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The X-Men and several of the Avengers finally encounter the cause of the fires. As well as a pain in the butt with three stars on his shoulders.

"Superheroes." The word was said with a full heaping of scorn and disdain, practically a curse by the speaker as he strode up. A trio of stars adorned each shoulder of the well-worn but immaculately kept camouflage the man wore, unadorned except for the nameplate ROSS over his breast pocket. His mouth moved slightly under his regulation-precise mustache, as if looking for a cigar to chomp on. Instead, Lieutenant General Thaddeus Ross clasped his hands rigidly behind his back and he favored the trio of 'civilians' he'd thrust himself on with a penetrating glare.

"Who's in charge of this shit show?" he asked, leaving unsaid the assumption that whoever it was would be yielding authority to him.

"Currently, this situation is under SHIELD's authority," Yelena said crisply, moving to intercept Ross. Her expression was less than impressed as she crossed her arms over her chest. "And you are?"

"And a fantastic job you're doing of it," Ross said derisively. "Last name Ross, first name -General-," he said in reply to Yelena. "The army and the Guard will be taking it from here." The general turned dismissively to give orders to his subordinates. "I want LAAD on the high ground there and there...."

Logan snorted and glared at jackass' back. "And just what makes ya think you can handle what we've got goin' on here? Swoopin' in out of nowhere to deal with somethin' you don't have any idea 'bout?" He was already itching to unsheath his claws and see if this asshole had anything more than air in him. At least with SHIELD, they could expect them to handle things.

"Whoa, this is still an investigation, General Ross. Unless this has been classified as a national security issue, USAF can't displace SHIELD without authorization from either the DNI or USIC." It wasn't so much that Kane trusted the Avengers over the Army, but he knew how things were supposed to work. And when they didn't, there was usually a reason. "Is there a reason the Pentagon is so keen to take this over?"

"Clearly I have more idea than you all running around in your leather fetish gear," Ross replied. "While you all are pussy-footing around 'investigating' and playing nurse, none of you has done jack about -that-!" He jabbed a finger at the sky where a humanoid figure limned in fire swooped low and tossed several fireballs at a building.

Yelena's expression darkened and her hand tightened into a fist, but her voice was calm as she responded. "You're assuming we're the only team involved, General, and that we were planning to ignore the out of control man on fire. We'll appreciate your assistance, of course." Her accent had sharpened slightly, as if Yelena was purposefully reminding Ross of her origins. "And our investigation will continue, even while we're saving the city." She turned to Garrison. "Dominion - that is correct, yes? - we need to avoid any more collateral damage. Do you and Wolverine have any suggestions?"

"Yeah. Give him something that keeps his attention focused and draw him away from the city. Maybe out over the water." Kane said. "Fortunately, at least for you and not us, Wolverine and I can take a little burning on the nose to get him started in the right direction."

Logan gave a long suffering sigh. Having his skin roasted never counted as a fun time in his books and yet he somehow ended up subjected to it more times than he liked to think about. "Yah, what he said." What he was going to say next was going to suck even worse. Clawing his way up and out from the watery depths was not going to be fun. "Get somethin' to hold him still long enough to launch me at him, and we can even get him put out too." He shot a glance at Kane. "Ya better have some quick, efficient retrieval system for fishin' me outta the water."

"Normally I'd suggest waterwings, but I'm pretty sure Marie would be mad at me. We'll come get you when you sink, Old Man."

"I might not be fire-proof, but we should be able to provide you both with some assistance. Wolverine," Yelena said dryly. "We seem to have a strategy, let's gather our resources and deploy it. Unless you object, General Ross?" The last was said with clear sarcasm.

Years of experience at giving and receiving unpalatable orders, and making 'yes, -sir-' sound an awful lot like 'fuck you very much' had more or less inured Thaddeus Ross to sarcasm. "Yeah, we'll try it your way for now, Widow," he told her. "But I'll be bringing along my men for when your collective posteriors need to be pulled out of the fire." He turned briskly, already having dismissed the others, and started giving orders. "Move out! We're taking this party on the road!"

