Goldfist was re-creating the snips of THACO coding and comm system encryption that he had glimpsed during the technical presentation. As he was crunching algorithms and working through how it might be bypassed (just for fun) he ran the partial coding through his threat assessment matrix that filtered data from all over the world and identified potential threats.
Much to his surprise, the coding patterns of the THACO snippets were a filter that allowed him to bypass cloaking technology and detect a strange energy signature on an uninhabited island off the coast of Brazil. He maneuvered his satellite network to get a picture of the island, only to find out that the image he got was not real-time, but looped; only a handful of geo-political organizations had the “juice” to manage that.
Then he got a call from Cpt. Williams of SHIELD, who said he needed to drop it immediately and discontinue looking into the site. That whetted his interest as nothing else could, but it seemed risky to continue the investigation alone.
Party at the X-Mansion
Fortunately Jade Lotus was visiting his facility in upstate New York (outside Buffalo) as she considered whether or not to take up Colossus on his invitation to visit Xavier’s School for Gifted Youth to see him receive an art award. Goldfist agreed to go with her.
There were numerous X-Men being recognized for various achievements, in a pleasant outdoor celebration. Tien Mu was present, as the X-Men were courting her to replace their incapacitated weather manipulator, Storm.
Zepher was also present, as a good friend of Moira McTaggart. He was networking with the X-Men, furthering his interests in meta studies. As Goldfist asked Tien Mu to return to his place and further investigate the THACO anomaly, Zepher overheard and expressed interest, noting he was a good infiltrator. Goldfist merely gave him his address, and a smile.
There were several highlights from the party hijinks.
- At one point Xavier wheeled out on stage, said “Good news, everyone!” and named off 7 X-Men for a mission. Shortly afterwards a jet took off from under the basketball court.
- Gambit was impressing some freshmen girls with his suavitude, and Goldfist out-suaved him by landing a jet behind himself by remote and inviting the girls to go on a ride.
- Colossus wanted to show off his pinball scores and tussel in the Danger Room with Jade Lotus. Once in the Danger Room, she surprised him with her advanced strength and pounded him through the ceiling, the earth, and up onto the lawn. As far as we know, she is the first to break the Danger Room in just that way. Beast was delighted that he could make further modifications and repairs, but Cyclops discouraged him from inviting Jade Lotus over every 6 months or so to break it again.
Eventually, the party wound down and they took the quin-jet back to Goldfist’s base.
Once they had a chance to clean up and relax, Goldfist briefed them on his findings so far. Zepher slipped in through the defenses, down to the basement, and unobtrusively joined them sitting in a chair without anyone noticing; they were suitably impressed.
Goldfist told them about the coding, and the happy accident of finding it as a way to bypass the cloak of an event off the Brazilian coast, and the discouraging reprimand from SHIELD. Of course, they decided to take one of Goldfist’s jets and check it out.
In the wee hours of the morning, they landed in Rio. They partied here and there, trying to make it look like a vacation, then rested before a night of investigation.
Goldfist bought a fishing boat with cash, and Tien Mu increased the evening’s light rain to a tropical storm to cover their movements. Goldfist was eager to try out his new stealth suit. As they headed out to the island, one of the patrolling helicopters spotted the boat, but as it accosted them it was mysteriously hit by lightning.
Jade Lotus, Tien Mu, Goldfist, and Zepher left their anchored boat and invaded the island with SCUBA gear. While the ladies hung back over the ridge, the men investigated past the SHIELD perimeter. They found a crashed space ship; of course they had to investigate.
SHIELD presence was towards the center of the craft, and there was extensive work to uncover and remove the ship. Goldfist and Zephyr were surprised that they could go to the “bridge” easily enough. There, in the half-crushed cockpit, they saw big suits of armor. Goldfist investigated, and was shocked to find that they were more robotic, with organic steel elements, and signs that there was scarring and healing.
Even more disturbing was evidence that the energy system of the robot was a mix of circulatory and nervous systems powered by a rare energy source—the same proprietary designs that fueled the Goldfist armor, but much more integrated and advanced, and older.
They continued to the prefabricated base that had been dropped here to oversee the operation. Working together, they stole a soldier’s keycard, and Zephyr cloned the base commander’s code onto it. (They discovered Captain Black had been reassigned here, and was in charge.)
First they downloaded the encoded communication logs, then they skulked to the command center. It was guarded by mandroids and tough SHIELD agents. To cause a distraction, Tien Mu hit the spaceship with lightning a few times; that got their attention, and the infiltrators made it into the command center.
Working together, they broke into the sealed records. The orders referred to a body of previous knowledge, and were baffling to the spies. Apparently the “visitors” crashed, the “sweepers” arrived first, and were chased off by the “responders” who turned the site over to SHIELD, who was to “sanitize” the site.
More disturbing, there was no research going on. No attempt to understand or categorize the alien technology, or record it, or work with it. SHIELD seemed to be trying to remove the evidence of the crash altogether.
Baffled, the infiltrators retreated to their ship, striking another helicopter with lightning. They made it back to Rio, to their jet, and returned to New York. They went their separate ways; Tien Mu to her clouds, Jade Lotus to her cabin, and the men to Goldfist’s compound.
As Goldfist reviewed the de-encrypted communication logs, he found it disturbing that there was no big fuss over this, and it became clear SHIELD was involved in a cover up. As he researched, a dimensional portal opened in his lab, and two big robots came through. They attacked, and as Zepher was blasted down Goldfist climbed into his armor, sending out a distress call.
Tien Mu teleported to pick up Jade Lotus, and they arrived as the battle commenced. A big robot attacked with a chain weapon, the other one unarmed, but both had built-in blasters.
Tien Mu saved Zephyr’s fading life force with the life-giving power of lightning. Jade Lotus helped wreck the lab as she battled the feminine agile robot, who managed to escape back through the dimensional gate. Meanwhile Goldfist battled the big bruiser, and relied on his knowledge of technology to disable the big guy with choice shots.
Goldfist removed the prisoner to another lab, surrounded by force screens. He used his science to disable the prisoner’s ability to move. Then he set up all his instruments to record as much as possible about the technology of his attacker.