1965-05-11 - Fuel Part 1: Too Close To Home
Summary: Mutants created by Uso and Kwunteng's forced experiments make their first strike. They've chosen Wall Street at its busiest time, for maximum impact. Fortunately, heroes are close by to stop the killing, but they are far from stopping the madmen behind this conspiracy.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
rogue julie peter-parker noh-varr danielle anya 

Man March Weapon

"Fuel" Part 1 - Too Close To Home

Albuquerque, New Mexico

A lone scientist works in his lab. It's well after 3:00 in the morning on a Thursday; odds are, he'll be here all night. At one point, he steps out into the cooling desert air for a cigarette, which is when, with a short shriek, he disappears into the dusty earth at his feet.

Gaia emerges moments later, dirt and rock dripping from her scantily clad, dark skinned body. Doctor Uso, a Moroccan, is with her, and when they emerge, he looks about shakily. "Where - where are we now??"

Both turn and look at the structure: a sign reads, University of New Mexico - Chemistry Department.

Gaia turns and looks to Uso, before dangling the keys she took from the scientist; the scientist who, somewhere beneath their feet, gasps desperately for what little air he can get within his prison of dirt and rock.

"This will do."

Wall Street, Manhattan, New York

5:00 sharp, Friday. Easily the busiest moment in a typical weekday in the Financial District. Wall Street is an absolute mess of traders, brokers, and businesspeople coming and going. it's a sea of pale faces in business professional attire that doesn't range much from person to person. The streets are lined with fancy cars and taxi cabs, busses and vendors hawking everything from magazines to canned drinks. Horns honk, people yell and make rude gestures. Some laugh; most are just trying to get home to their wives and children.

There's a subway station at Pine and William. Four people emerge who stand out from the crowd in two major ways. They aren't dressed in business suits, but rather, a rag tag array of street gear. Second, they have dark skin, something you just don't see in the Financial District. The group immediately makes for a cross street, already attracting attention from those who aren't too distracted by the commute home. It isn't until they emerge on Wall Street when a police officer on beat patrol takes notice, and steps over toward them.

"Hey, you folks!" The officer has a hand on his baton and distrust in his eye. "Can I help ya? You lost or something?"

Ram, a beast of a man without a single hair on his body, turns on the police officer. Moments later, his arm is sent clean through the cop's torso, and comes ripping through his shoulder blades in a mess of blood and torn clothing. The cop's spine is firmly held in his black fingers.

Those around begin to cry out in surprise and terror. They only have a moment to try and get away before the unthinkable happens.

Hawk, a young woman, leaps into the air and sprouts scaley wings from her back that represent something between a bat's wings and a shock of burnt leather. She produces a machine gun and takes to the air, cocking the weapon. A bandolier runs from shoulder to waist, filled with spare clips, and she immediately begins spraying death into the scattering masses.

Rage, a middle aged man with eyes of bright red, begins to growl. His body starts to smoke before it lights afire.

Lastly comes Plague. A teenager, his dark skin is a mess of veiny bulges and pustules; pustules than begin to burst open, spraying anyone nearby with a fast acting, corrosive acid.

The four mutants scatter, and in a matter of seconds, this impossibly busy section of Wall Street turns into a bloodbath.

It was supposed to be a quiet day, riding her horse high in the sky (yet comfortably clear of busy flight paths). Then came the gnaw. Danielle *feels* the imminent arrival of Death, and her eyes narrow as she turns them towards a distant point in the city below. "..Brightwind," she says simply. Her battle-trained mount responds with an eager whicker and banks smoothly towards the center of disturbance. As he picks up speed, Dani touches a small pendant hanging around her neck, a gift from a magically-inclined friend. Her comfy riding clothes ripple and vanish, replaced with the gleaming steel of valkyrie armor.

Within moments, Brightwind is a white streak some thirty feet above the streets, zipping nimbly towards the sounds of screams. The call of Death. Turning that last corner onto Wall Street, the duo have only a fraction of a second to take in the chaos. And to pick a target. "Her," Dani decides, locking onto Hawk and giving her flying horse a firm nudge to perform what can only be described as a full-speed arial charge.

