The Great Space Race (Part 2 – On Earth)

July 12, 2017:

Scavenger beacons from the Interstellar Racing Jam's solar system rally race land all over Earth, including on top of a garage in New York City. A small handful of heroes investigate.

Mack's Garage – New York City

Before the IRJ sent its scavenger probes crashing willy-nilly into Earth, Mack's Garage was a respectable, well-liked, independent garage known throughout the borough for fair prices and top notch service. It was notable for its 1950's architecture and well-appointed service bays.

Now, it's a huge mess, the bays a half-collapsed pile of concrete and metal, the rest of the property singed and easily condemnable, thanks to the impact crater of the scavenger beacon in the middle of it. Needless to say, Mack is not pleased at this turn of events.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Most of the people on Earth are entirely ignorant of the great space race prepping behind the moon. Most, but not all. Various space programs and military watchdogs around the world are on high alert, having detected a large mass of foreign objects coming under power to gather behind the moon. They've never heard of the Interstellar Racing Jam, nor it's solar system scavenger hunt rally race. And they certainly don't know that Sol is the system of choice, this time around. All they know is that (presumably) alien vessles are massing near enough to the planet to be considered a threat… A planet without a lot of long range or planetary defenses, beyond what independent volunteer teams of metas can provide. And that's of no comfort to any of them at all.

Then, of course, the scavenger beacons begin to fall.

White streaks of light appear in the sky all over the world. Half a dozen land in the oceans. A couple at the poles. Most, however, are scattered across the continents. Many fall into the midst of busy cities, though some end up in hinterlands, farmlands, and other more sparsely populated areas. All of them, of course, are tracked, and the race is on between government agencies and the curious to track them down and sequester them.

One such beacon falls in New York city… Right on top of Mack's Garage. Much to Mack's chigrin, of course. "Sonuva—!" the 67 year old mechanic huffs, looking at the implosion of what was once his work bay. "I'm workin' here!" Maybe it really is time for him to retire… Except he likes his job. And his shop. His shop that is now mostly rubble and twisted metal.

The beacon now sits where a shiny blue pick-up used to be. It's a round sphere, greyish white in colour with blue and green pulsating lights. Around it, a holographic halo band circles, the words 'Interstellar Racing Jam' written in incomprehensible alien scripts of various sorts. It's a shame the IRJ never bothered to learn English, really. A low pulsating hum emmanates from it as it sits happily in the midst of the rubble… and sirens start to sound all over the city.

***

Jenna Duffy comes out from a manhole. She's in New York,but she's working below. Not in the sewer, not in the subway. But working on an elevator shaft that is intended to take an unnamed person from a telephone booth, down to a deep subterranan compound. And whatever just crashed disrupted her work. Sent a pulley falling down 10 stories. In the dark. Grumbling, she climbs up and out, and blinks for a moment, staring at where there used to be a pick up but now sits a mess, staring at the sphere, hands on her hips.

***

Rachel Quinn happens to work for one of those military watchdog type organization. So, when the beacons begin to fall, she's dispatched posthaste to locate and secure the nearest one: In New York City.

Zipping in and out of traffic on a light, high-speed cybercycle, she moves as one with the machine. She can see the smoke from the shop rising up in the distance, and guns the motor to urge greater speed.

Of course, 'gunning' an electric motor really doesn't have nearly the same effect as gunning the motor on a hog, but the increase in speed, in this case, is a whole lot better. (And a whole lot better for the environment… no stinky exhaust.)

She surfs the line between lanes and cuts up the middle of traffic to make sure she catches the light, turning down a side street that will lead up behind the ruined garage.

"Aw, hell," she grumbles. "Not Mack's…" She liked that place. The old man is a hoot. A shameless cheat at cards, but funny as hell, nonetheless.

***

Logan had been travelling through the city on a borrowed motorcycle when he saw the lights in the sky streaking down to city. He gave up on his search temporarily in order to investigate. He travelled a couple of blocks, taking a couple of corners following a strange hum sound. Eventually he comes across a strange object. "Well, I'll be damned." He looks at the strange holographic symbols trying to decipher them. They're unlike anything he had seen, and knows many different languages.

