Bounty Hunters of a Feather

March 14, 2018:

Rocket finds a Valkyrie while tracking an alien signal.

Harlem

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\ None.]


Fade In…

The encounter on the barge yielded some goodies for Rocket to play with - after he drained the Hudson out of one of them, that is. There were several bits of scrap left behind - some alien, and some clearly earthbound. Despite the fact that they got their hands on a short-range transmitter, it's proven notoriously difficult to track. That's on purpose. In fact, they're the kind of tech that thieves on other worlds favor. The more developed and richer worlds like Xandar have ways to jam them, but it's something that needs to be rigged up on a large scale. Rocket might be smart enough to do that, but he doesn't have the resources.

However, what's less difficult to track are other energy signatures that have been pinging around the atmosphere since late February. SHIELD tracked something entering atmo over the New York area, but then promptly lost it on their scanners. So they can't pinpoint where something went down, but the not-raccoon has enough knowhow to match that signal to some other tech. It's a bit like a game of cold, cold, hot. The gizmo he was able to work up can follow a signal, but it's very difficult to calibrate. He's lost the trail a few times, either from ambient interference or stupid buildings in the way. But he's finally managed to track a particularly strong signal.

That signal leads him to a street corner in Harlem. A certain Asgardian woman is laying down some kind of cosmic tape strip with a piece of tech that matches the signal from the atmosphere. She's wearing a cloak which hides her leather armor, but otherwise she's not trying to be inconspicuous.

*

It's pretty irritating how bad signals can be around this place. Maybe it's just Terra and its interfering frequencies. Rocket has been informed that using jamming technology or boosts would be highly frowned upon. Of course, that was only for finding enough bars for his dumb cell-service.

But this latest project has finally gotten him a ping, and he's not sure if he's all that surprised to see the woman from the bar the other day. Slipping his little scanner thing-a-magig into his pocket, Rocket starts over towards her. It's still cold out in the city so he's wearing a jacket over his usual jumpsuit, still very much conspicuous, the large weapon slung on his back even more so.

"Well, fancy meetin' you out here," he says by way of greeting, flashing a toothy grin. "Interestin' piece'a hardware there too."

*

Valkyrie looks up, pauses, looks Rocket over, then goes back to her work. The device looks like some kind of cosmic packing tape gun. It lays down a trail of energy that shimmers for a moment, then fades away. It works close enough to magic that it might just be Asgardian tech - or at least a sort of hybrid. In fact, more likely a hybrid since it seems to be belching out the equivalent of signal smog even with short use. That's what he was able to track.
"Are you a scavenger? And if not…" she lays down another strip. "…why do you care?"

*

"Oh yeah, I love me some sweet salvage," Rocket replies, shrugging as he wanders closer. He glances briefly at his pocket as he catches the screen lighting it up in response to the energy it picks up from whatever Valkyrie's got.

"I'll be frank, there's been some weird stuff goin' on around here- well, weirder than Terra-weird… and I thought I'd try havin' a look around, you know? For all their love of space travel and aliens, Terra don't get an influx of visitors from out beyond."

*

Valkyrie looks down at the fading energy field and pokes in a series of commands to a small handheld device. She only looks over at him after she's finished whatever it is she's doing. "You look like a reasonably intelligent sentient. I don't suppose you want to earn a few units? You could call it a…" she lifts a shoulder. "Salvage operation. Of a kind."

*

Furry white brows lift at the proposal. "Now we're talkin'. Of course, I dunno what sorta units you mean, 'cuz it ain't gonna do me any good when I'm stuck here, so unless you've got somethin' else to make it worth my while…" Rocket says, folding his arms as he watches the woman fiddle with the device.

*

"From the way you're eyeing my microtracker trap, I'd say I'd have something to trade." Valkyrie points to the gizmo. "Not this. I need this. But we could make a deal for something else." She steps towards Rocket and tilts her head. "I'm tracking a few escaped convicts. My ship went down and they managed to escape. And now they're mucking about this backwater of a planet, which means I can't collect my bounty."

*

"….ohhhh," the Guardian says, a smirk tugging at his face in understanding. "So you're the reason we've got a buncha random alien sightings armed with questionable equipment running around New York." Microtracker trap, huh. He makes a mental note of the name as he eyeballs the device.

