Who: Drax, Gamora, Nebula, Peter Quill What: Get parts to repair the Benatar & snacks and bicker a lot (you know, be the GOTG) When: Backdated to right after this net convo Warnings: Some road rage
“I’m surprised you know how to drive this thing,” Gamora shouted over the radio blasting Q104.3 - New York’s Classic Rock and the unending honk of horns in New York City Traffic. “How old were you when you were abducted from this place?” Peter had insisted on the black Trans Am, even though she had logically explained that one of the othervehicles would provide more space for the parts they needed. That was not a fight. I was completely in the right..
She glanced at Peter out of the corner of her eye. How could you possibly? she asked herself, wishing that there was someone who could explain to her how a future version of herself was in love with this half-Terran with an ego the size of a planet and a poor attitude. It’s not like there was anyone to ask. She had already asked Nebula and Drax was…. Well Drax.
“My communicator says to turn left up there.”
"This vehicle is cramped," Drax complained from the back seat, where he was crammed in behind Gamora. She had shorter legs, so it was easier to have him there, where the seat could be scooted forward more. "And I am thirsty."
For what it was worth, Drax would be playing the part of every two year old on a car ride that takes longer than 10 minutes. Soon they would be hearing....
"...have we arrived yet?" he asked, in what was his people's version of 'are we there yet.'
Peter narrowly avoided stalling the Trans Am by grinding his way from second gear into third, while simultaneously shoving his middle finger out the window in the general direction of a towards a balding, middle aged Italian man who was screaming “AHM WALKIN’ HEAH”
Realizing that he was in the far right hand lane, and their turn was coming up quickly, Peter saw a six inch break in between two cars and inched the nose of the lib car into the space that was being occupied by a bright yellow cab whose driver began screaming obscenities. Peter replied, “Yeah, that’s what your mom said last night”
He stomped on the accelerator, betting that the cab driver’s reflexes were honed enough that he’d brake enough to let the Trans Am in. He looked in the rear view mirror and said, “Are you Tyrellian desert thirsty? Because…..”
Peter interrupted himself as he took a deep breath and bellowed, “NO, YOU, JACKASS” out the window. Finally arriving at the corner, he managed to execute the necessary left turn. He looked at Gamora and said, “What was that Uber thing you were talking about?”
Nebula had never driven a Terran vehicle, but she firmly believed that she could do a better job than Quill. Being tall herself and stuck in the seat behind him, she was also of the opinion that a different type of vehicle would have been the wiser choice. She should have insisted on the large one with ‘4X4’ on the back of it.
“Is there a reason he is driving and not you?” she asked Gamora, whom she knew to be an excellent pilot. Surely that skill would translate well to piloting this impractical vehicle. She turned her dark eyes to the back of Quill’s head. “And it is bad enough that Drax and I are squished back here, but where, exactly, do you expect to store any salvage we manage to locate?”
Did he truly think of nothing but his own pleasure?
“This is supposed to be his natural habitat. Besides, I am only interested in making sure there is a functional space ship. I do not pick fights about petty things because I am ashamed to have emotions,” Gamora turned in her seat, so that she could talk to her sister, not so that she could better talk about the captain as if he wasn’t in earshot. “Also, he may have led me to believe this vehicle would provide witty comebacks similar to a panda you all are friends with. It seemed important to him for team bonding purposes.”
She shrugged, as if to say this is your team, I’m just along for the ride, and turned back to the road as as another driver behind them began screaming obscenities that would make a Ravager blush.
"I am as thirsty as I would be on Indigarr," Drax pointed out. Since they were also on the topic of points, the two daughters of a homicidal warlord were correct. There was no way they could transport themselves and the parts they obtained in this vehicle. He tried to lean to one side to get the pressure off one side of his nearly numb butt, and told their captain, "Gamora and Nebula both have a point. This vehicle is inadequate and it does not provide witty commentary. You are a thief. Steal us a more suitable vehicle, before I remove the spines of those yelling at us."
Because that's how similar situations were handled. Displeasure risked spinal removal.
