Joking Around

OOC Date: December 23, 2013
IC Date: December 23, 2013
Characters: Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye & Pepper Potts


Crossroads City
Tumbling buildings lean over this place where two streets meet. Down one street the sidewalks are overhung with verandas, and run-down stores are prevalent. The other is marked by worn tenements. From the occasional window clothes hang out to dry. Voices in different tongues echo, but few people walk the tired-looking sidewalks. A single crushed rose tree lays splintered in the bottom-edge of a major impact crater in the middle of the street; the base of which is man-sized and stained with blood. The rubble and torn up road around the crater disturbs the passage of cars, some of which move here…some under their own power, some drawn by horses or other beasts. From the roof of the veranda on the corner hands a swinging wooden sign, squeaking with the wind that seems drawn inward to this place. 'The Broken Heart' it reads in English, with a cut-out of a broken heart that can be seen from both directions. From the sky above the sun's heat beats down, reflecting from the roads and threatening to wear the soul by day, whilst the nights are desperate with chill.

~~~

The sun is going down in the distance, drawing a darker twilight across Crossroads as the night gives way. Having stolen Banner for a 'walkabout', Natasha also garnered the company of young Pepper, to give her somewhat of a feel of 'field agent'. Of course, this is Crossroads. Anything could happen, and despite the assumed general walk, Natasha is on alert.

The streets are busy, as they generally are during the day, but the patronage is growingly sour… Crossroads is not known for its 'good' people, after dark.

Plenty of dark corners… many alley ways…

Who's bright idea was this again?

This was all Agent Romanoff's idea, 'cause Pepper would never be so crazy as to go walking through a neighborhood like this alone, without her armor. This place makes the bad neighborhoods in Manhattan look like kiddie fun parks, and Pepper has been here long enough to know it. Still, Natasha wants to do this, and wants Pepper along. So, Pepper is along.

The small, younger redhead is once again in a SHIELD uniform, sized down for her smaller frame with a harness and belts that do the work a sewing needle hasn't, yet. She has a telescoping baton in a pouch on each hip, plus two water cannisters and a backpack with light provisions and emergency gear. Emergency gear in Pepper's case includes a transponder that - hopefully - would have at least a shot in heck of bouncing off the carrier and reaching Tony's Mansion in the jungle. That's where her armor is locked up, right now.

"Do you… have a lot of ideas like this, Nat?"

Banner looks askance at the Black Widow, and then casts a dubious glance at their surroundings. "How much of this is… you know, real?" He points at a trashcan. "See, that? How do we know that's a real trashcan? What if it's…" and he shrugs helplessly. "Not?"

Despite his ranting about the illusions Loki and Morgan le Fey keep over the township of Crossroads, the doctor finds himself repeatedly glancing at Pepper Potts.

"They really do start you young, don't they?" he murmurs to everyone and no one at the same time, a hand rubbing the back of his neck.

Long distance to Natasha: Bruce Banner has transport now. Sort of: 'a vintage 1960s Charger with no wheels… and a jury-rigged Stark Industries gravitic-reversion drive'
"Discretion is at times the better part of valor. Is it not?" Natasha grins a little at Bruce. "Not much we can do about that." In regards to the illusions.

As far as starting young, Natasha tilts a knowing look to Banner, "I started younger. Much younger." Then again, no one really knows how old she really is. A secret kept close to chest.

In the distance, there is a maniacal laugh, a man with green hair and dressed in his trademark suit standing on top of a nearby rooftop. "HAHAHA! What is real?! What isn't?! Thats the real game, isn't it, sonny boy?"

As the voice arises, the shadows move, all around the trio. Corners ebb, alleyways shift in the darkness. Glowing eyes and razor sharp smiles far too wide to be possible glare at them.

Natasha's steps slow. "Get her out of here, Bruce." She murmurs, urgently.

Ok, so everything is routine and normal… until Nat wants to take her new protege' on a 'routine' walkabout. Right?

