The aftereffects of the explosion prove too much for DA. He kneels down and then abruptly sits. "I...I must rest," he said, his head held in his hands.
Union looks at his strange, powerful, confusing teammate, then lays a cautious hand on his shoulder. "You've certainly earned itstopping those missiles, knocking out Fasces, holding the Red Skull," Adrian looks over at Malachi, who seems the less wounded of the two men, before continuing "And containing that last explosion so it didn't crush Malachi and DustStorm against the walls. I'd say you've had a full day."
The trio have settled within a few yards of where Ghost Rider's flaming form stands, illuminating their captives _I have to figure out how he does that..._ Union thinks. _Holograms?_
Despite his bruises, Adrian felt pretty good under his armor: even the secondary suit's enhanced reflexes had proved sufficient to protect him from the Red Skull's explosive shockwave. Now that he was in his actual armor, the suit's enhancing of his physical condition left him fit and alert.
"Well. It looks like we won. You almost gave me a heart attack down there, Malachi, but we won. Ghost Rider is riding herd over Wasp and the others, and we need to figure out what to do with them. Handing them over to Bull Conners will hardly see justice served, but I don't really know what they could be charged with that we could prove..." Union shakes his helmed head, "which is highly frustrating."
"Simba seems to have disappeared, which is also frustrating, since we don't have any way to track him. My only suggestion is that we contact the nearest FBI office, hand these guys over and make a statement about who they are and what they've been up to. Hopefully what's in this bunker and the events at the rally will give the government some leverage against them."
Groaning more than a bit, Malachi leans back against a tree trunk. "That is, of course, assuming that they're not working with government sanction."
Union shakes his head. "That's possible, but I don't think it likely. President Kennedy has been pretty vocal about equal rights in the south. besides, I think Zola might be a wanted war criminal. It's a pity what's left of the Skull android isn't more recognizableI can't picture any national politician backing that sort of an abomination."
As they talk, Union looks over the captive men, using his armor's electrical senses and his own engineering skill to get a feeling for the design and sophistication of their equipment. When his gaze reaches Warmonger the Silver Avenger stops in his tracks. "What the?! I...I had assumed that Warmonger was in some sort of battle armor designed to mimic that bestial form. But there's nothing there! This is an actual biological mutation. What on Earth could have done that?"
"It was Fasces, I'm certain," says Ghost Rider, pointing to the shield-like plate on the unconscious villain's chest. "At the rally, he fired a beam from that. When it hit Simba, Simba mutated."
"But he reverted back to normal within a few minutes, obviously. Perhaps it's directly related to the length of exposure, or perhaps whoever this is has been permanently altered." Adrian consciously shrugged, fighting the suit's attempt to block the motion to conserve energy. _I have to develop a visible range of body language in the suit. Just another thing to work on..._
"Yet another abomination," Dark Angel says, his voice slightly muffled, his head still resting in his hands. "When will it cease? Men of science." The distaste in his tone is clear.
As for the equipment of the Wasp and Fasces, Union is impressed. Just a cursory examination reveals that Fasces's chest plate is some sort of energy projection device. It is also likely the source of his mind-controlling powers that Ghost Rider warned everyone about earlier. His belt, a series of linked silvery disks, is some sort of force field projector. The Wasp's costume, aside from its ridiculous shoulder vanes, is sleek and form fitting. It seems likely it augments his physical prowess. The gauntlets are wired to project electricity. There is also some sort of transmitter built into the mask.
"Regardless of what happens with Warmonger, these two are carrying around some sophisticated armament." Not entirely trusting his original attack on Wasp to short his equipment, Union casually leans over and makes some violent but repairable modificationstearing out wires, shorting out circuits, and so onto insure that neither man awakens at the wrong moment to wreak havoc on the Federal Building. _Half of me wants to just destroy these, but I'd love to see how they work. Besides, I don't know if I have the right to destroy what might be evidence against these men. Problems, problems._
Referring to Janet, DA asks, "Will she live?"
Union nods, "She should. That concrete armor of hers shielded her from the worst of it. She probably has a lot of bruises, maybe a cracked rib. Nothing too serious."
"Good. She is too young to meet Him yet. I'm sure she still has much to do."
Still too tired to move unnecessarily, he raises his head studying her momentarily. His own question has caused him to realize she may be severely injured. "Does she require a doctor?" Now resolved to help her, he adds, "I shall take her to the hospital."
He stands, albeit a little hesitantly.
"Are you sure you're up for that? You look a little woozy." Union looks down again briefly at Miss Van Dyne. "Besides, if we bring her to a hospital in her costume with her mask torn off, then her whole reasoning for wearing a mask would be destroyed..."
"I know where her hotel room isshe took me there after the rally. I can run her back there, and when she regains consciousness she can change into more standard clothes and then go to the hospital. I'm sure there are other people who might have been wounded at the rally, so there should be little cause for suspicion."
"Why don't you three contain these idiots and get them to a Federal facility. I can't think of any other legal course of action we can take. If that's OK, I meet up with you back at Paul's Hospital." Union looks to his companions, hoping that they could offer a better plan for dealing with Wasp and his allies."
As he slowly stands straight, you can see most of the blood has stopped flowing from Malachi, and the cuts are closed. "Well, it's not much of a plan, but it sounds like as good as we're going to get. Shall we, gentlemen?"
"His wrath for these transgressors is assured," Dark Angel said tiredly, almost absently. Perhaps they were words he'd said aloud a million times for they lacked the force with which he usually spoke. "I shall take them to your authorities and their crimes will be weighed. And they will be judged." Almost as if he were reading from a script. "Where will they be waiting?" DA floated into the air, his head lolling forward. He aimed a lazy hand at the three unconscious men who were swallowed up by the Darkforce that inched out in inky tendrils to envelop them.
Ghost Rider summons up his hellbike and offers Malachi a ride.
_Holy!_ Union is busy laying out his alternate armor and re-modifying it back into a flight harness to act as a stretcher for Duststorm when the motorcycle forms from an eruption of Ghost Rider's Flame. _But...I had thought...Holograms or something...Where Did That Bike Just Come From! Pyrokinetic solidification? Magic? Face it old man, the world's gone strange._
Union carefully lifts the injured Duststorm Then, the heroes split up to handle their respective tasks.
It doesn't take Union long to get back to the hotel. Getting in unseen is easy enough via flight while magnetically opening the doors leading to the balcony. The room is just as they left it. Carefully, Union places Duststorm on the bed and then pauses, wondering what to do next.
Adrian takes a minute to take off the chain mail (leaving on the cyber-suit) and change back into the clothes Janet had bought for him just a few hours before. He then checks the time, and places a call down to Room Service. _She said she was hungry before. She's probably famished now. I could do with something myself, and she did offer before we left._
"Hello. Yes, I'd like to order some room service for...Miss Van Dynes Room. No, I'm her...Uncle. Just some sandwiches and iced tea, I think. And some soup, if you have it. Thank you." Adrian hung up the phone feeling guilty about a variety of minor things in the last fifteen minutes. Then he removes Janet's mask again, and pulls the blanket up over her, removing any chance of the gentleman from room service spotting her costume.
A careful inventory of everything he's used in the past day or so passes the time until either Janet wakes up or room service arrives.
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al