“Don’t touch anything,” Rocket told Ramona as they entered the Kludge’s cockpit.
“I was not going to touch anything,” Ramona said as she took one of the seats.
“Get the hell out of my seat,” Rocket snapped. “You can sit over there.” He pointed to the fold-down jump seat at the back of the cockpit.
“Yeah… No.” She shifted over to the seat next to the pilots.
Rocket took his seat, hands passing over the controls in a well practised set of movements that had the Kludge cloaked, powered up and lifting in a matter of moments.
Ramona noticed a sticker on the console in front of Rocket. A cartoony looking raccoon-like thing in a blue dress. “What the hell is that?”
Rocket looked away from the controls. “Agretsuko. One of the few good things to come off this planet.”
“What are the others?” she asked, a little defensively.
Rocket did not say anything immediately, directing the Kludge onto a new course. “Every heard the name Peter Quill?”
Ramona wore her surprise openly. “Peter Quill? My dad had a much older sister, black sheep type… heard she had a son named Peter...Never met him.”
“No surprise,” Rocket told her. “Let’s say I got a soft spot for a Quill and leave it at that.”
Romana opened her mouth, as if to continue the line of inquiry, but Rocket hit her with a, “Don’t you want to know where we are going?”
She paused, and let herself be distracted. “Where are we going?”
“Asshole of the galaxy, which surprise surprise is not Earth.”
“Why don’t you tell me what planet you are from so I can make fun of it,” Ramona said. “Fair is fair.”
Rocket laughed. “So there is this sector of space, halfway on the other side of the galaxy, where you got several empires rubbing up against each other. Most of them were content to ignore the place cause it looked like a worthless bunch of systems and stars, but you know people. They’ll find money anywhere.”
“So all of them got their citizens in this place, and none of them can actually move on it without looking all aggressive like and then a shooting war might start. Which means it’s a lawless kind of place that I am normally in favour of.”
“I’ve only known you for less than half an hour, and I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“That’s the sort of attitude that will keep you alive, I approve.”
Rocket continued, “However, various powers don’t like that criminals are running the place and their citizens are being killed, enslaved, eaten, and sometimes all three. So they put what you might call an independent peacemaking force in place to try to keep things orderly, or at least the type of orderly where fewer people are killed, enslaved or eaten.”
“So you are part of this force.”
“Observer. Fancy word meaning I get to watch idiots being idiots and offering wry criticism and the occasional flesh wound.”
“But now it seems someone wants me to put together a slightly more useful force, and turn my powers of observation towards observing things blowing up.”
“And you need pilots.”
“And I need pilots.”
“And we people of Earth are the best choice cause we are talented at war?”
“Ha! You people suck at war if you ask me. But the fighters were built here, and I got to put humans in the seats of four of them for reasons that are probably so stupid they would exhaust me if I bothered to look into.”
Ramona frowned. “Like some kind of affirmative action for Humans?”
“Could be. Or maybe your race is destined for greatness. Doubt it.”
“So we’re going to look for more pilots?”
“Eventually. Right now we’re going to the White House.”
“The White House? Why?”
“I’m an alien, I got a ship. I am duty bound to blow it up.”
“You can’t blow it up!”
“I’ll admit that the loadout is more suited for ship to ship, but it’s not a moving target, and I got antimatter missiles.”
Ramona had a sudden insight into the character of Rocket Raccoon. “It would be a bad idea to blow it up. People might notice.”
She nodded vigorously.
Rocket laughed. “Ah Quill, you are gonna be a lot of fun. I’m going there cause I got to talk to the guy who lives there.”
“President now. Yeah. Last time I saw him, he was a fat criminal. Figure that’s not changed much.”
“He was cleared, you know.”
Rocket laughed again. “I’m sure it looks that way, but any alien ship that visited probably pulled lots of data your of your primitive computer systems, most of the time by accident. Scrub it all he wants on this planet,” Rocket looked over at what he called his smartphone, “it still exists off this planet.”
The Kludge’s cloaking device made it invisible to almost any warning or sensor system on the planet. There were only about 6 people on Earth who could have built something to pierce the cloak. Unfortunately, in Rocket’s opinion, at least one of those people had set something up in the White House. He figured they had done it for the other guy.
So Rocket did not try to sneak in. He called ahead, let them know he was coming.
The Kludge, cloaked, put down on the South Lawn, its landing gear partially crushing some of the roses of the rose garden.
Screened by trees and its own invisibility, as well as the failing light of dusk, no one saw it, or the President of the United States and his Secret Service detachment standing there, waiting.
The Kludge’s ramp descended, sinking into the grass.
A moment later Rocket came out, half carrying, half dragging a case that was nearly as large as he.
A few of the Secret Service agents reached for their weapons, but Wilson Fisk said, “Stand down.”
The agents did, but they did not relax.
Rocket reached the bottom of the ramp. Looked around. “Warms my heart to see a fellow crook do well.”
Fisk’s lip twitched slightly. “You are out of date Raccoon. I was never a,” he paused, “crook.”