Damn.

At least Doctor Banner didn't just call Pepper a kid. All things considered, his commentary was a lot more polite than Tony's was at first, and she has - mostly - forgiven Tony. Not so much Ilyira, but they're working it out. Bit by bit. The smaller, younger redhead trudges along, doing her best to stay tuned into her surroundings.

"I got started young back home. Tony, on my world, is my age. Just turned eighteen weeks before I showed up here. We go to the Tomorrow Academy together. And we fought the Makluan Invasion together. My Dad's in the FBI. And I've wanted to join SHIELD for years." Pepper answers Bruce. "Here, I get my shot. I have a lot to learn, a lot of work to do. But I'm trying. And Agent Romanoff is awesome enough to help me learn. So here I am." She's not sure about the whole illusion thing, having not run into any of that as yet. Times will change, to be sure.

Until now. Pepper looks around, watching all of this. "Oh, crap. That's the guy. The 'Joker' guy, who is like … all Thor-powered, right?" She has heard rumors. Scary damned rumors. She reaches for one of her batons with one hand, concerned those sharp teeth in the shadows will be coming for them. But Natasha is now herding her out of the way. "I can try to call my armor." she mentions, softly. She's not saying "I'm ready for this." She's merely pointing out they may not have a better option. At least the armor could get them the frakk out of here before it's too late. Maybe.

Banner squints.

"Let me guess — 'Madman at two o'clock?'" The doctor is already stepping to the side to try and coax Pepper away. His eyes lose focus briefly, and suddenly the flesh around them tightens a little. He keeps half an eye on Joker, and half on Potts and Romanoff.

"Just what… exactly are you planning to do, Nat?" he asks the assassin. "Is that — green hair? Please tell me this isn't a gamma-irradiated supervillain. I've just about had my fill of them…"

He takes another step backward, beckoning for Potts to follow.

There is a small nod at Bruce's words. "I think he is just insane, actually. From what I've heard." Natasha answers, though holds her ground, trying to act somewhat of a decoy for the moment.

She pulls two flat circles from the back of her belt and throws them at two of the closer corners to Bruce and Pepper, electricity snapping out of them, causing screams of some strange demonic creatures as they get fried. And withdraw.

Course, they are still surrounded by darkened alleys. Shadows everywhere. "Do it, Pepper. Go!" She urges them. Though the split second she uses to look over her shoulder, is just enough for the shadows to lurch forward.

"The itty bitty spider… went up the water spout…" The madman sings, pacing lazily back and forth on a nearby roof.

As the shadows engulf the assassin, she is pulled into a nearby alley; though one can -hear- which one, as to the scuffling that is going on.

In her place, walk forth three goblin sized demons, white skin with some black showing through, burning yellow eyes and big, nasty smiles. Each one is dressed in some kind of clown garb. Course, they look far from funny.

"Oh what to do, what to do?! An old man and a young girl! This is the beginning to a bad joke! HAHAHA! Where is the priest?!"

"Oh crap!" Pepper squeaks out, as she yanks down the backpack and pulls out the relay. "Watch my back. I need a bit more than a minute." the little redhead hisses at the science whiz (cum Big Green, but he ain't that yet) as she starts adjusting dials rapidly and twisting things around to unfold the relay and get its wire mesh dish assembled and pointed in the right direction.

Pepper sees Natasha disappear out of the corner of her eye, and she cringes. She has absolute, unyielding faith in the SHIELD agent. But it does mean Tash isn't there covering their sixes. And here come goblin clown things. How yuck! "C'mon, Rescue … come rescue me now." she mutters, tapping keys as she tries to get the relay unit to synch up with the carrier to bounce the signal.

Yeah. She's pretty vulnerable. But she's standing - or kneeling - her ground, despite her fear.

"Natasha!!"

