Peaceful Protest

July 31, 2015:

A late lunch and the Purifiers attack

New York

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Mid afternoon… and after spending the morning sorting through boxes and moving furniture, with Piotr, around the new X-Red offices, Brins called a hiatus and taken Piotr out for lunch, inviting another friend to come and join them. Choosing a small outdoors cafe, she's chosen a table near the edge where they can look out over the park and enjoy some sunshine…

Well, it would be enjoyable, if it wasn't for the small protest rally that's currently underway several feet from where they are sitting. It's a rally protesting the new mutant scanning techology. There's someone addressing the crowd and a group of people are carrying placards… so far it seems pretty peaceful. Unless you count that group, over to the left, that are clustered together talking amongst themselves… they might look a little out of place.


Piotr is all for free lunches. He crowds his side of the booth, leaning forward to devour his cuban. It's probably just the first course of his meal, since as a rule of thumb, he puts some serious food away. He chews with the appropriate amount of lips smacking that comes with being comfortable enough with someone, or failing that, not immediately seeking to impress them.

He looks outside at the rally, squinting at the ground. "Think that is trouble?"


Lunair will end up turning up some how. Invitations, fates dangling mcmuffins in front of her, it all happens. Lunair also should be meeting new people and not rocket launchering them, right? Right. She seems quietly happy enough and even has a lacey parasol to ward off the dog days of summer's sun. She likes cafes, and figuring out their recipes. So here she is. She smiles, waves to Brin and Piotr. "Hey there. How are you?" She apparently came the way opposite the rally. There's a quiet frown. She's sympathetic. But that group feels odd.


Small Outdoors Cafe, Johnny Storm is jonesing for the kati rolls sold out of the cart parked near you. Indian Subcontinental Food for the win, place, and even show. He's ordered the Unda Beef Roll, which is Beef Tikka rolled up with an egg-coated grilled flat-bread. Only one of them. Because after he eats here, he's not allowed to breathe back at the office for at least an hour.

And, turning around to seek a seat for the feast, Our Man Storm realizes that for no apparent reason, the anti-scanner protestors are being stalked. So he finds a seat near the cute girls who are near the giantish dude who looks vaguely like the dark version of Dolph Lundgren as Russian Boxer from that really old movie with that Stallone guy who used to be in actual movies.

He makes a decision. He is going to eat this sandwich roll before the inevitable trouble breaks out. CHOMP. One bite, twenty to go!


Sunshine and a bucolic environment was something he was in desperate need of. Keith needed some time to gather his thoughts and the rather sizable amount of guilt he feels on his shoulders.

It wasn't a coincidence, wasn't it? He talked to the Planet and that interview was published… and Traverstein's name was emphasized over and over and over. And then the woman commits suicide.

He's walking in his human form, black T-shirt and jeans ensemble, hands in his pockets and a troubled expression. He doesn't really have a mapped out route, though, he's wandering and thinking, thinking and wandering… and his expression clouds further when he arrives at the site of the protest.

With a sharp exhalation, he briskly heads to cross the street and seek shelter somewhere. That cafe out there- perhaps it can offer him the bliss of caffeine and pastries, booze and oblivion not being acceptable alternatives.


Pepper Potts arrives just a bit after Brinley and her friend, having approached a bit warily because of the protestors. But, once she's inside the patio space she relaxes a bit more, waving hello to Brinley and taking in her friend's actually somewhat familiar table manners with an amused quirk to her smile. Then she steps toward the cafe's counter to order something for herself.


"I'm good, thanks Lunair. Have you met Piotr?" Brin offers a smile to the other woman and gives the crowd a look as Piotr asks his question. Taking a moment to concentrate on the emotions she's sensing she blows out a breath "Potentially. Last couple of protests I saw like this, things got messy… maybe this one won't, but it's an emotive issue." Seeing Pepper come in, Brin offers a wave, watching as the redhead goes to order. "And there's Pepper."

Whilst Brin speaks quietly generally, Johnny should be able to hear her.

The group over to the left, fan out behind the protesters, although they don't appear to be armed, but that might be deceiving, who can tell at the moment?

There's a buzz of something, or a couple of somethings, drawing nearer, in the air, quite quickly…. Two predator drones appear, on the opposite edges of the park… Not obvious yet to most people, but they seem to be homing in on … the protesting group.


