Highway Robbery

August 26, 2017:

Iron Guard and Spoiler team up with Agents Coulson and Stojespal to keep a convoy of stolen uranium out of the hands of a dangerous terrorist group.

The Ukraine

Characters

NPCs: Crimson Dynamo

Mentions: Scarlet Witch, Iron Man

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A few days ago Nathaniel sent to SHIELD an interesting report on the activities of an obscure East Europe company called the Transia Corporation and their links to certain criminal organizations in Ukraine and Russia. This report eventually made its way to Phil Coulson's desk, since some of the names mentioned were known middlemen with Hydra and the Shadow Empire. Worrisome because the corporation exploits Transia's uranium mine under Mount Wundagore.

Apparently Richards has been keeping close tabs on the activities of the Transia Corporation, since his warning a uranium convoy had been attacked came about 5 minutes before SHIELD's the regular channels.

He issues a general yellow alert call to all Avengers in the area, too. And invited SHIELD represnetatives to join them.

An hour later Ukrainian authorities asked for SHIELD's help, as the military detachment dispatched to deal with the 'secessionist rebels' had been completely annihilated. Those were no normal local rebels, but a deadly force armed with high technology. The convoy trucks are moving northwest, destination unknown. Satellite feeds shows strange interferences.

The closest Helicarrier to the area have sent two Quinjets full of field agents, as well as 4 F-35 Lighting-S fighters. The fighters will arrive soon, with orders to bomb the roads and stop the convoy.

But the Avenger One will arrive before the Quinjets. The anti-grav airplane is incredibly fast. Built around the hull of an old Quinjet model, it is quite different inside. More spacious, and obviously more heavily armored. The cons: no weaponry at all.

"It was the Scarlet Witch that directed me to investigate Transia," explains Nathaniel, the pilot seat turned 180 degrees to address the passengers. The young man explained he is controlling the plane through a cybernetic interface.

"A few years go the uranium mines under Mount Wundagore in Transia reopened. These mines had been exploited by German occupation forces during the Second World War, mined by captive soldiers and political prisoners under extreme conditions, and become the graveyard of hundreds of men. For decades they were considered cursed and haunted by the locals, and were left alone by the local government, believed to be depleted. But the newly created Transia Corporation explored and discovered new, rich uraninite deposits. The extracted mineral was refined and shipped by road to Russia and other ex-soviet republics for treatment and use in nuclear power plants." So far all is relatively okay, right?

"But there are rumors the Transia Corporation uses Gypsies (an oppressed minority in Transia) and political prisoners as miners. The autocratic Transian government denies it and forbids any investigation." Pause, "I have also some indirect evidence Roxxon Energy created and controls the Transia Corporation through shell companies. And that this robbery might well be a cover for a transaction of refined uranium to criminals."

*

Stolen uranium.

Two words that no member of any government agency wants to hear, ever. It's not the only phrase no agent wants to hear, but it is surely up there in the Top 40 greatest hits. And, as such, Phil has brought hismelf here personally to oversee the recovery of said uranium. It is…troubling…that the actual…rightful?…owners of the stuff are also so nasty as to be a source of concern.

He sits in the back of the Quinjet in full tactical gear, fingers flying over a display as he orders a feasibility study on what it will take to shut down operations at Mount Wundagore. He in fact seends a communique to his new friends in the Sokovian government who might also take an interest. And Rin, who as far as he's concern may start hacking Transia into ruin any time she sees fit, so long as she makes it look like the actions of a random hacktavist. If the Avengers and the SHIELD soldiers he's brought with him are heavy enough hitters that he's sure that he won't be particularly needed in an assault capacity, well…he's ready if he needs to be. He also glances in Sally's direction. She's the youngest and greenest agent on the team today, but her services as an interpreter and technical analyst will be, he thinks, invaluable.

When something comes to Phil's attention, and when it sucks, he tends to act pretty decisively. And given the day's headache is uranium? He's acting incredibly decisively. "What's our ETA, and the ETA of our forces?" he asks their pilot.

