2019-09-03 - The Walls Of Jericho


Following the lead from the refugee mutants, Nick and team investigate

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue Sep 3 08:35:52 2019
Location: Outflow Port

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Theme Song



The refugees that were housed by the Maria Stark Foundation had identified an area along the waterfront around which odd visions seemed to be centered. A subsequent questioning of the mutants recovered in the SHIELD led operation against the lab in the disaster zone confirmed that location and less than an hour ago the lab complex itself was identified and breached.

It was completely abandoned. But that is not to say that there is nothing of value here. There was every indication that it had been abandoned recently and with great haste, so a lot of things had been left behind.

Nick Gleason is currently standing in the medical room of that underground lab, looking at something that by rights should not be here. A series of Stark-manufactured medical grade robots used for delicate surgeries. These things are used only by the most advanced and reputable hospitals. They're not sold to just anyone. Naturally that had prompted a call to Pepper Potts and Hank McCoy. There's something funny going on here and folks need to figure out what.

While the SHIELD people comb the facility, Nick himself is literally sniffing around the med bay, trying to identify the who and the what in ways that are difficult for more, er, normal people. On one of the tables there is a prosthetic reverbium tail. The same kind of razor-weapon model that they've seen on a number of 'converted' feline mutants.

Hopefully folks get here soon, though this place is bit dank and entirely unpleasant.

Pepper arrived as quickly as she could, considering she was stepping away from her duties at Stark Industries to be here. Stepping lightly through the minor chaos and into the room with said medical equipment in completely unsuitable pencil skirt and sharp high heels, she can't help but look around in dismay.

And of course, the moment she sees the medical robots that have no reason whatsoever being here, one of her hands covers her mouth. This is SO not good.

"Mr. Gleason?"

Rather than walk down in the sewers, Jimmy floats into the facility, only touching down once he's arrived. The glow clears from his features, revealing the calm, flat, focused look beneath.

He goes right to the robots; he doesn't touch them, but he does peer at them. "This doesn't make sense." As Pepper arrives, his face shifts, lips pursed in the same sense of worry that's flickered over hers. He turns to her. "These things have serial IDs, right? You can track them back to where they're supposed to be?"

Isis, dressed in jeans and a crop top, is very quiet as she stalks about the facility, the sense of unease coming from her is palpable. Of those that know the slim mutants ability, they might think they could almost see the waves of emotion rolling from her.

When Pepper and Jimmy arrive, she looks in their direction - not waving or saying anything.

Jimmy mentioning the robots has her finding Nicks side and leaning against him. She really, really, isn't happy about being here.

Hank's arrival is a bit more mundane, he's driving a Ford Grenada, dark blue (of course) which is in surprisingly good condition considering it is old enough that were it more racy and sexy it might be considered a classic. One thing - despite Hank's great size, the car doesn't dip appreciably as he emerges.

Dressed today in a simple beige windbreaker, dark blue khaki pants and a black t-shirt, he's hardly a fashion plate! Oh, and his shoes? Absurdly enormous!

Bright blue eyes peer about the room as he enters, a pause to take the details in, and then he approaches Miss Potts, scritching lightly at Isis in a friendly and familiar greeting, a nod to Nick.

"Stark tech?" He asks in his very cultured basso-profundo.

"Someone from Stark can." Nick confirms. "I can't. You'd have to talk to- oh, hello Miss Potts."

The big brown werewolf follows her gaze back to the robots. "Yeah… so I don't think I need to explain why we called you, right?"

"Isis did you find anything that looked like the medical files?" Nick had looked around but hadn't seen anything. T hey might be all electronic but there is a reason the regular med profession still uses paper and it's not all down to legal requirements.

"Hank, Jimmy…" Nick sounds like he's not been getting regular sleep, the way he sighs their names rather than says them. "Glad you're here. Abandoned genetics lab. Recently abandoned from the smell and what the SHIELD folks are telling me. Probably within the last day or so. Almost like they knew they'd been found out."

Beat. "Did your sister go home, Hank?" That's a somewhat subtle way of observing that Hank appears to be a HE now.