Banner lurches after the assassin as she is dragged off into the alley, but then collapses to a knee as his body contorts in what looks like pain. He half-stands again, heading toward Potts when he stumbles a second time, landing on his hands and knees. His breathing is heavy, labored, and his jaw clenches and unclenches rhythmically. "Stay… back…" he grates through his teeth, although from the angle of his head glancing back at Potts, he could be speaking to her just as easily as the clown-like demons.

Banner's fingernails claw at the ground beneath him, his feet digging in to the pavement — when he starts making grooves in the cement. The leather of his shoes splits open as large, green digits appear, and the material of his shirt, jacket and pants tears with every muscle spasm.

"You shouldn't…" he growls in the Joker's direction. "Have done that…"

The dark alley that Widow is trapped in is… busy. There are brief flashes of the sparks as she strikes with her gauntlets with the addition of the Widow's Bite. Each small flash gives an almost strobe-light glimpse, now and then, of the Assassin. She's on her feet, but fighting in earnest against multiple of those damn creatures. Many of them.

"Ooooh ho ho! Big green monster of jealousy, perhaps?! HAHAHAHA!" The Joker prances down to the edge of the rooftop, leaning over with a wide chesire grin. "I approve of the green! My my, your big. And bigger." He straightens, looking almost seriously dubious at the Hulk. "I can't imagine your wardrobe bill."

Two of the goblins streak past the Hulk, or at least try to, aiming to come in off the flanks to try and pin down Pepper. The other two launch at the Hulk's head directly, biting and scratching.

Nasty little creatures.

"Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap!" Pepper starts babbling, her words nearly tripping over one another as she gets an up-close - too damned CLOSE! - look at the lovable, affable, friendly and brilliant Doctor Bruce Banner turning into … The Other Guy. Poor Pepper keeps her head down, but she can't miss it. She struggles to get everything assembled, punches in commands, taps in codes. "Oh God oh God oh God, not NOW!"

The demonic clown goblins leap towards Hulk and try to get around, and Pepper can see them coming. Can see them, and /still/ she holds her ground, finishing her work. "C'mon, you stupid thing, oh please oh please WORK!"

Was that a beep and a squeal, just before the creatures get to Pepper? Only time will tell. Out snaps a baton, and the little teenager is rolling around, fighting for her life, trying to keep those claws and teeth off of her. "You stink, you ugly creepazoids! Get off me!" she screeches.

"Get…" Banner all but spits the words out through his teeth, as his skin turns to deep green along with his eyes, and his hair to jet black. A thick, meaty hand snakes out toward one of the goblins' necks, to toss one creature at the others going after Potts.

"…BACK!!" And suddenly, Bruce Banner is no more. A second, jade-hued hand reaches out for another of the ravenous imps attacking, to pile-drive it head first into the ground. There is a distinctly audible — and grotesque — *SQUELCH*, accompanied by the snapping of several bones at once, and Hulk shifts his baleful gaze toward the Joker on the rooftop. He snarls.

"Puny Creepazoid…!" And he reaches for another demon to toss — probably at the green-haired madman.

"My, oh my, oh my!" The Joker claps his hands, splaying them at his sides after with a wide grin. "And how things just keep getting better! Unleash the monster!!"

Its like demon bowling! One crashes into another that was going after Potts, leaving her with only one to deal with. It scratches and bites at her, spitting profanities and bile at the young girl. Or it was. The sound of a gunshot and the creature collapses with a pitiful hiss, buying Potts that extra time for her suit to arrive. Where it came from? Well… one can guess.

The Joker spins, avoiding the thrown demon with a bright laugh. "HAHAHAHA! Nice try, big guy, but your aim like my grandmother!" Out of the shadows of the alley pours forth more creatures. Each one in some .. demonesque version of a twisted clown. Ten, in total, as tall as five feet. Some hulky, some not, all stacking up in front of the building that the Joker is dancing on.