*

Spoiler has given her own chair from the computer station she's claimed as hers to Phil. She stands, regarding Nathanial and Phil and Sally. The set up sounds rather typical of such governments and of their criminal hanger ons. When Phil got his report, Spoiler got hers. Rather, she got her copy. Whether it was because Nathaniel flagged her attention to it in Avenger's archives, or she found it herself because Batanoia, no longer matters. She was already familiar with the concern by the time Nathanial had called up the Avengers. She say the alert of the stolen goods the moment it was made.

"What's going to happen with the Uranium once we get it from the thevies? I don' tlike the idea of handing it righ tback to this government," Spoiler tells Nathaniel, keeping it off open SHIELD comms. This is just between them. And well Phil and Sally.

*

The glance from Phil is returned with a determined nod. It's not a proper salute, but Sally can imagine just what it is he's thinking. Yeah, she's still new enough that the showroom smell hasn't gone away yet - but in this situation there's a lot of reasons for her to be here. The language, the technology, those are both definite things to consider. The political situation she grew up around, that's a less physical but still important aspect. The contacts she has? Definitely useful, even if they're on the Sokovian side of the border.

Rusalka takes a deep breath and gives herself a ten second count to clear her head. Something she does a lot before getting out on the track, a mental exercise to focus. Spoiler gets the first answer, though it involves Phil as well. "The Sokovians will press - gently, admittedly - to have it turned over to SHIELD." A frown gives the girl's accent a bit more of a bite. "It is the history of things, and there are no nuclear power stations in our country anyway. In Ukraine, certainly, but."

One of those Ukrainian nuclear power stations is just a little more famous than others, for very terrible reasons. That just makes a nice cover story, though.

"My great-grandmother has gone fishing for just who would want such a thing as a weapon. She fears it is related, potentially, to other recent incidents." There's a blue-eyed glance given to Phil. Imagine the Tchernobog with a nuclear capability. "I have heard nothing further, but my mother did say that she will order a training exercise near the border - at the very least, it should prevent an escape in that direction. And, Agent Richards, she has passed on permission to use Sokovian air assets if at all required. Refueling, repairs, that sort of thing."

At least that's one door that the terrorists won't get to exploit for getting away. Granted, they likely have others, especially if they're Hydra-backed. "Do we know, ah, the amount of materiel in this convoy?"

*

"ETA for the fighters 2:46 am local time," replies Nathaniel, addressing Coulson. "Three minutes. We should reach the convoy at 3:03. SHIELD troop transports 3:19. We could wait for them - depending on the reports of the fighters." It is not as if the trucks can escape, or can they?

He turns to Spoiler and replies. "I suppose that is up to SHIELD and the Ukrainian authorities. I do want to take a look if possible. To make sure all is what is supposed to be and we have recovered all the uranium. From my limited experience, it seldom happens when Roxxon gets involved."

His face is unreadable under the helmet, but when Rusalka mentions 'Tchernobog', he goes quiet. Definitely he needs to talk with Tony again if Tchernobog is still a threat. Not now, though. No distractions.

"The jets are close enough to the convoy now. Helicarrier Aeneas has authorized us to listen. Lets see if we can learn more about the thieves," he links the communications to the cabin speakers. There is a few seconds of silence, and then:

Alpha leader, a male, crisp voice, British accent: "Control. Approaching target. Will have visuals in 20 seconds. Over."

Control, a female, French accent: "Roger, Alpha. We have interferences. Switching to microwave feed. Two low level bogeys detected. Perhaps combat helicopters. Over."

Alpha Leader: "Wait, Control…bzzzsqquerrrrk… Confimed. Two bandits, they look like…"

The transmision interrupts here. A new, female voice can be heard:

"Break-Break. Delta speaking. We have a third bogey. Alpha is down! Ohmyfuckingod. Laser fire, laser fire. It is too small, can't trac-kkk-sssssss…"

Just static.

Halfway the brief, very brief conversation, Nathaniel turns the pilot chair to face the controls. Then seconds pass before he speaks. "All four fighters were shot down in twelve seconds." Beat. "We have at least a flying superhuman among the enemy." The airplane lurches sharply. "Seat belts, I am descending and it is going to be rough. I do not want to be caught in the air."