Pepper looks at Jimmy and his question seems to help her get back to why she's here. "Yes, yes they do." She pulls her phone from her purse and approaches the robots.

"JARVIS, please get the serial numbers off of these devices. We need to know who they're supposed to belong to and where they're supposed to be." Because here is the WRONG answer.

The voice coming out of her phone's speakers directs Pepper on where to find the serial number plaques on the devices, and within short order she's scanned them all. "Searching now, Miss Potts."

"Thank you, JARVIS." She looks at the others again, with the AI gleaning the data they need. "Any way to fing out how long they'd been here?"

Jimmy has not met Hank before. As he looks at the fuzzy blue man — almost as tall as he is, but considerably more broad — he… looks curious, but not overly surprised. Isis would feel it, especially, like Jimmy's emotions are just… at a distance, farther from the forefront of his mind. Speaking of whom, he nods to Isis in acknowledgement.

He shakes his head to Nick. "It's clear. I'll start helping search." He nods his acknowledgement and appreciation for Pepper as she starts searching the database, while he starts searching the room, in a mundane sense. His only superhuman sense really doesn't apply here; he's just looking for any plain objects which seem significant.

"Here, Nick…" The blue eyed empath, hands over a folder. "There was a cupboard in the other room, I had to force the door, but there's a few of these. Some of them, I recognise their photos. Most I don't."

The robots are eyed as Isis remains close to Nick, everyone receiving a good dose of her emotions. "Where they kept me, they didn't have these. Just beekeepers and doctors and … straps."

"A cursory examination would seem to indicate the base was vacated recently, no more than a few hours as Nick mentioned, I don't think we can easily determine with more precision easily." Hank offers a hand to Pepper. "Hank McCoy." Not like he's not pretty well known of course, but polite is polite.

A grin then, rather toothy to Nick. "Yes. My sister's gone, no worries though I think things are well in hand." And thank you Nick, for NOT mentioning the gender flip snafu in more detail.

A grin as he spots security cameras, eyes brightening. "Now, most security systems like to go for redundancy, perhaps if there's no servers there might be data we can recover from the onboard cache? If any."

He moves then towards Isis, and looking to Nick and Jimmy too. "Anyone find their server room?"

"There's a fair amount of rust on the bolts for these machines' mountings." Nick notes. "I'd say… not less than four months. Probably not more than eight, assuming they used new bolts." Which they probably did. Organizations like this wouldn't have taken scrap or re-used bolts for precision mountings."

He nods to Isis seriously as he takes the file from her and starts to page through them.

"It's in the next room Hank. In there. With the…" Nick glances at Isis. "You said it looked like they'd been trying to build an arc reactor, yeah? Trying and failing, but still trying." She'd been in that room, not him.

"The machines are registered to Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, Miss Potts, but were reported stolen approximately ten months ago." That's JARVIS reporting back. Stolen. That could well be the case but it is AWFUL convenient that it is.

As Jimmy starts to look around his boot catches on something. Some… seam in the floor between the tiles that's more raised than it should be. It gives an ever so slightly hollow sound when it hits.

Pepper shakes Hanks hand without a hint of hesitation. "Pepper Potts."

She lifts her phone again when JARVIS speaks up and listens to the AI's reply that pretty closely corroborates Nick's observations about the bolts holding the robots in place.

"Wonderful," she sighs in disappointment. "JARVIS, please start forensic accounting on Cedar Sinai. I want to know if that hospital or any of its administrators had a sudden unusual influx of money around the same time. And all of the details." What she just asked her 'assistant' to do doesn't sound entirely on the up and up, considering that none of them have any affiliation with that L.A. hospital.

Jimmy's flat expression shifts away, his unease reflecting Isis'. That brings his focus more fully in the present, gives him motivation to get to work. His head shakes. "Convenient, and a conveniently cold case." He nods to Pepper. "And still worth getting in touch with LAPD about that theft, see if there's anything to learn."