With only one demon to deal with, Pepper has planted her baton under its chin and is pushing up and away with all the might in her thin arms, as she rolls on her back, feet tucked up, pushing the body of the demonic imp clown thing away. Claws rake at her sides, but she twists to and fro, never giving much of an opening for long. It's not perfect, and she will get messed up, but she survives.

And then the imp doesn't. BANG. The disgusting bit of animated filth is dead.

Pepper makes a loud 'YELCH!' sound, and pushes the dead thing off of her, twisting around to her feet. Another baton snaps out in her other hand, as she prepares to defend herself.

In the distance, a huge boom sounds in the cloudy, dusty sky.

Seeing his second 'goblin-toss' go somewhat astray, Hulk clenches both his hands into fists and BELLOWS in rage at the Joker and his fiendish minions. The immense green-thing reaches to the side and rips a thick wooden support-beam from a store's verandah — taking most of the verandah with it.

As he pulls back with his tree-trunk shaped arm to throw the verandah at the dancing madman, the illusion surrounding the store (and the beam) dissolves, and the Hulk tosses a half-charred, half-shattered 'stick' (that used to be a complete, 2'-thick beam) into the gathering crowd of demons. The store itself is naught but a blackened shell.

Hulk blinks.

Instead of looking for something to toss, he raises both fists high above his head — and pounds them simultaneously into the road, sending out a violent shockwave in the direction of the Joker's perch…

The ten Goblins that Hulk is faced with directly fan out. Three jump up to lunge at him, only to be knocked back, rolling head over butts until they smack back into the wall. The other seven spread out to try and surround the Big Guy. Pepper is actually left alone for the moment. It seems Joker's attention is a bit preoccupied with the massive green guy threatening to tear down this sector of Crossroads.

The shockwave makes the Joker dance with a little bit more earnest. "Ohh, HAHA! Not so fast!" He dances, backpeddling, as some of the roof is shattered and falls down on his poor goblins, taking those three that tumbled out in a pile. But it seems that Joker is not stupid… he's starting to withdraw, heading to a farther rooftop. "I'll leave you to play with my pets. They keep well, but damn they bite, and not to mention, HUNGRY as can be! HAHAHA! ENJOY!"

In one of the dark alleyways, Natasha is fighting in earnest. She as thrown to the shadows and been overrun by the damn demons since. Sparks show as she fends them off, the occassional muzzle-flash as she gets a shot off. Though having given it enough time for her distress signal to hopefully reach her partner, she makes the leap; using the nasty creatures as a stepping stool as she jumps up towards the roof, reaching her hand… trusting he will be there.

Thankfully for the Widdow her trust is well placed. The Archer in dark purple and black steps from the shadow adn catches her before she can fall. "When oyu decide to be distressed you do not mess around." He then pulls her onto the roof and with the other hand draws his bow and looks around for likely targets. He sees the various demonic things. Do arrows hurt demons? Who know but soon he will find out.

Left alone, Pepper watches Hulk tear into the demonic imp clown things, and the town, with equal abandon. She's wide- and wild-eyed, totally freaked out. But she's not running. Where the bleeping heck would she run to? Besides, her 'chaperone' is stuck in the shadows, fighting more of the blasted things.

Then Natasha emerges, and makes it to the roof. "Cool! Backup." Pepper comments.

Then Pepper's watch starts beeping. Did she set an alarm? Well, sort of.

Out of the darkly clouded, dust-filled skies falls a silvery purple streak, which rushes down the street and makes an abrupt turn into the alleyway, right behind the Hulk and his playthings. And it stops, resolving into …

A smaller Iron Man suit of armor, in purple and silver, rather than his usual red and gold. It ratchets open, and the small, young redhead hops inside, letting it ratchet shut around her, glows building in the palms of her gauntlets, at her heels, and at the center of her chestplate.

Inside, a soft feminine voice says, "Stark International XM-51 Stealth Interceptor Armor, callsign Rescue, online. All systems operational. Pilot retrieval mode complete."

"OK, you ugly creeps! Get away from the Hulk! Now!" comes the modulated voice out of the armor, as Rescue lifts off to hover over the scene.