“That so fat man? Well, I got some old data storage in my ship that says differently. But I ain’t here to talk history with you. I’m here to settle debts.”
Rocket’s eyes shone red in the fire of the warehouse, in his hands a belt-fed machine gun, the barrel glowing red from recent action. He looked around at all the dead bodies, the destroyed weapons, the burning money and drugs and everything else.
He was breathing heavily. “Blam! Murdered you.”
In the middle of the growing fire, untouched by it, was a Kree, Long Range Scout Ship.
There was a crunch of broken wood, and something stepped from between burning material.
The man was large, in all meanings of the word, dressed in a white suit, somehow untouched by the for and smoke all around.
“It is as I said, Raccoon,” Wilson Fisk called out.
Rocket looked back at him, lips pulled back from teeth. “So it is fat man. My ride off this crap hole and you got one less competitor dealing alien tech. Looks to me like we’re square.”
Fisk smiled. “I have any number of operators who could have achieved all this.” He looked around at the growing conflagration. “I could have even tricked heroes into taking this out for me. No Raccoon, you owe me a favour. And I will be calling it in one day.”
Rocket swung the machine gun around, so it was pointing at Fisk, then with a snarl, he tossed it on the ground. “Fine, I owe you a favour.” Rocket stalked towards the scout ship.
“Yes you do,” Fisk said to his retreating back, then he stepped away, obscured by the smoke.
Both he and Rocket were gone before the fire department arrived, and long gone before S.H.I.E.L.D was ever called in to investigate the remains of alien tech.
Rocket opened the case covered with alien-script and turned it towards Fisk. Within were eight devices that looked little like guns, with bulbous attachments and hoses.
“They’re Kree, I pulled them out of a wreck a few years back and been thinking of you ever since. Give someone a shot, and it will rewrite their DNA, set them up for the Terrigen compound that is released twenty-four hours later. Forty-eight hours after that you got a new Inhuman.”
Fisk stepped forward, reached down and took up one of the devices. “Single-use?”
“Yeah. one shot is all you get.”
“And if I gave it to an existing Inhuman?”
“What do I look like? A scientist. Figure it will either supercharge them or kill them.”
Fisk nodded, returned the injector to the case. “And if I said this does not clear your debt to me Raccoon?”
Rocket smiled. “Oh Fisky, you don’t want to do that.”
Another sneer from Fisk. “Yes, I thought as much. Still, I recognise the value of this. Consider our debts settled.”
“That’s what I like to hear. If I ever see your face again, it will be too soon.”
Fisk smirked, a half laugh, then he looked up towards the ship, called out, “Captain Quill isn’t it?”
Ramona had been trying to remain unnoticed. However, she snapped up straight, stepped out of the shadow, and saluted. “Sir, yes sir.”
Rocket growled softly, "She's saluting him."
Fisk smiled down at him, then called, “Come here, Captain.”
Romana almost ran down the ramp. She came to attention in front of Fisk and saluted again.
“You’re embarrassing me,” Rocket said softly.
Ramona ignored him.
“Captain Quill,” Fisk said, “I am aware of the difficulties you faced, and the unfairness in recent decisions made by your commanding officers. I do not agree with them, but must leave the day to day operations of the Air Force to those chosen to lead it, though rest assured, I will be asking questions in the coming days.”
“Yes sir, thank you, sir, it was not so bad… sir.”
“Yes, I would expect an officer of your quality to say that.” He managed a half smile that was perhaps supposed to be friendly, comforting. “Still, you have my apologies. And, perhaps things worked out for you after all. You’ve been given a great opportunity.”
Fisk looked at her. “You go where few from this planet have gone. I will admit that I feel a little envious. When you return, I will hear of all you saw and learned.”
“Yes sir, of course sir.”
Rocket rolled his eyes, tapped his foot, looked at his wrist and the non-existent watch there.
Fisk held out his hand. Surprised at first, Ramona lifted her. His one hand engulfed hers completely. That was all it took. No attempt at any machismo, it was apparent to anyone who looked as to the stronger than.
President Wilson Fisk had nothing to prove.
“Good luck and god’s speed Captain Quill.” He released her hand.
“Yes sir,” Ramona replied and saluted again.
Muttering darkly Rocket trudged back into his ship, Ramona following him. Her voice drifted back, “He knew who I was.”
As the cloaked Kludge lifted off, Fisk looked at his security detail. “Send six of those things to DoD, tell them to make use of them. Send one of the Doctor. We will see if he can reverse engineer the design. Take one to my office.”
The men rushed to do as told.
Fisk looked up in the direction he thought that Rocket’s ship had flown off. If he was thinking about the data that Rocket had spoken of, perhaps he also thought that a member of his Air Force was in a position to do something about it.
Damn. That's a scary President Fisk. I'm trying to see how this all fits together. (Also, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my crew, who are still not even vapors. One day... one day... I'll go into one of these with a total plan.)
OOC:Previously: The Hulk Virus rages throughout the Southwest of the US. Quarantines are quickly enforced, but still the virus spreads. There was recently a case outside of the Southwest. And the military and super-organizations struggle to keep up.