Angel and Namor use their respective powers to herd the Man On Fire away from flammable things and civilians and the like.

The tension had definitely ratcheted up several notches with the arrival of Army and National Guard units. Vehicles were deploying, and men with guns far heftier than the NYPD's sidearms were swarming in response to the orders from their superiors. Something needed to be done, and fast.

"I am going to need so much chocolate after this," Angel mumbled as she hovered in the air, watching the reinforcements come in. This was going to get ugly. Fast. "We gotta get that thing out of the city," She said as she landed next to Namor. "You up for a swim, fish dude?"

Namor looked over from a tablet he was showing, requisitioned from some military peon, that held a lot of details there wasn't time to process. He took it all in stride, however, and replied almost lazily. "That has the beginnings of a plan, but," and he, in turn, hovered a little, "I suggest we give the golem a couple moving targets. That is, if you can keep up with me."

"Sounds like a challenge," Angel said with a smirk. "Shall we?"

"Before We play: they say this 'android' is completely a fabrication and that no man can take it down." As if to punctuate as to where this question was leading, Namor gave his golden trident a twirl.

"They do," Angel agreed, looking back up at the sky. "They make it sound pretty intimidating, even."

"Good thing We are merely no Man."

With those words, the Atlantean raised his trident in a casual, almost lazy motion, pulling some water from the adjoining bay. He took off toward the android's last known location, water trailing like a floating puppy behind him.

A sensor went of in Torch his brain, setting of a flood of subroutines: INCOMING. INCOMING. TWO POSSIBLE TARGETS. ASSESS RISK. ASSESS RISK. He wheeled around in the sky to further analyse the figures approaching. One was followed by a cloud of water, the other had a fiery presence that matched his own.

"Oh it sees us. Hello!" Angel called in a voice which suggested she was talking to a spooked cat rather than an android which had destroyed half the city. "Don't mind us, we're just here to play."

She shot up higher into the air to draw its fire away from Namor.

DANGER! DANGER! MEASURES TO NEUTRALIZE. Torch lifted both arms, one aimed at Angel, the other aimed at Namor and let loose with a couple of fiery bolts of energy.

There was another flick of the the trident, and the water arced up and over -- sizzling as it met the fireball, the remaining water forming a rotating shield around its master. A master who had not stopped moving.

WHAM. Namor hit the android with a sidelong punch, sailing through with the hit and not slowing until behind the firebot.

"Yo, hey, robot dude!" Angel yelled, swooping in front of the android before it could refocus on Namor. Fighting fire with fire was no good, but Angel could be a pestering distraction like nobody's business. She circled the thing from above like a vulture about to descend on its next meal. "Up heeeeeeeere!"

Torch only response was a new barrage of fiery energy bolts shot from his hands upwards where Firestar was buzzing around. 'ATTACK DETECTED FROM BEHIND. EMERGENCY MEASURES' scrolled before his eyes. Suddenly a glowing cloud of energy was expelled from the android behind at a high speed. The cloud quickly sped at Namor.

No one should ever let Kyle, Wade, and Spider-Man do the planning.

Getting the fiery...whatever it was...out away from civilization had been the easy part. Finding a way to take it down had been much more difficult. Even the resident firebugs of the team weren't making much headway, and the thing just kept going.

"Fuck, it's like a giant fucking energizer bunny on fire." Kyle spat out something grey and sticky from his mouth, more mucus from smoke inhalation, and pulled a black leather jacket on over his tattered t-shirt. "Anyone asks, I've still quit the X-Men I just don't like getting my skin burned off." He already had healing burns, he didn't need any more, they kept his ass from being effective.

