|EVENT: XMN: SCORCHED EARTH|
|What: The X-men and friends need to assist a village in its time of need.|
"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell. War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over." -- William Tecumseh Sherman
Angel and Pete arrive before the Blackbird and find the family of Saladeen with red eyes of tears. Through broken English, the newly made widow explains they were notified of Saladeen's death by a scout. They take offers of safe haven to heart, all except for the oldest boy. Ali. Armed with a submachine gun, he explains he is intent on defending the village his father did. The one his grandfather also did.
The sand billows away from the Blackbird as it makes its landing in the dusty desert plains. By touchdown the ram is already coming to a rest and out bound Cyclops, Colossus, Shift, and a fourth member. Domino, a mercenary, has chosen to stick it out with the team in defending the village. Her reasons are her own and Cyclops hasn't pressed the issue. He'll take the help he can get.
Many villages throughout the world have loud municipal sirens for natural events. In the middle east they have them for raids. They begin to sound loudly.
As the quartet run towards the village, Cyclops is already barking orders.
"Colossus, I need you and Shift to start rounding up any stragglers who have not already made their way down into bunkers beneath the city. Most of the houses should be equipped with them, albeit not as big as Saladeens."
Cyclops turns to Domino, "I need you to take a up a sniper's position. Find a building to the north. That'll be where they come from. Make sure the building is sturdy and do your best to take anyone out before they get to the village."
Inwardly he sighs, preparing for battle, burying the gnawing fear at the base of his neck.
"Angel, this is Cyclops. As soon as you're finished at Saladeen's I need you airborne to see if you can give us any recon. Move quick."
As for Cyclops, he continues running into the village, clearly searching for something.
Colossus leaves the Blackbird powered up. It'll be taking off with some refugees and making its way to Turkey. The Professor was notified - not a task he enjoyed doing - and he's sure Cyclops will be hearing from him telepathically about this if he hasn't already. At the Professor's request, Magik will be meeting the jet since she can get there before it lands. Even though he's running into the village looking for stragglers, he's saying on the comm "I should head north. Best we stop them before they can get close enough to fire directly on the village."
As the Blackbird lands, Shift is in the main cabin, communicating with the refugees through the most unlikeliest of candidates - an old woman who just happened to understand pieces his native Ghanaian language. Through the broken translations, she is able to relay the African's instructions - that they are to remain aboard the Blackbird, which will fly them to a safe haven in Turkey on autopilot.
In the quiet places of his mind, Kwabena Odame is preparing once again for war, only this time it will not be against the twisted machinations of Latveria. This time, it will be against bullet and mortar, sung to the malicious tune of brutal and remorseless violence. He stands by while the woman completes her translations, checking his costume periodically for signs of damage. There is none, though the experience with Domino's tazer-style weaponry is definitely on his mind. How badly injured was his skin? First degree burns? He can still feel the places on his body where the costume's unstable molecules reacted to the electricity and singed him. The pain is there, but it's tolerable, at least for now.
With the mask over his face again, Shift leaves the Blackbird at Domino's side. To the mercenary he says, "Any heavier weapons you can spare? Dey won't know what to do with a man who can't be shot." Whatever she offers he'll take, and soon, he's running with the others toward the village. With each straggler he encounters, he instructs them to make for the nearest bunker, in many cases having to resort to mere hand motions in lieu of comprehensive dialogue, and sometimes, having to guide them toward their destinations by force.
"I'm bringing Ali...Saladeen's dead and Ali's insisting on joining. I can drop him off with you and take back to the skies for that recon," Angel offers even as he's taking back off. He still has the gun from before...with the safety still on...as he flies back towards the village. The boy is dropped off, as promised, Angel not even touching down so that he can fly back up, hopefully higher than most guns can reach, but not so high that he can't see what's on the ground below.
Someone brings hardware in excess. The local albino tosses a Sig 552 Commando assault rifle to Shift. "Try not to lose that one." Wisdom would recognize it if he saw it.
Outside of the blackbird, Domino's response to Cyclops is flat and direct, "On it." She's already got the big scary rifle for it. She definitely has the skill for it. With the bulky carbine slung across her back she starts running, scouting out the best looking options for positions, and escape routes from these positions, as she goes. It's convenient how many towns have bell towers, typically placed up higher than the rest of the town on a local hill. Should give her a fantastic view of the outlying territory.
There's really only one question on Dom's mind through all of this.
Who the bloody -Hell- are these people?! Buncha mutant hero types with a jet that would make the toys at Groom Lake look like leftover scraps from World War II, and -Shift- somehow managed to hook up with them! There's something major going on, right here. She's going to stay quiet about it, sure, but even while the killing takes place, she's going to be observing. There's much for a lowly merc to learn in this neck of the world.
