|EVENT: X-Men: Mission of Mercy|
|What: Three X-Men set off to rescue a newly manifested child.|
Puerto Rico has been rocked with unrest in recent months, the trouble escalating by degrees and fueled by gang violence and police crackdowns. When the matter of Registration was added to the mix, San Juan became a tinderbox. The manifestation of a single child was the final spark that set the whole thing ablaze.
The news, if one tuned in to the correct channels, plays the scenes of rioting at night and armed patrols in the day. The Puerto Rican authorities were already stretched to the limit when the mutant child set off an earthquake that leveled the neighborhood where he lived with his family. Their house was the only one left standing.
It seemed there was nowhere for the family to flee in the face of the anger directed at them but they escaped to sanctuary. Professor Xavier and Cerebro were aware of the trouble, but too late to stop it. So, even while police and the army patrol the streets and skies of San Juan, and rioters search for the child who inadvertently did so much harm to so many, Professor Xavier hands the assignment to three of his X-Men, placing Colossus in charge of the mission.
Go to Puerto Rico--undetected--find out where the family has fled, and rescue them.
It's a somber mission but Piotr has a reason to smile. He gets to fly the Blackbird. Sure the military gave him a small plane to use to get back and forth to Metropolis but it's not the Blackbird. The Blackbird has power. And once in the air, he smiles with a certain gleam in his eye. "I feel the need..." he says. "The need for speed." He flies a lot faster than Scott approves of. But aside from that, the trip is uneventful since he doesn't get in any dogfights with other jets.
Undetected. Not always easy when you look like a Bigfoot Muppet. Due to many of the other X-Men being occupied with other missions, Hank's accepted the assignment. After all, being on the reserve roster can be a handy thing when you don't have any plans for the evening and you're in town. Hank's currently in the co-pilot seat, fidgeting just a bit uncomfortably in his Original Costume. It really doesn't work that well with the fur... but he hasn't put much thought in what else to wear yet. That's a low priority at the moment. Hank taps a few controls with his clawed fingers, monitoring communications and also making sure that they avoid any in-use flight paths. The last thing they need is to crash into some commercial airline. Hank glances back into the hold of the jet... checking on Sam. "That's painfully cliche... even for you." Hank offers to Piotr with a soft groan. "Make sure you put her down someplace discrete. Last thing we need is to park in a tow-away zone."
Sam is sprawled in his seat, buckled in, looking more tired than anything else. He spends most of the flight with his eyes closed. "Have we thought about how we're going to find the child? I know the Professor is having trouble tracking him specifically. They might have him sedated. Hopefully the activists down there will have something for the Professor." Sam's watching the feeds on the screen in his hands.
"Looks like there's more than a little mutant-related unreset going down," he adds dryly as red lightning arcs up from the ground somewhere in the city and lights up the underside of the low clouds. He never knows whose side he should be on--or he knows, he's just not comfortable with the answer.
San Juan is alight, even in the middle of the night. Unnatural lightning. Search lights. Tracers. Helicopter surveillance. Air patrols pace the perimeter of the city. Some neighborhoods are completely dark. Others are burning.
"It is a good movie." Piotr answers, glancing over at Hank and grinning. Especially the volleyball scene. "And it does nicely summarize the pleasure in going very, very fast." Turning back to the controls, he reaches for on in particular and calls up satellite images of their destination. "The family lived there." he notes, enlarging the view and zeroing in on a specific section. "So I will land us outside the city near there if I can find a place with decent cover. They will be trying to escape to somewhere safe and that means out of the city if they don't have someone to hole up with." Glancing back to Sam, he shrugs. "I do not know. I hope Hank has some ideas." The last is really a question for their scientist/techie.
Hank offers a grunt of disagreement to the discussion of 'Top Gun' as a good movie. "Well... we know the child's manifestation appears to have caused an earthquake. So our best bet is to use my equipment to track any seismic activity occuring. That with the portable cerebro units should allow us to triangulate on our missing mutant child. Our swift arrival coupled with the child's reported age and likely emotional state, should make the hunt easy. Or if that doesn't work... we can just start throwing darts at the map." Hank offers to Sam as he checks his gear one last time, his feet up on the console to make final landing preperations easier for Piotr. The comment about mutant-related unreast gives Hank a "warm fuzzy feeling", aka he growls a bit under his breath. "We should have brought Robert to help deal with the fires." He hates not doing some rescue work or helping people while they're here. Even if it's not a mission priority.
