So You Bleed
Roleplaying Log: So You Bleed
IC Details

Carolus and Gwen go to ask some hard questions of Warren's doctor, only to find they are not the only ones looking for an appointment.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: October 27, 2019
IC Location: Centerport, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 28 Oct 2019 17:54
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Dr. Stuart run by Warren
Associated Plots

Doctor James Stuart is a venerable old figure in Centerport, the small Long Island town outside of which Warren was born a little over three decades ago. A close friend of Warren Worthington Jr., he wound up serving as the Worthington family's personal physician for the majority of his career, balancing it with a position as an attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Doctor Stuart was one of the first people to know about Warren's mutation, and has kept the secret diligently all these years. His particular specialization in orthopedic surgery came in handy for a young man whose musculoskeletal system was decidedly nonstandard.

Ever since Warren's parents were killed, there has been less need for Doctor Stuart around the estate — especially after Warren developed his secondary mutation which obviated much of his need for normal medical treatment — and so he's put his energy back into his private practice. His practice is easy to find — it's a small building on the outskirts of Centerport, where the doctor sees to a small but dedicated roster of wealthy patients in the area.

He keeps rather erratic and long hours for the convenience of his clients, so on this particular night, it's about nine in the evening by the time he sees off his last appointment, and starts to lock up. His typical pattern is to go directly home to his wife. His home is in a residential area of the town, and is less isolated than his practice building at this hour of the night.

The doctor continues to balance his private practice with work at the hospital, so it is likely he will be commuting back into the city the next morning.

There are circumstances in which Carolus Sinclair vastly prefers to do things up-front and directly. Announce himself like a respectable visitor, arrive during office hours, be reasonable, don't present a particularly threatening posture. This… is not one of those times. He scopes things out from the air a few hours before, noting any security cameras attached directly to the business or adjacent to it, as well as in the surroundings. He tampers with absolutely none of them.

He instructs Ghost Spider that he doesn't /want/ to tamper with any of them, and in fact if possible he wishes to remain on camera. The idea here isn't to threaten or act in a criminal way. It's to blindside the man so suddenly that he doesn't have his guard up when the question gets sprung. It's to keep them both honest.

He gives Ghost Spider discretion on appearing with him directly, or surveying from nearby buildings. If she wants to keep off-camera unless necessary, he understands.

Then he kills time exploring (and making purchases at) nearby restaurants and service stations. It's about half an hour to expected 'closing' that he returns to stake-out, his sense of smell zeroed in on the scents surrounding the practice.

When at last one emerges alone (or close to it), so too does Carolus. He's not stealthy, and he's not trying to be. He's dressed for business, as he has been in most X-Men matters that involved a public appearance of some kind lately.

"Doctor Stuart." Is how Carolus begins, to call attention to himself. He allows time for recognition, but not time for steeling.

"What did you have to do with the specialized techno-organic material designed to slowly eat Warren Worthington's wings?" The question is delivered casually, like he just asked the man for directions to the nearest Dairy Queen. There's no implicit threat, no aggression.

Given a choice between 'appearing on camera to accost a medical professional near his place of residence' and 'not doing that exact specific thing', Ghost Spider chooses the latter. It's in her blood to not break laws too badly. Vigilanteism being one that she is Most Okay with breaking.

As far as she's aware, though, this man hasn't actually committed any crimes.


The 'hang him from his ankles over the thirtieth story' is reserved for muggers to get to Biggest Mugger, not a family doctor who still is out there saving lives.

So, taking to Carolus's suggestion, Gwen is perched up on a nearby rooftop, sprawled out with the dregs of a stale sandwich and some crisps.

"Hello there, normal doctor man. My name is Atlas, and I'm about to put this big weight on YOUR shoulders!" Gwen mutters to herself, doing her best Carolus impression.

"Oh no! A mutant! I'm a terribly shady doctor but havent' done anything wrong! I swear, and also please don't involve police-cops!" She then mimes as 'the doctor'.

Doctor Stuart has his back to Carolus, and is in the process of locking the front door, when the young mutant makes his approach. It makes the 'element of surprise' approach doubly effective, because not only is the good doctor startled by the sudden call of his name, he's extra-startled when he turns around to find a nicely-dressed moth person looking right at him.

