The Search Begins Again

December 09, 2016:

Iron Guard finds X-23 scaling a skyscraper, hilarity ensues.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Several days have now passed since X-23 and Iron Guard met under 'auspicious' circumstances and likely neither of them have rested on their laurels.

For X-23, she's focused solely upon back-tracing her trail for The Facility. Within her room at the Xavier's Mansion one wall has been dedicated to that trail. Pictures have been posted in a rough sort of timeline, to keep Laura on task, when it comes to figuring out where they might be.

With that secondary (really hundredth) review of the data she has at hand, a building, really just a lease for a shell corporation was shaken free. The building or rather skyscraper itself is found smack dab in the middle of Midtown Manhattan and the lease isn't for the full building, just a suite of offices on the thirty-fourth floor.

When X came upon this particular building this very afternoon, she simply settled in for a long day of surveillance.

For the most part nothing untoward was seen. Just dozens upon dozens of employees and their employers working steadfastly in the other neighboring suites and offices. Now, night has fallen, late night, when the streets down here in Midtown are mostly free of any businessmen and women. Now it's time for X-23 to move and silently, she ghosts across the empty street and moves for one particular side of the skyscraper. Her green-eyed gaze will look upward, towards the concrete and glass of the building, and while the floor she seeks is high, it won't deter her.

*SNIKT*

Is the sound now heard as both claws in her hands and feet are now deployed. With a quick glance around her, the slim assassin will leap upward and easily dig her claws into the concrete-side of the building.

Then she's scaling the skyscraper as quick as a spider goes up its web; and that might be where Iron Guard finds her, should he come a-lookin.


Nathaniel did some research on 'Laura' based on the data gathered by his armor, but finding out very little. Nothing from her fingerprints, nothing from her face. There was a bit about killers with metal claws, but some of the reports are too old, so nothing conclusive.

Definitely she is not wanted by law-enforcement agencies (that they admit it) so Nathaniel has not bothered to track her down. He noticed she left his sensor range heading northwards from the city and that was it.

Until now. He is flying from the UN building southwards, to Metropolis, when his sensors detect the (now faint) tachyion radiation. He checks out and… she is 20 stories off the wall of business building. Looks like breaking and entering, unless she has spider-like powers and that is normal for her. No, he better check it out, if nothing else because she was such a murderously cute girl.


While X-23 may look like a spider, climbing up that building so, her mutant gene is decidedly not spider based.

It's more feral based.

And because of that, X-23 immediately picks up upon the fact that she's no longer alone, so high up. While his flight doesn't necessarily ping off of her sensitive hearing thanks to that anti-gravity tech, the shift in wind does, as it brings the inter-mingled scent of metal and man. And then, once he's near enough, the lights upon his suit will likewise allow the dark-haired assassin to spot the incoming (troublesome) young man. A frown begins to tug her lips downward and with one last look at Iron Guard, X-23 will turn her attention back to the building. As soon as she's close enough to the nearest reflective window, the young woman will free a hand from the wall and use the claw to neatly and quickly cut a hole within it. The hole is just large enough to fit X-23 and as soon as the circle of glass falls free (inward onto the carpet), X will carefully swing herself through.

Clearly she's trying to make it hard for him to follow her.


Well, that. Nathaniel only wanted to talk. That wasn't very nice. But he is starting to suspect that what Laura does for a living is not very nice. It is dark inside, but it is not hard to see her in the infrared.

He hovers a yard from the hold in the glass and sighs. "What are you doing up here this late, kid?" Now, lets see. He brings up to his retinal display a plan of the building and a list of the companies. Security company. Building IT support. Hacking, hacking. He turns off the floor alarms.


No, it wasn't very nice of X-23 to do that.

In fact, upon his infrared the young woman will stay crouched for a few seconds. She's waiting to see what the suited up man will do and when he doesn't enter, he'll see her rise up to a standing position.

