Robot Run

April 13, 2017:

The shapeshifting android Varanus has managed to reach New York with AIM agents at his heels. Fortunately for him the Avengers do not like AIM operations in Manhattan.

Manhattan Upper East Side


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Agent Coulson


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It had been months since Varanus had escaped custody in Milwaukee, having crossed the country in a stolen Volkswagon Beetle Type 1, the model dating from the 1950s. He had found it on display at a car show, and escaped in it with agents of AIM hot on his tail. Ultraviolet waves powered his circuits, transduced into his systems through his synthetic flesh, making sleep unnecessary, one of his few advantages. But now, he found himself in New York City, having selected this area to hide in for its prominence of superheros, hoping that one of them will be able to defeat Advanced Idea Mechanics, at least for a short while. He was beginning to see his options diminish, and although at first the android suspected it was merely chance, he began to become aware that it was a skilled huntsmaster testing him.

Varanus is inside a small motel, having paid with money he lifted from a mugger back in Michigan. He looked at himself in the mirror, testing on the clothing he had acquired to replace the rather suspicious jumpsuit that AIM had dressed him in during his development. A mute Hawaiian shirt, a white tanktop, khaki pants, and a pair of crocs. The television was on the background, at low volume, and he was quietly waiting for Advanced Idea Mechanics to strike again. On the bed behind him, in the room, was a short metal rod he had found, to use as a bludgeon, along with a section of nylon rope he had attached a paperweight to the end of. Both Hapkido weapons, albeit improvised.

A helicopter battered the building overhead, as black vans pulled into the motel parking lot. Three vans total, they discharged a squad of four mercenaries apiece, each group staying together as they prepared their weapon, not using guns but instead long taser poles, prepared to hunt the android and take him down for a hopefully intact capture. They were all dressed in mauve tactical suits, with 'AIM' logos on their backs.

Ever since MODOK attempted to steal the orbital carrier and got captured Nathaniel has been investigating the organization, trying to crack their codes and find their hidden space station. Not much luck with the second, but at least he has found some of the sub-spatial communication channels they use.

Today there is chatter in one monitored channels, and the emitters are in New York and close enough to the mansion he is able to pinpoint the location. So he armors up and goes to take a look, sending an alert on the Avenger comms: ** AIM operation ongoing. Details unknown. Sending coordinates. **

"So Nate," Tony Stark always sounded so casual. No matter where he was. Going to a party. Going to a combat zone. Going up the street to get some milk. It was pretty much all the same to him. The biggest difference was of course just what kind of suit he was going to wear.

Today's choice is the Mk VII. In case anyone was wondering.

"Just hypothetically speaking here. Would there be a way to dimentially teather potential selves to one person, using some kind of portal system, that would allow you to create supersoldiers with near infinite lives as they just pulled people from other areas of the multiverse to replace the people that got killed?" A beat pause. "I mean. Just hypothetically speaking. For a friend of course."

He's on his way to the site of course, but chattering on coms is just old hat for Tony.

The Iron Man suit streaks though the sky, streamers of light trailing behind it from its repulsor burn. "Also on a side note, why do these AIM guys have to ruin a perfectly good Thursday by showing up. I was just working on some new Quinjet designs. Much more fun that ruining these guys day."

Varanus emits a long sigh as he looks up, hearing the helicopter's rotor beats overhead. "Some people just don't know when to let people go." He turns around and steps out of the bathroom, his crocs slapping the floor as he moves over to the bed, shaking his head. "Almost like women, but without the fun parts." He picks up the bludgeon and he tucks it into the cloth belt of his shorts, and then picks up the rope, coiling the non-weight end around his painter's left hand. Then, he moves over to the door, before he turns about and presses his back up against it, along the side the door blocks when it opens. He doesn't dare get near the window, from his second story motel room, to see the AIM troopers outside. A little bit of mystery is how to wrangle with AIM, since they are all scientists at heart, even the troopers. He noticed this. Each and every one, some kid that wanted to get an A on a chemistry exam but couldn't stay awake in class.

The AIM teams spread out, one team waiting downstairs, beneath the balcony outside Varanus' room, the other two rising the stairs on either side, approaching the room in long four man rows, from either side.