There is a split second where he looks at the wings, the extra arms, the fuzz, the antennae — everything — and recoils away an instinctive step away into his own door before he can catch himself. It is not the kind of reaction one might expect from someone who was the personal doctor of a man who also possessed dramatic physical mutations — a man who also happened to run a school full of people with even weirder physical mutations. It is the reaction one might expect from someone who only ever got used to one mutant, and took no particular trouble to acclimate to the vast variety of other sorts which are out there.

"Young man," he finally starts, looking annoyed, once he's straightened back up, but then Carolus just — goes for it.

There is a distinct blink of shock, and — interestingly — a mote of incomprehension at the words 'techno-organic.' Then Doctor Stuart's old, weathered face locks down, taut and defensive. "I don't know what you mean," he says tightly. "Are you suggesting you think there was foul play in Warren's death? Who are you? The boy is barely cold in his grave."

Carolus tilts his head slightly to the right in answer to Doctor Stuart's reaction to his appearance. He smiles amusedly and says, "I am being told that I am pretty much more often of late, Doctor Stuart, but such theatrics are not necessary to convey the same sentiment."

But there is an element of truth, or else Doctor Stuart is a good actor himself— and Carolus isn't so certain of that. He replies, "I am Carolus Sinclair, Xavier's Institute, Class of 2017."

He inhales deeply, double-checking to make certain that Ghost Spider is indeed still there. Her distinct scent concentrates on one point that he can focus on, and that's enough to help him relax.

"Warren Worthington isn't in his grave. Less than twenty four hours after his supposed suicide the bodies of Warren Worthington and Alison Blaire disappeared from the morgue." He states, taking a step back so that Stuart doesn't need to pass within arm's reach to reach the sidewalk.

"His wings were hastily disposed of, but not successfully. They contained an engineered, infectious element that killed the people who handled them."

"You were the one who ordered the disposal and the methods thereof, were you not?" He asks, neutrally.

"I've got all this evidence, Doctor. The jig is up, because I've talked to like two dozen people and fought weird metal candle-zombies in a shady warehouse in Jersey." Gwen's Carolus-voice continues, stern and a bit more hard boiled than the moth-man normally is.

A white-gloved hand goes to crinkly paper, and brings semi-dried and refridgerated sandwich to her mouth.

"Oh, fie, I, Doctor Virus, have been revealed! Darn you, X-Fools!"

Gwen, being on backup, is entirely fine continuing her charades.

Doctor Stuart does not look amused at Carolus' quip about his appearance. Disgruntledly brushing himself off, he hoists his bag, looking around as if trying to debate whether it would be better to try to get away from this interaction by ducking back into his practice, or just starting to walk home. For now he seems to decide staying put might be safest — he's certainly already unlocked the door behind him again, ready to duck back inside.

His attention only returns to Carolus when the young mutant makes his introduction. Now there's recognition in his eyes at mention of Xavier's Institute. The recent class date seems to throw him for a loop; he studies the moth-mutant in silence. "One of Warren's students, then," he finally surmises. It seems he knows at least that much about Warren's life — the Institute connection. "You're a little young to be trying to conduct criminal investigations on your own. If that is what this is."

Carolus keeps up the pressure of blunt statements, however, and his senses can pick up the various reactions. There's genuine shock to hear Warren and Alison's bodies are no longer in the morgue… and though that expression of shock stays on his features afterwards, it's not accompanied by the appropriate amounts of surprise-scent that it should be at the following two statements.

There is mild surprise at the lack of success of the wing disposal, though it does not seem as if this is something the doctor never anticipated happening. There is no surprise at the news there was an infectious element in the wings.

"It was assumed there was a noxious element in the wings, the nature of which we could not nail down," he eventually says as much, transparently guarded. "What else could explain why Warren could not heal them himself? People wanted to study them. Pick the boy's remains apart. I thought the better course of action was to ensure their destruction to protect people from whatever was in them. Clearly I was correct to be concerned."

"I was a little young to fight an alien invasion, but I did that, too." Carolus's antennae twitch, his eyes flicking momentarily towards the door, and then back towards Doctor Stuart. He thinks better of offering the advice that he wanted to in that moment; it would come off as too much of a threat.