Piotr certainly doesn't notice the drones. Instead, chewing on his sandwich, he mutters a greeting to Lunair. "This isn't friend you invited? What is one more though? Come, sit." He pats the spot next to him on the booth as he swallows down his bite with a deep drink from his cup.

Wiping at his mouth after speaking with Lunair, he can't help but look back to the crowd. "Is best to hope that you are right… you heard the news today? A big rally could be bad. Real bad."


"That's good, and I don't think so," She admits. Lunair tilts her head. "Peased to meet you, Mr. Piotr." She offers. She looks over her shoulder. The crowd isn't unusual. There's a polite smile for Pepper. She recognizes her. And maybe the other two gentlemen if she spots them.

"I'll go place my order," She offers. "Did anyone want a refi—" Her words cut off. The distant stare of someone who is hearing something that sets off bad memories. Frozen for a moment. "Oh-" And a few very unladylike cursewords. "Freaking DRONES! It's not Thursday! They're using predator drones? I think?" Lunair knows drones(TM). She's like the Tim Allen of drones. It's drone time and quite frankly she's wanting nothing to do with it. Deep breath. "I don't know if I want to risk a rocket launcher this close. Uugh. Maybe if I have really good armor I can punch it." Right. Power armor and potential copyright infringement up. "No wait. That's a bad idea. Ugh, maybe lasers…"


Johnny, also, does notice the drones. He takes a larger fourth bite, swigs down some mango lasse, and taps his phone, "Hey. Herbie. Who's got drones near where I'm?"

The polite mechanical voice replies, "How should I know, Mr. Storm? Scanning them now."

HERBIE is getting sassy with Reed and Sue spending a week in Mole-Avia. If that's really where they went.

And then he's distracted by Lunair. Hey… she looks familiar. Rail Gun Girl? But she's not wearing the black lolita-chan gothique outfit, which really didn't flatter her as much as it should have. Although it was certainly interestin… Hey JOHNNY pay attention. Do you have time to stop the drones? What are they doing?


There was no rest for the wicked, as they say. The cafe has some people he knows- there's a redhead he knows, and there's a blond guy he knows, and there's-

There's the lady he sort of tentaculated by accident and he is VERY glad that she hasn't noticed him just yet because of the drones because holy hell.

Drones, yes, drones. How they work? Who knows? Who cares? They can only mean bad news what with the Totally Not Suspicious Group stalking the protestors. He glances quickly from Johnny and HERBIE to the table with the muscular guy, Pepper, woman he doesn't know and woman he hopes doesn't notice him, and makes a quick heel turn towards the door, the little military metal mirror fished out of his jeans with his right hand.

~Do I get to $@#$ them up? I should totally get to $*(#$ them up after the day I've had~
++Focus.++
~~Focus on totally #$@#$ing them up!~~

He walks briskly back towards the park, and towards the protesters. If Lunair hadn't exclaimed as she did, he totally would not have even noticed the drones until much later- but with this advanced warning, he's heading towards the only possible place the drones could be heading towards- the large gathering of people that basically has "SHOOT HERE" written all over them.

~Over my #$@#$ dead body.~


Pepper Potts steps back over toward the others with a beverage in hand, and immediately notices the change in everyone's demeanor. She follows their gazes, and has the exact same thought Johnny apparently did. She pulls her phone from her bag and does something that's likely so common no one will notice. "JARVIS? There are two drones flying near me."

The AI that Pepper is addressing responds with his polite British voice, "Attempting to determine that now, Miss Potts."

And now, it's a battle of the AIs.


HERBIE or JARVIS' scanning doesn't pick up anything /at all/ about who might be using the drones.

JARVIS does have access to some information that Brinley uploaded after a certain research facility got raided. That research indicated that there was a second generation meta-human scanner in the works, one more compact than the current unit.

The group behind the protesters appear to be doing nothing at the moment, but should anyone try to leave the protest, they'll have to pass through them…

The drones are /quick/ and bear down on the protesting group… although the one to the right of the park makes an abrupt turn and heads towards the cafe - making a direct line for Lunair, Brin and Piotr. Almost like it detected them!

