10293/Science (And CRIME!) Run Amok!

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Science (And CRIME!) Run Amok!
Date of Scene: 26 February 2022
Location: A Generic R&D Firm on the outskirts of Gotham
Synopsis: One of Gotham's premiere shady R&D companies is attacked by mercenaries... boy did they pick a bad time to do it! And now the lab's shady doings are destined to come out of the shadows. Dun dun dunnnnn
Cast of Characters: Susan Richards, Duke Thomas, Natasha Cranston

Susan Richards has posed:
    It's just another normal day in Gotham, at another basically anonymous high tech R&D firm. Of course, being it's another normal day in Gotham, and it's an R&D firm in a city where the slightest scientifically-related mishap seems to result in super villain origin stories at several times the national average, that's probably not a good thing.

But so far, Susan Richards has no complaints with the day. She's stopped in for a tour of the facilities, just one of what seems like countless regional operations that want a chance to use some of the Fantastic Four's tech for what they say is the betterment of humanity. But Susan doesn't just rubber stamp those requests, she does her due diligence. Which, for today at least, means going on a tour.

She tries to maintain the facade of interest and good cheer, but really, these are actually less fun than alien invasions or being stranded in space.

And so as Susan does her best to look like she's whole-heartedly interested in applied nanomachine technology and the modern soldier... something that's definitely putting this place on the _bad_ side of her books... there's a shaking of the floor and a distant rumble.

She'd dismiss it as an earthquake, except that rumble sounded so very... explosive. And there's a sudden bathing of red light and woop of alarms.

Well, this is a bother. But at least Gotham's got a pretty good ratio of super heroes per capita.

Duke Thomas has posed:
Speaking of which...Signal is out for a ride today. He's kinda sorta the daytime face of the Bat Family, and the sight of the black-and-yellow armored teen riding his motorcycle around the streets of Gotham is pretty common these days. He hears the explosion in the distance and reaches down to flick some switches on the center console of his motorcycle, activating the Gotham police and fire channels.

It only takes a few moments for the location to go out over the air. He clicks another switch, which opens a channel to the Bat Emergency Channel. "Signal to Bat Computer, there's an explosion at <<insert name of lab here>>. I'm heading to investigate." **Acknowledged.** the automated voice of the Bat Computer responds as it logs Signal's location. Then, as though by magic, the teen and his motorcycle seem to vanish as sophisticated algorithms activate a dynamic camouflage protocol in the armor and the bike. He speeds off toward the location of the explosion.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
        Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

    Someone once said that 90% of intelligence and detective work alike is merely pattern recognition; to see the pattern of what's normal and then isolate what doesn't fit.

    An R&D lab, of course, will by definition require a lot of different things in the course of its research, and that's perfectly ordinary -- however, when the requirements suddenly include a pharmacy's worth of painkillers and near-restricted-strength sedatives when as far as their public records state they are nowhere near asking for permission for human trials, it warrants attention. Especially when there are reports of a human trafficking organization becoming more active in the Gotham area.

    Of course, this is all merely suspicion and supposition, and Natasha prefers not to levy accusations when she does not yet Know. Thankfully, as the CEO of the shipping company that handles more than two thirds of their logistics she has a ready-made excuse to drop by for a visit to discuss a possible 'good customer' shipping discount, and the directorship was only too happy to entertain her. Meeting Susan Storm-Richards was a happy coincidence, and she'd just been making pleasant conversation when the ground shakes.

    "... Goodness, what was that?" she asks of the director assigned to give them the tour-and-spiel, playing the slightly-naive ingenue. "I thought this area was geologically stable..."

Susan Richards has posed:
Susan's quick to play the not-quite-panicked damsel herself, although it's probably notable that her gaze swiftly darts towards the most heavily secured door in the lab... and there's further approaching sounds of explosions heading their way... and probably towards that door. She frowns thoughtfully and points, "Should we get behind that door? I mean, it certainly _looks_ like the most secure area in the building." Eyebrows perk as she eyes the director, who's suddenly gone from no doubt thinking about embezzling unimagined riches and committing some good old fashioned industrial espionage to having a _very_ bad day.

"Oh, I'm sure it was nothing! It's... fine! It's just fine, really! Nothing to worry about!" He doesn't sound terribly convincing and it's certainly not helped by him fumbling for his phone, spinning around to take an urgent call, and letting out little snippets when his voice cracks and raises in pitch, something about 'test subjects' and 'If the authorities find out'.

Totally aboveboard science things of course.