He heaves a great, exaggerated sigh and says, "I seem to be doing rather a lot of criminal investigations lately. All of them keep turning out to be murders, at the end."

He fixes Stuart with a hard, cold look, "Doctor Stuart, I wanted to be an actor for a while. Eventually I decided that it wasn't really something I'd get off the ground because of the kinds of reactions you just gave me. But I'm pretty good at it, and presenting a different face than I'm actually feeling is just something I can do."

"I don't think you have a similar background, and you're the second person I know of to react to some of this news a little too lukewarm." He folds his second set of arms across his stomach, drumming one set of fingers against the other arm.

"My wicked plan was to inject Warren with exactly the agent that would necessitate his own amputation! My metal virus is perfect - except for how I failed to dispose of the evidence! But you'll never be able to prove it, and nobody will ever believe you, X-Freak!" Gwen mutters as she chews on stale sandwich. Watching the exchange is… Well, not exactly boring, but unfulfilling. The doctor's expressions are too tepid, especially for what she intuits as Carolus playing hardball.

Posture, vague outwardly-expressed danger, exasperation - but the doctor is deflecting.

She knows Carolus dropped the shoe, the deaths at the disposal site, but…

It doesn't add up.

And then, like a tazer, Gwen's spider sense goes off - a haze of danger falling over the whole street like a sudden-onset hailstorm dropping the sky down on the meeting of Atlas and the doctor.

Moving from prone into a crouch by bringing her knees up under her chest and stuffing her sandwich back into the takeout baggie it came in, Ghost Spider aims across the street and fires a preparatory web-line, glad once again for the strange and helpful habit nobody in New York ever seems to get down:

Looking up.

For several silent, anticlimactic moments, Centerport at peaceful 9 p.m. offers nothing to spider-sense. An autumn breeze that smells of the sea. The night sky, studded with the stars usually missed in Manhattan's light polluted haze. The distant call of over-affluent yachts.

And then Ghost Spider chooses to look up —

— it's a wise instinct.

The air shimmers in a way it shouldn't. Two bodies materialize, hovering down in place from a higher altitude. They do not emit a single decibel of sound.

As their strange, alien cloaking folds away, light retreating like fractal folds of origami, in the low light, they are large, indistinct, but matching shapes: thick, reinforced layers of armor.

It happens fast. The first nods to the second, who outstretches one arm, the steel rearranging from a hand to a narrowed barrel. There is something familiar about it —

And even more familiar: the abrupt, blinding-bright FLASH of power, raw, directed energy, fired down on the roof of the suburban dwelling. It is not like terrestrial explosive material, no noxious sweat of gunpowder: just laser heat so powerful it excites every molecule to violently disperse outward, opening up the ceiling over both Atlas and Dr. Stuart.

Their head-to-toe armor bear one strange quirk: over the blackened faceplates are scrawled eyes and crooked smiles, painted by a shaking hand. The first figure smiles in red, and the second in yellow.

The good doctor's expression flinches at talk of aliens. Its resolve starts to wither further as Carolus accuses him of reacting a little too lukewarm to all this news. His eyes dart left and right, as if considering again whether to retreat within or run. He starts to reach for something, though it quickly becomes apparent it's his phone.

"Perhaps when you're my age," he says tiredly, aggravated and evasive, "and you've seen as many people die as I have, you'll understand why my reactions are 'lukewarm.' As you said yourself, theatrics are not always necessary to convey a sentiment. I am going to ask you to leave, or I will have to call the authorities…"

That is about when the Ghost Spider's senses ping.

That is about when two somethings hum down from the sky.

The blast throws the doctor off his feet, dumping him across the ground. His briefcase goes spinning. He scrambles away, plainly terrified, but for some reason he's shouting, "Him! Get him!"

Two shapes descend out of the sky, soundlessly, but not without exuding a palpable, action lines in space practically pointing to them like neon and showtime lightbulbs energy to Gwen's spider-senses.

Ghost Spider has never encountered anything so… meanacing. That's really the only word for it. The Kingpin had presence, Frank Castle had presence, but not like this.

"Sentinels?!" Comes her shocked gasp, because she is new here and hasn't seen real sentinels. Shooting at the Doctor, and Carolus, however, immediately puts them on the NAUGHTLY LIST.