On the door hangs a quaint 'Do Not Disturb' sign, someone having written a smiley face in black market over the picture of someone sleeping.

“That… is an interesting question, Mr. Stark,” considers Nathaniel. “I would have to think about it, but my thought is ‘infinite’ would not be possible. Perhaps a reasonable large number, although parsing through alternate realities is not quick even using omni-wave…” he goes quiet because he has spotted the black vans and conveniently labeled techno-terrorists. For an organization of genius (allegedly) AIM can be ridiculously dumb sometimes.

“I am scanning twelve AIM agents using electrical weapons. Hmm, interesting this. Seems non-lethal weaponry. Perhaps they are trying to kidnap someone? Ah, the helicopter is likely also theirs, flight codes are falsified,” he lands on top of one of the vans. “Gentlemen, surrender or face severe injury,” he tells the closest armed terrorists. Ever polite, but he is aiming the right arm repulsors to the group.

"Effectively infinite then," Tony replies as he comes swooping in from the opposite side that Nathaniel has taken up. "It would require a lot of power I'm sure, and leave some kind of trace signature. Something traceable I'm sure…" Yeah. This is totally theory. Totally.

But first. AIM.

"…nice of them to actually wear nametags isn't it?" Tony quips as he slows to a hover, the repulsors on his hands moving into combat mode as he swings them to aim one at the van and the other at the chopper.

"So! What he said! But please, feel free to resist if you want to end up drooling on the concrete. I'm itching to try out my new tasertech."

There's radio chatter from the helicopter as Iron Man and Iron Lad arrive. «Scheisse, we've been compromised. Wing squads, switch to directed energy weapons. Capture squad, remain on station.» The helicopter slowly swings around to face the front of the motel, a man on the side maneuvering a plasma cannon to aim at the Avengers, a smooth green glow coming from the barrel as it warms up. The squads outside the motel room on either side of the balcony, lined up, meanwhile, flick switches on their tase-poles, and there's a loud series of cracks and snaps as the poles hum to long-range mode. The team at the base of the balcony, meanwhile, stays ready with their tase poles still short, watching the pair of Avengers carefully, but not moving to attack or defend.

Varanus hears the smooth rumble of power armor thrusters outside, his eyes squinting as his eyebrows knit together, mouth falling open for a moment. Then, he hears the announced threats. His mouth snaps shut with a click, and his eyes open again. Pursing his cheeks, he notes, "Well, it looks like God is real, and he's wears metal underwear," he quips.

The eight AIM troopers on the motel walkway point their weapons at Tony and Nate, preparing to fire, before the door busts off the motel room and goes flipping through the air, flying over the railing and outside. The AIM troopers freeze and look aside at the door, realizing that their quarry is about to escape, once again. Varanus steps out and swings his rope to his left with his right hand, a pinpoint strike sending the paperweight, a blue-clad gnome with a red hat and a white beard made out of painted metal, directly into the jaw of one of the AIM troopers. The AIM trooper drops off his feet and onto his side, his electric lance firing a discharge of voltage upwards into the air, with a *ZORT* sound and a burst of light.

Of course, they are rarely reasonable, those ‘genius’. Nathaniel fires a wide beam repulsor to the four men just as they switch their weapons to a more deadly setting, and then jumps to the ground, putting the van between himself and the helicopter. “How much power can you invest in this theoretical portal machine?” He asks Tony.

The younger armored man spots Varanus at the walkway too, and aims the armor sensors to the man… wait, android. “I think they are after an android, interesting. Maybe a LDM.”

"Not something I've worked on, but he swings a mean garden gnome. I give him props for that." Tony returns as he sees the situation turn violent. "Dibs on the chopper." He adds as he shoots towards the other things in the air with them. The plasma weapon can do some serious damage to the surroundings if they let it spin up after all.

"Don't think you have a permit for this thing." He adds as he zips towards the chopper, intending of simply tearing the plasma weapon away from its mount and carrying it off with the augmented strength granted to him by the suit of his.

"Oh I don't know exactly how much power. But say…moderate sized ARC reactor."