"Even sedation isn't going to keep a mutation that intense under control." Sam leans forward and taps the tablet he holds to bring up the satellite feed of the area on a screen where everyone can see. "I'm not sure how far out of town they could go. But look. The point at the west there is completely dark, out at the old lighthouse. We could set down there, get a read on the ground. I'll check back in and see if there's any word from the activists the Professor knows.'
The northwestern tip of San Juan is dark, as Sam noted. The sea is rather wild there, the clouds overhead are threatening to storm. The activity seems to be more to the east, in the heart of the city.
Piotr adjusts the Blackbird's course toward the lighthouse. "If the boy is anything like most mutants who just come into their ability, his powers go out of control when he's stressed. Unless they drugged him so deeply he's unaware of everything, he's probably triggering small earthquakes constantly. We should be able to track him with Hank's equipment that way since he'd be in the epicenter." Hell, he IS the epicenter.
Beast glances back at Sam's tablet, studying the image quickly before returning to last minute equipment checks. "We'll just have to do our best to talk him down once we find him." He offers, packing the equipment into a small backpack which he slips on as he unbuckles from the straps of the co-pilot seat and starts moving back towards the rear of the jet. He trusts Piotr to put her down without too much fuss. "Just try not to scare or traumatize him when we do find him. The last thing we need is to cause more damage by freaking the poor kid out."
"He's not the only one freaked out." Sam looks out the window at a waterspout forming out to sea. "I'm sure the Professor is doing what he can with his contacts to calm this down. This is unbelievable. That thing could..." He can hardly breathe until he sees the waterspout moving toward the fires. "...could do a lot of damage as well as a lot of good." The red lightning arcs into the sky again and is answered by a roll of thunder and natural blue-purple electricity racing through the clouds. "Rain’s coming. Get people indoors, stifle any more fires from those tracers. I wonder if they're organized. The mutants down there." Sometimes, it feels as though New York has all the world's mutants crammed into it, then Sam gets out here--or out in the Ukraine--and it's very different.
The Blackbird touches down on the El Morro Lighthouse point and the seismic detectors begin running. There's some activity out to sea, too far out to be the child's work. A more subtle series of tremors shows up on the readings, interrupted by interference on the ground. The pattern is that of a heartbeat. A very subtle heartbeat. Fast for an adult, but normal for a child. The correlation on the map is a San Juan landmark--the historic Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.
Piotr shuts down most of the system but keeps just enough on standby that they can take off quickly if they need to. And then he waits for the science to tell them where to go. "Well, that seems like the obvious choice to take refuge in." he says as the readings are calibrated and coordinated with the map. "I wonder if the priests know who's taken refuge with them."
"Rain?" Hank asks, perking a bit of a brow at Sam... though will save the questions for later. Beast studies his own pad, watching the seismic readings as lowers the ramp and ducks his head to exit before it's even fully down. Beast pulls up information about the landmark, mulling them over before announcing his findings. A nod in agreement offered to Piotr as he waits for him to disembark and lead the way.... his fcous mostly on the tracking equipment. "Shall we pay them a visit then?"
"We should. Getting through the streets is going to be a pain in the ass." Sam's on the news feeds again, taking a look at the situation. "We're not the only ones who have figured it out. It probably didn't take the locals long to work it out." He shows them the tablet. The streets around the cathedral are filled with protesters and riot police trying to push them back.
"I could give them a distraction, once we're closer, if we need. But we have to get you two into the Cathedral, at least. What do you think?"
The streets are passable, if one is careful. The rooftops even more so. The sewers aren't a likely prospect. The Professor's voice sounds in their heads. |"Gentlemen, I am in contact with some of those on the inside. They are expecting you. The child is the only mutant in the Cathedral--it's getting increasingly difficult to keep him sedated, his life is at risk if he's any more heavily drugged. If he's removed from the situation, I can help him."|
"Wear your poncho, Hank." Piotr suggests. Rain is a good excuse for the furry one to stay fully covered up. He's in his 'normal' costume that, sans insignia, can easily pass for clothing. Or maybe fetish gear. And a hat to keep the rain off is enough for him. He pauses halfway down the ramp as the Professor talks then turns back to look at the others as he also takes in what Sam has said. "Well, damn. So much for being subtle and sneaking him out. I think... If they're expecting a rescue, that makes it easier. Sam, you could just fly in and fly him back here. Though I'd suggest leading them off in another direction first. You can take Hank with you and he can stay inside till most of the mob chases after you and then lead his parents to safety. I'll stay here with the Blackbird in case I need to come get either of you for some reason." Hank most likely since he doesn't fly and will have the parents.
