|EVENT: Doom and Gloom pt. 2|
|What: Following the trail of plasma weapons used at the First National Bank, a ragtag band of intrepid heroes comes upon an armed squad acting against a warehouse. Or so it seems. All is not as they might have expected... but, disturbingly, *they are*.|
The reports were disturbing, to say the least. Weaponry and tech that left Gotham's finest vaporized and helpless against a new gang cropping up in the grim city. It bore a strong similarity to a previous encounter in New York, a fact that many who watched the streets of Gotham failed to miss. Calls went out, contacts were contacted, and investigations were launched, and it all pointed to one warehouse operating out of the Gotham Waterfront. The next hit, it had to be, the patterns and particular radiation signatures all pointed to this one building.
The outside is dark and grimy, clearly abandoned. Windows are smashed from the hail of rocks it suffered at the hands of many young children, and the door bears a chain and padlock. A padlock that doesn't appear to be locked. No sound can be heard in the night that darkens the area, at least until a black van slowly rolls up to the building, rumbling quietly for a few moments before the engine is cut.
Calls going out often reach the Justice Hall, and Firestorm is curious about the high-tech weapons. He is/was/might-have-been a scientist not so long ago, and he understands the reports, which are alarming. Odd radiation signatures have brought him here. It might be related to the case, or it might be something else - certainly something he should check out, though! He is watching from a nearby rooftop, considering how to approach the situation. With his head on flames and his bright red-gold outfit, Firestorm is anything but stealthy.
It seems odd to Domino, that unusually well-armed thugs are going on a rampage that ends up ..here? An abandoned warehouse? There's nothing here to loot, no trouble to cause! All she can think is that they're either planning a weapons trade, or if she's -really- lucky, they're meeting up with the guy that put those plasma rifles into their hands. Either way, the likelihood of this being the place and time for something to go down seems too probable for her to ignore.
The only challenge is, now she has a team to try and coordinate. This isn't just 'her thing' anymore. Now she's gone and gotten two others pulled into it.
Proper use of resources is critical in any engagement. Dom's done her best. She's situated off to one side, having brought something suitably high-tech to what -should- be an energy weapons convention. It's a bulky yet compact railgun, capable of slinging six millimeter chunks of aluminum alloy fast enough to roll a tank on a direct strike. Far from subtle, but good for leaving a lasting impression at virtually any range. It's long-range engagement for her.
The next in Dom's roster, Psylocke, is great at both not being seen and in relaying intel through telepathic communications. Her instructions are to go high, keep an eye on things and do mental readings should anyone happen to show up. Dom wants to know who and what their targets are before any assault begins.
The third on the team, Kwabena, isn't known for subtlety. That's why she told him to stay at ground level, ready to cause a major distraction should the need arise. She even left him a single shot grenade launcher just for the occasion. If they need some fireworks, he's got one chance at lighting up the sky.
"Stay sharp, team. We've got movement. ..We've also got another unknown up high, some guy's ..on fire, I guess..?"
Gotham's always been a mess. This is nothing new. Hardly alone in that designation, it's nonetheless proved a recent staging ground for the investigations of the X-Woman known as Psylocke - tracing weapons shipments in and out of the grimy metropolis. She'd been on entirely different business in New York, and would be running down an entirely different kind of 'weapon' today; were it not for a pair of contacts she'd picked up following that fateful bank robbery...
Funny how life works. Right now she's moving swiftly along the roof of a neighbouring warehouse, leading to the location fixed by a curious triangulation of her own, unrelated (?) enquiries, the roughwork of Kwabena Odame - presumed dead in the aforementioned robbery - and the... well, very similar roughwork of the monochromatic mercenary known as Domino. Though she's slowly become prepared to admit that the woman has a deal more experience and *style* to her own methods. Which is why the trigger-happy hellcat's calling the shots today.
"If we're going to avoid any more incidents," Betsy addresses her partners through the comm as she takes up position opposite one of those shattered windows-- placed for a suitably ninja entrance if needs be. Stealth is her game today, though, and she's both prepared and dressed for the part, eschewing a scanty swimsuit and sash in favour of dark fatigues with a practical, rolled turtleneck. "I need contact with both of you. Domino, keep your thoughts open." She can't resist a smile, canting her gaze across to take in the flaming head of Firestorm upon the opposite rooftop. "I promise not to... rummage."
That last is delivered with a faint smirk, and a gleam of violet eyes as the telepath focuses deeply, reaching out with her telepathic awareness to form a mental map of the area. Thoughts probe outward, nudging gently through the astral plane-- unlike that sudden attack in New York City, she's got time and careful attention to spare, not drawing any undue attention through hurried, sledgehammer motions of the mind. Though Firestorm may become aware of a tugging at the edge of his senses, as she runs into the indiscernably alien wall of his own consciousness.
"One alien," she murmurs into her mic, "Or extra-planar. Not aggressive. Yet."
Almost a block away, Kwabena is hiding out inside an old abandoned hardware store. Rarely seen without a crowbar, he'd used it almost four hours ago to pry open a rusted old back door to the place, and has been hiding out ever since. This time, however, the unlikely mercenary is leaving the crowbar behind. The single shot grenade launcher sits on the floor nearby, and a satchel filled with spare clips for his semi-automatic pistol is slung over his shoulder.
