Umeko watched as Slash kept clenching and unclenching his hands and shifted around edgily. He'd been tense ever since they'd been notified about the new addition to their team. Well maybe tense wasn't quite the right word. Furious might be closer.
The Mutanimals were his and regardless of their ties to the EDF, he felt that he should have final say in all things that effected them. Granted, he hadn't been consulted in advance when she'd joined, but there was no way he ever would have protested that. Umeko couldn't help but smile as she recalled the shock and amazement on his face when she'd appeared before him in an EDF uniform.
But this was someone new. A stranger. And they had no idea what kind of interpersonal conflicts might result in their already well-functioning system. They all waited with some trepidation in the hanger bay for the new arrival. All except for Slash who was too angry to be nervous. At least he was keeping a lid on it. For now.
She ran her hand comfortingly down his arm and could almost feel him drawing on her for support to steady himself. The plane had landed a little bit ago and they were just waiting for it taxi into the hanger and unload.
"Yo dudes! You must be my new crew! Excellent!" Or not.
They all turned towards the hanger bay doors and gaped. There stood a short gecko mutant wearing sneakers, baggy mesh shorts and matching EDF t-shirt and ball cap, holding a skateboard. Of all possible additions to their team, Umeko could honestly say that she hadn't anticipated this.
He was clearly waiting for some kind of response, but when it became clear that none was forthcoming, he hopped on his board and rolled in for a better look at his new compatriots. By this time Slash had recovered the ability to speak.
"Jason Rist?" The gecko snorted indignantly.
"That was my human name. I go by Mondo Gecko now." Another round of stunned silence that Leatherhead eventually broke.
"That is an interesting choice my new friend. How did you come up with it?" Mondo grinned, revealing a mouth full of small pointy teeth.
"A totally awesome friend of mine came up with it for me." Leatherhead's eyes lit up at the mention of a friend who gave names.
"Who?" Mondo hesitated for a moment.
"You guys are my new crew, so I guess it's cool if I tell you, but if anything happens to him because of it, I will end you all." It took all of Umeko's self-control not to laugh at the little creature's ferocity and of all Slash's not to flatten him.
"He's my kickass turtle pal, Mikey." Leatherhead rumbled approvingly.
"You are friends with Michelangelo as well? That is good to hear. I received my name, Leatherhead, from him as well." Umeko watched as Slash shot Leatherhead and annoyed glance, but it went unnoticed by his second in command who had clearly already been completely won over by his shared association with their new recruit. To Leatherhead, no friend of Michelangelo could be a bad person. Mondo gave another toothy grin.
"You know Mikey too? Awesome! I am in good company dude. So did you guys used to be people or what?" Slash's hand curled up into a fist and Umeko rested her own hand on top, before he escalated the situation. It gave Dr. Rockwell a chance to jump in.
"Well, technically we all are people right now. I assume you mean were we human?" Mondo nodded.
"Yeah. I got caught in that mutagen canister rain thing that happened before the invasion. It made me super amazing, but it did kind of cost me my shot at the X Games." Rockwell raised his eyebrows.
"I was the only one who was human before. It will be nice to have someone else around who understands what it was like."
"Moving beyond humanity represent!" Mondo fist bumped Rockwell who looked exceedingly pleased with himself for recognizing the gesture in time to complete it. Umeko monitored Slash closely as he clenched his jaw.
"So what exactly is it that you can do?" Mondo turned back towards Slash.
"Check this out."
His tongue whipped out and caught one of the support poles. As he used it to pull himself forward, he kicked the skateboard in front of him and hopped on, riding it with ever increasing speed towards a stack of crates. He kicked the board up into the air, grinded it along the edge of the crate, before flipping to balance one handed on the crate while the other grabbed his board. Then he flipped off the crate, spinning the board around under his feet before coming down to land on it, rolling leisurely back towards them.
"Don't hold back you're applause. I know that rocked." For a moment they were all too stunned to react. Not that the performance didn't require considerable skill, of a sort, but Umeko had been expecting something…useful. She was trying to produce a polite, but not dishonest response, when Pete charged forward clapping wildly.
"That was the most amazing thing ever! Can you do more? I want to see more!" Rockwell, put a gently but restraining hand on Pete's shoulder as Mondo preened under his adulation.
"Perhaps later Pete. We should probably introduce ourselves and see that our new teammate is properly settled in." Leatherhead nodded.
"Come friend. We will show you around." Slash just stared in disbelief as the four of them took off into the complex.
"What just happened?"
"It looks like our team has a new member." He huffed, but wasn't really capable of directing real anger towards her.
"Just like that? How can we trust him? What good is he? What am I supposed to do with that?" She shrugged.
"Maybe you can follow the others' lead for once and give him a chance?" He raised an eye ridge questioningly at her.
"You have got to be kidding. Whose side are you on?"
"The Mutanimal's of course."
"And he's not part of it."
"Neither was I but you made room for me."
"That was different."
"Was it?" He blushed, carefully evading the real reason it was different.
"You are a skilled and reliable warrior. He's just dead weight." She crossed her arms.
"As far as I can tell, this team was formed from a group of misfits who found a place and purpose together. Where else could he possibly belong? I have complete faith in your leadership. If you could bring all the rest of us together, I'm sure you can find a way for him to fit in. How much harder can it be that working with Pete?" Slash's expression softened and he pulled her into an embrace.
"Why do you have to make so much sense?"
"It's a burden. You ready to deal with this?" He nodded.
"Let's go see what we can do with him."