"Giving sick burns is much more fun than receiving them," agreed Spider-Man, whipping through the air and landing on the side of a nearby wall. He eyed the Torch, trying to formulate a plan of attack. "No one has any ideas, I take it?" Peter was fresh out at the moment himself, as loathe as he was to admit it.

"I'm just happy I finally get to shoot something," Wade said through the emergency smoke/air filter he'd pulled from one of his many pouches. It wasn't foolproof, but it was definitely nice to've missed out on all the smoke inhalation so far. Handguns loaded and ready, he checked to make sure nobody he liked was anywhere near him, then started firing at the fire thing.

He could make out the ting-ting-pop of the bullets hitting their targets, but they didn't seem to have much of an overall impact. "Ugh," he muttered, reholstering his sidearms and squinting. "So. I've got a few grenades. And it'll take me like, I dunno. Two minutes to retrieve a rocket launcher. How're we feeling about that?"

"Well, I feel fucking great about it, but is it gonna get any of us arrested, because most of us are't wearing spandex on their face." Kyle pulled a bandanna from one of the pockets of his jacket and rolled his eyes. "Self, you suck for not remembering you had this." He tied it around his mouth and nose. "Spider-flan, how much can you dead lift, because I might need to get thrown at the fire robot."

"I can lift a lot more while I'm alive, though to be fair I wouldn't really know otherwise." He tilted his head in question for a second before eyeballing Kyle. "But yeah, no, I got you. Just say the word and run at me. Apologies in advance if I break into the song from Dirty Dancing."

"I karaoke'd a dude once as a plan of distraction and attack," Wade said, digging through his pouches. "I'd sing along, but I've been told I'm not allowed to sing ever again -- not even in the shower. Oh, hey, sweet," he grinned. "Here, Spicewalker -- take a few of these with you when you do the loop-di-loop, leave them with Firebrand over there." Tossing Kyle a couple grenades, he finished by pulling on a pair of ridiculous aviators he'd found on the street while all the looting was happening.

"Aw man, why you gotta always be giving me blow up stuff when ima about to get set on fire." Kyle said with a huff. "Right, so, here's the plan, toss me at the stupid flying fire guy. Ima do my thing and jump into the water once I'm too on fire, and then one of you take over, kay?"

Peter just nodded and gave Kyle a thumbs up as he moved to get into position. "Now I've... had..."

"Hate you!" Kyle thought briefly about kicking Spider-Man in the eye as he was tossed. It'd be a gentle kick, an educational kick, a kick of vengence for getting that damn song stuck in his head, but kicking your "teammates" in the face right before they were going to help you knock a giant fire robot back on course was probably a bad idea.


He went up, missed by an arm's reach, went up a little bit more, and caught the stupid flying fire robot by one very firey leg on the way down, and regretted it because the stupid thing was on, in fact, fire. "Twenty seconds until I'm well-done, call me a direction and don't shoot me, Deadpool!"

"Lame!" Wade muttered. "You'd heal..." Shrugging to himself, he hollered, "LEFT! MAKE IT GO LEFT!" And then he started shooting roboflame in the face.

"You heard the man! SWIPE LEFT!" Peter shot more web at the robot, trying to distract it and keep it from swatting Kyle off as he rode it and Wade opened fire on it. There wasn't much more he could do at that point, other than continuing to hum the Dirty Dancing song of course.

The best - and by best, Kyle meant only - way to adjust the stupid-flying-fire-robot's course was to throw his own body weight around until it had no choice. Kyle threw himself over the robot's legs and swung down over the other side of them with as much momentum as he could gather. The legs went right, the robot went just a little bit to the left, Kyle's sleeve caught entirely on fire and he let go, falling with zero grace into the water below with a mighty splash.

"Tag, Spider-guy's it." he muttered into his comm. "Robot owes me a new jacket."

"AND I OWE IT ALL TO YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU," Wade sang, shooting the right side of the flying fireball's face. If he didn't have to focus so much on actually making the damn thing fly left, he'd've started dancing."