Patiently he has watched and waited, keeping to the dark shadows within the old store with the pistol holstered and a black-matte, single-eye telescope as his surveillance weapon. He's positioned below an old window, which has long since been busted out only to be replaced by thick chicken wire. His black jeans, black muscle shirt, and dark African skin serve to keep him well hidden, and the telescope remains covering his silvery eye. A smart move, but one that was taught to him by the mercenary named Domino. His guide, as it were, to field operations such as these. Oh, he'd served his purpose; having kept a close eye on those of druglord Michael Slean's accomplices who haven't yet been arrested, he was able to procure some information that helped his companions to locate this spot.
The earcomm nestled into his left ear is left online, so he doesn't have to touch his ear to serve a response, which comes clean, simply, and most importantly, quietly. As for opening his mind, simply knowing that Betsy was around was enough for him. The man who rarely trusted had come to trust her, especially after she'd helped guide him back to corporeal form after the bank heist.
Psylocke's sweep picks up on five distinct signatures within the van, all hostile, and ten more within the building itself, non-hostile. Yet. However, when the van's doors slowly slide open and a crew emerges, six men disembark. At least, it looks like a crew. They're all dressed similarly, suits and ties, which of course, doesn't scream crew, but the black ski masks they all wear screams quite the opposite.
Also, the large, futuristic rifles slung over their shoulder. That also screams crew.
They mostly keep their eyes on ground level, which is probably the only reason they miss the giant fireball for a head, gaze sweeping back and forth while they make a quiet, and quick, dash for the front door. A silent signal seems to pass amongst them as one unwraps the chain from the door, discarding, silently, once again, on the ground. Once finished, last minute checks of equipment and appearance circulate, before they shove open the door, this time making quite a racket, and gruffly jog their way into the dark interior, rifles at the ready.
Where is Batwoman when one needs her? She is in the League and this is her home turf. Heck, meeting the Batman would be cool too. Firestorm is an agent of the law, though, a known member of the Justice League of America. And what is going on now looks like some kind of arms deal. Or maybe a gang strike where the gangers are armed with nuclear-powered hand canons.
He spares a minute to warn the GCDP using the JLA communicator and then sweeps down, first checking the van for more suspicious folks, then stepping into the building after the armed thugs. "Hey!" He warns. "Stop right there, and drop your weapons." Not likely it will work, no, but he has to say things like that before shooting people.
"Keep your thoughts open, she says," Domino mutters to herself from around the digital optics of her rifle. "Riiiight. Because I really know what the difference is between 'open' and 'clo'--dammit, I left the com open, didn't I? Sorry, Shiftkit." She's going to forever toy with the codename Kwabena gave their group the other night, it's both fun and easy! "Also, who invited the alien? I swear those guys are drawn to me. Wait--hold up." Men disembarking from the van, carrying -those weapons,- bullseye. A subtle grin edges across her face, "Plasma guns confirmed, watch yourselves out there."
Before she can figure out what those well dressed and armed individuals are up to, Flameyhead leaps forth and goes to introduce himself (itself..?) to the van-goers. "Fudge--outside interference! Bets, can you get me any readings down there?" Psylocke may not have an earbud comm of her own just yet (the three-ways always cost so much more...) but Dom's hoping that by saying it, it will in turn broadcast the thought enough for her to pick up on it. This psionic communication stuff is weird, darnit!
|"Five in the van, armed and dangerous. Ten inside. Keep your shots tight."|
Non-hostile doesn't always mean innocent-- or invaluable, a lesson already learned during the semi-successful thwarting of the bank heist. But aside from the frankly bizarre consciousness of Firestorm, Psylocke feels nothing untoward about those within. They're either civilians or simple workers; not acceptable casualties, in any sense. That's one concern; the other becomes quickly more pressing, as she gets visual contact on a sixth man in the van.
|"I'm sending you what I see. Just relax."|
It takes a serious effort - she's done it before, but never with two. It's going to keep her from the fray for a while, just to maintain concentration, but Betsy goes ahead and transmits a rough overlay of her astral senses to both Domino and Kwabena. Something like having heat vision, it identifies thick tangles of ethereal motion-- visualizations of the men's thought patterns - projected into three-dimensional vision. Without possessing some sense beyond the ordinary, it's a tough thing to take advantage of. But it should at least give them a headsup on any movement, until she's forced to draw her attention elsewhere.
|"Careful; there's a sixth I can't pick up. Probably synthetic. And Domino?"|
A trace of amusement ripples through the otherwise clear, clipped transmission of her voice.
|"It's called 'mind reading' for a reason. Just think. I'll get it."|
Four hours ago:
A needle into the jugular of a dopesick junkie, too strung out to shoot herself up. Kwabena, the recovering addict, understood her plight all too well. The first hit comes to regulate, the second to get high. Only, when dopesick, sometimes an unfortunate addict can't even move enough to fix herself. As the woman finally recovered and made to scamper away from the abandoned convenience store she called home, Kwabena stopped her. He gave her $200, advised her to get the hell out of the Waterfront, get herself a clean needle and a fix, then some professional help.
Four hours later:
Kwabena eyes the bottle of cheap liquor lying ten feet away, near the center of the abandoned hardware store. A long piece of fabric stuck out of it, ready to be lit if necessary. Two doors down, in an old abandoned convenience store, a similar bottle rests where a strung out junkie was dying, until the African helped her out. And finally, two more doors down and at the other end of this old, long-since-abandoned commercial space, lies an abandoned diner, with a similarly tended to bottle of cheap whiskey. Waiting.
Just like Kwabena.