The four men to Varanus' right are struck by the wide repulsor beam, swung backwards into the wall as their zap-poles fly from their hands, falling to the ground and shorting about in showers of sparks from the emission tips without hands to guide them. The other three, meanwhile, fire their weapons at Nate, blasts of electricity shooting at him as he jumps off the van, showers of sparks and molten paint bursting near him as the white bolts of lightning hit the van and track him in a wide, almost random pattern, the three mercenaries trying to bracket Nate inwards. The four on the ground near Nate swing around to face Varanus upwards, spreading out. They see something coming.

Varanus jumps up atop the railing, and jumps off the railing, before he lands on the ground, attempting to evade the guards at his sides, regardless of the pair assisting him in the fight. This brings him amid the four troopers. He swings his weighted rope about at them, hitting one or another, but takes a nasty tase shock. His whole body jerks as he stumbles off his feet, his body momentarily losing external consistency as his flesh becomes an uncanny valley, before reaffirming itself as human again. He twitches on the ground, the wound smoking as he lays sidelong, left palm on the ground, right arm over his lap. He keeps his eyes down, as the troopers loom over him, one of them down and the other three staring. His hands creep along to his belt, fingers brushing over the bludgeon. They predicted the jump, but not the weapon. He keeps the intent hidden for now.

The helicopter blasts green arcs of plasma at Tony from its side as it swings about to face its side at him, the man on the chopper's side-deck swinging the weapon about in an effort to keep up with Tony. He looks notably intent and angry, his teeth bared and his eyes hidden by black goggles with a black piece on the side, an electronic antennae prop emerging from it and moving above his head.

“No, that will not do it,” decides Nathaniel. “You need more than a few terawatts to empower this theoretical machine. An arc-reactor able to supply a small city could only open one d-gate or two every hour, not even counting the power consumption of the computers you would need for the calculations… give me min.” They are firing at him, it is distracting.

Iron Guard flies up, shooting a short barrage of repulsor pulses at the three terrorists. Mostly to convince them to keep their heads down. He is flying to help Varanus, trying to stop the AIM agents from destroying him. Even though Varanus seems to be an adoptoid.

"Hrmmm. Maybe a one shot power burst then. And without the calculations if there is some kind of homeing tech involved." The inventor theorises as he dodges to the left to let the blasts of burning green fire pass over his shoulder.

"…you know. You guys are /really/ annoying." He finally decides as he raises a palm towards the chopper. The repulsor blast is lower power, ment to knock out the gun in a screaming beam of force and light and not blow the whole vehicle out of the sky.

"How is Gnome Guy doing?"

The three AIM troopers scatter across the balcony ledge as Nathaniel peppers them with repulsor blasts, one of them taking a shot to the chest and getting flung into a window, smashing through it and falling into the motel room on the other side, as the other two cut either direction. One of them is forced to run inwards at Nathaniel's flight path, shooting him with harassment fire in order to pull a steady retreat, as the other is moving down the stairs at the end of the motel, having halted his assault in order to reposition. The helicopter gun gets knocked out of positon and the helicopter is sent rattling away, spinning a quarter revolution as it leans sidelong, the gun bursting apart as the trooper inside the helicopter is flung across the inside, into an inner wall.

"You're coming with us, Project Varanus," the trooper standing directly above Varanus hisses, pointing his taser stick at the sulking android, directly in front of his face. "You know what your problem is, man," he says quietly, his large, spooky eyes lidding shut as he tips his head away, some of his harried brown hair falling over his face. "You don't know when to quit, if you can't let someone else do it!" He slashes out with the metal rod, slamming the tase away from him and to the side, before he spins about with his left palm on the ground and moves into a partial recovery position, swinging his leg out and catching the trooper he addressed at the ankle with his foot. The trooper shouts in pain as he's flipping off his feet and to the ground, his leg jarred sidelong from an Achilles' shot with a toe sweep. Varanus is back on his feet, and grabs another tase pole from the trooper on his left side, catching it on the heft behind the shock-surface before it can be brought into use, and pushing it aside, before he jams the metal rod upwards beneath the trooper's jaw, popping it upwards. The trooper makes a shocked choking sound as he falls backwards off his feet, dropping his pole and curling onto his side, gagging and holding his neck.

