Punchbug
Roleplaying Log: Punchbug
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Four Defenders try to help a frightened unregistered meta leave the state. It gets messy.

Other Characters Referenced: Bucky Barnes
IC Date: May 23, 2019
IC Location: The Interstate, headed towards the state line.
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 24 May 2019 02:43
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

As chains go, there are few stronger ones than fear.

Lucy Cabella's superpower is…math. Lightning-fast calculation. She has only to look at the most complex equations and know the answer. Until recently, this had given her a very successful career at a local think tank. But then Registration came. It didn't take long for her colleagues to start whispering.

No doubt were Lucy's story heard on social media a thousand people would swarm out of the woodwork to say: if her power is really that minor, that safe, what does she really have to lose by letting the State know about it. But like plenty of others, Lucy does not feel the benefits outweigh the dangers.

For weeks now, she's been hiding out in the secret apartment the Defenders set up so long ago, courtesy of one Luke Cage, who found her and brought her and her family inside.

It's no crime to leave the State of New York right now, registered or not. No crime to try to start over somewhere else. But fear does make chains.

Lucy had considered a Greyhound. But what if there were a Sentinel at the station, ready to detect an unregistered mutant and to cry warning? The same problem would exist at the Amtrak station. And it wasn't just her. What if her children had an X-gene, and none of them even knew it? There's no way a mere child would be arrested, she hopes, but what would become of a registered mutant child in foster care? Would that child even make it to foster care? Would it be a prison labeled as a "group home?"

Flying out? That doesn't bear thinking about. There are certainly Sentinels watching over at JFK. And plenty of DPS agents wary of mutant terrorists doing something to the planes.
That leaves driving. Maybe getting caught in a random patrol. Maybe getting pulled over. Maybe being told to step out of the car, because those co-worker whispers have already translated to some sort of list circulated between all the agencies, of suspects who need to be tested and looked into.
In desperation, Lucy asked the Defenders for help getting her family out. Past all who might pursue them and stop them. Get them over the state line and to safety.

Now all that remains is to nail down how to do it, and to get it done ASAP.

And so a plan was formed. The Defenders managed to obtain a Mercedes camper van. It cost a pretty penny, and Jess isn't very sure how Pepper Potts is going to feel about seeing it on the expense report. But the strength of a Mercedes is it can be modified, and if they're going to be doing work like this a lot they're going to need a modified van they actually own. If someone looked in the back they'd see a vacation camper. Nothing interesting here. The bed takes up most of the back. And if the bed is a little higher than most people might like it, what of it? The fact that it opens up to create a safe, cozy little hiding place capable of hiding one or two people at a time is not evident. Someone would have to search awhile. Not the kind of thing that would happen on a casual traffic stop. Jess had hid some cash elsewhere in the van so that if the cops did feel like searching, they'd find the cash, make their noises about it being drug money, and seize it. Letting them find what they expect, so they don't look for what is not expected. Trusting Matt could easily talk her out of prison if all they found was money, since they'd have to arrest her to back it.

The plan involves Jess driving this van, and Owen riding shotgun. Owen, because if things go south Owen can easily zip Lucy off to a safe hiding place a good distance away from the action, and get back in time to help with the trouble.

The much faster car that got bought for this effort is also a much older one, as it doesn't need any modification at all. That car transports Lucy's two kids, Amy and Emily, and is supposed to act as a scouting vehicle. With any luck, trouble may be detected and avoided long before anyone zeroes in on either car. To that end, Luke got assigned to drive the scout vehicle, with Matt riding shotgun. The hope is less on Luke's eye and more on Matt's ability to hear, say, the whine of a Sentinel in the air before either car encountered them. Since Matt is, like three out of the four of them, a product of IGH goo, there's a good hope the Sentinels wouldn't detect him the way they'd detect a straight up mutant. And if they can, well, it's no more of a risk than he takes continuing to live and work in New York City every day.%r%rSo far the rides have been quiet. They're headed westbound on I-95, and they're only about 20 minutes from the state line.

