I eavesdropped telepathically with some amusement on all the players as they tried to figure out what the clue meant. "Using the rocket scooters provided by the Avengers, make your way to the inner holy place of the man who founded the non-team."
"By the mighty Dragon Ball, what the heck is a non-team?" Vegeta asked to no one in particular.
"The Defenders!" Deadpool blurted. "They're talking about Doctor Strange!"
Cable shot his partner a nasty look and then jabbed him in the arm. "You couldn't keep that little factoid between us? The first useful piece of information you have ever had, and you go ahead and blurt it to everyone!"
"Oops, my bad," Deadpool replied sheepishly. The two then noticed that everyone had ran for the jet scooters. They quickly moved to catch up.
Emma and Selene were the first two in the air. As Emma steered the craft Selene, seated behind, wrapped her arms around Emma's waist and leaned forward to ask, "Do you have any idea where Doctor Strange's 'inner holy place' might be? I hope we don't need Vasaline to get there."
"Of course not, my dear. Didn't you ever review any of the Hellfire Club's archives? They have dirt on just about everyone. 'Inner holy place' in Latin is Sanctum Sanctorum. Strange's place is in the Village."
Soon all the scooters were in the air. Only Emma, Wolverine and Deadpool knew the location of Doctor Strange's abode though, so the other teams followed them. As the ships dove between the canyons of Manhattan's skyscapers, the pack broke up into three separate groups.
"Dive in closer," Vegeta told Son Goku. "I'm taking that fool Wolverine out of this race right now."
Son Goku opened the throttle on the Avenger's scooter and charged straight for Wolverine and Colossus. Logan's keen hearing picked up the whine of their engine over the roar of rushing air and he turned just in time to see the other scooter slamming right into the side of his. Colossus lost all control and crashed his ship into an insurance office on the 20th floor of a mid-town high rise.
Vegeta was about to leap from his ship and charge at Wolverine when Lieutenant Commander Oneida brought her craft along side his. Master Yoda, hugging her back, called out to Vegeta.
"Stop, you must! Follow the crazed one with the forks on his hands, we two teams have. Of us, our destination only he knows. Let him fly, we must."
Vegeta looked at Yoda for a long moment before speaking. "What the hell did you just say?"
Oneida breathed an exasperated sigh. "Wolverine is the only one who knows where we are suppose to go! We'll all lose the race unless we let him lead us to wherever the heck this temple is!"
The strange contortions Vegeta's face underwent showed just how torn he was. "Fine," he finally said with obvious disappointment. "Another time."
Meanwhile, Wolverine and Colossus had gotten back on their ship and zoomed into the air. "I'm gonna enjoy carvin' that freaky little dude up," Wolverine muttered.
By the time the three teams got into the more open air below midtown, the other groups were already ahead of them.
Jon, the Intergalactic Gladiator flew his craft closely on the heals of the leaders Deadpool and Cable. "Hey, man, I can take those losers out with my M41A Pulse Rifle," Hudson said into his ear.
"Oh yeah, and then what do we do?" Jon asked.
"What do you mean man? We win the friggin' race!"
"Really? And where are we flying to right now?"
"Um . . wherever those guys are going." Hudson pointed to Deadpool and Cable with his rifle.
"And do you know where they are going?"
"No. That's why we're followin' 'em."
"And if you blow them up, how are we going to follow them, Hudson?"
"Well . . maybe I should blow them up after we get to where ever we are going."
"Good plan. And by the way, get your hands off my waist."
"I'm just holdin' on, man."
"If you weren't wearing that ridiculous outfit, I wouldn't mind so much," Jon told him.
"Hey man, I told you. These are my PTs! They let me be mobile. They let me be dangerous!"
Jon just rolled his eyes and concentrated on following Deadpool. About half a mile behind, he could see Emma and Selene, with the Carboard Knight and Superhero Bob and Captain Picard and Data close on their heels.
"I don't see Wolverine and the others anywhere," Selene said into Emma's ear.
"It's possible they already arrived," Emma replied. "I think that little green gremlin has some very powerful abilities."
"We had best take out one of the teams behind us then, just to make sure we don't come in last," the Black Queen suggested.
"Well then, get to it my dear."
Selene turned back and saw Captain Picard closing in on her. The look on his face as he piloted the rocket scooter could only be described as giddy joy.
"Captain, I am not aware that you have ever flown a craft of this type before," stated Data.
"No Data, this is my first time."
"Then do you not think you are flying a bit fast?" The concern in the android's voice was obvious.
"But this is a race Data! You want to win, don't you? We have to go fast!"
"I am not even sure why we are here, Captain. I would think that your duties on board the Enterprise would preclude the involvement in such mundane activities."
"How I choose to spend my shore leave is my own affair. Now let me focus on driving."
"But Captain, to breach Star Fleet protocol by creating a time warp for purely -"
Data's admonishment was cut off by a hail of steel girders flying straight towards them. Out of the corner of his eye, Data could see Selene gesturing with her hand while laughing maniacally. Picard, with reflexes honed through years of training and experience, was able to pull the scooter up just in time and narrowly avoid being impaled. The Cardboard Knight, flying close behind him, was not so lucky.
One girder smashed straight through the engine of his ship. He and Superhero Bob were thrown off their scooter into the sky with nothing but hundreds of feet of empty air between them and the pavement. Using her amazing strength and agility, Bob wrapped her arms under the Knight's shoulders and pushed off against the hurtling debris of their former ship.
"Hang on!" she yelled, as their two bodies spun through the air towards the nearest building. With incredible finesse, Bob was able to use the Knight's body to provide air resistance, slowing their descent somewhat. Keeping one arm locked under his shoulders, she reached out and grabbed the traffic signal bar hurtling by with her free hand and spun around it several times. The pain was excrutiating but she managed to hold it together and get them both safely to the ground. Bob collapsed in exhaustion.
"You saved my life!" gushed the Cardboard Knight. "That was incredible! I really thought that was going to be it!"
"Me too," Bob answered. "Hey, grab that cab."
As the two quickly piled into the yellow taxi, the Knight asked, "But we don't know where the heck they're going."
"We don't, but they do!" Bob replied, pointing to the sky. "Follow those ships!" she ordered the driver, indicating Wolverine and the others following him.
The cab raced off at top speed. For his part, the driver did an amazing job, dodging between cars, buses and bicyclists, running red lights and even driving on the sidewalk at one point. As the car came to a screeching halt in front of Doctor Strange's though, it was clear to see that all the other teams were already there, standing next to Gaia and her talking fox, Fred. Still, Bob and the Knight ran up to her.
Gaia had a rather sad look in her eye as she turned to them. "Superhero Bob . . Cardboard Knight . . you are the last team to arrive. I am sorry to tell you, you have both been eliminated."
Somberly, the two nodded. "I just want to say," started Bob, "this has been a great opportunity and I really appreciate it."
"Yeah," agreed the Knight. "I'm just glad we made it this far."
"But they got eliminated first," snickered Wolverine.
"Their dignity, let them keep," chided Master Yoda.
Gaia then turned to the rest of the group. "The rest of you have completed the first leg of the race. We are going to take a lunch break and then Doctor Strange will be giving you your next clues, in the order of your arrival."