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Welcome to the West Coast - Part 5
Meteorite sat on the swivel chair in what had been the Thunderbolts lab and was now currently acting as an adhoc interrogation room. Sitting opposite her Abe flexed his arms before nodding to Victoria who double tapped her I-Pad ready to take notes on the conversation. ''You understand that we should be looking for the Masters of Evil.'' Victoria told Abe as he wrapped his knuckles on his chair.
''First of all we need you're name.'' Abe asked as he ignored Victoria.
''My name is Sara Jhu, I am nineteen years old and I currently am a student at the University of Washington where I major in Geology.'' Meteorite announced.
''And where did you get you're powers from?" Abe asked as a crunch echoed from behind him. Turning he saw Melissa chewing on some charcoal, her eyes running up and down Sara before looking back at the botany text book cradled in her lap.
''I was walking when I was jumped by these guys who injected me with a syringe. They then let me go and I managed to reach the campus before collapsing. I was apparently in a coma for two weeks. When I awoke I could fly, rip energy from its source and even illuminate my body. What was I meant to do, I mean everyone dreams of being a hero right.'' Sara told Abe before shooting a quick look at the data crystal on the desk. ''Hey the looks cool, I could probably ID that for you.''
''Hey I ask the questions.'' Abe said briskly. ''What about the name and costume?"
''I brought the costume from a shop ran by something Potter, I have a receipt for it somewhere in my dorm room.'' Sara answered, ''As for the name, well it just seemed to fit, I know that there is bad history associated but I just thought I could make it my own.''
''Hmm.'' Victoria purred, ''I know a lawyer who could find out for us. Melvin Potter was a client of his colleague Matt Murdock for a time.''
''Call him.'' Abe instructed before looking Sara in the eyes. ''Okay the next question is simple. Why have we not seen you before the City-Link Siege?"
''I came out of class and heard the report. Before that I had only stopped muggings and car jackings, I hoped that this would help me get noticed.'' Sara announced. ''I heard about an Avenger School but in the end I felt that I couldn't leave my life here.''
''Okay can you give us a moment.'' Abe asked. Sara nodded and slipped out of the lab leaving the others behind. ''So what do you think about her?'' He asked his teammates.
''Well last time I was at the Vault I heard about an MGH ring where the dealers would target teens and college students.'' Donnie answered, ''The aim of their scheme was to get the kids hooked so they get a super powered army that works for their powers.''
''I heard that too.'' Orka grunted.
''There was something about her voice though.'' Melissa announced. ''What she was saying was true but there was something that seemed off almost like it had an cold undertone.''
''Maybe because she didn't tell us about her criminal record.'' Victoria stated as she showed the others the data. "Two arrests as a juvenile, one for shop lifting and the other for joyriding. Hardly a crime spree but it makes her less trustworthy.'' She added as her phone went off. ''Sorry but that's my boss I have to take this.''
''Back to Sara, there has to be something that's wrong.'' Abe asked, ''There was something that felt off about her.''
''Maybe she was in heat? '' Orka suggested, ''I hear that makes women behave differently.''
''It's called a period.'' Melissa gasped, ''And no I don't think it was that.'' She added before picking up another lump of charcoal. As she crunched down Victoria reentered the room followed by Meteorite, a worried look on the formers face.
''SHIELD just detected a radiation signature that matches that of the Cobalt Man entering the Seattle Opera House.'' Victoria sighed, ''HERD have despatched a specialist to deal with the radiation, they want us to assist especially since the deadline for the Masters of Evil's second attack is only fifteen minutes away from occurring.''
''Do we have any idea who this specialist is?'' Melissa asked.
''No only that he is already heading to site right now.'' Victoria announced, ''And that he isn't going to wait for us to clear the area before he starts the cleanup operation.''
Landing outside the Seattle Opera the Thunderbolts arrived at the same time as the emergency forces, the coughing burn victims a clear indication that the Cobalt Man had been in the area.
''Well were is this Specialist?" Blizzard spat. ''You don't think he's already inside?"
''If he is then he'll be coming out with grade two burns.'' Victoria answered, ''Even with a hazmat suit he wouldn't last long. The Cobalt Man is still inside and pumping out radiation like there is no tomorrow.''
''Even if he isn't we have no choice.'' Abe added, ''Melissa put up a wall of sound around the Opera House, this time we catch someone who knows what's going on. I did some analysis on the Cobalt Man's armour and found a weak spot in the form of a nuclear regulator mounted on his left shoulder. If we can disable that then he will have to use his powers to contain his energies or risk being ripped apart.''
''Then let's go team.'' Meteorite cheered. ''He doesn't stand a chance against us.''
''You are not on this team.'' Abe chided, ''Normally you wouldn't be coming with us but I don't trust you enough to leave you alone in our home.''