*

Roxxon. Another name Sally adds to her list, another potential line of inquiry. So is this Transia corporation; if it were left up to her the coincidences line up too easily. Then again, maybe they're supposed to, an errant thought decides. A memory of something her great-grandmother said about how they managed to survive against Hydra in the old days. Be predictable and manipulate circumstances so that your enemy becomes complacent - then slit his throat when he blinks.

Before she can start puzzling out that detail, though, the air battle begins - and she listens intently, gasping as the end result of the short-lived dogfight plays out. "Bozhe miy. So fast - it must be an Enhanced, a very powerful one, yes?"

There's a worried glance given to Phil as she starts strapping in and armoring up to what might end up being her coffin. Not quite the one she'd expected, but there's certainly worse. "If they could go through Lightnings that fast, the transports…" The transports wouldn't have a chance. It'd be like hunting cows with a modern battle tank.

And now all she can do is pray, one hand at her chest caressing something tucked under a shirt while her lips move. A religious girl, certainly, an orthodox god she worships - and another friend she hopes might be listening as well.

*

"I believe SHIELD will have to take custody of the uranium pending verification of any and all claims that it is legally owned and legally obtained under the bounds of international law," Coulson says, ever so smoothly. That kind of red tape is long, and thick, and deep, crossing borders as it does, and dealing with the deadly substance that it is. That means Transia will pretty much never, ever get its uranium back if Coulson gets his way. "That being said, an on-site inspection is a good idea."

He stops to listen to the comms.

He nods at what he hears, grimly. "Then we definitely need to move in fast." The two Avengers are probably their best chance of obtaining this thing.

He agrees with Sally's assessment. "I'm pulling the transports back," he announces, and he proceeds to do just that, glancing around the plane. Avengers exist to hit things like this. So he's not going to risk his men. "Sally, you're staying in here when we land," he says firmly. He intends to accompany the other two though. He is of course no Avenger, but. If he's going to pull men back that all but guarantees he'll have to get into the fray. Maybe his experience, little tricks up his sleeve, and training will help him keep up with them.

*

Phil's declaration, and assessment of the scene, get a slight sigh of relief. Even if it's just temporary, having the material in SHIELD's custody is for the best - at least until Transia and Ukraine can demonstrate proper security. By which, Rusalka Stojespal decides, requires the removal or elimination of this terrorist group and especially their super…villain or whatever.

Hearing how fast the air battle ended, against modern day high-end fighters, brings another factor of worry. If that was what the F-35 could do, taken by surprise, her mother's guarantee of the border being closed just got paper-thin. It isn't as if the Sokovian Air Force has modernized much at all since the end of the Soviet Union; their 'adorable antiques' would be nothing but a gallant footnote in a battle report.

Which means this has to end right here, right now.

"Wait - what? Absolutely I will not! You will need backup at least, and if…there's something more advanced there, you will need my help to understand what-" She gives Phil a very defiant glare, even as Nathaniel's piloting drops the jet into a hard lurch leaving her stomach somewhere north of her lungs. Fortunately for Phil this manages to cut off her protest. What was it that movie had so joyfully yelled? Ah, right, 'express elevator to Hell' - damn that marine for enjoying it, because she's not!

*

When the pilot comms come on, Spoiler moves the co pilot chair, to look over the sensors. Her purple paints lips frown as the bleeps of 'friendly' are dropped on after another.

Fast flying, lasers.

"Not a good idea for you to go out there until we have a clearer picture of what we're up against," Spoiler says to Nathaniel, not bothering with buckling in just yet, not when she knows she's got some gear in the back. Maybe she can do something.

"Get this plane down where you need it. I'll meet you there," says teh aubergine batling, pushing up from the seat to head toward the back, cape trailing behind her. As Sally tells off phil, Spoiler can't help but smirk faintly, reminds her of herself. As she moves, Spoiler keeps her hands on various bits of plane innerds, legs straining to keep hersle fupward as Nathaniel throws them into a lurch. Yes, the want to buckle in and ride it out is there, but if that thing finds and targets them… They'll last longer thant he others, certianly, but that's not acceptible to Spoiler.