Wisdom'll eventually recognise Domino's Lent-To-Shift Shooty Thing, when he sees it. In the meantime, the black-suit-clad SHIELD agent's running for the Blackbird with a crying two-year-old under one arm and a five-year-old clinging to his back with a deathgrip. He and Angel split up like the Scooby Doo gang as soon as it was evident that the shit was just about to hit the fan-- and he hands the kids off to their mother on the jet. One skinny dude can only do so much people-moving: so he leaves the rest of it to those better suited, then starts legging it north to find cover he can fire from, himself.
The scene in the village is chaotic as the bomb sirens blare hauntingly. People are running through the streets. There's crying and screaming for lost family, lost friends,..lost children.
"Copy that, Angel," Cyclops says into his com. Ali is dropped off and gives Cyclops a look. The elder man looks down at him. After a long moment, Cyclops merely gives the boy an understanding nod. It's not his place to prevent this boy from defending his homeland.
"Agreed," Cyclops radios to Colossus. "We're not sure how they'll be coming towards us. Stay alert."
As Angel makes his way into the clouds his superhuman eyes spy something. There, in the north, three smokestreams may put the pit of trepidation into his stomach. There's also a truck with an additional missile. Years ago, during the Soviet reign, Mureybet made wholesale purchases of military weaponry under the guise of alliance. In truth, those were meant more for supression than defense or aggression. Mureybet's entire military forces are made from such weaponry. It's clear what is coming to the village are four SCUD missiles.
Finally, Cyclops finds what...or who he's looking for. A man in civilian fatigues with a radio and a submachine gun approaches him in a run. The two interact quickly. There a few nods back and forth.
"We have about 30 soldiers with us. Do not fire. Repeat--Do /not/ fire on anyone with civilian clothing. They're on our side."
Colossus goes from door to door, urging anyone still above ground to take cover. If they don't have one themselves, he takes them to the nearest house that does. "Angel, once you have spotted the enemy, return to pick me up. We shall play B-52, da?" He has no one to throw and no one to throw him. One has to make do.
Shift quickly recognizes that the wrangling of frightened civilians is going to take a bit more work than he'd expected. As such, he adopts a triage-style principle, though in reverse. Finding the ones who seem the most level headed, he grabs them and wrangles them together into pairs, trying to emote his intentions as best he can through common English words and harsh hand motions. Then, he begins shouting at those who run about, directing them toward the nearest buildings with a most stern and severe tone of voice.
Those he'd enlisted seem to catch on quickly, and begin relaying the advice in Arabic. Seems the rather heavy-duty gun slung over the masked Ghanaian's shoulder and around his back seems to aide in his aire of authority.
As soon as things seem to be under control, he swings the Sig 552 Commando assault rifle back over his head and begins checking it out, piece by piece. One hand touches the comm unit in his ear. "Domino, be sure to tell me where de ground troops will be coming from. I'll give dem some few big surprises."
"Missles, Cyclops. Four missiles...coming right at the village. I don't know that I can stop them or divert them...where's Superman when you need him?" But at Piotr's suggestion, Angel quickly turns in the air and heads back to the village. "Don't be metal, Colossus...I can't carry you if you're metal..." he warns on his way back to pick up his teammate.
Running. Climbing. Setting up shop. It's not like there's a deadline for Domino to get into position or anything, right? Oy. "Copy that, Shift."
By the time she finally gets up into the tower she has a pair of weapons to offload. One's for human-sized targets. The other's ..somewhat heavier. It's got enough kinetic energy lurking within each shot to flip a tank onto its turret if she hits it right. Only problem there is, every time she fires -that- rifle, the opposition is going to know exactly where it originated from.
That one she keeps on reserve for those real special moments.
"In position," she reports through heavy breaths into her earcom. In the same motion she snaps the carbine's stock out and pops open the lens covers on the scope, throwing it to her shoulder to search for any opposition.
She finds it.
Hey--are those -SCUDs?- Oh, crap. "Missiles confirmed, count four. Be on your toes, kids. Someone's packing a whole lot of shock and awe today."
Colossus' efforts prove fruitful as he convinces a handful of groups and families to take cover. It's a move that proves premoniscient as danger unknowingly is on the way. Shift also gets results as he recruits some folks to help him get people to safety. Will it all matter? It's not clear...there are so many people--so many people running through the streets right now.
Cyclops exhales in frustration as his fears have come true. If Munqid's regime is smart, and he bets they are, they'll attempt bombing raids first, followed by air-to ground attack, before any ground troops come in. They're not sure what they're up against, and Cyclops has a feeling that Munqid is bringing everything he's got.