"You're absolutely getting coal for Christmas!" Ghost Spider calls as she plants her feet under her and against the lip of the building, aiming both wrists at the firing robot, and firing another set of sticky webbing all up in the shooter's business.

Thus grappled, Gwen yanks with all her spider-force.

It's around this time she hears the Doctor shout 'no! not me, him!' to the two assaulting figures, and then a few more pieces click into place.


Anything to draw attention.

"Oh, webs, I didn't check if this building was clear!"

With a leap of faith, Gwen tumbles into open air, sweeping down while still attached to the heaved robot as she makes for the much more open street.

The ceiling explodes before Carolus has the opportunity to reply to Doctor Stuart. The shock of the blast merely staggers him in comparison to the doctor's full-on tumble to the ground, ceiling debris raining down on him with more-or-less no real consequence as he moves immediately to— protect the Doctor, actually. He's made it one pace forward by the time the Doctor indicates who the target really is.

For a split second he looks at Doctor Stuart quite intently and it's not hard to guess what he's thinking, though the /particulars/ are harder. For an instant he wonders exactly how expendable Stuart is to the goons he's commanding, and whether or not keeping him close would dissuade them from taking serious shots at him.

But the thought comes…

"Please get to safety, Doctor Stuart. I'm afraid I'll need to borrow this." Carolus scoops the doctor's briefcase up in one hand, uses both auxiliary hands to run a thick cord of silk around it in one smooth motion to stop it from just getting knocked open, and then HURLS it full-force into the sky.

… And it goes.

When he's really trying, and right that instant he IS really trying, Carolus can hurl things with the best of them. He'd probably be able to pull off a pretty mean fastball special, if needed. Either way he doesn't wait or try to subdue Doctor Stuart, instead using the first object he hurls into the sky as a distraction — something to get a bead on that isn't him — and immediately follows it up into the sky with a buzz of wings, diverging from its path sharply and offering the pair above split motion to target if they choose to focus on what they're /told/ to deal with instead of what's actually coming to harass them.

Carolus isn't certain he'll need it— Ghost Spider was on watch for him, and he /hopes/ he doesn't need it, because he really just needed a plausible excuse to take the briefcase that would hold up under mild scrutiny.

The smiley-faced suits simply hover in place that next instant, faceless save for those macabre painted grins. Noticing Atlas, with his visible mutations, they share a mirrored beat of silence. Then the one on the left — the yellow smile — with its arm reconfigured into that weapon, starts to turn its aim.

Neither are prepared for Ghost Spider; backs to her, the armored figures never realize she's there.

Whatever they have prepared, it goes on its ass when Yellow flinches, impacted by sticky slugs of webbing, spattering up that matte black metal. The suit turns its head, then is simply gone, heaved away on a surprised, sailing trajectory by spider-strength.

Red looks on, visored smile tilted, its hover leaned back when Atlas tosses up that bundle of silk, chasing the blinding destination with a long look. An instant later, when Atlas wings up into the sky, it would be the moment one would expect hot pursuit —

— but the suit does not accept the diversion, or even the invitation of chase. Instead, Red falls, seeking to land dead center among the debris in the office. Within that action is one, terrifying truth: they are not here for Carolus.

A cannon lifts from the shoulder of Red's armor. And, finally answering Dr. Stuart's previous cry, crackles a voice. Phlanged in overlapping tones, metallic and androgynous, it answers: "THE APPOINTMENT IS WITH YOU, DOCTOR."

At that same moment, Yellow's flung, mid-air throw seems to arrest, stopped as suddenly, severely as a magnet clipped into place. It locks in the air, the suit humming, and grasps one clawed hand down on Ghost Spider's line. The next surprise is how terrifyingly strong it is, power to rival hers, as it makes a demanding PULL to try to reel her in. If brought nice and close, it thunders forward on its soundless jets, trying to snag her by the face, and drive them both into the pavement.

Up close, there is something palpably familiar about both suits. The chrysalis lines along the limbs. The hum of energy innervating its limbs, spread from a central core. The ozone smell from that laser blast. Chitauri tech.

"DISGUSTING," whirrs Yellow, the distortion barely able to suppress the hatred.

Please get to safety, Doctor.