The sphere seems content to sit there, humming its pulsating rhythm, showing off its alien IRJ banner. However, the impact has attracted more than just the random 'heroes' (and not-quite-villians) New York is known for. It has also attracted less savoury attention.

***

Coming from the south, a swarm of purely terrestrial drones can be heard buzzing over traffic. They are equipped with cameras and scientific devices, but also with onboard weaponry. As they descend upon the garage, they begin errecting low-level forcefields around the landing zone, paying no attention at all to who might be in their way as they do.

***

Jenna Duffy decides to investigate. She takes out a sturdy screwdriver from her belt, and sdtarts approaching. She then takes the screwdriver, ssquats in front of the sphere, and well, jabs it with her screwdriver.

***

Rae glances up as the drones zoom by overhead. "What the…?" She swings off her bike, leaving it at the end of the block, and begins running towards the rubble pile that was once her favourite garage in New York. "Command, are you seeing this? Are they yours?"

They're not, of course. Which means 'Command' is going to want her in there to secure the area PDQ. She turns up her own speed, leaping forward to cross the distance more quickly. Up the back of the rubble she leaps, over one of the drones, and onto the top of a slope of concrete that was once part of the roof.

***

Logan watches as the drones fly into the location, and begin erecting the force fields. He gets caught in the way of one, he curses as his left arm is scorched. He draws the claws from his right hand as he takes a swipe at the drone that hit him. "Damn, that hurts like hell."

***

The drones are content to ignore the humans around… Until, of course, one leaps inside their quarantine zone, and another pops claws and bats at another. Too, there's that person squatting by their object of focus, threating to open up the space can before they can.

Thus, both Logan and Quinn will find themselves targetted by a pair of the weaponized drones, while another pair move in to intercept Jenna. Mack, meantime, has a large wrench in his hand and is waving it at more of the drones. "Scat!" he calls out to them. "Shoo! Git yer metallic hides offa my property. If it's finders-keepers, you're after, that thing's mine! It owes me a new shop!"

***

Jenna Duffy stands up and staggers back a few steps. Brandishing her screwdriver, she says "Hey now, watch it." Looking at the drones. "Back off. It crashed on me, I have a right. Stay back."

***

"Hey!" Rae says as a drone quite obviously starts homing in on her. "Back off, sparky!" She unholsters her sidearm — a sizable pistol that looks like something out of a sci-fi shooter game. "I said," she says, raising her arm towards the droid, "back off!"

***

"So, it's a fight you want, is it?" Logan says looking at the drone as it locks on to him. He squats down waiting for the drone to draw closer. He stares at, trying to make eye contact with where he assumes a camera or a sensor would be. Any second now. Logan feels the skin on his left arm begin to heal. Nearly there. He tenses the muscles in his leg ready to spring. Then he springs up, striking at the drone with his right arm, bringing it into a full lock before him.

***

The drones on the perimeter slowly begin to shrink their perimeters, drifting inexorably closer to the alien beacon in the rubble, the golden force field crisping bits of grass and weeds that had been growing between cracks in the pavement.

The drones facing Jenna extend arms from their sides. One moves clearly between her and the alien sphere, electricity crackling across the prongs on the end of the arm it extends. The second moves towards the sphere, much as she had, extending probes and tech scanners like an Imperial Recon Droid right off the silver screen.

Two pannels pop open on the side of the drone facing Quinn, and a pair of silver barrels swivel out. Even as she raises her gun, the drone begins to fire bright blue tracer rounds… made of cold plasma rather than lead.

Meanwhile, the drone Logan engages whines as its stabilizers kick in. As with Jenna's drone, a pair of arms with electrified prongs unfold from beneath it, a mechanical wrestling spider with a shocking touch.

***

Jenna Duffy acts like she's fencing with the drone that approaches her. "Hey now, is that yours? Back off, I just poked it. Didn't hurt nuthin." Jabbing out, trying to keep it back. "I see what you're doing. You're just jealous I got to it first. Back off."