***

Playing most driving games, Luke has a distinct advantage over Matt. So after about the third time he punch buggied his co-pilot, the amusement grew stale. One last dip of his hand into the bag of Cheetos at his hip, he passes the bag back to the kids in the backseat, because loading them up with junk food is a road trip right of passage. At least he's keeping it light on the sugary drinks, to avoid too many pit stops. But even with Twizzlers and candy bars to keep things light, the conversation in the car is muted and nearly nil. And because they are relying on Matt's sense of hearing, even the radio is off. It makes for a long drive.

* * *

The passenger side window of the van is all the way down, better for Owen to chain smoke his way through this mission. He rides along with his cigarette out the window, drumming with his fingers on the arm rest with the other hand in a way that is almost purpose built to fray nerves. Besides the drumming though Owen's otherwise quiet. No running commentary. No surprisingly graphic and horrific ways in which this plan could go wrong. And perhaps even more surprising no inappropriate jokes about what he would do with a box he could hide women in. He does finally ask after a long silence, "So you've actually had a run in with the giant mecha meta mashers?" There's creeping doubts about his ability to do anything if the sentinels show up. Just creeping for now.

* * *

Were they at a standstill, or even a run, Matt could probably make out the difference between the makes and models of cars. The thrum of the engine, the way his mind makes a silhouette of its contours in that strange 360-degree world-on-fire of his.

But driving at these speeds has always set his powerful but sensitive sonar askew. So Matt is content enough for Luke to win, and focuses the brunt of his attention on swiftly passing landscape around them. It almost looks as if he's gazing out the window there, forehead nearly pressed against the sun-warmed pane. He's quiet, pensive.

* * *

"Define run-in?" Jessica says dryly. "I mean. I was there when they unveiled them. I might have accidentally-on-purpose shoulder-checked one. But if you're asking me if I've decided to go toe-to-toe with one, the answer is a decided no. And I'm hoping we won't have to. The whole point is for us not to have to. Just 20 more minutes and we're in the clear. One inch over that border and we're in the clear."

She smokes too.

The whine is distant at first, but Matt does pick up on it. Three of them are flying in formation. As of right now, it looks like they're not exactly headed towards either car. They're cutting in from the north, heading south. It could be they're after some dangerous target that has nothing to do with them. It could be a test run, or a patrol. But they're there, and they sound like anything but VW bugs.

* * *

The kids are growing restless, starting to fight over a gaming system, even though each of them have their own. But Amy wants the Pokemon cartridge and Emily has FIFTEEN MORE MINUTES, GOSH. Something about the fight between siblings just makes Cage smile, however, as he sneaks a peak in the rear view mirror to the two girls who are starting to stick their tongues out at each other. "Don't make me turn this car around." Luke rumbles, but it's hard to take him seriously with the note of laughter that's behind it.

* * *

"Oh I heard you made out with one, but it got a little handsy so you bashed it's robot face in." Owen casually tosses back as she asks him to define what a run in. But he does listen to her story, just one of the many things he meant to catch up with Luke and Jess on. "And yea, I won't be sad if.." Owen doesn't even finish saying 'we don't see one' when he catches sight of the three giants flying through the air. He can't help but glance over his shoulder and exhale a trail of smoke from his nose in annoyance. "Perfect."

* * *

Matt may be keeping an almost meditative focus on their surroundings, but he's not immune to distractions. He does his best to ignore the smell of Cheetos and all the noxious chemicals that went into them, but there is something strangely soothing about the sound of those two kids bickering in the back. His lips curl into a familiar smirk when Luke goes lays down the law. He'll make a good dad, Matt thinks suddenly. If we all make it through the next few years.

Speaking of which.

