2019-09-18 - Crucible in Bronze: Finale Part I - The Beginning of the End...


Part I of the two part finale of the Crucible in Bronze plot - The duplicate Thea and Jimmy face their dooms, and Doc Gatling takes the field!

Log Info:

Storyteller: hank-mccoy
Date: Weds Sep 18 00:00:00 2019
Location: RP3 - Fairgrounds

Related Logs


Theme Song



SHIELD works /fast/ when it needs to, that's a certainty. After Sarah's horrifying report on the events in 'underground location unknown'. The WAND agent was patched up, cleaned up, and was part of the group prepping for a two-stage operation. The first part is to neutralize the two duplicated heroes - Agent Thea Harman and Contractor Jimmy Baxter.

The description of the huge monstrosity spurred a search, and they found a good hit - Doctor Bruce Banner, the Hulk. Further, based on other records, they knew of Spider-Man and Spider-Girl, and roped them in too as other powered individuals with potential and immediate use. Specifically - Spider-man and Agent Harman, the real Agent Harman, being friends.

A plan concocted - they arrange for a Fair, nope, not a real one, this is entirely plants, several tac teams. An invite was extended by Spidey to his friends Jimmy and Thea to meet him, but oops, apparently the time is off a mite when they all arrive.

All save the trio will be in-situ, already, undercover in various guises as the last minute setup of the fair proceeds with a bustle and hustle.

This is something that Peter had never expected.
Thea had been acting oddly, but her reasons had been so persuasive. He had tried to trust his gut. But sometimes, as Doc Connors had said once, trusting your gut just means making decisions based on where the feces were.
It was not Thea. Whatever he had placed his trust in, right now, was not the Angel he knew. Some kind of…machine. His scientific mind wished to analyze even as his rational mind recoiled at the idea. He had…needed some time to deal with it.
So…the cover story. Spider-Man was checking out the fair in costume to try and provoke a reaction from a career sexual predator who was traveling with the fair. He had asked Thea and Jimmy to come along, to try and confuse the guy. He didn't know the guy's face, but had a DNA sampler he could use. It was…
It's not her. I'm not really lying to Thea. Just…a mechanical Pod Person. God, how true THAT had been, and he didn't even know it.
He was prched in a tree near the entrance, waiting for Thea and Jimmy to arrive. Trying to quell the nervousness in his heart.

This all seems like an overly elaborate way to draw out the two replicants, but she wasn't consulted in that matter. She was only tapped to be part of it. When she learned that Simmons would be there as well, she mentally added observing the biochemist to her list of duties.

Flatly refusing to wear 'costume', May is in her usual 'street' clothing of dark on dark on dark, with her aviator sunglasses hiding her eyes. And no, she could not care less if it seems out of place.

Standing near the jousting field that is currently not being used (because there's a cloaked quinjet parked there), she asides to Jemma, "Scan the area for anomalies and be ready to deploy the Dwarves." They'd set the little drones on various tree branches around the area beforehand where they could monitor without having to fly about.

"Glad that this whole affair's a sham."

Steve's voice is low and threads to the man walking beside him in expert control of volume; no one else but Banner will be able to hear. "This'll probably turn messy." And with that opinion being shared, the Captain in his civilian garb idly brushes at his ear.

"Copy that, May. No bogies along the main drag," he says quietly onto the SHIELD frequency. In a leather jacket over t-shirt and jeans, and with what appears to be an artist's easel-pack slung lazily over his shoulder, Steve blends in well enough. Inside the large bag, of course, his shield and beneath his standard clothing, tactical armor.

The dwarves are seven little drones that gather telementary from the area and feed it back to Jemma's systems. In this case, May and Steve also have feeds to their wearables. That data may prove invaluable as things go down.

Jemma didn't dress up either, opting to wear jeans, t-shirt and boots. It's hard to disguise her at any rate and the woman had joked about dressing as a Starfleet medical officer. Those images have been appearing on peoples desks lately.

"Yes, Agent May." The biochem answers, her cybernetic left eye glowing red and then yellow. "Nothing registering on Infrared or X-Ray yet but as soon as something does, I'll let you know."

Oh yes, Jemma knows she's being observed and for damn good reason. "If I black out, Agent May, you have the command to commence recording." They'll find who's doing this to her and stop them.

Walking along beside Steve, Bruce watches the crowd around them with a sort of nervous energy. He doesn't really look like the sort of person you'd bring on a dangerous tactical op. He looks more the one that would stay back in the command room manning the computers. "If it wasn't, they wouldn't have asked me to come along." He keeps his voice low too, even if his control isn't as good as the Captain. A random thought that doesn't really matter pops through his head. What IS his actual military rank, anyway? Or what was.

He's wearing cheap clothing. He hadn't really bothered trying for anything stretchy. Somehow, the pants always survived anyway. He never did quite figure that part out of things. As he walks, he occasionally washes his hands against one another in a sort of nervous tic. He always gets like this when he knows there's going to be danger. And not because he's worried about himself. He clears his throat and then says, "So. How have things been going since I saw you last?" Conversation helped maintain the illusion, right? Right.