Because armed mercenaries show up to break into legitimate research labs all the time... okay, they actually do that _surprisingly often_ bu usually not with purloined AIM tech and other super-sciency gadgets like these ones have, as the scanner channels are flooded with reports by rubbernecking civilians running away of lasers and explosions and the sorts of trouble that come with high tech heists.

For her part, Sue's not terribly worried about the invading mercenaries, but she's almost _staring_ at that heavy metal door... teeth worrying her lower lip. The explosions are still what sounds like several rooms back, through the security checkpoint they had to clear and the employee break room... no convenient excuse for why the door might fall off its hinges is available yet... but as soon as she's got one? Oh, Mrs. Richards is going to do some snooping.

After all, she needs some good stories to tell at the next dinner party!

Duke Thomas has posed:
Unseen, Signal arrives at the site of the laboratory campus. If any gate guards are bothering to watch the gate during the attack they might hear, but they do not see, the motorcycle speed past. Signal parks the bike and hops off. "Maintain invisibility mode, activate sentry mode." There is a series of electronic chirps as the bike complies. Woe be to anyone who tries to mess with it. Security system designed by Batman.

Taking stock of the situation, Signal calmly surveys the surprisingly well-organized group of attacking mercenaries. What could they possibly want here? He didn't get word in any of his daily briefings that somethign valuable was being stored here in this relatively unimportant, not-well-known lab.

There are three mercs set up behind some sandbags out in the parking lot. They are setting up some kind of tripod energy weapon, most likely to provide covering fire for when their associates are leaving with whatever they end up stealing. He jogs over, still camouflaged, and squats down among them before releasing his invisibility. Very calmly he asks, "Hey so what d'you guys think something like this gun goes for? It looks really expensive." So calm is Signals's body language just squatting there and so relaxed his tone of voice that it takes them by surprise. They look at one another in confusion for a moment or two than at Signal. But the large Bat logo on his chest pretty much gives away what's going on here.

The three professional soldiers burst into action to subdue Signal. The problem for them is that he can precognitively sense where they are going to strike before it happens. A few moments of blurred action later and the three soldiers are unconscious on the ground. "Jeez, you boys are touchy about your gun."

Signal calmly begins to walk toward the structure that seems to be the focus of the attack.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha nods agreeably as if entirely convinced by his explanation -- and as if she hasn't heard every single word he's saying on the phone -- but her smile is in fact genuine.

It's always nice to have confirmation of one's suspicions, after all.

    Now she just needs to find a convenient excuse to vanish and get to actual work; thankfully, between the shooting, the shouting and the general confusion, people are understandably distracted, and with a step and a breath and a push... And in the chaos, only the most astute observers might notice one more shadow moving than the count of bodies can account for...

Susan Richards has posed:
    Susan's left eyebrow quirks ever so slightly... she definitely catches the shadow moving, but she figures... no one's going to launch an assault on the lab _and_ have someone sneaking around like this. And hey, invisi-folks need to help each other out.

And so there's a sudden _CRASH_ as a nearby desk collapses, a faulty leg giving out, Susan jumps, grabs the director in 'panic' and drags his attention her way.

Still, with her unknown friend going to check out that security door, Susan figures she'd better buy some time for them, and rushes towards the front of the building, reaching the security checkpoint and throwing up a force field... it's just so _nice_ not having to worry about a secret identity! And luckily she's just in time to stop the first wave of attackers, a thrown flashbang grabbed by an invisible force field and thrown back out the door, just in time to give Signal a hint this assault might not be entirely un-resisted from the inside of the building.

Inside, Sue sighs a little... because it's not like she can take the afternoon off after this. She bets other CEOs don't need to keep working after fighting crime.

Duke Thomas has posed:
The grenade comes flipping outside. Signal is not all that well-versed in grenade tech and he has no idea that it's a flashbang, which would be virtually useless against someone who not only has photokinetic powers but also rapid healing. So he does what one does when a grenade comes flying out of nowhere: he dives behind a truck in the parking lot to shield himself from the explosion. The flashbang detonates, stunning and blinding several of the mercs.

When no 'true explosion' comes, Signal stands up and brushes off his armor. One might imagine him blushing under that helmet. "I knew it was a flashbang," he says to no one in particular. In the earpiece of his helmet comm, the Bat Computer chirps skeptically.

Holding his hands up to draw attention to himself, Signal loudly announces, "I would like everyone's attention, please. My name is The Signal and I am a represenative of The Batman. I am declaring this assault officially over. Everyone please line up againt the east wall of the..."