"Drones?" Brin looks in the direction Lunair is and her eyes widen, even as she pales "They're stepping it up, Lunair. Don't get darted…" back to Piotr "This is about to get messy. They target meta-humans."

With a little concentration, a glowing green and gold wall appears between the Cafe and the oncoming drone "I can hold this and protect those in here, go… stop them… and try to bring the wreckage back, we'll want to examine it." she implores the other two.


Colossus rises to his feet, the last of the group to notice the drones. He takes a step forward to block the booth from its scanner, looking back briefly as Brin speaks and lifts her strange forcefield to protect the rest of the cafe. "Da, wreck it. Then check it. Is easy." He reaches up to remove his coat, tossing it on the booth to hold his seat as he walks forward. The baseball cap on top is removed as he shifts to his metal form, no more need for disguises it would seem. He was large before. Now he would stand eye to eye with something like the Hulk, and gleams in the late afternoon sun.


Lunair is armored up and considerably upset. She doesn't even seem to be bothered in the slightest by a Vorpal sighting. He seems okay, even if he has some unusual tastes. She waves to Pepper and takes flight. Some sort of rocket propulsion that doesn't seem to give off a lot of heat. "I CAN'T EVEN WITH YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR SODDING DRONES." She hates drones. A lot. Whatever. She's going to have to pull an immense laser cannon out of nowhere. She can't risk a rocket launcher around people.

And white lasers it is. "Whoa." Mr. Piotr is super shiny. Cool.

She does nod at Brin. "Okie dokey. I'll help look for it after."


The entity connected to iHERBIE is one of possibly six or eight actual Jeeves-class AI systems on Manhattan Island, and his relationship with JARVIS is entirely a friendly, professional one. They would, if some bizarre twist of realities turned them to flesh-and-blood, most likely be members of the same Gentleman's Gentlemens Club. Thus it is that they silently, near instantaneously, exchange 'hello' and 'drones? You as well?' and then 'here is trajectory information/here is make-and-model information/here is the recommended hacking code sequence/how strange, I could not find ownership information either/shall we try to take them over?' and meanwhile, Johnny is standing up and yelling because DRONE … and then his sandwich and his iHERBIE are on the tabletop and he's yelling "FLAMEOn!" and flying up (thank goodness for outdoor seating) to get an angle on BOTH drones, and also to get a look at these anti-protestor jerks pulling out the threatening-controlling body language. Who may just need to learn about the Ring of Fire Restraining Order.


Matchstick was in the air, Lunair was getting ready to do Her Thing, and- oooh, the strong guy just turned all shiny and chromey. He stares for a few seconds because the finish is so cool, and for a moment he wonders if he could find someone to make him a chrome sui-

++FOCUS++

Right.

The people in the cafe had shiny guy and Lunair to take care of that drone, plus the lady who was holding the barrier. Matchstick was heading towards the group that was clearly blocking the prostest.

That left the protest itself. Johnny was clearly trying to get a clear shot at the drones, but someone needed to take care of the people in case he couldn't

And that meant getting through the Beagle Boys here. Okay. "Let's get dangerous," he mutters as he crosses the street.

Mirror. Eyes. We're All Mad Here, and suddenly- wham, a wild Vorpal appears, walking at a relentless pace towards the protestors, which is likely to draw him in direct confrontation with the human blockade.

Or not. He takes one step, and then by the end of it he's right at the protest as if he had been wearing Seven League Boots. Close enough: with your own Rabbit Hole, reality is your mollusc.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic and stay close to me," he says, approaching the group with hands up. "I'm with the Titans, and for your safety I need you to remain close."

He turns around quickly to see whether the drones or the Beagle Boys (let's face it,that's their name from now on) approach the protesters.


Pepper Potts looks slightly alarmed as things start getting tense REALLY fast. "This… is not good. JARVIS, would that white noise project we've been working on be ready? I might need it. Very, very soon."

"It has not been adequately tested, Miss Potts, but there iS a rudimentary program ready."

Turn it on, then, JARVIS. Please. Right now."

There's a faint hiss from Pepper's phone, almost like a sigh. "At once, Miss Potts."


The drones aren't standard so iHerbie and JARVIS' information on how to hack and take them over is inaccurate, but with the combined computing power of the two AI's it shouldn't take them long to adjust the information they have and get control.