A young woman wears crappy clothes as she walks through the carnival; the jeans and hoodie clearly seem to have been bought at Goodwill, along with the old, white skate shoes. The sleeves are so long that they cover her hands, thumbs poking through holes that seem to have been worn by the constant, nervous scratching of thumb against palm, and the hoodie is worn up to mostly conceal a Latina's face that appears ill. Dope sick is what Anya Corazon is going for; sadly, junkies are all too common these days. Beneath the facade is Spider-Girl, her mask tucked behind the hoodie and out of sight.

SHIELD already has the specs on her Arana drone, so the little spider-drone is currently hiding in a tucked away little place near the Gravitron, ready to be activated as soon as she masks up. Her eyes dance around nervously, which isn't entirely a ruse; she is, in fact, very nervous. Why? Because the last time she got involved with SHIELD, she witnessed something that traumatized her into hanging up her webs for a few months. Still, the dancing of her eyes fits the cover story, the makeup designed to look like dope-sickness, her twitchy demeanor. So, no harm, no foul.

Unusual for her, though? The usually chatty young woman is very, very quiet. Not a peep from her on channel, aside from a very quiet, "Spider-Girl, checking in. Nothing."

"Black to team. Quiet on the east side," Sarah reports over comms. A glamour conceals both her and her tactical uniform, making her appear to be a blonde, blue-eyed teen in entirely unremarkable clothing, blending in with the staged scene, just another civilian, nothing to see here citizen, move along.

Jimmy's a hard man to lie to. Not for personal reasons — Peter just doesn't know him that well — but for practical. But doing it from the other end of a phone call keeps him well out of empathy range, keeps him from noticing the inconsistencies between words and heart. So he's completely on board with tracking down this 'predator' of Peter's.

As time rolls around, Jimmy approaches the entrance, dressed in his usual mode. He spends a bit more time than usual adjusting his tie, like it just isn't fitting right somehow. As he reaches the tree, he stops and looks upwards.

"Don't worry," he says, his voice smooth and focused. "We'll find him. A deviant like that will stand out to me, and…" His fist clenches on reflex, and he looks down at it. "We'll stop him." He seems oddly determined. Is he just faking it well, or is that just part of one of his directives? Either way, it seems he's misinterpreted Spider-Man's nervousness. That's the thing about being an empath and not a telepath: feelings, not thoughts.

Thea's arrived on her own, having taken a hired car. Strawberry blonde hair is back in a smooth upsweep, showing off the simple silver hoops that hang from her earlobes. Boots have a chunky heel, the brown suede covering to the knee of her dark, close fitting jeans. The blouse is simple and black, plainer than Thea would usually go for, but this is supposed to be a low-key event.

Her chin lifts as she approaches, eyes a pale silvery blue as she starts marking exits, where people group, things Peter sees her do anytime they go anywhere, much less on a 'mission'. Her head tips back, looking up towards the tree with a brow arched. "Ever so subtle, as always." She says almost breezily to Peter, before she will move to saunter on through the doorway.

As it happens, the first to spot the mechano-magical clockworks is Anya, she is near to where the trio of Spider-man, Jimmy Baxter and Thea are conversing, she's the first with eyes on.

The weather is actually rather pleasant, almost at odds with the tensions. Over the comms another agent reports. "Bogeys spotted, on your six, Spider-Girl." Yes, he points it out to her /after/ she noticed, but in his defense Wilkerson is not a mind reader. He DOES paint a blip on the tactical maps that people have, two-red and one green dot in a cluster.

Spider-Man drops to the dirt, catching up to the pair of "pod people." He is nervous, appropriately so, but seems more eager to find his quarry and get this done. Which is correct.
ALICE, the suit's V.I. is analyzing the two of them constantly, recording its findings on audio, video, infrared. He wished he had gotten the ultrasound scanner working, but no dice there.
He takes out two pictures of an actual sexual predator he had been tracking. He had been fortunate here—the man had been found in the trunk of a car in a Jersey junkyard, and was not publicly known to be deceased. "This is who I believe we are going to find. Ronald Duchamp. But if someone else reacts, I should be able to determine that. I really want to get this guy."

Steve's eyes continue to scan the grounds for oddities. "Not much, honestly. Been dealing with some rogue trespassers around the city in places they aren't supposed to be 'nd that's been a bit uncanny, but we've seen weirder things before." He means to include Banner and the Avengers in this instance. "Buck's doing well. Suspect we might be off to southeast Asia sometime soon, but we'll see. Intel's been spotty. Not about to rush into that place without a plan, not with the players involved."

The report over the comms has him subtly electrified, his true-blue eyes gaining a sharpness. "Confirmed," he replies quietly back. Aloud, sotto-voce, he says to Bruce, "Head on a swivel, Banner, things might get dicey." The pack over his shoulder is adjusted to quick access to his shield.

