Characters: Lewis Aaron Laura Kinney Kitty Pryde Ororo Munroe Jean Grey
Rated: PG-13(Violence; language)
Summary: Four X-Men and an elf intercept a convoy carrying abducted mutant children through a remote stretch of Mexico.
OOC Date: Sunday, February 18th, 2018
IC Date: Sunday, February 18th, 2018; 03:45(MST)
Where: A mountainous region of Sinaloa, Mexico

In the wee hours of the morning, armored vehicles gather in the middle of Tierra del Rio. Men wearing black from the top of their faceless helmets to the soles of their combat boots pile out, the red crucifixes spray-painted across their vests providing sharp pops of color. Rifles drawn, they bark orders through roof-mounted megaphones at the crowd slowly gathering around them.

A few minutes into the spectacle, a mother firmly nudges a boy of perhaps twelve with numb shock and sleep in his eyes forward, and tries not to watch as he's roughly hauled towards one of the vehicles. Just a few feet away, another woman hugs her daughter close, hands briskly stroking hair and lips feverishly working through whispered prayers— until gloved hands seize the girl's shoulders and she, too, is ripped away. Quiet sobs abound, but not a protest is heard; the region is rife with rumors of what protest brings when Los Misioneros come to town, and not a soul in Tierra del Rio wants to see for themselves what lies beneath those helmets.

Near the back of the crowd, a boy just shy of the culling age dares to lean out from behind his mother, watching as - gradually - a handful of children are either fearfully volunteered by or pulled free from their parents, his mouth agape and eyes aglow. Amplified by fear, the boy's desperation broadcasts wide, visiting minds near and far with visions of systematic cruelty.

Thousands of miles away in Westchester, green eyes snap open. "We have to go," Jean Grey murmurs a heartbeat before comm badges begin punctuating portions of a stately Institute with red lights and piercing notes.

Not even a minute into his SOS, terror hits a fever pitch as the child's perspective grows abruptly, nauseatingly erratic. Gloved hands grip tender limbs, hauling him towards that armored caravan; angry Spanish and a mother's anguished wails clash in the air.

~NO!~ he 'howls' across language barriers, ~NO, nononononono please, please, please somebody pleasepleasepleaseplease help us PLEASE…!~

Jean only just stops herself from echoing more than that first cry as her costume manifests.


"I'm gonna stick with the Blackbird until it does or doesn't make a secure landing," Phoenix - new life, new name, new green and gold costume - informs her fellow X-Men from the pilot's seat with a practiced calm, "and maintain our primary comm-net."

Screaming over mountainous terrain, the X-Men's stealth transport is within seconds of entering engagement range. Rocky features features provide some meager cover for a procession of black APCs and MRAPs anointed with red crucifixes, but Los Misioneros are mostly relying on a remote location - a winding trail many miles from the nearest town or village - and sheer reputation to ward off interlopers. Appearing not even a year ago, they quickly established themselves as vigilantes fighting the scourge of narcotraffic in the Sinaloa region's larger cities… but with a price: the willful surrender of those who possess the sinful X-Gene, active or otherwise. Once the older mutants in their path of righteous fury were taken, killed, or driven into hiding, their focus turned towards the children.

Which is when they truly began to teach not just criminals, but civilians to fear them. There are only a handful of stories about the wages of rebellion, and while each is different from the next, they all share a theme of faceless masks retracting to unleash unspeakable horror. In the hour or so between Westchester and here, Phoenix has taken the time to lay out the broad strokes of this scenario drawn from a frightened boy.

"They're keeping the kids near the back of the line," she continues. "Primary objective is extracting them safely and rendezvousing with the Blackbird; if a secure landing isn't an option, that'll be happening wherever the autopilot decides to go for an emergency one. Secondary objective is introducing these assholes to the X-Men by dropping you guys right on their damn heads, once in range; are we clear?"

"We're clear, and ready to go," Kitty states, her features set in an angry set of stone that would make Old Man Logan proud. Few things will get Kitty as riled up as she is now, children are one of them. Fellow X-Men are another. She makes two hard fists as she walks over towards the exit. Kitty may not be a 'flyer' like Phoenix or Storm, but she has hardly need of a parachute. It's not like the fall is going to kill her, afterall.

"I'll focus on getting the children out, and to safety." Kitty, probably, is best suited to the task presently considering her phase-ability can not only get her there without much trouble, but she can also get the kids to safety and protect them in ways nobody else can. She can, afterall, shift them too.

