The Glitterati Gambit

Summary:
June 08, 2014: The latest Stark Foundation Gala takes a sinister turn leaving Pepper Potts, Diana of Themyscria and Dr. Angelo diLucci to solve a mystery before time runs out for them all.

Ritz Carlton

The Ritz Carlton in Battery Park is the classic luxury hotel. Iconic. Luxuriant. Very expensive. Not that this has ever mattered to the Stark Foundation which is hosting it's latest Gala event, in honor of new geno-therapy treatments recently announced by the Polyglobal Corporation and the Chiron Medical Group. All of the upper crust of New York and the surrounding areas is in attendance. It's a veritable sea of beautiful, highly influential people. All proceeds go, of course, to bringing life saving treatment to those unable to afford these revolutionary procedures.


Characters

NPCs

  • Michael Tovar, CEO of Polyglobal Corporation
  • Ms. Emony Alderisi, the eligible and attractive head of the Caduceus Initiative - a nonprofit that brings medical care to mutants
  • Dr. Rashid Guapta, CMO of Chiron Medical Group
  • Raphael O'Mally, noted sculptor
  • JARVIS
  • Doctors Andrew Patil and Rania Xomeridies, two of the three business partners in the Avenue C Clinic

Mood Music:

  • None

The night is young and this being summer it's still light out despite being seven pm. The ball room and balcony are teeming with a paparazzi's dream of elite, powerful, influential people, all here for the latest charity event hosted by the Stark Foundation. This one is a celebration of revolutionary new geno-therpay treatments recently announced by the Polyglobal Corporation and the Chiron Medical Group and all proceeds go to bringing live saving medical care to the needy. It's the sort of event where people like to see and be seen. All of the guests, practically are of note in some way or another, but in particular is the CEO of Polyglobal Michael Tovar, the CMO of Chiron Dr. Rashid Guapta, Ms. Emony Alderisi, the eligible and attractive head of the Caduceus Initiative - a nonprofit that brings medical care to mutants - and Raphael O'Mally, a noted sculptor who will be unveiling a new work at this event.

*

Dr. Angelo diLucci is not normally invited to attend this kind of a swell bash. That's because he's the guy who calls it a 'swell bash'. But CMG and PgC both want to get the attention of the highly noted Doctors Andrew Patil and Rania Xomeridies, two of the three business partners in the Avenue C Clinic - the place on the edge of Mutant Town where said doctors have been providing low-cost medicine, and doing cutting-and-sometimes-bleeding-edge research into just how the mutant genome interacts with medications, in order to save the lives of their patients. Dr. diLucci was invited, not because he's a genius like them, but because he's the third partner.

He doesn't look the part. He's not tall, though he's reasonably handsome; he's not thin, he's built like a brick wall wants to be built when it grows up - and yet, he's got a tailored tux that looks better than two-thirds of the guys here. Thanks to a mutant tailor he's helped.

He stands, slightly uncomfortable, at the side of his two partners, with a glass of champagne that he would prefer had orange juice in it, really.

*

Pepper Potts is here in Tony's stead, dressed to the nines in a full length gown in rich spring green and playing the part of the host. She's moving throughout the ballroom greeting people and chatting as she goes, making sure she has at the very least said hello to each and every person here. This event is that important to her. As another guest arrives, she excuses herself from the little gaggle of rich people she was talking with and walks over to say hello to Dr. diLucci. "Hello, welcome, thank you for joining us here."

*

Diana of Themyscira gets invited to a lot of charity events throughout the course of any given month. She tries to make as many as she can, though that still ends up being less than she'd actually like — when she's convinced the cause is just and is something she can actually help somehow. When she enters, she wears the formal garb of her people, retailored to suit a more contemporary eye. Thus, her gown appears to be a combination of ivory and gold in a style reminiscent of Ancient Greece, but still with the flow and silhouette of a modern gown. She wears her tiara, of course, and her bracelets. Her lasso is not in evidence, though she does carry a small clutch that is slightly more sizable than is common among most of the women attending. She steps in through the doors and gives a warm smile to the doorman, pausing a moment to speak with him before she passes in to the room proper.