"I'm holding the dwarves till we have them surrounded." Jemma reports. Following May through the fair as they converge on the dots. She's wearing her sidearm - an ICER of course - neatly concealed so as not to be obvious.

"Remember, these things are strong and fast and present like humans. Agent Blacks double took a hell of a beating before it was stopped and then it exploded. Exercise caution when approaching." She says into the comms.

Jemma still scans as they move, her eye flipping from blue to red and back again.

Bruce nods absently to Steve. "Glad you're doing alright." He tenses up some at the confirmation that they've found who they're looking for, and nods. "Alright…" And that's all he says. The lanky scientist follows the super soldiers lead, trailing a little behind him when they begin to move towards where the dopplegangers have gathered. Who knows, maybe they won't even need his particular brand of help today. It would certainly cut back on the property damage if so.

Noticing the targets, Anya's eyes widen just a bit. She's about to report the findings, but then there's a voice on her earcomm telling her what she just saw. She tilts her head down, concealing her face by the hoodie and mutters into the com, "Yeah- oh, uh, copy?" Formality, right. "Spider-Girl copies." It's possible that she is now blushing.

Anya reaches up with scrawling hands to scratch at her neck, but what she's really doing is pulling the mask down and over her face, concealed by the tilt of her head and the oversized hoodie. SHIELD has tapped into her HUD, and she can see the overlay now. "I'll draw them to me. Ever seen an OD?"

A little bit of webbing, white, is leaked out of the young woman's wrist and attached to her chin. She then falls back against a portable wall, and collapses to the ground, twitching. The webbing looks suspiciously like spongy drool, and appears to be leaking out of her mouth.

When the call comes across that the targets have been spotted and the dots appear on the wearable she glances at, May looks to Jemma with a nod at her mention of keeping the dwarves in reserve. She doesn't have a visible weapon on her, but anyone who knows the senior agent would know better.

As they walk, she angles Jemma around so that their approach isn't immediately seen by Jimmy. That, along with the distraction it sounds like Corazon is arranging should work quite nicely.

Her specific target: The female-looking clockwork.

Sarah, for her part, is keeping her distance for now. Reports of her double's activities in the few days it was operational suggest that the constructs duplicate powers and abilities as well, and 'Jimmy's' empathy or 'Thea's' biosenses might easily pick her out as not what she seems. Instead, she watches, and listens to comms, ready to act if needed.

Jimmy doesn't flinch when Spider-Man drops down; he'd already noticed him there, after all. He peers at the pictures and brings out his phone to save a couple of snapshots. "Ronald Duchamp. If he's here, we'll find him. What's your plan for 'getting a response'? The fear of a guilty conscience seeing a hero?" He gives the Spider a firm nod. "We will get him, you can count on that. I'll start searching the crowd."

Following Thea's lead, he walks through the entrance and into the fairgrounds. His gaze scans the crowd, including alighting on Anya… but where Jimmy would come forth with sympathy and a first aid kit for someone in overdose, this thing has a mission, and that shaky Latina girl doesn't look like the man he's searching for.

There's a glance at the picture, then at Spidey. "You're more jittery than usual." It's delivered without any sort of follow up, as she moves to continue into the fair. Eyes will sweep again, before they fall on the girl on the ground.

There's a hand out to Jimmy's arm, to slow him to a pause. "There's nothing wrong with her." She means the girl faking a seizure, or whatever effect she was going for. Real!Thea would be suspicious, and there's nothing lacking in that department for the faux version. She will half turn, eyes moving rapidly around them, as if on the lookout for trouble. "Something's amiss."

Fortunately the Fair Grounds are a long ways from the Disaster Zone, there's no other clockworks present, no clockroaches, no other Changed. Still, with Thea's unease there's a sharpening of the master minding the mass of other creatures, the spike in tension drawing it's attention to focus, albeit slowly due to distance.

One of the snipers in a nest reports over comms. "Female hostile is suspicious, confidence is high, repeat /high/ that cover has been blown."

Spider-Man nods. "Yes, I'm jittery. I had heard he had an accomplice, but I didn't think he or she would be here…" He looks to the "junkie," and adds, "…He might have more than one…"
He was improvising, but trying not to sound glib or too focused.
"Maybe she's trying to scam a free ride in an ambulance or some meds…" he says quietly, "…or maybe she's a spotter…"

As they're just about to pass by Thea standing and looking at Anya suspiciously, she comments seemingly idly to Jemma as if having not noticed Anya, "I'm still asking myself how you talked me into driving all the way out here. We're going home. Now."

On the word 'now', May abruptly turns, brandishes a baton in one hand, and stabs it toward Thea's neck, the end of the baton abruptly crackling like a high-powered taser.

"Roger that, engage upon necessity," Steve replies in the comms, feeling his heart begin to race. He glances over at Bruce and tilts his head. "Let's take 'em from behind, follow me." The Captain then splits from the main drag to disappear behind one of the many tents.