Reaching the back, Spoiler peels the heavier Bat-Suit offer, leaving it on a chair. She pulls the thin fabric domino mask on before stepping into the armor Tony made for her. Lighter than the Iron Man suit, it closes up around her and she moves for her skycycle, the one Nathaniel gave her. Mounting up, she opens the back hatch.

"Spoiler Alert: First step's a doozy." Her voice comes over the comms with that digitizes effect Tony's gets when he's in his suit.

Wait? Tony wanted a field test, right? Otherwise, he wouldn't have had it loaded up.

*

"Agent Stojespal is correct." Agrees Iron Guard. "We need to neutralize the super-human so the Quinjets can approach safely," and Coulson is on it already. The airplane is in a steep descend, nearly 45 degrees, slowing down too, because he wants to engage the holographic cloak. The Lightning stealth capabilities were not enough to hide them.

"The scanners are detecting half a dozen low flying transport helicopters. The computers do not recognize the model," he reports. "Ah, the convoy has halted," it is night outside, so there is little to see on plain sight. Some lights and suddenly there is a tactical holo-display. "Heads up. Two large combat helicopters, Hinds. Mi-24VN," announces the young man. "At least twelve other armed men on ground. I am not seeing the flier."

The Avenger One is scratching the tree tops, almost invisible and undetectable in the darkness. But they need to land. So he switches from holo-cover to force-field and everyone suffers through an excessive amount of gees as he decelerates.

Once they are no longer supersonic, he launches the Skycycle with Spoiler. "You try not to die, lady," he sends through the comms. 'Avengers Assemble' is not appropriate, since she is pretty much 'dissembling'.

And they are seen. One of the hinds moves to block the Quinjet-like plane approach, autocannons blazing. But the airplane is heavily armored and although it is hit several times, it doesn't break.

Then the Hinds fires missiles. "I hope you did strap to the seats," mutters Nathaniel, forcing the Avenger One into a roll. The missiles fail to lock into the non-existent heat signature of the plane. And they go over the hind… except not quite, before completing the roll the wing hits the helicopter rotors and snaps them.

Yes, Iron Guard did that deliberately. That is one Hind down, and… it is another crash-landing for the Avengers, of course. They reach the ground too fast, and with no landing gear because they supposedly have a gravity cushion. But at this speed the cushion is not enough and the belly of the plane hit the ground, bounces, scratches the surface and finally stops, the nose of the plane barely two yards from a truck. 'Transia Corp' it says in red Cyrillic letters on the side.

"Everyone out!" The door/ramps at the sides of the plane launch open. Thirty yards behind them an 8 ton monster helicopter crashes loudly.

*

During the harrowing ride down Phil had sat cool as a cucumber; and he'd just sort of let Sally have her say without giving her so much as a lifted eyebrow to shut her down. He's patient like that. But as they hit the ground at the wrong spot in particularly tooth-jarring fashion, and as he takes stock of both the opportunities and liabilites inherent to the actual situation on the ground, the elder agent immediately makes some mental adjustments and ultimately changes his mind.

He pulls out a pair of binoculars and quickly scans the trucks, using the cargo bay for cover. He identifies the one they need. It's not the one they've landed next to.

"Guess you're going after all," Phil says grimly to Sally. He shoves a weapon into her hands and says, "Stay with me. While the Avengers make all the noise, you and I are going to take that truck. That's that's the one with the uranium in it. Obviously, you're driving it." Of course, the giant semi won't much handle like her little Lotus, but he trusts her driving skills all the same.

This might be one of those 'be careful what you wish for' scenarios for the young lady, but it is what it is and this is always a danger when any Agent gets out into the field.

He notes the identity of the terrorist group— Kobra, not Hydra, but it hardly matters. He grits his teeth as he switches his weapon to automatic fire, picks an approach corridor, and starts working to take out the hostiles between them and their destination.

With uranium on the line, there's just no time to play around with ICERs or other non-lethal means of doing things. They don't do well against body armor in a military setting anyway, those ICERs, relying as they do on making contact with skin to function.

