Guardians in Opposition

February 27, 2018:

Sharon Carter pursues armed criminals, and finds a defender of another cause waiting for her quarry.

New York City


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Sometimes, duty calls when least expected. Really, it's just an unfortunate series of events for these men who have decided to steal what must be something very valuable and speed by the coffee shop where Sharon was in the drive through. The wheels on their car spin smoke as they make a hard right turn, fleeing in the wake of an armored truck that's been knocked clear on it's side from the explosives they use.

Automatic weapons fire careens one police car out of commission, and threatens innocent bystanders as they race through Manhattan, mounting the curb to plow past bystanders who barely get out of the way in time. It's audacious, to rob a car like this in broad daylight. Absurd, even, to think they would get far before the entire metropolitan police force is upon them, but Sharon will instantly know the truth of it: They're using a high tech device to scramble wireless signals. They're making it hard to coordinate the effort to track them as they seek to make their escape.

Sharon Carter likes her energizing beverages. Coffee. Tea. The stronger, the better. Caffeine, as everyone knows, can substitute for sleep in a pinch. So she's grabbing a triple espresso at the drive through, drumming her fingers on her steering wheel as she listens to the frankly fairly energizing music she's playing. It's a bad idea to play some albums in the car. It leads to speeding.

Speaking of which. It's not part of the soundtrack, as far as she can tell, when she hears a certain degree of screeching. And a certain degree of exploding. And that's moderately concerning.

She's been sitting here for about three minutes waiting for that hot caffeinated goodness. It's taking too damn long. She can actually see her cup waiting on the counter while the unfortunate cashier explains that no, the special Christmas mocha is no more because Christmas was two months ago, but they had a similar thing…

Meanwhile, an armored truck tumbles to one side. Meanwhile, a police car is disabled.

Meanwhile, Sharon is gritting her teeth as she hears the feedback-screech of the signal scrambler.

Meanwhile, her coffee is ten feet away and getting cold.

Agent 13 loses her patience. She taps her comm, knowing it's going to have a bastard of a time connecting to anything, and sends a message to wait in the buffer until she gets better reception: "This is Agent 13 in pursuit starting at…" She provides the street, the license number if she can, and screeches forward, scowling at having already PAID for her damn drink ahead of time. If she gets finished with this chase soon, she's going to damn well come back and get it remade.

Squealing is matched with squealing as Sharon careens out of the drive-through, dodging through traffic and managing her fishtailing with the ease of a professional. It's going to be interesting to see if she gets backup. It's also going to be interesting to see how quickly these guys notice they're being followed by a cute little white convertible.

Screams paint the way forward, people take to the ground for refuge, because these men only care about chaos in their wake until they are home free. With the first police car sent crashing into a storefront, they believe themselves homefree. It takes a surprisingly long time, given at how tuned in they are to things like lights and sirens and not white convertibles who have a better driver than they do, but once Sharon gets their attention by keeping pace and following in lock step, it earns her only the highest praise.

A man leads out one of the windows and aligns his AK-47 with her car to let the machinegun sing. Bullets cascade towards her vehicle in a sheet, like a wave of oncoming rain from a thunderhead poised to explode. It is of course, a worse case scenario, because any of those bullets could find an innocent bystander, and the SUV seems to have at least one more gunman already leaning out the other side.

A hard jerk of the wheel sends the SUV to a tilt, but brings it's motion around to a hard right that sends it down an alleyway, intent on cutting to the next street over, and then presumably the highway which will let them get off the island. Something in their path explodes in a cascade of wooden splinters, more debris raining on that beautiful white car, and all of it aligned to, at the very least, make sure that Sharon's car never looks as pristine as it did before she started this chase.

Somewhere head, a flash of lights, and a siren. More backup? Perhaps, but not until they make the next street.

The little bastards. She'd expected them to catch on eventually — Sharon's not bad at tailing people, but she's not trying too hard to remain unseen. Evidenced by the fact that these probably-amateurs have seen her. But she's dodging back and forth, primarily because she doesn't want to get hit, and also because any sane person who got passed by a high-speed chase is going to get the hell off that road as quickly as they can.

