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Cry Havok! IC

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Date: April 12th, 2010

No matter what kind of school you went to field trips were always something to look forward too. For a school like Claremont academy the resources for a field trip were a little beyond those of the average institution. Thus when it was announced that the metal shop course announced a field trip most of the students were quite excited by the prospect. Even more so when the destination was announced. They would be visiting the famed ASTRO labs home of some of the most advanced research and fabrication facilities in the city. As an added bonus of course they would be hosted by a former teacher and object of no small number of boyhood crushes, Dr. deHavilland, AKA Gossamer.

As the tour began most students crowded forward, the class after all was popular among the inventive and gadget oriented students, to see the spectacular facilities and some of the more showy devices on display for many of the best young minds in the city. For his part Mike had taken the class hoping for help with his flagging GPA and an interest in far more mundane metal-crafts and machining, thus while he found the trip exciting in his own way he tended to hang back as most of the discussion went right over his head.

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As the class toured the lab, Trevor didn't have much trouble spotting Mike in the crowd. Even if he hadn't been hanging towards the back of the group, the broad shouldered teen was one of the few students who towered even over him. Still not knowing very many people at Claremont, Trevor wandered over to stand next to him. With characteristic terseness, the dark haired youth simply tipped his beaten fedora in greeting, taking a sip from the paper cup in his hand. In his short weeks at the school, Trevor had displayed an uncanny ability to procure coffee regardless of time or location.

He turned his attention back to the tour. While Travis Hunter was a brilliant chemist, his son, Trevor's father, had never shown any inclination toward the sciences, much to the original Midnight's disappointment. Trevor, on the other hand, had displayed an aptitude for mechanics at an early age, taking appliances apart and putting them back together. The number of those appliances which continued to function after this treatment steadily grew and he matured, and much of the current assortment of gadgets he used as the new Midnight were a combination of his grandfather's chemical inventiveness and his own talent for miniaturization. Visiting ASTRO Labs, natrally, was akin to touring a candy factory; not that one would guess it from his relaxed expression.

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Striding up to the gathered students in her usual labcoat and oddly-fashionable splash goggles, Dr. Estelle de Havilland smiled warmly and waved at the teens, her long golden hair hanging down her back to brush the floor in a thick braid. She didn't recogize all the students, and in truth didn't recall the names of all she did; her tenure at Claremont had been sadly brief, as she'd found out that high school instruction didn't actually suit her. Some of her collegues had shared similar tales of disappointment when she returned to ASTRO, and she found some comfort in that.

"Hello, hello! Welcome to ASTRO Labs!" She gestured expansively about the room, something like a Price is Right model. "'Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three.'" She look mildly embarrassed at her little Willy Wonka reference, then clapped her hands to together and rubbed them with anticipation. "So, if you students don't mind, I've volunteered to help out with the tour! Any questions before we start?"

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Hands of course immediately shot up, with questions about what they would be seeing and what she was working on etc. Mike continued to hang in the back as they moved through the beginnings of the tour. The items shown were certainly very interesting but the questions, answers and explanations were all way over his head.

They had reached a lab where the technicians were testing a new emergency broadcast system that would hopefully aid with future evacuations as it could sound to many media platforms, from television and radio to many wireless devices like laptops and even cell phones at once without needing special channels to be reserved for the assorted media or any modification of existing devices.

Mike looked on with interest as the researchers triggered the system on a low powered transmitter causing all the students phones to ring with a 'Welcome to ASTRO labs' message flashing across the screen in bright colors to the students great amusement.

The moment was shattered however as the outer wall of the lab exploded inward filling the room with dust and debris. Mike threw himself in front of Trevor as a large chunk of reinforced concrete sped toward him only to pulverize against the invulnerable teens side. Trevor probably could have gotten out of the way of course but Mike had yet to see the new student in action and knew it a safe assumption that he was better at taking hits than most others he ran into. With a twist he pulled aside his tattered civies to reveal his Phalanx uniform beneath and turned toward the source of the explosion.