The last trooper in the capture squad in the parking lot stabs his pole into Varanus' back, and the android emits a blood curdling scream as his spinal column feels the shock, running through his entire system. His body turns into a flesh mannequin as he falls forward onto his face, before rolling into his side, the synthetic motile poly-flesh struggling to resume form as his entire form smokes.

Looks like Nathaniel was too slow. With a sigh, he blasts the last man of the capture squad with the palm repulsor. “It does not look good. He was hit with a electrical discharge and apparently lacks adequate insulation,” if that last AIM agent is knocked out, he turns his attention to the second squad members, this time aiming more careful with incapacitating blasts. “Maybe we should take him to the mansion lab before SHIELD comes in, I want to know why AIM lost control of one of their robots.”

"Technicly if he's an android he could have a mind of his own, so just keep an open mind." Tony calls towards Nathaniel. "I'll give you cover if you want to get him out of here. We can patch him up at base." A pause. "And you know SHIELD already knows about all this. I'm sure someone will be dropping by to chat about it. You know they can't keep their nose out of anything." A beatpause. "Kinda like us in that respect eh?"

The chopper goes spinning away and Tony stutters repulsor fire across its nose to keep it away, the other blast cratering near the cowering AIM troopers to keep their heads down. "And since I built their Quinjets, I'm going to guarentee you have less than five before first responders hit the scene."

The AIM trooper that shocked Varanus is blasted off his feet, as well as the two remaining AIM troopers. There's an odd sense of quiet, as the owner of the motel slowly opens the door from the check-in office, looking out across the battlefield with his jaw slack. Then, slowly, with a creaking of a metal hinge, he steps back inside his office, closing the door with a thud.

Varanus twitches on the ground, his face and the composition of his exposed forearms and calves slowly writhing back together into the familiar form of a human, but he remains incapacitated. There's a quiet hum from him, before there's a series of clicks, sounding much like a computer processor working, except with larger systems and powersinks.

“Anything is possible,” admits Nathaniel, his tone suggesting he considers unlikely this particular android is a true sentient artificial intelligence. Those seem very rare and usually accidental in this age. “Ah, it is still operational, good,” he adds at seeing Varanus still can shapeshift. He reaches for the prone artificial man and grabs him in a fireman carry. “Good for your engineering, but I hope they give us more than five minutes with this guy. Want me to distract Coulson while you do the research or vice-versa?”

Tony just smirks slightly. "I've managed to poach a scientist and a pilot from SHIELD in the past two weeks, I think I got distraction duty." The inventor seems strangely proud of that. "So get out of here, I'll handle cleanup and distraction. You enjoy yourself with our new guest." A pause. "And I'd say don't do anything I wouldn't do but that wouldn't mean that much coming from me."

The Iron Man suit decends, landing on the street with a slight crunch of metal on concreate. "Go on, get out of here. I'll make sure you get more than five minuites."

As police and ambulances arrive, right before a SHIELD Quinjet touches down, the AIM troopers slowly begin to rouse in various states, muffles and groans about them. But not all is lost for the perservering fortunes of technocratic terrorism: the helicopter has retreated, flying due west away from Manhattan and back towards the city proper, before passing out over upstate New York's lower border on its way back to a small base in the farmlands of the state.

In the small base, comprised of a warehouse meant for computer parts, once owned by Radioshack but sold after the company went Chapter 11 and its prior assets were divided among investors by the government, a man in a black form-fitting bodysuit frowns pensively. He sits at a desk with a large ampitheater of computer screens visible, with a variety of data streaming past. "It appears that Dr. Carlos' creation is brighter than I thought." Turning away from his desk in his swivel chair, he turns on a tape recover on a wrist-gauntlet, speaking into it as he rises and strides towards a meeting room. "Administrator's note: Varanus appears capable of networking with other individuals, even seeking out their help with predicate ability. This should be impossible without our imperatives being delivered to the mimic unit for the mission. Target is more valuable than suspected." He turns his recorder off, and moves into the meeting room, a number of men in suits and labcoats present. He closes the door behind him.

Varanus stirs as Nathaniel picks him up, his face warping in pain. "Easy does it, space cowboy," he murmurs."

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