Taking Down A Mutant Activist

January 12, 2016:

Natalia Utrecht is gunned down … Sunspot is not happy about it

New York


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Natalia Utrecht has been…

Well she's been enjoying Berto's company and visits to be sure. The mutant activist and speechwriter likes to joke that her mutation is loving a good time. Of course she's known Berto for some time now and is aware that he doesn't do 'long term' the way that other people might. Doesn't mean she can't enjoy him when he's around though.

At the moment she's sipping a latte in the common area of a block of very nice condos, going over her latest speach on a tablet. It's getting dark out and the old style lanters are coming on, lending the entire 'green' area a kind of charming ambiance that you really only find in areas with enough money to spend on it. Well lit but not too bright, jogging paths, small artificial ponds and well maintained hedges abound.

Of course some might remember that she's been marked for 'Omega Protocol' - quite possibly by the US government or at least… someone in it.

The tricky thing about a cryptic codename is that it doesn't give team X much information about immediacy of the threat. That first evening, Roberto made his way over immediately and didn't let her out of his sight (unless the lights going out counted) until late the next day. But as days passed, it became difficult to balance protecting the activist and maintaining his cover — not to mention little things like running a company. So when he has been busy, or just away, other concerned parties have been taking shifts to keep more distant tabs on Utrecht.

The hour is just coming to the end of one such shift; his day at DCI stretched a little late, and he doesn't want to appear too clingy with Natalia. Not only is it notably not his style, and therefore out of character; it isn't really hers, and he doesn't want to risk alienating her. For… more than one reason.

Melinda May has had trustworthy SHIELD agents monitoring Natalia's whereabouts whenever Berto couldn't be about, and as he arrives, the agent on duty calls in and prepares to depart.

May doesn't have anything else going on and chooses to drop by and see how well the wards around Utrecht's residence are holding up as well as to gauge whether or not the woman has realized that she's being monitored. Hopefully the answer to that last is no.

Brins decided to accompany May. She's kept her distance from Utrecht, knowing that her profile as a member of X-Red and the teams connection to Berto could raise too many questions.

With SHIELD handling this shift of the monitoring and Berto about to take over, there's little else for Brin to do and this excursion may take her mind of her other problems.

As May and Brinley are approaching - indeed as Berto is approaching - the agent on duty calls back. Natalia just checked her phone, smiled and moved off into toward the east side of the common area. Which is to say the side that is away from the direction everyone is approaching. This is odd because other than meeting with Berto tonight, SHIELD is unaware of any other appointments. Could be a spur of the moment thing… or otherwise utterly innocent, but the techs are running her phone now.

The silvery, compact form of the Robertomobile slides easily into a parallel space between a couple of much larger vehicles. Roberto himself hops out a moment later, still dressed for work, and sets to feeding the meter. He's unaware of the SHIELD agent's report or Natalia's unusual behavior for the moment, so until something really untoward happens, he's not responding with any particular urgency.

Melinda May leads Brinley toward the surveillance vehicle parked just a short ways down from Utrecht's apartments — incidentally just a space or two from where Berto just parked — and they step inside. "Any updates?" she asks of the tech there.

"She's taking a phone call or something," the young woman replies. "We're tracking the call now."

"Sunspot, this is Mana." Brin got the update that Natalia has moved off in another direction. "Utrecht is moving to the East of her location, she just a message. Can you move to intercept? I believe there's an entrance in that direction."

If not, then Brins going to have to do some flying … up onto, if not over, the roof. Unless SHIELD have eyes of the woman.

Oh, there's Berto's car. Brin should recognize it. She was, after all, sort of driving it recently. It's kind of distinctive.

"Patching you through now Agent May. She's on a phone call. You need to hear this."

"Alright, well I'll see you in a second. You just pulled up?" That's Natalia's voice.

"Yeah, I'm in the red Maz you liked so much. Figured we could play a bit fast and loose with it tonight, certo?" The voice isn't perfect, but it sounds a lot like Berto's. Especially when you add noise from what sounds like a bluetooth connection. In fact if May couldn't see Berto's car… she might think.