Out comes the shield and he checks his sidearm before giving Bruce a firm nod. "If he's gotta come out…then let him rip." The First Avenger trusts Banner to make a wise decision in matters involving all things green and Hulk-ish.

Then from Jimmy's side, there's Steve in a quick blur of movement aiming to knock the young man butt over tea kettle in a bullrush.

"What's made them suspicious?" Jemma mutters, brow creasing at that information. There shouldn't be any reason they should. "Agent Harmon is a bio-reader, Agent May." Jemma's eye flicks from blue to red and the frown deepens further. "Anomalous reading. I suspect that's the duplicate but … it's possible these *things* have managed to mimick powers some way. Excercise caution.

The dwarves launch into the air, buzzing around the group as they converge on the three. At Mays word, Jemma lurches forward, her cybernetic arm reaching out, fingers trying to close about the clockwork womans neck. If she needs to, Jemma can bring 30 ton of force to bear - she's not using that *yet* but she can.

Bruce takes a deep breath and nods. "Alright, Cap." He follows behind the First Avenger, holding back at first to assess the situation. These are some competent people, and might be able to take the robots down on their own… then again, maybe not. He lets the tension build inside of him, channeling it into adrenaline. He rolls his neck a little and growls out to the crowd nearby, "I suggest everybody leave NOW!" The voice deepening and taking on power as he speaks, even as his body begins to swell and his clothes rip off of him, flesh darkening to green and muscles expanding to inhuman size. Before long, the Hulk moving in towards the sudden conflict, seeing where he can step in and do something. If nothing else, he might distract them.

From just beneath the hem of her hoodie, Anya can just glimpse the legs of both targets as they are stalled. She waits there, her body still convulsing, until she sees the blur of motion from May and Steve, which is when she unveils her little secret.

We'll go with black webs today, because arcane powers are a wonderful thing, and it's more difficult to see them in the dimmer light.

Amidst one of those convulsions, Anya's arms flick in two rapid motions. The first flings the sleeves of her hooded sweatshirt away, revealing gloved hands. The second comes with a clenching of fingers in an odd pattern, as a webline springs from each wrist; one toward the legs of Jimmy, one toward those of Thea. The webbing expands just before reaching their mark, designed to be wide enough to hopefully capture both sets of legs in their highly adhesive grasp. The shots are impossibly well aimed, but it's still a gamble that they won't move out of the way before connecting.

"And that didn't take bloody long," Sarah mutters to herself, not over comms. The time for subtlety and pretense has abruptly ended, and she lets the glamour concealing her true self drop, as she preforms the gestures and speaks the words to summon forth her shields. Circular, convex patterns of glowing runes and mystical geometries draw themselves into being in orbit around her, as she heads toward the impending fray.

Jimmy looks to Thea when she stops him. There's implicit trust there: what would a replicant trust more than another replicant? Thea says there's something amiss, and that's enough for him to prepare for battle.

Which means a change. His eyes shine like torches, his skin glows with the steadiness of a halogen tube. A pure-white sword and shield appear in his hands. Steve moves in a blur, but Jimmy gets just a split-second of forewarning, the violent intent pinging early enough for him to bring his shield to bear.

These things don't just mimic powers. In ways, they exceed them. According to Jimmy's SHIELD files, his strength should — on a good day — be about even with a super soldier. But just as the fake Sarah was enhanced, Jimmy is five times stronger than that; he meets Steve's rush head-on, catching the brunt on his spirit shield, and he pushes back with almost two tons of force.

He doesn't move away from Anya's shots. He might feel her intent too, but that's not enough detail to counter something trickier than a direct assault. But as the webs grip his legs, his wings come alight, and his feet leave the ground. It gives her a tether to hold, but Jimmy doesn't need his legs to keep his balance. Yet so far, the assault keeps him on the defensive.

Anya's webbing will catch one foot, as Thea is already moving. There's a snarl at the electric shock that would have likely at least put the real Thea on her knees. She's already reaching to grasp for the baton with the intent of using her five-multiplied human strength to try and yank it away from May.

There's a hand grasping at her throat, but Jemma's own breathing may suddenly feel labored as Thea swings out with her non-baton grabby hand to try and clock Jemma in her non-cyborg eye.

Over the comms, "No shot. No shot." The sniper can't risk firing into melee, and thankfully the fair grounds are not presently in use, because there's be a panic. The various tac teams fan out - all wearing tactical armor under their (now useless) disguises as they complete the encirclement. "Male subject air-born, firing." The sniper, one Agent Lucinda Ramsey, aims…and shoots — a fifty-calibre armor piercing round does little more than knock Jimmy's head to the side, there's a crimson spray, and torn flesh reveals whirring gears and levers underneath. "Switching to depleted uranium…"

Okay, the jig's all the way up. Time to stop her.
Thea's swinging hand is suddenly stopped by a webline at her elbow, leading back to the fisted hands of Spider-Man, his feet firmly planted. Five times human strength is good…but THIRTY times is better.
It's not Thea.
He YANKS hard to pull "Thea's" arm back to throw her off-balance and get her to release Jemma.

