Need for Speed Karting!

May 18, 2015:

A group of unlikely heroes team up against M.O.D.O.K!



NPCs: None.


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Fresh leather mingled with a subtle tang of Mountain Dew permeates Sublevel 7 of the Maggin St. Garage. A chrous of briefcase fasteners click in the dim light, accompanied by the steady *zzzZZZIIIIP* of a suitcase being opened up. Gloved fingers dance across a terminal keyboard built into one of the walls, shots of the city cycling across one set of overlarge screens and a litany of diagnostics running across the others. Most of the others. Every other screen but one.

"Is this thing— "

An almost reedy voice dripping with misanthropoy crackles from the terminal as a face appears on that one screen. Dominates it, really; it may in fact be set to 'Funhouse Mirror', because even though it isn't all that close to the person on the other end, that face - big, solid white eyes set amidst a thicket of wrinkles, a canyon of a mouth, and an oddly small nose - is all that's visible. It, and the edges of what might be a crown.

According to its blueprints, the Maggin St. Garage doesn't have a seventh sublevel.

"Yes!" the— person— exults. "Finish the preparations! The objective is nearly in position— failure is unacceptable! For weeks— no— months— months?"

Whispers, just barely inaudible, emanate from the terminal's speakers as someone off-camera weighs in.

Throughout the garage, men and women in street-ready beekeeper regalia use this time to buckle themselves into the colorful, chromed out go karts that their briefcases have opened into.

"Months, you've frittered away valuable AIM resources on— on toys! To amuse yourselves with, no doubt— as if science wasn't amusement enough! Well, today is your opportunity to prove to yourselves, the foolish mortals above, and most importantly, me, that your vaguely adequate intellects and my money were not wasted!"

One of the karts is larger than the others, roughly the size of a small car thanks in part to the blank, black cylinder jutting up from the middle of its frame. As soon as one of the beekeepers finishes setting it up - which, once the unzipping is done, mostly involves a bit of unfolding and nudging things into their proper places - she quickly heads towards a spare briefcase kart a few feet away.

"Though the Accountant Supreme advised against it, I have seen to it that you will be joined by not only my magnificence, but the objectively lesser, yet still noteworthy magnificence of no less than The Cat! LET THOSE WHO WOULD STAND BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY KAVALRY OF AIM TREMBLE IN FEAR!!" Tiny purple hands flail excitedly into frame for a few seconds, and then: "So decrees M.O.D.O.K.! PLUG ME IN!"

Engines fire. M.O.D.O.K.'s face flickers into being across the surface of the cylinder. Karts begin peeling off in pairs, barreling towards a ramp leading up to what seems to be solid concrete, only to pass through holo-camouflage and emerge in a Metropolis alley, filling the streets with a hive's worth of engine noise.

Just a couple blocks away, an unsuspecting armored truck loaded with cash and other valuables rumbles towards a delivery.

The first couple karts out of the alley zoom off to cut perpendicularly across the truck's route, weaving erratically through traffic and raising countless angry honks behind them. They leave trails of bright, yellow, ultra-slick—

— banana peels—

— in its wake, littering an intersection.

The first car passing through after them spins out and doesn't stop until it crashes into a store front. The second, too; after that, other cars begin swerving erratically to try and avoid whatever the hell caught the first two— which just serves to add a different flavor of chaos to the commute.

Meanwhile, the other karts - including M.O.D.O.K.(Metal Object Designed Only For Karting) pick different streets to weave their way through. The gameplan is to cut the armored truck off on all sides, then force the drivers to submit to the superior power of video game science before any pesky heroes can intervene.

Lunair is parked. She's a good parker. She managed to parallel park neatly and nicely. For you see, Lunair goes out and does things that aren't HYDRA things because she got that out of her system. Coincidentally, she now has a phobia of creepy Nazi grandpas with syringes. She had at least 50 of that before, but now it's the whole thing. Still, today is such a nice day and she finished her classes so it's all LunaTime now.

And then, something she normally only sees on TV goes by. An owlish blink. Pondering one of the carts, she creates a trash can near it. Hey, she liked that game.

"Stop the presses!"
"No one says stop the presses anymore unless it was a misprint."
"Stop them anyway, there's a spelling error in that print!"
"Who the hell is going to notice?"
"I will."

"Oh go to hell and back, Steve!" It was obviously Lois' first day back at the Daily Planet. And probably her last after that remark. Purse snatched, cigarettes grabbed, bluetooth slapped upon her ear and she's out the front door of the planet, lighting up a smoke in celebration of her.. two hour long walkout.