A handsome older man in a beautiful suit walks down the street. He is carrying a large, and old, boombox in one hand, and a expensive looking briefcase in the other. People stare. Even on Wilshire, someone walking isn’t a common sight. But a man in an expensive suit? With an old boombox? That’s an extremely unusual sight.
The man stops in front of a sun-faded red Mexican restaurant in Koreatown. He sits down his boombox, and his briefcase. He opens his briefcase, and pulls out a large folded sheet of taped together cardboard. He carefully unfolds the cardboard over the sidewalk. People inside the diner stare. Drivers slow down and catch a glimpse from above their phones and drive on.
The man pulls a cassette tape from out of his inside pocket, and places it in the boom box.
The man is bald. Clean shaven. Hollywood handsome. It is clear that he would have salt and pepper hair if he let it grow out. He is wearing old Converse sneakers that are taped together. They are an incongruous fit with the expensive bespoke suit.
He takes off his jacket, folds it neatly over his forearm. He pulls a tattered piece of black cloth out of the suitcase. Shakes it off. He lays his jacket over the suitcase lid, and then tosses the tattered black cloth around him with a rehearsed and easy flourish. It seems to wrap itself around him. It is an expansive cloak with a hood. It looks dirty and faded. But it is still pitch black, somehow.
He turns around, leans down, and hits ‘play.’ The boom box snaps into life, and spits out a dope beat.
The bald man pivots gracefully on one foot and swings out his arm in an elegant move. He pauses for a second, with the music, and then breaks out into a crazy smooth dance move as the beat kicks in.
Inside several people watch.
“Whoa,” says one girl.
“Kick ass,” says a young man. “He’s here! I guess today is the day?”
The man is dancing wildly, expertly; dancing beautifully to an early 90s hip hop song.
“Who is he?”
“He comes here every year. Every year, on the same day, this corner, and he dances. Every year.”
“Sî,” says the waiter, butting in to pour more coffee. “He dance from sunrise to sunset.”
A hard looking man at the counter chimes in, “I hear itsa ritual.”
“Whoa. Like, magic? Isn’t that, like, illegal?”
“Yep, but he might jus’ be dancin’.”
“Nah, son,” chimes in another young man. “Yo, every time he show, there be WC. They hiding out there, but you sus ‘em if you check.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“WCA? No shit?”
“Every year, son. Rhizome or Praxis is up there scopin’ dis shit. Checkin’ out the Cloak.”
“Yeah, like, what’s up with his really raggedy cloak?”
“I herd its parta his ol’ costume.”
“Yeah, dog, he was one of them quiet supers.”
“He’s a super?”
“No, no le cre— No, no, I think.”
“Well, how you explain th’ WCA, darlin’?”
“Yeah, shorty, WC out there. I guarantee it. Sussin’ out the Cloak’s rits.”
They all stop and watch. The man spins on the cardboard to a late 80s hip hop song. His moves are beautiful. Elegant. Controlled. But also, somehow, sad. His cloak whips around him, almost with moves of its own. It is old and tattered, but somehow as beautiful and elegant as his moves. Watching it is a strange experience. It is beautiful. Transfixing. Despite it’s tattered-ness, the cloak’s interior is as black as the darkest cave. It is endless.
“I heard he lost someone, and that he dances to bring her back.”
“Yo, I heard that. His girl died and that’s why he dance.”
“Whoa. Do you think it’s, like, some sort of ritual?”
“Now that would be right illegal there, darlin’. And I just think he’s grieving.”
“I heard he dances to bring back his brother.”
“I heard it’s to prolong his life. He has cancer or something.”
They talk. Finish their food and coffees. Pay. And move on.
The man continues to dance.
Other people come. They also stare and talk. And move on. And still, the man dances. People pass by and honk, or shout. And still, the man dances. As the sun rises, the man glistens with sweat. People pass him on the street, on the sidewalk. And still, the man dances. The sun rises, impassive. The man dances. The sun starts to decline, slowly. People pass, talk, question, stare, marvel. And still, the man dances. His cloak whipping around him. All to a procession of 80s and 90s hits.
The day passes.
The man continues to dance.
When the sun hits the horizon, the elegant man takes off his cloak with an efficient gesture. He isn’t breathing particularly heavy. He carefully folds up the cloak. With his other hand, he picks up his jacket, and puts it back on. He opens his briefcase, and delicately tucks away the cloak. He folds up the cardboard and places it in the briefcase. Then he walks off.
People continue to eat in the diner. Quickly, no one is talking about the formerly dancing man.
The man walks on and is forgotten.
Above, floats Praxis, watching everything. Feeding everything back to HQ. What is Ty Johnson doing? Every year, he dances. And every year they watch. They have been instructed to. By the old Sorcerer Supreme. By the President. By the FF Foundation. So they watch. Every year. From sun up to sun down.
And every year, the man dances.
OOC:OG Tyrone 'Ty' Johnson (formerly Cloak) dances— for reasons. Tandy? Is he dying? Is it his brother? Something else? Unclear. It’s all unclear.
Shamelessly stolen from a music video I watched some time ago.