*

The room buzzes a bit as Diana makes her entry, though as Pepper well knows, it does when anyone who plays on her level does. The doorman himself seems to be quite used to dealing with the rich and powerful, but Diana cuts quite an imposing figure, so he's perhaps a bit more deferential than usual. After the buzz dies down the beautiful people go back to mingling. Pepper and Dr. diLucci can see Ms. Alderisi in the middle of a chat with the Mayor that is entirely too light and airy to be anything but important. Probably talking about the fairly deplorable state of city services in M-Town. Again. Well, it is her passion.

A pop sounds in the room and the glitterati from Gotham all collectively flinch. It would usually be at this point that the festivities were interrupted by the Joker. Or the Riddler. Or Scarecrow… but this is New York. It's just more champagne being uncorked. The New Yorkers and Metropolitans all suppress a small smirk at their fellow's expense.

*

Angelo has slightly archaic manners. The good ones, that is, he learned from Ren Faire, and while they're a bit courtly feeling, he's able to do the handclasp to the barely-not-touching, bowing over and kissing of hand or pretending to do so, optional. Mostly, he gets his cues from how people around him behave. So he smiles, and says, "Thank you for inviting me. Have you met my partners, Doctors Patil and Xomeridies? They're the ones who publish."

Rania is moderately gracious and a bright red, "Angelo!" and she turns to Ms. Potts, "Really, we all do the same work, but it's Andrew who's," and Andrew makes polite demurring noises and is amazingly socially inept. Yes, he's a doctor, but this is WAY out of his bounds.

"And now that we've all deflected the honors, we appreciate the invitation," Angelo says. "I never thought of us as more than just doctors doing what we trained for, to be honest." Which is fairly true, for his partners. Although, at the *pop* Angelo flinches a bit too. Perhaps it's the 'street clinic' background.

*

Pepper Potts proves her nearly chameleon-like abilities, going from the formally polite greeting she gives Angelo to a less formal, more familiar smile and handshake for Rania, and then a polite smile and nod hello to Andrew to keep him from becoming unnecessarily anxious. She then excuses herself to step over and speak with a server quickly and briefly, asking that the message be conveyed that the champagne be opened in the food service area from here on out. Yes, she saw the flinches. And then she's crossing over to greet Diana. "Your Highness. It is truly an honor to have you join us this evening."

*

Diana does have a way, though, of putting people at their ease. So, she is careful not to make the doorman more uncomfortable than necessary. Yes, technically, she's royalty. But she doesn't come with the same entourage and entanglements others do. Similarly, even as an Ambassador, she doesn't come with the same security arrangements. On some level, it makes things so much easier, make her more approachable. On another, though, it only serves to emphasize her ability and unique position.

She turns as Pepper approaches her and gives her a warm, personable smile. "Ms Potts," she says in reply. She doesn't flinch from the popping sounds, mainly because she can hear the slight squeaking sound that precedes the pop. It helps. "The honor is mine, and the cause is certainly worthwhile. I'm simply glad I was able to make the time to accommodate it."

*

The server that Pepper speaks to had been passing by with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres. He's a tall-ish, fit man in his thirties with short brown hair who looks… well, he looks completely boring, actually. Standard hotel staff outfit for these events - starched white shirt, black tie, slacks - and emotes like he got a Master's degree in being socially invisible. Most of the hotel staff here are like that, honestly. The young man sees Diana of Themyscria make her entrance and… is it Angelo's imagination or did he very quickly and deliberately turn back to the small knot of doctors. He offers the trio the fancy snacks with a soft murmur before departing quickly to see that Pepper's message is relayed to the appropriate people. Other staff weave through the room, present but virtually ignored by all, carrying flutes of champagne or trays of exotic, expensive food.

People want to talk to Diana. All kinds of people. Important people. Self important people. But there's a method to this. And besides, this is an all night event. Surely there will be time.

Another staff member comes up with a folded note for Pepper. It will soon be time to unveil the sculpture.

*

Logistics of having a form of magical vision: When you are going to be among politicians, the very wealthy and powerful, and you don't want to find yourself learning unfortunate truths, do not engage magical vision. Still, Angelo sees the server deliberately hide his face from the view of the Ambassador, and he feels just a hint of interest in the minor mystery, but he quashes it. If it's really something THAT important he will figure it out. Angelo and Andrew discuss the nature of the fancy foods quietly, while Rania is approached by another party-goer, one of the people working for Caduceus, and thus Ms. Alderisi, apparently with a request to talk with the three of them at some point tonight. Score!