She's turned towards the window and specifically at him and yes, her claws are still out, if the infrared picks that up. Unlike some, she also doesn't seem too worried about alarms. Whatever this particular building has in the ways of security can be easily dealt with; or so thinks the slim assassin.

Turning away from the window now, X-23 will start to trot through the suites she arrived in. While everything is dark there's just enough ambient light to allow her sensitive eyes to pick up the cubicles that reside within this suite. The posters upon the walls depict islands and forest and plans flying; a travel agency. Definitely not what she wanted.

Soon enough she's slipping out of the suites and depending upon how deep Iron Guard's infrared can penetrate, he'll either lose her, or see she's heading for the stairwell. And she's head up.


No motion sensors in the offices. That is primitive… no wait, it is -expensive-. The difference is sometimes hard to catch for Nathaniel, who was born in a post-scarcity society.

He can't see the girl once she puts a couple walls between her and the window, so to track her he needs to get in. Not a major problem. Tendrils sprout from his right arm, reaching for the edges of the window, cutting, pulling and dislodging the window panel without shattering the glass. Then he goes inside, and leaves the window leaning against a desk, and follows Laura footsteps, still visible on the floor at the infrared. His arm returns to normal in seconds.


Her footsteps lead neatly out of the offices and then to the stairwell. She's heading up and she's heading up fast. She's also silent, it would likely take augmented senses, or computerized senses to hear the nearly silent footfalls that denote just where X-23 is.

The two originally started on the twentieth floor, but as Iron Guard follows those rapidly cooling imprints of the assassin's footprints, he'll find he's going up ten levels (at the very least). It's only as he nears the thirtieth level that he'll may hear the almost silent opening of a door, before it's just as quietly shut. As he continues up, he'll find that any infrared reading of X-23 stops at the door that leads to the thirty-fourth.

Now, the question remains, does she think she's still be followed?


"Laura, wait," states Nathaniel when he gets to the staircase. So yes, she knows he is following her. His armor is surprisingly quiet for something that looks like (at least) 20 pounds of metal. But appearances are deceiving. That suit is a complex web of neuro-kinetic machines made of many substances and alloys that do not even exist in Earth in the current century. And he is quick, too, but not quiet. At least not quiet for Laura's hyper-senses.


So she knows.

That doesn't stop her from going through that door.

Then she'll wait.

She's just on the otherwise, facing the door. The hallway she's in is quite dark and with her being somewhat close to the door, his infrared will likely pick her up quite easily.

While her claws are still out (her hands at least, not her feet), he'll be able to see her arms are currently at her sides. All he has to do is walk through the door leading to the thirty-fourth floor to find her.


Nathaniel halts just at the door, checking in the nets what exactly is in this floor of the building. "Look, I am not going to hurt you," he offers, "but I cannot let you kill anyone. What are you doing here?" He has an odd accent, and it seems obvious he can detect her at the other side of the door.

Meanwhile he is checking the offices beyond. A Cayman Islands corporation. Shady, but fairly common. Interesting that the security files hint no one has been in the office in over a month.


Thanks to X-23's superior hearing all of what Iron Guard says is heard. Quite easily. Instead of answering, however, silence reigns for a short time. Then, with a suddenness that might possibly surprise Iron Guard, X-23 steps forward on her side of the door and kicks it open.

"In now." She commands, her voice low, a vague growl entering her words. Her hands are still held at her sides, but it'll be easy to see the glint of metal denoting her still extended claws.

And yes, much like Iron Guard has found out, the company on the thirty-fourth floor is definitely a shell corporation of some sort. In fact, that shell company is the only company upon the floor. The full floor has been rented out to them, per the security records of the building.


Nathaniel grabs the door to keep it open, looking at the small girl, and her claws. Those claws are a serious threat even to his armor in the current configuration. "There is no one in this floor, empty for a month if you can trust the security records." Which he doesn't when he finds out the whole floor belongs to this shell company. Expensive.