***

Rae fires a couple of square shots at the drone, even as she throws herself sideways to avoid the fire. "You wanna play like that? I can play like that." Rolling down the concrete slope, she slides into partial cover and cues a quick command through her cyber interface. From ports in the shoulder blades of her armour, a pair of small disks rise. They project their own holographic interface and move steadly up the makeshift ramp to engage the shooting drone.

***

Logan watches as the drone before spins before stabilizing itself. "You're one tough bugger, aren't you?" Logan says. He watches as the electrified prongs unfold from beneath it. "Feisty too." He grins at the drone. "Well, let's dance." He takes a swing at it with his now healed left arm.

***

The drone in front of Jenna begins its own form of dancing, so to speak, countering her every move like an electronic fencing partner. It's very good at keeping her busy and distracted while its partner (unsuccessfully) tries to peel back the outer layers of the alien sphere. All it really manages to do is poke out a light and briefly interrupt the holographic stream… which reboots with blast of racing theme music only an alien could love.

Rae's drones move up the ramp to the shooter at the top, causing it to deke and sway to try to get around them, though the pair are pretty good at countering its moves.

The drone Logan dances with seems intent on trying to lay a bit of taser shock down on the resilliant mutant, unaware, it seems, of his unique x-factor abilities. (Aside from the claws.)

Mack, meanwhile, is angrily picking through rubble to try to get into a portion of his shop near where the cash register stood. "I said get back, you greedy buzzards!" He digs around in the rubble until he finds a shotgun and a small box of shells. A pair get popped into the gun and he pops up behind a piece of concrete to fire at one of the nearest perimeter drones that draws ever closer.

KABLAM!

***

Rae's drones produce an electrical field between them. As the shooter sweeps towards them, they part to flank it, causing it to short out. As it does, however, they do, as well, the disks dropping uselessly into the rubble. Rae rolls to her feet. "Mack!" she calls, as the old man starts shooting at the perimeter drones. "Mack, stop!" She's distracted, though, by the sudden blair of so-called music from the alien device. "What the hell is that?!"

***

Logan's claws strike through the drone cutting in half. However, he also makes contact with the prongs. The electric current, from the prongs, runs through his metal skeleton. Logan whilst still resilient, is not as durable in his old age. The electric current hits his brain knocking him unconscious. He will live, but he will be out for a while.

***

"Quinn?" Mack is surprised to recognize the voice calling to him from the armoured figure that is Rachel Quinn. "What you doin' in that get up, girl?" KABLAM! He fires the second shell at the perimeter drone. "Hey. You got a pea shooter on that thing? Gimme a hand with these buzzards, will ya?" He breaks open the shotgun and starts reloading as a couple more drones start coming his way specifically.

At the same time, just to complicate matters, of course, there's a boiling in the clouds above and a strange, ramshackle ship can be seen descending through the canopy.

***

Jenna Duffy eventually rolls her eyes, and makes one more weak stab with her screwdriver. She then puts her hands on her hips again, and shakes her head. "You know," she complaints, pointing with her screwdriver. "If you couldn't fly I co uld take you apart like that."

***

"My day job," Rae responds to Mack, sliding in beside him. "You're gonna get yourself killed, you crazy bastard. These things mean business." Nevertheless, she swaps her pistol for a rifle on her back, braces herself against some rubble, and starts potshotting more drones as they close in. Hers is a very powerful rifle.

***

Yes, Rae's rifle is powerful. And it takes out the drones she aims at handily. The fencing drone continues its dance with Jenna, no longer trying to electrocute her, at least. It wiggles at her, as if to say, 'just try it' and lets loose with a volley of sparks while its twin pokes again at the alien sphere.

A hatch opens from the ship hovering above the city and a blue-skinned man wearing a jet pack jumps out. Two other creatures, mostly humanoid, but definitely ugly, drop down beside him. "Well, well, well," the blue skinned man says with a strange drawl. "Watchoo think we got here, eh boys?"

"There's the beacon," one of his companions says, pointing to the sphere."

"An' a whole lotta yokels 'long with it," the other notes. Think they're trying to scoop our points, boss?"