"Well I'm almost there. We can talk about that when I get there." There's a throaty laugh that even Brin can imagine an almost feral grin accompanying. "Bye…"

Roberto puts a finger to his ear — he's got a nigh-undetectable bone conduction earbud in, but it's supposed to be for emergencies only. This is especially the case when he's doing undercover work, which isn't exactly his strong suit even without distracting voices in his head. This means that getting a message at all is alarming enough. When May cuts in with the fake Roberto voice, he grits his teeth, loosens his tie, and bursts into black flame.

Passers-by stare or scatter. "If that's Reignfire, I swear to God…" the Brazilian mutters to himself. He crouches and leaps, giving himself an extra boost if necessary to reach the green area. (He's already established where Natalia likes to work.) He should make enough of a splash when he lands to draw the activist's attention away from the impostor. He'll just have to figure out how to explain his behavior later.

"Agent May," the tech says urgently, "the call is faked to lure Utrecht out." May promptly relays the info to Berto, and doesn't wait for any further information as she leaves the van and walks as calmly as possible toward the apartment. Strange how she can appear to just be walking and still move at a pace someone like Brinley might have to jog to keep up with.

Strangely, Brin had similar thoughts about Reignfire when she heard the voice. "Red Maz…" Brins scanning the street, looking for the car that just pulled up … there it is.

With Berto distracting Natalia, maybe Brin can put herself between the fake, Reignfire or not, and Natalia. "Agent May, that's the one, over there." she's moving briskly too, just not calling on her powers yet.

As Berto boosts up something flashes down. It's glowing and…

Actually Berto has seen something like this before. Glowing with an orange light, circuit like traces showing through clothing. It looks like Jericho… but it isn't. Jericho doens't glow orange for one. And his armor always looks animalistic. This is sleek. Futuristic. From the armor to the sci-fi wings which are not flapping to the pair of very oversized holographic guns in her hands.

The figure slams down in front of Natalia just as Berto arcs high into the air. She starts with a surprised shriek.

And then a weapon fires from a distance. From above.

Natalia jerks and looks down. Red pools on her blouse. And she topples over.

"Sniper!" May is mentally cursing now even as she moves for cover. She doesn't bother shooting at the armored person, knowing that his about as impervious as Trent, and tries to get to where Utrecht just toppled over. If that sniper is even half Barton's caliber (not that she would EVER admit that to the former agent himself) then the young woman is probably already dead, but she has to try.

Such discipline from Brinley! Unfortunately, Roberto can't be having with any sort of sneaking around. He crashes through a hedge and comes to a pyrotechnic landing, skipping for a couple of steps as he kills his momentum. A moment later, he's firing bolts of solar fury at the airborne attacker, sprinting toward Natalia as quickly as possible, but not fast enough to catch her. "Tell me we have a medic!" he shouts on the comms, scooping Talia up in his arms and bolting back toward the far edge of the building. He has the presence of mind — or at least the futebol-trained instinct — to move in a serpentine pattern, but he's unarmored. If he gets hit…

No discipline, not any more. Brins on the move to 'Bertos location, in her bag is her med kit … she's been studying her EMT course but she suspects, from what she's sensing, they're too late.

As she nears the futebol-trained mutant, she falls in beside him, her glowing green and gold shield appearing around them … it will keep safe, at for the moment "I'm trained, Berto. Let me see to her, get us to cover."

Running off with the woman is clearly not something Berto was supposed to do. He may have suppressed or injured the sniper, or perhaps he's just out of view now. Either way, the tech-armored figure behind the Brazillian opens up with those oversized guns. Each one kicks up dirt as if it were fresh turf trodden by a dozen cleats in a grudge futbol match. Some are damn close but then Berto himself is around a corner and rather than waste ammo chewing up the greenery the traced out woman takes to the skies.

This puts her squarely in May's view. And Brinleys. And vice versa. Now they're taking fire.

As for Brin being too late… maybe not. She can feel pain. Confusion. Terror. She's alive. But she's badly, badly hurt. Maybe mortally. She'll have to check to find out. And that might be hard right now.

