Dr. Rao, I Presume

March 02, 2017:

A panicked phone call to the League switchboard brings several of the League's premiere members to the aid of a scientist fleeing the DEO's operations in Hell Gate, Metropolis.

Hall of Justice - Metropolis

Built in the same architectural Art Deco style of buildings such as the Empire State Building and Union Terminal in Cincinnati, it harkens back to a simpler time. With its wide open rotunda as the lobby and carpeting gracing the marble and granite floors, the Hall of Justice seems to embrace the concepts of Liberty, Freedom and the Rights of all Humanity.

It is a practical building; a front desk is manned 24/7 with a less-than-obvious security force, ready and able to help any who may seek aid from those within. Beyond, down massive lines of corridors, lies the inner workings of the JL. High tech labs that mix both alien and earth technologies can be found there, conference rooms, and even some living areas.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Oracle/Batgirl

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The call was… odd, at best. Disjointed and a little garbled. The JLN operator who received it — why the caller didn't call 911, he couldn't say — was eventually persuaded to transfer it directly to the Watchtower. The most Diana was able to discern from it was 'Cadmus' and 'come find me' along with a plaintive 'please!' and something that kinda sounded like an address or landmark near Hell's Gate. It was enough. She set the 'tower's tech to tracing the call and has just now ziptubed down to the Hall of Justice in Metropolis with the full intention of finding the caller.

Thus, she now strides across the Hall rotunda with a purposeful presence, adjusting the shield on her back as she goes.

Captain Marvel is just returning from another event when she sees the Amazing Amazon marching out of the teleport chamber. "Hi, Diana. You look like you've got a firm purpose. You want or need any backup?" Best to ask, up front, before checking in with Control to see if they want to deploy her somewhere else.

Lonely vigil, interrupted.

Within the Hall of Justice the Martian has been standing completely without motion for ninety-three minutes. Eyes closed beneath the shadow of his beetled brow.

Not too long ago the monitoring shift changed and the workers exchanged a conversation in low whispers as one asked the other, 'How long has he been standing like that?' and, 'Should we call someone?'

Not long afterward the call was received by the Hall of Justice. The worker half-shifted in his seat and looked over his shoulder at the Martian, preparing to speak.

At once the eyes go from close to open an intense crimson stare pinning the worker in his seat, "I am on my way," his voice is more thought than substance a low hollow feeling. In the next moment his physical form evaporates and he travels at the speed of cognition and then suddenly seems to exist in a space near to where Diana stalks.

Wordlessly he begins to move with the woman. Verbalizing nothing. His high-collared cloak flaring with a pseudo-motion that seems unnatural - for a cloak. Carol would sense recognition. A greeting that is more a sense of fraternity than actual sounds.

Diana continues to move towards the door as Captain Marvel meets her and J'onn appears at her shoulder. "Backup can't hurt," she admits. "I'm not exactly sure what I'm walking into." She pushes through the doors, activating a comm in one ear, and continuing to brief them. "We just received a call from someone about Cadmus. They want to meet across the river from the facilities at Hell's Gate." Which kinda screams trap to her. "They said they need help."

And that's pretty much all she knows. But, she knows the pair with her will provide more than ample backup. They're three of the heaviest and most experienced hitters the League has, after all.

"Got it." Carol acknowledges, and then taps her earpiece. "Hey, Oracle? Tap the sat feeds, will you? Peek down at Hell's Gate and the surrounds. Anything new or different or active down there? We're going in, but someone down there is in trouble." And going near Hell's Gate is sure to provoke some people. No one likes it when the League starts poking their nose in. but there's no way any of them are going to let 'uncomfortable' get in the way of what is right. "Let's hit it. Faster is better." No sonic booms to follow, but that's just because they are professionals; they don't shatter glass recklessly.

"Hrm," the Martian vocalizes thoughtfully, "Refugee or rabble rouser?" He asks rhetorically.

"You will see me soon," he says twisting the conventional salutation. He fades from reality again though there is briefly a strong sense of his presence though this soon fades. However, their approach. Whatever their speed. He opts to intersect the location from a different angle.

Seeking stress. Panic. The corporeal need for liberation.

And somewhere, an AI masquerading as Oracle while her mistress swings around midtown Gotham as Batgirl to stop the Joker, responds to Captain Marvel's requests. "There is some unusual activity along the river," Oracle (a.k.a. DELPHI) reports. "Military search helicopters have focussed on a set of abandoned buildings on the Queensland side of the bridge. I am detecting a ground squadron of at least 6-8 personnel. I believe they are carrying automatic weapons."