It's a very charitable statement, though the doctor does NOT seem interested in Carolus's charity, judging by the way he scrabbles backwards when the moth-mutant approaches, lifting hands to ward off any attempt by Carolus to help him (which incidentally means he doesn't resist the briefcase being taken at all). If that weren't clue enough, the fact he's yelling essentially NOT ME, HIM! would probably elucidate a lot more of what is happening here.

However —

The appointment is with you, Doctor.

"What?!" yelps the doctor, scrambling backwards even farther as Red lands thunderously in front of him. It doesn't take special senses to smell the confusion and betrayal coming off him right about now, as the cannon levels at his face. "What are you TALKING about — !"

It clicks. The doctor's face goes ashen. Keeping secrets no longer seems so important as trying to preserve his life. "No! I did what I was asked!! You can't — "

Totally silent killing machines with jetpacks and arm cannons!

<This would be totally awesome, if it wasn't trying to kill me!> Gwen thinks, as her momentum arrests mid-air with the magnetic *click*, and worse yet, the tug that sends her flying without time to stick herself on anything and contest the leverage.

When stuck to something, she has the whole weight of that thing - like the concrete sidewalk, or the wall of a building. When not…

Well it's not all that hard to pick up someone who weighs 130 pounds in-costume, and Ghost Spider's much easier to heave than a car.

Grabbed by that clawed fist, Gwen's hood crumples under the weight as she brings her own hands to swing and pry at the closed appendage. Sharply shouting 'yaah!' - partially in shock, partially in pain, partially in sheer stressed out fight holler - Yellow jet-rockets her right into the ground where she's smashed and grinded against the black asphalt of the street. After a few heartbeats of having a connection to ground, Ghost Spider realizes that NOW they have a connection, both feet and both arms spread out behind and under her, toes curling down as she wills herself to stick as hard as she can, going from 'friction burn city' to 'momentum-dead and immovable in space' with that claw still attached to her.

It'll either snap her neck back painfully, or send the currently hard-burning Yellow Robit skating off gripless!

Or both! How exciting!

But, so stuck, she can at least flip back to her top, braced in a low four-pount crouch.

"Says the robot with the permanent emoji-face! I suppose it does take one to know!" She shoots back, strained. "Carolus, we gotta get out of here - and that doctor, too!"

Carolus is momentarily confused by the actions of the red suit, his stomach dropping out as he realizes the probable reason why. He continues his ascent, seizing the briefcase from the air one-handed and coming about to look in Ghost Spider's direction. Existence freezes for a moment as he gets a good look at Yellow, and the situation going on between him and Ghost Spider.

Back during the invasion, focus fire was the go-to tactic of younger combatants. Many of them weren't all that thoroughly trained and hadn't seen an actual battle, much less a full-blown alien invasion. As a physical heavy, his role was to run close-up interference and get enemies off of the squishies.

He's /just/ about to abandon the Doctor — useful, but definitely somebody trying to get him killed five seconds ago — and prioritize Ghost Spider when she basically tells him what his priorities should actually be.

Hesitation gone, he plunges. His two primary hands spool out a length of silk between them. Letting it drift out in front of him, Carolus stops a few yards up and simply drops, allowing the silk to flutter out in a loop in front of him so that it comes down in front of Red. It doesn't /touch/ him at first, though.

As the moth man hits the ground he jerks back on the silk, trying to catch Red abruptly around the ankles with the silk line and pull him violently off-balance.

"I'm up to eight murders and two incidents with probable Purifiers. Might be nine murders in short order. I'd say you're lucky, but you're really just gradients of astoundingly unlucky." He rambles rapidly towards Doctor Stuart, /fully/ aware that his odds of keeping this guy alive each extra second going forward are really, really bad.

Through every one of the doctor's pleas, that dark visor and lurid smile remain unmoved.

"YOU KEEP INTERESTING COMPANY, DOC," says Red instead, that distorted voice darkened with judgment, as energy hums in the activation of that mounted shoulder cannon. It charges —

— and Atlas drops. That fresh sheet of silk breaks the suit's aim. It jerks straight, perhaps not anticipating how quick the mutant is, and how near he's come, before that cord yanks abruptly tight. Energy discharges off that cannon, but misses Doctor Stuart, severing a jagged line through the brick wall past his head.