His feet move low around the ground, sliding more than stepping… and so he catches on that seam. He frowns and crouches, inspecting it with fingertips and rapping knuckles before he speaks up. "There's something here." He conjures his sword, and sets its tip like a lever to pry the hollow part away from the seam.

"A what, Nick? Some sort of machine …" Isis answers, glancing at Hank. She's not happy being in here and who could blame her, really. This is the stuff of her dreams - literally.

"The computers were in there, Hank. I'll … show you." It's a moment before Isis joins him as she rubs her ears against Nicks arm first.

"I only saw computers in there though." Would Isis really know what a Server was? Unlikely.

The next room has a couple of workstations, high quality and high performance. "I didn't touch them. I wasn't sure if I might lose some information." She tells Hank as she follows him. And sure enough there's a table with what looks like arc reactor on it.

"Months old rust, and an arc reactor attempt? Curiouser and curiouser." Yes, Hank's interest is definitely piqued.

"A pleasure miss Potts." He replies as he shakes Pepper's hand. Hank's hand is positively huge, it engulfs Pepper's, his grip is warm, and surprisingly gentle for all his musculature and obvious physical strength. He looks less than surprised about the items being stolen goods, and doesn't seem to phased by Pepper's cavalier approach.

With Isis's guidance, and Nick's indication of direction, the Bouncing Beast makes his way to the computers room, eyes widening a little at the attempt at an Arc Reactor. "Ballsy, even I don't mess with this." Which is true!

A smile to Isis. "So…there's computers, yes? Well larger ones, or more powerful ones are called servers, in many cases. They serve the needs of other computers in a network." He is simply explaining, not condescending. "Here…let me show you." He settles at one of the keyboards and sees if he can get into the system. He's a fair hand at computers.

Sadly he misses Jimmy's find!

What Jimmy manages to pry loose is a floor board covering what appears to be a large safe or vault. It appears to be made of steel and has a combination lock. "Who on earth has a hidden safe in a secret lab?" Nick murmurs as Jimmy makes his find. He kneels down and raps on it. Solid. Hrm. He might be able to get that but he'd tear up the floor doing it.

"Can you…" That's to Jimmy. He can see the man has a sword. Is it more powerful than just a regular blade?

Nick scratches Isis' ears as she goes into the next room, which is connected by a door that's been busted off it's hinges - Nick's work that. There is security on the system but it's air gapped so not as much as there might otherwise be. It shouldn't take Hank long to get into the footage archives and… well there's a lot there. Recordings of movements around the facility and the experiments themselves which get a bit… gruesome. He can also track the staff memebers by their badge numbers. That won't mean much to him in terms of identifying them but it does mean he can figure out which ones are doctors and which ones are just support staff. All in all it looks like this place operated for nearly two years and the pace of their work picked up dramatically after they got the stark tech.

"None of the current administrators appear to have any unusual financial transactions, Miss Potts, but a former administrator was arrested two months ago for embezzling and improper use of hospital resources. The case is pending but his financial activity could indicate the illegal sale of hospital equipment."

Yeah, they definitely want to talk to the LAPD now.

When Hank gets into the system one of the cameras activates and swings to Isis. "Subject Isis. ID: expired. Status: Missing. Initiating sonic quarantine of escaped subject."

A whine targeted specifically at feline ears starts in the room and Hank has about ten seconds before the system tries to incapacitate both of them.

"Uh, what's going on in there?" That's Nick through the open door.

Pepper looks even more unsurprised as the news JARVIS shares. "All right. JARVIS, please get in contact with the LAPD, and if you could, please also track the other sets of robots like these, make sure no others have wandered off of their assigned reservations."

And here she told Tony that putting rudimentary AIs into these robots that would 'call for help' if they were moved without authorization was overkill.

She turns to look at Nick when he calls out to the pair in the other room. "Sorry, what?"

She most definitely won't hear anything out of the ordinary.

Jimmy stays crouched beside the safe. One hand runs across it, inspecting it — steel. If it were an exotic material, it would be beyond him. But given what it is? He nods to Nick. "I can." He trades his sword to his left hand. It changes as it moves, shrinking down into a small and precise dagger. His skin gains its glow again, as he puts the blade to work cutting through the safe.