"Roger, Domino. If you can take a pot shot at one of those bad boys it'd really help out." Just as the words reach his mouth, he now can see the streams and knows it's time to act. With his visor, the beam will be focused and thin. Without...
Cyclops reaches up and removes the visor. After a quick exhale he opens his eyes and sends a stream of red optic blast into the sky.
Missiles. Colossus said this would be war and events are proving him right. Knowing what Cyclops can do, he's not at all worried however. "We must take the fight to them so they can not merely fire from afar." He still hasn't changed to metal, knowing that added weight is too much for Angel. "I am ready for you, Angel." he says as he runs back toward the north to meet him.
"Sshhhhit," curses Shift. Finished checking the gun, he slings it back over his shoulder. How much time would they have to get the civilians to safety before the ground troops show up? He'll have to trust Domino to give him the heads up with enough time to pull his plan together.
In the meanwhile...
Shift runs toward a house where a significant number of citizens seem to be panicking. He elbows through them all, crying out, "Sorry! Sorry!" as he pushes his way into the house. There, two men are trying to pry open a bunker door that is jammed. He pushes one out of the way, before forcing his mutated body to harden, giving him a burst of strength. Then, with grinding teeth, he hefts on the door until it pops free and lifts up. "Go! Go! Go!" he shouts, motioning for the people to go down one at a time.
Warren dives down so that he's nearly skimming the ground as he catches up with Piotr. Reaching out, he goes to grab his teammate's hands and pull him back up into the air so they can turn back around and try to intercept one or more of the missiles. "How do you want me to do this?" he asks as they fly, "Want me to drop you? Toss you? You sure you can take one of them out? I have the gun too if you need it. Not sure how well that will work against a missle..." there's just a little nervous energy in his speech.
Odds of disabling a SCUD missile with a short-barreled battle rifle from this many meters out: 1 in 1,031,611.
Domino braces for the shot, steadying her breaths while lining up the crosshairs, then adjusting for windage and range simply by drifting her aim rather than fiddling with the scope's crosshairs. "Time to win the ballistic lottery."
The range is far enough that she could see the arc of the bullet mid-flight if not for the effect of recoil. The longshot is covered within seconds until the lone bullet ricochets off the roof of one of the SCUD-carrying trucks, barely scratching the paint.
The second truck's missile gets taken out of commission before it ever gets off the back, its controls shattered by a one in a million plus shot.
Her breath is released in one quick motion, muttering "She shoots, she scores." Switching the com back on, Dom announces, "Make that three missiles."
Off of the com channel, she adds in an "I hope." It's hard to see just what she hit at this range, but knowing how things tend to work out for her...
Missiles. As he runs, Pete's now cursing-- those trails, by now, they're pretty much unmistakeable. And they're too damn far away for him to shoot at. As he makes his way toward the edge of the village, he's keeping his eyes peeled for anyone who hasn't gone underground yet, or simply taken off, or gone to the Blackbird. Near the edge of town, there's nearly no one left, and they're all running in the opposite direction from him, so-- he can concentrate on the shitstorm heading their way.
Scrambling between a house and a little goat-shed, Wisdom awkwardly scales the side of the building, managing to get to the roof and lay himself out flat just as Scott's blasting a SCUD out of the sky. He taps his borrowed comm, and his breathless voice comes over the line: |"Nothing but the firecrackers visible from the ground yet."|
An optic blast of red collides with a SCUD after some maneuvering of the ray towards the missile. It's blasted clear out of the sky and explodes on impact, causing a bright orange against the deeper red of the dawn sky.
Angel's hands grasp Colossus and he's lifted up and into the sky, clear of the danger. As the pair make their way upward, they'll both be able to see the village. It's growing less and less crowded but there are still many not in safety.
The amassing soldiers cheer as both Cyclops and Domino hit their targets. Two left. One hurtles in front of the other. Cyclops desperately tries to find it, but his eyes are not as good as his Original 5 friend. He can't find it. "Oh no..."
A gaggle of civilians make their way down into the cellar after Shift's heroics. Not a moment too soon.
As soon as the group gets down below a gigantic KABOOOOOOOOOOM! Rocks the area just near the house. The building begins to groan heavily and seems as though it will collapse soon. Luckily those civilians are safe in the basement.
From outside the house, fire and destruction are everywhere. Cyclops is thrown from his position from the nearby explosion.
The building where Domino is located has also received structural damage and she can hear the crackling all around her. Her best guess is that it will hold.
The screaming of a woman who has just lost a family member brings Cyclops to consciousness. Reflexively he keeps his eyes shut and tries to roll over. His ears ring and he feels nauseous as he desperately goes to his hands and knees trying to find his visor. Most of the mask on the left side of his face has been torn away and he strikes an unfortunate image; a leader on his hands and knees, defeated.