As the dust cleared a suit of gleaming black and vibrant florescent blue hovered in the newly created entrance the faceless mask coolly surveying the damage. Several of the other students were downed by the blast though many hadn't a mark on them. Then those who remained standing flickered with a blue light the holographic projectors shutting down to reveal humanoid robots of similar though more lightly armed design to the obvious leader hovering impassively nearby.

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Almost as soon as Mike had stepped in front of him, Trevor was moving around the closest corned, slipping the backpack from his shoulder while the crowd was distracted by the explosion. Reaching inside, he drew forth a familiar black garment.

As the smoke cleared, a new gaseous cloud began to float in to take its place, heralding the arrival of a silhouette swiftly sweeping forward. Inky mist pouring from his sleeves, Midnight dove into the obscuring cloud he was creating around the newly arrived armored menace, disappearing from view and leaving Phalanx and the lab's security to deal with the unveiled robots.

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Well at least life in this city is never boring.

Estelle's first priority was getting the kids to safety, but dropping some goons would make that a lot easier. The blonde scientist kicked off her shoes, removed her splash goggles and shook out her hair, always an impressive sight; as the shimmering locks spread out around her, she activated her wristband, allowing the silvery nanomachines to spread across her body in a protective layer.

"Watch your heads, kids!"

Gossamer's hair swept across the room like a golden tidal wave, the breeze of its passing sending papers flying in all directions as it rolled over the henchbots.

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A clump of the robotic malefactors breaks off from the main group and begins ransacking the lab rooting through prototypes and grabbing components, one begins to interface with the lab mainframe. The remaining malicious minions raise their fist in the direction of Phalanx and Gossamer unleashing a withering barrage of laser beams. The energy beams light up the lab in busts of red and the air fills with the smell of ozone. Phalanx seems invulnerable to the barrage and offers what cover he can to the magnificently coiffed heroine at his side but despite these efforts a handful of well aimed shots manage to slam into Gossamers' armored nanosuit.

Phalanx turns to the menacing automatons and unleashes torrential wind from his lungs sending papers flying and loose dust and rubble into the air once more. The force of breath knocking the bots from their feet and scattering them around the lab barely stirring the heavy cloud of darkness where Midnight II faces off against the master of the machines.

Within the cloud out of sight of the other heroes Midnight sees twin chainsaw blades spring from casings on the back of the villains gauntlets. With a maniacal laugh from the faceless mask the saws roar to life deadly blades tearing the air. "How kind of you to hide your demise from your cohorts. I'm sure they would not wish to see this." He taunts and cuts a vicious slash across midnights chest, the spinning blades slicing through armor and flesh with equal ease.

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Surprised that the armored villain was able to locate him at all, Midnight wasn't quite fast enough to avoid the spinning blades, but his inconspicuously armored costume took the brunt of the damage. Robots knew exactly what they were after, the black clad hero realized. A connection to ASTRO would explain the battlesuit. It certainly looked like a step up from the one he'd encountered alongside Lukos while stopping that gunrunning operation. His opponent was clearly arrogant, however, and that meant his power could be turned against him.

Infra-red vision wouldn't be enough to counter the midnight mist; his own goggles had to be specially treated with a forumla invented by his grandfather to penetrate the shrouding cloud. Radar, he decided. The press of a button activated a series of micro-speakers laced throughout his suit and jacket. The high pitched wail they created was designed to wreak havoc on extra-human hearing and radio wave-based location.

The screech coming from the finger tips of his gloves was particularly strong; rolling forward he clapped his hands on either side of his opponent's helmet, seeking to disorient the suit's sensors momentarily. Slipping away to the side, he sank back into the inky gas and white noise.