May promptly releases the baton to Thea's grip as it's biometrically locked and won't work for anyone else and is by no means the only weapon she brought along.

Letting Spider-Man yank the clockwork woman back a bit, she pulls her next option: a pair of triangular-blade silettos about as long as her forearms. With Jemma squeezing Thea's throat and Spider-Man pulling on at least one of the Clockwork's arms, May feints in as if to try for a chest stab.


The impact of colliding shields rings out across the faux-faire and Steve's immediately feeling it. The vibration resonates through his arm and into his chest, leaving him half-breathless and his teeth tingling. He digs his combat boots into the open ground, teeth gritted, but still manages to get shoved back hard enough that a dancing side-slide is required to keep from tumbling. Two lines of scuffed earth are proof that his knees withstood the immense pressure aimed at him.

"Hulk! SMASH!" He shouts even after he sees the shot ricochet from the clockwork-Jimmy's skull to reveal the inhumanity beneath.

It's strange really. No one expects much from Jemma, not even with the enhancements she's been given. Well, except May and London. The latters training with her, the ability for him to guide her movements by taking control of her arm and showing her how a move should be executed - now pays off.

As Thea affects Jemma's breathing, it doesn't stop that muscle memory kicking in. The fingers on her hand flex as hard as they can, intent on crushing the clockwork throat as she drives the woman to the ground.

With Peters webs on Thea's arms, there's no telling if the limbs will stay attached.

"May. Power source of sorts, in the chest." Jemma pants. "Need to damage it and then get it away."

Hulk was looking for a good opportunity to come into the fight. There's the clash between mechanical fake and super soldier, and he tenses up. Then Steve shouts those words. In general, the Hulk doesn't like being given orders, and is generally reluctant to follow them. However, Captain America is certainly an exception to that. His trunklike green legs flex, and then he's hurtling through the air at the hovering Faux-Jimmy right on the heels of him taking a bullet to the head and losing some of his meat suit. This confirmation that it's a machine and not actually a person removes any hesitation or holding back that might have occured otherwise.

His oversized green fist draws back, and he lets out a deafening roar as he reaches the enemy, launching a blow that if it connects, is enough to obliterate… most things that it might hit, other than the almost supernaturally durable materials out there. Or particularly tough superhumans. He aims so that if it does hit and Jimmy goes flying, he'll hit the ground rather than out into the distance to possibly hit a bystander. Hit or miss, he lands soon after and then lunges for him again, reaching out to try and grasp him in those gamma-powered mitts of his, starting to squeeze whatever parts he can reach with all his strength.

It's time to make a quick decision! Seeing that Spider-Man, May, and Jemma are converging on Thea, and that she's got two of Jimmy's legs ensnared in black webbing, Anya makes a quick decision and releases the webline fixed to Thea's foot. Pulled along by Jimmy, she scrapes and twists along the ground before going airborne, grasping tightly to the webline attached to him. One of her ratty shoes falls off in the process, revealing black underneath.

"Ugh," she groans at the unwieldy nature of her outerwear, wishing she'd had a chance to ditch it. It does a real number on aerodynamics, as in, not working well with it. She makes a rapid motion to rip the hoodie in half, revealing the upper half of her costume. The shredded garment is discarded into the air, before flings another webline toward Jimmy's legs, for the added support.

"Gonna try and bring 'im down," she reports over the comm, switching the weblines to one hand. Then she fires one at the street below. As soon as it catches, she pulls with all of her might upon each, hoping that it stalls Jimmy's upward flight.

A little shriek comes from the tiny woman as she sees a large, green monster flying at her target! This is gonna be fun!

So convenient for 'Jimmy' to have become airborne. It gives Sarah — like sniper Ramsey — a clear shot at him without worry of hitting anyone else. She might, if she had not been subjected to the same abduction and replacement, be at least slightly hesitant about loosing Hell on this thing that is the very image of her friend (though admittedly less so, thanks to Ramsey). But she was. And she was subjected to the terror and indignities that came with awakening in the creatures' facility, and making her escape. So no, she does not hesitate.

If anything, the ancient word with which she casts her attack is given more force by her anger and revulsion for this thing that dares wear her friend's face. And the air is tinged with ozone as the lightning cracks from Sarah's gesturing hands toward the Jimmy-thing's head. She knows it's not likely to take it down. But if she can make it hurt or even blind and/or deafen it, even if only temporarily, it can only help.

Between Peter, May, and Jemma all converging, there's a lot of flailing faux!Thea. May will also start to feel that pull on her lungs, as if she's not breathing in regular air. She lashes out with the baton, trying to use it like a mini bat, not for the shock part of it.

Not!Thea will step up her game, unleashing talents that are usually reserved for paying patrons - Those close to her will feel waves of pain, each one stronger than the one preceding it. She herself doesn't seem to be feeling a thing, even as Jemma starts to crush around her throat and drive her to the ground.