"See you down there," she tells the other X'ers, and then she's jumping, and plummetting, down, down, down, until she comes into contact with the earth, which she drops right through like the blade of a knife into water.

Lewis really hadn't WANTED to go to Mexico, but his agent had called and said that he needed to do some press for the 10th anniversary Best Of album the record company was putting out next month. Things were simpler before humans mastered electricity, back when the best they had were campfires to sit around to listen to stories, back when a hood was all he needed to keep the stares at by for being Not Human.

In the wee hours of the morning, Lewis was standing on the edge of the roof of the high-rise hotel building he was staying in. He couldn't sleep. It had been…. he stopped counting how long it had been since he slept. So it was that he nearly toppled from the roof as the sudden cry piereced his mind. It was a child's mind, crying out the way a memory cried out to him from the foggy and hazy years of his past, the way he dimly recalls having cried out himself. He wasn't aware of acting until he was out over the area, hovering without costume or mask or anything really to hide his identity. He hangs in the sky near where he can hear something large and mechanical, a somthing he can not see. Not until someone leaps from it. The elf's head tilts.

A part of him just wants to leave now. But the part that Flew to the cry of that child holds him and has him pushing himself forward again, lowering himself silently toward the ground, hopefully before he is spotted by any below.

Laura Kinney calmly hangs onto one of the overhead grips, pulling a pair of goggles over her eyes to match the parachute on her back. It's not her first jump, and every minute on the ground's going to count. When the doors open, she releases the handle, simply walking off the edge of the deckplates. She turns to present as thin a profile as possible, plummeting headfirst as she guides herself towards the target as accurately as possible. She'll pull the chute at the last psosible second. "I am surprised Beast does not have jetpacks."

Ororo has stayed stoic throughout the trip southward. While anyone who knows the wind-rider should have no doubt that targeting children is as sore a spot for her as it is for anyone, she wears it on her sleeve less than Kitty does. That's not to say that Ororo comes off as uncaring… instead, the word to describe her during the trip is "focused." She attentively listens to Jean lay out the mission, and when Kitty casts her own role, the goddess nods in approval and agreement.

When Kitty and Laura have deployed, Ororo pauses for a moment, and gives Jean a meaningful look. Then, Ororo is out of the plane as well. Since she can fly, this isn't a problem by any means. As she sails toward the enemy, the sky rumbles ominously. Perhaps the righteous rage Ororo feels isn't as completely suppressed as one would think by looking at her.

Jean meets that look of the wind-rider's.

~Please be safe,~ quietly echoes between her ears before—

~Psi-net is online,~ is cast more broadly. ~I'm getting— mm, four hostages, total; they must think they struck gold…~ There's a lingering pause; concern flashes through the network. ~And, uh, that's it— no, wait, one mor— no, oh, shit, they're right next~

Phoenix roughly switches 'bands', letting the X-Men continue communicating while she reaches out to Lewis:

~Who are you, and what are you doing here?~ she curtly tries sending across astral space.

Despite this rude stranger, Lewis is still able to home in on the boy hunkering in the third vehicle from the back, an APC with an enormous gun jutting from its roof; trying to get a read on anyone but him or the hostages just earns him a mind full of blinding magenta light, though.

Kitty and Laura's approaches are well-suited to subterfuge beneath the cover of darkness; it helps that nobody in those vehicles is giving even half a care to watching much more than the mountains around them. They own this area, as far as they're concerned, why bother? As Shadowcat disappears into the Earth, Laura is presented with her choice of two heavily reinforced MRAPs and two APCs to land on, depending on how she works her trajectory. Sleek, relatively contemporary, and modestly armed, the plating covering their roofs would present no resistance whatsoever to adamantium claws.

On the other side of the spectrum, Ororo lets the sky sing her displeasure as she descends, and this sudden shift - from still darkness to an impending Storm - eventually leads to the caravan trying to speed up once eyes finally rise. Once that happens, it's only a matter of short seconds before a couple of men lean out of windows to fire assault rifles into the air. They're mostly focused on Storm, but depending on Laura's precise trajectory, she may well find herself dealing with some lead of her own.

From the earth, Kitty's head bobs out, briefly, transparent against the night and only just above her nose. She takes a brief glance at her surroundings and submerges again.

