|EVENT: Pushback: Cleaning Up NYC|
|What: A handful of heroes - some less likely than others - track down a distribution center for tainted drugs. NEWS STORY: Drug Raid Nets Millions|
It's been difficult to dig out information about where the over-powered cocaine and other drugs are coming from - people seem genuinely terrified. Like: please, let me help you cut off my fingers! That's not common, coming from street level thugs in a city like New York where it's so easy to disappear and get clear.
What does the trick in the end is simple observation. There's a container terminal out in Brooklyn with a red cat logo on the passes. It's distinctive and some of the yahoos our heroes track down are too dumb to take the pass off the mirror when they're not working there. Amazingly, it's called... Red Cat Container Terminal. It's the only one of its kind down that way, isolated, a little shabby, and sprawling at the same time.
All day, it looks pretty legitimate. There's security and even some friendly police officers who wave as they drive by. Business is... busy. At night, though, there's even more activity. And that's when it gets weird. There's a lot of small boats coming into one of the far slips - one that doesn't see much action all day - and the lights in one of the low buildings burn into the night.
Spider-Girl has been watching this place for most of the day to get a feel for it. Sure, it's mind-numbingly boring, but hey -- she's got a black costume and can tuck up into shadowy corners to keep an eye on things, so she might as well make herself useful. Now that it's getting darker, though, she's emerged to prowl along the neighboring rooftops to get a better look around.
Spider-Girl's eyes fall upon the lone lit building and her lips quirk into a small smile. She reaches up to turn on her earpiece -- thank you, Ms. Cabe. |"I think we're onto something. Laura, whereabouts are you lurkin'?"|
Luke Cage is here with a knit cap pulled low and generally dressed like a dock worker - carharts, work boots, ratty t-shirt. He's carrying a heavy looking crate, and generally meandering about with it, never lingering too long in one place, but generally making it look like he belongs here, and is busy moving things about. If only he knew the others had tracked this place down too! He should probably set up that twitter account Spider-Girl kept hounding him about...
Laura doesn't entirely understand the whole... drugs 'thing', so to speak. Fortunately, now that she's decided to pick back up on Freelancing on her own terms, she does not explicitly NEED to. Her wider-in-the-world friends suggested it would be a good choice of job, and she trusted the advice enough to take it. Once THAT was settled... well. X-23 does the job. And then she gets paid. That's how it works.
She's managed to work her way through the night to a hiding place by the building, shrouded in a patch of darkness, wearing her now-ubiquitous sleeveless jumpsuit and equipment harness. She sniffs the air as Anya pipes up into her ear, and taps her comm to turn it on and murmurs quietly. |"Tucked up against the wall. Careful. I smell... something. Animals. Don't recognize them."|
Gambit's idea of a stakeout is to put up a few wireless cameras, set them to broadcast to a laptop, and hide in an empty container. He naps for most of the day, waking up from time to time to rewind the footage and watch it in fast-forward. Nothing really interesting until after sundown.
Now that he has shadows for cover, he's taken to the rooftops as well. He's perched on the edge of a utility shack, his eyes on the same building. |"I don't like animals,"| he admits. |"So, we kick down de door or we sneakin' in?"|
The work carries on, the thugs and hirelings oblivious to the presence of watchers. They are very much aware, though, of some long, black limousines that pull in through a side entrance. Men emerge from these in clouds of cigar smoke and scotch fumes. They disappear into the single lit building. Then, a sleek craft slides into dock, eliciting a wild scurry of workers, as though the queen bee were arriving. A gangplank is brought out, lights are brought, doors are swung open, and then large men - perhaps they're men - begin the march up to dry land.
|"Animals?"| Spider-Girl was not expecting to hear that. The heck kind of operation is this? She gives her head a bit of a shake before she scans the area again, then perks. |"Let me go consult our muscle,"| she muses, then she goes darting through the shadows to get closer to a certain familiar-looking dock worker.
Hanging upside-down from a line of webbing, Spider-Girl iiiiinches down behind Luke. "Pssssst," she whispers, waggling a spare earpiece at him. "Luke. My friends and I are here to help you pwn faces," she says, pronouncing it 'pown.' "How you wanna do this?"