Suddenly a pair of young, bronze hands make contact with Cyclops and his visor is placed into his hands. As he puts it back on he looks. It's Ali. "Thanks, Kid. Get with the rest of the soldiers..." He motions since his words will not be understood.
Around them are terrible scenes of death and dismemberment. Blood is everywhere and people search for missing friends. And limbs.
"Drop me." is Colossus' answer. He's trusting Angel to know his own abilities as he trusts Cyclops to know his. At the right moment, he's dropped into the path of the missile and just above it. As soon as he leaves Angel's grip, he shifts to metal and drives a fist into the SCUD. Where doesn't matter; he wasn't aiming for any particular part of it. It doesn't immediately disable the missile but it does drag him along with it as he has a hand firmly in the guts of the body. And then he simply breaks it in half and the warhead section falls to the ground while the rocket continues on, sputtering to a halt till only momentum continues its path. "Now for the troops, Angel." he says, turning back to flesh and trusting Angel to catch him.
The door of the bunker is slammed closed a mere moment before the house is rocked by the blast nearby. Shift steadies himself for a moment before gazing about hesitantly. He decidedly grabs a heavy table and hauls it overtop of the trap door, so that if the house falls in, the table might break some of the collapsing debris and make it easier to get those people out.
Out into the fray he goes, skidding about to avoid being struck by a falling piece of structure still aflame from the blast. The death and blood-stained sand drive him into a controlled fury, and he decidedly leaves the wounded behind. He's no medic, and soon enough, those who are close to death will be dead anyway. Instead, he finds Cyclops in the fray and skids to a halt beside him. "I'm going to get in position," he breathes. "Try and draw as many of the soldiers toward me as possible."
Angel circles after dropping Piotr on the missile, readying his own gun in case it's needed. When the missle's taken care of and he has to go to catch Piotr from the air, he dives in and offers, once the other is safely in tow, "You owe me a massage after this." He's going to be so sore if he's not dead by the end of this. "Back to the village or are we going after the guys who fired the missles?"
Three down in a flash. Nice going! But--what about the fourth?
All Domino can do is throw herself to the weather-worn stone floor of the bell tower before the fourth missile makes contact, the shockwave of searing hot air mostly passing over her with the outer stone ledge there to hide behind. Even from her height there's a healthy dusting of grit and debris, her ears left ringing as the tower makes a most unsettling noise upon its foundation.
..We good, here..? It's holding. Okay.
There's no point in reporting that one got through. Transmitting a string of curses won't take back what just happened, either. Instead, Dom goes to the coms, having trouble hearing her own voice while transmitting "Everyone okay down there?"
These bastards want to use unfairly massive weapons against a bunch of townfolk, huh? When Dom uncurls herself, it isn't the .30 caliber carbine that calls to her. It's the railgun perched at her side. Overkill in every fashion for use against soldiers. Overkill for most ground vehicles. It also happens to hit with the power of a lesser god's wrath. It takes half a second to make up her mind about it, reaching for it then resetting her position. Shock and fugging awe.
That shockwave, and the explosive force, they nearly send Pete rolling off the top of the house he'd claimed as his vantage, but he's already flat, and when he heard the whistle, he braced for it-- so it's only with minor nausea and ringing ears and some bruises that he looks up again, hands flaring bright. (The ringing ears don't drown out, or last long enough to keep muffling, the sounds in the background. The screaming and wailing and sobbing, the calling-out. He's been in enough grounds zero that he doesn't need to /see/ to know what it looks like.)
Domino may take half a second to make up her mind, but Wisdom's already clicked over into lethal mode. It was coming. He knew it was coming. Maybe Cyke's team is used to fighting fair, to not taking life-- but warzones are different. There are civilians here. There are innocent people here-- and Peter Wisdom, former assassin, former all kinds of black ops, current SHIELD agent? Is a killer.
The flare-up dims as Pete brings his temper under control and adopts his combat persona, cool and methodical; he waits, ready to burn them like a visit to the surface of the sun.
The missile that Colossus and Angel tag team on falls harmlessly outside the radius of the village. From their vantage point they'll notice the cavalry coming. Four air to Mi-24 air to surface attack helicopters fly over a column of tanks followed by troops, all coming from the north as was thought.
Cyclops nods to Shift and tries to stand. Ali, meanwhile makes his way back to the handfull of troops that would be the villages defense. 30 friends..or however many are left... and the X-men? Cyclops likes their chances. He makes his way down the boulevard that heads north out of the city as the approaching tanks become visibile. His clenched teeth are visible as the angry X-man opens his visor as wide and strong as his settings will allow and cuts a hole through the middle of the column. The red beam tears through the foes--two tanks are uprooted and sent backwards while scores of soldiers are completely blown away.