*

"I'll keep an eye out for that flier until you get airborne," Spoiler tells Nathaniel, managing not to comment on his 'try not to die' remark. At least, for hte moment. Her eyes flick over the information on her HUD, moving in to engage the other chopper as Iron Guard takes out the other. She too is hard to see in the dark, for she's turned on her suits full cloaking suite.

"I need a tac-display of a Hind, Mi-24VN," Spoiler tells her suit's AI. She had a conversation with it during her last trial run. She's hoping Tony got this one hooked into Avenger systems to give her the information on that attack helicopter so she can find a good place to drop a concussion grenade to bring it to a controllable crash to the ground.

*

Sally watches as the other young woman makes her way to the back of the plane - then her jaw drops a little when she sees the suit do its thing, enfolding around her. The last time she'd seen it, it certainly wasn't that color…though admittedly she hadn't seen all of it at the time. Still, she got to help ever so slightly with building it, and there's this tiny flicker of engineer's pride as the future scion of the Batfather takes off from the back of the plane.

She has /got/ to try that someday.

Something she's never got to try again is being strapped into an aircraft in combat, because the sudden snap descent, treetop flight, and complete roll is doing things to her sense of balance that should be counted as a war crime. At least it ends, but not without a terrible-sounding bellylanding and skid.

Having her say is one thing, having her way is another - and she might make good points about being needed after all. But in the end it is Coulson's order, if she wants to keep that shiny chromed steel eagle badge. Then again, the famous aphorism that no plan survives contact with the enemy hits them the same instant the ground does. Well, time to put up or shut up.

The big gun gets a moment of surprise, before she overcomes her first instinct to set it aside. Rusalka holds on tight, checking the weapon for a moment like she'd been taught, before listening to Phil and nodding. Hrm. "Binoculars." A hand is held out, the request clear. Her concerns are what might be around the truck, and what condition it's in - obviously the trailer had better come with it; if there's anything blocking it or any damage it might make her plan - Phil's plan - harder.

*

It is 3am in a Ukrainian field in the middle of nowhere. The Hind helicopters do have sensors. The ground troops have… flashlights. The three closest to the truck get shoot by Phil before they can understand that horrible skidding noise of metal on rock was a modified Quinjet crash-landing in front of them.

Iron Guard is out of the airplane a second later, scanning for more enemies. The second Hind is a problem, but not a match for his armor. So he moves to intercept, flying low maybe fifty yards from the Avengers One.

And he barely a second warning from the armor sensors. A flash of red, supersonic boom. He attempts to dodge, but it scarcely matters, the impact on the ground is like a bomb and sends him flying, crashing against and through a centennial tree.

From the crater steps out a large, armored figure. Seven feet of dull red power armor mounting a massive laser canon on the right shoulder. The Russian mercenary super-villain Crimson Dynamo.

*

Phil tosses the binoculars to Sally, understanding instantly why she wants them. He pops back into cover as some return fire skitters up the ramp towards him, waits until the pattern breaks, and pops out to fire again. That's when he realizes that Iron Guard was unable to do a thing about the Hind, because the Crimson Dynamo is having his say. He lets out a soft, sharp, tense exhale. Pulling back those men might have been a miscalculation unless he can…

Ha. Well. If he can, that's going to help him make short work of the men on the ground. It's just that—

"I'll be right back," he tells Sally.

He withdraws something from his armor. It just looks like a short pole. Until he hits the button. Then it's a long pole with ends that glow with pulsing, blue, alien light. SHIELD really does cheat, commandeering all sorts of alien technology for his own. He hits another button on his armor, bringing up a short-term energy shield, and then he takes a running leap forward. Bullets ping off of it and zip off into ricochet. He takes a deep breath, looking every bit his 53 years for just a moment as he leaps, slamming the end of the pole into the ground even as the Hind maneuvers. The timing has to be perfect to take him into the open door, and it is; he sails inside and kicks one of the gunmen in the face, even as the gunman weakens his energy shield down to 25% simply by peppering him with bullets. He turns, panting, to fire at a second one who tries to adjust for the crazy guy still in close quarters. The pilot looks back, alarmed as he realizes a hostile is busy trying to take over his helicopter.