Jimmy's head snaps to the side as the round impacts it, leaving a view of clockwork endoskeleton that glows like the rest of him. Being shot in the head with a sniper round doesn't even seem to upset him.

The attacks that follow are much more dangerous, but also much more predictable. Sarah's sheer rage and revulsion alert him enough that the lightning scorches along the side of his face rather than striking full force, blackening the outer skin and brass 'skull' alike. Anger pours off the Hulk like heat from a bonfire, practically sending Jimmy a personalised telegram that he's about to get hit. Even with that, the green beast's sheer speed — and Anya anchoring his legs — means Jimmy just can't get completely out of the way. The punch still glances off the edge of his shield, and that's enough to shatter it and take Jimmy's left arm with it. Underneath is a mess of biology and mechanism, muscle and sinew tangled up with the clockwork interior, blood coming freely from the rent end just above his elbow.

Anya wants to pull him down to the ground? He'll go with that. His sharp dive whips through Anya's web line, the sudden slack perhaps coming as a surprise. But he's not going for Anya: he's following that lightning right to his source, to someone who's made herself into a priority target in a lot of ways. His remaining arm lifts, sword growing into a claymore ready to crash down onto Sarah's shields—

Then he stops, mid-flight, sword held up at the top of its arc. A ghostly image extends from the stump of his left arm, and grips the right by the wrist. Perhaps there's something there; perhaps it's just a metaphor for Jimmy 'wrestling' with himself. Actuators pop and strain between the two warring impulses. While his glow remains fluorescent-tube steady across all his skin and exposed inner mechanisms, it rages into a brighter blaze in his eyes.

His face still remains flat. But looking down at Sarah, feeling the war all around him, he speaks one word. "No." It's not a cry of denial — he's not a Skywalker — but one of refusal.

Whether that ghostly hand did some real damage, or whether something broke on the inside, snapping sounds come from inside his remaining arm. It breaks apart all the way to the shoulder, falling to pieces that drop to the street.

Sniper Ramsey is very calm during all this, and she's on comms. During the flailing mob of attacks on Thea, there's a brief moment when she has a shot, and this is a very skilled professional. "Firing on female subject, Agent May. Do not move to your three." The sound of the gun shot comes a moment /after/ the depleted uranium round tears into Thea's chest, the sheathing skin revealing that the woman's upper body is just a veneer of living tissue over a mannequin's perfect frame.

This DOES leave an opening for May's daggers to get to the visibly and painfully bright glowing where the heart should be.

Jemma's recording from the fight in Westchester would note that the other construct, false Sarah, did not have ANY organic tissue inside, neither does Thea…whatever is going on with Jimmy…unprecedented.

For a moment, Peter's heart seems to stop in his chest. The evidence was there, but seeing Thea's body blowing a hole big enough to drive a bus through, and a spray of technology that is both disheartening and optimistic to see. He know's for sure it is not her, but seeing May attacking the exposed "heart"…

He looked away. He could not reconcile it in his mind, and to his shame, he looked away.

The abrupt sensation of tightness in her chest and the pain, while both being foreign and thus grounds for becoming … impatient, May doesn't visibly show any reaction to either. Not immediately. Having heard the call from Sniper Ramsey, she makes sure to not move in the direction indicated, and Ramsey proves her worth by laying open the Clockwork woman's chest and revealing that power source.

With an almost audible growl she stabs the power source viciously with both stilettos then plants a foot on the Clockwork's hip to tear the glowing 'heart' from Thea's chest and fling it away from the scuffle.

"Be prepared for self-detonation," she warns the others as she moves away from what is hopefully now a mechanical corpse.

With the introduction of Hulk into the fight, the Captain errs on the side of caution. His shield shines as he strafes, looking for an opening with his handgun now rested at the high-noon rim of the spangled disc. He's toting heavier-grade ammunition, but still nothing like what the snipers have brought to bear on both clockwork creations.

A bullet fired at the shoulder socket of faux-Jimmy's mangled side is aimed to ricochet about the inner workings of his torso — still, there's movement at supernatural speeds and even Steve Rogers can whiff a shot. Hearing May's warning, he's quick to beat a tactical retreat. Despite not having immediate experience with the explosive bodies, he'd get another one of those glowers from Bucky if he ended up in a gurney again so soon.

The baton hits Jemma and the biochem winces - it's a blow across her shoulder and it's going to bruise. Can't be helped though as her training takes hold. The pain of Thea's projection just makes that arm hurt worse, Jemmas hand crushes the throat beneath it.

As May grabs the 'heart' and throws it, she might not see as Jemma 'freezes' and stays still.

Alright. So. Fake Jimmy seems to be taking himself out of the fight? Glancing around, Hulk spots the glowing heart that's tossed by May. He jumps over to land next to it, bending down and picking it up. He looks around, then up into the sky. He could throw it up… but it might hit a plane or something. He grunts, and just clasps it between his hands, squeezeing them tightly together in an attempt to contain whatever explosion there is. Hopefully he'll be tough enough to block it. And even if not, it's not as though it would kill him. He heals fast.

