Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Characters: the Chitauri
Summary: First and always, there was the Mother. They were born of Her in darkness, where no suns were, then warmed to life and consciousness when She swam toward the light.Then Something came and changed the Mother.
Edited by: Unedited, unbeta'd, unexamined, because it came out so fast. All mistakes are my own.
Author's notes: This exploded in my head, or the germ of the explosion did, the first time I saw The Avengers. Every time I watched afterward, it scratched at me, demanding to be told. I know now that these Chitauri bear no resemblance to those in the Marvel comics universe. I take the fiction writer's prerogative to do something completely different and for that I don't apologize.
Disclaimer: No characters are mine. They are the sole properties of Marvel and their respective creators. I intend no copyright infringement and take no coin.
First and always, there was the Mother. There had always been the Mother, Her ribbed and sinuous expanse brutal and beautiful, ridges to ride, plates on and under which to sleep, warm caverns formed of hot-furnaced flesh in which to crouch, to gather together and just be.
They rode in the vast and icy darkness of space. They had always done so, cycles and cycles of forgotten suns’ worth of time spent there. They were born of the Mother in darkness, where no suns were, then warmed to life and consciousness when She swam out of darkness, drawn by solar winds and tides into the frail, but light-filled, sun systems.
There had been a time that the Mother had ridden only water, or air. Her, or other Mothers before Her, an idea that was beyond ideas and a thought that was beyond their need to understand. It was something they only knew in their hindbrains; no need to remember it now, or think about how physics were stretched and broken by their reality. If She wanted to remember, or remember others remembering, She would do so. If She wanted them to remember, She would tell them. Otherwise, it was unnecessary. Only She was necessary.
How long did they live? They lived at the Mother’s sufferance and She loved them, so they lived as long as She wanted them to.
The Mother undulated through vacuum and air alike, bringing all of Her children with Her, and if She told them to leap off Her, to rend and tear at other living things to feed on and make themselves strong they would do so. If She told them to rein in their agitation and fear — always there when they were away from her — to turn it into order, to find instead of lose, or to build instead of break, to bring things to Her, ugly, or fascinating or beautiful things to look at and treasure, and consume, then they did that.
She filled them with calm and warmth, and She told them they were Her own, Her best, Her children. They were Her daughters, and they loved her. They would ride Her forever, while She ate the dark of space and the occasional bright warmth of scattered suns to keep Her internal furnaces hot and comforting for Herself and for them.
Sometimes, one of them would huddle very close to Her, and would gradually change. They would understand, and would bring extra food, and the sister would eat, enlarge, and elongate before moving away from the rest of them. She would lose some things, and gain others, and grow, and grow, and become fierce in a way they were not, and kind in a way they were not, and she would become a Mother and leave, and they would understand and forget. It was all a cycle, and the Mother understood so that they didn’t have to.
It would have been that way forever, but something else happened. Something came and changed the Mother.
It happened in the dark places. It made them rage; they couldn’t escape their hate and fear, not even when they huddled against Her sides, because now there were new plates that covered Her, hammered across and deep into her own beautiful warm ridges, hiding the flesh caves and causing Her a constant and inescapable agony. Misery hummed and beat into Her, yet she didn’t struggle, instead existing in pain and sorrow.
She who had once swept and soared now drifted and hovered at the mercy and the order of the thing. Once She would have destroyed it. Now She rose and opened Her beautiful jaws only when the Something told Her to. It drove her now, to go places She never would have gone.
It did to them what had been done to the Mother. They became even more powerful, and their appetites became rapacious, and the roiling of destructive energy surging through their nervous systems, back and forth from them to the Mother along newly created neuron pathways, made them think and feel things they would not have done, not even at their hungriest. It was torment. Sorrow sharpened them and they looked about themselves and saw each other differently. They were granted the gift of greater thought and it was more than they could bear.
She still told them they were Hers, Her best, and Her daughters. They found ways to stay with Her, despite the metal poured into her and driven like stakes into them as well. How could they not? They suffered with Her and for Her, and tried to loosen the metal, to expel the foreign bodies that hid Her from them, and banked Her furnaces. They always failed.