Sunspot nods and flicks his chin toward his car. It's basically everything-proof, from what he understands. Measuring his pace to stay beneath the umbrella of Brinley's shield, he yells, "Keyfob! In my right hip pocket! Green button!" There are a lot of buttons on Roberto's keyfob, you see. And once the door rises out of his way and he can deposit Talia inside the vehicle, he demonstrates one of the reasons for that: there are at least four panic buttons on the thing, and when he dives behind the car, stretches his arms akimbo, and hits the third, the trunk comes to life.

The trunk changes Roberto's clothes. The narrator leaves the specifics of this process to the reader's imagination.

By the end, he's suited up in his X-Red gear and blasting into the sky. Time to give this assassin a harder target.

Melinda May takes a couple of shots at the traced-out woman, if only to keep her from firing back, then continues trying to race to get to Utrecht. She can't tell yet if she's still alive or not, but she won't just give up on the woman now. "Matthews! Immediate Medevac!" The tech in the van acknowledges the agent's order and calls for SHIELD medical support.

"Uh… hip pocket…" It takes Brin a moment to process that before she does take the keyfob … gingerly. Thank goodness no ones actually looking at her, she's blushing furiously and her shield stutters a moment. Then they're in the car and she can let her shield drop, using her concentration on the woman that Berto laid there.

Pulling her medkit from her bag, the brunette works quickly, tearing Talia's shirt, checking the wound and staunching the blood flow as best she can… remembering everything Nick's taught her. "Hold on, Natalia, I'm trying to save you…" maybe she can hold her till SHIELD gets there.

Brins empathy only works one way … she can detect peoples emotions, but today, she reaches out to the wounded Natalia, trying to hold her with her own force of will as much as anything.

It didn't hit her heart. If it had she'd be dead already. But the bullet - big one - did definitely deflate one, possibly two of her bones, crush to ribs on its way in and possibly clipped her spine. She's bleeding. A lot. And she's having trouble breathing. Brin's going to have a hell of a time stabilizing her. She's got to patch both holes and let the lung reinflate… if it can. The bleeding? Well she can keep the blood in but a lot of it's internal. Here's hoping she doesn't choke on it. The woman is terrified. That much is easy to detect.

As May starts to take fire Berto rengages, forcing the tech armored woman to shift from her to him. He can see her power fields growing brighter as energy is diverted to surviving his point blank solar assault. Can Berto, in a fury, beat off this woman before he runs out of juice? And… is that another armored glowing streak in the sky?

It doesn't happen often these days, but Roberto. Is. PISSED. He comes straight at the woman like a rocket, and shifting power to shields rather than maneuvering may be a decision she regrets. Forget solar blasts; she's going to take a superstrong fist to the jaw. One that's currently putting off enough heat and radiation to blister, sure, but more importantly, one that has punched through concrete walls. Whether or not he connets, Roberto is going to follow up with a grab. Most fliers, frankly, aren't accustomed to midair grappling, and it's one of the few airborne manoeuvres he's any good at.

Melinda May fires at the traced-out woman one more time before Berto is too close to make it a good idea anymore, and then peers into the car through the closest window. That's really bad. THey can't wait for the medevac team to arrive. As Berto engages the armored woman, May slips into the car's driver's seat (she might elbow Brin a bit doing so, but it's unintentional, honest), steals the keys, and the tricked out race car abruptly LEAPS away, though the sudden aceleration is clearly very much well-controlled. "Matthews, can't wait for the medevac, heading for the nearest trauma ward." She happens to know that there's one less than a mile away and she has every intention of breaking EVERY last traffic law between here and there.

Jostled by May as the woman enters the car, Brin keeps working on Talia, speaking reassuringly to the woman. This could well be beyond on her own skill. With the supercificial things seen too, the brunette turns her attention to the holes, trying to patch them as quickly and efficiently as possible… whilst keeping Natalia from choking on her own blood.

She doesn't spare anytime to speak to Berto or May, they know what they're doing … let's hope Brin does too.