Luke jumps, only slightly. He's not particularly jumpy though, so he doesn't drop the box or anything. He just grunts, which is an indication that she caught him completely off guard. "Oh hey, thanks." He one-hands the crate that looks like it should probably be on a forklift (which is sort of is), and pops the ear bud in. |"Uh, hey, check check? I was thinking wait till they all get inside, knock the door down and bust some heads. How many we got here?"| Master tactician, at work. Don't distract him.
In typical Laura fashion, regardless of Luke's answer to the thief's question, X-23 considers stealthy entrance options. Doors are watched. Windows almost as much so. Ventilation ducts... very less-so. She skulks around until she finds an outlet, carves off whatever grates or fans she needs to, and shimmies on in. It is times like this, she has learned, that being an extremely small, slender person yields avenues no-one thinks to check.
"Oooh..." Gambit mutters to himself as what appear to be the big wigs arrive. "Dis should be good."
Like Laura, he's already making his own approach. He leaps from his perch, lands in a crouch, and rolls into a shadow in one smooth motion. Whisper-quiet, he ghosts up to the building and shinnies up a drain pipe. When he reaches the roof, he paces around the perimeter and peers over the edge until he finds a spot that's to his liking. Whistling breathlessly (see: quietly) he pulls a cable and spool from inside his coat. The cable is looped around an air conditioning unit and the spool is hooked securely to his utility belt. |"No idea,"| he finally replies. |"Dat's part of de fun."|
What Laura smells in the ventilation shaft is unpleasant. Burnt chemicals, sweat, anxiety, and animals again, stronger. Not just mammals but reptiles, even amphibians. The scents range from the musk of big cats to the acrid smell of something secreted from wet skin.
Voices inside range as widely as the scents. There are mostly men, a few women, and then the low cough of big cats.
The men coming up the ramp and to the house look less like men by the moment. They're wearing hoodies but their faces protrude beyond the hoods, jutting forward like wedge-shaped muzzles. Behind them, a person completely swathed in fabric. She moves like a woman, though, the sway of hips is unmistakeable. They make their entrance into the building and the doors are pulled closed behind them. Four of the 'men' remain outside, two at the door and two now on patrol around the building.
|"Four of us,"| Spider-Girl notes as she zips back up her line and onto the rooftops. She'll follow Luke's approach from up there, keeping low and moving quiet. |"More of them. Don't know how many more, but when's that ever stopped us?"|
Spider-Girl peers after the group that's gone inside and frowns thoughtfully. Right. |"I'll nip the dudes at the door,"| she notes. |"Laura, can you get the patrols?"|
There's just enough time given for a response before a pair of THWIPs sound, and the two men at the door suddenly find their faces full of webbing. Spider-Girl plants her feet and gives a good, hard yank. C'mon up, fellas!
Luke moves up towards the main building in question and pretends not to notice when one of the guys on patrol moves to intercept him. Before he reaches the guy, he chuckles low and keys his mic, |"Heh, watch this..."| Everything about Luke's posture says he's carrying a crate full of cotton candy. Or packing peanuts with one cool thing inside. But probably cotton candy. Because that gets shipped in big crates.
"Oh hey," he says when the guy gets him to stop.
"You don't need to be down here," he says to Cage.
"Damn, seriously? I could have sworn the work order said this dock. Here, hold this a sec while I check the manifest..." And without waiting for a response, he just hands the guy a 1000 lb crate. Capitalizing on the natural human response to be helpful, Cage grins as the man collapses under the weight. Mostly it's just trapping his legs, so Luke reaches across and knocks the man out to keep him from calling for help. |"Heh."|
Laura doesn't like what she's smelling at all. |"Negative. Already inside. Big cats. I don't think they're happy. Some kind of reptiles. Smells awful,"| she reports quietly, and pulls herself smoothly and quietly through the ductwork until she can find a grating too peer through that will give her a decent spot to drop from once Luke really gets rolling.
Gambit rolls his shoulders, cracks his neck, and shifts his feet impatiently. Like a racehorse at the starting gate, he's ready to do the damn thing. During his fidgeting, he cranes his neck to watch Luke's work and to keep his eye on the other patrolling guard. |"Nice. But watch dis, mon ami,"| he chuckles as he pulls an infrared rangefinder from one of his many pockets. It's pointed at the ground, the appropriate length is set on his cable spool, and then he leaps off the roof.
