|EVENT: No Day At The Beach|
|What: The campus of Empire State University, and in particular the Electronics Lab is menaced by a most unlikely granular villain...|
The long autumn has well and truly begun on the island of Manhatten and with perhaps the exception of Central Park, no place demonstrates that more clearly then the campus of Empire State University. The leaves have already begun their annual change of color, fewer and fewer greens in evidence in an increasing sea of reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Already almost as many leaves dot the grassy lawns that lay between a number of the buildings as do cling to the overhead branches and every brisk wind seems to send a dozen more spiraling downward, caught up in the draft and blown here and there. It is not so much cold yet as brisk, pleasant during the day when the sun is shining -- like this day -- and perhaps a trifle chilly after the sun sinks down.
The campus teems with activity, students making their way across the paths and lawn, headed to and from class, many sprawled out under one tree or another. And in that sea of people, Peter Parker wanders alongside a half dozen of his classmates, a short stack of books tucked under one arm and a bulging backpack draped over his shoulder. While the others might talk animatedly amongst themselves, the dark haired teen has a more distant expression, a thoughtful look on his face and blinking to clear his thoughts when one of his friends snaps fingers in front of his face to bring him back to the hear and now.
Hugh Dawkins, tall guy from Austrailia with red hair, is just visiting the campus today. He's an engineer himself and one of his old friends is currently a professor. He's on his way to a meeting with them while on a quick visit to New York City for some business relating to his more fuzzy persona. But right now all he has to keep him warm is a the jacket he's got on as he makes his way to the building where his friend is going to meet him. He can't help but smile at all the students though, happy to see young minds getting an education...or not in some cases. He wasn't exactly a goody-two-shoes when it came to his university days.
There's another person wandering the campus of ESU today. But they aren't a student. Not exactly...
"Yes, I know I made that promise, but..." is said into her phone as Kate Bishop wanders from one building to another on campus, alone in the 'crowd' so to speak. "Look, the semester just started, so I /can't/ go there right now. Yes I know it looks bad if I don't go right away, and that I didn't go right away, and that I'm 19 now, but...."
She pulls the phone away from her ear for a moment and glances at it, shaking her head as the other person all but shouts at her through the phone.
"Look, I already have things set up for /next semester/ at Harvard, Yale, ESU, and a few others. All I gotta do is pick and go. And considering how high profile some of my charity work has been, no one should make a big deal about it. heck Daddy, your people have been using it in your company documents as a sort of advertising... Besides, I'm at ESU right now looking around, just like you wanted."
All things considered, Peter definitely falls into the former category. For the most part, thus far, he has managed to be fairly diligent about his school work despite his extra-curricular activity. Of course, that is usually what happens when you dump your girlfriend. You end up with a lot of extra time on your hands. Time that he has managed to mostly fill with his class assignments -- probably one of the reasons that thus far Peter's reputation as a science nerd is well and truly alive. But it is not his reputation that has him on edge today. Nor is it his attractive lab partner who is trying to both catch and keep his attention for more then a few seconds at a time. No, every few seconds Peter glances around, shoulders hunching ever so slightly.
"What is it with you this afternoon Pete? I would have guessed it was that you're carrying a half-ton of books in that backpack of yours but you were almost as squirmy in Profession Miller's lecture too," his blonde lab partner comments with a shake of her head.
"Sorry, I know, I know," Peter agrees, forcing himself to ignore that faint buzzing at the base of his neck. Glancing over towards her, he smiles, "And I know, we have that report to finish. Once I get a little coffee into me I'll be my normal, focused self, promise," he offers up as they walk along the winding path that weaves past the Engineering building. But even as he makes that promise one of the windows up ahead of them about fifteen feet suddenly explodes outwards followed an instant later by the second beside it. Glass rains down on the interlocking brick path along with a trickle of... sand?
That can't be good...
Hugh's just reaching for the door when those windows start exploding. Jumping, Hugh turns and stares. "Bloody hell's goin' on?" he wonders aloud. He frowns, approaching carefully and trying to get a better look into those exploded windows.
Isn't that the way things like this go...? You go out, out of costume and all chaos breaks loose. And while it is theoretically possible to but a collapsible bow that is pretty good, how can anyone really go around carrying a quiver full of arrows...?
Oh well, as those windows start exploding, Kate suddenly ends her phone call. If her dad asks later she'll have to find a way to explain away why, but for now, that's a non-issue.