Spider-Man can circle through the city fairly quickly, though it takes its toll on his webbing fluid supplies, and so he is swinging quickly from one building to the next until he finds trouble. And trouble there is. Clinging to side wall for a moment he takes stock of all that's going on, and then he flings himself down to land deftly right in front of Ram, "Hey, big guy, why don't you pick on someone your own size?" he taunts. Of course, Spidey isn't really that big of a guy.

Noh-Varr doesn't really look like he belongs in the Financial District either given he's wearing jeans and a tank top. He does have one thing going for him though: he's white. It makes all the difference. He's been trying to explore Manhattan since he got to this reality but it's a large, busy place and he's had things to do. Today, was parts of the Financial District. Lucky him.

He was minding his own business when the cop's shout attracts his attention. He's far from alarmed as humans seem to shout a lot, especially at dark skinned humans and mutants. The lack of alarm lasts only until hell breaks out and people start screaming and dying. As he takes stock of the situation, the band around his wrist flows down to his hand and turns into a blaster. Picking a target, he leaps up onto the wall, using his free hand and a foot to stick to it so he can fire over the heads of running humans. Taking aim, he fires a wide beam of plasma energy at Plague.

Another thing you just don't see in the Financial District: a bombshell wrapped up in army green and a gold ribbon. But there it is, anyway. The weather is warm enough to justify taking a motorcycle into NYC. Though faster and more direct modes of transportation exist, Scarlett probably likes the freedom of forest green leather and a full helmet to swelter under. Perhaps the subway at Pine and William was a better idea after all. The hum of the bike's engine sings over the relative noise afforded by the surrounding vehicles, a higher buzz meeting the ears.

Easy for her to get around trouble, really, considering the agility of the bike. Four mutants scatter in four directions, and Scarlett manouvres past the stalled pedestrians and vehicle traffic. Bringing the bike around, she pulls it out of a careening squeal of rubber and plants her foot, prepared to leap into action again. She pulls off her helmet and tosses it lightly in the air, catching the glimmering dome end over end. The slightest smile tugs at her lips and she hurls it full force at Ram. For a girl of her stature, tall but not outwardly so, this hardly constitutes much impressive. Never mind she can throw tanks or misdirect missiles with the same contemptuous ease.

Julie is walking along the sidewalk, an empty bank bag stuffed in one pocket, and a little bit annoyed she couldn't have gotten the shop's deposits in sooner, before the Friday night traffic means …walking a substantial number of blocks. It's the sound of gunshots behind her, and then screaming, that first draw her notice, then, she turning around, "Cripes, what a time to try and pull another Brinks job or something," she comments, and wrinkles a lip as though deciding whether there's any point in checking it out. But then …Well, there's an awful *lot* of screaming. She starts trying to fight the current of pedestrians to thread her way back.

Hawk only manages to catch sight of Dani from the corner of her eye. She turns and shrieks loudly, her machine gun now trained upon the streak charging her way. At the last possible moment, she flaps her wings, and becomes a blur that moves through the air in an entirely unnatural way. Something in a foreign language is spat at Danielle from another direction; Hawk is now about forty meters behind Dani, and opens fire again.

Plague is about to become toast, but this isn't going to be that easy. Rage finally bursts into fire, spewing flames of white and blue. The cement melts around his feet, and a huge flame is sent to intercept the plasma blast, absorbing it and proving that it can, in fact, be manipulated by the red eyed mutant. The plasma swirls about in a cyclone before spraying out toward the fleeing crowds. If anyone is gonna intervene with that, they'll only have a second or two to act.

Ram turns to face Spidey with a humored, toothy grin. He pounds a fist into its opposing hand, before getting creamed in the head by Rogue's motorcycle helmet. THUNK His head lolls to the side, and he turns toward her with an angry roar. Before he can do anything else, however, the helmet comes whinging back to smack him in the face again, only this time it's attached to a strand of white. Follow the strand up and you'll find Spider-Girl, perched on a wall. She's normally one to quip during a fight, but not this time. She's never seen this much blood, and the only thing on her face is a disgusted, horrified, and invested scowl.

Plague spits on the ground and looks around at everything happening. Below, his spit has fallen on a manhole cover, which was intentional. Given the moment, he dives toward it, hoping to make a getaway.