A silent grin spreads across the African's face when Domino embarrassingly leaves her comm open. Said grin fades when she mentions plasma guns. "Great," comes his sarcastic response. More pieces of his body to be blown off... just what he was looking forward to. The movement of a fire-headed individual confirms his team member's reports, but one has to see such a thing to believe it. "Jesus Christ," he whispers.
But he exercises patience, and makes not a single move. Instead, his mind becomes invaded with something unlike anything he's ever experienced. The telescope slowly comes down from his eye, and he blinks owlishly.
"Synthetic..." he murmurs, recalling what Betsy had told him about the bank heist. You know, after he'd been scattered into a million atoms. "I'd say that's the one to be extra careful with."
No shit, Sherlock.
These men had plans, they were prepared, they knew how to use their guns very well, and they had every intention of showing them off. There were risks, and there were scenarios, all of which were taken into consideration. The police? Not a problem. Heck, even interference from the local 'wildlife' wouldn't have thrown them off too much.
A man with his head on fire flying in through the open door and demanding they drop their weapons? No one can plan for that. Well, almost no one...
"I must say, you made it much faster then I could have hoped."
The voice rings out from all over the warehouse. Metallic and distorted faintly, but all too clear. "I was expecting someone else entirely, someone who has neglected to show up. Pity. However it seems the majority of the original interlopers have arrived just as I predicted."
Speakers deployed around the outside of the warehouse kick into life as the voice filters through them as well, "You can not hide from me, and if you do not join Firestorm, as I believe he prefers to be called, inside, I will detonate that hardware store where your pet dust cloud is hiding. Thirty seconds."
Inside, the crew, or the majority of the crew, is clearly surprised. At Firestorm's entrance, they swung their rifles around, only to find they would no longer fire. All but one, at least. A tall one, far taller then the rest with a fairly impressive build to boot, but no mind to speak of. This one didn't even attempt to fire.
And here that Firestorm was going to transmute those rifles into cardboard. Or at least part of them, the police would want to examine the remains. Looks like the armed thugs weren't the real problem. "Name is Firestorm, yes. I am with the Justice League. And you would be... the weapon designer, I guess?"
He takes one of the rifles from a surprised thug, using his powers to scan the thing. Without their weapons those guys are not dangerous, but he keeps an eye on the unsurprised one, which is probably well aware of what is going on. Besides, there is something odd with his energy aura. His eyes narrow as he realizes. "Into robot designs too?" That should narrow the 'mad genius' list considerably. He should have paid more attention during those boring 'super-crime' conferences General Ross asked him to go.
Getting a real-time overlay that's both projected directly into Domino's mind, -and- three-dimensional, is, to put it mildly, an unfair advantage. It's also really, really cool. It's probably not condusive to avoiding nasty headaches, however. For the first time since she's started 'working' with Psylocke (as opposed to fighting or going in roughly the same direction by coincidence,) Dom has a genuine grin of amusement. "Nice trick, Veev." 'Veev,' or VV, is one more of the many nicknames she's come to employ with these new individuals. Violent Violet seems catchy and all, but it takes too long to say.
"This is a good thing, Kwa," Domino counters. "The guns are here, which means our intel was accurate. A little risk is better than all of us wasting our evenings. Don't know about you, but I could have been getting some quality drinking and gun cleaning time in."
"One possible synthetic confirmed," Dom thinks/coms back while making a few minute adjustments to the railgun's scope.
(Damn, that guy at Otto's was -built.- Shoulda gotten his number, if I wasn't too busy getting royally trashed.)
There's a very good reason why an adept psychic doesn't often enjoy meddling with an untrained mind.
"Frig. Flame-head just stirred up the hive. Shift, stay the fireworks. Don't want to risk hurting one of the hero types." Think Domino, think. ..Shut up, conscience! Ugh. "Hero or not, he's seriously outnumbered. I'm moving around to the back. Bomberman, you're on front door duty. That van -does not leave- unless we're the ones dr--." Oh, no. Oh, -frig.- There's a drawn-out sigh before Dom tells the others "We're boned. C'mon, kids. Let's go learn who we're dealing with here." She'll..just be down in half a minute.
Rare is the operation where Psylocke finds her stealth and telepathy both inadequate veils to maintain at least the semblance of control; normally if one fails, she can at least depend upon the other to ensure she's playing on her own terms. Working with others tends to only improve this advantage - even with those who lack the ah... discipline that Domino probably left behind at the age of twelve, if not before, it just gives her more pieces to play with. The telepath is far from fully adept with her gifts, and far from perfect in every way--
But there's no doubt that she *is* good. Meeting someone who's outright better, six steps ahead?
|"Blow up nothing. Shoot nobody. We play this cool."|
It's a wonder she keeps from sending a telepathic curse, that sinking feeling in her breast almost causing her to slump to her knees at the edge of the neighbouring warehouse. There's no doubt in her mind the message was intended for her as much as anybody else; last time, this almost militantly-organized gang managed to keep pace with them. It came down to the wire. Given their equipment, and the smooth running of their operation... well, she knows when she's beaten. A battle lost is not the war over, however. It's just time to change the rules.
The kunoichi doesn't take her time in getting down below, rising to her full, statuesque height before simply, gracefully, launching herself into a cruciform leap from the high roof. The wind streams through her violet hair, as she straightens out her arms and tucks into a roll at the last possible instant, a momentary flare of telekinetic energy absorbing a portion of the fall to allow her physical training to persist. She comes up in a roll, arms ready to be raised in the international sign of surrender as she moves into the warehouse at an easy lope.