"Wouldn't Piotr be the wiser choice as a distraction? He has Justice League credentials after all... and Puerto Rico is a U.S. teritory." Hank mutters a bit about it likely being the 51st State soon as well, and what that will mean for the flag... but it doesn't really matter. "Understood X. We'll take care of it as quickly as we can." Hank answers outloud, aware that Charles will keep the so-called channel open. "Have you made any headway connecting with him directly?" Likely not, but he likes to cross all the Ts. Hank starts moving towards the Cathedral, his head down just in case they do run into someone who's on the lookout for mutants. "I think the large furry hands and feet and claws makes the pocho pretty useless. But if you insist." Hank pulls it out and throws it on, though honestly it only makes him stand out more. "I don't think that's a wise tactic Piotr. Flying in and grabbing the boy is likely to encourage a richter magnitude scale level tantrum." Hank perks a brow at Piotr though when he offers to stay with the Blackbird. "Well, Charles did put you in charge."
"No one's looking up in the rain, we can go in on foot until the streetlights are on, then go over the roof," Sam murmurs. There are sirens in the distance, constantly. "If it wouldn't take away from other operations going on, I'd steal us a firetruck. We could probably use you in there. If it's just us, I'm going to make it fairly public. I think I can get a shield up over the area long enough for us to get in and out. If they see the child leave, it'll make them stop the attempts on the Cathedral. We have blankets. I know the sedatives are dangerous but we might need more. And we'll need something for the parents, some kind of disguise. There's always extra hats and jackets in the back of most police vans, we'll find one of those."
The rain is coming down now, the firelight in the distance has faded away entirely. The sea is smashing against the rocks behind the Blackbird and the ground shakes noticeably. |"Let's not waste time, gentlemen."|
Piotr coughs to cover a laugh at the sight Hank makes in the poncho and reache sout to pull it off. "Never mind the poncho. Unless we want to distract the crowd that way. I'm open to suggestions if you think you have a better one. You are the more agile and better able to go palces I can not, even carrying someone. I also don't want to make my presence known unless I have to. I will if it comes to that but any publicity won't say 'unknown mutants' but 'Justice League member' and lead to questions about who I was with." Shrugging again, he gestures toward the city and leaves the ramp. "Whether he's flown out or driven out, the reaction is likely to be the same. They won't like it."
"I'd rather not drug the child any further... if we can help it. We'll just have to do it the old fashioned way." Hank is glad the poncho is quickly removed though, and starts heading towards the target of their search. Keeping out of sight as much as possible, and keeping a close eye on the various readings. "We're only guessing what's going to happen at this rate. Best to improvise when the situation calls for it, rather than to drive ourselves anticipating every possibility." Hank does take the lead for the moment, only because if someone stops them he can possibly lead them off and then double back swifter than the others. "Much like any other angry mob."
"I'm good with kids." Sam's shouldered a bag from the plane, probably with blankets and first aid equipment. He keeps up with Hank easily, using his phone to find the way into the city from the darkened point of the island. "I might have a chance to settle him."
It's a long way into the city but they can move pretty quickly. Sam keeps the flying and the light to a minimum, just enough to keep pace. Hank moves very quickly. When they get to the busier areas, they can go up onto the rooftops, into the pouring rain. The streets around the cathedral are chaotic, there's teargas on the wet air, but the rain has done its work. It's possible to get close to the building, over a wall and onto the roof, if they're careful.
The Blackbird seals itself once everyone is off the ramp and Piotr shifts to metal while they're still outside the city. He doesn't tire this way and the rain is not even a nuisance. "If we're not going to do a snatch and grab, maybe I should just show up there as a member of the Justice League, here to deal with the 'mutant threat'. If they don't see you two, questions won't be asked. I can be the distraction for you both to get in and out maybe."
So far... so good. "I would hope you wouldn't word it that way... Colossus. The last thing we need is to give the hatemongers some talking points about 'Mutant Threats' coming out of the mouths of a member of the Justice League. But whatever you think is the best course of action." Hank quickly does make his way to the roofs like Sam suggested once they have a good place to climb. Once on the roofs, they can move a lot easier towards their destination. Hank does warn them before they head to the rooftop of the cathedral. "Try not to do too much damage to the building. We don't need to cause any more damage than the Earthquake and Storm already has."
"You'd probably be best to talk to the priests once we get in there," Sam says, as they pause across from the Cathedral. "They'll recognize you. But that's only if you want to be recognized. We don't want to compromise you. Hank's pretty obviously a mutant. It's not like they won't turn the boy over to him if the Professor gives them a prod." He runs his hands through his wet hair while he watches mounted police try and scatter a freshly rallied group of protesters. "I'll be your distraction. The layout of the Cathedral is on file."