This isn't Sharon's first rodeo, either. "Oh, we're playing this game, are we?" she mutters. But instead of reaching for a regular old gun, Sharon slips an ICER out of her glove compartment. One hand holds the wheel while she leans to the side, firing back at the existing gunman and even offering a shot in the direction of the one who's trying to come out.

The sirens ahead are a welcome sound. She could damn well use some backup to stop these guys.

The SUV slips free from the alley, turns hard right, and just before it clears the man firing at her takes an ICER between the eyes, slumping and dropping his rifle as Sharon does as much to him. The chaos alone that it creates causes a distraction, one that sends the vehicle swerving as it completes it's turn. It's right about then that the world doesn't make sense. A police helicopter had joined in the chase, had helped coordinate a blockaide of just two cars, but they haven't stopped the vehicle.

Instead it hangs in mid hair, wheels turning, shouts emanating from inside as the vehicle slowly lifts, palmed at it's front by an impossible might. Metal does not crumple or twist as physics demand, instead obeying the Kryptonian hand that hoists it front-first towards the sky. Armor in black and grey sets a hard line against the white and blue cars behind here, and the lights that seek to assault her from all side, and most of all, that hair, a faux-hawk of immaculate condition, set in an angry line against the blowing wind.

It all comes crashing down a moment later, the SUV dropped off and to the side, on it's roof, the weight caving it in to the screams of the displaced men who seem to still be alive. For the police, it is a moment that happens far to often - a hero or hero intervenes. But this one does not seem interested in these men, who are left to the swarm of officers. Instead the dark haired, blue eyed woman steps forward, her head tilting at the white car speeding her way, with an alien curiosity brimming behind her eyes.

Assuming Sharon does not ram her, she will step forward, her armor making no sound despite it's apparent, metal construction, gaze turned to the make of her vehicle, to the curves and lines of it, because back on her world, Faora-Ul was, of all things, an enthusiast for things that go fast. Here on this one, that measurement has changed. A vehicle will likely never seem fast to her, but as she reaches out to touch it, it is clear she appreciates it's lines.

"Your pursuit vehicle is much different from the others." It is an accent like no other, and as she turns that gaze, to Sharon, her voice takes an almost hard turn. "Explain."

When the SUV starts slowing, nearly toppling, Sharon starts veering to one side to see if she can pull alongside it properly. The fact that it STOPS, that it lifts into the air, has her pulling over to the side to find out what on Earth is going on.

Her beautiful car is in some fairly dire shape — you can be fast or bulletproof, not both, when you're a car — but nothing dangerous has been punctured. She's quick and sleek enough to avoid that. She certainly does NOT ram Faora; she stares at her in some astonishment instead, opening her door and rising to regard the SUV and the woman who just squashed it. The police are taking care of that part, which is a comfort, since it means Sharon doesn't have to deal with them. Instead, she looks Faora-Ul up and down.

"They're the police, and they're on duty. I'm neither; I belong to a… different organization. Who are you, and why did you stop those men?" She gives the flipped SUV a curt nod.

"Yes. Another organization. You are from SHIELD." The other shoe drops, as it were. It seems she knows Sharon, even if Sharon does not know her. The Kryptonian's gaze snaps from the car to meet Sharon's, but she does not disregard her question. Instead her hand leaves the car, battle damaged as it is, and she takes another step closer. Behind her that cape moves in an unusual way, as if some power other than the wind or gravity had sway over it. "I am Faora-Ul, and I stopped them because I am stopping all of them. All of those who would attack the Children of the New Dawn, the Children that can save your world from the same fate mine suffered. These men of Humanity First, the last scions of a dying population, supplanted by the powerful, have no other destiny than their compatriots…"

Here she steps closer still, violating personal space, her gaze set to a scrutiny that sees through flesh and down to bone, that listens for her heart rate, that tests her mettle in the mere moments before looking away, to where the men are being extracted from the SUV.

"…ashes upon the pile."