Radiation sparked along the rows of seats, the remaining patrons charred beyond all recognition in their seats as the cold blue armoured form of the Cobalt Man stood on stage. As the doors were flung open he moved a little, barley acknowledging the arrival of the Thunderbolts. ''My god.'' Meteorite whispered, ''All those people were burnt alive.''
''The lucky ones.'' The Cobalt Man replied, his armour glowing blue, ''Those who escaped will be scared for life. But their fates are nothing compared to yours. Come Thunderbolts let's end this now, it is time for you to burn just like the others.''
''And it's time for you to pay.'' Meteorite screeched as she flew towards him, her target opening fire as she closed the gap, the blast causing Meteorite to stall and smash threw the stage and out of sight.
''A good physicist knows that a controlled burst of radiation can rip the inertia from an object including annoying teenagers.'' The Cobalt Man informed as Orka ploughed through the front row of seats and climbed up onto the stage, grabbing the radioactive villain before recoiling, blue steam erupting from his target scorching his hands and face. ''Atlantean physiology is susceptible to heat and radiation. As is the processors and servers in you're armour.'' He added as MACH IV flew at him before being floored by an EMP blast, his armour crashing into the orchestra pit, the seared bones of the musicians killed by the Cobalt Man shattering around him.
''Maybe a little ice will cool you down.'' Blizzard suggested pouring liquid Freon onto the villain's armour. His suit glowing blue the Cobalt Man fired a beam of radiation at Donnie, the energy pulse melting his ice chute and sending Blizzard flailing as he fell before being blasted by a follow up radiation strike.
''Is this all the Thunderbolts can muster?" The Cobalt Man chuckled as Victoria opened up a heavy metal case and brought out a rocket launcher loaded with a shaped charge, taking aim she fired, the rocket slamming into the nuclear regulator and cracking his suit, vivid turquoise light emitting from the breach.
''Surrender.'' Abe yelled as he struggled to stand, ''Before you're internal nuclear energies run out.'' The Cobalt Man replied with a bone chilling cackle before a hand emerged from the rip before the person inside tore the suit apart and emerged from his cocoon to reveal a crystalline humanoid, his body sparkling with internal light from the radioactive reactions that sustained him..
''Surrender?" The Cobalt Man buzzed, ''You just unleashed a mobile C-Bomb on the city. The boss wanted civilian targets destroyed and that's what he's going to get.''
Melissa helped one of the EMTs carry a stretcher towards one of the ambulances. The initial response of police and emergency responders was gone, replaced with units in hazardous materials suits in order to work in the radioactive mist that was flooding the street outside the Opera House. Silently she preyed her team was strong enough to carry on, a lot if people had already been killed by the Cobalt Man she hoped that Abe and the others weren't included in that category.
''Miss Gold.'' A stern voice called behind her. Melissa turned to see three figures in black Hulkbuster armour walking towards her. ''My name is Captain Shoosmith and this is Corporal Barnes, HERD scrambled us to this location to aid Specialist Lu with his the clean up of the contamination zone.''
''Specialist Lu?" Melissa asked, ''Chen is that you?"
''What's the situation?" Lu asked not looking Melissa in the eye, his voice stiff with a hint of anxiousness. ''Is subject GT093 secure?"
''I...I don't know.'' Melissa replied, ''Abe and the others went in five minutes ago but I haven't heard anything since.''
"Lu, Barnes deploy, it appears SHIELD's wonder team has failed, maybe we would have more success hiring some of those mutants in Westchester or maybe some killers like the Punisher or that Scourge character who's killing super villains.''
''I assure you that the Thunderbolts will suffice for the arrest of GT093." Chen stated, ''We will go and assist in the containment of the threat.'' He added as Barnes kicked the door open and un-holstered the chemical launcher from his back ready for action. Moving in Melissa followed the HERD agents, sheathing herself with solid sound armour from the biting radioactive mist that was flooding out of the main hall. Reaching the main doors there was a thud against the wood causing the three agents to tense up. Counting down on her fingers Agent Shoosmith kicked the door open and fired a chemical round into the mist filled chamber.
''Target is obscured, I repeat target is obscured.'' Barnes yelled before he was ripped in half by a blast of focused radiation. Melissa focused on the edge and saw flashes of light illuminate the mist, yellow and blue bursts colliding with each other. Looking at Chen she saw him wave forward, the radioactive mist fading as he moved in. Following she noticed that the yellow flashes of light had turned to a steely blue before going out as the body of Meteorite fell out of the haze, her face gaunt as she writhed in pain.
''What happened? Where's Abe and the others?" Melissa gasped.
''He's out of his suit, I tried to drain the energy off him but it was dirty, the more I took the sicker I got.'' Meteorite gasped, ''Blizzard got them to safety and froze a layer over the orchestra pit. He then went to fight the Cobalt Man but I heard him scream, I think he's dead.''