*

Pepper Potts moves on from Diana with a polite nod, as the Themysciran princess likely has more people to talk to than she does. She missed the server's reaction to Diana, but she did see him hurry back and then return with the note. She makes her way back toward the small announcement podium, treeing people as she goes so when she gets there she'll be precisely on time for the unveiling.

*

As Pepper moves on, Diana does, as well. Yes. There are a lot of hands to shake and smiles to give. She speaks amiably with as many as she can, while not seeming rude. She's adept, however, at spending just enough time and redirecting the conversation or excusing herself before it becomes to monopolized. If she noticed the server, she doesn't make it immediately obvious. That said, the woman does scan the room automatically. She's not nearly as paranoid as her compatriot in Gotham, but neither can she afford not to be vigilant.

*

Raphael O'Mally is standing next to the podium already, beaming like a proud parent. He's not going to introduce his work, that's for Pepper to do as the hostess, but he does get to stand next to it as it's glory is revealed. Indeed, people are already drifting toward the covered sculpture, aware of what's about to happen. Toward the back Angelo can see Ms. Alderisi apparently wrapping up a conversation with Mr. Tovar. The staff switches the mic on as Pepper reaches the podium.

*

Angelo is short. He is surrounded by taller men and often women. However, he's learned the art of finding a vantage, and since his partners in medicine are both gangly tall creatures, like trees or something, Dr. diLucci is happy to sidle and shift around to where he can see. He ends up standing near the front of the hopefully appreciative crowd, waiting.

*

As Pepper steps up to the announcement podium, the string quartet that have been supplying music thus far bring their song to a gentle end. The lighting also shifts seeming subtly, all to bring the attention of the gathered party goers toward Pepper and the cloth-veiled shape behind her.
"Thank you, everyone, for being here tonight. The Stark Foundation is honored to host this gathering, to celebrate the breakthroughs of our colleagues from Caduceus Initiative, Chiron, Polyglobal," she pauses after each company name to give the gathered people a chance to applaud, "and to show our support to bringing these and all new emerging medical advancements to everyone around the world regardless of income or social standing." She waits for a few moments again at this point.

"We are also here to unveil the newest addition to visual artist Raphael O'Mally's already impressive portfolio." She smiles to the artist, then turns slightly to gesture toward the sculpture — a signal for people nearby to pull the concealing fabric away. "This is," she pauses for effect.

"Compassion."

*

Diana, unlike Angelo, is quite tall — especially for a woman. And she has no need to crowd forward to see the statue. She can be patient. Thus, with the press of the crowd around her, she turns as Ms Potts takes the podium to give her due attention. As with everyone else, she applauds when appropriate, but otherwise she easily avoids drawing focus. When the statue is unveiled, she turns to look at it with everyone else.

*

Several things happen at once. The covering over the sculpture is tugged off, cascading away to reveal the sculpture of a doctor and a mutant woman - pointed ears, feathery tufts on the shoulders and arms - kneeling over a fallen child, both offering a hand to help him back up. People applaud and there are a few cheers from the Cadeucus Crowd. Flashbulbs light the room up as photos are taken. O'Mally looks quite proud.

At that very instant Diana (and indeed anyone else with supernatural senses) can hear on one end of the room near one of the two kitchens muffled yelp and on the other end, near or possibly in the other kitchen the distinct sound of an expertly suppressed gunshot. Immediately after that the fire alarms go off. The crowd stops applauding and looks about in confusion as fire barriers lower in front of the doors to the ball room… sealing it shut.

*

"That's not right," Angelo mutters to himself as the applause dies down. "That wasn't champagne."

He opens the Conduit very gently, enough to put an extra gleam on the bits of gold ink showing on his hands and at the corner of his temples. Then the fire alarm goes up while the fire doors go down. He fights the urge to open the firehose and let the light blast forth - everyone seems to be confused, not actually panicking, but … why are the barriers lowering when those doors are the fire exits?

