The Snowman (Pt 1)

March 1, 2014: We're not quite sure why the Snowman is so important, but we're pretty sure he IS important. So, we're investigating why.

Liquor Store at the Corner of Wade & Renner

This isn't a nice part of town. In fact, the nice part of town is like forty-five minutes away from here. This is the "was once an industrial neighborhood, but they left" sort of affair. Working street lights are few and far between, and all manner of rough types mill about the mostly empty streets.



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Mood Music:

They call him, the Snowman. Snowman, like most guys with "Snow" in their name is either a skier or a coke dealer. This particular snowman, is not a skier unfortunately. No he's the other kind of snowman, and one who's strayed pretty far from his usual market as of late. Lately he's been into stealing things too, mostly cars but well people leave guns in cars so theres more than a few of those. This isn't a nice part of town anyway, infact the nice part of town is like forty five minutes away from here. This is the "was once an industrial neighborhood, but they left" sort've affair. Working street lights are few and far between, and all manner of rough types mill about the mostly empty streets.

Unfortunately, the streets aren't entirely empty. Theres a nice new Ford escape driving quietly through the streets, which is not a great idea at this time of night. When it swings into a liquor store and the young college kid pops into the store? Snowman is in gear. Crossing the street as he produces a Ruger security six from the small of his back, the beat up .357 glittering in the low light as he steps up to the wall beside the liquor store's entrance. Lying in wait for the poor kid, because it's easier to steal a car if you have keys right?

Eight's in the neighborhood, but well it wasn't for this nonsense at all. It had things to do, places to go. Now though, well theres a fourteen foot wide quad rotor drone flitting around the darkened skies feeding camera feed to the undisguised Eight moving through the alleys opposite the liquor store. A neat kevlar coated panel sweeping open to produce Eight's signature bullpup shotgun, which it tugs from the mount if only to get that panel closed soonest. "No sir, the excitement never stops. Not in New york, it's a thrill a minute."

Its a late night and a bad part of town. Odds are high Shift is around somewhere, for he rarely trolls into the more, as the privileged might say, 'civilized' neighborhoods if there's a serious job involved. As such, he's perched upon a stoop, with a brown bag in one hand and a half-smoked cigarette in the other. He's clad in a pair of dark jeans that border on skinny, a black leather jacket zipped up to mid-chest, and a pair of black riding boots.

The cigarette dangles lazily between dark fingertips that snake out from their begloved homes. As he lifts the bag to drink from whatever is inside, the Ghanaian's silver eyes peer about from beneath a hood that peeks out from beneath his jacket. When in Rome, one might say.

Those eyes, gleaming in the extra shadow of his hood, see Snowman's approach. A certain rueful smirk spreads across his face… that frat boy is about to get it.

The cigarette comes up for another drag. While it does, he reaches into his jacket to open a flip phone. A flip phone, because all he needs is the ability to text, and the little raised bar over the '5' key lets him do so blindly. Let's see if Snowman has any involvement with the mark he's been asked to follow by his invisible benefactor.

―Snowman. Wade & Renner. Off his turf. He working with Six or Deenz these days?― SEND

Since Emma had a chance to witness the interesting mutant her problem solver had hired to help find out what was up with the partially exploded machinery building, she's taken to riding along inside his head from time to time. Because it's kind of an interesting place. It's sort of like…slumming it, without all the danger of having your person accosted, your valuables relieved of your body, and your car left completely dismantled on bricks. This Kwabena person―Shift―gets around to lots of interesting places Emma would never go… And, he does so with relative ease and comfort, in ways Emma could never pull off. It's really sort of like watching your favorite gritty street drama…with the most bird's eye view possible.

Curled up on her couch, chewing on carrot sticks, Emma watches along with Shift as he perches on the stoop―so badass, this guy! Like some guy in a videogame, that perches on stoops. He's not half bad to look at, either, when she sees his reflection from time to time―rawr. She giggles to herself and enjoys the rush of nicotine along with him as he draws from his smoke and examines the scene. Snowman, eh? She takes offense to it. Because, well, someone might riff off of that and call him Frosty, and that's just too close to her name. PERIOD. The nerve. She watches as Odame texts his crimelord of choice, sending the message without even looking to make sure he got the words right. So. Badass. Emma feels pretty badass, too. She snaps her perfect teeth into another carrot stick. Like a badass.

"Sir, there is an unaccounted for Drone operating within city limits. The closest intersection I can place it at is Wade avenue at Renner Street." JARVIS intonse dryly, as Tony Stark works in his personal workshop.

"Really? Someone new in town has toys and didn't share. That's just rude. I hate rude."

Tony says, sounding annoyed. "Let's get the Seven on deck, usual load out."

Without another word, One of Tony's many Iron Man suits takes a few steps forward out of its place among many others and the front of the armor opens up as arms extend outward. Tony steps back into the armor and the front closes around him. Seconds later, he's airborne and en route to where the drone activity was reported.