"Nobody fire on Hind 222 please," he says into the comm, as if he were requesting an iced green tea from his local Starbucks.

*

Schematics rolling into her HUD, Spoiler is making the mental plans on how and when to frag the prop when crator on iGuard's position and Phil's requesting no action on the Hind. Spoiler scans the ground, spotting Dynamo and his BFLG mounted to his shoudler.

"Noted," replies the purple Avenger (Sorry, Hawkeye, you lost that honor!) as she pulls her bike back and around for a bee-line at the super. She's got a grapple gun, and she knows how to use it.

In this case, using it involves seeking to wrap the line it around said gun, hooking it to her skycycle and then gunning hte throttle. Hopefully this damages the super more than it does her bike, and at least gives iGuard some breathing room.

"Hey. Don't die," Spoiler quips at Guard via her comms. Because NOW she's going ot comment on that early remark.

*

You know what, maybe Phil was right and she should have stayed on the plane. …No, that's probably a bad idea anyway. Besides, without her, they'd never be able to really get their hands on the uranium, and she nods as Phil spells out his plan.

Oh look. Plan #2, meet enemy. Guess what happens?

What happens is Phil turning into a superhero and the Sokovian engineer, huddled behind one corner of the wreckage of the crashed helocpter, staring in awe as the agent dares to be stupid and charges headlong into a flying one, sending its occupants flying. Between Phil literally invading a helicopter in midair, Nathaniel - Iron Guard - taking on a psychotically laser-happy Russian, and Spoiler joining in that particular fight?

Rusalka Stojespal, native of Sokovia and eventual heiress to the barony of Polyuchyn, is going to have to do something damned impressive if she wants to live through this. And she needs to be in that truck to do it. What's available? A quick look around at the mutual wreck, and then an idea hits - fortunately everyone wearing a KOBRA patch isn't paying any attention to her.

So less than a minute later, lugging several anti-missile flares as well as a large spare container of aviation hydraulic fluid, Sally squirms her way to the truck as close as she can get - and almost makes it. There's a moment when a Kobra trooper comes around the corner as fast as she does, the two of them colliding like some bad romantic movie and falling back away from each other. Fortunately, the guy's alone - unfortunately, his reactions are quicker than hers.

At least she'd been wearing body armor, as the heavy jacket takes a number of his from a burst from the terrorist's submachinegun. It's all he gets, as Sally yells out in pain from the impact, before her legs slam her forward with her own gun. Instead of shooting, her hand freezes, and the girl's weight simply shoves her own gun forward - complete with bayonet, right into the terrorist's chest.

*

Don't die, she says.

Nathaniel is not dead yet, just bruised and stunned. But Crimson Dynamo is trying to fix that. First he shoots a micro-missile point blank before Iron Guard can even stand. Then he steps on his head with his armored boot. "You are not Iron Man," he says with a thick Russian accent. "But you will do for…"

Yank. The grapple snatches the laser gun, and the rope tenses. Crimson Dynamo weights about 300 lbs. in his heavy armor. But the Skycycle can handle that weight, so the surprised armored mercenary is pulled off the ground and dragged off Iron Guard. A few seconds later, he activates the flight system of his armor and tries to pull back. The Skycycle lurches, and then the laser cannon is ripped from his armor with a ugly tearing sound. A long string of Russian cursing follows.

Meanwhile the crew of the Hind is very surprised to see an old SHIELD agent pole-vaulting inside their helicopter. This allows Phil to pummel down a couple thugs, but two others jump on him, and the co-pilot has pulled out a handgun and is trying to aim at Coulson from his chair. The Hind interior is pretty large, although there are many boxes cluttering it. Boxes that are getting kicked and tossed around and that seem to be full of ammo and explosives.

And near the uranium-loaded truck Rusalka stabs and messily kills her first terrorist. Hurray. (Wait, you will never make to the Avengers if you kill the bad guys!).