Out in the lab instead of the server room, he may not even hear the announcement from the camera. If he doesn, he doesn't seem to take it as a higher priority than learning whatever's in that safe, and he won't hear the sonic attack, either.

"Do we have a server, Nick? Maybe we should get one …" Isis sometimes uses being scatterbrained to hide how uncomfortable she is. "What's an Arc Reactor?" She's watching Hank though, he'll get the feeling she's learning. Remembering everything he's doing for later.

As the footage starts to play, she growls a bit as the experiments are shown in technicolour. Again, there's another wave of unease which spikes to anger and fear when the camera turns and the computer speaks. Then she yowls…. and covers her ears.

"Turn it off, turn it off. I don't want them to take me…" Hank can see the claws as they extend from Isis' fingers. If the other mutant doesn't do something, she's going to smash the computer - if she's not reduced to a mewling mess.

Even as he breaks into the system, Hank takes out a high-capacity thumb drive and copies the files as they view them, JUST in case something melts down on the servers, dark-horrid footage, yes, but important. Being a teacher by nature, Hank will make sure to give a running explanation to Isis of what he's doing, sort of a stream of consciousness guide to hacking, he'll make sure the lecture notes are available after!

And then there's the overhead voice. "Oh…bother." Hank has time to say, and then the sonic hits, and /thankfully/ his hearing is not nearly as acute as that Isis possesses! Sure, it is /really/ painful still, but he can at least act for a few seconds.

Standing, he grabs the chair he was sitting on, easily separating the wheeled base from the top. Massive arms fling the two bits with a snarl of pain mingled with rage at where he figures the emitters are for the sonic system attempting to incapacitate them with about twenty-thousand pounds of force behind them.

Hopefully that will be enough!

"Keep going." Nick tells Jimmy as he turns to rush over to the computer room. By the time he gets there and Hank has already shut down the sonic detainment system in the most direct way possible. The big brown werewolf bends down by Isis. "Hey, hey, you okay? It's alright. They're not here. It's just me and Hank and Pepper and Jimmy…"

"I am searching now." JARVIS informs Pepper. "A cursory search has turned up no additional missing medical robots or fabricators. However three have been decommissioned by the hospitals that took delivery. You might perhaps wish to assign someone to physically verify that they are where they are supposed to be?"

Such a clambritish accent.

Jimmy manages to cut open the safe and is greeted by a blast of cold air. Inside is a cannister of the type that is used for storing extremely volatile biological samples. And inside that cannister is what is known colloquially as a 'string of pearls'. It's the kind of thing used in, say, viral agent warheads. It makes disarming them very, very difficult. Fortunately THIS one doesn't seem to be hooked up to a detonator or aerosolizer. UNFORTUNATELY that doesn't make it any less tricky to handle.

Well, thank goodness for SOME good news. But of course, JARVIS is right. "Please an appropriate person from Security to do that, JARVIS. And thank you again." That done, she steps over to where Jimmy is opening the safe he found and…

"Oh. That does not look good." She puts a hand on the glowing man's shoulder to keep him from touching or moving that thing. She's not entirely sure what it is, but the cold storage and the shape of the canister remind her of things Tony has brought into his labs in the past, and been exceedingly careful with. And when TONY is careful with something, it's supposed to be handled super delicately.

"Mr. Gleason? I think this is going to need special handling."

Jimmy grows suspicious just at the rush of cold air. That feels like preservatives. He puts his free arm over the cut he's made in the safe, forming a shield. It's a thin one, so if you can squint against the light, you can see into it. "Looks Like A Viral Agent," Jimmy says. No longer needing his strength, he fades back to holding just the weapons. "A mutagen, perhaps, given the rest of what they've done. Or a killer virus. We'll need SHIELD to look at this. Agent Simmons has experience with reverbium bioweapons."

Isis is curled up trying to stop her ears hurting, her yowls making more noise for the normal of hearing than the sonic alarms. When Nick crouches beside her, the feline-like mutant throws herself into his arms, claws catching in his shirt as she clings to him.

