Yeager was having the time of his life.
He’d honestly thought of Big Ivan as his own personal mid-life crisis Harley. A last ditch effort to feel like an intimidating bad ass who can handle himself in a fight when the grey hairs, softer body, and lack of energy started telling him otherwise. Like a middle aged accountant spending his weekends pretending to be in a motorcycle gang.
Before being classified as a Manhattan level threat, and thrown into a maximum security holding cell, Yeager had never thought of using his ability to do more than engage in petty theft, or work as a getaway driver. After getting out of jail Yeager experimented with his ability a lot more, and learned that he could inhabit or understand any machine of his own size or bigger if the controls were simple enough.
Not that Yeager had any intention of living up to his classification by taking over military vehicles and ordnance.
He also learned that control systems were optional where he was concerned. A car didn’t need to have a steering wheel or pedals for Yeager to control it. In fact, with practice, he could even rip out most of the electronic controls, and run the car better than its own computer ever could.
Benny, who’s own flavor of tech genius was focussed on robots and drones, had pointed out that Yeager could spend most of his time walking around in a robot body, and offered to make him one if he wanted. From that seed grew Big Ivan, which was nothing but a diesel power plant, motors, hydraulics, weapons, and advanced sensors. Big Ivan didn’t need computers, wiring between components, or anything beyond the most rudimentary control systems.
Yeager was Big Ivan’s brain and control system, which left him and Benny a lot of time and money to invest into making Big Ivan stronger, more heavily armored, and also heavily armed. If Big Ivan could be said to have any weaknesses, it was that firing all those guns had been too fun. Yeager had blown through all the ammo on the shoulder mounted machine guns in mere minutes.
Since Yeager had never honestly thought he’d use Big Ivan for anything more than destroying junked cars and looking impressive, he hadn’t given much thought to installing non-lethal weaponry.
The sensor packages had been ‘borrowed’ from a military attack helicopter specifically kitted out for hunting supers with abilities that let them evade detection. Even with the ability to see almost anything and everything for miles away, it had taken a lot of work to avoid killing anyone with Big Ivan’s ordinance.
As often as not, he’d use the weapons to intimidate or corral his victims, and then tear apart anything that looked like the work of a tech genius with the robot’s clawed hands. The three men in Janey’s strongsuits gave Yeager a quite a bit of trouble, because destroying the suits without killing the men inside them took a lot of work.
Eventually, after letting Big Ivan sustain quite a bit of damage, Yeager was able to figure out where the strongsuit power supplies were, and then rip them apart with Big Ivan’s claws. Once that was done, the suits turned into massive man-shaped statues with angry bigots stuck inside.
The last task was the one Yeager was most looking forwards to; destroying the Sword itself. He was hardly surprised when he found Mister Summer and Mister Stitch already at the massive machine at the center of the compound.
Six seven foot tall teddy bears that looked like they’d been designed by a serial killer were in the process of lifting Janey’s machine, which must have weighed tons, onto the back of a decrepit looking flatbed truck. The bears had wicked grins full of blades and foot long metal blades for claws.
It occurred to Yeager that Mister Stitch might be able to animate robots just as well as he could when he felt a force try to contest him for control of Big Ivan.
“That looks fun,” said Mister Stitch in an emotionless voice. “I want it.”
Yeager fought back against Stitch’s control, and the small army of stuffed animals around Mister Stitch collapsed as he turned his power against Big Ivan. The Sword slammed to the ground with a crash as Stitch’s teddy bears lost their animating force.
It took less than a minute for Yeager to overpower Stitch for control of Big Ivan, but as it became apparent that Yeager was going to come out ahead, Mister Summer unleashed a blast of pure heat on Big Ivan that burned a hole right through the middle of its chest, and into most of Big Ivan’s power systems.
Big Ivan had backups, and with his power Yeager could push the robot to keep going. The biggest miscalculation that Summer had made was not taking out the arms that hid a grenade launcher and an anti-tank cannon under armor plates.
Yeager lifted up Big Ivan’s arms, caused the two weapons to emerge, and unloaded into Janey’s anti-super radiation emitter. He also made a point of trying to destroy as many of Mister Stitch’s toys as possible, but three of the murderous teddy bears reanimated and, and barreled towards Big Ivan. All three of the animated monsters began tearing away at whatever wires, cables, or hoses they could reach.