As Vorpal rabbit-holes in, the group arrayed behind the crowd pull very well concealed guns and try to herd the protesters in to a group… two of them start firing on Vorpal (lovely group that they are).

As JARVIS 'turns it on', no sound is heard, but Brins phone starts emitting a 'white noise' signal… the approaching drone falters and hangs in midair… whatever JARVIS just did, seems to have an effect - but for how long? If Piotr is quick, he might be able to disable it before it recovers.

The second drone is now on the crowd and firing darts into it. Two adults and a child fall to the ground, disabled by whatever they're hit with… this is not good.


Colossus is running toward the drone, arms swinging and covering immense ground with every step. Unless Lunair is an olympic athlete, or supernaturally fast, she'll find herself falling behind him simply by virtue of his longer stride. He does not try to leap into the air, or cause property damage by throwing projectiles at the suddenly seizing drone. Instead, he slams on the metaphorical brakes as he comes right underneath the floating terror-bot and links his fingers together to form a springing board for Lunair.

While he's not entirely sure what her skillset is, she's already decked herself in some form of strange power armor so it has to be something good. He'll just boost her up with a high toss, and let her nab the thing! Brilliant impulsive tactical decision making that all these supersuit organizations are missing out on here. Janitor work, pfft. Not fit for someone with his huge intensive internal library of action movie cliches.


Eurgh. Laser cannons are great when she doesn't have to worry about something out of Alice in Wonderland or civilians. She's murderous but she tends to avoid civilian slaughter if she can help it. Nevertheless, she'll go with Colossu' plan. Springboard, ahoy! Instead of a laser cannon, now she has plasma claws that seem like the kind ninja once used but updated. She can grab and slice without worrying about taking someone out. Plus there's the old power armor to soften the blows.

"Thanks!" She's duly respectful and gets sprung into one drone to claw and grab.


AND, that's all he can stands, he can't stands no more. Johnny starts throwing fireballs down at the Beagle Boys — which is to say, baseball-sized spheres of flame that explode on contact with a loud BANG and a burst of unpleasant heat and possibly an impact like being punched lightly, at first. They're spread throughout the group of anti-protestors, but they also land at the feet of the ones Johnny sees using guns, and if they're not swift-footed, the Beagles will find themselves surrounded by a peculiar wall of flame — it's intensely hot, but only if you touch it, and it's face-high.

(If they're not careful he'll turn it into fire-capsule and knock them out by oxygen deprivation. He's practiced that one. A lot.)

((A side note about cameras. Johnny knows that Reed has overloaded his combat suit with special sensors, cameras, and other equipment, and he doesn't care, because even if Sue gets all grumpy about Privacy, Johnny is a guy and understands research. Also he thinks it's cool watching his play-by-play later. But that also means that our friends with the dart guns are NOT saved by Johnny leaving the iHERBIE behind, because he's still recording.))


Primary objective: Disable the drone. Secondary objective: Don't get shot! Easier said than done. Since Vorpal is between the crowd and the goons, he can't just duck away because those bullets are going to hit someone. Lunair's power armor probably inspired him, as a glowing armor appears around him at the speed of thought just as those guns are fired.

In the movies, you see people shrugging bullets off as if they were nothing- but those things pack a punch whether or not they penetrate, because physics are a thing and even Wonderland creatures are subject to it on occasion. Vorpal reels back from the impact of the bullets as they are deflected by his armor- but mercifully the flaming wonder saves his goose by cooking the Beagle Boys' goose. Division of labor for the win! This means that while Matchstick is taking care of the goons, the cheshire cat can take care of the drone.

Normally he would approach an enemy with ranged weapons with his illusions as a distraction-but drones have sensors, and they can tell illusions from the real thing, so those are out. So what comes next is the direct approach: Vorpal, of the Titans, running with all of his speed and agility clad in his glowing purple armor, vaulting towards the drone that is close to the ground and trying to land on top of it. He aims to give that thing the rodeo treatment- and he also needs to be close enough to it to make sure he screws with its systems when he releases the Chaos Wave that he is currently holding in.