Peter felt his face get hot and prepared to tell everyone in the car to shut the hell up. Stakar Ogard’s crew wouldn’t dare complain about a little discomfort He was about ready to tell them so, when it hit him. Stakar Ogard wouldn’t put his crew in this position. He wouldn’t have been so focused on whether or not the vehicle personally made him feel good. Stakar Ogard would have been thinking about mission parameters. His crew wouldn’t have been bitching and moaning, because they would have been able to trust that their captain had his proverbial shit together.
Pulling himself together, he pulled into the first alley they came to. He shut the engine off and turned to the others, “C’mon everybody, let’s get outta the car.” Peter opened the door and flipped the front seat forward.
“So, You probably want to write down the date, cause I don’t know when this is ever gonna’ happen again.” A part of him wanted them to get out of the car, then get back in and drive away. He reminded himself he wasn’t his father, who just bailed on people.
“I’m sorry. I knew that this wasn’t the car for the job. It was a car for me. So I’m gonna’ stop jacking you around and this is what we’re gonna do.” Peter was fully prepared for his entire crew to stage a full on taserface revolt. Which they kind of have a right to do, he thought ruefully.
He pointed over to a store front with a faded blue awning and the words “Baba Convenience Store” printed in letters that had once been gold but now were a dingy beige. “We’re gonna’ go there and get supplies. I’m gonna call for someone to get this,” he pointed to the car, “and bring us whatever is closest to a king cab truck.” He ran his fingers through his hair and set his jaw.
“I am not petty,” Nebula murmured, though it was possibly petty for her to be saying that.
She remained silent, even when instructed to depart the vehicle, folding her arms across her chest and leaning against the trunk. When Quill seemed to run out of words, she sighed and said, “I have noted the time and date. I wish the vehicle had been witty, as that might be amusing.” Nebula turned her head slightly to direct her next words to Gamora. “And he is a fox, not a panda and his name is Rocket.” It was said more as information than accusation.
To Quill, she said, “I accept your apology. I cannot speak for the others. Do you want me to contact Stark? He’ll be able to send someone for this transportation…” She tapped the side of the car. “... and have a suitable vehicle made available for us.”
******* “When you call Stark, make sure you tell him we’re pissed that his talking car is not as advertised,” Gamora smiled at Nebula, trying to figure out whether she was really okay. “Let’s not wait here for another one though.”
She gave Peter a look, but decided that this was not the appropriate time to try to figure out this particular plot twist in her future-ex-boyfriend’s character. Heading toward the door, she touched his arm and held out her phone. “I downloaded uber before we left, let’s just get to the scrap yard. You can figure out our ride to the ship once we know how much space we need?”
Gamora led the way into the bodega, smiled at the man behind the counter, ignoring the stares of the two old women gossiping near the counter, and started browsing snacks. She decided to just buy at random, in order to figure out which Terran snack foods were the best.
"The pirate angel said that it was a rabbit." That was all that Drax could say about that as he exited a vehicle way too small for a man like him to ride in the back seat. Nevertheless, he didn't complain. He only gave the captain a look and a shake of his head, before following Gamora into the bodega. Once inside, he picked up the largest bag of Cheetos Puffs in the store. Non spicy. Although he would probably eat spicy foods on a dare.
"Quill. Before we obtain impossibly large drinks, has this version of you eaten Cheetos," Drax asked, loudly, within earshot of the cashier. "If not, you should try them. They are dry and powdery, but pleasantly crunchy."
“Drax, every version of me, in every reality eats Cheetos”. Peter took a large bag of Slim Jims, and emptied the warmer of burritos and jojos. He put the food next to the cash register, headed to the refrigerator section and grabbed a half rack of Keystone beer. Holding the beer under one arm, he balanced a dozen packets of pop rocks, three bags of twizzlers and a handful of tootsie pops on top.
Making his way back to the cashier, Peter piled everything on the counter and opened the Uber app. Within a few taps, he’d punched in their destination and confirmed that their driver would be there within five minutes.