The suit is heavy, but not heavy enough to resist Atlas' strength — Red off-balances, and hits with a shudder of mass.

There's a beat of nothing, like shock, or simply the stunned lack of grace of whomever is locked into that alien armor — a graceless fumbling, for a moment, reminiscent of someone still learning how to move, how to react, how to find its legs.

Then a clawed hand closes on the silk to try to shred it, and Red turns on Carolus, that grotesque grin slightly smeared. "TWO DEAD," Red seethes at him, its electronic voice warping with revulsion. "HOW MANY MORE?"

The cannon reignites. There is only a moment's time to react, as it charges, before it aims to bisect the room — and him — in a cutting line.

Outside, Yellow seems intent to smear Gwen like the veritable spider she is — and while it already anticipates enough durability out of her to keep going, it doesn't expect this. She sticks to the pavement, suddenly, inescapably, and the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.

The object wins.

There's no fighting physics, as Ghost Spider shares mass with the entire street, and the violent change in inertia snaps the suit off her like a cracked wishbone, tossed overhead and launched away, taking down a light-pole and mulching itself straight through two parked cars. They flip with noise, smoking, as the light's opened innards crackle with electricity.

Among it all, the figure rises, stunned but seemingly unhurt, ambient light flickering as it alleys the ridges and corrugated lines of that armor. "YOU THINK YOU'RE SO SUPERIOR," Yellow condemns, genderless voice crackling. "WE CAUGHT UP TO YOU."

Both hands rearrange into double cannons. It's probably not a good thing.

Definitely not a good thing, as that suit hovers up, seeking to launch down, at, around her, a carpet bombing of that alien energy.


"I keep — you idiot!" the doctor seethes, which is probably not the best thing to be saying to someone with a Chitauri cannon. "I didn't ask these mutants to show up! Who put you up to this!? This must be a misunderstanding, we had an agreement — "

The spun silk breaks Red's aim, and the shot goes wide. Not nearly wide enough for the doctor's nerves. Stuart jumps straight up as he's pelted by the shower of brick and plaster that erupts from the missed shot, and as Gwen and Carolus tangle with the two armored assailants…

…he cuts and starts to run down the empty street, perhaps thinking about getting away while the mutants distract the suited zealots.

It's quite possibly the least safe move someone being targeted by lasers can make. But to be fair to him, he's never exactly been trained what to do when being hunted down.

There's a thought that keeps going through Gwen's head. 'Are there people in them? Are they suits? They can't be suits, they're talking like they're…'

Yellow rises out of the sparking, shorn wrecks of the parked cars moving as if they're none the worse for wear, quipping back loudly about mutant slash metahuman superiority.

"Not really, no? I think my life got better, but it also got a lot more complicated! But uh, actually, pretty sure WARMACHINE was having people fly around blasting other people to death with superweapons and all sorts of crazy powers before I got my own origin story!" She calls, watching Yellow power up its weapon compliment — by making more weapons!!! Rude.

"Is that what you're trying to be? Tony Stark's personal themed goons? Well, congrats! You're really pulling off the 'peace in our time' look!"

Aiming at a bent streetlight, Gwen attaches to it with an elastic cone of webbing, tugging it to screeching tautness before releasing—

—the stickyness in her feet, all the stored energy snapping her like a rubber band through the angle at a shallow angle.

Good news! Up and over the beam, though her entire back gets contact scorched with a smoking, costume-bubbling sear all up her back and the bottom of her legs.

With a rather throaty yipe of pain, Ghost Spider spirals through the air, aims two web-lines past Yellow, rolls the web around each hand once, and heaves herself, adjusting her feet in the missile-like ballistic course to bring each heel dead-on towards Yellow from about twenty degrees up.


She splits the difference. "DUDEY!"

Good job, Gwen. Your eloquence is astounding.

The first observation that Carolus has is that these guys aren't quite used to fighting in this gear. That still makes them dangerous, but they're not quite Chitauri, which changes the context of the battle in his mind even as the whining. His confidence increases moderately as he looses the line of silk from his palms and allows it to lie, even before it's shredded— the silk has a high tensile strength, but it can be sliced, even in bundles like this.

He tosses the doctor's briefcase up onto what's left of the roof.