-There's something weird going on with his phone, though. But he doesn't have time to think about that as he goes up in the air and down towards -hopefully- the drone…


Pepper Potts sees the drone that's not stymied start to fire something at the protestors and promptly holds up her phone. "JARVIS, record this, please." Because she doesn't know that Johnny's got more wires on him than a christmas tree. She's letting JARVIS control the camera, as he can do so better than she can. Hopefully he caught images of the drone firing on the even now still non-aggressive protestors, and the Beagle Boys pulling weapons and firing FIRST, and then Vorpal and Johnny stepping up to defend the civilians. She is going to be SCATHING about this to the authorities. THey've officially asked for it.


The drone that Vorpal leaps at is momentarily stalled, allowing him to jump at it and the wave of Chaos magic does the rest of the job. The drone /drops/ from the sky and plummets to the ground.

Johnny's fireballs account for the Beagle Boys, quite nicely - encapsulating them and sending them to sleep… just as Johnny planned.

The team-up with Lunair and Colossus gets a big grin from Brin… and Lunairs plasma claws rend the drone useless, just as it started to move again - she's going to have to land though!

JARVIS and iHERBIE are recording the scene… there'll be footage there to review when this is done.

Police and EMT's will be there soon. The downed family are already being cared for…

Brin drops the shield she's been holding in front of the Cafe and looks out at the protest… "Lunair, is it the same type of drone we saw with Nick the other night?" She gives a concerned look to Piotr and then over her shoulder at Pepper… "Miss Potts, are you ok?"


Piotr looks up, up, and then makes a quick step to the side. No, he's not leaving Lunair to splatter on the floor. Though she could probably just summon some kind've bizarre jet pack or parachute from whatever endless void space her mutant ability is linked to. He doesn't know that much though, and it seems she is in need of some assistance. He takes one final step, then extends his arms to catch the falling Gun Freak in his burly but shiny arms! "Pazhalooysta, Milashka." He gently sets Luniar down with a pat to her shoulder as he looks to the clean up crew as they handle the rest of the trouble.

"They do be moving quickly." He nods approvingly, "Here, give me strange robot. You might still be able to be helping. I will give this to Brainac."


She has no idea what he's saying, but Lunair is glad to help out. "Thanks," Lunair beams beneath her black visor at Piotr. Whatever flying capability she might have, she keeps it be. This was more fun. Why not. It was fun! And she is set down neatly. She nods and will give Colossus the drone. Lunair seems to trust him. And the Human Torch is here, too! Cool. "Yeah, it looks like it… definitely a predator drone," She muses. She looks over the group.


In fact, Johnny will end up turning over this particular iHERBIE to the police when he informs them that he was wearing a body camera and the data was all on his phone. Which, of course, it was by the time they got to it. Because, yes, wearing a body camera, pretty much ensured that the high-profile Fantastic Four member(s) would always have an objective take on whatever happened. Which was generally very helpful when dealing with cranky New York SRDs. Also, if they had to wear them, then it was less annoying when the amateur leaguers did.

But first.

"Hey, Vorpal," Johnny says cheerfully as he hovers over the second drone. "How's life been treating you? You hear about Senator Travesty?"

He does take a moment to wave at the others, because he'll need to be getting back to that food roll soon. Before his stomach makes really rude predator noises.


Once the drone falls, Vorpal hits it with an anvil. Because you can never be too careful, right? Panting a little and dismissing his constructs, the cheshire slides off the drone to the ground just as Johnny makes his entrance…

He shoots Johnny a glance that's full of mixed emotions.

"I'd… rather not talk about that…" he mutters, turning around and thinking it's better if he le-

No, he can't, he has to stay and file paperwork as a member of the Titans. @#!!

He heads over to the group, trying to avoid any further mention of Traverstein from Jonny. "Hey. Good job," he says to Lunair and Piotr, though the mention of the woman has clearly knocked any celebratory air out of his sails. "Lunair. Miss Potts." A pause to look at Piotr and Brinley, and he adds, "Complete strangers."


Pepper Potts nods to Brin at the question about whether she's okay, then she taps a quick text into her phone for JARVIS, telling him the 'white noise' seemed to work over a short distance, and having him send her video to the police for review. THen as everyone reconvenes she offers a smile and sort of roundabout introductions.