***

"Aw, c'mon…" Rae complains as the aliens arrive. The drones are annoying enough. But, space cowboys on top of it all? She swings around with her rifle, levelling it at them. "This your piece of space junk?" she asks them, hoping they have some sort of universal translator. She jerks her head towards Mack. "You owe him a new shop."

Jenna Duffy takes a deep breath, looking arou nd. She still waves her screwdriver at the drones in a self-defensive way. "Hey," she calls out in that Gotham bluntness. "Who are you,and what's going on? Are these monsters yours?" Even if she can't be heard.

***

"Naw," the blue man says, his drawl amused. "They don't even know what it is…"

Of course, the remaining drones of the bunch that had been harassing the humans, adjust their focus toward the ship and its arriving denizens. As they approach the aliens, the blue man whistles and a narrow projectile darts from beside him, zipping through the remaining drones with ease, leaving them sparking messes.

"Put the rifle down, girly," he tells Quinn, the projectile floating back to hover near his shoulder. "We're just here for the sphere." He flashes both Quinn and Jenna as winning, roguish a smile as he can muster. He's almost charming. Almost. "We're champion space racers, you know. And that's ours." He gestures lightly to the sphere. His focus turns to Jenna, since she's far more visible and friendly looking than Quinn in her armour. "You wanna come see our victory lap?"

***

Jenna Duffy taeks a deep breath., looking to the man smiling at her. "Championship racers? Get out of here," she shakes her head. "You crash that on somebody's car, delay my construction a day, and then these drones… doing who knows what? Come on.

***

Rae actually snirks at the blue man's words. "Oh, look," she says dryly, "Papa Smurf's a playa." She doesn't lower her rifle, per se, but she does gain her feet and faces the trio more directly. "Look, buddy, if that thing's yours, you owe my friend here a new shop. So, Mr. Championship Racer, cough up the insurance money, then you can take your trinket and go. Otherwise, it's ours by dint of debt repayment." She's gambling, but her bosses won't like the beacon just being swept away.

***

The blue man gives Quinn a direct look. "You'd make a good Ravager," he comments. "But you look like Nova Corps. So… no deal." He gestures to his two companions and they start moving towards the sphere. Meanwhile, the blue man approaches Jenna. "Too bad, though," he tells her. "You'da had a blast."

***

Jenna Duffy blinks and tilts her head at the blue man. She uses her screwdriver now to gesture at him. "What are you talking about? Whatever your thing is could have hit me? I was under there!"

***

Rae starts walking forward now, moving to intercept the pair heading toward the sphere and perhaps give Jenna some backup. "Yo, ugly," she calls to the nearest of them. "You deaf? Back off, pal."

***

Mack scrambles to keep up with Rae. "Yeah! That's mine!" he says, his strong hands around his shotgun. He's got two shots and at this range, he can't miss. (But, he could hit a lot more than he intends to.)

The blue man whistles and sends his arrow flying towards Quinn. "Uh-uh-uh," he says. "You don't wanna do that, sweetheart." His men, step around the debris of the two drones that had been harassing Jenna, towards the sphere. "Besides… I ain't responsible for this mess. You can blame the Jam for that. But, I'll be sure to pass on your complaint."

***

Jenna Duffy looks to Rae and smirks at the backup, and gives a nod. Then Blue man gets a head tilt. "You'd better pass it on. I'm pretty sure your people dind't have a permit for whatever that was, and the Manhattan board doesn't mess around."

***

Rae's face is visible enough through her faceplate that her quick, tight smile to Jenna can be seen. She pauses abruptly, however, as the arrow appears in front of her. "Really?" she says, looking to the blue man. "We're gonna play this game? You come into my city, flatten my favourite garage, and then start up this crap? I don't think so. We're done, here." That said, she rockets forward at bionic speed, her skin turning into quicksilver with the effort. She zips right past the arrow, to impact one of the goons heading for the sphere. She uses the butt of her rifle to swing at his head.

