Hulkbusting in Metropolis

June 16, 2016:

Another 'hulkbuster' appears. This time in Metropolis. Thomas gets an assist from a local heroine - Power Girl!

Metropolis

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Metropolis.

Shining city of Tomorrow. The Big Peach. If there’s a beacon of hope in the Tri-City area, this is it. Many would call it a model city. The streets are clean, the economy booming, the crime is low and relations with the city’s ‘unusual’ protectors are generally quite good between government, citizen and hero.

And protectors the city does absolutely have. There’s Superman, of course. He’s practically the city’s icon. There’s the mysterious ‘Angel of Metropolis’ who travels the skies on shining wings. The city has seen ‘Supergirl’, and of course hosts the JL:A. There’s a lot of power concentrated here and much of it is determined to protect the city come what may.

Which is good because Metropolis has had it’s share of bad times in recent memory. The two standouts are the terraforming device from some person or place called ‘Darkseid’ that dropped into Hell’s Gate and the brief HYDRA takeover of the city that resulted in temporary but quite intense open warfare in the streets.

Today’s trouble, though, is on a smaller scale, though no less dangerous for all that.

All units be advised of possible meta-class threat near Hyperion Manufacturing. Eye witnesses report a ‘robotic man’ breaking into the facility. MetPD units cordon off the area and assist any civilians in danger. The Marshals are deploying Paradox.

Even without the ability to listen to the radio, the scene isn’t hard to make out for anyone with a view. Hyperion Manufacturing is one of Metropolis’ premier high tech, heavy industry companies. They deal in materials designed to operate in high stress environments. And right now there’s a great pall of smoke rising from their plant just outside the downtown area. Smoke… and a lot of sirens.


Another disturbance that hits on SHIELD's radar and of particular interest to Jemma Simmons. It was probably a good thing that she'd been in Metropolis meeting with Thomas, discussing the latest travails they had.

A call to The Triskelion has a quinjet on standby - when they know what they're dealing, that might be deployed.

For now, the disaster magnet Scientist is standing near Thomas, at the MetPD's command post. It's unlikely to police will remember the Marshal - even though he's often deployed in these cases.

"Do we have visuals of the man, yet?" A 'robotic' man fills her with dread - that might be because a number have tried to assassinate her lately. Her and Thomas.


It’s one thing to have a desire to beat your competition, it’s an entirely different thing to do nothing when they suffer a disaster. While Karen sits in her office at Starrware Industries, she learns of the smoke seen coming out of Hyperion Manufacturing, and cancels her next meeting. It’s a good thing super speed is so helpful to do things in a rush, while moving too fast for the human eye to capture, as she’s soon out her window as Power Girl, flying to the downtown area, scoping with her X-Ray vision for any potential source while closing in on the smoke.


X-Ray vision helps to penetrate the smoke. Power Girl can easily pick out the protective ring of police cars set a few blocks back. SWAT is rolling onto the scene but they don’t seem to be ready to do anything quite yet.

Through the smoke, though, the eagle eyed superheroine can make out a humanoid shape. Not a man, certainly. It’s too big, too bulky. The profile is more like a gorilla with broad shoulders and over-long arms though it’s clearly mechanical in nature. If she pays attention to developments in the tech sector - as she might in her ‘civilian’ persona - she may recall that the military quietly did a demonstration with a suit that looked somewhat like this. They called it ‘Hulkbuster armor’ and it was designed to take on incredibly tough hostile metahumans. Allegedly it featured some kind of ‘adaptive armor’.

At the moment it’s kneeling over, attaching something to several crates. When it rises the crates shoot into the sky, propelled by miniature rocket boosters. They bank and head north. Yep. Theft. Very very bold, very clever theft.

Back at the cordon Thomas Nashoba, US Marshal, is talking to the MetPD officer in charge. “How many people in there?”

“Twenty three unaccounted for.” Lieutenant Rawlins replies, eyes tracking the departing crates.

“Alright. I’m going in to distract it. Get the people out if you can.” Clearly, Thomas is unaware Power Girl is on the way… though this is kind of his job. You’d think a man with a metal gauntlet on his left hand and arm that he never takes off would be more memorable. Sadly, Thomas has a… ‘condition’ that causes people to forget him frequently.

Not that prevents him from doing his job.

“Jemma, if you have tricks, now is the time. I guess we’ll see what it is when I poke it with a stick.” Then he’s off. Power Girl from her vantage can see someone from the cordon ‘blur’. Suddenly he’s twenty yards away. Then again. Then again. Short range teleporter? He’s closing very, very quickly on that ‘Hulkbuster’, whomever he is.


How Jemma remembers Thomas is a long story, but suffice to say that she does.

It's not like Jemma can see through the smoke, but if she could - that quinjet would be deployed immediately to track, intercept and recover the stolen crates of equipment. Knowing what these 'hulkbuster' suits are after, would help her work out what they're trying to do.