Brightwind arcs up as his target flits out of the way. Danielle keeps her eyes on Hawk as much as she can, trusting her stallion to keep her both airborne and non-perforated. If she can keep that machine gun aimed up, instead of down, it will give the fleeing civilians more chance to escape. Easy math, that. Less easy is the distance. "Shoulda brought my bow," she mutters, one hand gripping the horn of her saddle while she brandishes a hatchet with the other. As Brightwind swoops into a tightly closing spiral (no more head-on charging, thanks), Dani waits for the right moment… then lashes out, hard, with her empathic power, digging deep into the flying mutant's mind to pull out her deepest phobia.

Spider-Man, remains crouched, paused, waiting to get punched— but the tingle never comes. When he sees the webbing, he follows it up and looks, waves, and promptly jumps into the air and kick out with all his strength to kick Ram right in the middle of the back, "Down, boy!" he calls out.

Not just a guy who can burst into flame but a general pyrokinetic. Wonderful. Fortunately, Noh-Varr's not limited to plasma; it's just the default setting. Tracking Plague as he runs, he fires again, this time a purely concussive blast.

Flaming braids woven in a tight style instantly familiar to anyone on Asgard in the last few seasons swaying between her shoulders, Scarlett knocks the kickstand down to secure the motorcycle as she dismounts in a smooth motion. A quick thumbs-up flashed to the sources of webbing and her gaze scythes her surroundings. Bare-handed, she might well be at risk of harm. The gush of plasma swirling around is enough to make her swear — Russian for anyone hearing it — and jump to the nearest vehicle, hand under the bumper. That Ford goes airborne, not even hurled, but with her directly underneath it in a leap that no regular individual could possibly manage. She aims that straight at Rage, and the air around her screams and twists to match the raw speed she's building up with intent to deliver raw steel from the Arsensal of Democracy at him.

Julie is, meanwhile, darting through the relatively-stalled traffic, pulling on some work gloves as she darts along, resorting to running over the tops of cars as she encounters more people fleeing that way… "Whoa….she says, as the clearly-bad-guy-starts hurling flames toward people. Eyes dart around, and she reaches a hand out toward any fireplug she can see… *VRRRRR *clank* VRRR* *screeech…..* Hopefully a little water spraying into the street will help there…

Hawk screams and goes into a flurry at Dani's movements. She's angry, and is gearing up for another of those lightning fast moves, when suddenly she freezes in mid air. Her eyes go wide, and she suddenly begins to scream a single word, in another tongue. Over, and over, and over. She still has that machine gun in her hand, but for the moment, at least she's not firing.

Plague is almost into the manhole when he's struck by Noh-Varr's concussive blast. He's thrown clean out of it, end over end, until he cracks his head on the pavement and is out cold. Unfortunately, that's not the end of his threat, for even incapacitated, the pustules continue to grow and burst, splattering anything around him with that stinking, corrosive acid.

Ram doesn't expect the sheer strength that Spider-Man's presumably puny frame can punch. He's about to laugh, but the wind is knocked right out of him. He doubles over, stunned, then let's loose a heavy wheeze as he tries to regain himself.

Unfortunately, nothing can stop the immediate impact of Rage's power, and a handful of civilians are burnt to a crisp in a matter of moments. That being said, as water begins spilling into the streets all around, the initial onslaught is not only absorbed by the first victims, but then the water. Wall Street becomes a haze of steam and the air is filled with the sizzling of boiling water, but first and second degree burns are much better than being baked alive. Rage, instead, turns his ferocious power upon the car flung his way. It melts into pieces and just barely misses him, proving that he very well may be the greatest threat these heroes have to face.

From above, Spider-Girl begins flinging webs down toward Ram, catching his arms one after the other.

Danielle isn't one for cheap shots. Her mutant gift gives her enough guilt to deal with. While Brightwind continues spiraling in closer and closer, she keeps him from closing that last bit of distance. Holding onto the illusion requires concentration, and long practice keeps Dani's body on 'autopilot'. Probably best not to let a hatchet plummet a few stories to the street below… But between the exertion of using her power and the shock of the results, it's a close thing.

Up in the air, where Dani is circling Hawk, there's now a strange scene, playing itself over and over in disturbingly realistic detail. A patch of dusty battered ground. A pair of children, of similar skintone to Hawk. Crying. Forced to kneel in the dirt. A sneering soldier of one of the African guerilla armies stepping up behind them. Two pistols pulled, the barrel of each placed to the back of the children's heads. The triggers being pulled. First one. Then the other.