The cathedral is more than two stories along the central part, the main cathedral and the buildings in the back. The wings are a single story each. There's a bell tower in the back of the cathedral and a small dome on either side of the nave. There are plenty of places to get in from above. It looks as though the doors are barred and the windows boarded over.
Beast gestures for Sam to climb on his back, moving to the edge of the roof. He waits... and leaps just after the lightning strike, easily making the distance between the two buildings and crouching, allowing Sam to disembark. He then gestures to the bell tower. "I'll steady the bell, you slide down the rope. And then I'll join you." After all, they don't need to draw any attention to themselves. And it's the largest entry point. Once Sam decides whether or not to take the advice, Hank follows him through whatever entrance he chooses. It's easy enough for Hank to slide down the inner wall of the bell tower without ringing the bell. "Sanctuary... sanctuary. Sanctuary Much." He puns.
Sam catches a ride on Hank's back and follows him down. Without using his power, he's hard to see. The help is welcome. He's not very stealthy.
The cathedral is pitch black inside. No power. There are candles burning in the nave, the light comes down the hall, golden and flickering. There are voices, speaking Spanish. |"They're expecting you,"| the Professor says. |"Go on."|
A figure appears at the end of the hall, a bent man in a cassock. He waves a hand and hurries toward them. He stops short at the sight of Hank in the low light, though, and crosses himself.
It's here where Beast lets Cannonball lead, so that his appearance doesn't immediatly cause a distrubance. As the Priest greets them and then crosses himself, Hank offers the Vulcan salute in return. "Klaatu Barada Nikto." Yeah, sue him... he's messing with the clergy a bit. "We're here to save the boy." Which he offers in both English and Spanish before following the figure. His eyes quickly dart around once the exit from the hall, trying to get a quick headcount and find their target.
Sam's Spanish is atrocious, but he does understand it well enough. Fortunately, the priest does speak some English, which helps. What is far less convenient is the fact that it's not a single child and two parents they need to move. It's a little boy--very young to have manifested--and his parents, his grandmother, at least one uncle, and four other children.
"Oh, dear," Sam murmurs as he takes in the scene. The boy is wrapped in blankets and lying on the front pew. "I'm going to check the boy's breathing. Can you tell them I'm a medic?" They're likely to take him touching the child better than Hank. No one seems too perturbed at the sight of Hank, which could be because the rumbling of the earth underfoot is a greater concern.
The mother begins to pour her story out to Sam and Hank, in Spanish, so most is it is lost on Sam at the pace she's speaking. They have a cousin who's a mutant, they know about mutations. The news came on about registration and the riots and the children got upset. They tried to contact the aunt and uncle, the parents of the cousin with the mutation, and couldn't get through.
The boy grew increasingly upset, saying that he was going to be taken away too, and then the ground started to shake. The parents didn't realize at first that it was the boy but when they did they tried to make him stop, but he grew more afraid and leveled the neighborhood.
Beast doesn't feel at all slighted by the fact that Sam takes charge of looking the child over. He knows he looks more like something someone might think eats children, rather than something that can care for them. So he stays back, and does his best to translate the basics to Sam to save time. He also lets the know that Sam's a medic, so that they hopefully won't object to his examination. "It's a early manifestation." Hank offers to Sam, trying to figure the best way to evac the group. "Which explains why he's having so much trouble with maintaining control." Hank peeks over Sam's shoulder, and tries his best to calm to boy. Making goofy faces at him. "God, I hope he's seen Monsters, Inc." Hank mumbles. "I think our best bet is to have Colossus grab the X-Jet, while I lead the crowd away with the aid of my 'Beastial Monster Act'. Then you can lead them out the rear and into the Jet, and I'll meet you fellows at the coast."
"We can't leave any of them." Sam looks up from examining the sleepy child--not that he hadn't thought about splitting the family up and waiting until later. "Not at this point. I don't like the idea of you being at risk, though." On the other hand, what choice do they have? "Does the church have a van?" He does manage to say that clearly enough.
Yes, one of the younger priests says. They do have a van that they use for transporting people to events.
"If Colossus drives the van, I can make sure that you're okay," Sam says to Hank. "I'll accompany the van far enough to see that they're on their way, then circle back to meet you. We'll leave the van for the police to bring back to the church."