“All this is together,” he told the cashier and motioned towards the others. Noticing a rack of small foil packets, Peter added six of them and smiled at the cashier.
The man scanned the items as quickly as he could and motioned for the crew to bring their items forward. He glared suspiciously at the card that Peter handed him and wondered if it was fake. Sahil ran the card and thought Why Swami Deva is it that of all the places in this city, it is my humble establishment that attracts Jersey peeps.. Pleasantly surprised at the approval that flashed on his screen, the man pushed the bags across the counter and opened Kreyszig’s Advanced Engineering Mathematics and began to read, hoping that when he looked up again his store would be relatively freak free.
Peter picked up their bags and the beer and stepped out of the front door, just in time for the Uber driver to arrive.
Nebula called Stark and let him know his vehicle was outside a convenience store and it needed to be collected. She tried not to get into why it was at this location and how it had arrived there beyond “Quill borrowed it” and “We are scavenging for parts”. She didn’t know how quickly someone would arrive and was reluctant to abandon it until they did, but she knew the others probably wanted to get on with the mission. She asked Stark, “Can you hurry?” then darted into the store to quickly choose some refreshments.
The crew must have looked very strange to the man behind the counter and the customers, but she hoped no one felt threatened or decided to call the police. Quill appeared Human, of course, which he was, sort of, and she currently would appear Human to anyone who didn’t know her, thanks to Loki’s spell. She was a pretty, Human redhead, hanging out with a scruffy man, a green woman and a grey man with red scarification symbols on his skin.
She added her selections to the pile on the counter - Gatorade in three flavours; five bags of rippled crisps in five different flavours; ten chocolate bars, all without nuts, some with fruit; two pre-made sandwiches, one with pink meat - ham - and one with a squishy white and yellow mixture - egg salad. Nebula smiled at the Human while he processed their strange assortment of items. He probably thought she was mentally impaired.
“Thank you!” she said as cheerily as she could manage - and saying ‘thank you’ was odd for her all in itself. She didn’t know if her attempt to inject something normal into the transaction had worked. Ah, well. She tried. Following the others outside, she said, “I don’t think we should leave the vehicle unattended.”
“We probably shouldn’t,” Peter looked towards the Trans Am and then back at their Uber driver. Just as he was about to suggest that the driver pull in next to the Trans Am, a discreet looking sedan carrying the Stark Industries logo pulled up. Relieved that at least something had gone right, he breathed a sigh of relief and climbed into the front seat.
“Hey man, I’m Kenny, where you guys from?” The moment everyone was into the car, Kenny pulled into traffic.
“Missouri,” Peter said.
“Oh yeaaaaaah.” Kenny had heard that the Midwest was freaky. Now he had proof. “You going to Anton’s out in Brooklyn, right?”
“Yeah,” Peter opened one of the bags and fished out a burrito and held it up, “Anyone want some?”
“Hey, thanks man,. I’m starving.” Kenny reached for the burrito and decided that maybe Midwesterners weren’t so bad. He took a large bite and while chewing, continued, “So yeah. Anton, me and him go way back. See his cousin used to date my sister’s ex boyfriend’s mom. He’ll treat you right.”
Peter took a bite, realized he too was starving and scarfed down a burrito, three slim jims and a handful of jojo’s by the time they pulled up in front of the salvage yard. Ohhhh yeah…., he thought as he added a tip and then paid Kenny. Not only did it look like this place had a piece of every car, bus, truck or space vehicle that had ever been manufactured on or crashed into earth, it was clear that Anton had a used car side gig.
Climbing out of the SUV, he looked at the crew and said, “Anyone ever bought a used transport before? Who knows how to haggle?”
As she slid out of the back of the Uber, Gamora looked across the junk yard at the balding man coming out of the trailer that served as an office. “Does he look like one of those Trekkies to you? Stark said they have a thing for my particular attributes.”
She looked down at the list they had made of what the ship was likely to need, then said, “Nebula, Drax we’re going to need the basics to repair the engine, steering and electrical systems. If you find any Kree or Skrull tech…. just grab anything that looks fun. Oh, and speaker wire… would you even be the Guardians of the Galaxy without a sound system?”