Matt's head cants ever so slightly as he catches that far-off sound, closing the distance with the window pane. He sits up in his seat, draws a sharp breath through his nose, sets and resets his jaw. It's the look he gets when a fight is coming. "Luke," he says quietly, trying to keep his tone mild and even for the girls. "There's three of them north of us, heading our way." A beat. "Could be a coincidence."

* * *

Jessica snorts in amusement at Owen's fanciful description, and the image that goes with it. Owen's 'perfect' tells her little enough, but it's enough to have her easing out of the middle lane and into the right lane, just in case. She really is like an old grandmother on the road, and her merging is no exception. If it were merely a matter of not getting pulled over Jess would have it well in hand.

For a moment it sounds and looks like all is well. They zoom past.

And then one breaks off, changing its flight path and slowing its trajectory as it starts to scan its way over the length of the highway.

* * *

At Matt's warning, Luke leans forward and peers out of the top of the windshield, his big frame crowding the steering wheel as he traces the movement of the Sentinels as far as he can see them before they fly back out of view. "Sweet…" It doesn't get a particular holiday attached to it, as he spies Jessica changing lanes in the rear view mirror. "Hold on." He waits a few moments so it only seems like coincidence that he moves to the left a lane and increases his speed slightly but still within the realm of 'not worth pulling him over for'.

* * *

"How far are we?" Owen's first thought when he sees that robot pull off is exactly how far they are from the border and exactly how long his speed would last if he has to try and carry Lucy there, to the glorious promised land of high hair, deep tans and more strip malls per capita than God ever intended to exist. He watches the rear view mirror now intently, not even pulling the cigarette from his lips between pulls. He tries to visualize his path, go through the access to the secrete compartment in his mind… how did the Coyote receive packages from Acme? It's not like he had an address, he was in the middle of the damn desert. Oh wait, what's going on? Owen snaps out of that little bit of childhood questioning to try and focus on the plan at hand. Try being the operative word.

* * *

"Yeah… they made us," Matt says, quiet and grim, face still turned towards the window as if he could look out and see the android that has strayed from the pack and now careens towards them. He's not the only one with uncanny powers of perceptions these days. So this is what it feels like to be on the other end of it.

He flips open his burner phone and sends the text to Owen Mercer that he'd typed in and had ready to go before they'd ever pulled out of their parking spot: We've been spotted.

Then he's bending down, reaching under his seat, and pulling out a red leather mask. "I don't think we make it to the Verazanno in time."

And I'm not sure the sentinels will even observe jurisdictional rules once we're across.

* * *

In the time it's taken them to banter, notice, and get made, some time has passed. Jessica narrows her eyes thoughtfully.

"If I stick to the speed limit, 16 minutes. If I don't…"

It is worth noting she clutches the steering wheel hard at that notion. Her knuckles truly do turn white. But she looks to Owen. "If you think I ought to do that instead of letting you whisk her out of here, I will. Your call. You're the one who has to play runner-with-package as we do that."

Sure, it was the original plan, but they're nearly at the end. If they'd had another hour and thirty minutes to go the 'Jess just punch it' option wasn't going to be available. It still may not be available.

The Sentinel is, of course, closing in on the van, starting to descend. They'll have to make decisions fast, now, because in the blink of an eye it'll be able to land right in front of Owen and Jess.

* * *

"We should've kept them all in one vehicle." Luke suddenly has an opinion about the plan, though he's actually the /worst/ planner in the group, if it doesn't come to just flat out punching something. "That way I could maybe create a distraction, draw their attention…" But he knows even that would have likely been futile and as he flicks his gaze to the rear view mirror again to check on the kids, his lips thinning. He wrings the steering wheel with his ham hock hands, mindful not to just bend it into a pretzel. "Don't do anything stupid, Jess…" He mutters under his breath.

* * *

"Miles Jess. I can't do fucking math" Technically Owen is capable of doing simple algebra but not in his agitated state. And it doesn't help that he normally thinks in terms of city blocks. This is just one of the many reasons he should actually train. But oh well. A little late for that concept. Then text from Matt comes in and Owen relays it, but they too can already see the robot coming up on their tail.