Timed perfectly, the cable unwinds along with his descent and brings him to a gentle halt right behind the patroller. Gambit loops an arm around the man's neck, both legs around his waist, and triggers the retractor on his spool. In seconds, they're back on the roof and the guard has been quietly choked out.
|"And done,"| the thief chuckles as he uses zip ties to make sure his captive won't be going anywhere. |"So we goin' in or what?"|
The guard Luke strikes is out - briefly. As Luke straightens, the crate goes rolling off into the dark and the man scrambles his feet, pushing back his hood. Then he swipes at Luke with a huge paw tipped with needle claws.
Yeah, that's not a human. Not even an ugly human. Just... not human at all. Black, flat lizard head, glittering eyes, and a very bad temper. Limping, hissing, and furious.
The guard Remy captured twists and kicks, fighting the ziptie. It's an awkward position to pull from but by the look of him, he's going to break loose. Anya has a little better luck because she's webbed up their faces, but the two are gnashing their sharp teeth and thrashing to get free. All this time, they're eerily quiet save for the crash of boots on the roof as Remy's guard drums his heels in a rapid tattoo.
Laura can catch glimpses of a scramble inside, brightly coloured uniforms flash by below her, hissing and soft grunting rises, a big cat bellows in protest, and men shout. She can hear guns being drawn, shotguns being racked, and the crash as something goes over.
|"Oh, this is good."| Was that Spider-Girl's out-loud voice? As soon as she's realized it isn't a Standard Goon Duo she's dealing with, her initial plan is abandoned. She releases the webline in favor of launching herself towards the two doormen(?), hoping to land a pair of swift, solid kicks to their respective heads and put them down for the count. Quickly. If these things are outside, then they'll be inside too, and that means... |"Laura? Be careful. I think you're smelling their goons."|
|"Ok, not bad, Frenchy. You win this round."| Luke shakes his head, grinning, until his guy suddenly lunges at him. "What the... Oh /hell/ no!" He looks down as the lizard-man shreds his shirt, but scrapes uselessly against his hardened skin and just loses his shit. He leaps at the creature using all of his fighting prowess now to land blow after blow, punctuating each face-punch with commentary. "Do. You. Have. ANY. Idea. How much. I spend. ON SHIRTS?!"
Laura makes a noncommital 'Mmmm' noise of acknowledgment at Anya's warning, and reconsiders her approach. After some thought, she pops her claws, and cuts the section of duct she's in so it plummets to the floor. Anyone with half a brain would not normally drop themselves fromt he ceiling inside a duct. This is why, despite a teeth-rattling landing, Laura fully expects them to be looking *up* when she shoots out of the fallen ductwork like a greased mongoose.
|"What de hell?"| Remy says incredulously. |"Dis thing look half-gator to me. Stay away from de mouth! De bites might make you sick."|
No more time for chatter. He pulls his staff from inside his coat and triggers it to its four-foot configuration. It makes a satisfying, metallic popping sound as it telescopes out. Then, gripping it at one end with both hands like a baseball bat, he takes a mighty swing at the lizard-thing's head. The staff is further accelerated by his kinetic powers. It's moving fast enough that the impact could tear a hole in a steel door.
Remy's blow takes the creature off the roof. Gone. He arcs outward far enough that he lands in the water.. What condition he's in remains to be seen. Luke's punches drill his man down and it claws and bites until it's definitely down for the count this time. This is why their mamas lay so many eggs! Also, they have no idea, Luke. Their shoes? Velcro fasteners.
Anya manages to stun her pair somewhat and then her attention is drawn to the doors flying open not ten feet away from her. There's more of these lizards running out and men with just about every kind of gun ranging from a heavy caliber revolver to semi-automatic rifles to big shotguns.
The scuffle has drawn attention from elsewhere. A regular thug is gunning a heavy truck toward the area, aiming it at the biggest thing around - Luke. Other thugs and minions are headed this way.
Inside, Laura is confronted with four of the black lizard men. More interesting, though, are the lithe, bright creatures - sort of human - climbing the walls. They are twisting to watch her as they clamber up over head, hands and feet sticking to every surface. There are, indeed, a pair of big cats in this room as well. Jaguars. Their heavy chains are in the hand of the cloaked figure who holds them back easily.