"They they they found me. They're going to take me away … " It won't make much sense to Hank explains. "Hurt my ears, Nick." Now she sounds affronted.

Unfortunately for everyone around her, her empathic broadcast of her fear is so very, very, strong.

Sagging when the weapon cuts out, Hank is very grateful that Nick is there to help with keeping Isis from flipping out, the poor thing. Oh, he can definitely sympathize, even if true understanding would require context he's just as happy to lack. A gentle hand at Isis's back as she clings to Nick. One very nice thing for him is that he can shield the worst of Isis's distress broadcasting out. Not all, not by any means, but a good amount.

And with the Sonic weapon off, and Isis no longer caterwauling (JUSTLY! She had every right and reason!), he can actually make out some of what's being said. "Nick, I think I might be needed out in the main room, you have this in hand, yes?" Yea or nay, Hank heads out to the other chamber, and peers at the concerned assembly. "So…Miss Potts, Mister Baxter…a viral weapon, did you say?"

"I've got her, yes." Nick nods. "It's alright, Isis. They're gone from here. It's just a trap they left. Hank got it." Hank set it off but, shhhhh, Nick's not going to throw the big fuzzy guy under the bus. Hank could probably pretzel him anyway.

The suspension in the glass 'pearls' is definitely an odd one. Greyish with flecks of metal easily identifiable as reverbium. It could be chemical. Or it could be biological. Someone's going to have to look at it. Given the temperature it was being kept at, it's likely that it either breaks down or catastrophically activates if it's warmed. Which means it's prooooobably best to keep it cold.

The worst part, though, for Pepper is when she gets a look at the side of the cannister. 'Jericho'. It says. As in 'Project Jericho'. As in… something else that doesn't belong here but rather in a Stark weapons lab.

"Why would someone keep a viral or chemical agent in a hidden safe in a hidden Lab though? That kind of implies it was hidden from other people IN the lab." They're really going to need to break out the forensics on this one. It looks like betrayal or some kind of failsafe but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Pepper's hand grips Jimmy's shoulder that little bit tighter as she looks at the canister more closely and recognizes the name on the side. "Oh god," she whispers, her concern over what they're finding here getting mixed with and amplified by the fear emanating from Isis.

Tony is going to be DEVASTATED when he finds out about this. And she WILL tell him.

"This shouldn't be here. He decommissioned the last one personally, I know he did."

Jimmy feels that fear radiating from Isis. He doesn't feel its direction; it flows through him and turns into a probably very rational concern about that chemical. As Hank approaches, Jimmy tenses, clutching himself closer to the safe, shield placed firmly on it, as if that will re-seal the structure and keep the heat away from the canister. he feels Pepper's tense grip, her own more personalized fear, and his gaze snaps towards her. "What is it?"

"They, they wanted me…." Isis sniffles, still clinging to Nick but letting him rise and move them to the other room. Her empathic broadcasts are coming under control again, until she feels the fear and horror from Pepper.

"What is it? Why is everyone so worried?" The slim mutant looks between Nick and Hank. "Is it a bomb or something?"

She has no idea.

A nod to Nick, and yes, Hank's well aware he's the one who set the darn thing off so there's no risk of Nick being pretzeled soon. Not for THIS anyway. Approaching the the weapon, he hunkers down to examine it. "Biological or chemical agent, reverbium enhanced." Hank says with a veneer of calm, and though Isis cannot feel his fear, she can probably smell it, or hear the way his heart is pounding, adrenaline much? Why yes, yes indeed.

"We need to cool this." He says, breakdown or trigger - either is bad. And then he looks to Pepper. "I'm not familiar with the weapon system - how bad is this?"

Regardless, he'll see if he can get the cooling systems online again, get it back into cold storage first — worry about the rest AFTER.

"A bomb of sorts, yes, Isis. Don't worry, we'll prevent it detonating." He hopes.

Nick brings Isis back into the room but stays close to her. He peers into the bottom of the safe that Jimmy cut. "There's something else in here. A paper."