He makes his way back to his partners, in time to put a small flash of Light into Andrew, who was starting to hyperventilate.

"It's ok, we're safe," he says, and normally that wouldn't really do it but with the boost, Andrew calms down. Ange starts looking over the crowd to see if anyone is having surprise or stress-triggered things - angina, freakouts, whatever.

*

Pepper Potts blinks and is instantly on alert when the fire alarms start to go off. "Please, everyone, stay calm. I'm sure it's just a minor malfunction in the electrical system." Of course, she didn't hear the faint noises from the kitchen area or she might have phrased that differently. "Everything will be fine in just a few moments." If she's on the verge of freaking out over this, she's hiding really, REALLY well.

*

Diana is one of those sorts who's instinctively alert to the sounds of distress. And gunshots are fairly recognizable to her, as well. Before the fire alarms ever go off, she's moving through the crowd as quickly as she can without drawing excessive attention to herself — though, let's be honest: The Themysciran Ambassador moving away from the statue just as it's unveiled will attract attention. As she moves, she's opening her clutch. She places the purse itself in a nearby planter, but from it she draws a golden rope. By the time those fire barriers are coming down, she's at least halfway to the kitchens… and she already knows she's far too late.

*

Everyone who has a cell phone feels it go off instantly. On nearly all of them the message says "Attempt to force the doors, and they may explode." Pepper's, is curiously, says "the fox is in the hen house." No return number on the text.

Is it Angelo's imagination or… somehow during the commotion Ms. Alderisi ended up on the other side of the crowd. Huh. Well, people have been moving around. And yes several of them, older ones mostly, do appear to be having panic attacks.

Work in the kitchen has stopped, as the staff appear as confused as the guests. One of pantry doors is cracked open though and inside is a very dead man in a tux. He has a gun and there's a shell casing nearby. No wound on him though. A cursory examination reveals that his neck was broken. There is a fair bit of blood spatter on the wall near the dead man as well. Which certainly didn't come from him. And is very unsanitary, y'know.

*

Angelo had been thinking of just that thing: forcing the door, or at least lifting one of the barriers. They're not supposed to be immovable, after all - but the warning text stops him. The panic attacks need to be stopped then. He makes his way to them or past them, moving in a quick way that looks almost like he's trying to reach Ms. Potts without shoving into anyone - but he passes nearly all the people who are panicking and brushes a hand against them in the process, and a faint glow remains for a half-second where his hand touched, sending the calming energy into them.

When he reaches Pepper, he says, "Someone texted me not to try to move those barriers. Did you get the same thing?" And it might be strange for almost anyone else to say that, really, but he looks like he recreationally moves heavy things, so it's not that strange.

*

Pepper Potts glances at her phone in consternation, then quickly taps over to a small, unobtrusive-looking app buried in her phone. The phone immediately links to JARVIS and she uses her finger to write on the screen '911, bldg in lockdown' which she knows the AI will interpret and respond to accordingly. She then forwards the message that arrived on her phone, hoping JARVIS (or possibly Tony) can trace it back to whomever sent it.

When deLucci approaches her and asks about the text, she looks up from her phone. "No. I got 'the fox is in the hen house'." And by the way she conveyed that quietly and carefully away from the microphone, she knows it's NOT a good thing. But, she does add that to the information she's been passing on to JARVIS. 'doors rigged, others warned to not force them'.

Finally, her eyes roam across the gathered people and she notes with a bit of surprise that some of them seem calmer than just a few moments before. She's careful to not let that surprise show on her face.

*

By the time Diana arrives at the kitchen, it's too late. She doesn't, however, have a cell phone — though she always has a JLA communit. Still, she checks the body briefly and looks at the rest of the kitchen staff. "Quickly," she says, "what happened?" Meanwhile, her enhanced senses are straining to catch more of what's going on, which is part of the reason she catches some of the conversations happening out in the main room.

*

Fire alarms bring the fire department. Bomb threats bring the police. The Ritz is a big place and they'll have to search it top to bottom which takes a lot of time, but help is onscene if still on the other side of those blast doors.