Then, she reaches into her backpack and pulls out what looks like a pair of sunglasses, and sticks them on. And then a 'scarf' that she wraps around her neck, before she starts to reach for something else in said bag.
But what that third thing is, isn't clear just yet.
It is impossible to know exactly what is going on and the windows are a little too high up for the casual viewer to peek through. There is no explosion, no shaking or loud noise aside from the shattering of glass and no objects come along with the spray of shards that paint the walkway up ahead suggesting that something has been tossed through the window. Still, windows don't usually explode outwards all on their own. Definitely something worth looking into for people who are into that sort of thing.
Of all his friends, Peter is the only one with a real notion of just what the problem could actually be. But then when the windows blow outwards, that nagging little buzz at the base of his neck balloons into a full out throbbing. The smart thing to do is to run away from danger. In that, Peter has to surrender his genius badge. "Woah," he says, stopping short and immediately, instinctively shielfing the two closest to him, arms outstretched. "I don't think it's safe here. You guys better go," he urges insistently, though not taking his own advice. Instead he jerks open his backback, beginning to rummage around in it.
"Pete? What are you doing? Let's go!" his lab partner urges as she begins to back away from the building with the rest of the group.
"Go ahead, I'll meet you at the Commons in 15. My boss will kill me if I don't try to get a few photos," he says, still rummaging about in the cluttered bag. "Where are... ah ha!" he says, yanking out his camera case and turning to start sprinting for the entrance to the building, glancing back over his shoulder. "Fifteen minutes. Promise," he calls out. What are the odds that he manages to keep that promise?
Probably made a little less likely at least when a third window suddenly blows out, a booming voice shouting, "Where is it? Next time I don't punch a hole in the window Doc. I put one through you!"
Yeah... definitely not good.
"Not good," Hugh sighs. Time to get to work. He frowns when he sees someone dashing for the building but he's headed right behind them. Hoping to not get any attention his way, he's ducking into an empty room as soon as he can. "Hate doin' this part," Hugh grumbles, making sure there's no way he can be seen before starting to strip down. Once that step is out of the way, Hugh Dawkins transforms into the Justice League's own Tasmanian Devil. He stuffs his clothes into his bag and hides it before dashing out into the halls and making his way towards the room where all the windows are getting smashed.
And what is it that the /partially/ costumed masked vigilante known as Hawkeye pulls out of her bag? A pair of white staves. In fact it's the same staves she normally carries around (but rarely uses) when she's fully in costume.
But either way, as she rushes into the building, and down the hallway, she ends up right at the doorway to the room that threat is coming from as it's made. If the door is open, she stands there for a moment in plain view as she takes in the situation. If it isn't, she tries to open it just enough so that she can get some idea what's going on before she charges in.
For the most part the only people to worry about are those coming /out/ of the building. A slow but steady stream of people emerge from the Engineering building, pouring out onto the steps out front and flooding down onto the lawn, watching the building anxiously as yet another window proves to be a casualty of whatever is going on within. And while a few people call out to Hugh and Peter respectively, warning them against entering, no one tries to actively stop them. For her part, Hawkeye just gets odd glances, people shying away. You can't be too careful with strange vigilantes afterall.
For his part, Peter isn't all that concerned about who else might be entering the building. But then he makes the erroneous assumption that anyone with good sense is getting out. Or perhaps that is his erroneous assumption -- that he is the only one lacking in that particular trait. Either way, he runs no more then ten or fifteen feet down the corridor before darting into an empty classroom as he hurriedly shucks his own things, mask tugged down over his features. And then he is back out into the hallway, leaping upwards to grasp and then crawl along the ceiling nimbly as he rapidly makes his way towards the commotion.
Nor is it hard to find that disturbance, the noise plainly coming from inside the main engineering lab as another crash sounds within, something else broken in the escalating fit that a certain someone is pitching inside. "My patience has just 'bout run out Doc and that means your time has too. If I gotta tear this place apart..." he begins right about the time that Spider-Man tries to push open the door. But he has moved it no more then an inch or two when something incredibly solid slams against the other side massively, hurling it back into place. "Private discussion. Stay out," comes the rough voice from the other side.
Taz arrives in time to see the door fail to open. Keen senses picking up on Hawkeye and Spider-Man, the Justice League member cracks his knuckles. "Can't say I know who ya both are but if you're here to lend a hand, how 'bout letting me get the door," he suggests, growing taller and more muscled. Once he's his full height, Taz reaches out to just yank the door right off its hinges.