"Tricks?" the British born biochem looks up at Thomas, eyes widening in near distress "These things are adaptive and the EMP I used last time did nothing." blowing out a breath "and I suspect that the people in there will object to it, if I ask to electrify the whole building…" Which is a real sledgehammer approach, but the suits rather demand it.

"Get me the schematics for the buildings power and layout, please." the request is made to one of the officers. "Thomas, we might be able to bait the thing into an area where we can try and fry it. I still don't have any information on their weaknesses."

Of course she doesn't realise that Power Girl is incoming.


Power Girl looks down below and frowns, not liking what she’s seeing one bit. She naturally keeps very up to date about high tech industry in general, and more direct competition in some areas of industry more closely than others. But most special attention of all, she gives to just this ‘Hulkbuster’ type of project. She needs to know what was created to deal with wouldbe villains, and may wind up used against her and other heroes.

So while she can see there’s at least one person using a ‘Hulkbuster’ suit at the moment, and another supposed law enforcement agent closing in via a distinctly teleportation style, her chief concern is to prevent having ‘Hulkbuster’ units fall into the wrong hands.

Using her heat vision, she aims to blow up the thrusters on each crate, and one by one deliver them right back to where they were taken from. Order of operation being explode a thruster, grab a falling crate and take it back, then return for the others. Using her super speed to do it as fast as possible, so she could lend a hand against whoever it is in that ‘Hulkbuster’ suit.


Clearly no one counted on someone like Power Girl showing up. Flying crates are good for evading the police. Evading superheroes? Not so much. The thrusters are pretty advanced but they’re not that sturdy. A burst of heat vision is all it takes to send the crates into a spiral one by one, allowing them to be grabbed and stashed away safely. Of particular note is the fact that all of them seem to have both biohazard and radioactivity symbols on them so… don’t stash them next to anything likely to go ka-blooey.

The Hulkbuster rises and turns, stepping out of the smoke and raising its arm. Implanted in the wrist all about the hand are a number of barrels that, an instant later, turn out to be plasma projectors of some kind. Which is a new one so far as Thomas is concerned. The last time he’d seen one of these things it was exclusively punching.

The Marshal draws his sidearm and the pistol shimmers briefly as if somehow being displaced. When the shimmer fades the weapon is a sleek black and white, futuristic looking pistol rather than a plain old .45. It’s not just cosmetic either. As plasma bolts begin to splash around the rapidly moving lawman his own weapon discharges a steady stream of blue-green bolts that stich up the chest of the armor, making it smoke and spark. At the moment that appears to be all it’s doing though. Damn this thing is tough.

It’s strong too. Not content with blasting plasma at the man circling around to it’s left, the armor reaches out and tears off a section of wall the size of a conference table, hurling it with casual ease. Thomas breaks off his attack to ‘blur’ out of the way behind a car that is quickly taken under fire. If there’s a bright point in all of this, it’s that the damn thing isn’t looking up. It has no idea Power Girl is on the scene. To be fair neither does ‘Paradox’. The cops further back though, they’ve already seen her arrive. That might be cheering Karen can hear.

-

Whilst the schematics for the power and the building are being pulled up, Jemma's trawling through data on her tablet. There's precious little 'publically' available on the suits, but she might have done a little digging. Thank goodness for the algorithms that Fitz left with her before heading off on long term assignment.

"OK, from what I can see, there's a flaw in the suits power systems." the scientist talks, Thomas can hear her, as can the police - but she might just be talking to herself, she does that sometime. "These notes that I have indicate that if the shields are put under attack from different types of force, the internal power reactor will overload. Thomas, how quickly can you change out that weapon and can you hit it with different energy sources?"

Certainly, combined attacks from Power Girl and Thomas might be enough to do the trick.

"What was that …" looking up from her tablet, peering towards the warehouse "… is that thing armed now? Oh no…" She really shouldn't be surprised.


When Power Girl notes the hazardous and radioactive material warning signs on the crates, she has a change of heart, and instead stashes them on a roof of a nearby building. Hopefully she’ll be able to secure them with the proper authorities once she’s done dealing with the source of the problem.

Major bonus, when she’s down she notes how Hulkbuster-Dude is occupied with Thomas, and has no clue he needs to watch out for his zenith. A bit smile flashes on her face, as she decides to take it personally, she zooms downwards like a falcon after prey, fist extended forward, she is going to test just how durable this armor suit is. Not holding back, she swoops down with quite a descending fist that would make a Falcon Punch proud. “Look above, Tinman!”


CLANG! The first thing Power Girl notices when she gets close to the armor is that this is definitely a different version from the one that was demonstrated by the military several months back. For one thing, plasma projectors. For another it doesn’t appear to be ‘wearable’. Looks like at some point someone decided to mess with fully automated drones.