There is a flash of light after she turns her head, brilliant and blossoming, carving lines against her skin as it blackens around her eyes from the sheer intensity of the heat she unleashes. The beam itself is immaterial, a flashpoint that exists for mere moments, just long enough for that SUV to suddenly explode, shattering glass and sending the men inside into screaming fits as they die. The police who had called for the jaws of life to get them out were thankfully far enough away that none of them take the brunt of it. In the end, there is only burning metal and the scent of human demise as Faora's gaze slowly ticks back to this, a woman of principle, a woman of SHIELD.

Those blonde eyebrows quirk, and the icy blue eyes narrow. Yes, she's with SHIELD. And who is this woman to know that? The question gets answered quickly, and Sharon files the name away with the face for future reference. Flying. Flying with a swooshy cape.

"Humanity First?" Sharon's lips press together. "I might have known. I saw robbers and I chased them down. The rest…"

But when Faora turns, when she shatters the SUV with her gaze, it's time for Sharon to do a little more recalculating. She actually takes a step or two back, staring at the ball of gas-fueled fire, her ears catching the sounds of men dying in pain and terror inside. Her jaw clenches, but she's going to be polite to the… Kryptonian, almost certainly, though it doesn't do to assume.

"With those men dead," she says, her tone careful and even, only the tension around her eyes and lips giving away her anger, "we have no way of knowing who exactly they reported to, where they were taking that money. Humanity First's cells are decentralized; cutting off one branch does nothing for the whole rotten tree. We also have a tradition here that the voices of the powerful are not the only ones we listen to. I'm against Humanity First and what they stand for. But that doesn't mean we slaughter them out of hand. We have a justice system. We use it. When we can."

The police begin to recover, seeking shelter, and then evaluating the source of that flare up. A simple gas explosion? No, something more. One is bold, because he saw it all. Because he is from Metropolis and has seen fire in the eyes of a hero before, and maybe villains too.

"You there in the armor!"

It cuts into Faora's train of thought as she thinks to reply to Sharon's logical lay of the land, annoyance cresting her eyes for a moment before, finally, a saccharine smile shows through the haughty oppression of her superior demeanor. "We had these traditions on my world, Sharon of the noble House of Carter. Now my world is dead because the weak would not listen to the strong." Perhaps it is something she thinks she sees, anger and frustration maybe, mistaken for something else? Her gaze softens, as does her smile, no longer superior. No, it is something else now. Because Faora thinks that frustration is a sign that Sharon wishes she could join her.

"Do not worry. I will bring them the justice you cannot, and when the Children of the New Dawn take command of your world, you will see it flourish. We will not forget the struggle of those who cannot help but be… lesser."

Is it pity she casts in Sharon's direction? Hard to say, but the man behind her tries again. "I said step away from the woman! Hands on your head!"

Her head begins to turn again, much like it did before she made an SUV explode.

It's… something that ought to be admitted. People frustrate the hell out of Sharon sometimes. Anyone who's been in her position — and, she suspects, in Faora's — has had plenty of reason to grit their teeth at the people they're sworn to protect. But they do grit their teeth, and they knuckle down and double down and do it. There's no alternative.

Well. That's a lie. The alternative is Faora.

"I'm here to protect the weak. Sometimes, to protect them against themselves." Is that agreement? Or argument? "The Children of the New Dawn. Do they call themselves that? We should talk, though maybe not in the middle of the street — "

That's about when the man behind Faora starts to shout. Sharon quickly draws a hand across her neck, fingers pointed toward herself — stop it, she's trying to say, but the man isn't getting it.

"Stop!" she shouts, both to Faora and the bold policeman. She holds out a hand, palm toward him: "I'm perfectly fine! Back off, please!" Urgently in her eyes: you're too young to die, kid; back off before I have to ICE you. And if he doesn't back off? Then she will. Better to knock him out than to let Faora burn his eyes out.

She's going to do it. Going to kill him. This, a creature refined by evolution to be heartless in the matter of protecting her ward. Once, that was her world. Faora-Ul, Commander of the Legions of Krypton, second only to General Dru-Zod, the greatest leader she had ever known. Both aligned to protect Krypton at all costs, even if that cost was treason.