The sound of multiple automatic weapons firing fills the air as several mercs beging shooting at Signal. "Shit!" he says as he runs to find cover again. Many of the bullets bounce off his armor. Some actually sink into his body. Within minutes they will be expelled as his body begins healing, however. But for the moment he squats back down behind that truck again, as he scolds himself. "Okay, Duke, that was stupid. What did you think they were gonna do? Just surrender?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha is in fact planning to take the rest of the day off under some pretext just as soon as she gets back to the office -- a reputation for being flighty and whimsical does wonders to deflect suspicions -- but right now she's examining the security door. Excellent make; several steps above what would be considered budget effective even for a high-tech R&D lab.

    Luckily, the kind that takes a keycard rather than a code -- and with the director highly distracted, obtaining the keycard is easier than it might otherwise be. Likewise, the soft 'beep' of the door unlocking is lost in the chaos to people who aren't paying attention, and she slips inside...

Susan Richards has posed:
Susan's actually a little surprised by the incoming assault, the mercenaries have some heavy weapons, and so she's mostly focused on keeping the security guards safely behind her field, brow furrowed as she focuses on shoring up the defenses as the mercenaries begin to focus their fire.

Still, she figures this'll work for now until something shifts the scales... and she definitely doesn't want to tell the security guards to fall back further into the facility, because they might notice that big security door being ajar or something, and who needs _that_ drama?

She favours the director with a cool glare and hisses out, "Would you mind calling the police and asking them to hurry up? I mean, unless they're busy with... you know, one of those criminals with a _gimmick_ and mercenaries are beneath their notice right now?" Sure, keeping him on the phone will work well.

After all, Natasha's got to have time to get in t he secured section of the lab and find those 'willing volunteers' that are in various states of sedated and imprisoned for experimentation.

Duke Thomas has posed:
Still squatting down behind the truck, Signal takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Okay, man, you're a lion. Go out there and take what's yours!"

With a bit of a battle yell, Signal leaps over the truck and charges into the group of armed mercs. There is gunfire. There are knives. There are punches. There are kicks. There are head butts. The big problem that these guys have isn't that Signal is all that much of a badass. I mean, he's a trained melee combatant to be sure, but so are they. And there are more of them. And they have guns. The problem for them is that Signal's Ghost Vision literally lets him see a few minutes into the future, making it very easy for him to do seemingly impossible things, such as dodging bullets or blocking attacks.

When all is said and done, a bruised and bleeding Signal stands victorious over a dozen unconscious mercs. The outside of the building is secure.

With a bit of a limp and some labored breathing, Signal begins to enter the building. "I don't know who's in there!" he calls out, "but I am in NO mood right now!" Fortunately, the various wounds on the kid's body are already in the process of healing.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    No coat, no guns, no scarf, no Hat -- Natasha feels distinctly underdressed for a proper investigation, but you work with what you have, not with what you want. Fortunately, what she does have is a quite expensive smartphone with some not quite on-market improvements that allow her to take quite a lot of footage for later analysis.

    Judging by the noise both upstairs and in the labs she can't spend too much time here, and she doesn't have the resources right now for a full on rescue op... But she knows a few people she can call on short notice, now that The Shadow Knows...

Susan Richards has posed:
Susan hears the battle outside reaching that particular pitched 'Someone in a costume has shown up to handle business' level of frantic mayhem... and so have the five mercenaries who are pouring fire into her force field.

Which is a good thing, because as much as she didn't want to accept it, she's been slacking off on the more... adventurous aspects of her life, and maintaining the field was becoming taxing. Of course, when their attention's drawn away for a moment, Sue's still got some gas in the tank and enough experience from over the years that there's a flurry of flying office equipment, aimed precisely at heads, amped up with a little finessed application of invisible force to make sure they're knocked out.

And then she's grabbing the director by the arm and bodily dragging him towards the front of the building, "Well, Mr... Smith was it? I'm afraid we won't be able to come to an arrangement about that technology you were wanting to lease! You're simply not going to pass the security audit! But don't worry, we'll be keeping a very close eye on your operations, with a mind towards future examination!"

Because while Sue might not know what Natasha's found, she's probably going to look into it some more out of sheer curiosity. Reed's got his science to lose himself in, Sue? Sue's more of a True Crime girl.

Duke Thomas has posed:
Signal comes walking in, and just like he promised he does NOT appear to be in the mood. Dried blood is all that remains of his various wounds, all of which have healed fully. He looks around at the chaos and the bodies, frowning. "What the heck is going o..." He stops when he sees Susan Richards here. He's never met her in person, but Batman keeps him up-to-date on the who's who of superheroes. "Mrs. Richards," he says. "I didn't know..." There's some cognitive dissonance now as he tries to put the puzzle pieces together such that all of this will somehow make sense. "May I ask what's going on, Mrs. Richards?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha looks up from the huddle with other frightened civilians and researchers, all of whom are sure they didn't see her leave so clearly she must have been there the entire time, and replies "I honestly don't know; one moment Mrs. Richards and I were having the most charming discussion with Doctor Smith about the good works being done at this facility, the next there was an explosion and those people started shooting... I don't know what they could have been after..."