She worked her fingers through her hair, scrunching the natural waves and giving it more volume, tugged her tank top down to offer an extra inch of cleavage, and smiled her “I’m a perfectly normal girl not here to murder you and your family” smile and said, “Okay Captain, let’s go meet Anton.”
Anton was not a Trekkie. Anton was an older guy with a t-shirt that looked like it had seen better days, and that perhaps it had been used to wax a car hood more than once. Whatever writing on it was faded into obscurity. He was eating a slim jim as he walked toward them, and eyed each of these people in turn. Only two of them looked normal. The other two looked like freaks straight out of a comic con.
"Gawd damn, I hope you two aren't some of those comic con clowns that're into furries and shit," Anton said. He shook his head remorsefully. "You aren't gonna find any of those here. Maybe a few rats. What can I do for ya?"
As the others talked to the owner of this scrap yard, Drax looked at the piles of Terran automotives and machinery. He wasn't sure what a Trekkie was, or a furry. Neither sounded unpleasant, so he didn't see what the big deal was.
"I am not furry, but I have eaten many creatures that were," he pointed out helpfully....in a way that was not at all helpful. "Do you have parts from Kree or Skrull ships?"
"What in the what now?" Anton asked, eyeing them all warily. "We've basically got stuff from Nissan, Toyota, Jeeps, Kias, and Ford in here. Because anything from Ford is Fix Or Repair Daily. Whatever those makes and models are, I haven't heard of them before."
"I haven't been to these planets," Drax told his shipmates. "Ford sounds awful. We should avoid it."
They didn’t want to get bogged down with anything that would make the man run back into his trailer and call the authorities. That would delay their scavenging and the eating of their snacks.
“They are all the rage in… Europe,” Nebula said with a smile. “Yes, Italy, Germany, and… France.” That should suffice. She reached out to her right without needing to look and placed a hand on Drax’s shoulder. “We will search for parts while you… talk amongst yourselves.” It was a phrase she’d heard somewhere and it seemed to fit. If it didn’t, there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
She didn’t mind that Quill and Gamora were going to haggle. She preferred the role of scavenging. It was more interesting and required less interaction with a stranger. Having Drax with her was good as they would both be able to lift heavy things without much difficulty.
Nebula tugged on her shipmate’s shoulder. “Let’s go, Drax.” She hoped he would start moving of his own volition and not require her to drag him toward the scrapyard.
******* “I prefer performance artist,” Gamora smiled, and reached into the bag in Peter’s hand and pulled out a tootsie pop, unwrapping it as she talked “My friends and I are on our way to Coachella… we’re working on an art installation. It’s a social commentary on man’s obsession with the stars.” She added a bit of vocal fry to her voice, mimicking the vapid girls on the television. She decided this was her favorite version of flirt and look harmless, then eviscerate them that she had ever pulled off. “So we’re on the search for space junk.”
Anton looked a little stunned, but nodded when she mentioned space junk.
She licked the sucker and closed her lips around it. “But you see, Daddy doesn’t believe in art as a career, so he took away my Escalade and cut up the platinum card. So all I have is this silly little gold card and a dream of fame.” She made the weird pouty face that TV girls make and twisted the stick of the tootsie pop… “You can help me find a suitable vehicle, right? I would be soooooo grateful.”
“Oh yeaah. Space junk. We got some of that.” Anton said distractedly, eyes never leaving Gamora’s mouth.” He waved distractedly towards the far corner of the yard.
Peter gave Gamora a sideways glance, wondering if, on top of everything else they had to deal with, if “possible Skrull” was one of them. Deciding that any issues related to the alien invasion of earth could be handled after they had procured a set of wheels that was both large enough for the crew and capable of hauling anything they might need, he started walking towards the small row of trucks which were parked in the front corner of the parking lot.
He walked determinedly past a cherry red Blazer, Utility vehicle, Captain Dumbass he told himself. At the end of the row, Peter saw it.