***

Quinn's impact on the alien is both audible and 'cracking'. The alien flies backward from her, landing on a heap of concrete. The blue man whistles sharply and the arrow spins, heading for the bionic woman. She's fast, though. Faster than the blue man perhaps anticipates. His second goon pulls a gun to try shooting the silvery body that took out his companion, but the shot goes wild.

KABLAM!

Mack shoots one shell straight up in the air to get attention and lowers the muzzle to point at the blue man. "Get outta here, you alien freak! And take your dogs with you!"

***

Jenna Duffy obviously notices that shots are starting. "Oh great." She looks around. The safest place to gowould beunderground, but… is that really safe when things are crashing from space? So she instead finds the next intact car parked on the street, and hides behind it. At that point,s he switches from screwdriver, to power drill.

***

Rae doesn't stop. She contines to move to at speed, avoiding the arrow long enough to put the second goon between it and her. Her sensors allow her to note Jenna's movement towards cover. Smart girl. As the shot rings out, Rae spins around and raises her own rifle, to aim at the blue man, shouting "Mack!" — more concerned about the old mechanic than the aliens and their sphere. She takes quick aim at the alien and fires.

The two goons are down, one skewered by his boss's arrow. Mack is unwavering, firing at nearly the same time as Rae. The blue man reacts with his own speed, yelping, nonetheless, as buckshot leaves its mark and a high powered rifle round nearly takes his head off. "Warbird!" he snaps into his com. "Suppression fire!"

The big ship hanging over the neighborhood unleashes fire from its forward cannons, creating even more rubble. By this time SHIELD and DEO agents are also moving into intercept. The entire place is becoming a complete freeforall. The blue man helps his surviving companion to his feet, from the pile of rubble where Quinn knocked him. "We gotta get that sphere!"

***

Jenna Duffy is miffed enough at these people to try to do something. So… she rigs something up. Taking her chalk line, she ties a hook of wire to the end of the holder end, creating a makeshift fishing line. That, she throws from behind the car, trying to hook the sphere thing, to try to roll it her way.

***

Suppression fire is pretty effective at keeping Rae busy. She leaps forward, using her body to protect Mack from the shrapnel resulting from impacts. "C'mon," she tells him. "We need to get you outta here." Let the aliens have their damned sphere. Collateral damage on this op is getting crazy.

***

The sphere dislodges from the rubble, to start to roll towards Jenna. The blue man and his brown apedog of a companion duck through the raining debris towards it, chasing it like toddlers after a basket ball on a broken Harlem court.

Meanwhile, Mack pushes against Rae. "It's getting away!" he tells her, pointint to the moving sphere. "That's my retirement fund!"

***

Jenna Duffy may be trying to be nice these days, but she's got a mean streak from time to time. And she's been pushed to the point where she's goingto mess with the sphere, and try to roll it right under the car she's in front of, out of reach.

***

"Not gonna matter if you die before you get to spend it!" Rae tells Mack in return. She physically hefts him up and leaps away from the fray to find some place a little safer to put him down. "Let me deal with this," she tells him. Then, she snaps her rifle back into place on her back and muttering something under her breath about being crazier than the old man, leaps back towards the aliens and their rolling sphere.

***

The sphere keeps rolling, now sending up a bunch of holographic sparks and fireworks, not to mention blaring that alien music. So, the freeforall has its own soundtrack to go with the light show. The two aliens continue to run after it, but it falls into a gutter and rolls beneath the tires.

***

Rae lands with a solid impact amidst the rubble. She cues another pair of drones from her armor and sends them to interfere with the aliens, letting Jenna do the quick grab of the beacon.

***

Jenna Duffy laughs once she succeeds in making that hing hard to catch. She then tries to knock it INTO a drain with her foot… but she's not going to take long trying it. Next priority is getting back from the car. Neve rknow what they're going to try next.

***

The pair of aliens get tangled up in Quinn's drones. It becomes something of a keystone cops meets Abbot and Costello affair. By the time they pick themselves up, the blue man is cursing and calling for evac. Do they want the beacon? Sure… but the chaos is too much even for them. So, maybe a strategic retreat is best. Loosing one set of scavenger points won't totally kill them, if their time is still good.

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