With a vicious growl that might surprise some, coming from such a small woman, Spider-Girl holds tight. The muscles in her arms bulge against the costume, teeth borne as she fights against the flight; but then she's battered one way as the Hulk connects, before suddenly the tightness in her weblines are gone.

Tumbling through the air, for a brief moment she's disoriented. The world is spinning, but this isn't her first rodeo. She tucks her body into a tight curl, her other shoe having flown off at the jarring change of direction. Right before she hits the Gravitron, she flattens out and lands sideways on the rapidly spinning machine, gripping onto it to avoid being thrown off.

Unaware of what may be happening between Cyber-Jimmy and the life force that is fighting it, she seems to be in the middle of a transformation when the machine whips her around again. A chitinous hide has formed, sleeping through her costume and forcing those ugly-ass jeans off her lower half. With a cry of strength, she leaps from the Gravitron, leaving dents in its outer wall with the sheer strength of the effort.

Zooming through the air like a bullet, it would seem another monster has entered the fray; only this one has the appearance of a menacing perversion of one's worst arachnid nightmare, complete with a hide of tough black armor underlain by a translucent blue color… and it's aimed to strike the stalled Jimmy's chest with two clawed fists pressed together.

Behind the mask and the bug-like armor, Spider-Girl is preemptively grimacing.

Sarah had been, she will freely admit later, completely caught off-guard by the Jimmy-Thing choosing to come for her. This might have had something to do with the spectacle of seeing the Hulk in action within meters of where she's standing. Or everything else that's been happening, in such rapid succession. If anything, she had expected one of the heavy hitters to be the clockthing's next target.

And so she froze, where in a better frame of mind, she might have portaled away. Still, she's relatively certain her shields can take whatever Not-Jimmy can dish out, at least once.

She's just as astonished when that blow does not come. "Bloody Hell," she mutters in shock, before asking, more loudly and urgently, "Wings, are you in there?"

The 'heart' is like a miniature star in aspect, the energy contained in it seething towards a moment of critical mass - Agent May's ripping it out of the body drops the thing to it's knees, but then the eyes boil away the living tissue sheathing the mechanical orbs inside, and ghastly bilious yellow energy seethes, more light from the ears, out the nostrils and yes - even the crushed throat where the trachea would be if Thea were flesh, beams of foul light flowing around Jemma's frozen fingers.


Hulk grabs the heart, his hands so massive only his Brobdingnagian frame can compete! More of that ghastly light…and then his hands buck, the pain incredible, and were he any other mortal this might well have been the end of him. But he's not. He's the FRICKIN' HULK! The explosion is contained, the power of multiple claymore mines, and enough electrical energy to power a city block all at once.

Jimmy's ghostly arm fades, leaving him just with the bleeding ends of both. They twitch forward as much as they can, as if still trying to attack Sarah… but nothing happens. Without a hand to call it, no spirit sword appears. He is, for the first time in years, unarmed. Yet even without, there's still so much more he could do, not the least being an explosion like Thea's.

But Jimmy fights himself to a standstill. He keeps himself just hovering there, neither withdrawing nor attacking. And he doesn't do it alone: Peter's worry and horror may be directed more at Thea, but it's a thread of emotion which Jimmy grabs for, a lifeline which he uses to anchor himself like Anya had with the weblines on his physical body. He takes in Sarah's shock too, that urgency and astonishment in her soul.

His expression twitches, flickers of pain and resistance. Again, he can only manage one word. "…trying…"

And then comes the Spider-Girl, bringing her full weight and full strength to bear in a two-fisted impact. Something cracks — the gears and girders of a clockwork core, or bones which the changed creature shouldn't have. It takes him out of stalemate, slamming him into the ground.

Though his body doesn't move, he isn't entirely still. The glow of his skin flickers and flashes, cycling like the lights of a modem slowly rebooting.

May watches the power source, and is inwardly almost too glad that Hulk has chosen to deal with it himself. That's one less thing on her list of concerns. Back to the Clockwork woman and Jemma.

Who has gone still. Too still. DAMNIT.

"Rogers! Get Simmons clear!" She rears back just enough to KICK the Clockwork Thea's cranium off of its damaged neck and away from them, hopefully spreading out the damage that's going to be caused by the self-destruct.

Hopefully. May's expecting that to be a bad thing all the way around.

As he feels the energ yin the heart starting to build, Hulk tightens his hand more with a growl. Then it goes off, some light escaping between his fingers but for the most part contained. The growl builds to a roar of pain and anger, electricity crackling through his flesh and up his arms, muscles trying to spasm for a few moments. When he pulls the hands apart, the skin is charred and flesh exposed. His fingers twitch spasmically as he stares at them, but the wounds are already slowly starting to heal. It would be healing faster if it wasn't magic. He growls again, flexing his fingers carefully, then looking around for the other one.