All thoughts of haggling left his mind in a moment, when he saw her. He walked around the Suburban, noted the tread on the tires, something his grandfather had told him was important, looked at the inside and decided that whatever might possibly be wrong with the rig could eventually be fixed. This was the kind of truck his crew needed. I’m gonna call her Linda, he thought, Linda Ronstadt.
He mosied on into the oily smelling gritty office and asked the bored looking kid behind the counter if he could start up the Suburban. She asked to see his license. Peter realized he didn’t have one. She shrugged and said, “Do you have anything I can hold? You know for, whatever, collateral?”
Peter motioned toward Drax, Nebula and Gamora, “If I take off without them, they will hunt me down, remove my spine and bring it and the truck back.”
Shrugging, the girl tossed him the keys and said, “Gawd, that thing is a beast.”
Peter caught the keys in one hand and replied, “I know. Isn’t she amazing?” Walking out to where Linda was parked, Peter walked around her once more, noticed the winch, the lack of rust, and the large gun rack in the back and smiled to himself.
He unlocked the door, climbed in and started the ignition. The engine roared to life, its deep throaty rumble reminding him of the rear thruster ignition on the Elector.
Drax, meanwhile, had been guided away by Nebula, and was looking for parts. If anyone expected him to know what to look for, they were sorely mistaken, because he was not Rocket. He wouldn't know what to do with things that he couldn't shoot with a blast canon or stab with his knives.
He was, however, good at lugging them around. And at finding fuzzy dice. Which were no longer fuzzy since rain and mud were caked on them. He held some up, and asked, "Is this what Anton meant by furries?"
Yes, it's better if Drax doesn't touch things, because he went hmm and set it down, reverently.
"I think it's dead," he told Nebula.
Fortunately, Nebula knew what to look for when it came to repairing a ship and in a glance she could tell that the offerings here were too primitive for their needs. Unfortunately, this was their source for parts, so they would have to improvise. That was fine. Improvisation is what this crew seemed to do best.
Speaking of crew, Gamora appeared to be putting on a command performance and complemented Quill’s role in the conversation with the yard’s apparent owner. Nebula hadn’t missed the whole ‘would you even be the Guardians of the Galaxy without a sound system?’ reference. Her sister was including Nebula as part of the crew, but still not including herself. That was ironic, since she was far more a Guardian than Nebula was - at least, she had been before Thanos had killed her and time travel had become a necessity and if none of that had happened, she would have lost Gamora forever.
Turning to Drax, she said, “I don’t think that is what he meant…” then let the sentence drift away as she considered the thing Drax was setting down. She debated if she should explain, but chose instead to say, “Yes, I think it is quite dead.” She paused for a few seconds of silence to honour the deceased before pressing on.
“I see some wire. It might be suitable for the sound system and I can’t imagine travelling without ‘Dancing Queen’...” Her delivery was dry, but it was probably lost on Drax.
Gamora babbled at Anton, but watched Peter walk down the row of cars. He was halfway across the lot when it happened, but she thought she’d probably recognize it from a mile away: the change in posture, the extra twinkle in his eye, the cheeky smirk that made countless women tumble into bed with him. Peter Quill wanted that particular vehicle.
The problem was that Anton would also see it a mile away, and use it against them. She’d met a junk ship dealer on Xandar once who had the same air that Anton was putting off, who tried to swindle her out of every last credit. He had ended up eviscerated in his own trash pile. Gamora had to remind herself that a quick assassination was out of the question because she was going straight, before she asked, “How much for the white one my friend is looking at?” She just needed to lock down this deal before Peter came back.
“Sweet ride, am I right?” Anton smirked, addressing her cleavage. “Little lady, I can get you in that custom Suburban for $15 thousand buckaroos, it’s a real steal.”
“Fifteen?!” Gamora’s character began to slip as she got down to haggling, but Anton was still engrossed in attempting to identify where the body paint ended and didn’t appear to notice. “You must be out of your mind Anton, it’s not worth any more than five.” She honestly had no idea how much the thing was worth, it was the principle of the matter.
