, dingy kitchen in an academy safe house. The room seemed full to bursting, especially with the wounded Son of Silver thrashing on the floor. Quickly Saurian Lord knocked trash and old plastic dishes from the kitchen table, helping Cutter haul the unbelievably heavy Silver onto its sturdy surface. Frantically she looked him over, wiping silver blood away from his face.
“Get me silver, real silver, pure. Now!” she barked over her shoulder. Viper and Bloodtalon, shifted back into human form, both skittered from the room. Cutter’s hands were still stained and wet with Sonic Boom’s blood, and she was clearly going to gut the next person that got in her way.
“Come on,” Saurian Lord said, jerking his head toward the door. “There’s a pawnshop down the street.” This hadn’t been the first time the Crew had been to this safe house, and they knew the lay of the land.
“It’s broad daylight,” Viper hissed. Bloodtalon looked at him with contempt. Skybolt was too unreliable for something like this, and that meant only three of them could possibly go. It was more than enough to knock over a pawnshop, even in broad daylight, but Viper preferred overwhelming odds. He was a coward at heart, and with Saurian Lord being fresh out of robots and Bloodtalon too conspicuous to fly into a store shifted, it meant Viper would have to do most of the work.
“So what? It’s a damn pawnshop. Move it you lazy coward,” Bloodtalon sneered. Unshifted, she was tall, skinny, and milk-pale with violently red hair, not exactly very intimidating. But she still retained her reddish, mad eyes, and Viper was trying not to flinch under her gaze.
“Brady!” Cutter barked. Saurian Lord’s head jerked back around to their leader. “Find out the casualties and see if anything’s left at the academy. We left a lot of shit behind.”
“I don’t have my computer-,” he started.
“Use the goddamned TV! Alan, Frieda, go!” Cutter snarled.
The Crew scattered in all directions, like mercury struck with a hammer. Alan and Frieda were out the door in a flash, pausing only long enough to shuck the remains of their supersuits and pull on civilian clothing from the closet. Brady plastered himself to the TV, flipping through channels frantically to find out the fate of academy. Cutter herself took a second to steer Skybolt in front of a window. As long as he could see the sky he was relatively quiet. He had just enough self-awareness to keep himself fed and clean, but trying to get intelligible conversation out of him was nearly impossible. However he took directions well and liked using his powers, so Cutter kept him around. She would have left him for the Bureau if he hadn’t been useful.
Then she returned to the kitchen, pulling out the crucible from the storage and setting up the flame to melt silver. Son of Silver had taken a hell of a lot of punishment from Sonic Boom, and he hadn’t stopped bleeding since she’d taken down his attacker. Giving him silver would heal him, but only if she had enough of it. He’d used nearly all of his ammo during the fight, but she doggedly ejected every round from his last clip and set it to melting. It had to hold him until Viper and Bloodtalon got back.
He was writhing in silent agony on the table, and she tried to hold him still.
“Don’t you die on me,” she said, snarling the words as she signed them in front of his eyes. “Don’t you fucking die on me!”
Silver stilled himself and smiled weakly at her, then lay back, panting with exhaustion and pain.
“Where the hell are those two?” Cutter growled to herself.
Down the street, Viper and Bloodtalon were in the alley behind the pawnshop, arguing.
“Where the hell is your spear?” she asked.
“I dropped it on the way to the safe house and I wasn’t about to ask Cutter to go back for it,” Viper said, his voice dangerously close to a whine. Bloodtalon snorted in derision.
“Smartest thing you’ve ever done. You have backup weapons?”
“Knives. That’s it.”
“Lame. Fine, we’re going in quiet. Use knockout poison.”
“I could just kill who’s ever in there,” Viper said defensively, pride smarting. Frieda smacked him upside the head. Thin as she was, it was still all muscle, and Viper’s head rang.
“No, dipshit! If bodies start stacking up the police’ll start canvassing the neighborhood, or worse. We’re on our own, asswipe. No cash, no cover IDs, nothing. It all went down with the academy,” she hissed. It wasn’t like either of them had any particular compunction against killing, but if they inconvenienced Cutter, their lives would be forfeit.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Viper said sullenly, rubbing his head.
“Yes I did. Don’t try to run out on me either.”
Viper squared his shoulders and stepped back into the street, ignoring her last comment. A sign down the block proclaimed “Pawn Shop, jewelry bought and sold, gold and silver.” Small store, small block, quiet still at noon, everyone on the streets very much minding their own business. That was exactly the reason the academy had put a safe house here in the first place.