"No Clark. That guy is just mean, cruel.. and god I wouldn't give to punch his stupid, mean face off!" She was throwing a tantrum alright, right in the middle of the street. "Am I what? No. I'm not smoking." She inhales, blows out a breath. "It was a sigh, Clark. A total exasperated sigh." Another pause. "I do know what exasperated means, I wrote the goddamned book on exasperated." And then there was a laugh. "Cause you and your spitcurl, that's why."

Whatever conversation that was had with Clark was put on hold, the zooming through the alleyways, the random go-karts flying by the street, it had the cigarette that was tucked in between her pretty lips go lax, then topple to the ground and forgotten.

"Clark? Dinner? No. You're cooking. If you're not going to be there at least leave me take.." And another one goes by. "..yeahh.. I gotta go." Insert smooching sounds here and the call is cut.

Lois rushes out into the street, hand waving as a cabbie rolls by, the door soon open and hopped into as she tosses a few bills into the front. This is where all of her money is going.

"Follow that… thing!"

RUBY ROWE, CONSULTING DETECTIVE had come into Metropolis to see about updating a classified ad in the Planet. No, not like that. She has an internet website and so forth, but even as print dies its slow, agonizing death from the twin cancers of Murdoch and also regular cancer, by which we mean THE INTERNET, she knows that there is a market out there that…

Well, that doesn't want to have the Internet. For their own reasons. So says Mr. Stewart.

She emerged from the newspaper's diminishing section, wearing a slightly old-looking stole over her shoulder and with a cigarette holder hanging from her lips. (Ruby likes the looks of surprise more than she dislikes the 'where's the costume party'.) She had parked on the street (prius), and was just about to pull out into traffic when — HONK HONK.

Ruby rolls down her window and leans her head out. "Get off the road, you art-car ignoramus! People are trying to drive here!" Other cars smash into things, which make her eyes turn outwards for a moment, and around, where she sees —

An opening! She pulls into traffic like a watermelon seed getting squeezed out, which unfortunately merges her dangerously near the karts.

"Jesus Christ," the armored truck's driver mumbles as yet another car enters the intersection after the one he's approaching and loses control. There are a couple of separate pile-ups along with several more vehicles embedded in buildings or wrapped around bits of scenery. There's a path through the middle of the carnage - at least, for a heavily armored vehicle, there is - but something is obviously wrong up ahead. If it wasn't the middle of May, he might've guessed ice; as it stands, though, there's no visible cause.

Even if it was ice, of course, his employers generally expect him to take precautions against participating in multi-car pile-ups, provided that they're avoidable. Plus, he's coming up on a detour; it probably won't screw with his timetable as badly as a crash would. He gives the wheel a vigorous twist and the truck turns right.

As it straightens out: "Hey, Nic?" he says to the guard in the passenger seat while leaning forward and squinting through the windshield.
"Yeah?" she replies with an arm braced tensely against her windowsill and eyes glued to the rear view mirror.
"Am I crazy, or is someone driving a— a go kart on the other side'a the road?"
"What? Yeah, no, that is entirely— uh, wait, why is he— is that a turtle— "


The explosive shell slams into the truck's flank, causing it to do a partial spin, then skid down the road, all while tipping precariously up on two wheels. It slams back down after a few feet, then rocks back and forth. All the while, the beekeeper who assaulted it keeps his eyes trained on the carnage until he is forced to pay attention to the road again, at which point he speeds off. There is a small hole in the middle of scorch marks and twisted metal.

"What the fuck— " Nic exclaims before snagging her radio. "Can anyone hear me back there? We've been hit— some kind of explosive device! What's your status, over?!"

There's no answer, unless agonized groans count.

"Report— "

M.O.D.O.K. passes the shell-hurling cart in flagrant violation of the Rules of the Road, grinning a mile wide as he stares the wounded truck down. "Yessss," he hisses as metal arms extend from the kart's cylindrical core. One reaches hand goes for a bright red gun with a distinctive floral shape. Fire flickers within its semi-closed tip as leveled towards the truck. "Prepare for— ahem— SICK PWNAGE!" After a beat, he continues, "That— that is how it's— right? If M.O.D.O.K. is to engage in this tomfoolery, then M.O.D.O.K. will not be made to seem anything less than entirely hip!"

"Alright, well. Uh," Nic says to the driver and the people in back alike while searching for her shotgun. "I'm gonna go ahead and shoot this crazy asshole car; you stay here or get yourselves together and join me, as your jobs dictate." With that, she cocks the weapon, climbs out of the truck, and begins creeping towards M.O.D.O.K., using the vehicle for cover.