In any case the descending blow makes quite a dent in the armor, cracks the pavement beneath the Hulkbuster and sends it skidding back - digging a furrow into the ground as it goes. The US Marshal called ‘Paradox’ emerges from behind the now mostly slagged car and peers into the building. “Is he down?” Also hello. Sorry. Thomas is a bit focused on work. He’ll introduce himself properly in just a mo-

“Timeline variance detected. Adjusting for unexpected factors.” A deep, very mechanical voice says. With her superior sight Power Girl can see the dent in the armor mending. It appears to be running power into it, causing the material to restructure itself on a microscopic level.

“Flight subsystems activated.” There’s a powerful blast of jump jets and the multi-ton machine leaps into the air to come down where the two heroes are standing with a double fisted, overhead blow. Thomas barely has time to blur out of the way, the sudden change in momentum sending him skidding and stumbling backward.

“Crap. Jemma I don’t think I have anything that’ll punch through this thing’s armor. Can you overpressure the water system?” If it’s a question of applying different kinds of energy, maybe some heat will do. Water’s good for transferring heat… if you can get it hot to begin with.

“Was that Power Girl? Can you see her?” He calls back to SHIELD support. There’s too much dust. He can’t tell if that machine hit the heroine or where it went.


"Uh…" Jemma finally realises that there's someone else on scene - what? She gets rather immersed in what she's doing - and looks to one of the Met-PD who nods. "Yes, apparently that's Power Girl and I can just make her out through the smoke."

"Water system. Just.a.moment" Thomas will know by the way she's speaking that she's working on something. "I can, it's going to take a few moments. They're just opening up access to that system." And, she'll have to fiddle with some of the settings to do this - where's Fitz when she needs him. Computers aren't generally her thing - not that she's a slouch by any stretch of the imagination, but Fitz is just that much better.

"You don't need to punch through it, Thomas. Just put the subsystems under duress. Power Girls kinetic energy combined with yours, and the water should do the trick."

Slowly, the pressure in the water systems builds. A little bit longer and … 'thar she blows'.


“Are you kidding!?” Power Girl snaps angrily as the Hulkbuster suit takes some damage, but otherwise remains very much in commission. The fact that it self repairs on the spot angers her all the more, “no! He’s not down!” She answers, not sure yet who asked, but he had to be on her side.

“But he soon will be!” Power Girl growls, and flies to the side to just narily evade the Hulkbuster thrust powered flying punch. But she gets an idea when water starts to sprinkle, grinning at the tin machine, “hey bozo, are you dense enough to prevent leakage? Because…” and in the hopes that water turning to ice might damage the drone’s capacity to self repair, she inhales powerfully, before exhaling pure freezing breath on the drone.


Thomas turns and blasts that water pipe with his energy pistol, turning the stream breifly into a gout of steam. Far from hindering Power Girl’s effort this actually helps it quite a bit. Steam is even better than droplets at getting into place it probably shouldn’t be. The rapidly expanding ice that results locks up joints and shorts out electronics, a processes helped when the teleporting lawman extends his gauntleted hand and seems to ‘use the force’. The dark side that is. Electricity arcs through the air from his hand in writhing tendrils. Ordinarily this might not do anything but the compromised shell of the machine makes it very vulnerable to just this kind of attack.

By the time the hulkbuster has turned to deal with Power Girl it’s helpless. The lights go off in its eyes.

“Whew…” Marshal Nashoba drops his hand. “Jemma, tell MetPD that it’s down.”

“Thanks, Power Girl.”


Jemma waits, holding her breath and hoping that the solution does something. She's a very muggle Scientist when it comes down to it and she should be used to waiting on the sidelines. Not that she likes it in any way.

"Is anything salvageable, Thomas?" the biochem passes the message to Met-PD and makes her way towards Thomas. It's after the fights that her real work begins.

When she finally arrives at their location, she casts a smile towards Power Girl. "Thank you for the assistance. I thought I might be patching this one up again…." she slides a glance towards Thomas before looking back to the heroine "I'm Jemma Simmons."


When Thomas helps by turning the water to steam first, Power Girl’s eyes light up with joy even as she blasts her freezing breath at the Hulkbuster. She gestures a thumb’s up, pleased that her partner is thinking with science. Just another reason it’s so important to stay in school.

Once the Hulkbuster is down, Power Girl stops her freezing breath and lands on the ground, looking at Thomas with a grin, “thank you too, Mystery Man, was it?” She offers in her own way that she needs an introduction, until Jemma gives it for him, “Thomas it is! Thank you too, that was team work.”

Turning to look at Jemma, Power Girl flashes a brilliant smile, “it was all my pleasure, honestly!” She can’t quite share with them how much more satisfying punching the face of a stupid drone is compared to a 2 hour meeting about updates to the codes of safety standards and regulations.


