13172/Don't Gamma my X-Gene

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Don't Gamma my X-Gene
Date of Scene: 25 October 2022
Location: Converted Cargo Ship
Synopsis: Red She-Hulk and Warpath cross-paths on a rescue mission. The Shade observes mysteriously. A young mutant is saved and whisked away for gamma poisoning treatment.
Cast of Characters: James Proudstar, Betty Ross, Richard Swift

James Proudstar has posed:
The Epiphany is not the first nor the last ocean hauler to be converted from its original purpose as a transport for cargo. International waters leave a significant amount of room for interpretation in terms of jurisdiction of law enforcement. If you have the resources, a ship is a fairly practical and pragmatic choice, minus the occasional disruption to lab conditions. Ships do move after all, but these can be compensated for with... SCIENCE.

Thus, A.I.M. has established itself a mobile research laboratory. The vessel itself is 366 meters long. A repurposed ULCV (Ultra Large Container Vessel) instead of shipping containers, a series of modular rooms have been erected on the deck creating grid-like floor plan of self-contained research labs.

In truth, the majority of the research is legal. A front for one particularly amoral research project. An adolescent named Jerry Baker has been abducted from his home for having the most cursed mutant power of all: a healing factor.

The perfect research subject for repeated experimentation. This teenager's unique power is being tested for reactions with another infamous force: Gamma Radiation.

The lab that contains Jerry is in the exact center of modular research station, level 3 of 5, row 20 of 40. While grid-like in construction, a number of hallways have been blocked off, guard stations tactically positioned, and key carded security doors installed. A patrol of soldiers walks the outer decks, occasionally peeking over and inspecting the side of the ship's hauls with flashlights.

Betty Ross has been deployed considering the intersection of a couple of factors: Gamma and Troublesome Asset. SHIELD has deemed the Epiphany as acceptable collateral damage. Ideally, the ship would be 'Lost at Sea'.

Warpath, on the other hand, has learned of Jerry Baker's plight through his own channels. His mission is one of extraction. To save one of his own.

Betty Ross has posed:
    This is one of the first times SHIELD has actually let Red out of their sight, so to speak. Or at least, her handlers are only via radio, rather than in person. This is partly because the method of getting her unnoticed to the ship involves her using a powered sled through severely cold waters. Most people would get hypothermia long before they could get close.

    It's not the most fun thing ever for Red either, but Hulks do shrug off environmental factors well, she thinks to herself as she surfaces near the anchor chain for the ship, then begins using it to quietly creep aboard.

    <I still say I could just punch through the ship until I find him.> she grouses, then frowns at the reply. <It's not my ONLY plan, but you have to admit, it's nice to be direct sometimes!>

    She hops up over the side and comes down in a crouch, looking around for anyone who might have seen her.

Richard Swift has posed:
The Shadows are where he is at the most "at home". The blending of grey and black and a tinge of light, right there at the edge. As The Shade takes a step forward, the shadows coalesce into light, a grey overcast sky revealed.

A tap of his top hat keeps it secured firmly on his head. His dark gloves and long, black cane keep the outfit securely in the late 1800s. A place he was most familiar with. This was the Shade.

AIM. Hrm. Not usually Swift's target but beggars can't be choosers. The motion of the deck reveals thatthey were ocean bound. Swift frowns. Not a fan of the ocean. A sigh, and a smooth move to the nearest shadows allow him a moment to collect is thoughts after the shadow walk.

Eyes pealed, he waits. SHIELD. AIM. So many acronyms.

James Proudstar has posed:
The Red Hulk approaches by sea, where as Warpath approaches by air. He has still yet to truly match his power of flight. This ineptitude has been mitigated by a flyover as an incredibly fast and iconic aircraft that few ever manage to garner a glimpse of because of its advanced stealth capabilities and high altitude flight paths.

For most mutant deployed from the blackbird, there would have been a slow down before the drop point. Since Warpath is solo on this mission, those considerations weren't necessary, and whomever was piloting the advanced aircraft was not prioritizing James comfort.

Thus, James finds himself in freefall buffered by freezing winds and left damped as he passes through clouds. Eyes narrowing in determination, he uses his powers to correct his trajectory and aim toward the Epiphany. Black hair whipping around his shoulders, he clamps his hands on his knife sheathes to protect his favored weapons.

Meanwhile, Betty is fortunate to not have garnered immediate attention, but there is mumbling on the radio, "We had a suspicious signature on sonar. Could have just been a sea mammal, but keep your eye out."