Spider-Girl whirls around when the door opens, and her eyes do a fair attempt at becoming as large as the white eyes on her mask. |"Guns,"| she says, the word quick and slightly high-pitched. She is not bulletproof, people, and when you are a member of the Mighty Mutanimals, why would you need a shotgun? Come on, man, PICK A GIMMICK.
Without thinking, Spider-Girl latches onto the nearest stunned lizardman and hurls him bodily towards the crowd rushing out the doorway. Without waiting to see if her aim is any good, she starts sprinting -- towards them. This is what separates her from sane, non-costumed New Yorkers. She's agile and fast and these guys look pretty stupid. Maybe she can get them to shoot at her while she's bouncing between them and get them to thin out their own numbers for her.
|"Going to be busy in here,"| Laura notes in a wholly dispassionate tone before she lets herself settle into focusing on the issues at hand. The ones on the walls are going to be a problem-- she can tell. The big ones she has speed and size on and they don't seem to be quite as observant. She doesn't waste time on quips or niceites. She just goes low, and her hands flicker briefly with the glint of metal when she pops a claw for the half-second it takes to attempt to hamstring one of the big ones. It is the fastest and most effective way to solve Large and Hulking when you're her size. And have, you know... claws. Right.
WHAM! In the final feet before the truck barrels into him, Luke's brain makes some mental leaps and suddenly realizes this isn't going to work out. Yes, the truck is badly damaged. Yes, it's now undrivable. Also, Luke is sent flying 50 feet through the air to crash right into the collection of gunmen out front. One of them is probably knocked clean out from having a 300 lb bag of meat (Luke) fall on him. Meanwhile, Luke is shaking his head and groggily getting to his feet as half a dozen guys all open up on him with a variety (the spice of life) of guns. SO LOUD! He's not in any real trouble, but hey, they're distracted!
This carefully orchestrated attack has not only gone awry, now they're subject to a counterattack. Gambit groans. |"Dis not part of de plan,"| he grumbles into his mic. From his vantage point, he can see the fights that Luke and Spider-Girl are engaged in. He can even assist. He stows his staff, digs out a stack of playing cards, and gets to charging and throwing. Every time one of the baddied gets to close to one of his buddies, Gambit sends an explosive card their way. At this distance, it's a breeze for him to dodge gunfire. As long as it's only coming from one gun.
|"I don't have eyes on you, Laura,"| he calls. |"How you doing in dere?"|
Oh, Luke. You're the life of the party. There's a party in what's left of your pants, that's for sure. As Luke's staggering to his feet, the men realize that he's... not going down. That's not polite, Luke! They're also being thinned out by Gambit's cards. That's suboptimal. After the fourth of their group goes sailing through the air when Gambit strikes again, they scatter and leave Luke in the middle of nowhere, on his own.
Spider-Girl's intial assault is effective. Less so when the men scatter and dive behind cover to fire at her - it's only cover as far as she's concerned. Remy has a good shot at their backs. The stunned lizardman behind Spider-Girl shakes his head and rolls to his knees. Others of his kind don't bother being all tactical. They just charge flat out at Spider-Girl, three of them.
Back in the building, the woman with the great cats -- and those shadows behind her aren't shadows, they're just creatures standing very still -- signals to one of her Darts. The creature opens the window and peers out to see Luke, her thin, black tongue flickering. She twists through the narrow space and, gathering herself, springs for him.
Laura takes out one of the big creatures, the others leap for her with some skill but without any wisdom at all. They try and swarm her, piling on, biting and clawing wildly. Another Dart creeps up through the ventilation shaft Laura used to enter.
Spider-Girl blinks in surprise when Luke comes plowing into the guncritters, even as she's laying an uppercut into another one's chin. Then the little explosions start, and, well... |"I love team-ups,"| she notes happily, even as the gunners take cover and open up on her. It's a damned good thing that she's agile and paying attention, because she starts leaping and twisting through the air to try and keep their focus on her so that Remy can deal with them. She feels a familiar flash of pain and burning as a shot grazes her arm, but she grits her teeth and keeps moving. She's had worse. |"You okay inside?"|
Spider-Girl lands in a crouch and looks up as the three goons come rushing at her. She just blinks, fires off a line of webbing from her good arm, waits... and then tries to /yank/ herself up and out of the way at the last moment, leaving them to collide in a big old pile of claws and dumb. "YOINK!"