And then Jess is asking him a question about the best way to proceed and he looks at her, his face contorted in a confused and mildly horrified look. "What? No. I don't know! Fuck." He looks back at the Sentinel and then blows out another puff of smoke and flicks away the cigarette.

"I'm gone."

And with that and a crackle of electricity (Ooooh that's new!) Owen Mercer is no longer seated in the passenger seat. Lucy is whisked up and out of the van and is carted towards NJ. Owen has to stop only about a mile down the road though. Dodging through traffic and trying to look back over his shoulder, not to mention carrying someone is far, far more than he accounted for.

"Shit. Shitty shit shits."

Lucy, dazed and more than a little freaked out looks around, trying to get her bearings and understand what the hell just happened. But she instinctively knows that not having come to a gentle stop and been let out of the van under her own power is a bad sign. "The kids! What happened?! Where are they?!"

"Great. Freakout. That's going to be super helpful." Owen wasn't chosen for his pleasant demeanor.

* * *

Owen may not have a sunny disposition, but he brings other benefits to the table. Matt lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding when he feels that whooshing disturbance that is the speedster barelling down the highway with Lucy in-tow.

"Mercer's taking her across the border," Matt narrates to Luke as he weighs the mask in his hands. There's no reasoning with Sentinels. No citing caselaw. Matt Murdock is virtually useless against these things. The question remains: is blind-ninja Daredevil really any better? This isn't some back-alley brawl. Luke and Jessica are the only ones who stand a half-decent chance of taking one of these things on.

Suddenly, all at once, Matt comes to a decision.

"If it comes to a fight," he leans over to whisper to the driver, "I'll keep driving and get them over."

Yes, you heard him. Matt Murdock just offered to drive.

* * *

The speedster takes the panicking woman onward, and the sentinel hesitates. Target the person aiding and abetting who is right here in front of it? Or go after his target?

The robot comes to a decision, and the decision is…go after target. It careens scary-close to Jess, who hits the brakes hard, and goes whipping after Owen. Other cars are rapidly getting off the highway. They're not here for this today. Nope. Nope. Nope. Not giant robots who nearly landed in the middle of the Interstate.

Luke hopes against hope Jessica Jones won't do anything stupid. His wish is not granted.

Indeed, in response to the sentinel's actions she just stops the van, gets out, runs, and takes a flying leap to grab on to the boot of the thing, because she doesn't want it chasing Lucy. 'What could possibly go wrong plans' abound, it seems. She does slow it a little just by exerting some of her strength and letting her own momentum carry her back down towards the ground, as if she's trying to crash it into the shoulder. But the thing is strong too, and mostly this results in a bunch of aerial awkwardness.

* * *

"Really, because I had this whole…Fast and the Furious scenario where I speed up and the Sentinel comes down in between us and Jess and then you climb on the roof, I slow down and you go all ninja monkey on the things back, pulling out wires and stuff until it overloads and shuts down in a pile of junk metal in the road. Because I'm way too big to be climbing out car windows and…WAIT, YOU DRIVING?!" It's a good thing Jess loves Luke for his heart and not his brains, because he was way too slow on the uptake of that one. "Aaaand, there goes Jess. Doing something stupid. Take the god blessed wheel." And with that, Luke is just popping open his door and rolling out while it's still in full motion.

* * *

At least Owen has a little space to breath now. He sets Lucy down and then just as he's about to feel like he can go again he sees the robot. How is it so fast?! Owen groans and says, "Stop crying. We're gonna do that again. First you need to lose about fifteen pounds though. I mean really, it'd bump you to at least a seven. Eight if I were drinking." Owen's horror-show of a pep talk is enough to get Lucy to slap him across the face, but she still submits to getting back into his arms. He picks her up and zooms out about another mile before dropping her.

"Just stay here. Try not to die or attract more robots. K? Great."