The next street over, a kart runs right into a garbage can, spins wildly out of control, jumps a curb, then lands on its side and skids for a couple of brutal feet before coming to a stop.

A couple seconds later, a glowing tether snaps out of a bank of clouds and attaches itself magnetically to the kart's frame. The whole thing - rider included - is lifted out of its predicament, and once there's a comfortable gap between vehicles, it is set back onto the road.

The driver is still pretty banged up, though. He tries to get back with the program, but he's weaving dangerously, now; he is more than likely headed for another crash.

Elsewhere, Ruby Rowe manages to thread through traffic only to end up with a bright blue kart with red flames in front of her, and a bulky-looking purple one with gold trim off to the side. The driver of the purple kart - a rather heavyset beekeeper - turns his head to stare in her direction for a second before responding to her demands by honking his horn.

It's loud enough to shatter glass, but on the upside, it plays pretty a jaunty tune.

Oooh-kay. This got kind of surreal because that was totally a turtle shell. Lunair's eyes go a bit wide. Bwah? She didn't expect it to work. And yet the dude gets put right back, too. A pout. "Wait, I brought my scooter." Oh, it is so on now. Thankfully, she is nowhere near the beekeeper (BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES?!). A dark purple scooter loaned to a friend was returned. And now it is on like donkey kong. Lunair is going to join the HELL out of this race.

Normally, she'd get in trouble for this, but today it's totes mcgoats heroic. She giggles, and starts following the rider that got replaced. Time for a spiked shell, if she can spot the lead driver. "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-" Battle cry! "Rosalina was the best anyway~" Also Lunair is banned from dialogue for reasons.

Ruby stares at the blue cart next to her even as chaos reigns around her. She does not play your damn vidcons.

The cigarette holder in her lips still droops downwards. Then a purple kart turns its gaze to her, and honks its horn, and -

She feels it, she doesn't really hear it. She thinks she can feel her right eardrum having just ripped open. She can smell blood. The cigarette holder falls out of her mouth.

Ruby does not take a long time to deal with this. She speeds up marginally to the back of the kart in front of her, having alertly determined that these people are all connected. (''private investigation, folks'') She ooches her Prius to the side a little bit.

This is a simple tactic. But it's not well advertised. YOU, gentle readers, get to encounter it as well. Having put herself in this position, Ruby then jerks the wheel to the left, hard - nosing as if correcting into a sharp turn, and probably smashing up the outer fiberplastic shell of the Prius, /but/ hopefully /also/ adminsitering one doozy of a rotational spin to that kart!

"Pencil dick," she mutters to herself. "I wish I'd brought my gun. God damn it, am I deaf again."

Since the karts were deployed to box in a particular target, there isn't a 'race' so much as 'several tiny, fast-moving vehicles weaving in and out of traffic and turning several blocks of Downtown Metropolis into a a commuter nightmare'.

That said, though, M.O.D.O.K. certainly counts as the head driver, even if there's no lead to claim. Conveniently, he is drawing down on the armored truck with a gun that's shaking from the strain of keeping a fireball contained within the carved petals of its barrel.

"Have no fear, feeble-minded ones," he coos while creeping towards the truck and adjusting his aim. "Soon enough, your bodies will be reduced to ash, and whatever distress you're feeling now will be a distant memory! Why, I'll bet your families won't have the first clue how utterly terrified you are in these, your last moments! Tremble, mortals— TREMBLE BEFORE THE ENORMITY OF BASED M.O.D.O.K.'S GENEROSITY!" The kart's empty hand waves madly in the air, metal fingers clenched in a fist. "Bend a— oh, well, what's— are those exclamation points— ?"


Shells - spiked and slugged both - strike the oversized kart in a quick 1-2, the slug cracking his screen and the shell spinning him out. Between the two, M.O.D.O.K. is forced back from the truck, but otherwise, he remains stable.

The same cannot be said for his gun, which goes off mid-spin and sends fireballs arcing wildly through the air.

"WHAT IS THIS TRICKERY?!" he screeches as he tries to put the brakes on.

As anticipated, the kart Ruby's Prius is nuzzling up to loses control after a good smashing and doesn't stop spinning until it slams into a light pole. As with the kart Lunair downed, a magnetic tether snaps down to reposition it on the road; unlike Lunair's, the kart doesn't move after being set down because the driver is slumped over in his seat.