Oh, wait. That debriefing that Banner had. It's not just the hearts that explode, is it? He looks at the corpse of the female doppleganger, then makes his way over towards her. Reaching down to grab it by the head. He stomps over to the male one, snagging it with the other massive paw. He grunts out, "I'll be back." He crouches down, mentally gauging where the closest and largest empty area would be outside of the city. Digging his fingers in tighter, he leaps into the sky! Rapidly disappearing into the distance, marked by the glow of the two as covers numerous miles worth of distance with a single jump.

The moment Spider-Girl connects, the arachnid armor shatters down each arm, over her head, and down to her torso. Shrapnel rips through her costume, tearing it up in places and lancing some of her skin with red marks.

The force of the blow is taken more heavily down her left arm, cracking both her radius and ulna while dislocating her shoulder. A breath is caught by the young woman at the stabbing pain, but she was at least ready for it.

This time, her fall to the ground is less than glorious. The impact sends her flailing head over foot, and she lands with a crunch that shatters the rest of her chitinous hide and leaves a concave gash in the ground. The tears in her costume reveal half of her face, a brown eye contorted into agony that is paired by a groan of pain.

Rolling over, she turns to look at her dislocated shoulder. Adrenaline is still coursing through her veins, so she reaches over with her right hand, curls fingers around the bicep, and yanks the arm forward, pulling it back into place with a terrible shriek of pain and anger.

Granted, the Bucky-glower leveled at him doesn't supercede leaving a soldier — or agent — behind. Dust kicked up in his wake is left behind as he darts in with a hand freed after holstering his side arm. The slowly-building whine of an impending explosion makes the fine hairs on his neck rise and electrical adrenaline tickle down his spine.

Hulk scoops up the corpse and there's the Captain collecting Jemma at a questionable rate of speed into his arms. Thank god she's part cyborg and a bit sturdier than the standard human. With shield still upheld, the soldier books it at top speed away into the relative shelter of the faux-faire. A huddling down behind a collection of hollowed steel drums has Jemma tucked against his chest, Steve crouched as low as he can manage behind the spangled shield, and him softly praying to himself in Gaelic that they survive if the faux-Jimmy body detonates.

Jemma is still, like she was that time on mission, the foul yellow glow slowly seeping around her fingers. She doesn't notice. She can't.

May kicking the head away, doesn't make her move - her cybernetic hand hold on nothing now, her other arm hanging useless from Thea's baton hit.

It's not until Steve crouches with her cradled against his chest that Jemma comes to again, stirring a bit and looking up. "Uh. Captain Rogers. I … didn't think we knew each other this well…"

What else is a girl going to say?

Spider-Man doesn't want to look, but his Spider-Sense MAKES him look. He is not sure what is going to happen, but Jemma is in danger. So, ignore the gaping hole in Not-Thea's chest, and focus on what he can do.
So, once more, he prepares to leap into harm's way, only he doesn't have to. A Living Legend jumps in first, working to rescue Jemma from the thing posing as Thea.
Okay, that's ONE thing. But there's still something redlining in what's left of it…

And then a large green guy who looks like the steroided version of the Jolly Green Giant jumps in, then grabs the body. Yeah, right now, that is being handled. He opts not to join in on something already being resolved and just moves back quickly to get out of the way.

The instant May sees that Rogers has pulled Jemma clear she turns and runs for cover as well, presuming that everyone else with half a brain cell will be doing the same. Even if Hulk DID pull the two bodies well clear, there's the disembodied head still sitting out there about to explode.

The severed Thea head explodes…but those with any experience with ordinance, IE - most of those present - would notice it is a two-stage blast, first an /implosion/—THEN the explosion. It is fairly nasty but the head far enough away that any injuries are going to be minor with so many folk getting the hell away.

The !Thea body /also/ explodes - shrapnel, electricty, raw kinetic energy released in a much more diffused and less violent fashion. STILL not fun, though.

!Jimmy's body is carried by Hulk some miles away and the emeraldine TITAN is wracked by the explosions, so much worse than the one in his hand. He gets the singular honor of a blast that might well have killed even him were it not for the simultaneous burst of purest golden light…even as conflagration seeks to destroy, the golden light seeks to mend, and Hulk is their battleground.

The explosion? Not LIKE the others! It heralded Jimmy's fight - his will - his body clawing from the husk like a butterfly from a a chrysalis…damaged, but /him/.

Miles away, deep underground, Doctor Gatling turns to to Josefin. "Evacuate to the secondary base, bring all research materials, I will deal with these…meatbags…myself." Josefin bows. "By your will, Doctor."

Rising, the twelve foot horror strides to her tube chamber, and makes a gesture, speaking a single word…

And in the center of the fair a /gateway/ opens, the EXACT composition, magical resonance and structure of one of Sarah's own portals. This rift is HUGE, and Doctor Gatling steps through in all her bronzed and hideous glory. "Prepare to DIE, organics!"

Sniper Ramsey murmurs. "Well…shit…" Over comms.


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