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance," she states clearly, looking about the interior, alighting on the five men in turn, then the Justice Leaguer. "So we've got Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble... Firestorm." Smiling as she cants her head politely to the latter, she lets her gaze shift to settle upon the synthetic. "I suppose you must be Grub?"
Suddenly, the idea of lighting molotov cocktails, much less firing a grenade launcher, seems remarkably less appealing.
Kwabena, also known as 'Shift', 'Shiftkit', and 'Bomberman', sits back slightly, scowling. He doesn't fancy the idea of walking into the front door, likely to be unarmed, with no guns blazing or explosions going off to serve as a distraction... but it seems they are out of that option.
He does, at least, take the pistol with him.
There's no time to exit through the back, so he kicks the locked door open from the front and walks out into the street. Far less graceful than his Violet Counterpart. He does, however, leave the grenade launcher inside the old, abandoned hardware store. Perhaps their adversary only knew where he was hiding, not what he was hiding with him? It could come in handy later. Armed only with the semi-automatic pistol at his side and the satchel filled with spare ammo, he only briefly makes eye contact with Psylocke and Domino, before following them into the warehouse. His eyes pan around at the five, but he doesn't speak a word, stopping behind and to the left of Psylocke. He'll make no effort to move from a position between the door and the closest of their adversaries, unless forced.
Firestorm's words are broadcast from the speakers outside, apparently for the benefit of those joining him inside. The voice offers back a soft laugh, before responding, "Indeed I am the weapon's designer, and I commend you on discovering my robotic assistant so quickly. My intel is clearly very accurate. However, while I am certain there is only one man who has a chance of discovering anything useful from those weapons, I'm afraid I will not be taking any risks." At this point, the weapon's... /all/ the weapons' cores, the mysterious nuclear source of the rifles' power begins to overload, and within roughly seven seconds, each one explodes.
For a nuclear detonation, however, it's surprisingly small and quiet, as it seems a series of dampening fields spring to life around each device, containing the explosion so as to vaporize the weapons themselves, and leave third-degree burns on any humans holding them at the time. "Hey! What the hell is going on here?! Wha-" begins one of the gangsters, only for his objections to be cut short with a muffled crack as the robot darts forward and casually snaps his neck in two, letting his body crumple to the floor. The synthetic is quick, far quicker then his size should allow, but it's done in a heartbeat.
"I will tolerate no more interuptions from the filth who I allowed to use my weaponry. You are free to go. I assure you," with this, perhaps a faint hint of amusement seeps into the voice, "these 'heroes' will not lay a hand on you."
The gangsters, clearly distraught, surprised, and out of their league, shuffle out quickly, followed by the screech of tires and the roar of an engine.
"Now then, a few questions I'm sure you want answered. Let's start with the location of the other ten who should be here. You'll see," and they do, if they look, "boxes scattered around the facility. I was intrigued to discover that your previous encounter had triggered the telepathic circuitry in my creation. I was not expecting to encounter a telepath so soon, but I quickly modified the devices you see to project a false positive for any sweeps made on the astral plane. If any of you can see into the infrared, you'll notice that they also project a heat signature not unlike a human's. Distorted of course, but it could easily be ruled out as interference."
Firestorm does not burn. At least not from something that would just give third degree burns to a normal human. He looks very interested at the mini-nuclear meltdown and containing field, though. So much he misses the robot moving and killing one of the thugs. "Wait, no!" He yells, "murderous scum," he steps forward, giving the other gangsters time to escape, then turns his nuclear powers on the robot, trying to transmute it into confetti.
The Nuclear Man's hands glows bright white, but so does a forcefield protecting the android. Unbreakable? Firestorm hasn't enough experience with forcefields, but changes tactics quickly, encasing the robot in a block of concrete and steel several feet thick.
Great, so..here we all are... Speaking to a synthetic weapons manufacturer megalomaniac. All that's missing is some smooth jazz in the background and a few servings of tea. Now, it's difficult to stay composed when a bunch of plasma rifle cores suddenly go critical and explode in miniature nuclear detonations. Despite the individual dampening fields built into each weapon, Domino is more than slightly surprised.
The lack of a muffled explosion and a car alarm going off suggests that the one in the trunk of her Audi isn't among the immediate casualties. Lucky her.
The way that the synthetic man snaps the neck of that gangster, though? Erm. Yikes. It's not often that the albino mercenary feels hopelessly outside of her league, but seeing -that- display of power? As if the exploding guns isn't enough of a show of force! Even her immediate thought of 'we don't need to lay hands on you boys to hurt you' goes unsaid.
Cripes, this guy even set up decoys for them to follow..? He's good, but this is a LOT of prep work. For..what? "You've got our attention, Big Guy," Dom remarks. "I'm not exactly buying the private Q and A session either, but let's start with that. Who are you, and what's with all of these g--Crap, Hey..! What the heck?!" she suddenly blurts out, turning now to stare at Firestorm. Did he seriously just DO that?!
..Is it going to work?
'It all happened so fast!'
Words spoken by a million confused witnesses across the world, and though they don't ring entirely true here... Betsy might empathise somewhat with the true sentiment underlying them. That robotic golem is fast enough, the blur of motion that sends one man dead to the floor too fast for her to react to in any meaningful way. The ensuing moments offer a few ways in; but stood there with arms raised, she's absolutely certain that doing *anything* right now beyond coolly observing would be a Very Bad Idea (tm). Fortunately, the others are allowed to live...