"ONE TARGET ELIMINATED" Torch stated. Ignored the lead pinging of it's face, he turned towards the noise making human. "ELIMINATION OF TARGET 2 IN PROGRESS." Raising a glowing hand, it moved forward as fire built around it's fingers.

"One target eliminated," Wade mocked, voice high pitched and nasal-y as he dove to the side in an attempt to find cover. "Guys, fireballs are the worst," he continued, using his momentum to roll behind a stack of barrels that he hoped a) weren't flammable and b) weren't full of flammable stuff. The fireball hit a moment later and, while he was thrilled that he hadn't been drenched in gasoline or crude oil, he was less pleased when the barrels proved empty and, thus, a very poor choice of cover.

Ejecting the empty clips from both guns as dove for a better hiding place, Wade slammed new clips in and asked, "How much longer are we playing Hot Potato with this guy? Cause if this keeps up, I'm gonna go find a goddamn RPG. Just see if I don't."

"Might I recognize Final Fantasy VII? Tifa is bae." Peter had deftly leapt to the opposite side as Wade in order to dodge the fireball. "Though truthfully you can't really go wrong with any of the main titles in that series." He swung around to the opposite side of the robot and tried to distract it with more webbing, hoping someone else could find a weak spot in the meantime. At the very least moving targets were harder to hit, he told himself.

Three more shots pinged of his armor and Torch, now seriously 'irritated', turned towards it's source. Both his hands and chest started to glow, mixing heat and radiation in a dangerous fashion, and let forward a steady cloud in the direction of the man waving his weapons around.

"For god's sake," Ross muttered to himself from where he stood in the door of his command vehicle. "It's amateur hour out here. If I have to hear one more off-key chorus or discussion of video games, so help me..." His jaw clenched and his moustache jerked sideways in an obvious sign of his irritation. "All batteries, fire at will!" he barked out.

Screw waiting.

With the Man On Fire having problems, Garrison and Logan keep playing hot potato, Ross pulls his ace in the hole, things go poorly for him, and Namor gets to be a Big Damn Hero.

Whatever the fiery being was, it was becoming apparent that, while humanoid, it wasn't human. The shelling and missile fire from the US Army had knocked it down, but as it stood up there was a new problem - some kind of crack or crease across its chest, from which a sickly greenish energy was leaking into the flames, lending them a more lurid appearance.

"I've noticed I get a lot of hair burned off in this job. Did you notice that?" Kane said to Logan as they moved quickly in to close. "I mean, I still have a bottle of shampoo I bought, like, in October that I haven't used up."

Logan had his claws out and his eyes trained on the leaking android. The frontal attack probably wouldn't lead to excessive injuries to heal from on either of their parts. The damn thing was already halfway down for the count anyway. "Hard to tell for me. Yah need to amp up that healing factor of yours."


The flames around Torch started to intensify, building up to fever pitch and after a moment sent out a wave of fire in all directions.

"You know, amping up your healing factor is kinda code for blow me with Rogue. Don't get me wrong. I think you're pretty. But I don't need to drink from the Fountian of Youth, ya dig?"

Logan snorted and eyed the incoming wall of flame with resignation. "Ain't no time sex isn't on yer brain, is there? Right now havin' the power to put out that wall of flame comin' towards us would be great. You have a fire extinguisher somewhere in your back pocket?"

"Nope. Thank god we don't need to pay for our own uniforms, eh?" Kane said before he'd doubled up his arms in front of his face and the wall of flame hit. Even as the heat washed over him, Kane could feel his skin reacting, becoming resistant. when he finally was able to open his arms, his skin had taken on a dark sheen and most of his hair was gone.