The proprietor looked up as the two supervillains walked in, and carefully put down the paper he’d been reading. He looked like a harmless old man, but in this neighborhood he probably had more than one gun underneath the counter.
“What can I do for you?” he asked, his wrinkled face breaking into a smile. Alan reached out to shake his hand, his own so empty of weapons that the man felt reasonably safe.
“Die,” Viper said casually. The old man’s eyes rolled up into his head, and he keeled over, unconscious.
“Cute,” Frieda muttered sarcastically, vaulting over the counter to grab the keys to the display cases.
“Hey, than line always works!” Alan protested.
“Not on me it doesn’t. Take that bag, get anything useful, and clear out the register and safe. I’ll get the silver.”
With supreme indifference to the man on the floor, the two supervillains stripped the store of anything small and valuable, including the crucial silver jewelry and antique silverware. Less than ten minutes later, items in hand, security cameras destroyed and tapes stolen, Viper and Bloodtalon left the store through the back door. This, at least, they’d done dozens of times. They didn’t even have to talk to go through their usual escape routine back to the safe house.
Cutter greeted them at the door with a snarling demand for the silver, and snatched the items out of Frieda’s hand before teleporting to the kitchen. Brady looked at them both with a tight expression, saying without words that they needed to stay out of Cutter’s way. Ever since the Crew had lost Painbreaker to spy duty over two years ago, Brady had taken her place. And even though he was dangerous- any supervillain was by definition- he was a hell of a lot more of a team player than she had ever been.
“Got any electronics?” he asked quietly. Viper pulled out a couple of laptops, along with some cell phones and PDAs. Brady all but pounced on them, disassembling some, attaching parts to others, and adding a few of his precious nanobots to give him the fine control he needed to rework them to his specifications. Within five minutes he had an internet connection, and through that, better information about the academy.
It was a tense half-hour before Cutter finally came out of the kitchen; her hands were finally clean of blood, though scorched from melting metal. And since she didn’t immediately start killing people, Silver must have pulled through. He staggered through a minute later, and half-collapsed on the sofa. He didn’t exactly look very healthy, but since Cutter was ostentatiously cleaning one of her knives while standing right next to him, that quashed any plans to leave. Son of Silver had been “with” Cutter for a year and a half, and any resentment on the Crew’s part for all the labor they’d had to do on his behalf they carefully kept hidden.
“Update,” Cutter barked at Brady. He didn’t flinch as he began his recitation, eyes glued to his computer set-up.
“The academy’s gone, full wipe-out. The Bureau is hauling everything out of there and stripping the computer systems and electronics. Most of that is going to be destroyed just in case. Then they’re going to implode the structure so no one else can use it again. All three psychics are dead, plus Darkspear, Marksman, Shrieker, and Warhead. Almost a quarter got captured or defected, and the rest ran like we did. Some are still being caught before they can get to ground.”
“The heroes’re on the warpath,” Cutter concluded flatly. “We got the clothes on our backs, whatever’s here, and whatever you two got today.”
“About fourteen hundred in cash and some other stuff we can convert quickly if we need to. Guns for Silver, electronics for Brady, knives for you and Viper,” Frieda said, waving at the goods on the coffee table.
“I hate to say it, but no one’s paying the rent on the apartment anymore. Academy funds paid for all the safe houses, and the accounts are frozen. And it’s only a matter of time before the heroes find out about the safe houses. We’ll get maybe a month if we’re really lucky. I wouldn’t give it a week, personally. Even if the Bureau doesn’t find us, the landlord will want the money,” Brady explained carefully.
“Who cares?” Cutter said carelessly, flipping one of her knives.
“How many bodies do you want to stack up?” Brady shot back. Cutter looked like she was about five seconds from stabbing him. Silver tapped her on the shoulder, averting further violence, and signed rapidly.
As an odd side effect of Silver’s powers, his body being living silver, was that he was deaf and mute. He could read lips well enough, but Cutter had to translate what he wanted to say for him.
“We have to lay low for a while. We’ll have to leave here very soon anyway,” she said for him.
“Where? Our safe houses-,” Brady started.
“We’ll go to one of my places.”
“How many places do you have?” Viper demanded.
“So, what then?”
Silver gave Viper a withering look.
“Build up capitol until you can get what you want. Find something you can do and get people to pay you for it.”
“What, become ‘honest employees?’” Frieda sneered.
Silver half-lunged in her direction, a fake attack to test her nerve. She stood her ground, teeth bared. Viper nearly jumped out the window in his haste to get back. Cutter and Brady laughed at them both, and Skybolt giggled softly to himself.