And with that Owen sighs and zips back towards the robot. Yes, this wasn't the plan but somehow now it seems like a better plan? Who let Owen improvise? Why?!

* * *

He can hear the thing closing in, looping like a bird of prey towards Jessica's car, and Matt's teeth grit. A few of these things held the heroic population of Manhattan at bay at that clusterfuck of a DPS press conference. What chance does this crew have? Apparently it won't stop Jessica from trying. He hears her car screech to a stop, hears her vault out and assault the sentinel. There's a brief flash of irritation along the lines of Luke's, but it's squelched quickly enough. After all, it's totally something he would do.

To wit:

"Ninja… monkey?" Matt asks sidelong towards Luke, before the bigger man is suddenly gone, throwing himself out of the driver's side door and leaving the car without a captain. "God damnit," Matt mutters, immediately bringing his hand to the wheel to keep the car from veering off the road and then trying to climb across to the other seat just as quickly. "Everything's going to be fine!" the blind man assures the two little girls in the back. "Just… hang on."

And then? Matt Murdock puts his foot on the gas.

* * *

Cue some squeaking from the oldest girl, who is well aware Matt is blind. "Don't hit anything!" She cries helpfully, because…Matt needs a cheerleader.

Good news, not a lot of people on the road right here, bad news…what is in the middle of the road is a sentinel fight. Matt's driving is probably up to the challenge though, right?

There's some tumbling and tangling in the air and then there's good news and bad news. Good news…Jess manages to climb up its body enough to punch at its transmitter so that it can't WiFi their faces back to headquarters. She's pretty sure the thing hasn't gotten a look at any of their faces yet, or even the Mercedes' license plate. It might have caught the identities of the two registered and recorded it, but here's hoping it had no real reason to transmit that yet.

Bad news, the thing spikes her like a volleyball down into the shoulder. She skids, getting some road burn, growling, "Ow," before springing back up again…and then sprinting again as the thing starts shooting. It's flying, but it's low flying.

Owen and Luke to the rescue?

***

"Oh hell naw." Luke growls - what, he's out of ear shot of the kids! - as Jess gets swatted like a mosquito to the road. With no one around to throw him (which seriously comes in handy), Luke has to use another route to get up to the Sentinel. He can't jump like Jess, but he can get higher and further than the average bear. Cage turns to a semi-truck that's barreling down the road, trying to get out of here fast, and starts running towards it in some twisted game of chicken. Instead of trying to stop the vehicle, he times it so he can hop up on the hood, then the cab and then make a flying leap towards the leg of the Sentinel. So, less like a ninja monkey and more like a really pissed off panda bear.

***

"Oof. That looks like it stung." Right by where Jess landed, suddenly: Owen.

He sees the sentinel shooting and he groans a little to himself and tries to get out in front of the Sentinel. He calls "Come on you over sized roomba, hit me with your best shot." He sees Luke running and jumping onto the foot of the giant robot and he pulls out a white tipped boomerang from his jacket. He flings it towards the face of the robot, calling out "Cover your eyes DD!" Because yes, telling the blind guy to cover his eyes is the height of battle humor to Owen. But the boomerang is meant to release a burst of light, hopefully enough to mess with the sensors, fry them if possible without hurting Luke or Jess if they decide to jump onto Voltron gone wrong.

***

Don't hit anything! the girl in the backseat tells him. "Working on it!" he calls with a look over his shoulder. For anyone else, looking over your shoulder while driving through a warzone would be the height of recklessness.

For Matt Murdock, just driving is the recklessness. The velocity, the whip of the wind, the growl of the engine. Everything about this situation seems built to throw his sense of the world off-kilter. Fortunately, the things he has to watch for are as oversized as the distractions, if not more so.

See, for instance, the semi that Luke Cage is currently using for his platform. The driver skids and slows when it sees the unbreakable man bounding towards it, providing a test for Matt Murdock's barely developed driving reflexes. The resistance of the steering wheel as he gives it a hard right turn, a screeching sound, a swerve, and the smell of burning rubber. These are the senses impressing themselves on him now. That and the cries of the girls and the rapid, percussive rhythm of his own heartbeat.