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Wincing in pain, Gossamer decided right then and there that she really didn't like being shot at, but the fact that a former student was willing to to take a hit for her inspired her bounce back as fast as she could. She laid an appreciative hand on the young man's shoulder and stepped back into the fray, sending angry golden whips slashing through the air. But in truth she was still a bit new at these sort of battles, and the swirling papers, mysterious inky black cloud and general chaos robbed her of her focus, and she failed to make any signifcant contact with the enemy.

Blast! Time to change tactics.

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The bots were thrown into disarray by the massive blast of air. They worked their way to their feet once more and as one opened fire upon the heroes blasts of laser fire filling the air once more. Phalanx offers what cove he can but as the lasers score powerful blasts across his nigh impervious skin he staggers for a moment and a few slip past to score hits on Gossamer as well.

Shaking off the effects of the many blasts Phalanx turns and takes the fight now to the malicious mechanical menaces. He slams into a cluster of the automatons grabbing one robot and laying about himself with it in reckless abandon bashing the havoc bots in his reach to pieces.

Still recovering from the effects of midnights assault Havok lashes out with his blades once more the chainsaws biting deeply into the young dark avengers armor. He frees himself from the inky cloud cursing the meddling hero, "You'll pay for that!" he screams as he tries to refocus his attention to take in the battle as a whole once more.

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As the heroes stood by trying to shake off their injuries, one of the students manages to shake off the effects of the robots initial attack and came to her feet with deep scowl, "You have picked the wrong person to mess with!" she shouted and flung one hand out towards a cluster of the bots. Sparks erupted from their joints as they collapsed under her invisible assault.

The malevolent mechanoids that remained seemed to finish their looting and stolen booty clutched in their robotic limbs they flung themselves out of the hole in the wall and took flight streaking away from the scene of the crime. Four remained and spread out to avoid being taken in a single assault and opened fire upon Phalanx, their particle beams now replaced by a strange blue white arc of energy that left the invulnerable youth twitching and nearly rendered him unconscious as they scrambled his synapses.

Phalanx was driven to his knees under the assault and for a moment thought he was going to pass out. He tries to regain his feet but his limbs won't obey his commands and he watches on in quiet horror as the villains begin to make their escape.

Havok hovers for a moment as his minions make their getaway grinning beneath his helmet at how well his plan had gone off. His laugh was carried tot he heroes by his suits speakers as he taunted, "Foolish heroes you truly thought you could stand against MY GENIUS?!?" he raised his arms dramatically, "You are nothing before the brilliance of HAVOK." He cackled manically as his remaining minions collapsed around the room eyes blinking ominously in time with a slowly accelerating beeping.

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As his mist cleared, Midnight shook off the blows he'd taken and assessed the situation. It wasn't hard to guess what Havok's contingency plan was; depending on the explosives being used, the robots could potentially level the entire building or more. There was no way of knowing how long they had, and the only one capable of getting the primed bombs to a safe distance was still reeling.

Analyze and counter, the faceless avenger reminded himself. Disabling each bomb manually might take too long, but the arrogant armored villain had activated the self-destruct sequence remotely. One hand produced a device from his belt which automatically recorded limited information about any localized transmissions, while the other retrieved a transmitter from a pocket in his jacket. Sliding them together, Midnight's glowing red eyes narrowed as he concentrated, running through the possibilities. The beeping from the robots continued to accelerate as he worked, filling his ears. Finally, he activated a signal of his own, overriding the command Havok has sent.

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The beeping built in pitch and tempo to an alarming trill and then went silent as Midnight sent a counter code. The lights on the robots faded and went dark and for a moment all was silent.

Phalanx shook off the effects of the neural scramblers and looked around shaking his head in shame. The villain was no where in sight, "Long gone." he said bitterly. He moved to his fellow students and began to help those who had come too to their feet and make sure with his limited ability no one was badly injured. "Everyone ok?"

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"Everyone ok?"

Slowly and painfully Gossamer rose from the ground, pushed limply to her feet by coils of her own hair as she shook her head and gingerly checked herself for permanent injures.