People are calmer, but at the same time, fairly nervous. Mr. Tovar makes his way over to Pepper. "Miss Potts." He greets her casually. "Any idea at all what's going on?" At that moment Pepper gets another text. "Find the fox, free the hens." Three pictures come with it. One is Tovar's, another is O'Mally's and the last is Guapta's. Raphael paces not to far away, unable to stand still. Doctor Guapta is talking with a few medical types, looking relatively calm for the situation. Many hushed conversations are occurring about the room, no few of them speculating that this must be the work of that terrorist the Partisan.

There's evidence of a brief but fairly ferocious struggle in the pantry. And… whimpering coming from one of the air ducts behind a… knocked over steel shelf. The whimpering is soft. So soft it even strains Diana's hearing.

"I… don't know." A young waitress answers Diana. "One of the new staff came running back here in a hurry and went into the pantry. We thought he needed something for the event but then we heard struggling and someone hit the floor. By the time any of us worked up the nerve to look in there…" She seems near frightened, panicked tears now. "We found… we found Jeff in there dead…"

*

Angelo may or may not see the text on Pepper's phone, because he's looking into his own phone, when something triggers a momentary "all-white all-bright" that makes him look a bit too bright for about a half second. In fact, his eyes go pure white and glowing, if you are looking straight at them. He, however, is looking straight at Ms. Alderisi, for that half-second, and wearing an expression of mild puzzlement.

"What are YOU?" he says, in a subdued voice. Probably not loud enough to be heard by anyone but maybe Pepper and the super-hearing-equipped Amazon. And maybe that robot or automaton over there that looks like Alderisi. Or is Alderisi? At this point, Angelo isn't sure.

*

Pepper Potts looks at Tovar as he approaches, then at her phone again. It's now set to automatically forward everything to JARVIS. "I'm still not entirely sure," she admits to Tovar, her free hand reaching to switch the microphone off so it doesn't transmit everything she says near it. "But I'm hoping we'll be able to resolve this peacefully." Please figure this out, JARVIS. Fast. She glances at Angelo, catching just the last moment of … something odd about him when he asks that random(?) question.

*

"I am sorry," Diana tells the young waitress. "Please. Stay here. I will see what I can do to help." She doesn't miss that whimpering sound, but it's a near thing. And although she can hear Angelo and the others, she ends up having to tune them out to focus instead on finding that whimpering. Of course, the knocked over shelf before the ducting is a good tip. She moves towards it to investigate.

*

Emony Alderisi notices the bright flash of light like many others in the room. Doctor diLucci has all eyes on him, at least for the moment. All eyes including the three pictured in Pepper's photo. "Can I help you, Doctor?" She's noticed his stare.

JARVIS is after all a supercomputer. "Miss Potts." He begins. "There does not appear to be any evidence of explosives in the doors, though I cannot rule out an electrical overload. I've also been able to identify the source of your mysterious texts. They're coming from moc.ediskrad|tcepsa#moc.ediskrad|tcepsa. It's a very well hidden, spoofed e-mail."

The shelf might have been knocked over during a struggle, but if the staff didn't mention hearing it then perhaps it was placed down deliberately… Either way it's a sinch for Diana to move. Once she gets the duct behind it open, she finds, huddling, dirty and looking very frightened, Emony Alderis who is trying and failing to be very quiet.

*

Ange thinks a bit faster when he's got active Conduit going, because of the "like being on 100 proof caffeine" effect of Living Light. The strangeness of Ms. Alderisi didn't seem to be important at the moment, because, well, she's not doing anything malicious. He needed to get a view of the whole place. So he moved to the corner, brushing against the last few of the people who were panicky, even though they're holding it together.

"It's ok, the police are on their way," he said comfortingly. And when he got to the corner, he takes out his phone again, and there's another odd flash as he opens Conduit to LOOK at the room in whole.

And dammit, he was NOTICED.

"Oh," he answers Ms. Replacement Alderisi, "I was just curious about how you were handling this situation. You seem much calmer than I would have expected. That's quite remarkable."

He doesn't look hard at Tovar or O'Malley. They're for later, because it looks like they've done something moderately to massively evil within the last few days.

*

Pepper Potts blinks as JARVIS speaks up, hastily putting a finger over the speaker of the phone to try and muffle the AI's voice a bit. She looks at Tovar and offers a hopefully reassuring smile, then says as quietly as she can to JARVIS over her phone, "Can you trace where that person's emails are originating?" She's still mentally trying to puzzle out what that last message meant, though she has an inkling and she's not sure she likes the implications.