They clear the semi, barely. This was a bad idea, he thinks. But they're in it, now, and there's only one play to be made here: let the other Defenders draw the attention of the sentinel(s) while they cross the state lines. The car barrels down the highway, headed towards the Verrazano.

***

As Matt executes some brilliant combination of senses, luck, and balls that could have come right out of a Fast and the Furious after all, Luke yanks the Sentinel down hard, just as Owen scrambles its sensors. It begins loudly announcing that there is an ERROR. That it requires MAINTENANCE. All sensors OFFLINE.

The upshot is that it stops trying to make Jess outrun its fire. It moves through whatever ones or zeroes or quantum computing that's going on in its big tin head and decides the proper course of action at this time is to attempt to punt Luke like a football, while beginning to just…shoot. Wildly. Everywhere it can. Shots searing the road. Shots plowing into the side of the semi Matt just missed, spilling Tyson chicken in a fantastic spray across the road. Shots across lanes of traffic towards Owen and Jess and Luke. And shots towards Matt's fleeing vehicle, to which the peanut gallery squeaks: "It's shooting at us!" It's shooting at everything, but the kid is pretty narrowly focused on the ones coming their way. Granted, Matt will probably outrun its range quickly enough, but…the problem is still perhaps noteworthy.

***

The curl of Luke's fist at least gets in one good strike to the Sentinel's propulsion unit in the foot he's attached to before the thing rears back its leg and does its best impression of kicking for the extra point. Unfortunately for Luke, it's not a Peanut's moment and Lucy can't yank the football out at the last second to leave the kicker flat on its back. The man mountain goes flying with at least the presence of mind to protect his face when he smashes into a billboard and sliiiiiides down an advert for Eating Moar Chicken.

***

Raising his arms in celebration as the Sentinel announces that it's sensors are offline, Owen is damn proud of himself. For about five seconds. And then the thing starts shooting wildly. His jaw drops down and he looks left and right as if trying to figure out how that all went so wrong, so fast. He then watches Luke get punted into a billboard and hunhs… "I really do want Chic-Fil-A."

Focus Mercer.

He launches a speeding boomerang for the open hand trying to break the laser mechanism in the hand. He growls, "What are you doing?! Who decided that giant robots with laser hands was the way to solve this problem? That sounds like one of my ideas! And I mean that in the most insulting way possible!" He can't move people out of the way of the blasts as it would involve moving cars and he's not quite that level of speedster.

***

I fucking hate Staten Island, Matt thinks as the shots rain down.

It's not all bad. One of the few benefits of Matt Murdock's peculiar brand of blind is that what he can perceive is independent of any field of vision. What's in front of him, behind him, and on his periphery are all more or less equally detectable.

So those blasts of fire that are chasing his speeding car? He can see them coming. And another zig-zaggy swerve ensures that one of the blasts only fries his rear-view window instead of blowing throw the driver's side window and making a mangle of his shoulder.

Who needs rearview windows anyway? Not Matt Murdock.

He's only dimly aware of the struggle behind them now. He hears Luke's impact, but that chicken joke? Right over his head!

"It's okay!" he assures the kids behind him, trying to keep them calm amid the clangor and hail of blast bolts. "They've got it handled. Just hang tight. We're almost there…"

***

Owen's boomerang takes out the hand lasers on the right hand. Now there's just the left hand and the eye beams to go. Jessica, to her shame, hit the dirt and did nothing when the shots came. She rolled under a car. That's what she did. She's still got a bit of trauma, about being shot. Gunfire tends to send her to the dirt, and space-aged laser things count. They totally count. She swallows when she peeks out and sees that Owen has at least made sure one direction is free of fire.

This car is empty. The people have fled. She could throw it…no. Throwing their car would really be a douche move.