The purple kart jerks towards the Prius a couple of times, seemingly wanting to slide in behind her but unable to find an opening. Finally, the driver flicks a switch that summons a holographic orange and white feather overhead, and instead of shifting, the kart jumps lanes, intent on landing behind - or on - the Prius.

He hasn't fully mastered the intricacies of the F.E.A.T.H.E.R. System, so he'll take what he can get.

Enormity of - oh dear. Wheeeeeee! She does look a bit worried about the fellow in the 'lead'. She is going to launch a blue shell. Hopefully it gets one of the other karts. Her scooter is purple and cute and not a kart. Lunair is just - baffled at the surreality of all of this. Either way, she's totally gotta help before this ends badly.

Ruby sees the cart behind her disappear as chaos reigns around her. She can see a thing before her - and what the hell is that thing? Ruby thinks, squinting and ignoring the blood in her ear. She exhales with great force through her nose, reaches for the gear shift —

And then a smashing kart hits the back of the Prius. The windshield shatters and the kart itself keeps itself attached to the vehicle, whose engine starts to labor and strain as Ruby turns her head to glare at that vehicle.

This is ridiculous, she thinks. And also, she thinks further, when they pull over, she's going to have to take a breath test. Bitterly, and not for the first time, she curses those three slugs of bathtub gin.

Ruby unfastens her seatbelt and crawls towards the front of that kart. This may alarm the AIM-goon in question. "I don't know what your game here is," she shouts, "but this is way beyond art! Sing, canary!" Hopefully he speaks in a tone that she can hear, she realizes belatedly, having only one ear working and also the car is on cruise control and keeping up with kart traffic, which is probably in 'ha ha' speed levels by now.

The slim, green kart that brought the truck to a halt does what would be a fairly sick flip were it not for the guy strapped in with nothing but a beekeeping helmet for protection after it meets a blue shell.

Thankfully for him and Lunair's conscious, he winds up on his side and injured instead of flipped over and, well, dead. Or crippled. Or— neither, which would still be pretty bad, if only tactically.

The tether begins to unfurl, but it freezes before making it to Earth. Darkness spreads through the clouds surrounding it like an oil stain that stops after a few yards, leaving the rest of the sky relatively clear. Electricity dances through them, visible in flickers to anyone who's paying attention to the sky instead of the vehicular insanity on the ground.

The sky rumbles.

Having managed to take up most of two lanes after coming to a diagonal stop, M.O.D.O.K.'s empty fist slams against a button in its console over and over again.

"You DARE?!" he exclaims. Another shotgun shell impacts the oversized kart, denting its frame and rocking it back and forth a few times. "I saw that SHELL, you SCOOTER-PUSHING THIEF! You are INFRINGING on TRADEMARKED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, MADAM!!"

AIM's concept of trademarks and intellectual property vary a little from the law's, clearly. That, or M.O.D.O.K. is violently insane.

Nic, who has become a strong believer in the second theory, takes another shot at the kart and sends cracks shooting across the Scientist Supreme's face.

Following several peals of thunder, one of M.O.D.O.K.'s insistent button-smashes calls lightning from the sky to blow Lunair off the road. There are warnings and ill omens aplenty before the bolt comes; if she isn't too focused on demolition derbying, Lunair might just be able to avoid finding out what happens when a former HYDRA experiment gets struck by lightning.

"GAH!" M.O.D.O.K. exclaims with flailing limbs and a fireball gun that is, apparently, all out of fireballs. "You will PAY! You will ALL PAY for DISRESPECTING MY GENIUS! AN INVOICE WILL BE SENT TO YOU AND/OR YOUR NEXT OF KIN FOLLOWING THE CONCLUSION OF THIS ENCOUNTER!"

Ruby Rowe and some jerk in a beekeeper uniform squeal down the road, sparks flying as bits of one or the other of the intertwined vehicles' frames scrape the asphault. Ruby is drunk, bleeding, and pissed; the science goon is slouched forward, regretting his choices and wondering why nobody in the Mushroom Kingdom ever seems to complain about whiplash. A small, mushroom-shaped nitrous canister rolls away from the car's undercarriage.

"Gotta…" the scientist gasps, too dazed and/or confused to play tough, or feign ignorance, "… get… truck… money… pay… for karts…"

LOGNOTE: change 'Or— neither' to 'Or— none of the above'

Unfortunately, HYDRA did not make Lunair lightning proof. And while launching shells at the others is fun, dying is considerably less so. The scooter is nimble, at least and she scoots aside from the lightning, scooter wobbling dangerously. At least she didn't lose any limbs, right? "I'm not pushing it," Lunair seems confused. Nevertheless, she's just sort of busy avoiding lightning. Some might consider it a noble hobby. M.O.D.O.K confuses Lunair a bit. Just a bit.