So Hawkeye had to fight a crowd rushing the other way to get in, even if they were trying to avoid her. Understood.
But anyways, as the door fails to open, and even Spider-Man has trouble with it.... (And yes, Hawkeye does a double take as he shows up practically next to her and tries to open the door) She shakes her head. Only to blink and step out of the way as Taz arrives and does what he can to open said door.
"Please, be my guest." is said even as she prepares to rush right in once the door is dealt with.
The door is a solid on and the older building was plainly built to last -- but none of that means anything next to the Tasmanian Devil's strength. The door comes off its hinges with a loud crack, a little mortar dust rising up into the air where it is wrtched free as the lab beyond is revealled. Or at least what remains of one. In addition to the blown out windows a number of work benches have been upended, spraying their contents everywhere. As much glass is out on the walkway is at least matched by the amount scattered across the floor within the lab. A number of machines have been smashed to their base components at a shattered computer monitor sparks in one corner of the room. Two men stand in the room -- or at least one stands, the other cowers in front of one of those overturned work desks, a cut on his face, his features frightened but defiant. The other man in a distinctive green striped shirt whirls at the sound of the door being ripped off it's hinges.
"Too slow to get what a private discussion means? We're in a place of learning. Let me edjucate ya," he says before that arm stretches impossibly, rippling like sand on a beach before an impossibly large fist takes a swipe at the Devil... and anyone else who lingers in the doorway.
"Hey, it's you again," Spider-Man exclaims towards Hawkeye as he steps aside for the Tasmanian Devil, letting him do the honors. "I almost didn't recognize you. New scarf right? What do you think? Should I add a scarf to my costume? Or do you figure I'm not much of an accessories kinda guy?" he asks, presumably with a straight face though the mask does make it kinda hard to tell. Either way, he is quickly distracted when his masked gaze swings back to the ruins of the lab -- and more specifically the man standing within. "Awwww, c'mon, not this guy..." he groans just an instant before taking to th eceiling again to dodge that steel-like fist. He knows just how much densely packed sand can hurt already.
And knowing is half the battle.
Taz gives a growl as he pulls the door free and tosses it gently down the hall behind him. When he ses th state of the lab, the big fuzzy hero makes a face. "Waste of a good facility," he grumbles. And then he sees who's in the lab. Spider-Man's quips are ignored for th moment, Taz getting struck but only stumbling back. "Dunno who ya are, mate, but I suggest givin' up."
No. Hawkeye doesn't linger. Not as that hand reacts to the door opening. Or at least she tries to get clear by jumping forward and trying to slide under the oncoming hand. But unfortunately her foot gets caught anyways. And while she doesn't want to admit it, especially as she tries to pull her foot clear, Kate has a sinking suspicion that things aren't going to be getting much better for her right now, especially considering how 'under equipped' she is when compared to usual.
In truth the Sandman is probably more then a little disappointed that his punch doesn't manage more. He is used to flattening the average guy without too much difficulty, so to only knock the Devil a step or two off stride? Not what he was expecting. Still, that twisted sneer doesn't falter, plainly not regarding any of the three a threat. "To a furry freak, a chick in a bad scarf and... *him*? I don't think so bud," he retorts, that hand seeming to flow again before lashing out, seeking to just push Tas back against the far wall. The other two are ignored entirely.
"*Him*? I only rate a *him*? I have a name you know. It's not even a particularly tough one to remember," Spider-Man offers as he crawls into the room, clinging to the ceiling. "I even wear a picture on my chest to help the especially slow and dimwitted. Like you. Now say it with me. Spiiiiiiideeeer-Maaaaan," he says, drawing out the last. And finding himself ignored. Hmmmph. "Be that way then," he says off-handedly before snaring a piece of debris with on of his web lines and jerking it through those elongated arms of Sandman -- long enouh to disrupt any hold he has on Tas. Shooting a quick look Hawkeye's way, the arachnid hero subtly jerks his head towards the apparently forgotten professor across the room.
Taz is used to that look. It's not easy to floor a massive, muscular, nine-foot tall Tasmanian Devil after all. He stalks towards the Sandman, unable to keep from smiling at Spider-Man's quipping now. The sand push gets a growl out of Taz though. He digs claws into the floor and pushes back, slowly getting pushed towards the wall. Once Spider-Man disrupts the hold, Taz leaps and swings a punch at the Sandman in hopes of flooring him.