Luke looks thoroughly disappointed when the gunners skedaddle. When he starts to chase after them though, the Dart lands on his back and he spins, confused about what exactly he's dealing with. It's claws still can't break his skin, and it's protected from acids, who knows what else it can do. Plus, it's "Ass, Cash or Grass, no one rides for free!" he's yelling. What? Luke is unsuccessful at trying to grab the thing off his back and finally just charges the wall of the building, jumps at the last second and twists to aim his back at the wall, hoping to crush the Dart between him and the wall. But he's already getting googly-eyed. Things... are about to get weird.
|"Working on it,"| Laura bites out. There's a lot of noise over her com, of course. At this point, there's no finesse to be had. They bite her, they claw her, and she lets them, punching and kicking with no real restraint involved where her claws are concerned. She stabs, claws, and-- especially in the case of her toeclaws-- rends until they stop, trusting the wounds to heal.
|"I'm going in after her,"| Gambit informs his teammates. Then, dialing in an approximate distance on his cable spool, he makes his most reckless move yet. He jumps over the roof for a second time, but he's not headed toward the ground. In fact, he leaps out as far as possible, so that when he hits the end of his cable he swings inward. Toward a window. He's very lucky he got the distance right.
CRASH! He smashes coat-first through the glass and detaches the spool from his belt just in time to keep himself from being yanked back outside. He stands, brushes himself off, and heads toward the sounds of carnage.
The thugs are done. All done. Remy is like having a Howitzer mounted on the roof. They can't see him in the dark until he lights up, then he's gone and - honestly - no one has run off to try and find a search light. They weren't prepared for this. They're fleeing. Some are simply booking it, the guys in suits are piling back into their limousines.
Remy's jump may have seemed foolhardy but it saved him from the Dart slipping up behind him. It also startles the ones preparing to drop on Laura and elicits a laugh from the woman in the cloak. She'd been quite interested in Laura's destruction of her lizard minions. They are remarkably tough -- even coming apart, they continue to try and smother Laura -- but she's disabled them and only needs to get out from all the gore and meat to find her feet. The lady's jaguars scream and lunge at the end of their chains but she still has no trouble holding them back. The shadows behind her stand motionless, even now.
Spider-Girl is up and out of there, into some blissfully bullet-free air. She's got a great view of Luke, who should be discovering that everything is against him, no one loves him, his hands are made of rubber, and also... conspiracies. Everywhere! The crazy is full on him. The Dart has leapt free of him and scrambles up the roof to join her sister.
If Spider-Girl wasn't bleeding, she'd feel /pretty awesome/ right nhahahahaha just kidding y'all, she feels awesome anyway. She hits the wall beneath her webline's anchor and sticks there, taking a moment to quickly check out her wound before making a face and covering it up with webbing to stem the bleeding for now. Ow. Ow. Ow.
|"Guns are down outside,"| Spider-Girl reports into the com, and she's already crawling towards the door, blissfully unaware of Luke's currently altered state. |"Let's go help out inside, big guy."|
Lucky for everyone, Luke has a pretty sturdy metabolism, and the problems about to crop really shouldn't go too long. But still. When Luke stands up from crashing against the wall, the expression on his face really looks like someone should draw the twilight zone swirly pattern in his eyes. An escalating, wordless shout rips from his mouth as the rush fully takes hold in his system. Casting about for the first thing he can see, he finds Spider-Girl. How can he trust some freak in a mask? He can't! She's ebil, EBIL!
He sprints at the girl, madness in his eyes and foam in his mouth as he spreads his arms wide, ready to grab her in a bear hug.
Is the bitch queen still interested? Because Laura doesn't look too happy when she manages to get to her feet out of the pile. She's bloody-- and some of it's hers. Her exposed face and arms are criss-crossed with angry red cuts-- which are closing with a speed that is entirely visible as she drags herserlf to her feet-- and she doesnt' seem to be feeling any side effects of the scuffle. Most of all, she's looking right at the ringleader and her kittens with what is best described as an amused predator's grin when she pops her handclaws in a pretty clear threat/promise.
No pithy quips or anything. Laura's not good at those. Bring it.