The sound of the cannon warming up still unnerves him. Enough that the sweeping shot which /really/ shouldn't have touched him catches him at an odd angle as his wings buzz to life and he flits out of the way, burning diagnolly across his stomach an instant before he outpaces it.

It's not the first time Atlas has felt that bite, but he still shouts in alarm even as he realizes that he's gotten out of the way of a killing blow. Black shirt and red vest are burned away along with substantial chunks of an upper layer of flesh, which lie exposed, blistered, and ruined for an instant, hints of the subcutaneous plating that make him able to take shots like that at /all/ visible where they really should not be. He swipes both auxiliary hands across his stomach, a fresh layer of silk serving as bandage and covering.

Not used to the armor. Not superhuman underneath. In other words.

He charges in, auxiliary arms rising at once to engage both of the man's arms while his primary arms are brought about in a thunderous CLAP that closes in on either sides of Red's helmet. Carolus is /hoping/ that for all the damage this helmet would mitigate, it's not enough to protect the wearer from getting clapped so hard on the ears that it messes with his sense of equilibrium.

"SPOOKY, YOU OKAY OUT THERE?!" Carolus calls, his voice a combination of pained and too-worried-to-actually-hide-it. He can't really /see/ what's going on out there, as much as he hears her screaming about War Machine or something.

Doctor Stuart gets a little look as he goes, but no further acknowledgement. It's not /safe/, but having him achieve a bit of distance could help make keeping him alive less of a pain. Orrrr it could see him get shot by a sniper, but Carolus suspects these guys didn't expect real resistance.

"SO YOU BLEED," speaks the suit, perhaps with curiousity, perhaps with disgust, perhaps with both — as it appraises Carolus, split-second quick, in wake of its blast. Red lurches back up onto its feet, the suit re-orienting with a click of its claws.

There's an edge of humour, knife-sharp and ringing hollow, in that mulched voice. "I'M GOING TO TAKE THOSE WINGS," promises that smeared, grinning face. "MOUNT THEM ON MY WALL—"

Those shoulder cannons move of the armor's sentient will, aiming. Then — Doctor Stuart chooses to escape, and Red sensitizes, seeming to remember its original target. It turns after him, focus split off Atlas, just long enough — for that charge to sever the space between them, fast, fierce.

Red does not immediately expect it, not the mutant to attack bodily, close-range. It rears up one armored hand, intent to stop — but one pair of arms close in, and his hands CLAP the visor with so much force that the gutted office shakes.

That visor dents in. Not enough to shatter, but enough —

That Red's distorted voice SCREAMS. Shock and pain, all at once, the suit teeters and collapses, its clawed hands smearing at the helmet in panic and disorientia. It's a clear, offered window — time now to escape.

Outside, so many quips rise up out of one lonely Ghost Spider. The suit, with its painted yellow smile, freezes in that familiar, telling shock: this is definitely baby's first spider-rant.

Some of them, even, seem to hit the mark. Beneath all that alien armor, hits a raw nerve.

"STARK BETRAYED HIS KIND," Yellow snarls back, that distorted voice shaking shrill through its distortion. "ALONG WITH THE REST. MUTANT SYMPATHIZERS. MONSTER LOVERS!"

Launching up into the air, the suit does not stop there; in that faceless fury, it unleashes of its stolen Chitauri arsenal, seeking to lay waste to the street in and around Ghost Spider — the dense molecular matter in the concrete detonating up around her in a hundred places. The energy it wields, on contact, feels like liquid fire — leaving injuries bearable to her, but could kill average men and women dead on contact. Weapons that should not be in possession of anyone.

Sound circulates from that suit — someone's erratic breathing, warped through the armor — as it searches for a body through the debris. Instead, Yellow sights a distant figure. Doctor Stuart, exiting the building. The figure stiffens up, perhaps surprised, perhaps already expecting him dead —

It aims one arm forward to line up a shot, concentrating so intensely… that it does not immediately notice her evasion through the fray — and its focus only realizes its own mistake, when in a blurring instant of speed, Gwen is suddenly there, and making full, intended contact.

That yellow smile turns on her, for a heartbeat too-close, inches away. Then, as she powers with her legs — Yellow is gone, knocked straight out of the air and blurring away, raking straight through an electrical pole, grinding off the side of a brick wall, and hurtled out of sight, down the darkened street.