*

Diana reaches into the ducting to free Ms Alderisi, or to coax her to come out. "Are you alright? What happened? What are you doing in here?" Her ears catch something of the conversations in the other room, and she turns her head slightly before bringing her attention back around to Alderisi.

*

The Ms. Alderisi in the main room blinks at Angelo. "Panicking will serve no purpose here, doctor." She says with an air of unshakable confidence. There's… actually something about her. Something about the lines of her form that looks *really* familiar… somehow. Like he's seen it somewhere else and very recently. She is very attractive. Statuesque, one might say.

"Tracing, Miss Potts." Fortunately Angelo's slightly odd behavior and his conversation with Ms. Alderisi still has everyone's attention. "The emails are coming from a mobile device within fifty yards of your location. Attempting to refine." The phone buzzes again with another text. "Time's running out. Fox'll start eating hens if not smoked out."

"I… oh gods… you're…" Emony stares at Diana. She's hyperventilating and biting onto a rolled bit of cloth that had been a gag probably but got untied at some point. She's indeed, not restrained when Diana found her. "Someone grabbed me from behind. Dragged me in here. Tied me up. I didn't see who it was. Someone else came in the room. I heard a struggle… then a gunshot. Some… some guy with a cowel covering his face untied me and told me to hide here until it was safe… 'Until the fox is caught' he said. He took off down the ductwork behind me." She has a smudge on her cheek. It's not blood… it almost looks like… modeling clay.

*

"Of course not," Angelo says. He looks harder at her, and says, "Uhm, Ms. Alderisi, it's perhaps an odd time to ask this, but well, have you had a great deal of plastic surgery very recently? Because, when I saw you on Fox News last week - my Mom watches it sometimes - you had some serious laugh lines, and I know this could be rude, but you had a smaller and less perky bustline. And a bit of, forgive the word, cellulite. But you don't have any of those things."

*

Years of putting up with Tony's really impeccably timed snark is now proving its usefulness. Pepper keeps an absolutely straight face as the most recent message arrives, and she looks at Tovar. "Could you come with me for a moment?" She then turns and approaches O'Mally. "Mr. O'Mally? Could I ask you to come with us briefly? I think I know how to fix this and I could an extra pair of hands."

As she tries to lead the two men away from the podium, she says into her phone quietly, "JARVIS, shut that signal down. Be as aggressive as you have to be, but close it down. And then lift the fire alarm and release the doors."

*

"Okay, okay…" Diana says quickly, compassionately, even. She gathers the woman up to make sure she's safe and to help calm her down. Studying her for a moment, she touches the smudge on her cheek. "Clay…" She knows a thing or two about clay. Rather intimately, really. "You have a smudge of clay on your face." She frowns faintly and moves closer to the duct to listen, to try to hear something more before she turns. "Alright. Come with me. We need to get you some place better than this." She draws the woman out, now, to stay among the employees. "Get her some water. All of you, stay here. I will be back as soon as I can." Because now, now the Amazon is going hunting.

*

Ms. Alderisi gives Angelo a rather shocked and confused look. "Is there a purpose to this line of questioning, sir? My appearance hasn't changed in months." Which is… totally not true. She's idealized. Almost a work of art. That latest exchange really does have everyone's attention now.

Both Tovar and, a bit more slowly, O'Mally follow Pepper. Both look fairly baffled at what she has in mind. JARVIS goes to work. It's only about thirty seconds before he reports back. "The Fire suppression system shows extensive infiltration. Actively purging."

Diana can quite clearly hear a zot followed by a grunt of consternation come from the ductwork. Then a heavy impact and what sounds like another scuffle. She can also hear Pepper leading the mogul and sculptor away and Angelo trading curious barbs with… the… woman she just rescued…

*

"You're TOO perfect, Ms. Alderisi. You look like, I dunno, a sculpture. In fact, you look a LOT like the sculpture here, Compassion. Very beautiful, almost the same design sense. Which is very strange, because flesh and blood is never as symmetrical and perfect as you are. I'm very impressed with your … surgeon. A true artist."