Beast puts his hand on Sam's shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze. "Someone with medical training should stay with the child though. Plus we don't want to risk your career back home. And this is one mission where my new appearance could come in handy." He just hopes that Emma doesn't catch wind of this... and nobody gets any clear images of him. Hank slips off his backpack and hands it to one of the family members, and then grabs the poncho back from one of the side pouches. Throwing it on to hide the majority of his costume from view. "Though I do like your suggestion about the van. We'll go with that. Spares us trusting Piotr's piloting this close to the city." Hank grins a bit at Sam.
"He'll be fine for the time it takes me to get to you and get back." Sam puts his equipment back in the bag. "And the van is a must, I don't think we have much of a mandate to invade foreign airspace in a state of emergency." He pauses to let Piotr know the plan and one of the priests starts herding the family down the hall toward the back of the church.
Professor Xavier speaks again then. |"I can obscure their memories of you slightly, Beast,"| he says. |"I know how you feel about it, but if they don't see you clearly, they won't remember you clearly either. The interference will be minor."|
Beast offers a light nod to Xavier's words in his head. He's still not a fan of such manipulation, but sometimes the good of the many often has to take a backseat to his often rigid morals. "Thank you Charles." Hank offers under his breath. And he looks to Sam and offers his hand. "I'm going to lead them as far away as possible. I can't immediatly out-pace them however, or they'll return here rather than chase me." Hank heads for the belltower again, carefully climbing his way up without causing too much damage. "Wish me luck." Hank offers to Sam before leaping out onto the roof, moving to the edge and peering down at the crowd.
"Shout if you need anything," Sam says as Beast disappears up into the belltower. He turns his attention back to the family and the child. Already a little girl of about four has latched onto his leg and is speaking to him in a burble of Spanish. Something about Sesame Street. And cookies.
"No, that's not... well, he is a Cookie Monster, but he likes Twinkies more." The father is carrying the boy, so Sam shoulders his bag and picks up the little girl. "Do you like cookies?" ...he really needs to work on his Spanish. The girl is giggling at him as he carries her out to the van. Anything for a laugh.
Beast's appearance on the roof of the Cathedral is enough to unite both police and protesters for the moment. It's nearly something out of a movie, with the angry crowd and mounted police eager to chase him down through the streets. There's no chance anyone is going to pay attention to some very normal looking people in a van.
"Trust me... everyone will hear me if I run into trouble." Hank calls down to Sam. At least he missed the mention of Twinkies. Though he did discover they're still available in Canada, which means that Hank will be paying the country a visit soon to stock up. When everyone notices him on the roof, Beast offers his best growl-snarl standing up tall and arching his spine, trying to put on a fearsome display. He waits until things start flying up at him, dropping into a crouch again at the edge of the. And then he glances back with a growl.. "Priests...." He snarls and then he leaps off the roof, landing on one of the opposite roof and pops up to shake his fist. "Faith Protects The Child... For Now." Yeah, he's not the best actor. But maybe it'll get blamed on the beastial demon rather than the child, or the harboring priests. He then drops into an alley, popping his head out to snarl and then takes off down the street.
The van makes it to the Blackbird without incident, though a fresh bout of seismic activity does complicate things slightly with anxious children in the car. Sam's reluctant to give the child any more sedative, he agrees with Hank on that. However, once he sits the boy up on his lap and the child sees that they're fleeing the city, the tremors fade. When Sam shows off his mutation and points out Colossus' metal skin, the boy is fascinated and the shaking disappears entirely. As they're loading the family onto the Blackbird, Sam checks in with Hank.
"Beast. Where are you? Can we come pick you up?"
While Beast may not know the city half as well as the natives, they also can't follow him all that easily. What with not only his feral speed, but also his ability to leap and climb. Hank eventually manages to lose them, heading for the coast like he told Sam that he would. By the time that everyone is on board the Blackbird and strapped in and ready to go, Hank has found a safe place to lay low. "I'm at the Coast. I'll be ready for pick-up when you are ready to leave."
The Blackbird takes off and keeps low as it flies along the coast on the way to pick Beast up. The adults are now the anxious ones--the children are playing games on the tablets that are tucked into the pocket in front of each seat and chattering to each other. Sam's doing his best 'reassuring flight attendant' act and it seems to be having the desired effect. The uniform and firm attitude help.
Beast is scooped up without incident and the Blackbird turns to make for American airspace. They'll sort the family out once the Professor has a chance to meet them and work with the boy. Their destination for now is a safehouse in Florida. All in a night's work. Once they're out of danger, Sam checks the news again. Already, the unrest is dying down. Maybe there'll be a chance for some peace for everyone in the morning.