And as she's freed (after all her leg was snagged as well), Hawkeye frowns, before she tries to rush in. For now, she doesn't say anything else. She just moves. Fast. And tries not to attract too much attention while the powered types duke it out.
After all, while the mess the place up and fight with each other, she can try to get the person Sandman was shouting at out!
"Come on!" is in fact said to that professor as she tries to get as close to him as possible. "While he's distracted!"
While the Sandman has received a nasty surprise or two at the Tasmanian Devil's unexpected strength, surprises do sometimes work both ways. So even as he gives a curse as that unrelenting pressure from his rock hard hand is disrupted, he actually laughs when he leaps at him, his head and torso just... melting out of the way leaving Tas to fly past him before reforming altogether, facing the man without turning around. "Yeah, I don't think so. I can do this all day and you're not gonna lay a hand on me. All I gotta do is catch you good, just once," he boasts, arm whirling, extending into a long, rock-hard tendril aimed towards the beat's head. "And as for you punk, no, you don't rate. You got lucky, once. Never again," he adds, presumably towards Spider-Man.
Lingering on the ceiling, Spidey just shakes his head. "You don't know. I might be a very lucky guy. I mean I have my adoring public... no, wait. Well, at least the critics like me... oh no, that's strike two. Mmmm, well I am handsomely rewarded for my good deeds... oooooh, swing and a miss. I guess I'm not lucky. But I'm not a two-time loser like you at least, Sandy," he chirps brightly, web-lines lashing out again, catching that whip-like tendril and tensing his muscles as he jerks it back hard, knocking the Sandman off stride for just a moment.
At first the man on the ground doesn't look like he wants to move, gaze fixed on Flint Marko as he tears apart the lab in his effort to battle the other two heroes. But finally Hawkeye's words stir him and he slowly gets to his feet. "No... no, I have to get what he's after first," he says, turning at once towards the nearest wall. Tugging at a book on the nearby bookcase -- one of the few not laying in a heap on the ground already -- a section of the wall slides aside revealling the safe door beyond. Corny, but apparently an effective enough hiding spot to keep a braintrust like the Sandman from finding it. "I just need a moment..."
Taz is definitely surprised and it shows on his face. He tumbles and ends up upside down against the wall, putting a brand new dent into it. "Damn," he grunts as he rights himself. Spider-Man's timely save makes it possible for Taz to dodge. He quickly shrinks down to a more normal size. He may not be as bulky but he's a lot faster now, darting forward and slashing at Sandman's midsection with his claws. "Hey, Spider-Man. How'd you beat this guy before?" he asks, guessing he did based on his conversation. "And don't feel bad about strikin' out. Have a consolation prize, I think ya look pretty good in those tights."
"Hurry up!" is all but shouted as that guy as he rushes into that hiding spot. After all, the sooner he's out of here, the sooner an 'innocent' is safe. Or at least that's what Hawkeye is trying to tell herself. Part of her wants to shout out to have the sprinklers set off, or that odds are a heat source or strong electric source can probably be found in the wreckage of this room, but she doesn't.
Instead, she gives this guy 5 more seconds before she tries to forcefully drag the professor out of here, whether he wants to or not.
"I know right? I totally am fashion mag material. And it would definitely pay better then this gig. But my agent never returns my calls," Spidey says with a much put-upon sigh. "So I guess I'm stuck taking out my feelings of failure on those people who are bigger losers then failed male models -- supervillains," he offers up as he drops off the ceiling an instant before Sandman puts his fist through the roof where he was crouched. "Now now, don't take it personally. I'm suuuure you're waaaay different then the rest of those baddies," he says in particularly condescending fashion. Ahhhh, mockery.
Jerked off-balance by Spider-Man, Flint Marko is in no position to dodge when Tas shifts forms and suddenly lunges forward. Those claws rake deep into his body... and come away with trails of sand, the 'cuts' almost immediately filling in. Again Sandman laughs harshly, flicking a gob of sand towards Tas' face -- more specifically, his eyes. "You two ain't got what it takes it take me down. 'Nd I'm gettin' tired of you trin'," he says, voice dropping to a growl. For a moment the green-shirted crook seems to... swell. Then abruptly he explodes outwards, billions of particules of sand whirling about the room, lashing the pair of heroes attempting to stop him as the miniature sandstorm whirls in the centre of the lab.