There is no response to Domino's call, but it's clear that at least Cyclops is still alive.
"The tanks." Colossus answers. "Take us up high then drop me in the middle." He's not a SCUD missile but as he shifts to metal, the five hundred pound Colossus dropping at terminal velocity into the middle of the enemy troops is guaranteed to make a bang. Once he climbs out of the hole in the ground he made, he starts flipping tanks over and throwing them at the trucks and troops. Ironic isn't it? The Justice League was formed to defend against enemies normal troops and weaponry can't face. And here he is on foreign soil being exactly one of those enemies.
"Domino, what's coming first? Troops, or artillery?"
The voices remain muffled in Shift's ears, but as he makes for the edge of town, he listens for Domino's report, and breaks north. He'd been in enough terrible places to have formed a bit of a shell, but the filth of methamphetamine addicts, the near insanity of overdosing junkies, and the brutal violence of the criminal underground could never have prepared him for what he's seeing.
Time will tell whether this was a good development for Kwabena. However, the destruction he's witnessed begins to build a barely calculated rage inside of his soul. He accelerates into a full run, advancing upon the incoming troops from the side as fast as his legs might carry him. The heavy assault rifle comes out into his hands, and the rounds are chambered as he prepares to unleash hell upon those who dare to come his way. Ignoring the red beam that slashes through the air to the right of him, he keeps pounding sand as the anger causes his flesh to grow denser, stronger, capable of strength beyond his normal self. Tufts of sand are kicked up behind him as he charges toward them like a one-man cavalry, until he's letting out a blood curdling scream from deep within his chest.
This round was not about subtlety. It was about making the enemy shit their pants and get downright scared.
The weapon cradled in Shift's arm begins to fire, spraying death toward his enemies. Those who are first to notice him do the same, at first thinking that this one man was on some kind of crazed suicide mission. However, with every bullet that strikes his body, flesh turns into a little tunnel of smoke, and the bullets pass right through, harmlessly.
Shift's battle cry is silenced as more bullets strike him, peppering through his mutant flesh and thudding into the sand all around him. And still, as bullets keep pouring forth from his assault rifle, many of them begin to find their targets with the tearing of flesh and the spilling of hot blood.
Dropping Colossus at the tanks, Angel continues to circle the area, shooting sort of randomly at the soldiers...not that he plans on hitting them, but it's air fire which might keep things chaotic. If things are chaotic, then maybe they'll take longer to get organized for the attack. It's all about diversions right now for him.
"Everything!" Domino comms back to Shift. "Company, north courtyard! I'm going heavy, not sure how much time I've got from this position!"
It's fairly obvious why Domino's time is limited, the next shot cutting through the air in a blinding streak of light. An immediate thunderclap follows, the path of the projectile highlighted with a hazy double helix contrail that starts to dissipate in the wind as soon as it's formed. It's an almost hypnotic thing, a delicate path of vaporized alloy pointing toward destruction. Another explosion follows, the distant shockwave taking a moment to catch up to the rest of the town as one of those helicopters gets utterly ripped to pieces. Old Soviet machinery is crumpled inward with such violent force that there's nothing but slivers of debris left, the gunship utterly wiped out of existence.
"Come on, kids. Who wants to play."
Laser-Eye and Iron Russian have the tanks. There's enough armor entering the field to leave infantry up to those better suited for it. Looks like she's on chopper cleanup. Until they get into attack range of that bell tower, they don't stand half a chance.
Once she's inside of their kill-zone... They already know where she's hiding.
As soon as the troops come within range, the Englishman on the roof to the far side of Domino starts shooting, too. Ten hotknives at a go, aimed for heads and hearts, aimed for gas tanks. They'll see flashes of light among them, but there's no noise from the shards of brilliant heat and light: just instant death, or explosions when they hit fuel. Pete's going to have to move soon if he wants to avoid getting shot.
Colossus crashes into the earth with a defeaning boom. The force itself takes out two tanks which tip over on their side like ugly helpless bugs. Several scores of troops are knocked to the ground with no idea what hit them.
Bullets fly through Shift as if he is not there, much to the amazement of foreign troops. Even as a large tank shell slides easily and neatly through his body, the foes have no idea what they're up against. His shots, however have a much greater effect. His tear through their bodies with murderous attempt, taking them out indiscriminately--men fall in large numbers.
Angel's shots from above cause the enemies to cower as well. They're being shot at by forces they never imagined. Being flanked is one thing, being flanked from the air turns the tables on them.