"Ms. Myers. I knew you'd invited me to join you here, but I didn't think this would be why. Does everyone know everyone here? Mr. Storm, good to see you again. Vorpal and Lunair, you were both amazing." She falters briefly, then offers Piotr a handshake. "Hello. I'm Pepper." She's trying for informality today. Roll skill check to see if she's completely failing or not…


Brin holds her breath as Lunair falls and then lets it out in a rush as Piotr catches her. "Thank you, Piotr." If he hands the drone over to her, she'll inspect it. "Miss Potts, it wasn't. I simply wanted lunch." holding her out to Johnny and then Vorpal "Brinley Myers, codename Mana, X-Red. Thank you for what you did."

Letting Piotr introduce himself, Lunair gets a bright smile "Nice work."


"Oh, I know you." Piotr says as he takes Pepper's hand in his huge paw, "Have seen you many times on tv, they ran documentary on you. I am Colossus." He's not really quite as fascinated with seperating his mutant persona from the real person, so he follows shortly after. "Piotr is better. Is nice to meet you." He then looks to Brinley, "Should we be leaving?"


Lunair is quiet. "Thank you guys." She doesn't even call Vorpal a deviant! Progress? Progress. Seeing Johnny again gets a wave. Why not? He's a neat person. "I will let you get back to things. Be well. And it was good to see you guys."


Flame extinguished, Johnny trails back to the restaurant in time to hear the Stainless Steel Russian declare his name, and nods to himself in total agreement. He's also pretty sure he's upset the cat guy, which is too bad, but oh wait. Dude is acting like he thinks its his fault. That's stupid… Travesty didn't kill herself, nobody would believe that one. The woman was a heartless badger, she might have a secret gay lover, but she wouldn't leave a stupid sappy letter like that. Not even in a bad soap opera. But… you can't explain to a cat.

"Hey, Pepper. Good to meet you, Mana, Colossus. Lunair, right? Love that armor."

AND there's the Kita Roll, which he grabs and begins noshing on again. You might laugh. But he has a serious metabolism. Also, HERBIE is showing him the clips of his action. Not very actiony. Oh well, those were pretty clean knockout cages.


"Oh… hey, X-Red, you guys are allied with us," Vorpal says, recognizing the team. "I think. Is that still a thing? I haven't heard anything from Sunspot in six million years." He's out of the loop. The other members tend to be more up to date on what's going on with other groups like the JL:A and X-Red. He shakes Brinley's hand and offers his to Colossus as well. "I'm Vorpal. Keith O'Neil." He doesn't really have the option of a secret identity, so he uses his name interchangeably with his moniker. He does avoid looking at Lunair straight in the eye because that incident was still rather mortifying, really. "You guys can go ahead if you want, I've got to stick around and give my declaration and whatnot." Because while there is a space of time in which you can turn in your report, Vorpal guesses it's better to just do it now and get it over with. "The other drone is over there… kind of beat-up but if you've got a tech-head in your team, you could take it apart. We don't have a tech-head yet."

Tim was computer-savvy but he wouldn't call him a gearhed per se. Oddly enough the Titans seemed to have a rather heavy number of magical and mystical members, but not a single techie. It was depressing. He was considering recruiting someone from the Geek Squad… even if they'd just be faux tech-heads…


"A pleasure to meet you as well, Piotr." When he asks Brinley if they should leave, she glances to the woman to see what she says. Of course, her order that kind of got messed up when people started freaking out over the incident across the way is in the process of being remade. Because Pepper.

"Good to see you again, Miss Lunair." Johnny's greeting earns him an amused smile, and when Vorpal mentions the other drone, she pipes up. "I'd like to take it back to Stark Industries if the police don't confiscate it. We might be able to glean a bit more about it. "


"We don't have to go, Piotr. I'm X-Red and we work with the local police for these sorts of things." And they did nothing wrong. "But if you'd feel more comfortable we can. Although I'm sure Miss Potts is going to stay." They can still enjoy a relaxing afternoon. "Miss Potts, please do. We'll work on the other one and maybe find out a little more. "

Vorpals statements gets a slightly pained look "X-Red is independant now and 'Bertos resigned. Our new headquarters are out near JFK airport." That's all she's going to say on that for now.

If Piotr wants to go, Brin will wave goodbye and possibly hug Pepper, if not, she'll resume her seat and enjoy what remains of her lunch.

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