They're no more involved in this than the men she and her increasingly less-loose collective left for dead on the shores of New Jersey. More victims in another megalomaniacal plan; or so she's going to assume for the moment. Aren't they always?
At least one of those present draws the same conclusion, Firestorm's rather traditional heroics coupled with that... astounding display of power drawing an eyebrow sharply upward. Psylocke plays it smart, not lowering her hands, barely shifting her posture at all but to tense slightly in preparation of movement. If things go boom, she's ready to go; suffice to say, she's no longer transmitting that informative overlay to her two partners either. There's no point tiring herself and drawing her focus to keep their attention riveted on useless decoys.
"So," she calls over the chaos, voice raised in volume but unerringly, almost cynically calm-- she's sure it will reach the hidden speaker, who's probably not stupid enough to be sat inside his robot friend. "Is there a point to this, or do you just need some validation?"
Dampening fields or not, nuclear explosions are bright. Remarkably bright. Kwabena lifts a hand to shield his eyes, and when his arm is lowered, a distasteful scowl is on his face. Concealed within that scowl, however, is a touch of pity, reserved for the thugs who are allowed to leave.
Instead, the Ghanaian stands back and watches, eyes going wide, as the hero known now as Firestorm unleashes abilities unlike anything he's ever seen. "Ah," he remarks, in an offhanded way, then turns to look over at Domino with one hand outstretched, pointed at the display. "/That's/ the extra-planar alien?" He looks back forward, and raises his hands similar to Betsy. "I would say he's become aggressive!"
"Noble, but ultimately useless. My creations, and they number in the millions, are more then capable of handling each and every one of you. Even the living cloud of pollution. You see, I learn and adapt, though I welcome you to try your little trick again. I'm quite surprised you survived the first time, but you will not be so lucky a second time. Now then," the voice continues, the coffin of concrete unmoving as it encases the robot, "to the point of all this. That is, unfortunately, something you will only discover in time. Again, as much as I loathe hiding in the shadows and addressing my less-then-worthy opponents, it is, unfortunately, unavoidable for the time being. If you will allow me to give you some advise until my assistants inform me all is prepared for me to arrive... Give up.
"You can not hope to defeat me. You can not, in fact, even hope to keep /up/ with me. You are hopelessly out of your league. The world no longer needs you, for it has me. Even now, the van that transported the scum here and back is nothing more then a burned out shell, quietly incinerating the lifeless husks that used to polute this city's streets. I have removed five blights on society in less then a minute, where you would have them placed into a corrupt and broken system that would spit them back out in a month to pillage and burn at their leisure. Stand aside as I usher in a new age of peace and unity to the world, and your reputations, and your lives will be spared. You will be known as the men and women who bravely admitted when they were wrong and aided in the coming of freedom and prosperity. Who selflessly stepped aside when one greater then they came to set things right."
There's a pause, before the voice returns, "Ah, I have just received word that everything is in place. I will join you promptly. I would advise you to stay where you are, I would hate to accidentally kill you before we can properly meet."
Firestorm uhs, "I am not an alien, I am from New York," he protests. Pay no heed to the flame-hair, it is perfectly normal! "Who are you, anyway? Some of Batman's folks?" He pauses to listen to the villain monologing. Scowls at listening he has killed the other five gangsters too. "Free to go, you said," he reminds him. "That was nothing but murder." Well, if that guy is going to meet them, maybe he can show him the door to the 'corrupt and broken system that would spit him back out in a month to pillage and burn at his leisure'. Although he is hoping it is 20 years for him, at the least.
It's ..almost funny. There's a huge slab of steel and cement, right there in the room and that voice continues as though nothing were amiss. This guy didn't show himself at the bank, why would he in this run down warehouse on the edge of Gotham City? If he can make and detonate rifles like those plasma casters, he knows enough not to put his own neck on the line.
"Great, someone -else- that thinks he can just waltz on in and take over everything," Domino sourly remarks to her companions. "Sure is a lot of confident wind for someone living in hiding. Look, buddy, it's not worth it. This place is way beyond saving."
Things change up somewhat with the next lap of his speech. Talk of the van blowing up, killing everyone inside... Domino actually takes a bold step forward, though she's still not sure who she's addressing or where he might be lurking. "You kidding? -We- were more than ready to frag those idiots before you got in our way! Just another waste of space, those guys. Hell, maybe we should be working together."
Because these three? They're no heroes. They're quickly becoming a peculiar gathering of like-minded shadows that deal with all of those wicked deeds that need doing when no one else can handle such responsibilities. Even calling them anti-heroes might be a bit of a stretch.
From New York, huh... "Your accent needs a little work, kiddo," Domino asides to Firestorm. Because, yeah, the burning head doesn't give anything away. Gosh, doesn't that start to hurt after a while..? He's just standing there. Burning! It's unnerving! "We're ..more of the wandering sort." 'Batman.' Huh. Is that the prude that blew up her Jaguar the other week..?
Then their 'host' announces his arrival. So much for the first part of Dom's argument!
It almost is. Psylocke is impressed by the show of power, though the answer to her own question absorbs the sum of her attention. She's impassive throughout, registering no sign of outward reaction until Domino begins to speak in her turn. It's rough and ready, the nuance of her erstwhile ally's speech, but it resonates with a crude synergy alongside her own feelings. This hidden speaker has done some element of research - but not, she thinks, enough.