Domino's shot takes care of one of the helicopters.
SMASH! A red beam tears through the sky and slams into a helicopter that nearly disintegrates. Its metallic carcass lands with a large thud, no large explosion because none of the explosive equipment is there anylonger.
Some of the helicopter blades fall from the sky and tear across a few soldiers, cutting them into pieces.
The two remaining choppers bear towards Domino's position. It's as she feared--soon enough they'd figure out where she is.
Wisdom's shots cleave through their targets causing death and destruciton. He moves and having much stealthier weaponry than Domino, he seems to remain unnoticed.
Colossus rips the treads off one tank to immobilize it then climbs up to squeeze the barrel of the cannon shut. Once it's lame and defanged, he digs his fingers into the armor and peels it back like a can of sardines. "You will get on the radio." he tells the soldiers inside. "You will tell them to leave. We will not stop you. Those who keep fighting..." Grabbing the barrel again, he snaps it off and then makes a bow with it. He's broadcasting as well so everyone hears the offer he made the enemy.
The African has no idea how many of the enemy troops his heavy assault rifle has already killed. There's no sense in keeping count, and he couldn't have done so anyway. He's nearly upon them when he finally expends the last of his rounds, the rifle clicking and the trigger pulling back fully. Wasting no hesitation, Shift whips the assault rifle around like a bat, striking one enemy in the head with enough force to crack his skull wide open beneath the helmet.
And still, the enemy turns and keeps trying to shoot him in utter futility.
Lips curl back to reveal snarling teeth as Shift follows through again and again, using the butt end of the heavy rifle as a killing device aimed for every head that comes near. It's disgustingly brutal, but it's fantastically effective, and with every soldier he kills, the lives of an innocent family is spared.
War is hell.
Soon, the African's face and clothing is splattered with the blood of over two dozen strangers, and many of those closest to him turn to try and run away from the man they cannot kill, hoping to find more mortal targets. To answer this turn of events, he drops the heavy weapon into the hot sand and gives pursuit. Hands that are freed of their weaponry form into fists, and flesh crackles and pops as their cellular construct takes on a much denser form, similar in many ways to the durable material that made up his discarded killing device.
Time to add some gray matter to the blood staining his gloves.
Still circling above, Angel continues to fire, scattering the soldiers. That is, until the clip runs out. Uhm. "What do I do now? The gun's out of bullets?" he asks over the comms. "Let me know when you want out, Colossus...I guess." He didn't even think to bring another clip.
You're out of time, Domino.
Just one more. I've got this.
-You're out of time--
Of the two remaining choppers, one more falls victim to hypervelocity physics. Rotors shear free of the demolished fragments of scrapped fuselage and small chunks of its former crew.
The last one opens up with a string of rockets at the bell tower.
Smaller detonations rip into the old masonry, carving the tower in half. If they had fired from a stationary position, Dom's hiding spot would be in ruin. Instead, it's left to the less than gentle graces of gravity. The albino mercenary disappears within the rubble, the heavy bell slamming through the chalpel's roof as hunks of rock pepper it and the surrounding area. The tower's left as nothing more than a jagged, rocky stump.
Odds of surviving the fall: 1 in 338,304.
Once the heavy bell stops rolling upon its side there's a heavily battered woman emerging from inside, once more lacking her hearing and now with the added benefit of a smattering of fresh injuries, most of them internal. All the same, she's not out of this fight yet.
Moving anyway-- even if just rolling to the other corner of the roof-- Pete Wisdom continues snapping off hotknives, aiming with precision and paying attention to every shot. They're scattered, picking off a vehicle here, an infantryman there, sudden instant death without explanation. Maybe a high tech weapon, maybe a curse-- who knows, among the enemy, why one is struck down while another remains standing?
And then Domino's position is abruptly decimated, and Pete's unflappable cool is briefly-- flapped. He flinches uselessly, and almost shouts the albino's codename; he's off the roof in an unsteadily-landed rolling jump, and running like batshit crazy for the ruins of the belltower. |"Domino!"| he huffs into his comm instead of shouting, |"If you're awake I'm coming to cover you!"|
Blood flows everywhere, but no longer on the side of the rebellion.
Shift's rampage causes those near him to turn and flee. The men in uniform turn and run like frightened children in the dark. Some are so frightened their legs lock up on them helplessly.
From Angel's vantage point he'll be able to tell that some of the Mureybet soldiers are beginning to flee and what looked like a compact fighting unit is now breaking up under the pressure of war.
Pete's break from assault brings him near toward the site of the tower, which is now mostly rubble.