“You need money, but you can’t get caught now. Instead of taking it, find someone to give it to you,” Silver continued calmly through Cutter.
“Hey man, we were robbing banks and museums, doing big stuff. Why go back to stupid piddly shit?” Viper asked, stiffening his spine.
Silver sat up straighter, looking down at all of them even from his chair, his gaze both distant and dangerous. It was always impossible to forget that he was on the Bureau’s Top Ten Most Wanted list, and especially impossible to forget why he was on there at the moment. He hadn’t survived over two decades on that list by being reckless. And he was willing to let him in on his secret to survival.
“I got my reputation by killing the unkillable, but I can’t do that every day. It won’t feed my habits, and it would have brought all of the heroes down on me like a ton of bricks. In between doing what I want to do, I do what I have to do. Plenty of people will pay to have their enemies killed. Or made sick. Or embarrassed. Or lose control. Or have their property destroyed.”
Silver’s gaze rested on each of the Crew as he talked through Cutter, and their sullen faces began to break with bloodthirsty grins.
“Yeah, and?” Viper asked at length.
“Survive now. Revenge later.”
Maxville Bureau Office, Control Room, five and a half months after the academy attack
Director Powers glared at the large screen that took up half the wall. Half of it showed a map of the world, with supervillain attacks highlighted on it. The other half was a list of academy villain names. Beside most of them were checkmarks, showing they’d resurfaced. Either by being captured or by attacking, at least they’d been accounted for in one way or another. But there were six names that were conspicuously unmarked.
“I don’t understand, Director.” Powers looked to her left to see seven of the technical staff standing nervously off to one side. These weren’t just any tech-heads; these were the seven academy technopaths that had disabled the weapon systems during the academy attacks. Since then, they’d been working for the Bureau, doing the same kind of work, but no longer under the threat of death or torture.
“I need your insights,” Powers said quietly. The technopaths looked at each other uneasily; they’d been helpful explaining what they knew about academy villains, but it still gave them the willies to be advising a Bureau Director.
“We don’t know that much about the Crew,” Allie said. The oldest of the technopaths, Allie acted as their spokesperson, as most of them were more comfortable communicating through text or code. All of them were still overwhelmed by their change in status, even almost six months later, and their nervousness showed. Powers nodded understandingly, letting her hair swing in front of the scarred part of her face, making her look less intimidating.
“I know, and you’re not the only people I’m asking. Just give me your best guesses. Nearly everyone who escaped from the round-up after the academy was defeated has eventually resurfaced, even if we weren’t able to capture them. But the Crew has been silent. We’ve had no verifiable attacks from any of them, and considering their reputation for violence and viciousness, I’m having a hard time believing they’ve given up a life of crime to sell burgers somewhere.”
“They wouldn’t. They’d be the last to give up.” There were nods from the others, along with some surreptitious rubbing of old wounds that gave weight to their words. Cutter had had a bad habit of using her knives on anyone that got in her way, even by just an inch. The rest of the Crew had been just as bad, and had apparently gotten even worse when Painbreaker had been out on her spy mission.
“That’s what I figured.” Powers sighed, and waved her hand at the list of villains on the screen. “From what Phoenix told me, not every villain was compelled to use their powers, not like you and most of the people he and Mercy spoke to. Some had self-inflicted compulsions to use their powers however, like Mercy and Bloodtalon, and it’s likely the psychics used that as a template for the others who needed some additional persuasion to stay under academy control. Cutter didn’t have the coercion, Flamewing and Meduka didn’t, nor did most of the villains Phoenix had to heal during his time there.”
“But,” Allie stated, raising her eyebrows, “it doesn’t matter whether they think they have to or not. Cutter wouldn’t stop. The Crew wouldn’t stop.”
“Son of Silverdefinitely wouldn’t stop, and as far as we know, he’s still with them,” Powers added, teeth jammed together. Silver made her blood boil, with his casually expert death-dealing and tendency to flaunt his kills, but she couldn’t afford a rivalry with him. That had nearly killed her before, and as Director she was responsible for too many people to let a personal vendetta draw her astray.
“He wasn’t in the academy very long,” Greg offered tentatively, and Powers looked at him, nodding as if he’d confirmed something in her mind.
“What if he’s running the show now?” she asked out loud. The technopaths sucked in worried breaths.
“Cutter doesn’t like to give up control-.”
“But if he could convince her that he could keep them free-.”
“Forget free, they want revenge.”