As shaken as Dani is, she can't forget the primary goal. As she and Brightwind swoop closer, she lashes out with her hatchet, aiming the blunt end squarely at the wrist of the hand holding the machine gun.

As soon as Ram goes down, Spidey is flinging his hands out and moving around in a circle, joining his webs with those of Spider-Girl to overdo the effect of, "And _stay_ down." He lays down at least a dozen of his own webs to bind the guy, let alone what Anya is doing. Go Spiders working together. With that, he leaps up into the air to attach himself to a nearby wall, just to get a better look of the surroundings, and make a plan. Unfortunately, although his webbing is fire resistant, its not fireproof: so he's pretty sure the webbing is pointless. With a sigh at what most likely is going to hurt, he leaps off, flicking a web off to spin, and aim a kick for Rage. Third degree burns suck.

Plague: down but obviously not out even when he's out. Hawk: Being dealt with. At least for the moment. Ram: tough and strong so not a real threat. That leaves Rage and to Noh-Varr, he's the obvious threat. Weighing his options, the blaster shifts back into a wristband as he drops back down to the street. Waiting a few moments till Rage is looking directly away from him. The steam will help too. From zero to a hundred in a couple seconds, he runs toward the pyrokinetic. The pain impulses from the steam and water he just reroutes to his auditory center, producing a crescendo that Holst wishes he could have included in Mars. Fingernails growing to extra sharp points, they flash out at Rage's back as he runs past, remaining behind embedded in the mutant's flesh. 5… 4… 3…

Plasma melting through a car? Lovely. The car crashing into pieces isn't much of an issue as long as they vanish before Scarlett. In flight, the girl can assume rather impressive speeds. A sonic boom cracking at such low altitude could be a problem. She whips sharply to the side at the last minute, roiling through the steam that probably hurts, but does much less to her skin than anyone normal would suffer. The riding leathers help considerably for that. Noh-Varr focusing upon Rage means they tag-team, or duet, however one wants to look at it. Her distraction is spinning fast and high-speed flybys, correcting mid-pirouette, and diving up, plunging down, spinning sideways — anything that keeps him off his guard and giving some kind of advantage for anyone else. She's worse than an irritating hornet and the moment that her adversary turns to focus on another effective gentleman at ground level, she strikes. Pale hands extend for impact, and all that terrifying gift encoded into her very being requires is a momentary brush of a fingertip against bare skin. Say, at the arm. The neck. The face. The void screams to life as soon as contact blooms, and the electrifying shock of bliss roars through the connection as the Soul-Thief makes good on what she is. And she won't let go.

Julie ducks flat, briefly, when her efforts produce… Well, billows of steam… And, peering up between fingers, she watches Rage melt down that a car Rogue threw: she hrms, then, rolling to stand in the street and look for something specific… Something heavier…. One might say armored, even. "Speaking of Brinks jobs," she thinks aloud, and starts angling her way toward the next cross-street, casting about with her senses for something appropriately heavy and slow-idling. Something she can use.

The machine gun is easily knocked from Hawk's hand. She looks at it in horror, then suddenly falls to the ground, using her wings only to stop herself from injury at the last moment. She splashes into the wet street and begins to wail uncontrollably, tears streaming down her face while she screams out in horror.

Rage turns himself upon Spider-Man. The fire and plasma around him mounts, and there's a sneer on his face. Yes, Parker, this is gonna hurt… a lot.

Or is it?

A wave of flame builds, but the blur of Scarlett is lost on him. Rage is convinced it was Spider-Man who threw that car.

Above, Spider-Girl shrieks. "NO!" Her free hand is flung toward, and a web shoots out, only to attach to Spider-Man's shoulder so that she might yank him away from the impending flame.

However, that blast of flame doesn't go where it was intended. When Noh-Varr's claws sink into him, it spins him around, and the flame blasts upward, toward the skyscraper next to the one upon which Spider-Girl is perched. The flame burns toward the building, but then… Scarlett's hands are upon Rage's neck. He freezes, skin crawling with the sign of his life energy being sucked dry, and his red eyes begin to transform into a more normal brown. The fire weakens, burning in the air in a momentary stalemate.