The good news about the situation with Domino is that the helicopter is pretty sure she's dead. It tries to swing around to take Cyclops out, but is met with another blast from his visor, bursting into a million pieces in the sky and falling down on the crowd below.
A second later, "Domino...Domino come in..."
The soldier looks up wide eyed at Colossus and nods slowly. With trembling hands he grasps at his radio and gives panicky information to his superiors. "No!" screams to Colossus, "No kill!"
Colossus stares at the soldiers to judge their sincerity then takes a symbolic step back and tosses away the barrel. He was hoping the soldiers knew some English. Seems he got the point across. "Do not attack anyone fleeing the battle." he transmits. "Give them a moment to turn and leave. Only attack those continuing to fight." He points to the soldiers in the tank then points back north. Go. Leave.
Amidst the maelstrom, Shift nearly loses himself. He's about to bash his fist into the head of a retreating soldier, when a thought pierces through the haze.
The African skids to a halt, lowering his arms and looking about. There are corpses all about, blood stained into the sand, the wreckage of helicopters and structures. He sees Pete running toward the fallen bell tower, and Angel soaring about overhead. Beneath the mask, he closes his eyes and just takes a few moments to recollect himself. He'll have time to think about his actions later, but for now, the people hiding in the village have been spared.
Turning about, he walks back to grab the assault rifle left in the sand. Throwing it over his shoulder, he makes for the collapsed tower while quietly hoping to hear his friend's voice over the comm. She was damned lucky... just how lucky, is what the African is now wondering.
Angel watches from above as the opposing force seems to be retreating. "Want out of there, Colossus?" Angel offers over the comms before he asks, "Cyclops, is everything all right out there? We should be on our way back soon."
"Here..and mostly accounted for," Domino comms back with a hand gently touching the side of her head. It comes back with fresh blood coating the palm of her glove.
C'mon, girl. Keep it together, we're not done with this yet.
The crimson fluid is flicked off of her hand, spattering the rubble-strewn floor as she gives the rifles a quick visual inspection. Both still in one piece? Dang, got lucky on that one. Of course, they may well be the objects that clocked her on the head back there.
What's black, white, red, and armed all over? Dom emerges from the ruins of the chalpel with a heavy-hitting rifle tucked under each arm, ready to lay absolute waste to anything that dares get in her way.
Only attack those left fighting? Progress! The first poor bastard to level a rifle at her and pull the trigger finds that his weapon has somehow jammed. Probably from all of the sand. The single shot returned in his direction transforms one soldier into a literal red mist, unidentifiable pieces scattering to the winds as, a quarter mile out, the corner of another building gets ripped asunder by the same shot.
Shock and goddamn -awe.- "Playtime's over, kids!"
So it is that Pete basically just falls in with Domino once he gets his heart beating again, making sure her back's covered. Hee flicks his hands out like Dom flicking off blood, and his eyes glow bright like his lengthening fingertips: white-hot, sizzling the already-hot air and burning the stench of war right out of the sand and ash permeating the atmosphere. Terrible, impossible, sharp claws the size of kitchen knives extend from every finger, blinding to look at.
Wisdom smacks into Domino's back as a bullet tears through his side, and those ten knives of sun flinch from his fingers, finding the heads of ten men-- eight of which had dropped their guns and started to run.
He doesn't even get the guy who shot him.
The troops all seem to get the message now and begin to retreat back to the north as Colossus suggested. There are far fewer of them now. Those that remain are the injured, the corpses, or those that will soon turn into corpses.
"Forces never got into the village, Angel. The fighting back here as stopped. Domino, though. We're still trying to contact..."
Domino's voice comes through loud and clear and Cyclops breathes a sigh of relief. He goes down to a knee and breathes heavily, thankful for the victory but in physical pain from the blast and in emotional pain for those who have lost their lives. After a moment he radios back in, "We'll rendezvous with the rebellion forces back at Saladeen's. Everybody head there immediately."
Domino's episode catches Cyclops' attention, but he's not close enough to see what's happened. He raises a hand to his visor, but here's no further shooting.
"Angel, make sure they are retreating." Colossus transmits. He can walk back to town easily enough and eyes in the sky is more important than saving ten minutes. "I am uninjured." As if that was ever a concern for anyone. "If anyone in town has a radio, we should tell the enemy they can return to take their wounded if they leave their weapons behind."
"They're retreating," Angel confirms as he flies over the base that Piotr just single-handedly overturned. He watches for another couple of minutes before he then heads back to their own makeshift camp in the 'basement'. It shouldn't take him long to get there since he's flying but the time spent waiting should give him a chance to catch his breath and let the adrenaline calm down.