Angelo speaks up loudly enough for O'Mally to hear him. Flattery is a great way to trip up an artist.

*

Pepper Potts leads Tovar and O'Mally toward where Guapta is chatting almost too calmly. "Excuse me, doctor?" She's trying for calm herself, but really, this is kind of beyond what she's ever had to deal with before. Even including the whole 'I am Iron Man' thing. What she's hoping to do: One of the three will react, and the other two will help her keep the third from bolting or… whatever.

*

Diana tracks the sound in the vents by ear. When she arrives at the point where the scuffle sounds, she slams her fist through the drywall and into the vent, ripping it open to find out just what in the name of Artemis is actually going on in there. In her other hand is her lasso… which could probably solve a whole lot of problems, by and by.

*

Angelo's comments reach O'Mally just as Pepper, he and Tovar reach Dr. Guapta. O'Mally's eyes widen and he realizes that he's about to be made, if he's not been already. He turns, his, hand reaching into his sports coat. Tovar and Guapta both lunge and the three go down in a tumble. The two men pin the artist down, but not fast enough to keep him for reaching the detonator in his jacket pocket. "HAIL HYDRA!" He screams at the top of his lungs and flicks the safety switch open.

Diana punches a hole in the drywall just in time to see a familiar looking hacker grappling with one of the help… who is wielding a wicked looking serrated combat knife. There's a sickening crunch of bones as Jericho breaks the man's neck, and then the sounds of struggle and shouting come from the main room. He looks, eyes wide, at Diana. "He has a bomb!"

*

"Aspect?" At least Diana has the presence of mind not to use Jericho's real name. Still, as she registers his words, and realizes who 'he' is, putting that together with the smudge on Alderisi's face…

All anyone sees is a gold-and-white streak exploding from out of the service area into the main room. The statue is ripped off its pedestal. The fire barrier shatters The doors shatter. Maybe some pieces of statue remain, but it's mostly dust and nothing substantial.

Indeed, by the time the thing actually explodes, it's a couple of miles up in the air and rising, Diana hovering at the single mile mark, watching it fly harmlessly away from the city and the people in the gala.

Of course, her dress might not be quite so pristine, any more. Which might effect its charity auction later.

*

Angelo was moving toward the statue, wasn't he? Wait, he's standing near the sculptor. How confusing, all that super-speed whooshing. He nods to the other two bigwigs, and Miss Potts. And he has something in his hand; he's touching it to O'Mally, "Clear, gentlemen," and apparently zaps the man with a stun-gun, because he spasms for a second before going limp. "That'll prevent any other stupid hydra tricks."

He looks over to the false Ms. Alderisi, and smiles. "I was distracting him. I saw the detonator earlier." Liar.

*

Pepper Potts gasps and reaches to try and snag the trigger thing away from O'Mally when the other two tackle him, and then there's the white and gold blur, and the doors being VERY forcibly opened, and the statue is just… gone. She is about to make another grab at the trigger anyway when diLucci ends the scuffle with a handy dandy taser. She stares at him a bit confusedly for a second and then snaps out of it and says into her phone, "JARVIS? What just happened?"

*

The police close in after the doors burst and are soon taking Raphael O'Mally into custody, possibly for transfer to a SHIELD facility as soon as possible. The fake Emony Alderisi is also taken into custody for questioning and eventual analysis. No one seems quite sure what's gonna happen to her. Angelo's quick wit has impressed… well quite a number of people apparently, because he gets several 'call us' comments as people are bustled off to give statements by people who want to offer funding and several 'call me' comments from… people who probably want a date?

"Wonder Woman happened, I believe madam." JARVIS replies. "Mister O'Mally's sculpture was apparently a bomb. I have purged the hotel's systems of all foreign software and access and have shut off the mobile signal in your vicinity." He adds. "The doors… appear to be moot at this point." Pepper's quick thinking has not gone unnoticed either and she receives several heartfelt thank you's from those nearby and approving smiles from Mr. Tovar and Dr. Guapta before they're taken off to give statements.

Of course, it was impossible to miss the actions of the Princess of Themyscria and she'll have both press and very grateful glitterati waiting for her when she comes back down to earth. Another day in the life of Wonder Woman.


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