The telepath doesn't respond directly to Firestorm, inclining her head toward the monochromatic mercenary as she provides the enigmatic response. Betsy is still mulling the words that have passed, though she needs not linger long. Her arms still raised, she looks to the walls around them, addressing the speaker she's sure can still hear - his type miss nothing, do they?
"My trigger-happy friend speaks true," Psylocke's voice cuts the air like a subtle knife, clipped British tone starting dangerously low, a stage whisper that lifts in vigour and confidence as she continues. "We're not the heroes you think we are."
There's a weight to that, vast, but carried across her shoulders as she lifts her chin.
"And we feel no bravery in admitting our wrongs; guilt has its place, and honesty may be commendable-- but that's *not* for us to judge." With that hard-stated syllable, the Violet Butterfly lowers her arms and steps forward, a long stride closer to the encased form of the synthetic. Almost idly, she reaches out toward it, pulling her hand back at the last to turn, side-on to Firestorm - and directly facing Domino and Kwabena. Her eyes find theirs in easy sequence, a confident smile tugging at the outer curve of her lips. Then, she looks up.
"You grant yourself credit for a handful of petty deaths, for giving justice to the weak, because you're afraid of your own worth to this world. We need no such reassurance. If we aim to misbehave, on the terms of this corrupt, confused society, then we admit our fault in so doing... but we do it for the right reasons. Not for glory. Not for honour. Not for *ourselves*. The truly great feel no need to trick an audience into hearing their songs of praise. Those who bring a better future, at any cost, who understand that price?"
She pauses, drawing and releasing a breath, violet gaze settling level upon the Ghanaian. Yes, these three have come together to form the core for something... new, and strange. Something she finds hard to describe - even admit - to those she's called ally to date. While she still builds that trust with Domino, it's Kwabena who she knows and understands. Who she trusts the most.
"We don't need to *keep up* with you."
To Firestorm's response, Kwabena merely motions toward the lit superhero, as if to say, 'Well, there you go! He's from New York!'
There's no chance for him to offer any witty remark in response, however, because their elusive and clearly sociopathic adversary has decided to deliver a sermon. He slowly lowers his hands, realizing that there really is no point to it, after all.
Domino speaks, and then Psylocke monologues. He meets the woman's eyes, and his own expression becomes a mixture of smirk and scowl.
"Ah, screw this. We're ten steps ahead of this bastard." Out comes his semi-automatic pistol, cocked and ready. He darts his eyes toward Firestorm and shouts out, "Hey! Flame-ey! Let's cook!"
Bursting into a sprint, Kwabena begins circling the flame-headed superhero while unloading his semi-automatic weapon into the air... /just/ above Firestorm's head. Bullets, passing by overhead and spraying around the room, hopefully ignited by the nuclear-atomic man's impressive powers? That ought to be a show.
As he circles Firestorm, Kwabena darts his eyes to his monochromatic counterpart. "Domino! -Grenades-! Let's give this son of a bitch a hot landing!"
As for Psylocke? Well, she'll know what to do.
Silence meets any continued protests or outbursts, at least until the sound of shattering glass echoes outward. From farther down the warehouse, light blazes into sight; fire, at least as bright as the New Yorker's head, but twin exhausts attached to a pair of metallic boots. These boots continue upwards until they meet more plate armor that covers this newcomers legs. Beginning just below the knees, a cloak, forest green, flaps in the wind of the man's descent, displaying that the armor continues right up his form, encasing him entirely.
And then the face. A mask, metal like the rest, formed into a scowl, through which only darkness is visible. The eyes are different; holes in the mask, the only seeming chink in the entire structure of the armor, out of which glares two perfectly blue eyes. The face... Of Doom.
"A truly compelling rebuttle, my dear, but it falls on deaf ears. If you have any doubts of who I am, ask your new, talented friend. You think ourselves similar? You think, because you are willing to take the lives of the common criminals that we have like-minded goals? How deluded. You seem to have put far too much importance on learning of the deaths of those you saw earlier. I saught only to inform you of their ultimate fate." He touches down beside the pillar of concrete and lightly places a gauntlet on it. Suddenly, the air crackles with mystic energy, and several things happen in quick succession. The matter that makes up the pillar shifts forms, changing into an electrical storm of pure energy, which is promptly channeled into Doom's hand. "You are not the only who can transmute matter, though I suspect the source of our ability differs greatly. The mystical energies upon you aren't quite right." The robotic man stands stock-still, seemingly untouched by it's sudden imprisonment in concrete. "I will admit, I was not prepared for this. I could not leave my creation behind. No evidence of my being here can remain, nor could I activate the self-destruct through the concrete. You can inform whoever you wish who you saw here today, but a broadcast from Latveria that is going on right now will prove otherwise." He turns his mask on Kwabena, watching him run around and shriek for several moments before he asks, "If you are quite finished. While I'm sure grenades are more then a match for the imbeciles you normally face, I ask that you not waste my time."
Now it would be a good moment for Superman to show up, or maybe Batman. No? Then it is up to him and a trio of cynical vigilantes. The bullets, sadly, don't become atomic missiles when flying close to him, so nothing stops Doom. "Guys, that is Doctor Doom, the dictator of Latveria. Also, some kind of mad genius weapon-maker." Again, he should have studied Doom's file more carefully. "This is no magic, Doom!" He shouts to the armoured villain. "It is atomic reconstruction," and he can sense another forcefield protecting Doom, so no turning his armor into paper. There goes the easy plan. "You can't come here and sell weapons, and murder people, even if they are petty criminals. This is not Latveria, and you will go to jail for that."