Julie may not find a Brinks truck so quickly, but the fire hydrants she unjacked are still spewing cold water into the streets. What was dangerously hot is quickly becoming safe, and while she doesn't necessarily find a fire truck, she will notice one unfortunate side effect of the water spill… it's mixing with the acid coming from the incapacitated Plague. Some of the water near him begins to eat into things, and the effect is steadily spilling toward innocent people who have yet to either be killed or get far enough away… however, some of that water is spilling into the small holes in manhole covers that line the street.

2… 1. *BOOM*

Thank goodness Spider-Girl flung Spider-Man out of the way. Rage goes up in a fireball of flame, which would certainly have killed Scarlett… were it not for the fact that she's temporary acquired his ability to control, subdue, and survive such things.

Danielle watches her opponent drop from the sky, then grunts softly as Hawk manages to catch herself just above the pavement. Brightwind slows, breathing hard, and carefully descends. "Keep an eye on her. If she tries anything, clock her on the noggin," she advises her horse as she drops from the saddle. Asgardian armor shimmers in the early evening light as she stalks over to the dropped machine gun, which gets a sharp WHACK of the hatchet across the upper receiver. All the better to jam you with, m'dear. That threat handled, she takes a moment to survey the conflict still raging over yonder. After due consideration, she decides the other interlopers appear to have the attackers i—- oookay, that kaboom sends her sprawling onto her back for a moment, and she scrambles back to her feet. "Everyone okay?" she calls out, well aware of the irony of such a check in the midst of a very messy battlefield.

Spidey was prepared to get Rage's attention and was all ready to fling out a webbing to pull himself to the side, as soon as his Spidey Sense went off. But, he tumbles through the air when Spider-Girl saves him instead. He ends up slamming into a nearby wall and sticking there, but that's fine— because on taking stock of the situation again, he flings out some webbing to shoot at a pair of innocent bystanders who the acidic water is approaching. He then yanks, pulling them forward, and reaching out to grab them once they near; they're then webbed onto the wall, "Stay, I'll get you down when its safe."

One down. Noh-Varr looks at the winged woman. Two down. Plague is still unconscious but his power is still active. Two and a half. And Ram is cocooned, helpless for the time being. Three and a half. Stepping over toward Plague, though not getting too close, he points his blaster at the man. "If someone can think of a way to stop his power, say so. Otherwise, cauterizing his skin should keep it under control."

Moon-fair skin ripples. Opalescent veins trail across exposed fingertips and disappear under the cuffs of her jacket. Scarlett rides out the initial wave of contact, a gasp too loud. Rage's volatile nature seals her fate and blows them to a looping death spiral through the steam. Detonation casts the pair high into the air, at least one of them still corporeal. That soaring burst rolls up for the open sky rather than bouncing down among the cars and skyscrapers and manhole covers. Better the dangers go up than down upon the civilian population. Scorching flames ricochet close to her and she has an instinctive grasp enough to keep the fire along her skin from consuming her, drinking it down, rising. But, hey, here's to inverting herself and trying to call the heat and remaining embers back to herself, compressing them. "Jean, you make this look so much easier than it bloody is," she murmurs, apropos of nothing. The mini-Phoenix is much less impressive, hanging in a glowing queue. "Can you levitate him?"

Julie is still glancing around when she notices the sizzling acid… still looking dangerous despite the water running. She hrms… "What is that stuff," she murmurs… glances back to what she did find in an alley… dumpsters full of waste-paper and tickertape. Wiggles a hand that way until one starts rolling toward her. She tilts her head to Noh-Varr, "Ah, something coming up, here, …you might wanna stand back a bit." Hopefully more dilution will help, but while that's rumbling along, she extends a hand toward a manhole cover with a bit of concentration. With a terrible screech, and VRRR sounds, the thing starts turning in place, building speed along with the rolling bin, finally fast enough that she can throw the manhole cover off balance enough to cock it half-open, then returns her attention to the bin, then spinning …that, to tip against the curb with a *crash,* and hopefully start absorbing some of that acid in a heap of bleached paper…

The upended manhole cover causes the acidic water to flow in a new direction, and right into the spillage of ticker tape upended by Julie's handiwork. It sizzles and eats, but it's no longer spreading toward those who can't protect themselves.