"Ah, more or less alright; utterly furious and looking to throw this Havok through a wall, but I'll live." The blonde heroine hobbled over to the rest of the group, held up by a set of golden spider-like legs. "Does anyone require immediate medical attention?"

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With the robots successfully dealt with, Midnight gave Phalanx a curt nod, then slipped silently into the room from which Havok's minions had been looting. Besides keeping him out of sight from the the injured in the hallway, it gave the young vigilante an opportunity to look around for some clue as to the villain's goal.

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Moments later the stomp of booted feet could be heard as a rapid response security team arrived at the door. They quickly fanned into the room with military precision, Gossamer will not they move with the same patterns as during the break in trainings a week ago precise and efficient.

Once the area is clearly secured they begin to help the remaining students to their feet and shuffle them down into a more secure area while the school is contacted. The sergeant in charge turns to Gossamer, "Dr. DeHavilland what happened here?"

Phalanx hovered slowly into the area where Midnight stood, "You see anything?" He inquired quietly as he looked around the ransacked lab space.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Dr. DeHavilland what happened here?"

Estelle took a deep breath and scanned the room; luckily the heroes' actions seemed to have prevented any serious injuries. "We've been robbed by someone who calls himself 'Havok', a violent cowardly thug with access to advanced technology, either his own or someone else's. He prefered weapons are robots and lasers." She waved in the direction of Mike and the dark and mysterious figure. "These gentlemen were invaluable in saving innocent lives."

The blonde heroine gingerly moved towards the two young men. "Do we know what they took?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

By the time the sergeant and his men turned to look in the direction Dr. DeHavilland was pointing, Midnight had already slipped into the room's shadows and behind a large piece of computing equipment, leaving Phalanx floating by himself in the middle of the room. The shadowy vigilante had no quarrel with the authorities, but the less public he was the more effective his delicate blend of intimidation and action would be. Midnight needed to remain a figure of near myth, whispered of but never clearly seen.

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Phalanx's search drew to a close as the guards burst in and he looked up with a small frown, glancing around in concern as to where Midnight had vanished too before he turned to explain his findings to Gossamer and the guards. "I can't be sure but it looks like they took some data and destroyed any copies left here someone with more savvy then myself might be able to recover something though." he explained.

He pointed to a few spots where the dust from HAVOKs entry left outlines of stolen Items and open drawers left clues as to what they had come for. "It looks like they took some antenna equipment and something called a encoding control module?" he said uncertainly as to what such a device could do. "Nothing not related to those Items seems to be missing its as if they knew exactly what they were looking for and where it could be found."

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  • 1 month later...

"It looks like they took some antenna equipment and something called a encoding control module?" he said uncertainly as to what such a device could do. "Nothing not related to those Items seems to be missing its as if they knew exactly what they were looking for and where it could be found."

Estelle nodded as she began to send out hair tendrils to clean up the mess, picking up debris and sweeping dust out of way.

"Do we know who's in charge of that project? We need to know exactly what someone could do with that technology, and we need to find out fast. It also seems our violent friend had a good idea of what he wanted."

She pauses in her work, wiping her brow with the back of her hand as she speaks with the guards.

"We need a list of any disgruntled former employees, especially any who might have worked on this or a related project. Also a list of any researchers at rival labs who might have been working on a similar device and wanted to get a quick leg up...or to sabotage the competition."

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"Mein Gott!," Estelle and Mike heard a familiar voice exclaim. Trevor probably recognized it, too, from a few television and online interviews he'd done. "Is everyvon alright?"

NO! We're too late!

Is Estelle alright? The children?

Bah! What matter if they are alright? We lost our chance to stop the one behind this!

Of course it matters! Making sure they are okay is as important as stopping the one behind this!

... no it isn't! Stopping the one behind this means no one else gets hurt, and I get adoration for stopping another villain!

Oh, yes, of course...

Archeville zipped over to de Havilland, checking her injuries. "Hrm... laser fire, but it does not appear any vent too deep; mostly grazings. Good ding you had your armor dis time, ja?" He grinned, then something off in the corner caught the Doktor's eye, "ooh, robots!"