Betsy always does seem to have a way with words. She's the proverbial sugar coating upon the wad of razorblades and C-4 that Domino likes to throw about. That is, when she has any C-4 left because Kwabena keeps pestering her for her stash of explosives. Seriously, it's like a delicate little switch labeled 'sane' on one end and 'what the crap' on the other just broke in the recesses of his subconscious. Domino spoke. Psylocke spoke. Kwabena's going on a shooting rampage.
Isn't that supposed to be -her- gig?
Maybe she's a bad influence. Either way, when the request is made Dom's left hand reaches behind her and pops a single frag grenade free of her combat webbing, hopping it up into the air for him to catch mid-strafe (yes, with the pin still in it. She's lucky, not insane.)
Of course, she almost immediately regrets having passed anything with an arming mechanism to her blitzing companion as soon as she sees who is really behind this mess. Widened blue eyes meet glowing blue eyes, Dom very nearly unable to breathe for a critical passing of time.
"Then quit wasting ours." In one snap motion Domino levels her railgun and fires from the hip, the shot aimed squarely at Doom's chest. There's a splitting crack of air as the slug far surpasses the speed of sound, rattling windows as an instantaneous flash of white leaves vaporous double helix contrails hovering within the air.
In for a penny, in for a pound, right? This guy's the damned leader of -Latveria!- But, he also made the mistake of messing with these three. Dom may not be the smartest, or the strongest, or even the most capable woman out there. But her willpower is something to behold. Right now, she's got it in her mind to smack the ever-loving crap out of this metal-masked freak for making a mess of her life. Of the lives of her companions. Why? Just to say that she -did,- damnitall.
And to see if it does anything worthwhile. Know your enemy, kids!
Shock and awe. It adequately describes the tactics employed by the increasingly explosive Ghanaian as well as the overwhelming sensation that comes over Betsy when the apparition of the good Doctor makes itself known. A curious combination of repulsor jets and magical energy blend at harsh odds with the varied yelling, wisecracking and ballistic assault by her companions. For her part, Psylocke does seem to know what to do: absolutely nothing to infuriate the Latverian ruler, lest this situation became any more impossible. There are good odds, bad odds...
And ones that may easily turn insurmountable.
"Domino!" No stranger to leadership, in the distant or recent past, the telepath's voice rings with a natural sense of command. It's a warning as much as an order, however: she's almost entirely certain, as she was before their exchange of empassioned speeches, that straight-ahead physical trauma isn't going to be a viable tactic here. Her violet eyes shift askance to Kwabena, fixating him with a stern look that serves as his own command. There's a little warmth nestled in the back there - he had the right idea - but it's ultimately withering. 'Stand down'.
"Who said it was a rebuttal?" Psylocke addresses Doom, keeping a hand raised to one side as though to ward off any further efforts from the patch-eyed mercenary. "Consider it good advice, Victor Von Doom." Yes, she recognizes him. And she's read a file or two. "You know, this isn't the sort of operation I'd expect from you. Armed gangs, bank robberies, and the death of innocents?" She's *not* talking about the gangsters. "Firestorm is right. This is the behaviour of a maniac. The kind that needs to be imprisoned or killed." She doesn't falter as she says that, gaze steelly. "I don't personally *care* what the authorities know, or what the news broadcasts tomorrow morning; but you need to explain yourself."
Kwabena's rampage only lasts a few seconds. A few long, embarrassing seconds. He's halfway through circling Firestorm, when he realizes that nothing is happening. He stops firing a moment before the clip is emptied, and skids to a halt on the other side of Firestorm, eyes blinking. With one hand he reaches to snatch the grenade tossed to him out of the air, but he does nothing with it, aside from tucking it into his pocket with a frustrated gesture.
"Well, /that/ was pointless," he mutters, before turning to watch as Doctor Doom makes his actual appearance. He quickly ejects the spent clip, letting it clatter to the floor as he replaces it with a fresh one from his satchel before holstering the weapon.
Eyes turn to meet Psylocke's stern gaze, and he sort of half shrugs.
|"I don't know, Bets. I figured... be unpredictable?"|
Regardless, he most certainly is standing down.
Circling over until he stands beside Firestorm, he briefly glances toward the strangely dressed superhero, and offers a partial smile. "No hard feelings, I hope?" he asks, before turning back to watch the exchange between Psylocke and Doom. He studies the armored man, up and down, and a frown forms on his face. Like chess, it's time to stand back and wait for a move that isn't futility.
"Jail? Hardly. For one, you have yet to develop any containment facility that can house me, and for two, your government is far too afraid of breaking my diplomatic immunity so long as I come short of launching a missile at the White House. Several known criminals who turn up mysteriously burned on the side of the road in Gotham, no less, is not enough to risk a world war that could very easily turn out in my favor." Then the rail gun is fired and that horrifically lethal projectile speeds its way towards Doom... only to burst into a small cloud of dust about two feet from his chest. "Surprising, to say the least. I had not expected you to be wielding such a weapon, however it will take a great deal more power to destroy my force field, I assure you. I have come for my property, but if you wish to do combat with Doctor Doom then that can easily be arranged." With this, his gauntlet emits a blast of electricity forceful enough to crack the ground beneath him and he slowly raises it towards Domino.