Diana lifts off with Carol. "I would say our caller is certainly in danger, then." Not a hard conclusion to reach. Even at subsonic speeds, however, it will only take the women a couple of minutes to fly the distance. And the martian can likely feel the panic of a single individual hiding in a small outbuilding in the abandoned neighbourhood. It's a woman, and an intelligent one, at that. But not one trained to deal with a trained strike squad.

That's better left for heroes.

"OK. Give us the coordinates on the strike team. I'll take care of the choppers. Diana, give those lovely gentlemen something to look at and keep them busy. J'onn, you're going to do a lot better finding our mysterious lost lamb than I am. Get it done and good luck."

That said, Captain Marvel takes aim, and buzzes the choppers that are on overflight of the area, like the big, glowing beacon of half-Kree might she is. She doesn't knock anyone out of the sky, but she makes very sure those pilots are sweating her, not staring at their scopes looking for the running rabbit hidden in the warrens down below. "How you doin', boys?!"

A sense of calm pushes through the din of panic within the out building. The feeling much like a hand stretched out to pull a drowning man to safety.

With a slow fade the Martian becomes visible within the room his appearance immediately anchoring the sense of hope although that sense might be a bit less pronounced by the alien's somewhat sudden arrival.

The space he fills is between her and the most obvious egress so that her flight instinct can, perhaps, subside a bit for having to locate another means of escape. Yet, fearing that he might harm her should her fight instinct kick in, the Martian is still intangible - visible yet no more solid than air.

"Now we stand together," the Martian speaks his hollow overtones carrying now the warmth of the desert rather than its emptiness, "Not as two but as four. The Justice League shall see to your pursuers. I shall remain here with you until it is safe to withdraw.

As the surprise passes he would solidify though his outward appearance betrays no change in form less some ability to detect his increased mass.

'She is here,' his telepathic voice speaks to Diana and Carol.

The helicopter pilot is a little surprised by the appearance of the retired USAF Colonel. And he radios back to command the fact that the League are intervening even as he maneuvers to avoid the heroine. The men in the helicopter with him swear and prep weapons, in case this (inevitably) turns hostile. On the loudspeaker, one of them says, "Back off, Captain Marvel. We've got this under control. You're not needed here."


In the outbuilding, the woman startles at the martian's appearance. She looks like the sort of woman who is usually exceptionally well coiffed, despite the fact she's a practically-minded researcher and clinician. It's that clinical mindedness that allows her to maintain some façade of self-control when the alien appears. "You're from the Justice League," she concludes quickly, as he's confirming that. "Oh, thank God. My name is Dr. Kavita Rao. I am the head researcher for Cadmus' Terrigen investigations."

In other words, the League just hit the jackpot. If they can keep her alive long enough to get her back to the Hall in one piece.

"The DEO," she says. "I have information that will damn both them and Cadmus."

Diana, meanwhile, streaks over the neighbourhood, lasso in hand. She lands in an open space in front of the building wherein she knows Rao hides, calling out in a strong voice to the hunter squadron. "I know you're out there. I must warn you to turn back and leave this place. You will not take your prey easily, here. Leave, now, and there will be no reason for conflict." She's big on giving warnings. And terribly intractable when they are finally ignored.

"No offense, boys. I don't do 'back off'. Someone calls for League help, they get League help. Doesn't matte who you are, what stripes on on your shoulders, or the size of your replacements." Because Captain Marvel is not going to say the other word for 'replacements'. There are gentlemen present!

And Captain Marvel does not get out of the way; she makes it a point to get in the way, repeatedly, forcing them to deal with her. Let them fire; she will not yield. She will not fire on them, even if fired upon. But, she might fly straight through their rotors and then carry the fuselage down to the ground in safety. Y'know. If they're stupid enough to push their luck.

Oh, wait. Men in uniform being given orders to flex their muscles? Of course they're going to be stupid enough. Fun!

"Certainly, Dr. Rao," the Martian acknowledges without great inflection but in such a way one might, at some point, wonder if the statement were an awkward greeting or simple acknowledgement of knowledge he already possessed.

"I would be pleased to discuss the matter with you, at length, when this matter has been resolved."

The Martian stiffens slightly, as if detecting something beyond them, "As a scientist familiar with the effects of mutagenic compounds I predict you are accustomed to non-humanoid forms. To the extent the strike teams may be capable of pushing beyond resistance for their target your safety is my primary concern."

His thin lips tug into a faint smile, "Do not be alarmed."

His form contorts them into some simulacrum of a large alien Armadillo. Squat. Hinged legs. Low to the ground, "Please, hide beneath me." He instructs her. Should she do so he gingerly lowers himself atop putting her in what is effectively an armored Martian bunker.

Quite safe, for most purposes.