A purple flare behind Laura illuminates Gambit's face. He's charged a playing card and is using it to light a cigarette. Now that he's on site, his concern has vanished. Despite and intense desire to kick some ass, he doesn't attempt to intervene. If there's one thing he's learned from bunking with four teenagers, it's that they like to Do It Themselves.
All the same, he pulls out his staff. Just in case. "Get her, kiddo," he urges Laura.
Luke is about to be best friends of huggy-slaughter-time with Anya. He is -fast-. There's Luke's usual fast, and then there's this crazy-hyped new Luke. He would be awesome in a fight, if one could only get him to fight the bad guys.
The woman watching finally moves, gesturing to the shadows behind her as her Darts, dripping poisons, drop down on Laura from above. Two Darts, then two more sliding out of the vent Laura opened for them leap at Remy. They are strong and fast and silent.
The shadows part the back wall of the building in a simple move, as though they were opening a door, great clawed hands piercing the drywall and steel siding. Quick observation reveals that these are probably massive versions of the lizard thugs that came in with the lady. It's likely they were waiting here with the cats. The woman draws the cats along with her and makes a stately exit, the massive lizard hulks closing behind her like a wall to intercept any attempt at an attack. They are fast, wise, and impervious.
Inside, there are four Darts, Remy, Laura, and -soon.gif- Anya. Trucking up behind Anya - and Luke - are another half-dozen of the lizard thugs, these ones soaking wet and not even pretending to be human.
It's a good thing Spider-Girl looked up to check on Luke when no response came to her question, because it means she sees him coming. She lets out a high-pitched |"/Madre de Dios/!"| and goes /scrambling/ through the doorway to try and escape. She goes sprinting inside, on the ceiling, no doubt with RAGE CAGE and an army of angry lizard thugs hot on her heels.
Normally, Spider-Girl is not one to swear. But as she runs as hard as her strength and fear will allow, her steps are punctuated with a high-pitched "SHITSHITSHITSHITSHITSHIT--" that does not stop even as she comes tearing into the otherwise very tense Showdown Room Proper.
Cage does indeed come tearing after Anya, crazy-eyes and all. He's moving like a freight train, and only has eyes for her. After all, she's the only one with a mask. Can't trust these masked vigilantes! He goes barreling past all of the standoff participants, easily interceptable, but totally focused, and somehow /gaining/ on Spider-Girl. Yeah. This is probably bad.
Guile's Theme goes with everything. This apparently includes small mutant assassins, because Laura-- there is no other way to describe it-- smells the Darts dropping and Flash Kicks into the air, flipping upwards with a glittering arc of adamantine blades in a sort of cartwheel motion and a ragey shout of frustration for the lady getting away. Poor Darts. You know, anger transference is just not fair.
The appearances of two Darts, Spider-Girl, a crazed-looking Luke, and even -more- lizard thugs has Gambit looking alarmed, to say the least. He can't throw his playing card without hitting anybody important, so he tosses it out the window where it can detonate safely. That's when he sees Cage headed right for him. "Luke. Luke! OHSHIT!"
He tucks and rolls out of the way. Then, still in a crouch, he thrusts his staff out and between Luke's legs to trip him up. "Calm down, big guy!"
Laura neatly kills one Dart and wounds the other critically. It twists and bounds and throws itself out a window, leaving its blue sibling in a pool of blood on the floor. The Darts that had been attacking Remy leap through the same window and make their escape. In a brief moment of clarity, the caiman thugs slide to a halt, survey the corpses of their brethren, pivot, and flee for the welcoming waters of the river. ...some people flush lizards, apparently others loose full-grown lizardmen.
Remy manages to trip Luke and the big guy goes over with a crash, right into a pile of tightly bricked cocaine. It's gonna be a long night, kids.
In other circumstances, it would be comical, really, the way Spider-Girl is clinging to a light fixture on the ceiling and staring wide-eyed down towards the others. /She'd/ be laughing if she could see herself. But there are bodies, and lots and lots of drugs, and goons escaping, and... well.
"Ms. Cabe doesn't need to know all the details, right?" Spider-Girl calls down towards Laura, sounding -- for once -- her age. Mom doesn't need to know they got into a fender bender, right? What she doesn't know won't kill her.