He steps in. "I have hacked the building security, but this place is not connected. At least not right now. Again, what are you looking for here?"


Green eyes focus upon Iron Guard and the smallest of frowns begins to tick one corner of X-23's mouth downward. If he knew more about the young woman before him, he'd likely realize what thin ice he's upon, as it is …

What he says first is simply ignored, it's those last questions of his that cause the slim assassin to step towards him. "None of your business. Go away." Those words are said in the most taciturn voice X-23 has. Completely flat, short and blunt.


"Hmm. No. I made it my business when I joined the Avengers," counters Nathaniel, folding his arms. "You should not be here, and I will alert the police if you fail to convince me not to. In fact, *I* should not be here; I have already given you a break because you helped the other day when you could have just avoided a dangerous situation."


Green eyes narrow and X-23 will stare hard at Iron Guard's metallic features. With a quick flare of nostrils, X-23 will go so far as to scent the air between the two them, and when his scent comes back holding the notes of stubbornness, the young woman will offer a quick flash of teeth - her version of showing irritation and frustration at the situation at hand, and most importantly, with the man before her.

"Fine. You may follow." She says, her voice still devoid of most emotional cues. With her words, the slim assassin will pivot upon heel and begin to stalk away. She's heading towards the doors that hold a very non-description company name, with equally forgettable logo.

And while he may not think she'll explain anything more, she will say over one shoulder, "These are the people that created me. They will be shut down." Which means, Laura must be the one that will be shutting them down.


He can follow. Such generosity! Nathaniel could be smirking behind his faceplate at the girl's irritation. But he is curious why she seems unable to express such irritation with her voice and barely with her body language.

'The people that created me' is quite the reveal. Should he assume she means her claws? Another medscan is due, but it is inconclusive. She is in perfect health (impossibly perfect health) the only biological anomalies are the claws, which are metallic. Aha, an X-factor, but that only explains the healing abilities. "You need elaborate," he points out, staying a few yards behind her.


It is generosity. She could have simply shanked him.

But she didn't.

His question to elaborate is ignored, especially as the two draw closer to the doors. There's a small gray block with a single lit red-light next to the glass doors. A badge would need to be swiped to unlock the doors, but thankfully, they have X-23 here. She doesn't need something as simple as a badge to get through. Instead, the dark-haired young woman will reach for the handle of the door. Not to pull open, because that would be futile, but to hold as she brings her other hand up, with claws forward.

She's going to carve an entrance for the two of them, much like she did with the window previously. The only thing is, as soon as pressure is exerted upon the door, something within the walls click. It's the softest of sounds and while X-23 hears that sound, and just begins to swing her attention towards the location of that click, everything suddenly seems to escalate.

Nathaniel Richard's suit will suddenly ping at him, multiple times, as four separate radio signals suddenly go live. The origin of the radio signals are very specific points around the doors. Two at the top of the glass doors and two at the sides. And such as those radio signals ping, within the door frame itself fuses are lit - crude perhaps, but The Facility wasn't necessarily banking on X-23 finding them. As such, those fuses give the slim assassin a second of clarity, to warn, "Bombs."


Iron Guard keeps some distance, observing how the girl deals with a simple electronic lock. With claws? Tsk.

His armor sensors detect the radio signal, which is not an alarm but… yes, bombs. He jumps forward swiftly, catching Laura with an arm around her waist and smoothly tossing her to the other side of the hallway.


With both realizing what's going on, it's not a wonder that when Iron Guard jumps forward, X-23 is just beginning to turn around.

While she doesn't necessarily thing she'll die there are things that even her healing factor can't counteract. Like being obliterated into tiny pieces.

Iron Guard's grab is successful, thanks in part to Laura being a willing participant, and as such, the slim assassin will easily be tossed through the air towards the other end of the hallway. Her landing is sure-footed and quite controlled, as she drops to all fours, an easy crouch. And just as she begins to rise from that crouch, a hand being raised upward to possibly warn Iron Guard to get away, the bombs finish their ignition sequence.