Of the seven remaining demons trying to surround the Hulk, two find themselves snagged by a leg each. The gamma-infused monster hurls one demon high — very high — up into the air, and then the second one follows suit. He glances behind himself at Potts — blinking in surprise at the suit of armor as she dons it.

"Tin… Girl?" he mutters dubiously, then he looks up onto the roof. He spots Hawkeye. "Leg-o-las," the jade juggernaut says in greeting — before charging like a wild bull through the attacking goblin-creatures and into the alley itself. Three more of the creatures come flying out of the alley, their squeals drowned out by the sound of crumbling brick and tearing metal. A massive dust-cloud billows out into the street…

…and the roof of one building starts to give way.

"It's been a busy day." Natasha comments with a faint grin at Hawkeye. Thankfully, due to the dark shadows, the extent of what injuries she suffered isn't visible. And she's not going to make it obvious, either.

Without Natasha in the alley, the darkness seems to ebb back into place, those multiple little beady yellow eyes closing and fading away. There is still the problem of the seven, larger goblin demons.

Widow pulls her second handgun and crouches at the roof's edge, shooting down two of the larger five that were left. Three more launch out of the alley at Hawkeye, the remaining three going after Rescue.

The Joker, as Hulk is otherwise occupied, has gotten away free and clear.

"We need to get him out of here or he'll bring the whole neighborhood down." She urges at her partner.

… Wait for it…

*SPLAT* The two Hulk threw earlier land a few alleys away, but the sound of them landing is far from missed.
As the three demons launch themselves at him three arrows streak out at them. he then glances at the armor, "That must be the teen Pepper, I heard about." He then laughs as the Hulk calls him by the name of an elf, "Ok I have gotten William Tell, Cupid, and now Legolas, why can no one here remember 'Hawkeye'." He then nocks another arrow incase the demons need more more then one.

Armored up, Rescue is not nearly as squishy, or as flinchy as she is out of the armor. She has air superiority, sensors in every direction, and repulsors and more. So what does she do when the large goblin demons charge at her?

Duh! She pops more altitude, and fires downward. The force of the repulsors is not quite Hulk Fist level. But it's likely still enough to squish-splat two of them. And the altitude is surely enough to keep the third one off of her.

"That psycho is gone." comes Rescue's modulated voice. "Once the rest of these creeps are gone, I'm sure Hulk will calm down. Right, Hulk?" Hey, 'Tin Girl' is a lot better than what he could call her. She'll take it.

"SMASH!!"

A significant chunk of what used to be a brick wall comes flying out of the alley toward some of the remaining creatures, just as the roof above caves in. Dust is everywhere. Hulk emerges, more grey than green, carrying a goblin-clown by the feet — which he then proceeds to use as a baseball club. The creature's squeals cease after its head connects with its first target. Behind the rampaging behemoth, the rest of the building topples sideways, across the alley and into the structure upon which Romanoff and Barton are perched.

Hulk doesn't seem to care who he hits, how much or how hard; at some point in his havoc-wreaking, the head of his makeshift club… goes flying.

Awe, damn. "Not now!" Natasha shakes her head at Hawkeye's grousing over his callsign. Though as one building topples into the next, the one they stand on rapidly starts to groan and sink. None of these it seems, are very sound.

Pushing up and off her crouch, the only thing she really can do is tackle poor Hawkeye off of the roof and onto the ground. They could land by Hulk, or by Rescue… or in a pile of demon guts. No telling.

Hulk is busy smashing, and what demons remain are running away back into the shadows.

More than a little enraged that his prime quarry (Joker) has fled, Hulk tosses the corpse of another goblin aside, and leaps over the street, and several buildings in hot pursuit! His raging can be heard even after he has disappeared from sight.