Mister Summer just blew Big Ivan’s head off with another blast of heat. Yeager was able to trigger only one last weapon before being thrown out of the wrecked robot. He collapsed on the ground on the other side of Big Ivan from the two agents.
“You’re a useful man Mister Yeager,” Mister Summer said in a reasonable voice. “My employer is going to be understandably upset about losing this asset, but perhaps you might reveal the location of the young inventor of this device? We have a safe place that she could be kept.”
“Not a chance in Hell,” said Yeager. “And I’d start running if I were you.”
Both of the suited men stared blankly at Yeager for a moment until a moment of calm in all the chaos and noise around them allowed the two agents to hear the loud beeping of an electronic timer somewhere inside Big Ivan counting down.
“Fuck,” said Mister Stitch.
Both of the agents took off running, and Yeager dragged himself to his feet and ran off in the opposite direction as fast as he could. A few minutes later a massive fireball engulfed the center of the junkyard.
Yeager found a corner to hide in until the police and national guard moved in with their cars and trucks. He inhabited a State Trooper’s patrol car, and stayed there quietly up until he almost reached the three day limit of his ability to stay inside machines.
Yeager was mildly amused to find himself emerging in the parking lot of a Tim Horton’s in Detroit.
He was less amused when something soft landed on the back of his neck and pressed sharp blades against his throat. A black sedan with darkly tinted windows pulled up, taking care to remain out of range of Yeager’s ability. Not that Yeager could inhabit another machine for hours after pushing his ability to stay inside the patrol car for so long. The driver’s side window rolled down to reveal Mister Summer’s huge blocky head.
“Mister Yeager,” he said in a voice full of false cheer. “We have been following that police cruiser around for three days waiting for you to come out of there. Personally, I would have liked to just vaporize the thing with you in it, but we do try to keep a low profile, and not waste useful assets. Even when those assets annoy us. Get in the car.”
“I’m not giving up a little boy to you,” Yeager said. He hoped even a little misdirection could throw the agents off Janey’s trail. The blades at Yeager’s throat bore down, and he felt a trickle of blood flow down his throat into his already ruined shifter’s suit.
“We are well aware of who Janey Watkins is, and where she is,” said Mister Summer. “If you lie to us again, you will have your throat torn open by a stuffed rabbit. I’m told that you probably won’t be able to inhabit our car any time soon, but if you try I will gladly test if your ability will let you survive the complete destruction of a machine you control.”
Yeager reluctantly trudged towards the car, opened the back door, and dropped into the back seat. Mister Stitch was in the passenger seat, and the rest of the back seat was filled with evil eyed, clawed, and fanged animate nightmares.
Yeager stared blankly at the plain featured animator in the passenger seat. “You’ve got a problem, you know that?”
The average looking man shrugged and said, “They’re easy to modify and animate, and you can get them by the barrel from any resale shop for a buck each. Most of the time, I can just scare people into doing what I want without fighting at all.”
“And the monster teddy bears? How did you guys even get into or out of that compound with all those things?”
“The same way you did,” said Mister Summer. “Teleporters are rare, but not that rare. If only the teleporter we’d had on hand could have gotten that machine out of there, instead of us being forced improvise a way out with it.”
“All right,” said Yeager. “Now what?”
“Now nothing,” said Mister Summer. “We drive you back to Benny Senzenbacher’s, and we all have a nice talk about Janey’s future. We’ve convinced our employers that for the time being it would not be in anyone’s interests for the young lady to feel threatened enough to use her ability to make more weapons.”
“Do you guys know if a hero called Abstract survived?”
“That’s a weird question,” said Mister Stitch. “Didn’t he send you to prison?”
“Yeah,” said Yeager. “But he was an OK guy. Like you surrender to him, because you know he’s good people just doing a job. Not a violently unhinged nutjob like most heroes.”
“Sadly no,” said Mister Summer. “His enhanced mind abilities turned inwards on him. His telekinesis… Well… It was messy for all of the heroes and VCS staff who died. Only two heroes survived, and three of the VCS intervention team members died as well.”
“Oh no,” Yeager felt the blood drain from his face. “There was a woman named Linda who worked for them, and a guy named Bruce. Well, maybe she’s retired? He was a strongman so did he…”
For once, a bit of real emotion broke through on Summer, instead of the false bonhomie of a Mafia legbreaker. “Agent Linda Anderson is fine, but Agent Ramirez’s power let him store energy in his body. He… Well he died. Your’s wasn’t the only life he touched,” continued Mister Summer. “He was a good man.”