The owner of the radio rounds a corner and responds, "Affirmative. I'll take a look."

There's a click of a maglite, a beam of light shines on a railing as the guard approaches and peeks into the water. His next step could be toward Betty or directly away from her. It's a fifty-fifty chance.

For Richard, this division of A.I.M. seems to lack magical counter measures, but there is a faint hum of a nearby camera on a mount slowly pivoting in his direction.

Richard Swift has posed:
It was a moment of clarity. The Shade squints and looks. Betty Ross? He doesn't recognize her. SHIELD? Perhaps. Another sigh, and Swift pulls his tux top down in a purely "Picard maneuver" type of act, although he did it first. Who was that? Warpath. Uh oh. Big Guns.

Did they see him? Hard to say. He was caressed by shadows and the darkness. It was best to assume they had. What was the next move? After all. He was a shadow.

Betty Ross has posed:
    Red freezes as the guard comes walking around the corner, then cautiously starts to move behind him...then a quick couple steps as she grab the back of his uniform pants with one hand, stealing the maglight with the other and heaving him over the side. "I'm sure they'll pull you out." she says. It's a distraction! If they're busy fishing him out, it means the guards will be focused somewhere else.

    She totally planned it that way and no one can make her admit otherwise!

    However, definitely time to motor as she moves towards the location where Jerry is being held. <Pity they're not holding him somewhere with an external wall, would make things easier....>

James Proudstar has posed:
There's a gasp as the guard is grabbed and then an 'Aiiiieeeeee' as he's tossed over side. A fairly long way down to the water it takes a moment before there is a splashed, but its muffled against the normal splash of waves against the lower hull of the epiphany.

Another minute passes before the ship comes more to life, the now waterlogged guard had failed to check back in. Spotlights pop as they come to life and begin to shed light on the guard's last known position. Sure enough, they spot a figure treading water and waving frantically.

Without a dry radio to call in 'why' he's in the water, the distraction seems to be working, though the deck will be crowded soon enough.

Meanwhile, Warpath lands in the traditional heroic kneel on the fifth level of the stacked modular labs. He creeps toward an edge and frowns at all the commotion, "Great... Cyclops is going to blame me for a failed stealth op."

Betty Ross has posed:
    With the crew rushing to the waterlogged man's side of the ship, she detours to the other side, moving as quickly and quietly as she can as she approaches the modular lab. "Okay, 20 of 40, middle of the stack.." she mutters to herself, looking to see if any of the entrances have been left unguarded with all the commotion.

    The sudden BANG of metal bending under Warpath's landing causes her to jump a bit as she squints, looking upwards. She can't quite see the top from her position though. "...the hell was that?"

Richard Swift has posed:
The Shadows move as the Shade moves. Watching as the two intrepid heroes arrive, the Shade's frown deepens. "Now this makes things more challenging. Heroes. Ugh." Shade moves into the darkest area of the main deck, and watches the movements of the heroes. Maybe this would work in his benefit after all.

The loud bang was unnerving, but not unexpected. "Lady and Gentleman. Decorum." Shade was almost calling a play by play as he follows the intrepid heroes. "This may actually be...fun".

James Proudstar has posed:
Warpath's enhanced senses happen to be the power that enhances his stealth the most. Detecting boot falls on the decks, doors opening, breaths, jostling weapons, he manages to get a good sense of his enemy's deployment.

He also notices "... the hell was that?" with particularly sensitivity. His head peeks just over the edge of the metal cube. He sees Red and squints in suspicion.

Meanwhile, a crane is being put to use for the retrieval of the downed comrade. A palette chained to the end, an individual is pulling on a wet suit as he's lifted into the air and brought to dangle over the side of the ship.

A cadre of guards have found themselves leaning over the railing calling to their comrade. "Yell louder, we can't hear you."

"Someone tossed me over! Sound the alarm."




Frantic arm flailing from the ocean betrays the guards irritation. It'll take a few moments for his retrieval and then the distraction will likely lead to a full alert.

Fortunately, Red will notice a set of double doors with a keycard reader. No guards, but there is a camera on a swivel.

Betty Ross has posed:
    Well, darn. They didn't give her some nifty gadget for disrupting cameras and surveillance in general. Oversight on someone's part.

    So rather than taking it slow, Red grins, lowers her shoulder, and charges the door. And THROUGH the door. There's sudden chatter from the other end of the radio earpiece she's wearing.

    "What? No, that's just the ship settling or something..."