Failure haunts her to this day, and she can see the planet she was born to protect crack asunder, slain by the enemy of hubris, one she could not shoot or punch into a restless oblivion. The mention of the Children of the New Dawn halts her, but so too does it increase her ire, until that sudden exclamation, one Protector to another, stills it in her heart.

For the first time, the sound of her armor can be heard, the menacing scrape as fingers ball into fists, but it is a tension short lived. Short lived, because there is yet an honor in her heart, even if it is nothing Earthly. When she looks to Sharon again her gaze ticks over those small details, the urgent look in her eyes, of herding someone or something that does not know the danger it courts.

For his part, the man pauses, caught between some imagined duty and the assertive nature Sharon lends to her voice. All the while that scrutiny continues, a hand rising, slowly, a menace that cannot be ignored, and yet it seems Sharon has Faora's attention when she reaches up, the cold material of her glove touching at the odd thing she has in her ear, while curiosity forces a slow tilt of her head.

"Tell me it is important to you that this man who would dare interrupt me remains alive, and I will help you fulfill your duty, even as you helped me fulfill mine. Tell me it is important, and I will leave you to shepherd these poor fools, ignorant to the savior before them."

Faora does not say she will speak with her again, but perhaps there is an implication. Perhaps not now, for she still has work to do. What she does speak of is a savior for the fools behind them, and she means none other than the Agent of SHIELD in front of her.

"It. Is important. His job is to protect people," Sharon explains. "I don't look all that scary. You know better. You look terrifying." There's not even any judgment in that statement. The sky is blue in summer, New York snow is grey as cinders, and Faora-Ul looks like she could crush a skyscraper. "He's just trying to protect me. He doesn't understand."

She takes a deep breath, nodding once: "Please. Spare him, Faora-Ul. He does not intend insult." Because it's this that sets Sharon Carter, Agent 13, apart from a lot of the rest of SHIELD. Even members of her own family. She can read a situation, read a person, and generally figure out how to navigate a conversation without anyone getting killed. Sometimes she can even do it while telling the truth. While believing what she says.

"Thank you," she adds. And she means that, too. She's never heard of the Children of the New Dawn, and it's going to be interesting finding out just who they are.

That hand drops away, and whatever curiosity brought it to bear disappears in the earnest way Sharon asks for the life of the man behind her. It really isn't her plea, nor her thanks that demand she keep her promise. Part of it is the honor. Sharon told her what was important to her, and now Faora must keep her word.

Part of it was the compliment she payed her, when Sharon told her she looked terrifying.

The air around her shifts, and Agent 13 may even feel her hair shift a little, because flight for Kryptonians is an odd thing, defying all rule of law, even physics. Bits of particulate float oddly on the ground, glass and asphalt pebbles swirling as she rises up and back in a slow ascent. Behind her that cape billows, and if she looked terrifying on the ground, here where she can look down upon them all she is every bit the displaced God, forced to watch her world die, with no other direction but the mistakes that have come before.

And the cries of those Children here, who would need her most.

"You asked to speak to me in another place. My duty prevents this, for now, but I am sure you understand. Still, I will answer your question. The Children of the New Dawn call themselves only the name your people have given them, a name born of misunderstanding. A name layered in fear and malice, but that they, like all strong things, bear as a badge of honor."

Fists curl, and as she drifts higher, her voice does not diminish. Her head tilts up, proud and full of purpose. "In truth, these Mutants are are not the mistake the world claims them to be, but evolution's answer to your world's destiny. Your kind will try to stave off this inevitable tide… but evolution always wins."

These, her parting words, for she is there one moment, and gone the next, a rush of displaced air putting out the fire of the SUV as she rockets into the stratosphere, faster than the eye can track.

Somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, the artificial intelligence known as Noblix is hard at work. It isn't until the seals of the Kryptonian Scout Craft allow the entry of another that it stops, turning to it's master.

There is a silent regard for a moment, and Faora's glove turns palm up, showing the outline of the communications device that Sharon wore in her ear. A flicker in the photoreceptor of her companion, and Faora gives her command.

"Understand them, Noblix. Learn all you can. Soon we begin."

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