So out of the liquor store comes our young college kid, and out of the shadows comes snowman. "Hey man, nice wheels I think I'll take'em. Put your keys, wallet and phone on the ground and get to steppin before I blast your ass." Revolver raised for all to see, before he slowly drags that hammer back for dramatic effect. "Hey, asshole!" Comes a voice from across the street, just a little too low to be a normal man and tinged with a delicate hint of russian.

Eight steps from the shadows into the periphery of a lone street lamp's glow. Six foot two inches of armor steel, ceramic plates, nomex, Kevlar and shotgun. It's head still wearing the scuffed steel from it's brawl the other night, but its a mass of cameras and a centrally mounted glass dot-matrix screen displaying an emoticon. :3 "Drop that shit or I'll burn your ass down."

So what the hell is Eight carrying again? Well it's short, stubby and sort've Kalashnikov around the action but the action appears more bullpup than anything. Muzzle crowned with a pokey looking standoff, and of course there's the distinctive lack of a magazine. No theres an articulated feed chute running from Eight's chest to the shotgun, so yes it's a belt fed shotgun.

Anyway Snowman, he's still important right? Well he looks from the College kid, to Eight. "The fuck are you!" Swiveling that revolver towards Eight's figure, as the college kid -most wisely- takes a sprawling dive over the hood of his SUV and huddles up on the opposite side of the car.

At this point, Shift elects to do nothing. The flip phone buzzes, and he's certainly interested in reading what's on the screen. He might have done it too, had it not been for the heavily armored -thing- that just made itself known. Silver eyes pan Eight up and down, veiled beneath a cloud of cigarette smoke. Heavy armor, plating, and… is that a belt-fed piece?

Well, now the answer from that text message just became that much more important. It also just became that much more dangerous. On a normal day, Shift might have just waited to watch Snowman ice the stupid fuck. But now…?

Shift's quietly sets down his bag. The cigarette falls to the concrete, and then, the rest of his clothing just falls to the stoop. Tendrils of black smoke rapidly rush out along the steps, quickly dipping into the gutter and snaking away in darkness. Somewhere amidst the fray is a flip phone, painted black, being carried along with those tendrils a hair above the ground in utter silence. Within moments, the smoke has passed around the building, crawling down a darkened alleyway in the veil of nightfall and poor lighting.

"Sir, be prepared as you approach - I am detecting not only the drone, but extremely HIGH level robotics on scene. Either there is a high functioning cyborg, or a one of a kind construct running around down there. Do be careful."

"You know me, JARVIS." Tony says confidently
"I know, sir. That's why I'm advising caution."

You can't get good help these days.

Iron Man lands with a sudden *THUNK* in a three point pose and rises, "Question is, what the hell are YOU?" as he ignores Eight completely for now, working on his opposite side of the Snowman, raising hands as repulsors whine to speed. "It's too warm for snow, son."

OH! That boy is about to be shot, perhaps robbed! Well, what does he expect, going into a liquor store in this neighborhood ―and, at night?!― Emma can only see and hear what Shift sees and hears, at the moment, though she could jump minds, she prefers to see what her retainer will do. ― And, then, there's… a great big metal man who steps out of the shadows. She can't see the emoticon face from this angle, but if she could, she'd get a nice giggle out of it. And, this big metal man is packing heat! She doesn't know a thing about guns, to be honest, but Snowman looks nice and nervous. If she were Snowman, she'd be nervous, too. Yes, teenager who probably wasn't carded and is likely too young to buy let alone imbibe that alcohol you just bought, good idea! Get away from the dangerous Snowman with a gun and possibly pooped pants. Hide behind that SUV, even though she's pretty sure bullets would still go through the vehicle—but, some cover is better than none, certainly.

Emma can hear the thoughts of Shift humming and buzzing as the giant metal thing/man steps out and he looks it up and down. What's a belt-fed piece? She accesses a strand of Shift's working knowledges and ahhhhh, gotcha, gotcha. All right, Shift, what're we gonna do now? she wonders as he sets his bag down. OHMYGOD. It's time, isn't it?! We're going to do it! We're going to――――"WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE heeeheeeheeeheeeeeeeeeeeheee!" Emma squeals aloud in her private abode as Shift begins zipping around in smoke-form. It is SO much fun. She laughs and claps, dropping her carrot stick in her lap. You know, if anyone else was present, she would never be able to do this. She has SUCH a reputation to keep up, but she MUST have her fun, mustn't she? She deserves it! So, ahem, ahem, ahem. Back to what we were doing.

So what the hell is that thing flying around, and what the hell is eight? Electrically powered, hydraulics and fairly exotic brushless electric motors. There's radio signals flying around here, but well it's mainly between Eight and the Drone. So no, Eight does not appear to be a drone itself. The drone overhead is similarly constructed, super efficient electric motors, huge battery cells and a gasoline generator that's switched off. Beyond a GSHG-7.62 Minigun and some dumb fire thermobaric rockets though, well it's got nothing that could crack that famous ironman armor. Figuring out the particulars of what Eight's got onboard is more difficult, theres a slight radiological trace but it could be either nuke powered or that huge shotgun could be loaded with DU. Who knows. "Oh wow, nice entrance!"comes Eight's initial declaration.