"What happened to yer ship?" he asks, because of course he's going to ask. "Oh waaait a sec, that was you then… Okay, this all makes a lot more sense. Great, so you crashed or somethin', I take it? And we've got alien convicts running around. Oh, they'll blend right in with the local looneys."

Rocket taps a finger against his chin as he works all the details out, nodding to himself. "How many we talkin' about? There were at least four or five that we came across the other day. One's in custody with SHIELD. The others teleported, tried sending a signal or somethin' out and then split the moment they realized they had company."

*

The way Rocket knows he's right about probably everything he just said? Valkyrie's face contorts in growing annoyance with each passing word. She clenches her jaw and seems to be debating whether to tell him anything. "Some kind of energy disturbance. A portal. Ripped my ship nearly in half. When I came to, they were all gone. All but one. He pissed himself and died." She feels around under her cloak until she produces a flask. She tries to drink from it but finds it empty. More scowling.

She searches his furry face for a moment. "What's SHIELD?" then, "I don't know. A dozen? Maybe a few more. I hadn't gotten a chance to catalogue them all." And by 'gotten a chance' she means 'forgot because she was drunk at the time.' "Which ones did you see? Which one have you got? And shit, I was hoping the S2S devices had just been lost in the crash."

*

It is such a wonderful feeling knowing you've got the edge on someone. Rocket only grins more as Valkyrie has nothing to say otherwise of what he's surmised.

"Hmm… portal, eh? Yeah, can't imagine a random energy flux would go well with any ship. Still got anything left to fly, granted you find everyone?" It's also his way of asking if she even knows how to get her ship fixed, granted there's anything left to fix.

"Great, so you don't even know how many. Pretty sure you wouldn't wanna deal witH SHIELD to explain that one. They're the guys in the suits, the ones that take care of all the legal crap an' stuff that might be considered a threat that don't get covered by the normal law enforcement's paygrade." He shrugs again. Actually, he's never really figured out how to classify S.H.I.E.L.D. They just sorta stuck their nose in people's business and apparently had enough leverage to do so.

Rocket scratches his head as he thinks back to the other night when they'd tracked the aliens to that abandoned tug. "Ehhh…big guy with four arms and one eye, 'nother guy that was big and had a weird kinda sideways face. He's the one SHIELD nabbed. I think someone said something about a kid…" He tsks. "Oh, they had some interestin' equipment with them that definitely wasn't from around here."

*

Valkyrie's sour look turns positively lemon. "My ship…" she begins, "…has a hull. And an engine." Notice she doesn't specify how many pieces said hull and engine currently are. And then she adds a bit defensively, "My priority has been tracking down my prisoners so they don't disappear into this planet's population. Which these…SHIELD people should thank me for." She sniffs once.
She pulls out her device again and flips through what must be part of a manifest. She nods at the description. "Sideways face coulllld be…one of a couple, actually. Depending on how sideways." She head-wobbles. "The one-eye is Balor. A mercenary. Brighter than people give him credit for." She notably doesn't answer the bit about a kid.

*

"-and something they called a…sloth?" Rocket continues, shrugging as he makes an unsure sound. He's not an expert in Terran creatures! "Got any images of 'em? I can point out which one SHIELD's holding."

It takes some doing but he manages not to snicker at Valkyrie's description of the state of her ship, which…really isn't much. Doesn't sound promising, and Rocket's pretty sure he'd be just as upset if the Milano got shredded from an unexpected interdimensional warp, but that's not the case right now. "Uh-huh. Well, you sure are doin' a bang-up job at that! How many you catch yet?" Rubbing salt into the wound?

*

"A…what?" See, this is when it's problematic that two aliens are talking about Earth creatures with none around. Nearly everyone else around them could give a good description of the creature, but the two of them just exchange questionmark glances.
Valkyrie taps at her device and pulls up a profile. She turns it around to show a mug shot of someone not-Spud who has more of a hammerhead shark face than a sideways face.

Even from a quick glance, Rocket would know that's not a standard bounty form. In fact, it looks like it might be cribbed from a law enforcement file or an employment record. "Or…" she flips through again until she pulls up something that is a more common bounty form. This one is Spud - a former soldier specializing in munitions who turned into a bomber-for-hire.

He won't get a very close look at that one before she yanks it away to glare at him. "It's not my fault! This is a terrible planet. The airways are polluted with junk signals. And there's all sorts of people who look like one of mine but are actually Terran."