Then she spots Luke, sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiding down the Chic-Fil-A sign. She rolls out from under the car, springs forward, and moves to catch him. Because then she can execute the Throw Luke maneuver on the not-firing side of the Sentinel, and that should probably be pretty useful. Or she's…just going to annoy him and bounce him off the head of a robot. But…you know. She hasn't gotten to throw him yet, and this strikes her as all kinds of unjust.

At the very least…just about every civilian has either driven off this highway or abandoned car and ran. It may well be a straight shot to the border.

Everyone. Except this Tyson chicken truck driver. A big, tough-looking dude behind the wheel, just sort of sitting there, paralyzed with wide eyes, as shots rain across the front and side of his truck. None hit him, and the truck-side is the side Owen got, so soon he's just left to just kind of sit there in the truck he has definitely pulled to a firm stop with his arms really rigid by his side and his mouth hanging open.

***

With nothing to grab a hold of, Luke is resigned to just letting gravity do its work until he lands one something solid. He doesn't expect that solid thing to be his fiance however, and his eyes round out in the split second between when he's caught and when he realizes he's about to be pitched like a JJ fastball. His word echo back as he goes hurtling towards the Sentinel, "Dammit baaaaaaaaaaabe." And then he curls again mid air to provide the most concentrated cannon ball he can manage.

***

Owen grumbles as he realizes just how many orifices on these giant mecha-bots shoot lasers. He scans the cars that are thankfully at least stopped to see if anyone is dumb enough to be standing here in the laser rain, well besides himself. And sure enough there is the sole Tyson chicken driver. Is the poultry industry sponsoring this scene? Maybe. But anyway Owen is mid trying to pull the catatonic man out of the truck, with his best New Jersey native tongue, a stream of swear words with a mangled American-Italian pastiche of an accent laid on top.

This stream of cussing is interrupted when a Luke goes flying past. Owen stops and just stares as his former boss goes flying through the air. He turns back to Jess and gives her an awed look.

"Do you know how big a boomerang you could throw..?"

Yeah, now he's going to be thinking about that non-stop.

***

For Matt Murdock, much of the world right now is a blur, or whatever passes for a blur in his mind's eye. But he remembers the singular sound of Luke Cage being hurled through the air at high velocity. That one is hard to forget.

"This one's guaranteed to be less messy…" he mutters under his breath, and steps on the gas. This highway is a notorious speed trap, but he's ninety-nine percent certain that any troopers are going to be more concerned with the madness behind them than the blind man barrelling forward. And hopefully anyone who does take notice of them overlooks the blown-out rearview mirror.

The bridge isn't just in sight, it is imminent. A few hundred feet away. "Hey, you kids want to play spot the beetle?"

***

A canon ball Luke leaves a Luke-sized dent in the Sentinel's head, crunching lasers until it's all done. Owen gets the poor dude out of his truck…he's hardly creating much of a fuss about anyone doing anything right now.

That would have left the final hand, Luke's barrel into the head of this thing. Except that crunches up vital pieces and parts that tell the Sentinel to do stuff. In. You know. Highly technical and educated terms and stuff.

The upshot is, the thing finally powers all the way down, the remaining laser hand drooping, turning itself into a big hunk of plastic.

"Oh sure," Jess mutters, in the meantime. "When I do it, it's damn it babe. When Bucky does it, it's 'that was awesome!'"

But she smirks about the big boomerang. There's a quip in there somewhere, but she doesn't find it in time to make it cool.

And at the very least…all the state troopers are busy zeroing in on the location of the three Defenders that were tackling the robot.

At the sound of sirens Jess says: "Soooo…time to go then."

The two kids have hit the seat hard. They look at each other in amazement. They look at Matt. They rise up slowly and look out the window, and at the missing rearview. And then each other again.

And then, inexplicably on the side headed back to New York, a psychadelic painted beetle trundles along like nothing is wrong in the world at all.

"Punchbug," the younger of the two says solemnly.

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