*

Phil's eyes widen as he gets jumped. It was predictable that he'd be outnumbered, but being jumped on was not entirely expected. He hits the ground, whipping his head up at the last second to avoid being knocked out. He struggles with them, but he's not really trying to push off younger, stronger men. He's just trying to get to his pocket.

The thing about Phil is, he cheats. He cheats a lot. His fingers slip around a small, flat, silvery disk located in one of the compartments of his cargo pants. The last thing he wants to do is have a bunch of shooting with cargo and explosives in the mix. He hits the little button on the disk…

Which will send out a wave of taser-like energy into the two who have decided it's time to get up close and personal. He's sure hoping it knocks them out. He'll worry about the others in the Hind in just a second. 'One problem at a time' has sort of been his survival mantra for the past 33 years, and this definitely qualifies.

He'd be massively flattered to think anyone thought, even for half a second, that he was any kind of superhero though. Right now what he feels? Is slightly winded.

*

"Language," Spoiler coos over her comms and into her 'outboard' speakers, taunting the red baddie who is now sans shoulder mounted laser cannon while channeling everyone's favorite Captain Avenger. She hasn't learned Russian, but Dynamo's words sounded like cursing.

Don't you think they sounded like cursing? Of course they did.

Recovering from the sudden lurch of freedom, Spoiler leans hard, pulling her bike into a tight turn while having the gun cut the line. Her eyes are tracking the baddie she yanked off iGuard. (Nathaniel is now an Apple Product. You are welcome.)

"Oooh.. Comrade, I think something broke on your suit there. I should give you a hand with that," she says, lifting a hand to fire an ICER blast that Tony put into the suit in lieu of the repulsor blasts he is armed with. She's not engaging fully, but she's being loud enough to get and hopefully hold Dynamo's attention so that Nathaniel can get his feet again and maybe bring in his heavier guns into the fray. All she has to do is play distraction… and try not to get hit.

*

It turned out for the best, in the end - by not shooting the guy, she'd managed not to warn the other guards to her presence. The sudden charge forward with the bayonet had still messily killed him, but not in any way that suggests the terrorist's target is still alive. Maybe, if she's lucky, the guards around the truck will think she's dead and relax just enough.

Meanwhile, she does her damndest not to look at the guy, and locks her mind down again with a quick count. Focus, Stojespal. Time for the hard part. A few deep breaths, before she opens the container of fluid, just to get some air back in her lungs. It hurts, as well; the bullets may not have gotten through the armor she has on but the impact certainly left some nasty bruising.

Her mission is to get to the truck and get it out. She can't do that with guards, and isn't a good enough shot to take them out. But she can make them run, especially once they get a whiff of the nastiness coming. She makes a few more deep breaths, getting as much oxygen as she can in her system, before popping the flares and dropping them into the small tank of fluid.

And then hurling that tank at the truck, which bursts as it hits the ground. The smoke from burning hydraulic fluid is thick and dark, making for some nice cover. It's also dangerous as hell to breathe; if the terrorists catch a whiff of it it'll burn their nose and lungs. If they get too much of it, it could rapidly turn fatal.

As soon as it bursts, even before she sees the terrorists react, Sally leaves behind everything else - body, gun, other gear - to lighten herself up and get to the cab of that truck as fast as possible, praying it's still unlocked. And if there can be a divine cherry on top, unoccupied.

*

Inside the Hind Phil gets rid of two Kobra soldiers, only to have a bullet wiz an inch over his scalp. And impact a box of rocker launcher ammo. Says so in the box. Hammer Industries Rocket Ammo. Miraculously it doesn't explode (yet).

The Hind pilot is busy maneuvering so he can shoot at Spoiler's Skycycle. The autocannons are trying to lock target with the smaller flying machine.

While Spoiler is busy with Dynamo. The ICER rounds splash against the crimson armor to no effect, and the Russian replies with palm mounted repulsor knockoffs. Behind him Iron Guard stumbles to his feet, vision blurry, bad headache. He needs to shift sensory input to the cybernetic interface. Onboard diagnostics states severe concussion.