Unlike Kane, Logan didn't have nanites to rapidly adapt to whatever threat was immediately on hand. Logan dropped to the ground, covering his head and shoulders with his arms and gritted his teeth as the wall of flames engulfed him. The stench of burned flesh merged with synthetic fibers would never be something he got used to. He grunted as he wobbled to his feet. His hair and skin were already growing back. "Too bad I can't grow back my own damn uniform. Would make life less annoyin'."

NEUTRALIZATION FAILED. SECONDARY ACTION URGENTLY NEEDED!!! Another wave of fire built and was pushed out in a half circle while Torch was inching back.

"Um, so, that's kind of computer failure talk. Maybe we're getting close to him shutting down-" Another wave of fire rolled over them. "Or maybe not. Ideas? I can get in, but it gets more intense."

"Why're we always the ones havin' to regrow ourselves in fights?" Logan grumbled as he grimaced through another wave of painful regrowth. "Ya got enough left in ya to hurl me at it? Maybe a Wolverine special to the gullet will shut it down 'fore it gets to the 'all falls down' part of things."

The greenish glow from the damaged chest of the fire-person being identified as gamma radiation lent a new urgency to the battle raging around it. On top of containing the mute antagonist, there was also the consideration of limiting everyone's exposure to the dangerous energy spilling out. Even those with healing factors or immunity to fire could only stand so long against it.

*TRACKING HOSTILE FORCE* *STABBING WEAPON DETECTED* scrolled past Torch his vision. The android turned in the direction of Namor, raising it's hand as a fiery glow started to build around his hand. *ELIMINATION IN PROGRESS* A stream of fire shot forward to where the Atlantean was standing.

Or, was standing. The erratic android, though dangerous, was not an overly strategic villain. Especially if you happened to be an Atlantean who could fly.

"This play tires us, Golem," Namor quipped idly, taking to the air. He lazily flicked his trident, summoning a stream of water from the nearby bay to circle around him in a protective circle. He had been keeping this up, but Namor's tired tone, spoken clearly into his headset and loud enough for the assembled crowd, indicated that the royal's statement was not just for the Torch's bemusement.

A splash of water. Another blast of fire. Ancient weapon against modern tech. The two continued to trade blows.

"Ross, you'd better do whatever it is you want to do now - I don't think the kid has much more in him," Yelena said, watching the battle with a trained eye, noting the Atlantean's fatigue. "You said there was some kind of failsafe?"

"Oh, now you want my help, Widow?" Ross had kept himself close by, content to watch the 'heroes' flail around and prove what a waste of time they were. "I ought to make you say 'pretty please'." Still, he snapped his fingers and a subordinate handed him a handset. A speaker crackled to life, and Ross barked a series of words. "Apò. Mēkhanês. Theós." When the android continued to stagger about, thrashing wildly at Namor, he frowned. "Apò. Mēkhanês. Theós. -Acknowledge-." Still nothing. He grimaced and stepped out from behind the door of his HMMWV, striding confidently toward the fracas.

"SHUT DOWN INITIATED. IN PROGRESS. ABORTED ABORTED." Torch started moving even more wildly as the command sent certain sub routines in a spin. Fire building between it's hand and he staggered in front of of Ross. "PROTECT PRIMARY. PROTECT PRIMARY." Random balls of fire were flung in every direction, except where Ross was standing.

Yelena swore virulently in Russian and dodged for cover. "I thought you said you could shut it down!" she barked at Ross. "The thing's going critical!"

Ross grunted in frustration. It had been such a simple plan. Banner was obsessed with gamma radiation. Horton's android was powered by a primitive gamma reactor. With the fire and destruction, it should have brought the Hulk running, and show these Avengers for the unreliable loose cannons they were. Instead, he was surrounded by a bunch of mutants - unknown qualities, all of them - and that motormouth Spider-kid. "STAND DOWN," he roared at the android, in his best parade ground 'I expect to be obeyed right now, dammit' voice.

Torch stared at his PRIMARY in front of him and took one step towards him. He froze in place after that first step though, his outer hull cracking, a fiery light shining from within, that only got brighter and brighter.