Spider-Girl leaps off the wall, dropping five stories to land in a smooth and acrobatic tumble through the warm water. It looks cool, but the downside is, her costume is now soaked. She seems to mirror Danielle's concerns, and is looking from one hero to the other, then turning her eyes skyward. She blinks beneath the mask at Scarlett, mouth ajar for a moment, before Rage draws her attention.

Yeah, he's webbed up good, but he's still fighting it as he comes around. Growling and cursing in another language, some of those webs seem to be giving away. It'll take him a while to get out, but…

Spider-Girl looks toward Danielle. "Chica," calls the latina heroine, "can you do to him what you did to the flying shooter?" She tips her head toward the struggling Rage, before coming up alongside Noh-Varr and studying the snoozing but oozing Plague. She chews on her lip for a moment, then holds out a hand toward Noh. "Wait. He can't answer for this if he's dead." She turns her head and shouts, "Hey! Wall crawler, get your ass down here, we need you." She looks back to Noh with a frown. Given the bloodshed, she's incapable of smirking. "I got an idea."

Play nice with others, Dani's grandfather once advised. Glancing back at her horse and the downed flyer, Danielle begins cautiously picking her way closer to the others. "Sure, why not…" She doesn't sound thrilled to use her powers, but it's a distressingly intimate form of psionic invasion. She doesn't do any handgestures or anything dramatic. She simply positions herself within about ten yards of Rage, stares hard at him. There's no immediate outward sign… and then it's there.

A portion of Wall Street simply becomes a battered African village. Villagers huddling just out of sight in helpless fear. A woman. And an older woman. Children. A family. Cruel, sadistic soldiers herd the family out towards the center of the village, where a couple of cold-eyed soldiers wait, casually playing with large military-issue knives. The man's family is forced to their knees… the knives brought down. Chilling laughter lingering as the illusion slowly fades, as Dani releases her grip.

With a leap and a flick of his wrist to swing, Spider-Man is soaring through the air and then landing gracefully next to Spider-Girl. "What's the idea?" he asks curiously, though he adds absently, "You don't have a Spidey Sense, do you?"

"Your planet isn't advanced enough to be able to contain him safely." Noh-Varr points out. Still, he's in no hurry to kill, or even inflict extreme burns, on someone who's unconscious. The threat isn't at the level that Rage was. Instead, he walks over to Ram and shoves the barrel against his forehead hard enough to make sure he feels it. "If you're smart, you'll just lie there and maybe you can break out of whatever prison they put you in. If you're not smart, you'll start breaking free and we'll have to deal with you to a degree you won't be in any condition to escape." Simple.

Julie hrms to Noh-Varr, "Gonna take more than baking soda, I guess," she says to the …fellow with the ray-gun. Glances up at flaming people… and a building, higher up there. "These guys are real dangerous, yeah. I think they was put up to all this, though, maybe…. But, Noh-Varr's wandered off toward the other guy, and she heads back to get… More paper. Pushing it this time, or appearing to, in case things have calmed down enough that anyone's watching.

For a moment, Rage struggles even harder. A couple of those spiderwebs snap. But then, he collapses in a heap. See, he wasn't always so big and tough, and as his deepest fears are drawn out, he begins to cry. Like his counterpart, Hawk, he now believes that failure of his mission will result in his worst fears coming true; the death of those he loves most dear.

Someone is forcing their hand.

"What the hell is a 'Spidey Sense'?" Spider-Girl asks, her eyes upon Scarlett. The bohemian terror eventually comes back to the ground, her prey smoking but no longer producing flame. Scarlett eventually releases her hold on Rage, so as not to kill him, but that makes another one down for the count; Rage's energy has been drawn almost to the brink of death, leaving him in a coma.

"Those things. Those gross things spewing acid?" Spider-Girl nods to her wall crawling counterpart. "Let's web 'em up." She begins flicking her wrists, firing little globs of webbing with hairpin accuracy toward the pustules on Plague's body.

Rage isn't going anywhere. Even with a space gun against his head, he lies there, sputtering incomprehensible words in some kind of African tongue.

Onlookers closest to the carnage begin creeping closer. Some people, especially in New York, just can't help sticking their noses into things. Murmurs grow into a clamor of angry dialogue that quickly becomes laced with prejudice. Fingers are pointed. Fear and terror turn into anger and vitriol. Then, the unthinkable happens.