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Phalanx breathed a sigh of relief as the Doktor arrived, sure that between him and Professor DeHaviland they would be able to uncover what this criminal mad man was up to.

The young man turned with a smile to the Doctor, "Yes they were somehow disguised as students." he explained, "Unfortunately we were unable to stop him but no one was hurt." he added with some frustration. He looked to Gossamer to explain what she might have figured out from the clues already gathered.

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Estelle visibly breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the familiar accent of Freedom's most brilliant scientist.

Oh thank goodness!

"Hrm... laser fire, but it does not appear any vent too deep; mostly grazings. Good ding you had your armor dis time, ja?"

"I'm fine, Viktor, and I'm so glad you're here! We were-"

"ooh, robots!"

The blonde chemist rolled her eyes and gave the good doctor time to examine the remains of the robots.

"Yes they were somehow disguised as students." he explained, "Unfortunately we were unable to stop him but no one was hurt."

Dr de Havilland nodded as she gestured about the ruined lab.

"All we know for sure is that the culprit called himself 'Havok', he's good with technology and he stole some antennae and something called an encoding control module. He also worked very fast and seemed to have a very good idea where to find everything."

She chuckled ruefully and shook her head. "Viktor, why is it whenever I see you, mad scientists always attack?"

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"Do not forget de Battlesuits, too, Doctor de Havilland," Archeville replied, smiling and winking at the attractive chemist.

"I haff been following mein own investigation; is dis de von who vas here?" He had withdrawn his techno-wand and projected a life-sized holographic image of the armored man he'd spotted earlier, though the quality was far from the best.

Though both Havok's armor and his robots were similarly designed, Havok was bulkier, presumably because there was a person inside the suit, and the robots were autonomous units. The image Archeville's gadget projected was closer to the robots, not Havok himself.

Ah, so he's sent in robots to do his work. This may have been the first time the man himself appeared!

But why now?

Isn't it obvious? He came to gloat! And he's likely almost done with whatever it is he's constructing!

Ah, of course you would know how he thinks. Well, then, it is a good thing we have some allies now!

"Components from a recently downed alien spacecraft at Star Island vere de first to be taken," the Doktor explained as he began sifting through robot wreckage, "or, razher, de first to come to mein attention. De components may haff been part of de varp drive, or of some sort of emergency teleport system, but de scientists dere had not been able to ascertain vhat it vas exactly before de theft. Additionally, confiscated gear from a secured evidence locker -- samples of Fear Master's gases und of Luna Moth's pheromones -- had been taken, seemingly by von of de District Attorneys... vhile he vas simultaneously in court! Mein investigation lead me to a fence in Greenbank who vas renting out space to a third party; stashed dere vas a crate of stolen microprocessors, as vell as surveillance photos from Claremont, some student schedules, und forged notes alerting de students of a cancellation in deir field trip. Dis field trip." He'd picked up one of the robot's arms, looked it over, then tossed it aside. "Presumably dis Havok fellow vould make certain students believe deir trip vas canceled, den replace dem mit his robots, who are eqviped mit sophisticated holographic disguise capabilities. Und you say his target here vas some antennae und an 'encoding control module'? Hrrmm..."

The Doktor picked up one of the more intact robot heads, and clicked off the hologram as he used his techno-wand to examine it-- with a very nasty-looking interface spike. "Alright, little robot: tell me vhat you know...."

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Remaining out of sight, Midnight listened intently as Archeville descried the various items that had been stolen. The young hero knew that they had to be components of some greater device, but despite rearranging the pieces in every conceivable configuration in his head he couldn't fathom what Havok's ultimate aim was. Still missing something. He waited to see what the scientists could discover from the robot's remains, confident that their self-destruct mechanisms had been disabled. The shadowy observer would reveal himself only when he had something useful to contribute, or it became absolutely necessary.

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