Richard Swift has posed:
Shade moves counter to to the heroes, and watches as they cause the chaos that was necessary for the Shade to successfully to exfiltrate the items that he was after. His eyes scan, look, and watch as Warpath and Betty Ross begin their assault. "Now this will be fascinating."

The Shade summons his shadows, and with them, moves to where he needs to go, letting the heroes assault the AIM peeps from the front. "Ah. I love when heroes do the distracting for me."

With that, the Shade moves into the shadows and towards his destination.

James Proudstar has posed:
James' eyes widen as Red breaks through the door. He descends from his perch and knocks out the camera before he lands and chases on Betty's heels.

"Hey kool-aid lady, I'm guessing you aren't part of A.I.M. security." He calls out.

In front of Betty, a pair of guards emerge holding advanced A.I.M. weaponry. Large enough that one might call them 'cannons', their barrels pulsate with crackling energy likely preparing to unleash some sort blast upon their target.

However, a pair of vibranium knives sort through the air. With a loud 'thwack' as the knives pierce their helmets, the guards sink lifelessly to their knees likely moments before they are swatted aside by a sprinting Hulk.

James then yells out a question, "You here for the kid, too?"

Betty Ross has posed:
    Red skids to a stop by the fallen AIM agents, snatching up one of their rifle. It looks like a big cannon! She can find a use for that, she's sure. She then eyes Warpath, tilting her head. "Pretty sure those aren't standard AIM issue either...but yeah. That and sending this lab to the bottom of the ocean if possible after getting him clear.

James Proudstar has posed:
James saddles up next to Red and then knees down to retrieve his knives. Standing once more, he stares down at Betty from his half foot height advantage. He responds to her comment regarding the weaponry, "Likely to deal with a 'potential Hulk' if they manage any success with the kid."

He frowns and crushes the under rifle under his boot heel, "We should probably both avoid taking a hit."

Pointing down the hall, he shrugs and grins, "Ladies first!"

Not exactly chivalrous considering the immediate danger.

Betty Ross has posed:
    Luckily Red isn't much of a lady. She grins toothily, then resumes her charge, glancing at any numbers that might mark the compartment and give her an idea of where to go. At this point she feels securing the kid quickly is more important than quietly.

    And really,s he didn't have a great plan for getting the kid off, other than using a lifeboat for him before she sinks the ship.

James Proudstar has posed:
Warpath follows closely behind the living crimson battering ram that is Betty Ross.

Security doors fold and burst inward as the pair pass row after row. A few more pairings of guards emerge, but speed and overwhelming force is on the pair's side.

Soon enough, they've reached the center of the complex on the first floor. The room immediately below their target's seems to be a set of computer banks with little hint to what's immediately above and beyond.

"How about you bust the first floor and I'll cut through the next one? Don't see why we should bother with stairs, yea?" James shoulder charges one of the server stacks and clears room, sending remnants of poor defenseless computers scattering and clinking off the floor.

Betty Ross has posed:
"Cut? Those gotta be some badass knives ya got there." Red drawls, slinging the stolen rifle over a shoulder as she cracks her knuckles. "Hope there's nothing explosive or such up there..." she mutters, squatting down, then kicking off from the floor, the metal denting with sharp shriek as she drives herself through the floor above, smashing through.

James Proudstar has posed:
Liquids of various colors rain through the ceiling once Betty's fists and arms pierces it. The room smells acrid. While they are fortunate enough not to run into a cache of explosives, the liquid bath is tingly for the pair of super humans. James shields his eyes with a light hiss feeling just a hint of burn.

Shaking his head to fling the liquid from his long black locks, he does his part by stepping off to the side of Betty's fists and arms egress point then jabs his knives into the ceilling. Turning in place, he carves a perfect hole, metal shrieking as rubs the edge of the weapons. "Vibranium. Never leave home without it."

Warpath catches a perfect metal disc and tosses it to the side. Good fortune on their side this time, the room above reveals a cylinder on the opposing side of the room. A teenager is strapped to a gurney inside looking fatigued. A pair of individuals dressed in hazmat gear shriek in fear and scramble toward the door.

Betty Ross has posed:
    Betty grumbles at the gun as the acidic liquids rapidly cause it to smoke and steam, before tossing it back down the hole. "Ah well." she says agreeably, then watching with interest as James cuts right through the metal. "Very handy." she says approvingly , hopping up through the hole once it's clear. She instinctively puts herself between the boy and the fleeing hazmat types. Just in case someone wants to get froggy and take a shot.