"I'm legally dead!" She offers helpfully. No invoice for her! Lunair's scooter weebles. Lunair's scooter wobbles. But it don't fall down. And now she's going to go for a red shell this gime, snickering like that damn dog from Duck Hunt.

Ruby slides into that cart and finds herself wondering what the hell to do now. When the scientist groans out the plan, Ruby shouts in his face, "Maybe you could've NOT made the carts and saved the money, you turkey!" She shoves him over, not out of the cart at least, and sets down to work the controls.

This is hard. "Did your acephelaoi up there just say something about an INVOICE? You're damn right you're all getting an invoice from me!" she shouts at the goon, helpless though he may be.

The storm clouds settle after a few bolts, leaving Lunair frustratingly unelectrocuted.

"Legally dead?! The laws of SCIENCE are far greater than those of MAN, and M.O.D.O.K. is SCIENTIST SUPREME! IN M.O.D.O.K.'S EYES, you are PERFECTLY ALIVE until he has seen fit to KILL YOU FOR BESMIRCHING HIS GOOD— "

M.O.D.O.K. pauses. His fractured eyes narrow on the shell in Lunair's hands as he releases a noise somewhere between a growl and a weary sigh.

"Seriously?" The oversized kart's engine sputters as it tries to flee from the shell locked unerringly onto it. "After— are you really going to— is Based M.O.D.O.K. going to have to sue a— "


The shell blows straight through the middle of the cylinder and the whole thing shatters, leaving the arms hanging limp from the metal base attached to the rest of the vehicle. The kart keeps trundling along, but there's nothing to guide it now; eventually, it'll bump into a building, or an actual car, or some other obstacle, and stop.

Nic warily watches it go for a couple seconds before turning to look for other incoming karts. Lunair gets an appreciative head-bob as she peers about. "Thanks for the assist," she offers. After a beat, she adds, "Fuck go karts, seriously," a little lower.

The karts are meant for a single driver. Sharing one with someone else makes for a tight squeeze, but at least the guy Ruby's shoving aside is buckled in: his head almost, but doesn't quite touch the asphault as she makes what room she can for herself.

The controls fall somewhere between 'deceptively simple' and 'delirious': instead of pedals, there are little buttons built into the wheel itself for brakes, gas, power sliding, and hopping, as well as other buttons built into the console. Nothing is labeled, because it was build with the expectation that the driver would RTFM before hopping behind the wheel. There is a compartment near the steering column that stores a couple of throwable weapons; they aren't labeled either, but 'point, throw' is pretty easy to work out.

Tethers descend from the heavens, snaking towards every single kart. Between Ruby and Lunair, whatever vehicles were fielded were disabled; at this point, the withdrawal is more a matter of keeping AIM's property and personnel safe from the authorities than anything else. This is mostly within their capabilities, but Ruby's kart poses something of a problem: since it's still tied up with the Prius, it's well over the limit of what the tether is meant to handle, so try as it might to tug the kart free, it ends up having to leave it and its driver behind.

Sirens wail in the distance. Sorting through - or even reaching - the crime scene might some time.


M.O.D.O.K. hurls a video game controller through a monitor displaying a stretch of Metropolis' streets overlaid with the words 'GAME OVER'.

"I'll DESTROY them! We will rebuild— bigger and better than before! We will— "

"S-sir," a beekeeper with a clipboard and a slightly heightened collar around his helmet meekly interjects, "the entire point of this exercise was to try and recoup some of the revenue we've spent on vanity and/or pet projects over the last several quarters. I cannot in good faith advise you to pursue this project any further at this time."

"I— " M.O.D.O.K.'s tiny hands clench and unclench as he glares down at his Accountant Supreme. "Fine. We will… place the remaining karts in storage— FOR NOW! Now! I have seen to your budget overrun, so our business is concluded! GO! FIND A BOOK TO BALANCE, FOR SCIENCE!"

"A—actually, that was just one overrun…" The Accountant flips through the clipboard for a moment before pausing and pinning the page beneath a finger. "Let's see, I had another… ah, yes. There was, ah. There was a bit of an irregularity in the construction budget last quarter…"

"WHAT?! And you waited until NOW to inform me?!"

"W-well, I included it in my last report, and you reminded me quite firmly that you were not to be disturbed during your— "

"Ggh— fine, just— what is it? What ELSE have these PEONS been wasting our money on?!"

The Accountant hesitates, but sure enough, he answers.


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