Berto's grapple is met by a sudden powerful downthrust as the woman tries to ground. Whether on the ground or in the air they're going to make a mess of things. There's an apartment building behind them and they smack right into it. And through it. Sunspot can hear a grunt of pain from the woman. And then her hands are on his throat. She is strong. Is Trent this strong? He seems to have to make a choice between flight and strength and a few other things, changing 'aspects' to suit the situation. This woman, she just puts full power to everything and tries to throttle the Brazillian.

Behind May a man in traced out armor zips over the road. Moments later a minigun begins chewing up the ground behind them and May hears rounds plink off the armored chassis. Yeah, that's not Aspect come to help. It's another tech armored agent.

The woman's head snaps back hard. He'd have powdered if had she not been armored. The impact would be enough to send her flying away if Berto didn't grab her. Speaking of, Berto's grapple is met by a sudden powerful downthrust as the woman tries to ground. Whether on the ground or in the air they're going to make a mess of things. There's an apartment building behind them and they smack right into it. And through it. Sunspot can hear a grunt of pain from the woman. And then her hands are on his throat. She is strong. Is Trent this strong? He seems to have to make a choice between flight and strength and a few other things, changing 'aspects' to suit the situation. This woman, she just puts full power to everything and tries to throttle the Brazillian.

Behind May a man in traced out armor zips over the road. Moments later a minigun begins chewing up the ground behind them and May hears rounds plink off the armored chassis. Yeah, that's not Aspect come to help. It's another tech armored agent.

Melinda May thanks the powers that be that Berto's car is clearly not just a snazzy sporty thing. Regardless, they can't lead one of those armored yahoos straight into a hospital. That would be phenomenally bad. "Myers. I'm going to need you to take over driving in a few moments. We're headed straight for a hospital ER, all you'll have to do is keep the car going straight and stop when you get there." Or she can stall out the engine and let the poor vehicle coast the rest of the way under its own momentum. It's either that or leap out of the car and straight at that armored agent.

The familiar growl of his car's engines getting to unload some torque brings a grim smile to Roberto's face. At least Natalia is on her way to get help.

He doesn't fight the downthrust — hell, he's better on the ground anyway. And since she's thrusting, whereas he's a drag, anything they hit, she takes the brunt. Hands around his neck? That he's a lot less okay with, enhanced resilience or not. Although you can't tell by his black silhouette's barely visible grin.

One hand at a time, he moves his grip to her wrists and starts trying to pry them apart by brute strength. This is not about subtlety and tactics and clever solutions — not today. He's pitting his righteous fury and solar strength directly against her tech, because he knows it in his bones: he's going to hurt this creature for what she did.

"No, I can't …" Brin starts to protest, still working on Natalia "she'll die…" but in her heart, Brin knows that there's little to do for the woman and the ER is the best place for her.

Maneouvering across the car, slipping into the drivers seat, taking the wheel, Brin concentrates like she's never had to before aiming the vehicle towards the hospital.

It's about at that point that May's phone comes alive and hooks itself up to the car's bluetooth system. An e-mail displays. It's from a secure address only ever used sparingly by Jericho. And the only text is an address. An address that is not a hopsital. And the words 'hurry.' A dull thud sounds behind her. The address is a solid five or six minutes away at full throttle but she'll have to lose her persuer who has apparently broken out the explosives.

Berto manages to pry one hand off his neck. And then the other. It's a struggle and he's burning power reserves very, very fast. If the woman put even more into her strength - assuming she has anything to put, does she? - maybe… well, in any case she doesn't do that. Instead the field around her head glows bright…

And then she butts her head forward with enough force to put a dent in an armored bank vault door.

Brin's efforts have slowed the breathing. She's bought this woman a few more minutes. Ten… twenty maybe. Will it be enough? And will May's daredevil driving do the woman in by itself?

Melinda May glances at the message — always risky while driving — then claims the wheel back from Brinley. "Change of plans." And she floors it. Mr. Armored Tank back there is mean, yes, but how fast can he REALLY go? Knowing Berto, this little roaster can likely put a Bugatti Veyron to shame. Let's just hope it has better acceleration characteristics. Scalded puppy would be ideal right about now.

She drops a gear and pushes the car to redline before shifting up again. Michael Schumacher, try to top this.