Susan Richards has posed:
Susan's eyebrows perk up at Signal's condition, hands planting on her hips as she murmurs dryly, "Well, no _wonder_ I felt like they weren't trying that hard! Clearly you took the literal brunt of the firepower." She sighs and shrugs with faux lightness, gesturing to unconscious criminals, "I'm afraid I didn't think to ask them what specifically they were after... and we weren't allowed to tour the more sensitive portions of the operation. But I imagine they were trying to steal some technology or another, perhaps for a rival company, or one of those bothersome super science organizations that's loose on morals."

She heaves out a soft sigh and shakes her head, "I'm sure the Gotham police will question them and open a thorough investigation into everything going on." She reaches into her pocket and produces a transparent rectangle... it's a business card, but boy is it a _very_ fancy holographic business card. Style is important, Janet always tells her.

She offers it up with a crooked little grin, "Here, if you happen to run into any... sudden science-related crimes in the city, perhaps you could call and let me know? Professional courtesy as it were?"

She glances back to NAtasha and nods solemnly, "Yes, whatever they were after was a mystery, and quite the sudden development. But whatever it was, such secrets have a way of coming to the attention of those who need to know."

Duke Thomas has posed:
Signal accepts the business card. Batman would kick Signal's ass if he ever said or did something rude to a visiting hero. "Thank you, Mrs. Richards," the teen says as he tucks the card away in his utility belt -- not as extensive or impressive at Batman's but there's some shenanigans going on in there for sure. He looks to Natasha and to the facility director. He doesn't recognize either of them. "Good afternoon, I'm The Signal," he says politely despite the fact that he was just in a literal fire fight. "I'm a representative of The Batman. Is there anything I can do here?" As if the huge mirrored Bat emblem on his chest didn't give that away.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    "A pleasure to meet you - and our sincere gratitude for your timely rescue," Natasha replies, all professional smiles and courtesy. "I for one am glad to see that Gotham's protectors are ever vigilant."

    She looks back at Smith. "Has someone called the actual emergency services yet? Was anyone injured?"

Susan Richards has posed:
Smith nods rapidly, stammering, sweating, the whole 'director of a shady lab realizing the cops are on the way' effect in full swing, "Oh! Yes! The proper authorities have been alerted! And... we should... evacuate! Yes! We should evacuate the building in an orderly fashion immediately to preserve the evidence!!"

He might even be being honest about some of that, or maybe he's just hoping he'll have some amount of time to shred at least a few records before the police actually _do_ arrive.

Sue for her part just nods and sighs out, shaking her head as she begins to walk to the front door, "Well, this has been... a very unusual day. But I'm afraid I've got to go, there's a meeting for a charity drive for the recent troubles in New York I promised I'd show up to, and I'm afraid 'angry mercenaries' isn't reason enough to cancel!"

And then Susan's practically sprinting off... because she _did_ forget about that meeting in all the excitement, and now she's got to make up time.

Duke Thomas has posed:
Well the danger seems to have ended. The proper authorities are on their way. Mrs. Susan Richards herself was on site, which probably explains why the matter diffused so quickly. As Susan departs, Duke waves. "Nice meeting you, Mrs. Richards." Then he turns to Natasha and Director Smith. "Ma'am. Sir." he says as he touches his helmet politely. He steps gingerly over some of the rubble and moves slowly and calmly through the parking lot toward...nothing whatsoever?

"Invisibility off, deactivate sentry mode." There's a chirping from thin air and then a motor cycle that looks very much like the Bat Cycle, but colored like Signal's armor appears out of nowhere. He climbs aboard, fires the engine to life, and speeds off.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Natasha amicably lets herself be shepherded out back to where her car - and personal driver - is waiting, exchanging one last set of polite greetings with Smith, who is doing his best to mask his disappointment as he realizes that discount likely isn't going to happen, and then the door closes and she's driven off.

    Benny looks at her through his rearview mirror. "Found what you were looking for, boss?"

    Natasha nods. "He's one of their customers. Once he's taken down he should be enough to crack the rest of the case. But..." She frowns. "He's going to panic after this. He might decide to sweep all the evidence - including the victims - under the rug before an investigation reaches him. I'll need to move before that."

    She looks down at her other phone. The one with the odd symbol of a striking bird.

    "... And maybe I shouldn't do this one alone."