"Oh goddammit," Wade said. He'd been watching from the sidelines, but if the blonde Widow said the thing was going critical and the motherfucking general couldn't get it to shut down, that pretty much meant bad things all around. "Guys, head for cover, find some lead or something. ARS sucks," he said, running forward.

As the radiation from the burning android increased, pouring through the new cracks in its outer armor, he grabbed the general around the waist and manhandled him backward. "I really don't like you, Rossy-poo," Wade muttered, taking Ross to the ground and covering the man with his own body. "ARS is the worst and this is all your fault."

"What in the -hell- do you think you're-" Ross spluttered as the Canadian tackled him to the ground, but was interrupted as a gout of discolored flame licked out and over their heads. He doubted he could actually feel the radiation entering his body, but the general felt a definite queasiness in the pit of his stomach.

"Black Widow, ma'am," a young SHIELD agent called to Yelena, out of breath as he took cover behind a vehicle. "Zephyr One has the containment unit in place. But...how do we get that into it?" he asked.

"Leave that to me - I have an idea. Just make sure the containment crew is ready." Yelena turned her attention from the agent back to the figure flying above them. The one who wasn't on fire. "Namor, Black Widow. We have a containment unit for the Torch, but we need someone to herd it into it. Are you able to do that?"

The comm crackle was like nails on a chalkboard -- a wakeup call for Namor, who had been engaged in a deadly airborne ballet with the fiery science project -- both an unwelcome and jolting disruption to the dance above. The two were something to watch, trading blows while twisting and swooping over the edge of the island and the open water of the bay. For every fireball the robot would hurl, Namor matched it with an equally gracefully pull of water from the sea. It might have been chaos on the land for mere mortals, but this battle in the sky was the thing of gods and kings.

Well, one king. He would claim he could have done this forever, but the urgency in Yelena's tone was a clear call to finish the enemy. Also, Namor was acutely aware that his ability to pull water was getting dangerously low. Several burns covered his torso, and all of this raised red, red flags.

"I am capable of more than you can comprehend, Spider-Woman," he finally replied with a hint of irritation that she should question his ability. "I will put It into your box."

Namor took action. Sweeping low and tight, he changed the angle of his approach on the beach from a careful standoff, mindful of civilians, to a hyper-aggressive mix of lunges and punches toward the Android. A thrust. A dodge. A sweeping blow that left another burn along the Atlantean's arm. The robot responded to the king's lead in their duet, not realizing that Namor was waiting for just the right angle.


Swooping backward, Namor raised his golden, shining trident and threw it at the Human Torch. He hung there, suspended, for just a moment before his graceful, superhuman motion sent the weapon to spear directly through the android's chest and into open containment box. Triumphant, Namor spread his hands and bellowed, "I AM THE IMPERIUS REX. KNEEL."

Not particularly listening, the SHIELD agents that served as part of Zephyr One scrambled to seal the android away.

"Well," Ross began, then had to stop as a cough nearly doubled him up from where he had raised himself up on an elbow on the ground. "I suppose civilians are good for something after all."

"Like cleaning up your mess?" Yelena's hand dropped heavily on Ross' shoulder, holding him in a firm grip. "General Thaddeus Ross, by the power vested in SHIELD by the government of the United States, you are under arrest for malicious property damage, endangerment of civilian lives, attempted murder and manslaughter. And maybe treason. You have the right to remain silent..."

Eyes flitting from one person to another as the blonde Widow handled Ross, Wade checked to make sure everything was pretty much settled before he slipped away. Hopefully nobody'd gotten a bead on him or video footage they could use to ID him. He could already feel his skin tightening, reddening, and he could feel the other symptoms of acute radiation syndrome clawing at the base of his skull. Tapping his comm, he said, "I'm heading for the extraction point. I'm gonna need a medic STAT. Everything and everyone sucks and I hate the government. A lot."


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