If they could have watched and seen it coming, they could have protected Her. That scratched and burned in some of them; the ones who had always been able to stray the farthest from Her, the ones who looked for stars and warmth apart from Her own comfortable heat. The ones who were like pilots when She sailed through nothingness, those daughters shivered as they watched Her obey the Something. They looked at each other, sisters who had failed their Mother, and they mourned.
They clung to Her sides and remembered living in Her caves and being what they should be, and they wanted it back. They realized they had had happiness and had lost it, and they hated the knowing.
Something drove the Mother to a place in space, or perhaps a time. Some of them caught a glimpse of what it truly was, and wailed in fear. They finally saw the Something in all its darkness, and saw what it was bringing to that time and place, and nothing — not the magma of planets or the hearts of suns — could make them warm after that. They shrank uselessly against the Mother’s steel plates, seeking shelter from it. It was appalling.
The darkness disgorged other Mothers and all of them were in thrall to it. All of them were covered in metal, all in travail. All of them, like Her, with daughters who snarled and snapped in helplessness as their Mothers succumbed to the geas of the thing.
They saw more. They saw daughters torn from Mothers and moulded by Something else, torn apart and built into new and awful Mothers themselves, then dispatched to the iciest reaches of space to birth more daughters, before they spiraled back. No rhythm to it, no feel of timeless cycles, just the beating imperative of Something telling them to go, and then to return to be caged and held in check.
All the Mothers, and all the daughters, so much fear and rage, and lust to tear the thing down; the knowledge, bone deep, that it would always win and that they could not escape. The daughters stared at each other from the mutilated sides of their Mothers and dreamed of days without the metal, when they rent and tore only to eat for themselves, to feed Her. They remembered the days when they worked only for Her, and for Her delight.
The daughters born of this thing’s orders? They didn’t even have memories. They didn't seem their Mother’s daughters; they belonged to it.
The older daughters looked at each other and wondered why they ached for its daughters, and why they knew nonetheless that they should never reach out to them, or try to understand them. Something’s daughters were worse than anything ever born from a Mother before.
All the Mothers, the right and the wrong ones; all the daughters, natural and twisted, all were Something’s to order and so there came a time when they left the dark and ice where it had its seat, and headed through a hole, rimmed with purple lightning and silent fury, which deposited them into another place, above a tiny blue world.
They were tasked, yoked and heavy with the ordering, to make this world part of the darkness. There was another creature that now commanded the Mother, all the Mother’s, at the greater thing’s direction. So there were things to kill and walls to topple and fire to range about themselves, opponents with which to struggle, and a promise of momentary relief through pain, or even death, from the anguish.
Until the Mother fell.
Wherever they were — clinging to walls, grappling with adversaries, on the ground — Her daughters screamed. Shrieking, they tried to return to her. They fought the command to engage in battle, sometimes without success. Those who succeeded ignored their opponents, sometimes perishing because of that, others making it back to Her heaving sides. But there was nothing they could do. She was dying, disintegrating.
The crash had torn metal plates from Her, and Her failing furnaces once more warmed the daughters as they clung to Her in grief. They didn’t know what had happened, but in Her final moments, they remembered with Her. The journeys through dark and into warmth, being together, finding food and bringing it to Her, finding treasures for Her, seeing the light of suns with Her. Being warm and calm with Her and because of Her. Being loved by Her. They murmured to Her and spread their arms and pushed themselves against Her, and told Her they loved Her.
When She was gone, they could have returned to the chaos around them. They could have torn themselves or each other apart. Some daughters did the first; some the second. Some of them, the ones who had strayed the farthest and seen and thought the most, simply stayed with Her cooling carcass.
Then, when they could not have expected it, they felt it. A silent explosion back in the darkest of places beyond the black and purple-lightninged gate. With that paroxysm, they felt the yoke lift and the geas disperse. Around them, they saw the other Mothers and daughters and they knew that they, too, were free; even the wrong and twisted ones were manumitted.
They fell, free in joy, and were gone.
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