''Focus ladies we don't know where the gamma source is located.'' Agent Shoosmith snapped, ''Specialist Lu gather the mist into one place so we have a clean line of sight.'' Chen nodded before removing his helmet, his noble features blazing green against the blue haze, his gaze piercing through the miasma until it faded revealing the devastation and smack in the middle Melissa saw a crystalline form towering over Donnie with only a rapidly melting layer of ice between them. With a single deep breath Melissa screamed, the blast shattering the Cobalt Man into hundreds of radioactive crystals.
''And what did that accomplish?"" Agent Shoosmith asked sarcastically. ''You are aware that in contaminated areas GT093 can reassemble from his individual parts.'' Melissa looked at where the Cobalt Man had been destroyed to see his body reform, the cracks in the crystals fusing as if they hadn't been touched let alone destroyed. With a hiss like steam erupting he fired a massive blast of energy at Melissa, the ambient heat igniting the remains of the seats, blue fires quickly burning themselves out as they turned whatever they touched to ash. Stepping forward Chen moved to shield Melissa, the blast melting his armour and causing his body to glow even brighter. Without even a grunt Chen fired back, the blast of radiation absorbed by the Cobalt Man causing the internal sparks of energy to spiderweb out across his entire crystalline body.
''So we are evenly matched but I still have the advantage.'' The Cobalt Man buzzed, ''I can't harm you but you're friends are as fragile as glass to one such as me.''
''You have no such advantage'' Chen stated calmly, pools of radiation whirling around his hand. ''I am the Radioactive Man, master of nuclear energy and I can do this.'' He announced holding out his hand and ripping the radiation from the Cobalt Man's body. At first his foe simply laughed but soon his mocking tones turned to screams as cracks and fissures spread over his body. ''Now Agent Shoosmith.'' Chen ordered, ''Contain his body quickly before he re-energizes.''
''Yes sir.'' Shoosmith barked opening fire on the Cobalt Man, anti radiation foam coating the crystalline villain. Groaning Blizzard sprayed the remainder of his Freon pack causing the Cobalt Man to turn from light blue to a cool grey, a few remaining sparks arching through his body. With a roar the Cobalt Man fired a wave of energy balls at Blizzard and Shoosmith knocking them back as he ripped radiation from the environment, his skin glowing a dull blue. Behind him the iced over orchestra pit shattered and MACH IV rocketed out and unloaded the remainder of his anti radiation missiles trapping the Cobalt Man in a cocoon of foam.
''Alright Ralph.'' Abe said striding towards the Cobalt Man, ''Call off the rest of the Masters of Evil.''
''I don't have to, as you would soon find out we've got what we wanted.'' The Cobalt Man buzzed, ''If you had never interfered all those killed today would still be alive.''
''Get him out of here.'' Melissa snarled as Orka and Agent Shoosmith led the villain out of the Opera Hall. ''Chen do you have a minute.''
''No Melissa I have to make sure GT093 doesn't become active again.'' Chen answered. ''I'm not safe for you to be around.''
''What are you talking about?" Melissa asked as Donnie helped Sara up and led her out of the hall.
''What did SHIELD tell you about your last medical exam?'' Chen asked as he walked outside.
''That I was fine.'' Melissa answered as Chen got into an armoured car marked with the SHIELD logo emblazoned on the side.
''Then they lied.'' Chen told her before the doors were closed.
"I can't believe it.'' Abe yelled, ''I can't f*****g believe it.'' He added as he threw one of the monitors off the desk. ''The crystal is gone.''
''Did we lose it or was it stolen?" Victoria asked.
''With a warehouse of super criminals; reformed or not, I can't say.'' Melissa suggested. ''Whoever got in knew what they were looking for since the place wasn't tossed.''
''What about Meteorite?" Abe asked, ''Something isn't right about her.''
''No I think that someone else was responsible.'' Melissa replied. ''For now let's keep her close until we know more about her.''
Moonstone stood in the bathroom as her phone rang. Picking up she heard a familiar voice on the other end of the line. ''You have done well, we managed to acquire the data crystal. Finally the artifact is back in the hands of its creators.''
''So the ploy worked.'' Moonstone stated, ''Litterbug and Whiplash received the Kree data crystal while the Cobalt Man kept the Thunderbolts busy.''
''They did.'' The voice on the other end of the phone told her. ''For now keep up the façade and observe the Thunderbolts actions, coax them towards me so I can strike when ready.''
''As you wish grand accusor.'' Moonstone answered before she closed her phone. As she put it down on the sink there was a knock on the door causing Karla to freeze.
''Sara are you okay?" Melissa asked. Karla paused before removing a syringe and stabbed it into her neck before looking in the mirror, her fair skin darkening whilst her eyes went from clear blue to deep hazel. Shifting her costume from her usual attire to her Meteorite costume she ran her hand through her dark hand before coyly smiling at her reflection.
''Fine.'' She replied running a hand threw her hair, ''I'll be out in a minute.''