“Deputy Marshal Thomas Nashoba.” The lawman introduces himself with a slight bow. So, an actual ‘cop’ super. That gauntlet on his left hand and arm certainly isn’t standard issue. Karen can just make out the word ‘Tacitus’ on the underside of it. And now that she’s not otherwise engaged he’s throwing off some odd… well, ‘radiation’ is probably the best word for it though it’s not radiation in the conventional sense. It’s coming from his back. A quick X-Ray check will reveal that the upper half of his spine is a biomechanical something-or-other.

“Teamwork it was. Oh, this is Jemma Simmons of SHIELD.” She’d just introduced herself of course but might have left off her job. “I don’t know if it’s salvageable Jemma but it’s not in pieces at least. I’ll get MetPD to load it onto a truck if they don’t insist on holding it as… evidence.” Hopefully they’re not that dumb.

Attention back to Power Girl, privately Thomas enjoys working with the Metropolis heroes that he’s met. It might be because they’re not constantly hounded by the press or police but he finds them to be more pleasant, and definitely more ‘team’ oriented. Sadly Metro tends to be the exception and not the rule to that as his work around the country has taught him. “Though honestly I doubt I could have taken it solo. These things were designed with… er… tougher men than me in mind.” Or women, as the case may be. It certainly was here. Thankfully they weren’t designed to outhink heroines like Power Girl.

And they haven’t changed that… yet.

“We think three of these devices were hijacked by… what may be a malevolent computer program.” Ordinarily Thomas would be a bit more sparing with the details of an official investigation but as he just noted, it’s a good thing she came along. “And someone seems to be modifying them. Just a heads up… in case another one shows up in town.”

And given that it seems to be -ahem- making a list and checking it twice, that’s a possibility.


"Teamwork, indeed." Jemma smiles again before eyeing the downed 'Hulkbuster'. "Did we get the crate of whatever it was trying to take? I'll want to review that as well." Growing serious, Jemmas lips compress to a thin line "Modifying and arming them and who knows what else." She just hopes they don't get sent after her …

"If you could get the suit and what it was taking, Thomas. If Met-PD decide to get tetchy, I'll see if Agent May can pull some strings and get us access." But Thomas knows that Jemma and some of her SHIELD colleagues have some other projects that are taking a lot of attention.

Whatever comes of that of though, Jemma's probably in for some more late nights.

"If there's anything I can do for you, Power Girl, you can reach me through The Triskelion or the good marshal here…" Jemma gives Thomas a very warm smile "… knows how to find me." She's aware that some of the superheroes would prefer to keep SHIELD at a distance.


Power Girl does take a moment or two to study Thomas, before laughing to his description of what the Hulkbuster drone was apparently designed for, “good thing it wasn’t designed to handle tougher women, huh?” Yup, Power Girl is not shy about doing the whole ‘Girl Power’ routine, heck, it’s right in her codename!

At Jemma’s mentions of the crates that were nearly stolen, Power Girl snaps her fingers, “right! I’ll be a moment!” And she’s not kidding about that, there’s a rush of wind, and then again and again. Each time another crate returns to the area, before Power Girl brings them all back, “seemed dangerous to bring it back here while a fight was going on, these things are labelled, ‘too dangerous to touch’ you know?”

Looking around to survey the area, she says nothing of the invitation to seek out SHIELD should she need to, before noting, “so, seeing how all’s well that ends well, I think I’ll be up, up and away, if that’s alright with you?”


Thomas eyes the radiation and biohazard signs. Yeah. He thinks that was the right call, not bringing them back to the fight. Power Girl’s assessment of the ‘bot gets a bit of a grin. “Just so. Thanks for your help again.” Up up and away is definitely the standard operating procedure for those who don’t want their real name asked, even if the MetPD is less insistent about it than most.

The gauntleted man waves. He’s curious, should they ever meet again ,if she’ll remember him. His… condition means that Time itself seems to conspire to help people forget him, even those who see him every day.

Then again, she is rather unusual. Maybe she will. Time, as they say, will tell. In any case he waves as she departs and turns to the other woman present.

“Alright Jemma. I’ll get to work here. See if you can find out what’s in those crates. Might give us an idea of why this thing wanted it.” In the meantime, he has some people to talk to about a truck… and probably a crane.


Eyes widening as Power Girl does her thing, Jemma watches the crates appear. “Ugh. That’s not good.” she comments as she looks at the labels. “I’m going to call in that quinjet. I’m not touching any of this without hazmat protection.” beat “Oh, thankyou, Power Girl.”

She is curious though.

As Power Girl leaves, the biochem waves and nods to Thomas. “On it. Guess this is my afternoon spoken for.” Which likely means dinner in Metropolis before heading back to New York.

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