One minute he is shooting at demons; the next he is falling — good thing Hawkeye has circus instincts to fall back on! He grabs a hold of Natasha and then uses the tricks those acrobats taught him to spread his limbs out enough to slow their fall to at least minimize the speed of impart and possible leave time for a rescue.

Want time for a Rescue? That's her name, don't wear it out! Seeing Natasha and Hawkeye's perch giving way beneath them, the armored girl flies over, arms extended. "Grab on! I can hold you two, easy." Hey, she can haul the blasted War Machine armor up into the air, she can hold two adult humans, easy.

Wait, Hulk! Don't … oh, crapsicles." Rescue's modulated voice calls out. "Guess 'Tin Girl' wasn't entertaining enough. Now he wants more to smash. Director Fury is gonna be so mad …"

Rescue gets Hawkeye and Widow safely to the ground, and then lets go. "Orders?

Natasha ends up clinging to Hawkeye as he grabs her in return during the 'flight'. Only to grab onto Rescue and get set on her feet. Well now! Now that there is a bit of light on her, the various bleeding scratches and tears in her uniform can be seen. Where Hawk's hands held onto her, he would have blood on them.

"We go after Hulk. If we don't calm him down, he will only continue to chase the madman and level the city." And we can't have that!

Hawkeye nods, "Yeah the Big Guy has a bit of a one-track mind." he then says, "If he can catch that maniac, though…" he acher smiles just a touch at that thought. He looks at his hands and then asks, "Widow, how badly are you wounded?" The is a mix of professional and personal concern in his voice. "I am not use if my knockout gas would even cause the Big Guy to blink. So we will have to talk him down." And who's going to do have to do the talking? Calming people down with words not his specialty.

"I can track him, and follow. But he didn't even respond to me, once I suited up." Rescue offers, eyeing Natasha with concern. Her scanners can tell her a lot of what the other woman's injuries are. And do. And she tries really hard NOT to look at that information. It's up to Natasha to call it like she, the professional, sees it. Not for the scared kid in the powered armor to make the call

"From our encounters with our Hulk, I can tell you there's nothing I have on board that can really do much more than annoy the heck out of him. But I can keep up, track him, and disappear as needed." Stealth armor. Yay, Rescue! "Do I carry you guys, or what? Whatever you want me to do, I'm in." That's all Rescue has to say. It's up to the professionals now.

Widow has a large number of surface wounds, cuts, which really does make her look worse off than she is. A few deeper than others. One on her hip might be worrysome, but she's not letting it bother her. She was, for a fact, in a demonic 'meat grinder' for a while.

"I'm fine." She offers to Clint, giving a faint shake of her head. Hawkeye, the man she would tell everything and anything to, her partner. She wouldn't lie, but she honestly thinks she can handle herself for now. "I know he will react to me." She states a breath later, her green eyes lingering on her partner. "Can you clean up here?" I'm already wounded, and asking to be thrown back into the frying pan, she thinks. "Can you catch up to him?" This, asked of Pepper.

Hawkeye nods to her, "Yeah I can." he is willing ot play it her way but anyone with ears can tell he is not happy about her going off without him. He looks to Recuse, "So can you keep her out of harms way if it comes to it?" He asks the armored hero.

"I can track him, I can catch him. And I should be able to keep us both out of his way." Rescue answers, with a nod. she'd already said most of that, but she affirms it simply, directly. Then she holds out her arms to Natasha. "Ready to fly?"

Natasha faulters in her step, hearing that tone from Hawkeye. There is plenty she's trying to get used to again… She presses her lips thin, but nods to Rescue, ignoring her bleeding wounds for the moment. Most of them have stopped or lessened considerably, but the one on her hip is slower than the rest. Still no sign of pain registering on her features. "Lets go."

Hawkeye turns away from the pair, he starts ot look back at the damage then almostwithout thinking he collapses his bow nad stow it in the quiver and turns back running towards the par and jumping right as Rescue takes off. He hten yells ot make himself heard over the wind, "Sorry Widow, partners stick together."

END TRANSMISSION.

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