“Served cold,” Powers added. “You all told me the Crew is hot-blooded, quick to kill and maim, but Silver is cold and patient. He hasn’t gotten caught because he spends his time in between going after us in hiring himself out as an assassin. And when he does that, he uses normal guns, normal bullets, tries to make it look like accidents or rivals or random violence…”
“They’re hiding their powers in plain sight!” Allie exclaimed.
Powers stared at the map again, at each point of light indicating a supervillain attack. A bank robbery by Icespawn, attempted destruction of a power station by Obliterator, Eclipse attempting a grand scheme to blot out the sun… None of them indicated random knifings that could have been done by Cutter, riots that could have been induced by Bloodtalon, bouts of sickness that could have been Viper’s handiwork. No “wild animal attacks” or technology thefts that could have been traced back to Saurian Lord were on the map, and who knew how many lightning strikes might have been controlled by Skybolt?
“We can’t protect everyone,” Powers said, throat tight. “Sometimes we can barely keep up with supervillain attacks. Most of us help out in the heat of the moment; we’re not detectives. There just aren’t enough of us to investigate every possible anomaly. That’s how Royal Pain started the academy under our noses in the first place. She had the time and the resources to focus on one goal.”
“Director? Why did you want us here? I mean, you have people that knew the Crew a lot better than us. Mercy and Bruin-.”
“I asked you here for a different reason,” Powers cut in brusquely, softening her rebuke with an encouraging smile. “I was afraid the Crew was doing something like this, and what you said only confirmed it. I know Royal Pain set up search parameters to find signs of superpowered people concealing their abilities, looking for anomalies in police records, hospital records, witness reports, and dozens of other databases. And I know that after a few years, she no longer ran it herself because she was at Sky High. So you were running it.
“Techarcana just pulled the last of the coding for that search out of the academy AI, and it fought tooth and nail the whole way; that’s why it took us so long to get it. She doesn’t have the time or patience to run it, and we need a dedicated team on this. I am asking you if you’ll do the search for the Crew. They may be in hiding now, but you’ve shown me the scope of the problem. I don’t expect they’ll hide forever, and I know you agree with me. I need them found. We have heroes that can move planets and change the orbit of the moon, but all of that power is useless if we don’t have a direction to point them in,” Powers said coaxingly. She needn’t have bothered. The technopaths faces lit up with unholy glee and a touch of bloodthirst that showed their past all too well.
“Impossible technological problem with the fate of the world on our shoulders? Director, I thought you wanted something hard,” Allie said.
“Let me put it this way too; I know you want payback for all those heartless monsters did to you. I can’t say I’m unfamiliar with wanting revenge. And technically I’m supposed to tell you it’s bad. But I also know that no one else in the Bureau is going to give this the dedication it deserves because it’s tedious and difficult. Heroes tend to have a ‘fix it now’ mindset that’s hard to shake. You won’t stop until it’s done.”
“Won’t be fast Director. Weeks… maybe months,” Allie warned, enthusiasm warring with the realities of the job.
“If they can play the waiting game, so can we. And even if they surface before you find them, I still want to know how they’ve flown under the radar for so long. They think they’re safe and secure. I mean to unsettle them.”
The grins were back full force.
“I’m designating you Team Bloodhound, and you have full access to the War Room as of this moment. The Crew aren’t the only ones out there, remember that. If you can’t get them, get some of the others that are in hiding. We aren’t going to be caught off-guard by something like the academy ever again.”
“And if they get tired of waiting?” Allie asked.
“Then sound the alarm. I want everyone to know when they’re back.”
Topeka, Kansas, six months after the academy attack
Cutter reappeared in the kitchen of their battered apartment in the middle of the most boring state in the entire union. The only reason they’d picked Kansas was because it was in the middle; easy access and similar distance to all corners of the country. And the apartment hadn’t always been so battered. When they’d gotten it, under false identities, it had actually been fairly nice. But the Crew was hard on everything from appliances to upholstery, and the place looked like it had been ransacked and then half-burned.
“This,” she announced to the air, “is bullshit!”
Yeah, the Crew had money now, from myriads of small jobs, and had replaced most of their equipment. Yeah, they had new contacts that knew their talents, if not the sources of them, and would willingly pay for their services. But…
Silver looked up from reassembling one of his guns on the kitchen table to see her furious expression. Grinning, he reached over and pulled her into a passionate kiss. She kissed him back hard, but she didn’t let go of her anger.
“This is bullshit,” she repeated, facing him so he could read her lips.
“What is?” he asked. Cutter had learned to read lips nearly as well as he did, and he spoke to her silently as he continued to work with the firearm.