Because she might have tried to take an Inhuman into custody until the silver dude with metal spikes for hair showed her his New York State driver's license. Might have.

*

"Mmmmyeaah, not him," Rocket says, squinting at the image as he strokes his chin. Oh, he knows well what bounty hunter files look like, having been on both ends of things. The difference doesn't immediately click until Valkyrie's changed images over to show the right Spud. "Huh…." he muses before nodding and pointing to confirm the miscreant. Former soldier, huh? But what's with these forms? "Er, mind if I…" Nnnope, guess not, considering the woman's pulled the thing away. He holds his hands up placatingly.

"Oh, I completely agree! And that just makes the place more ideal for your uh, missing peoples to blend in." So in other words, she's gotten zip. No wonder she's considering his assistance.

*

Valkyrie flips through the record on Spud and notes, "Good news is, he doesn't have a lot of special abilities, physically. Nor does he naturally emit any substances that may be toxic to Terrans or the planet itself. He can also digest most food from here except…oh. Make sure they don't feed him a toh-matt-oh vegetable." She noswrinkles. "You don't want to know what will happen."
She slides the device away for the moment, tucked in a spot where it can't easily be pickpocketed if Rocket was considering that. "Listen, can you help me track down my prisoners or not? And do you know how I can get the one your SHIELD has back from them?"

*

The raccoonoid eyes where she slips the device, once again folding his arms as he lifts his gaze to look at Valkyrie again. Yes, definitely has considered it. He likes a challenge, but for now he'll be…nice. "Oh, I can help, sure. And I think that yer better off not worrying about the one in SHIELD custody until you got a place to put yer missing convicts." He's not quite sure he buys that part, especially with a kid involved. And didn't that Kamala-girl mention something about them just wanting to go home and something about uncles… Clearly there's more to this, anyway.

"But it'd help if I knew who we were looking for."

*

"It'd help if I knew who I was looking for, too," says Valkyrie with a heavy sigh. She rubs her forehead. "I know some of them. I have a list of who I went to get but I'm not sure if it's who I actually got." She's not outright admitting she was drunk, but there's certainly that implication. "And what would you want in return for your help?"

*

"….." The look that crosses the raccoonoid's face is a skeptical one all right, which shifts into one that just plainly reads: Seriously?

"I'm beginning to wonder how you even got anyone at all," he says dryly. "As for what I want in return, well, I'm not sure yet. This is already startin' to sound like it's going to be a pain."

*

Valkyrie looks at him flatly. She's treading the line between feeling like she wasted her time and…not really being able to blame him for his skepticism. After a moment, she heavysighs and digs into another pocket in her cloak. She opens up a small device and pops out a component. She tosses it to him.

"I don't suppose they have much on this planet that can handle a current in such a small form factor." It's a power convertor. Not Asgardian tech, but definitely top grade. And she's right, with the notable exception of a few in the league of Stark, no one does have anything that can handle the loads quite like that. "One of my quarry was smuggling a crate of those. Most of them survived the crash."

*

Rocket's hands are quick, snatching the thing out of midair. His red-brown eyes practically light up, if briefly. "Ooh, very nice," he says, turning the device over in his hands before secreting it away into an inner pocket of his jacket. "Downpayment," he says, grinning at her. "But really, if we're gonna do this, you're gonna have to let me know what all you've got on your end that might help. The things I've throw together can only do so much, but if you've got points of reference and boosters…an' maybe that thingy, then this'll go a lot quicker."

*

Valkyrie doesn't protest the secreting away of the component. She expected that, and like she said, she has a crate. "I'm not telling you where my ship is, if that's what you're after." But she sighs after a moment and rubs the bridge of her nose. "I'll compile what I have. But you can't take this to the Terran authorities. They've already sent someone looking for me." And it would make a big scene as she tossed over their SUVs when they came to try and capture her.

*

Flashing her a pained grin, Rocket nods as he waves a hand. "Oh, yeah. I gotcha there. Pfeh, don't worry lady, I won't say a thing to 'em." At least Valkyrie's hooked up with the right alien here. As much as he might rub elbows with some of them, Rocket's still got a line between him and authoritive types.

"Well, you get back to me with what you have, and we'll get crackin'." Rocket fishes out a flat little device, tossing it over to her. "Just press the button. I'll come find you."

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