As far as injuries go, Domino's had worse. Not that it's much consolation in the here and now, but the bottom line is that she'll be alright. Fortunately, so will Pete. She doesn't let the other operative out of her sight on the walk back, partly because she's not leaving one of theirs behind after being shot. It's also partly out of flat-out respect. These two know this kind of game, they've been initiated by live fire before. They're the odd ones out.
But, that's okay. She's happy to know that there's someone else here that's more on her level. When push comes to shove, they can back one another. It wouldn't be the first time for that, either.
Back at the proverbial ranch, Dom seeks out the familiar sight of Shift. Eye contact is made and held for a handful of seconds. Did he pull through this mess okay? Not exactly wrangling tigers in the jungle, this work.
With a weary sigh she drops down onto one of the cots, fishing out a first-aid kit and a bottle of alcohol, both to sterilize and to drink. For the time being any thoughts are kept to herself. Maybe the others don't want to hear her opinion, but in her eyes this turned out okay. Given the opposition it could have been -much- worse.
"The fuck were you shooting out there, anyway? The Rocket Launcher Godslayer of Hit Points?" Pete asks Domino, sullenly smoking with his shirt off and waiting for the inevitable sting of alcohol on his bleeding side. He doesn't look fazed by the battle, the brutality, the violence. That might be because he's also wearing his sunglasses and he has the defensive shield of a cigarette up. And there's the equally inevitable flinch when Dom applies the sting of antiseptic booze. "Ow!" he grunts out, ashing on his lap. "Give me some of that when you're done torturing me."
Cyclops nods to himself and radios back to Colossus, "The Rebellion is already contacting the regime. Fall back, X-men." With a wince he makes his way through Saladeen's home which has remained mostly intact. He heads down the stairs with some effort and into the main room. Noticing the commander, he gives a nod, and uses an interpreter to start discussing some matters.
Shift rushes to assist Domino in anything she needs, checking to see if she's alright.
"Angel, if you can do what you can to help out Domino and the SHIELD Agent, they could use the help."
Colossus waits a few minutes just to watch the enemy retreat and then he turns and jogs back to the village, a pace he can literally keep up for days. And so the easy part is done.
"Of course," Angel nods to Cyclops and then goes inside and down to the basement to check on the others. He looks between the two before asking, "Ok...who wants to be healed up first?" The empty gun is set off to the side and he pulls out the sharp little knife he always carries with him. He takes a moment before moving over to Domino, "Come on...you first. In the cot, if you don't mind. I'll get to him," he nods to Pete, "Next." He then flicks the knife across the palm of his hand to get himself bleeding.
"A little parting gift from my good pals at HYDRA," Domino jokes while working over Pete's wounds. "Oh man up, Wisdom. When you've gotta stitch your own side back together, -then- you're allowed some tears."
She's smirking. It's a joke. Honest!
The alcohol is passed Pete's way (though only after Dom's taken another hit from it,) barely able to go back to sterilizing Pete's new perforation when Warren joins them and offers to help. "I didn't know we had a healer. Shit, that means I'm wasting booze. You're on your own, Pete."
Dom gets better situated in another cot, though watching Warren cut his own palm just confuses her. "Thought we were done with the blood sacrifices for today." But, hey. If it works, she's not going to argue the methods.
The next question on her mind is one which she almost dreads voicing. "What's our next move, Redeye?"
"Autobots, rrrrroll out," Wisdom guesses at Dom, shifting with a wince to nick the bottle briefly again, in the middle of Angel's working on her. So he sits there and smokes and drinks and bleeds, holding cloth on his side with his cigarette-elbow. Nothing really to say, and nothing nice to think about, so there better be booze available on their transport out.
Pete is soon joined by Shift, who has also produced a cigarette. He reaches for the bottle without speaking a word, taking one rather long and pointed pull before setting it down. He shares that long look with Domino, then looks over toward Pete with a simple tilt of his head in silent approval. Then, his attention rests fully upon Cyclops as he awaits their next move.
"Colossus, can you contact Illyana and get the Blackbird back here as soon as possible?"
Cyclops finishes his conversation with the commander and looks around at his troops. "I don't need to tell you how good of a job you all did today. You know that. You saved this village from annihilation." He licks at some of the blood on his lip before continuing. "I'd like to tell you you've got some time to rest. But you don't. I know some of you might have some inner turmoil about what happened today. No one will blame you. No one will hold it against you if you decide to go home.. But we don't have time to cry for those who died or what we have done. Colossus was right. We need to bring the fight to them. And that's what they're going to do. War is hell. And they're going to find out, first hand, what kind of hell they've been putting these people through for generations. It's time to turn the tables. If you're coming, meet me upstairs. Mureybet is falling tonight. If you're coming with you'd better get ready."
X-Men: War is Hell
To be concluded...