There's only a millisecond between each bomb detonating and to normal eyes, it likely looks like one massive explosion, but really it's four separate ones. The force behind the bombs is enough to shatter the heavy glass doors, sending sharp glass projectiles outward, towards Iron Guard and X-23. The door frame that housed the bombs is likewise destroyed, with the plaster and wood blowing out towards the heroes, as well.


Nathaniel has no way to get out on time, but he trusts his armor to keep him alive. The explosions make him flinch, but that is just a reflex, neither the shockwave nor the shrapnel is a danger for him. Clinically he notes an unarmored, or lightly armored person in his place would have been messily turned into a hamburger. The trap was not an alarm or designed to destroy evidence, but to kill anyone close to the door. Vicious, maybe even pointlessly vicious.

He figures Laura can survive some flying glass shards. He is mostly in the way, anyway. But maybe next time he should activate the forcefield instead.


While Nathaniel reflexively flinches within his armor at the explosion, X-23 does not.

The only reaction she'll have is when large shards get too close to her. Then she'll bring forth her claws and bat the offending glass away.

That doesn't mean she is left uninjured - the smaller shards of glass easily get past her claws and pepper her arms, face and upper body with the shrapnel. Thin slices appear on her exposed skin, but thankfully, it only takes her healing factor a matter of seconds to mend those wounds together. It's only when the explosion settles and the air is clear enough to see, that Laura will look for the Iron Guard. When she finds his metallic form she'll quickly straighten upward and move towards him. "You are unharmed." Is her question, even if it doesn't quite sound like there's a question mark at the end of her sentence. "If so, we must move. Quickly."


Just startled, but he is fine. "Who would place a bobby-trap in an office building in Manhattan?" He is doing a chem-scan of the remains already. "I control the building security, remember? No alarms triggered. No one on the floor." He checks, "windows held, shaped charges. Please tell me the ones responsible for the bomb are coming, for I want to 'talk' with them."

"Are you hurt?" He adds


Her quick-footed steps pause when Iron Guard mentions that he controls the security of the building -

- It's enough that X-23 will turn those bright green eyes upon his metallic form. She could say offer him a word of thanks, for keeping security out of the loop, but she doesn't. Instead X-23 will consider those next words he said; the shaped charges and whether those who were responsible for them are coming.

"Let us still move quickly. It is likely The Facility is aware that their shell corporation has been discovered." Whether they're coming or not, that's the question that remains. And finally his last question about being hurt garners a single negative head-shake from the slim assassin.

And much like before all of her words are said quite tonelessly, even as she now steps into the slightly burnt and smokey interior. The suites look quite normal, several cubicles for 'workers' and several offices for the management. As X-23 steps inside, her gaze will quickly scan the interior, looking for anything that might be relevant. While none of the cubicles hold any sort of computers, the offices do. There's also quite a few filing cabinets and when X-23 sees them, she'll neatly step over to the first one. The lock upon the drawers is quickly dealt with, as Laura plunges one claw into the offending thing. Then the drawer will be pulled open with efficient movements.

For those who might want to go for the computers at first glance they'll find what looks like a normal-average-everyday PC. It's only if they dig further will they find encryption and firewalls galore.


Nathaniel follows Laura, moving quickly in his armor. As she goes for the cabinets, he goes for the computer. He doesn't even bother turning in on, instead a pair of tendrils surge from his glove smashing through the power supply and the shell. The computer makes a whinny whirling sound as the disks are not as much read and copied as devoured whole by quantum computers thirty thousand years too advanced. "Hmm, there is a parallel network unreported in the building plans," he comments, "lets see if I can track… Ah, trail is months old."


It becomes quickly apparent to X-23 that the cabinets are just for show. There's some paperwork in there as well as folders, but the majority of the metallic cabinets are empty.