“This!” she shouted, waving her arms at everything around them. “Fuck, Silver, I joined the academy because I didn’t want to be some two-bit super-hood pulling off stupid little jobs. I don’t want a crappy apartment that I have to share! I don’t want to tend up teleporting for pay like my worthless dad! I’m taking everyone else to their jobs all the time; it’s like I’m a super-powered evil soccer mom!”
Silver looked delighted at her rant, and laughed silently. Cutter snapped, hurling herself at him, throwing him to his back and straddling his chest. One of her knives was at his throat, the one with the density-enhanced edge hard enough to cut steel. It was more than enough to cut through Silver’s skin.
“What’s so fucking funny?” she spat.
“Is this a private party or can anyone join?” Brady’s heavily (and fakely) Australian-accented voice drifted from the front room. He was peering in at them with a ludicrous leer.
“Private!” Cutter nearly shouted, and Brady went back to his machines. He already knew the answer of course, but it amused him to irritate her. “And that accent isn’t fooling anyone!” she added.
“I know that, but the chicks dig it.”
“Asshole,” she muttered, and turned back to Silver’s prone form. He hadn’t used her momentary distraction to throw her off at least, or she would have lost all control.
“I said, ‘what’s so fucking funny?’” Cutter repeated, leaning down to get in his face, her knife digging into the skin of his throat.
“You,” he mouthed. Cutter growled at him, temper rising. Silver figured he’d pushed her enough for right now; she was just very cute when she was angry. But any more and she’d plant the knife in his throat.
“What’s wrong with being transport?” he asked reasonably. She dug the knife in a little harder.
“I didn’t decide to live a life of crime just so I could live in a crappy apartment and eat food from Burg-O-Rama. If I’d wanted that I could have just worked at Wal-Mart for a living.”
“What do you want Cutter?” Silver asked seriously, eyes fixed on her.
“Everything,” she said, waving one arm extravagantly. “I want to live in a mansion, I want to be waited on hand and foot. I want piles of cash and the best knives in the world and steak and lobster every night.” She glared down at Silver, trying to see if this was making an impression. “I want everyone to know my name and to fear me whenever they hear I’m coming. I want to be on the Ten Most Wanted List and never get caught. I want Bruin in a cage, Phoenix on a leash, and Painbreaker’s head on a goddamned pike!”
Cutter’s body was ground down hard into Silver’s, and her face was within inches of his. The heat and venom in her eyes nearly vibrated the air between them.
In the doorway behind them came a series of slow claps. Cutter and Silver turned their heads to see Bloodtalon, Viper, Saurian Lord, and even Skybolt standing there applauding.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about leader-mine,” Brady said with satisfaction.
Cutter turned back to Silver and got off of him, giving him a hand up.
“No more ‘day jobs;’ we have enough money for now. No more petty shit unless it’s for fun. I didn’t sign up to the academy to be an ordinary bad guy. I’m a goddamned supervillain!” she roared. Silver had a satisfied smile on his face, and vulpine grins echoed in the Crew’s faces. When Cutter got like this there was no stopping her.
And clearly Silver didn’t even want to.
“So, what’re we gonna do?” Viper asked, leaning against his new spear.
“Something big. And I’ll tell you what, I don’t even fucking care what we do as long as get to kick some ass. After that we’re going to make a plan, and we’re going to kill some people real slow and painful.”
“Oh yeah, I can get behind that,” Viper said appreciatively.
“What’s our something big?” Bloodtalon asked, hands scratching the air in anticipation.
“Let’s do something fun… Mount Rushmore.”
“Right now, let’s go to Mount Rushmore, knock off a few noses, panic some tourists, and blow some shit up.”
“Just like that?” Bloodtalon asked gleefully.
“Just like that. Brady, I know you got some of your big robots in a warehouse downtown. We’re going to go in fast and hard, pure mayhem. I just want to let the world know we’re back.”
“Cool! Then what?” Saurian Lord asked, fingers flying over his transmitters as he started spinning up his biggest ‘bots.
“Then we’re gonna figure out how to get back at the Champions and Redeemers. It’s been six months and my revenge is starting to get cold. I like to strike when I’m still pissed off.”
“I think we can do that. Tough, but-,” Brady started.
“This is gonna be fun,” Silver mouthed, slapping a clip into his gun. “I always wanted to figure out how to take down Guardian.”
“Everyone has weaknesses,” Bloodtalon said knowingly.
“Done. First, go to Mount Rushmore for some fun. Second, we’re gonna get drunk. Third-.”
“Figure out how we’re going to kill a dozen heroes,” Brady said, teeth bared at the challenge.