However, Psylocke's voice stops him, and he turns his mask on her, pausing a moment, before the gauntlet lowers. "Pieces of a far larger picture, one you have no hope of seeing until I reveal it for you. The death of innocents is something that I would have preferred to avoid, but it is, unfortunately, neccessary. There will be more, and when you finally see the point of everything I have accomplished, you will understand, and you will dread having ever stood against me." He slowly turns his masked face on all present before stating quite clearly, "Above of us, hidden from view as well as any sensors that yet exist outside of Latveria, a craft the size of a fortress awaits me. If you follow, I assure you, I will turn its destructive potential upon a randomly chosen target in Gotham and remove it from existance, and I will personally display your broken body for the entire world to see what happens when you attempt to assasinate the Monarch of Latveria." At that, his boots kick back in, as well as the robots, and they both begin to rise in the air, "You have noble goals, so I do hope you heed my earlier warning and simply give up your vain attempts at stopping me. It would be a pity for you to die so young." And then he's gone, back through the window he shattered earlier with robot on his heals, leaving not so much as a footprint as evidence of his arrival.
Firestorm scowls. Can Doom threats be taken seriously? Well... yes. But he is probably bluffing about the invisible fortress craft. After a second hesitance, he hover to look through the window. And snorts. "There is a building-sized aircraft out there. The air force command is going to have a fit, and this guy is really nutty if he thinks that he is hidden his steps doing displays like that!"
Are we talking..? Are we fighting? Domino's just confused now. Hearing her name spoken with -that- tone helps, at least. She knows that tone! Kinda like how she's expecting her attack to do absolutely nothing useful. It's just one of those things which she had to find out for herself.
Curiosity, meet cat.
The attack does nothing (but it sure looks cool as it fails. Now she knows what her new gun does, at least!) As Doctor Doom starts to rise from the floor there's a counter-active sinking feeling within Dom's gut. The weapon lowers, eyes once more beginning to widen. This is, quite simply, the single most powerful weapon that she's ever had in her entire arsenal. That single shot got turned into dust before she even felt the recoil of it being fired. But, she got her wish. She violently attacked the freaking leader of Latveria. Part of her suddenly wishes she could take it back.
Thank goodness Psylocke is on her side these days, somehow managing to talk Doom out of smiting her where she stands. All Dom can do is hold her own hands out to the sides, just enough to make it known that she's not going to pursue this skirmish before they flop back down to her sides. "Not like we have anything to follow you with." There really is no point in it. As crazy as her life is, she still enjoys living it. They finally know who's behind these weapons, but what can they do about it..?
As Doom starts to take his leave, Domino passes a look back to Psylocke. "You -know- he had it coming."
Because that justifies everything.
|"You mean like that?"|
There's something even more deeply harrowing about viewing insanity take form in a known entity. Merely discovering a madman in the throes of his peculiarly twisted goals is sometimes confusing, occasionally disturbing, but very rarely fazes one with the experience and composure of Betsy Braddock - another day at the office, so to speak. But Victor Von Doom, for all he's clearly not best described as 'normal', has always maintained an odd sort of benevolence. He's helped her allies in the past, and presented a mien no more power-hungry than any other ruler. His words have even made sense to her. And then he has to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like 'if you follow me I'll blow you all up with my magnificent sky palace'.
Er, there's probably a reason that's not a classic love song.
Psylocke stands stock still throughout the speech, waiting on tenterhooks to awaken from this insane nightmare she appears to be having. The display of power thus far, the sheer *confidence* coming from behind that steel mask, convinces her this may be less than a bluff. She's unsure of the relative might of Firestorm, but savvy enough to put it at somewhere far beyond her own talents, martial or mental. Kwabena and Domino... they're dangerous, too. Very few men simply shrug off a railgun blast, let alone with such aplomb. This is Serious Business.
So do they talk, or fight? There's a third option.
"If you've got any sway over their actions," she speaks to Firestorm, violet gaze still riveted upon the retreating twin dots of Doom and his frozen construct. "Tell air force command to hold their fire, just like we will. I'm sure the Justice League can do more than we can, and you don't need me to tell you to be careful... Psylocke, by the way." There's a beat, as she turns and presents her back, facing Kwabena and Domino once more. Adding as an afterthought, she speaks words that effectively seal her own allegiance. "I'm not with anybody."
Nobody organized, at least. Her gaze darts between the unruly pair, settling on Domino as she walks forward toward the warehouse exist. There isn't anything they can do; not at this moment, not without risking too many innocent lives. And an international political scandal to boot. If they're going to work they have been, they can't have that. They can't have *attention*.
But as she starts to leave, expecting her two partners to follow, Psylocke *can* make a promise.
"He still has it coming."
The Ghanaian stands back and observes all of the things that are developing before him. Gradually, a look of disbelief forms in his mismatched eyes, and he cranes his neck to watch the disappearance of Doom while that disbelief turns into disgust.
With a quiet but very deep sigh, Kwabena turns and gives another look to Firestorm. "At least we know he adapts." He nods his head curtly to the stranger and introduces himself quite simply as, "Shift."
Finally, he turns to watch as Psylocke makes to leave, and takes up the pursuit while following her remark with something witty, but in an entirely different way.
"He is a crazy, son of a bitch."
"Crazy son of a bitch," agrees Firestorm as the flying thing fades from normal sight. Well, he saw him, and he is a federal agent! "Something tells me radar is not going to pick it up either," he answers to Psylocke, hovering down. "But if I can get hold of Superman or Green Lantern, we might yet get him. Thanks for your help, folks. Now I am running to the Hall of Justice and see who is available. Take care!" And zoom, he goes flying, supersonic as soon as he is at a safe distance, no window breaking.