James Proudstar has posed:
James follows Betty up through the whole and tracks her movements. He nods his approval before he leaps forward and catches both of the fleeing scientist by the back of the head. In a swift movement, he knocks their heads together. Clearly using a light touch, the two slink to the ground unconscious but not dead.

Looking over his shoulder toward Betty, he hums. "I'm going to just take a guess that you know a thing or two about Gamma Radiation... How about you handle the kid? I'll run ahead and get a lifeboat deployed."

Though phrased like a question, Warpath doesn't seem to wait around for Betty's consent. He hops back down the hole and disappears from sight.

Meanwhile, Jerry stirs and opens his eyes. Harsh burns on his body slowly begin to heal after being scorched by the last wave of gamma radiation. He mouths the words, "Help me".. then seems to pass out from pain.

Betty Ross has posed:
"Ah, concussions. Amazing how many AIM troopers come down with that." Red notes wryly, then nods, turning to take a look at the chair the boy is secured on. She scowls at the obvious injuries. "Motherfuckers deserved to have their heads bashed in. Hold on kid, I'll get you out of ther.e" She starts looking for how to undo the restrains. And if it isn't fairly obvious, she'll just break them up to help the kid up, carrying him.

James Proudstar has posed:
Betty has to smash through a glass outer-shell but afterwards the leather restraints are easy enough to unbuckle and just rip in two. The kid remains out cold within her care.

The path back the way they came is much how they left it. As Betty gets closer toward the exit, a few more guards lay crumpled in a heap.

Once she's past the exit, she'll see a fairly large rescue craft rise up from over the side of the deck, beneath it, Warpath hovers a little unsteady. "Hop on.. I'll carry us a few hundred meters off, and then we can cruise out."

Gunfire begins to rain down on the deck, sending sparks. The security forces of the ship have begun to converge on their position. Fortunately, these seemed to have more conventional arms.

Betty Ross has posed:
    "Hold that thought...actually, hold the kid too and move off a bit so they can't snipe at you. I'll take care of this place." She moves closer, enough to carefully set down Jerry safely inside the boat. "Now shoo, you. I'll catch up in a little bit. "

    She steps back a little bit, about twenty feet away, then kneels down and rips a whole through the floor, before jumping down it.

    More screeching of metal tearing and being smashed aside echoes up through the whole as she begins simply punching holes in the hull to scuttle the ship.

James Proudstar has posed:
James gives a strained nod, less about bearing the weight of the lifeboat and more forced concentration to keep it steady. He turns and carries the craft off into the darkness of the ocean eventually splashing down.

Emerging soaked, he clambers on top, eyes the kid warily, and then fires up the engine. A couple of rifle rounds catch him in the back, plucking wholes in his black costume, but otherwise leaving him mostly unarmed.

Soon, he's out of range and looking back toward the ship.

Meanwhile, the tactical options of engaging a superhuman who is literally just tearing through the bowels of your ship are limited. Most of their tactical planning involved trapping intruders between automated bulkheads. They didn't work when your 'guest' just made new doors wherever she wanted.

Sea water begins to gush into fissures torn in the hull. Having just seen a lifeboat depart albeit in an abnormal fashion, the next logical step is fresh on everyone's minds.

Klaxons begin to blare, red warning lights flash. "Abandon ship. This is not a drill. Abandon ship."

In a panic, AIM personal begin executing a variety of exit strategies. It's somewhat pretty in its own chaotic way: Jet Packs, Lifeboats, Hover cycles, Small pod-like aircraft. The variety of exit is impressive.

Betty Ross has posed:
    There's an eruption of water and metal and Red She-Hulk breaching back onto the deck as she idly brushes some debris out of her hair, looking around. "Yup, that should do it." she decides, then jogs over to one of the launch pads where an AIM pilot is getting ready to depart on a hovercycle.

    A big hand comes down on his back and lifts him up like he was a kitten being scruffed as Red grins at him. "Hey! Women and children first, them's the rules!" She idly lets him drop to the side, hops on, then attempts to launch!

    Granted, it's kinda shakey because she doesn't exactly know the controls completely, but luckily it has an autobalancer that is programmed to skim a surface, meaning she at least manages to ramp off the ship and land on the water as she flies off in the direction Warpath went, catching up shortly thereafter as she pulls up short to look back at the now sinking ship. "Well. That's a fine piece of work." she says, looking pleased, then back over to Warpath, then down to Jerry.