The heroes have wisely kept their distance from the oozing Plague. Suddenly, out of the sizzling asphalt itself, another would be villain appears. An African woman, scantily clad, who wraps her arms around the fallen Plague. A gasp goes up in the crowd, but before anyone can react, the two disappear into the street and are gone.

"Fuck!!!" cries a particularly angry voice in the crowd. "Those mutant n*s are getting away!"

A moment later, Gaia reappears, grabbing Rage from right beneath Scarlett's frame and dragging him back into the earth and away from the heroes. This only draws more vitriol from the crowd, and still more ugly words clearly meant for mutants and people of African heritage.

"It tingles when something's about to attack me, so I react before there's even something to react to." Spider-Man explains with a quick nod, "As in, you don't have to save me from someone attacking me. I know before they've fully decided to do it." He nods to Spider-Girl then again, and begins flicking his wrists and firing web after web onto Plague's gross spots— only… he's gone. "The heck?!" But he looks around, and looks at the crowd, "Time to go." With that he's running to a wall, leaping, then climbing up it hand over foot. Once he gets high enough, he leaps off, shoots a web out, and swings, flinging himself up into the sky.

Danielle rubs at her temples. Two stomach-churning illusions in short succession make for potential migraines. Her attention is drawn to the fringes of the battlefield, the wary, angry murmurs sounding terribly familiar to Cheyenne ears. "Oh, for th—" She grunts irritably, and spins just in time to watch Rage vanish into the ground. "We stopped the killing," she mentions to the other heroes nearby. "I'm not convinced we stopped the bad guys." With that, she gives a sharp whistle, and her large white winged horse trots across the distance. She shoots a wink towards Julie, then lifts her hatchet in salute to the others. With a smooth motion, she swings up onto her saddle, sits proud and tall, and stares hard at one of the louder racists in the crowd. It is a Look that only psychopomps can really pull off. A Look that suggests she knows exactly the date and manner of his death. Brightwind spreads his wings, and launches into the sky, spiraling up, then vanishing from sight.

Noh-Varr looks around at the humans and shakes his head. Primitives. There's still two villains left but he no longer cares much if they're taken as well. With the blaster having shifted back into a wristband, he starts walking away.

Julie hrms, as her part of the problem disappears, so to speak, tossing some paper afresh to see if the acid's still active, …then she spots a too-familiar Gaia doing her ground-phasing trick. Suits being bigots, well, she can't really be bothered with right now, "Eh, I gotta make a phone cawl," she says to no one in particular, practically nudging aside one of the belatedly-brave bean-counters on the way out and up the block.

"Well that just ain't fair!" Spider-Girl retorts amidst her web globbing. "You know, a nice 'thanks for the assist' rolls off the tongue a lot better than - oh!" She gasps at the sudden disappearance of Plague, mouth ajar. "Que en el nombre de…" She turns to look at Danielle, but then Rage is gone as well. The vitriol has Spider-Girl feeling afraid, nervous. She's as surprised as anyone by the sudden withdrawal of those two villains, but her attention is upon the onlookers. She reaches a gloved hand to rub at the nape of her neck, lips chewing at each other in worry. "I'm…" she starts, but Peter is gone. "… right… behind ya, pal."

Hawk and Ram are left behind. Clearly, they were expendable… as are their loved ones, presumably.

"… so how do we stop the bad guys?" she asks, feeling at a loss. Peter's gone, Danielle is riding into the sky, and Noh-Varr is walking away. They did save a lot of lives today, but she is starting to realize that everyone probably feels the way she does… a victory is a victory, but it's a numbing one at that.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
University of New Mexico, Chemistry Department

Gaia emerges from the dusty ground, with the snoozing and webbed up Plague in one hand, the comatose Rage in the other. She shoves them behind a bush; there's another mutant nearby, her eyes glazed over like two mirrored orbs. The students walk by, as if nothing out of place is to be seen, leaving Gaia free to enter the building and head toward the research lab where Doctor Uso is hard at work over a pair of beakers. He's sweating, not because the air conditioning is broken, for its in perfect working order; he's swearing because there's a Nigerian guerrilla soldier with a shotgun pressed into Uso's back.

"Hurry up," she tells him in a language he understands. "We don't have much time."

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