Orders come back from command to both the pilot and the ground squad leader. The Justice League are, as far as they're concerned, rogue metas and, as such, to be met with prejudice. Yeah. The guys in charge are not necessarily bright. (We'll blame Major Thomas Ludtwig, since he's got a rep for being ruthless and a get-'er-done-at-any-cost sorta black-ops guy.) So, yes. Carol gets to dance with .50 cals and rotor wings. Lucky girl.

Rao blinks as the martian transforms. "I'm not…" her voice trails off. She's not a stupid woman. Even so, she's also not so sure she wants to hide in a big green bunker of an armadillo. That's just weird. Though, maybe not as weird as some things she's seen. She lets out a sigh that's halfway betwen a groan and resignation and then consents to crawling beneath into the safety the alien purports to supply. There's a sense in her mind that the things she's willing to do for the sake of transmitting the information she has is pushed to the limit. But, she's strong of both mind and spirit and not easily bent or broken. A slim advantage for a woman with no super gifts of any sort.

Outside, the ground leader, however, directs his men to attempt to flank the Amazon, who rises up into the air, taking her lasso into both hands. "This is your second warning," she says as the men approach closer. "You cannot win this fight."

"We've got our orders, princess," the leader says, stepping out center to try to provide a distraction. "Do yourself a favour and back down. The League are personas nongrata around here."

"Only to your masters," Diana replies. "I tell you once more, and only once: Retreat. This is your final warning."

Of course, the men attack anyway, and Diana moves with the speed of Hermes to intercept them. Because… well… Champion of the Gods, yo.

Hey, .50 caliber chainguns are nasty things. They smart like Hell, even to Captain Marvel.

Problem is? Carol Danvers doesn't give a Tinker's damn how much they smart.

Having delivered her warning, Carol doesn't waste any breath on anything more. Not even an 'I told you not do to that.' She's done playing. These boys need to learn they're not nearly so big in their britches as they think they are, and apparently today it's her job to teach the class. There's no pilot on Earth that can compete in a chopper or a standard aircraft with Lt. Col. Carol Susan Jane Danvers, USAF Retired when she's flying under her own power; it's arguable that anyone can outfly her when she's at the stick, either.

Captain Marvel takes the bullets; it's safest for the civilians down below, after all. And then she dives. She comes up from beneath the chopper, rips the rotors off in seconds flat, and then dives back under to catch the aircraft.

"Last warning, children. You want to keep breathing oxygen instead of Terrigen or water, you put your toys away and play nicer. Captain Marvel is not playing, anymore."

The men in the chopper are DEO trained. DEO, as in Department of Extranormal Operations. Metas and aliens are kinda their bread and butter. So, no. The .50 cals don't work the way they'd hoped, but they're not giving up yet. Of course, most of the rest of their bags of tricks aren't going to be all that helpful, either, generally being energy-based weapons — lasers and sonic disruptors. On the bright side, Carol should have quite the charge before the end of the skirmish. But, you know… take 'em alive, if you can. It'd make Diana (and her lasso of Truth) happy.

Of course, Diana (and that lasso) are currently otherwise occupied, trying to subdue DEO agents armed with weapons that seem a wee bit overkill for hunting a simple researcher. You'd think they were out hunting metas. They're quick and they're well trained. But, so is the Amazon. It's still really not a fair fight, especially as their weapons get yanked out of their hands by a deftly flipped golden rope.

Whoohoo! What a charge! Captain Marvel shakes the shopper around, delivering plenty of bruises to the idiots in the aircraft fuselage, and then carries it down … down … down.

To be entirely fair, Carol Danvers is not going to plunk these jerks into the Mists. They don't deserve superpowers.

Instead, Carol drops them right on top of the one or two of their comrades stupidly still trying to face off with Diana. And she's not subtle about it; she bounces the fuselage off of the asphalt hard enough to be very sure it will never be repairable. "Put the guns down, children, or I start shattering arms and collarbones. I'm done playing around."

The best part of tha warning: Calm, cold, and relatively softly spoken. No shouting. Just the crack of a voice of command. The voice that doesn't brook crap from anyone. The voice of a woman in charge, who truly isn't going to back down, or give them another chance to abuse her hospitality.

Honestly, by the time Carol has finished delivering her ultimatum, Diana has more or less hogtied the 'survivors' together. "J'onn," she says into her comm, knowning the martian would likely hear her even without it, "take our new friend back to the Hall, would you? Captain Marvel and I will attend to these… erstwhile hunters." Yes, there's a hint of disdain in her voice, but it's not the arrogance of superiority. Rather, it's the sadness of a teacher whose students just never quite seem to learn the lessons she teaches.