He ignores the medical advice to kick Dynamo's leg under him, forcing him to his knees. Then grabs him from behind and grabs his faceplate, his fingers becoming razor sharp saws, singing into the metal and then tearing it off with a grinding crunch. "Shot him now," he offers Spoiler. A face full of ICER rounds will give the Russian the worse headache. For justice.

Meanwhile Sally finds the darkness a good cover for her sneaky run. Poison smoke was a bit of an overkill, but having a couple terrorist coughing his lungs out makes for a good distraction. Yes, they left the truck empty and the keys on. The idea was to shoot the enemy before they got close to the trucks.

*

The idea to shoot before the HEROES got there failed. iGuard's idea of giving Spoiler an openning doesn't, and she levels her bike off after narrowly dodging Dynamo's repulsors. In that moment where Spoiler's still enough to get a shot off, the Hind's autocannons find their mark. Spoiler did also.

ICER round aimed at Dynamo's face means Spoiler's sent spinning and is forced to leap OFF her skycycle lest she get crushed under it. She leaves it to tumble into a rough landing as she drops to the ground and returns her suit to stealth mode. Let everyone think she went down with the bike. Her next communique will reassure those that need to know.

"Report in."

*

Phil checks the position of the Hind, even as blood rolls down his scalp and across one eye. He blinks it away. He verifies they are not near the freaking uranium, or any of his team members, and then he turns his body, still flat on the floor, and kicks the box out of the helicopter so it can go make itself more useful by blowing something up that isn't him. He can see all the smoke coming from below, which will utterly end his plan to use the Hind to pick off guys below.

Which is fine. It's probably enough to keep the Hind from lining up any shots on his team, and Sally either has the situation brilliantly under control down there or she is very dead.

One problem at a time.

Now there's a guy with a gun. He grabs the sidearm of one of the guys that was on top of him, rolls to his belly, squints, and fires twice, aiming his double-tap between the eyes of the shooting co-pilot.

Then he scrambles up and shoves that gun directly into the back of the pilot's neck. "Land this thing, and you live, give me crap and you don't," he says. His tone brooks no argument and holds nothing but firmest conviction.

*

Fortunately the Hind pilot is not the kind of Kobra fanatic that would die for the cause screaming crazy stuff about the Kali-Yuga. Feeling the handgun against his nape, he lands the helicopter without arguing.

Crimson Dynamo goes limp when the ICER round hits his face, knocking him out. Iron Guard leans on a tree and hisses back to Spoiler. "I am injured, but not critical. Help the SHIELD agents with the remaining terrorists, please."

Which means basically round up a few stragglers that are shooting at Rusalka's truck. And wait ten minutes for the SHIELD Quinjets to arrive to arrest the surviving terrorists.

*

Thank god for small favors, and big ones. The gunmen around the truck take off when the improvised chemical bomb goes off, and it's some nasty stuff - even Sally's tearing up and coughing as she dives into the cab. The controls are unfamiliar, and it's her first semi-truck…but as good as she is behind the wheel of a regular car, and the book knowledge picked up here and there, it doesn't take long at all.

The semi lurches forward, crashing fast through the gears to get up to speed, before it starts going hellbent for the horizon once the last of the gunmen take the occasional potshot at her. She's free of them quickly, at least; they're more interested in properly being captured or running away than continuing to fight.

Spoiler's radio call and order to report in gets a glance; she finds a radio that was used by Kobra and quickly punches in a SHIELD frequency. "This is -" An idiotic smile crosses her face, thinking back to a guilty pleasure of both hers and her best friends. They were silly movies, certainly, and got dumb…but the first one was fun enough at least. And she is driving a giant semi-truck full of uranium and God knows what else.

"This is Optimus Prime." Who has a remarkably feminine voice and a Sokovian accent. "Target is secured, returning to landing zone ssshoorrtlyyy." Man, if she can't find an overpass soon, it's going to suck having to make a twenty point U-turn in this thing.

*

'This is Optimus Prime.'

Here's Phil, who has just basically tased the pilot now that he's put the chopper on the ground. He hears Sally, blissfully alive and having completed her mission. And choosing to report it in that particular way.

He comms in. "I think you might have just proven yourself to be my one true padawan, Agent Stojespal."

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