    She frowns a bit. "I'm SHIELD. I can get him some medical treatment? Therapy for what happened to him." she offers, a bit unsure of whether she can just let the kid be hauled off by someone she doesn't know. Even if his heart appears to be in the right place.

James Proudstar has posed:
James ramps down the throttle when Betty's returns then eyes her thoughtfully, listening.

There is a tense moment of silence as he looks between his red 'comrade' and the troubled teen. He has kept a noticeable distance from Jerry. Perhaps one Dr. Henry McCoy has instilled some respect for the dangers of gamma radiation.

He frowns, "My brief on SHIELD isn't the most detailed, but I do know you are a government outfit... And the government doesn't exactly have a great track record with my people."

He could be speaking of his indigenous roots or mutants in general. The sad truth is that he's correct either way.

"I'm not sure I can let you take him." He turns to square off with Betty.

Betty Ross has posed:
    Betty twists her lips in a frown, but doesn't jump to defend SHIELD either, as she folds her arms across her chest, then sighs. "Yeah, can't argue that." she says, with just a hint of bitterness. "I will say SHIELD seems on the up and up so far compared to other military and covert groups I could name though."

    She cocks her head. "...what's your relation to the kid, then?" as she watches Warpath. "I don't know you either, or what intentions you have, right?"

James Proudstar has posed:
"You can call me, Warpath." He stands proudly, black hair whipping in the ocean breeze. Though he presents himself as a hero, he's dressed like an assassin.

"He's mutant, and so am I. All you need to know is we protect are own. I came because no mutant deserves to be someone's lab rat." He glances down toward Jerry who is unconscious yet curling into a ball, clearly in some kind of pain.

"Do you... have a contact that knows about the effects of gamma radiation?" It may sound like a stupid question, but James only has speculation to go from.

He looks Betty up and down and then stares her in the eye, "I know a very very good doctor, but... I think this is outside his specialty. Do you think you can do better?"

Betty Ross has posed:
"Red She-Hulk. Though I'll answer to Red or Betty in a pinch." is returned, then pauses. "Dr. Betty Ross, to be specific. So yeah, I can definitely help with the gamma side of things. Most of what I worked on before my little accident was curing gamma radiation effects and poisoning."

    She pauses, thinking, then says slowly. "If you'd rather keep things on the down low, I could do some off the books work to help with that. If you've got a lab I could borrow. That way you can keep him with you. And, I dunno, blindfold me or something?" she offers.

James Proudstar has posed:
James seems a little shocked by the offer. His brow furrows in thought. He sucks on his teeth and then speaks, "Depending on the equipment you need, I maybe get something delivered... but no, I don't have a lab I can bring you to."

His posture seems to slacken a bit, standing down from being on guard. The powerful muscles of his neck and shoulders relax, he uncoils. "You promise you'll protect this kid's rights where ever you bring him? If so, I'll trust you... Maybe we can meet up later for a status check."

Betty Ross has posed:
    Betty twists her lips in thought. "I'll protect his rights, don't you worry. I've got a reputation for being picky about how people treat patients with gamma poisoning." she says finally, sighing. "You're right that you'd need the right equipment and I won't really know what he needs until I can get him back and examine him to determine the damage and what I can do to fix it."

    She pauses, then reads off a number slowly. "That's my personal phone. You can call me on it and we can set up something?"

James Proudstar has posed:
James mouths the numbers to commit them to memory and then nods.

"Thank you, Betty. My mission briefing said the kid has a pretty impressive healing factor, but... I can speak from experience." He frowns looking down at Jerry curled in a fetal ball. "That doesn't necessarily help with pain. Take good care of him. I'll be in touch."

He takes a step away from the kid and gives Betty room to retrieve him. "Nice ride, by the way."

Betty Ross has posed:
    Red tosses a big grin his way. "I know! A real steal." she notes, winking slightly. She nudges the bike a bit closer to the boat, then leans over to carefully scoop up Jerry, setting him in front of her on the bike seat, then nods to James. "The healing factor will help a lot, depending what type it is. If it resets his cells to optimal, that'll be perfect, might just require some flushing of his system to try and remove the lingering gamma particles." she says thoughtfully, peering down at Jerry as she muses.

    She gives a jaunty wave with her hand then, turning her attention back to Warpath. "Well. See ya around, Warpath. Don't be a stranger!" She revs the bike, then pulls away, accelerating as she starts heading towards the relatively nearby SHIELD sub serving as her base craft for this mission. At least her handler can't bitch TOO much this time. Mission accomplished! Even if it was a bit loud and bashy.