He reaches in to pull it out and frowns. "Hand written. Fountain pain. Fourteen carat gold flex nib." Beat. "Don't ask why I know that. It says. 'Want Mutton, Talent Wrap, Ember Pest 5'." He frowns. "Code of some type. Hang on. There's something on the back."

Nick flips the paper over and then rolls his eyes slightly. "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

Naturally. Fountain pen users are the worst.

He glances at Isis. "Don't you dare laugh."

Pepper takes a moment and a deep breath to calm herself — it helps that she isn't feeling irrationally scared anymore — and tries to answer everyone's questions. "It's the ordinance casing for a Jericho missile, the last weapon Tony invented for Stark Industries. Also the one that he was demonstrating in Afghanistan just before he was kidnapped." That much is public news. She won't relate the rest without Tony's permission, not even for a very good reason. "But I know for a fact that reverbium wasn't part of the original design."

She looks over at Nick and Isis when the former pulls out the bit of paper to read it, and while he's doing so, she digs into her purse and pulls out a neatly folded fabric something and offers it across to the clearly still disconcerted feline. Of course, his comments about the note actually get her to quirk a small smile… and make sure her Pilot Decimo is still neatly tucked away in her bag.

"I have no idea what that means, but I can look into it?" Or she can ask JARVIS to, anyway. The second phrase she knows only too well.

Jimmy gives Nick a sharp look as he approaches, but moves the shield aside just long enough for him to get to the note, before he resumes shielding the container. "Is there anything else here we could use to seal it?" He's not going to get up from there, that's for sure. He considers the note, frowning. "That's the phrase they use to show every letter of a font, right? Is there anything strange in how any of the letters are written? How does that handwriting compare with the other side — like, if it seems they've swapped letters around, the message might be something different." He tilts his head as he looks at Pepper. "Wasn't that missile an explosive? This seems a bit more… biological. Are they planning to use the explosive to spread the pathogen over a wider area, maybe?"

Isis is still clinging to Nick, which is probably a good thing cause she's not inclined to want to knock things off tables and such. "Can you smell that?" she asks when he identifies the pen and such but frowns at the code "Mutton … lamb. I … what type of code is that?" She takes the paper though and holds it up to the light just as Jimmy asks his question. "Maybe things line up … I saw it on a TV show once…"

Because of course she did.

"It wouldn't be a quick brown fox, Nick. It would be a fast Isis jumps over sleeping Nick!"

Clearly she's feeling a little better. Just a bit.

The note is concerning - not for the content, necessarily, but for the fact he missed it. Ah well, Hank has long accepted he's not even close to perfect. Two words: Hetty. Okay, one. See?

Rising, Hank moves to one of the medical robots, and pulls it free of the mountings. He really doesn't want to waste any time, returning to the weapon, he cracks open the robot's casing, cannibalizing for parts and then using the taken off casing bits to patch the hole. "Not pretty, but hopefully it will hold for a time."

He is listening as he works. "I'm sorry, in fact I'm appalled, Hank McCoy, a pleasure to meet you sir." He flashes a smile to Jimmy. "There's many kinds of explosive - one of the most dangerous is a thermobaric, or fuel-air weapon - they function by aeroslizing accelerant as fuel and then setting off a charge to ignite it and create a massive explosion with a longer duration. The first stage would make an excellent delivery system for a chemical or biological agent with the secondary ignition charge omitted."

After a few more tweaks he very very gingerly reseats the beads to allow for the changes, then turns on the cooling system once more.

Hopefully he didn't just kill everyone!

It takes a couple seconds to tell but the patched together refrigeration system will hold. In answer to Jimmy's question Nick holds up the tile he'd pried off.

"This looks insulated. It should hold the cold air in and we can get SHIELD to transport it safely, and more pertinently away from us."

The wolfman sighs and when everyone is ready they'll put that plan in place.

"Now, I need to go take Isis here to get some fresh air." He hands Pepper the paper.

"Good luck with that. I'll talk to you all soon."

What was being planned here? He doesn't want to think about it. He has to, but he doesn't want to.

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