She looks, then, to Carol. "I'm sorely tempted to deliver these men back to their commander and explain to him just why his actions are so misguided, but I suspect my words would fall on exceptionally deaf ears."

The blonde heroine salutes Princess Diana of Themyscira, just as she would a superior officer that she respects and honors; because she does. "Ma'am, yes ma'am, deaf, dumb and blind, Ma'am." Captain Marvel responds. And then she stalks over and takes the surrendered weapons, tossing them aside, seizing the very zipties these men were carrying to hogtie the research the League has saved, and using them to bind their own hands behind their backs.

"Still, I gotta say, a good woman takes delinquent children home to their parents, when she finds them out making trouble at night." Yep. Carol really is going to take this to the ultimate. Because to her, they really are just children. Children, who think that might and weapons make them right, make them superior enough that rules and law don't apply to them. That allow them to hunt down a defenseless unarmed woman like a scared rabbit, because she wants to tell the truth, and stop hiding behind their lies.

Hard to believe Carol was ever a spy, isn't it?

Within the Armadillo's carapace a warm red glow pulses from multi-faceted organelles in the roof of the room; So Dr. Rao is not in pitched darkness.

The heroes can sense J'onn's unspoken acknowledgement.

'Dr. Rao, remain where you are we will be en-route to a secure location momentarily.' As if she had a choice, at this point. What happens next is a sort-of 'floor' to the structure that seems to phase through the ground and then harden so that she is fully encapsulated.

Then the very distinct feeling of a gentle lift-off..

Outside, the doors to the structure are dislodged as something that looks to be a cross between an alien pod and an armadillo shell drifts slowly beyond the structure. Omni directional, without a head or a tail, once it clears the structure it begins to rise into the air and then shift direction. Gaining speed steadily so as not to liquefy its precious contents it departs the scene eventually reaching quite an airspeed. What a strange organic craft.

Perhaps it's harder to believe Carol was ever a soldier… or, at least, part of the military. Officer, pilot, still soliders. "Indeed," Diana replies. "In my culture, however, those who offer unwarranted aggression against those less capable than they on the battlefield are dealt with rather harshly."

"Unwarranted my ass," the ground commander spits. "She's actively breaking an ultra-top-secret NDA."

The look Diana gives him isn't friendly, though, strangely, it doesn't lack compassion. It's more like a mother giving her recalcitrant son 'A Look'. (We all know 'The Look': I love you, but you need to shut up now before you're grounded for the rest of your natural life.)

The martian 'craft' lifts off behind her and she spares it a glance, silently thanking J'onn for his aid before she turns back to Carol and their captives.

"We will deliver them home," she decides, "simply so that they may convey a message for us." She gives the ground leader a stern look. "We know what you're doing." And, certainly, if they don't at this given moment, they will in a matter of hours. "And we will find a way to stop it. Consider this your only warning."

Again, Diana is big on giving warnings. It's only fair. But, this is the only one the DEO and Cadmus are getting in this regard. Next time, the League will come in force… And no one's gonna be happy about that.

Captain Marvel nods to Diana, and then picks up the men, loading them aboard the broken shell of the helicopter fuselage. She gets both the ground team and the chopper team loaded up inside, and then hefts them up. "Feel free to lead the way, Diana." she offers, and then she lifts off, carrying the chopper's wreckage: a pointed statement if ever there was one.

Together, Diana and Carol fly to the DEO compound in Hell's Gate. When they breach DEO airspace, there are doubtlessly alarms going up all over the place, but neither woman is all that concerned. Leaving the mess of men and machines in the middle of the tarmac, Diana faces the base commander — indeed, Major Thomas Ludtwig — and delivers the JL's message personally, knowing Carol has her back if the Major acts too foolishly.

In the end, of course, it's a lot of wasted breath on the Amazon's part; but she knew that going in. Nevertheless, her message has been delivered and the men they leave behind in the compound will certainly be fully debriefed, reinforcing that message by their failure.

Inevitably, war is coming. Diana does not look forward to it; and won't even when she learns what Dr. Rao has to tell them.

When they finally return to the Hall of Justice, Diana looks at Carol and lays a hand on her shoulder. "See if you can contact Oracle," she says. "The DEO will doubtlessly look to shoring up their defences against all any of us can bring against them. They will be looking for our weaknesses. Perhaps Oracle can lead them far enough astray, they will not be as successful as they would wish." There's an advantage to having the information goddess on their side, after all. "In the meantime, I'll go make sure our guest is settled. Once she has had time to recover, we'll debrief."

And, with that, she bids her friend a brief farewell and strides back across the rotunda the way she originally came.

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