All is silent.

Sometimes, the dull stinging of making a connection really works its way through Gwen. Her pain tolerance and joint strength are both far, far improved - or she wouldn't still have knees or ankles after that little stunt, bringing heels into metal face in a visual blur of momentum.

Her back is afire, and she's certainly burned as all her nerves pop and sizzle - but more than the sizzle of her nerves, it's the sizzle in her skull that alerts her to the explosively coruscating beams of directed heat and the lethal danger they possess. Giant zones of screaming potentia, of a place she's Not Supposed To Be that force her away at a subconscous level.

Having transferred all her energy, she tumbles and crashes with bled-off force against the ground, skipping once before regaining control and landing in a crouch with her left leg extended back. She hears Carolus call in the background, and then silence.

It hurts to stand up, and her back feels sticky and wrong in a way that she knows she'll have to be ginger in peeling off her costume later. Her legs cry out and she wants to be anywhere that isn't here. But the adrenaline still thudding through the base of her neck and behind her eyes like ice keeps that at a dull secondary concern. "I'm… Alive! The doctor, where is he? Get him!"

At a quarter-limping sprint, Gwen takes two steps before sending a web-line up into the buildings above her, yanking up to start swinging back towars where the Doctor ran off to - ideally to swipe him off of his feet and carry him away while the two screaming racist assailants are in disarray.

Later, will be the time to grit her teeth and stifle sobs of pain. Later, when she's more sure that another one of those heat guns isn't proximal to atomizing her spider-constituent parts.

"Technically, no. That's ichor, and you shouldn't touch it. The bandage is for your benefit, not mine. Ever seen 'Alien'?" Carolus retorts to Red. This is /entirely/ a lie, but he knows that he looks weird enough to the typical person that a racist in power armor is probably willing to believe it and maybe think twice about using knives on him at close range. Or claws, as the case may be.

At the very least, the murderous racists might get a bad report on him that'll work to his advantage later. Who knows?


His plan works, and Carolus has no reason to hit a guy while he's down, as much as /this/ guy probably deserves it in the moment. He bursts up through the ruined ceiling to snag Doctor Stuart's briefcase again, and then follows the man's scent trail down the street. Fortunately for him, that scent trail is /already/ adjacent to another one he knows… and /quite/ unfortunately it's pretty contaminated.

Although Ghost Spider /catches/ Doctor Stuart and determines the route of their escape, Carolus takes over actually carrying him once they've got a moment to breathe— it's just easier for him with the physics involved between their methods of ambulation. He ends up making an improvised harness to do it without actually needing to keep the man too close, which is sort of like being strapped into a swing that's flying at 60-70 miles per hour at uncomfortable altitudes.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't quick enough." Carolus says to Ghost Spider, rather miserably. There's a strong sense that he's said those words before. He adds, "Don't run off. I can help with those injuries once Doctor Moreau here is settled."

The doctor does not — cannot, really — resist being carried off. But he looks really unhappy about it. That is, until all the excitement and 'sudden flight at uncomfortable altitudes' causes him to pass out.

He will probably have an even worse time when he wakes back up.

Ghost Spider is thankful to have the man out of her arm, as one-handed webswinging is awkward at best without the ice draining out of her veins slowly and her nerves unthawing.

The wind whips at her airs, but she manages to remain mostly audible.

"Wasn't you that was slow on the uptake!"

With a bit more force then she's probably meaning to give off at the moment, she adds: "Ok. Now I agree. We need to talk to your Tony Stark."

Yellow's violent trajectory away, and Red, left behind, clutching its visor, otherwise flinching away from Atlas and his vague promises about his anatomy (there's as much fear there as there is hate, and both of them are virulent) are the last glimpses of either.

Fortunately, there is no pursuit from either of those unknown, Chitauri-fused suits. No distant scent of that alien tech, or brush of spider-sense to warn of any stealth chase. It seems like a clear ride back from Centerport, to someplace approximating safety.

Meanwhile, as police sirens wail outside Doctor Stuart's dilapidated office, one suit slips back into stealth.

«Did you get the doctor?» asks one voice to another, over their private comms.


«He's not going to like this.»

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