Ghosts in a graveyard.
"Well that was easy. Now lets find out who sent you." Union floats over the robot, preparing to make a more detailed analysis when he hears the explosions below. "Malachi."
It takes Union only seconds to get down to street level, nearby his young teammate. _He doesn't look hurt. They must have missed him._ A wave of relief washes over him at that, _Sam might be a heck of an athlete, but he couldn't survive being hit by multiple missiles..._
Seeing Malachi helping the startled tenant he doesn't get any closer, not wanting to crowd an already cramped doorway. "Malachi, does she need a doctor? The hospital is just a quick flight away."
The lady sits up unsteadily, pulling her robe closed over her nightgown and fussing with her hair for a moment. She blinks at Malachi, then at Union, then focuses on Malachi. She smiles widely.
"I'm just fine," she says silkily. "And so are you, sugar. Come help a lady to her feet, handsome man."
_Oh Brother._ Grinning broadly under his helmet, Union lowers his voice into as much of stage whisper as he can manage, "I'll just go check out the surrounding area, make sure the missiles didn't rupture any gas takes or anything..."
Once Malachi has assisted the (ahem) fallen woman, Union waves to get is attention. "Your attacker is up on the roof over there," Union jerks his head up to indicate the neighboring building, "some sort of assault robot, but it just fell over when I hit it. The Skull is dead and Zola's in custody, so I have no idea who might be responsible for it. Have you offended anyone else who might have sent this thing after you?"
Malachi can think of no one he's angered who has the kind of resources to send an attack robot after him. It certainly isn't street gang style.
"In any case," Union says, "I'd like to collect it and look at its insides, assume that there's anything left to look at."
The rest of the evening winds away as Union examines the damaged robot in the safety of his shop. The device is both remarkably simple and remarkably sophisticated. The sheer economy of parts and circuits is amazing. It was equipped with an audio playback device, now fried, as well as the rocket launcher. Its shielding against attacks is noticeably lacking. Most of its interior is occupied by some sort of broadcast device. Union is uncertain of its exact function due to damage to the system, but he is certain that it was transmitting at least a visual signal to some sort of receiver. Overall, with its minimal weaponry and defenses, Union cannot help but conclude that the robot's purpose was to the gather intelligence instead of inflict harm.
Personal Journal (ciphered): "The robot encountered tonight was constructed on a minimal budget by someone with extremely well developed engineering skills. The production quality, design and timing of the attack, suggest that it was not built by either the Red Skull or Arnim Zola. The robots minimal capacities were split one third towards offense and two thirds towards information transmission. This was not an attackit was a test. Someone is playing games with us, and we should start efforts towards figuring out who the opponent is and what the rules are, before we find that we didn't even get dealt cards."
Victor Dumas & Delta V
His wife and son were both fast asleep, but Curt was still wide awake. It seems as if ever since acquiring his amazing powers that he requires less and less sleep as the weeks go by. Now, he is able to function on only three or four hours rest a night. And so, his mind racing, calculating, estimating, Curt reads over the Agent Orange dossier side-by-side with his own research notes. The more he reads, the more he is certain that Captain America did not in the least exaggerate the deadly health effects of the defoliant. At the same time, however, he cannot see how his own research can help. The regeneration formula that gifted him with super-speed was a fluke.
Curt shakes his head. He's wired, far too tense to relax. Maybe a run about town will help. He starts running through the city, to nowhere in particular. He finds himself by the docks, where the first meeting of the Avengers took place. He then finds himself at the Long Island mansion of the late Victor Dumas. He can't help but still blame himself for the doctor's demise. He pauses at the mansion and then speeds back home to his wife and child, and hopes such a fate does not await him in the future.
Because something caught his eye, moving among the headstones, an ephemeral figure that vanished as soon a Curt slid to a stop. Squinting through the moonlit darkness, the good doctor now sees no one or nothing, but the impression that there was something there just a moment ago is unshakable.
Victor's situation just seems to grow more frustrating. Further experimentation with his ghostly form reveals that Victor is not only intangible, inaudible, and invisible, but, even worse, he is apparently confined to the grounds of his estate as well. Try as he might, Victor cannot pass beyond the border of his home. It is as if an impenetrable but undetectable barrier surrounds the entire estate. Turning to walk back to the castle proper, Victor stops short. He cannot be sure, but was that someone sneaking about in the graveyard?
Victor watches for a half a second and then floats over towards the direction of where he saw the figure. "I'll be damned that if I'm going to spend the rest of my existence here, that I'm going to have grave robbers on my estate."
He looks for what he might have seen. A person? An animal? One of his robots?
It's not an animal nor a robot. Wandering as if lost in a winding path between the headstones is a woman, dressed in a long, flimsy white lace gown, her dark hair streaming down her back between her shoulders. She reaches out to touch the cold, unyielding stone of a cruciform grave marker, and her chalky fingers pass through the stone is as she were completely insubstantial.
Victor is surprised to see her pass through the grave marker and wonders for a chilling moment if this woman is a ghost. He peers at the grave to see if there is a name carved into it.
There is. The stone is worn with time, but still legible is:
ASHTON VALE, BELOVED HUSBAND
"Greetings," Victor said as he stood some distance away with his cloak wrapped around his own insubstantial body. She would run away, attack him or engage him in conversation. Victor ran through the possibilities so that he would be ready for anything.
The woman whirls about, eyes wide with fear, looking for all things like she's just seen a ghost. [OOC: Sorry. Couldn't resist.] Victor is struck by her fragile beauty, the sort of quality that inspires men to both protector and lover; he also cannot help but notice the despair in her eyes, a mien of hopelessness that is almost palpable.
A rare thing happens to Victor. He stands there momentarily at a loss for a continuance of the conversation that he had just started.
Delta V rubs his eyes, wondering if he is seeing things. Then, realizing all he has seen, he speeds towards the graveyard.
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