Brin breathes a little easier when May takes the wheel back from her. The brunette can fly and shoot arrows pretty well, but fast driving? Uh ah….

Settling back beside Natalia, she continues her ministrations, triaging as necessary to stabilise her further … anymore will wait till they have better facilities. She just hopes where they're going, they do.

It's about now though, that the brunette can spare a thought for her team mate and peeking out the back window she can see what he's up against. "Sunspot, Mana. Arranging emergency extraction if you need it. Signal Magik when you're ready, and she'll get you out of there. Live to fight another day … please."

Roberto sees what she's doing just a second before it happens, shifting so that the trace-enhanced agent puts a dent in his chestplate instead of his skull. It still hurts like hell, and he loses his grip on one of her arms to the shock. (Also? Possibly a rib. Worry about it later.)

They separate to about arm's length, but she's pulled up short by his remaining grip. He yanks on the arm he still has — hard — and brings up a knee, aiming to hit her center of mass. This is not Mr. Nice 'Berto. And unfortunately for her, he's not just relying on brute strength for his own satisfaction; it's also a lot less energy-intensive than the blasts and the flying. With the sun still partly up, he can keep brawling a lot longer this way. And he does, aiming another jab at his opponent's face.

"To hell with that," he says through gritted teeth, ignoring Brinley's sage advice.

Armored or not the operative Berto is fighting is still beholden to the laws of physics and strong or not it doesn't make her weigh any more than her five foot seven frame normally does. She gets yanked into Berto's knee and then loses contact with the ground. Her chestplate glows brightly as more power goes into it to absorb the blow but even so he can hear another grunt of pain. The upward momentem turns into a flip seconds later though as the agent applies thrust to carry her over Berto's head and slingshot him away in a wire-fu judo throw.

Or… that's the idea anyway. Berto's been pretty uncoperative so far.

May's sudden burst of accelleration has the operative momentarily falling behind. And a sharp turn puts him out of view for a moment. When she and Brin catch sight of him again he's winging away, back toward the 'scene of the crime' as it were. They're in the clear, though why he broke off isn't…

Or wait… Berto's over there isn't he?

Melinda May doesn't slow down, and she doesn't go back for Berto. Instead, she hits a button on the steering wheel while still weaving through traffic. "Trent." Luckily, her phone is smarter than the average Android, and it knows what that means as it dials Jericho. "Matthews," she adds into her comm while the phone rings. "Get backup for DaCosta, whatever it takes." Even a sidearm might be enough of a distraction to give the man a fighting chance.

The slingshot move works just fine; Roberto's not wasting a lot of energy controlling his momentum that could be applied to his opponent's face. The focus of the throw was on force rather than spin, so it's a direct flight, though — no tumbling ass over teakettle. Roberto remains oriented enough to fire a single burst of thrust, canceling enough of his momentum that he hits the wall at about running speed, gauntlets and boots first. From there, it's all too easy to make a wire-fu move of his own: he crouches against the wall for a split second, then makes a titanic leap back at his enemy, leading with an armored fist. Rocket punnnnnnnch!

"No…" Brin watches as the winged man heads back towards Berto. If she had her way, she'd just tell Magik to take him. But .. she won't. And she won't leave Natalia alone, she can't.

"Stay with me, Natalia. Tell me about the speech you were writing…" Brin tries to keep the woman engaged till they reach they safety.

All the while she's listening in to the comms, waiting to hear that Berto is safe.

May. Get that woman here so I can get her under cover. I've got some hints on what Omega Protocol is. I've got Gabby standing by if needed. Jericho's tone is clipped and precise, the way he sounds when he's juggling a dozen things - likely most of them electronic - at once.

Natalia's in bad shape. She really is. But Brin may have just heard that there's a nurse, and presumably medical equipment, standing by. If she can just make it. And it seems like she just might.

A SHIELD helicopter routs Berto's way as he launches back into the fray. As he comes the woman simply manifests a minigun and opens up on him, saving her dodge for the last second… question is, is she quick enough. If not she's going to hurt, armor or not.