For her, her expression twists to something like disgust, or frustration, but for the average person he expression only ticks towards a slight furrow between her eyebrows. The current drawer that X-23 at will be slammed closed with enough force that the poor thing goes off its tracks. That drawer will never open normally again.

Upon hearing the whine of the computer harddrive, X will turn away from the cabinetry. Her silent footsteps will bring her briskly across the suite and into the office that Iron Guard has stepped into. His words are enough to cause her to say flatly, "The drive and its contents are mine." And just as she says that, Iron Guard's little tendrils into the computer's drive will suddenly locate a curious seeming file, a video file to be exact, and it's upon the local drive of the computer. It's titled: Open Me.


Nathaniel glances up at Laura, still trying to find the address of the server. Goes straight to Undernet, of course. "Indeed it is. There is even a message for you here. I appreciate when he bad guys get over-dramatic, watch:" A large holoscreen appears on a wall and Nathaniel displays the video for the girl.


Again that light furrow inches X-23's dark eyebrows downward, but whatever could, or should be said, is simply silenced when that holoscreen appears upon the wall before them.

The video immediately starts with an all to familiar face upon it -

A woman, with black hair and tanned skin -

"Hello poppet." Begins the woman in her dulcet tones, "We figured you'd eventually find this insignificant strong-hold within the city, so congratulations." The woman's features twist into a rictus of a smile, obviously mocking, "I'm here to tell you that we won't be bothering you any longer -" And an actual look of disappointment flashes across Kimura's features, "- Several other /plans/ are starting to come to fruition and your services will no longer be needed." Leaning forward, the dark-haired woman's face will get closer to the camera now, as she adds, "But that doesn't mean I won't kill you next time we cross paths. It's a small world out there, after all."

And with that last line the video ends. When the video goes to static, X-23 will turn to Iron Guard. "There is nothing else." She asks, her voice even more repressed now then previously before.


"Nothing else useful," admits Nathaniel, who is already running facial recognition programs and matching with those databases his Avenger security clearance allows access (and a few he should have access). "Unless they are very clumsy they would have moved the server out of the building. But there must be some records and an electronic trail." One of these days he is going to hack the Cayman Island banks databases. AIM also uses them too much.


Nothing else useful. That's enough to cause the slim assassin to bring her claws upward, her hands curled into fists.

Iron Guard is lucky he's on her side, or at least, earmarked as good otherwise he might need to defend himself. As it is, all Laura can do is offer a quiet growl of anger. That emotional outburst (for that's what it was) doesn't last long, as the green-eyed girl turns back to Iron Guard.

Her claws will slide back with her hands and forearms now, as she holds the hand out for the computer. "They have moved the servers. They are not stupid. Give me the drive. I must leave." And while her voice still holds the typical amount of repressed tones, if one listens carefully they'll hear a vibration to her words; anger. It's enough to give her words the barest of quivers.


Nathaniel hmms, hesitating a few seconds. Then he tears the top of the computer open, removes the drive and offers it to the girl. "There is nothing of use. I have already retrieved and restored all deleted files too. It was mainly used as a terminal." Still, she can have it. "I will investigate the other rooms for clues, give me a way to contact you."


The drive is taken and thankfully, it's small enough to slide into the pocket of her battered leather jacket.

Modern technology, you have to love it.

Well, people of this era do, at least.

"They left this as a message to me. You will find nothing else of use here." She comments, her voice still not quite back to normal. As for a way to contact her -

- That earns a slight head cant from the girl. "This is not your fight. Good bye." And with that said, Laura will swing around to the windows that line the office the two stand in. Her first step is at a walk, but by the second, third and fourth step, the slim assassin is running full tilt. Her claws are once again extended with that *SNIKT* of sound, and then, this time, the window shatters thanks to the force Laura uses with her claws and body to leave.


"You would be surprised what I can find," states Nathaniel. And there she goes running. Quiet but angry. "Well, take care, Laura." He does have bigger fishes to fry than this 'Facility'. And… oh, a match? Kimura. Interesting and filed for future references.

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