Snowman is, well it's understandable. Look all he wanted was to maybe murder this guy and take his property, but he's got a robot over there and Iron Man over here. So he does what you'd expect a guy called "Snowman" to do, he does absolutely the -dumbest- possible thing he could ever do when surrounded by enough military hardware to take over a banana republic on a Tuesday. He opens fire, no joke how dumb is this guy right? That .357 wadcutter goes sailing past Eight's figure, and well theres no reaction from his corner. Now the Ruger Security Six is actually double action as well as Single Action, he could just pull the trigger but Snowman doesn't know that. So he begins the whole hammer cocking ritual again, as he spins towards Iron man behind him. "Screw you!"

Smoke-Shift goes scaling up the wall of a six story row-style warehouse, the building opposite the alley of the old flophouse before which he'd been stoop-sitting moments ago. The smoke crests an old rooftop, then reforms in a crouched position on the street-facing edge of the roof. Fingerless gloves stretch over the threshold, then comes a face enclosed behind a gunmetal gray mask, with only the silvery eyes showing. Those eyes watch as an all-too-familiar metal contraption lands in its signature three point pose.

Well, this just became more interesting.

Shift finally reaches for his flip phone, keeping it below the lip of the rooftop so that none below can see. He eyes the text message with narrowed eyes.

―Fuck Snow. Bitch ass cracka got nixed by Six and Deenz won't go within twenty blocks. Heavy competition. He's a liability, pushing cheap blow to punk ass jocks from NYU―

Closing the flip phone, Shift begins to wonder just why Snowman has attracted such high-calibre attention. It doesn't escape his thoughts that perhaps this is all a fluke, but he's banking on the likelihood (however flawed it may be) that Snowman is connected to his benefactor's enemies. The truth couldn't be more wrong, but in Shift's position, there's no way to know. And if someone else is here to take out his benefactor's enemy, a solid two weeks before Shift was scheduled to do the same, then Shift just might have a problem. A problem that needs to be solved.

He draws himself upon the edge of the rooftop, scowling as the inevitable begins. If he doesn't act, Snowman dies. His benefactor's enemies get a tip off, making them that much harder to reach. Snowman has to be kept alive. Which is disgusting, but… it is what it is.

Therefore, Shift throws himself over the edge of the building. He's clad in his outfit of gunmetal gray, unstable molecules and all, a far cry from Spider-Man spandex but certainly looking similar, and comes barreling down from the night sky toward Snowman. As he falls, he pulls himself into a tight ball, tucking his arms around his legs. A crackling sound precedes him, the sound of his skin, flesh and bone drawing itself into a far more solid state. Like a cannonball, he crashes into the pavement right in front of Snowman, throwing up no shortage of asphalt and debris into the air. His goal? Knock Snowman off his feet and begin the first stage of diffusing this mess.

Emma's eyes widen as she processes Shift's thoughts as he surveys the situation. When Iron Man makes his landing, Emma is confused. What's the big deal with this Snowman guy, anyway? He seems like your run-of-the-mill dealer. Her heart speeds up a bit as Shift begins considering options. But, Shift has already made his decision and, right along with him, she jumps off the edge and tucks in tight, feeling the asphalt buckle, crackle, and burst all around his body as he lands, like a meteor, between Snowman and the metallic crew.

"I don't know about this, Shift… I just don't know if this is worth the risk," she says aloud, crunching anxiously on a carrot. In her bedroom, she's shifted to the edge of her seat and almost feels nervous about what happens next.

How bright is a hundred thousand lumens, well it'll give you a plenty fine suntan. Thats how bright it is, and thats the spotlight that drone blinks on centered right on shift. Shifting one ducted rotor's blades just a tad out've pitch to instantly adopt the characteristic -whup-whup-whup- of a helicopter. "Halt!" comes over the loudspeaker, as the pintle mounted gun drops from the drone's belly and rocket pods snap out from the fuselage. Trying to orient a strobing laser after Shift's eyes, not powerful enough to burn eyeballs out've anyone's skulls of course. It is bright enough to dazzle someone though, as if the spotlight wasn't enough right?

Eight's not stationary either of course, or idle for that matter. From just beneath that shotgun comes a shotgun pattern of dull green laser beams, pulsing and spinning and sweeping around in a randomized pattern. It's own purpose is similar of course, to dazzle anyone trying to get a good look at Eight. "One more move and I'm gonna hurt your feelings motherfucker!" Eight's strafing slowly to the side, keeping that shotgun centered on the pair. Once it's satisfied with the angle it skids to a stop, stance spreading as it braces in against the shotgun. "Step away from the dirtbag!"

To be continued…

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