Secondary question, how committed is Berto to the attack. Because off to his left the second agent lands, having beat the backup into play, and opens up with a mingun of his own. Both of these are not little 7.62 affairs. No, that's 20 mike mike at least…

"Very needed." May's words are even more clipped than usual as she concentrates on keeping the car under control at WAY above normal surface road speeds with traffic all around and a growing amount of police attention. "Matthews, get the LEOs off of me." The tech acknowledges the order, but it's not going to be instantaneous.

Roberto's armored, sure, but he's not rated against a damned vulcan cannon. Furious, he counters the only way he can think to: by unleashing an overwhelming torrent of solar energy. Forget piddling little hand-blasts — this emits from his entire corona. The body blast rips out with enough force to halt him immediately, and even bounce him back a bit. Any bullets in there will be knocked back and partially melted, hopefully along with their source.

Unfortunately, now he's really in the shit. His reserves have been deeper since AIM screwed with him, and his bare-knuckle fighting style today has only sipped power, but that acrobatic rebound and this unfettered manga blast changed that. A growing feeling of void lets him know that he only has a couple of minutes of shit-kicking left in him, and any blasts or powered flight are out of the question.

If the blast didn't take his first target down, he has barely enough to maybe pound a severely weakened version into submission, if he's very lucky. The reinforcements he was far too tunnel-visioned to see? There's just no way. He topples, hitting the dirt and hugging cover. "Merda, merda, merda, merda, merda…"

"Jericho, tell Gabby gunshot wound, one deflated lung, two of broken bones, two ribs. I can't determine but I think it might have nicked her spine. External bleeding controlled and lung reinflated." Hopefully the ER nurse will the things needed for when they arrive.

"Sunspot. I'm telling you to extract now." It's not often that Brin becomes so strident but she's been there, still has the nightmares about, Berto might remember from her personnel file. "Natalia is going to need a familiar face … " OK, so if he doesn't respond to the 'instruction' maybe he'll fall for the plea.

That blast.

That blast is unlike anything anyone's ever seen Berto do before. Well, not on public record anyway. It chews up the path of the incoming cannon shells, melting and deflecting them before striking the operative square in the chest - er, more like square in the everything - and hurling her through the hole in the apartment building she's standing in and out the other side and probably through one or two more structures though it becomes impossible to see through the now thick cloud of oily black smoke and dust. Was that a guttering of the armor Berto saw? Perhaps.

The spill he takes moments later actually saves his life, taking him out of the slewing path of the other cannon's stream of fire. A SHIELD chopper heaves into view and the second operative takes off skyward and arcs in the direction the first one was blasted and out of view.

Seconds pass, long and tense. Seconds turn into a minute turns into two. They don't return.

Agent May this is Raven Two. No eyes on hostile operatives. They may have extracted. Rendering aid to the… er… asset. What are they supposed to call Berto?

May finds herself pulling up to an unmarked industrial building. One of the rolling doors is opened and Jericho motions her right on in. Gabby is waiting with a gurney and emergency equipment and quickly helps Brin get Natalia out and onto it. "Alright, Brinley, focus and do exactly what I say…" It's going to be a long fifteen minutes.

As May exits Jericho gives her a rather serious look, his eyes flashing in concern and tightly controlled anger. "Text Sunspot when you get a chance and give him this location. Tell him to not be followed. It's important." Then, if she can focus, May might want to scrub up like Jericho is doing. His sister is going to need a few sets of hands rather quickly…

Melinda May gets out of the car after giving the wheel a brief pat. You've earned your keep today, you overly showy little beast. She nods to Trent, promptly taps out a text to Berto, then follows the hacker to scrub up. This is… going to be different. She's done battlefield patchwork before, but nothing like this.

Roberto whips out of cover, crouching to spring at and over the still-operative operative, only to see him flee after the one he blasted. Sunspot fades. Roberto takes several ragged breaths, then curls up with his fists at his ears. He grinds his teeth together and lets out an incoherent noise of anguish. The time it takes him to collect himself is measured in minutes, not seconds. Eventually, without really perceiving the transition, he's aboard the helicopter. He's flying toward whatever safehouse they've stashed Natalia in. He's saying a prayer in Portuguese that he learned as a child and thought he'd forgotten.

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