Anton offered $14K, but Gamora refused to even acknowledge his offers until it got below $10,000. She managed to get him down to $7500, and made him throw in whatever supplies they could fit in the back. She pulled out her expense card and followed Anton toward the office, calling over her shoulder, “Space junk, guys.” Even one piece of broken Kree tech would be worth the amount they were paying for the whole lot.
While familiarizing himself with Linda’s dashboard, Peter noted that Gamora had handled the negotiations. That’s my girl,he thought, thinking of the numerous times that she had driven a harder bargain than he had ever had the patience for. The glow of pride faded a little as it occurred to him that this Gamora wasn’t his girl. He shoved that feeling into the box in his head marked, “Fuck this shit”, turned off the ignition, pocketed the keys and then sauntered out to the yard.
He passed the pair of no longer fuzzy dice on the ground and picked them up. This had to be an omen. The virulent purple fur might be matted with dirt, and they smelled vaguely of the motor oil that permeated every scrapyard, but under the oil, Quill caught a faint whiff of Axe body spray. They were scruffy, looked like garbage, smelled a little dank, but they had managed to survive in this shithole. Plucky, like us, he thought before correcting himself Optimistic, like us. It occurred to him that Linda might not like this dirty stinky talisman and then remembered that the chick from the ceiling was supposed to be able to do all the things, he was sure she could handle their restoration to glory.
Picking his way past what had once been a 1978 Chevy Impala convertible, Peter caught the faint scent of ozone that seemed to linger around anything Kree. Pulling back what had once been the hood of what had once been someone’s pride and joy, Peter saw what had once probably been part of a Kree sensor array, it’s slender titanium trailing wire and a control module.
He grabbed it, and then filled his arms with what had likely been reinforcer plates from a Titan scout.
Quill walked back towards Linda calling out, “Grab what you got and let’s head out, people.”
The day hadn’t started the way he’d planned, but whatever was happening now was better than sitting in someone else’s apartment and just waiting around.
Drax did not see any broken Kree or Skrull tech where he was in this Terran junk palace. Only Terran creations. He picked up a steering wheel column (steering wheel and Hello Kitty steering wheel cover included) and shrugged at it, tucking it into the crook of his arm carefully like it was a child. He carried everything Nebula gave to him to carry and began walking over to Quill's location.
He looked the vehicle over before Drax nodded and gave his opinion, "Ugly but effective."
That verdict rendered, Drax moved around to the back so he could put things inside of the zombie apocalypse cruiser.
“Linda Ronstadt, meet the Guardians. Guardians, meet Linda.” The turbo diesel rumbled to life, as Peter allowed the engine to warm up, he carefully pulled a stack of license plates from under his coat and slid them into the oversized glove compartment. Once everyone was inside, and buckled in, he pulled out of the parking lot. The USS Linda Ronstadt might steer like a pregnant walrus, and parking her would likely be a lot like attempting to dock an aircraft carrier on Staten Island, but she was theirs.
They hadn’t found much. There was the unit Drax had found, though how useful it would be with their repairs was yet to be determined. Nebula didn’t even know what needed fixing yet, beyond generalities. She had located some sheets of steel, which had possibly been body parts for a vintage vehicle in a previous life, before most things on the road were made of plastic. Wiring had also been acquired, along with a very large and heavy engine, which she had carried with one arm to ‘Linda’.
“Hello Linda,” she said, because it seemed to be something Quill might expect her to say. Once everything and everyone was secure, they pulled out of the scrapyard. The ride was definitely more comfortable. Even Drax wasn’t complaining. Of course, he was eating from a large, crinkling bag, but he seemed happy. Gamora seemed happy, which was good to see. She was chatting on her phone with someone named ‘Siri’ and Quill? He wasn’t the same Quill as the one who had departed this universe, but he was still the same annoying, endearing Human she recalled.
All in all, it felt right. Nebula smiled and unwrapped her egg salad sandwich. Next step? Locate the fox and the tree who were aware of their situation. Then the Guardians would truly be together again.