"I know, don't you think I know," the Professor replies to Hawkeye, a frantic note in his voice. An audible click sounds, the heavy vault door sliding open and the man darts inside to grab his prize... a particularly unimpressive looking black box. "Got it. Get me out of here," he says, stealing a glance towards the center of the room, mouth falling open at the sight of the sandstorm lashing Spider-Man and the Tasmanian Devil.
A moment. A moment staring is all it takes. A moment too long. At once a cry sounds from the center of that whirling sandstorm and Flint Marko reforms into one cohesive being. "So that's where ya had it stashed. You coulda saved me a lot of aggrevation..." he says, lunging towards the Professor standing in the open vault doorway...
"Male model, huh? Well there's your problem. You're not showin' nearly enough skin for that," Taz half jokes as he sees the 'cuts' refilling. He expected the sand, just not the rapid healing. Thankfully for Taz, the more bestial structure of his face keeps most of the sand away but enough gets at his eyes to send him staggering back. And then there's that sandstorm playing havok with his senses and setting his healing factor to work. "The hell is this guy?!"
And as Marko comes rushing towards the professor...
Hawkeye tries to hip check him, in an attempt to knock him and whatever he the villain is truly after clear. And yet, as she does that, she drops a stave and tries to grab something... Anything with a power chord that might still be plugged in, so that as Cain comes her way she can try to stab it at him. Sure it's a longshot, and sure it'll hurt her (probably worse), buuuut....
The mini-sandstorm is new. Plainly the Sandman has learned a few new tricks since they first met. All things considered, Spidey doesn't consider it an improvement. Indeed, the storm proves somewhat problematic. Thepunches, the waving tendrils of rock-like sand he can dodge pretty easily. There's no dodging millions of tiny grains of sand and they lash at him, eventually opening small tears in his costume leaving Spidey with a dozen or so small cuts. Ow, ow, ow. Not to mention the sewing he is going to have to do tonight. The glamorous life of... well, him. "Flint Marko. Failed thief. Got turned into living sand. Still dumb as a post but a major pain in the ass. You're up to date," Spidey calls out over the storm, his last words unnaturally loud as it finally dies away as the Sandman reforms and starts moving towards his real objective, apparently having forgotten about them.
There is nothing but debris in the lab it seems and as Hawkeye hipchecks the good professor out of the way, he goes stumbling aside. Fortunately for the archer without a bow, there is indeed an option close at hand -- a now shattered printer lies within reach, still plugged into the wall. A quick jerk detaches it from the power cord and exposed wires are thrust up just in time to catch Flint in the chest. He jerks, cries out, his momentum carrying him past the prone woman and tumbling into the open vault, still jerking from the shock but already starting to get back to his feet. "Why you little..." he mutters under his breath.
Still a little dazed from the sandstorm, that doesn't stop Spider-Man from acting. When Flint tumbles into the vault he manages to get to his feet, both arms lifted, weblines splattering against the wall on either side of the vault. Tugging hard, he catapults himself across the room, slamming into the vault door feet first, momentum carrying himself and the door back into place, slamming home. The lock is spun and the arachnid hero whirls towards the Professor. "Please tell me this vault is airtight?"
"Uhhh, yeah, it is. It's were we store some of the more sensitive electronics we're working on. We can completely keep the dust out," the professor replies with a frown, not catching the urgency.
Beneath his mask, Spider-Man smiles.
And considering the abilities Sandman showed this time, Hawkeye probably is smiling, or at least would be if she weren't dealing with how shocked she is (but figuratively and literally, after all she was holding that chord and didn't think it'd work!). Thus instead, she tries to grab the professor again and says, "Let's get out of here anyways. Just in case." before trying to tug him out the door.
It would appear that Spider-Man subscribes to the 'better safe than sorry' school of thought because even as he nods at Hawkeye's suggestion he turns towards the vault door and unleashes a holy mess of his web fluid, draping the seams of the vault door until a mass of webbing coats the metal door. "Agreed. Marko's dumb, but he has this uncanny knack of getting out of tight spots like this. And my wardrobe can't really take another beating like this one," he says with a sigh, holding arms out to the side, numerous rents and tears showcased. What a pain. And not to mention he is supposed to be meeting his friends at the Commons in just a few minutes now. Though how he'll explain the cuts he has no idea. Picking his way to the window, Spider-Man hefts the professor up and lowers him to the ground, offering a hand to Hawkeye before making his exit too. Presumably along with the Tasmanian Devil. "Thanks again. We really have to stop running into each other like this," he says with a flippant salute before a webline is launched and he leaps upwards, taking to the skies.