A minute passes, and then Kitty is moving up, fully from the ground having found an emergence point that suits her. She moves as silently as the night; a trick inborn from her time possessed and her training with Wolverine, as she's now fully behind enemy lines. "Jean?" She whispers, "Need a line on where the children are. I'm close. Behind their lines."

~Hostages are in the third vehicle in the convoy. If you disable the fourth vehicle's electrical system, it will stop and not ram the third vehicle when I stop it.~ Laura pulls her chute at a few hundred feet altitude, tugging the risers to aim her landing point. When she's about thirty feet above the convoy, she cuts the chute loose. A bullet creases her ribs, but she still lands true on top of the APC with the biggest gun. Laura pops her claws with a snikt, and severs the gun barrel before shuffling over to the driver's hatch. It gets roughly the same treatment, a quick downward stab and wiggle to sever the locking mechanism, before the teen rips the hatch off and drops on top of the unlucky slaver to be the driver.

Ororo is still far enough above the convoy that when bullets come at her, she's got enough of a head start to buffet them away with strong winds. The wind on the ground picks up a bit, but not enough to cause any real damage, yet.

As Kitty and Laura come in from the rear, Ororo seeks to halt the convoy's progress by coming at them from the front. The way she does this is to have a giant honking peal of lightning come down close enough in front of the first vehicle that the normal human response would be to be freaked. Moreso when Ororo casts down the second bolt of lightning, and the third. She's not actually striking any of the carriers, yet. But she is making it very clear to them that no matter what path they choose to travel, she can make it unpassable.

Shadowcat gets a clipped, ~Third from the fr— ~ from Phoenix before X gives the answer to her.

And, also, a few points of efficiently delivered destruction that leave her— well. Not alone with the driver, but on top of him, certainly: clad in the same helmet fronted by a single, featureless pane and black, crucifix-bearing armor, his only real shot at protecting himself from Laura's wrath is a sidearm he's too slow to pull before it's too late. He has a co-pilot, but given his proximity and the terrible speed that is her birthright, it's doubtful he'll have a chance to react before it's too late for him, too.

The four men rushing to level knives and assault rifles towards her in the passenger area may be a different story, though— to say nothing of the fifth, a bit shorter and slighter than the rest, holding clenched hands out towards the clone. As a couple of the men fire off brief salvos to try and either kill or suppress Laura and the others charge, a mote of white light appears between the fifth man's hand, impossibly brilliant in the heartbeat before it explodes to fill the vehicle with blinding white.

Somewhere behind them all, a locked partition will - eventually - provide a glimpse at terrified teens and tweens.

The front-most driver is meanwhile forced to swerve along a trail big enough for, maybe, two lanes worth of normal traffic until one of those incessant lightning strikes sends him twisting off-road to eventually crash into the base of an outcropping. Thanks to the radio activity beginning to light the vehicles up, the MRAP behind it can't even stop because Laura's new friends are barreling ahead without a care in the world for proper formation. As it risks swerving aside - and armored plates eventually scrape up against one another - its roof-mounted machine gun manages to spray a few more rounds at Storm, and doors open along its side so that half a dozen armored men can work on leaping and tumbling free.

The MRAP in the rear just cold stops, meanwhile, allowing five more 'missionaries' into the field to further pressure the wind-rider.

"Copy that," Kitty agrees, moving fast, fluid, towards the next-to-last vehicle in line. And then she's moving up, and into the rear of the vehicle, through the closed back-hatch and before anyone, the children, or the men in the back can register suddenly that someone is there in front of them now that wasn't just a moment ago. And before anyone can, Kitty is solidified, briefly, to grab a man's arm and send him flying through — literally — the vehicle's side as she phases herself and him in a moment's notice.

The man's surprised yelp might draw the attention of the others in the vehicle, but Kitty is already grabbing the next man's limb and and tossing him out of the vehicle also.

Since Laura already cleared it for her, Kitty then hops into the driver's seat, turns, and looks back at the children. "You're safe, now," she says, quietly. "They won't get you again. I'm getting you to safety. My friends will keep your families safe."

Kitty then says into her comm-link, "Children are secured. Give me a rendevouz point."

Laura Kinney clenches her eyes shut, but the flash still dazzles her through her eyelids. The teen's nostrils flare, re-orienting to take out the rest as a bullet rips into her shoulder…. And they're all gone. Blinking away the spots on her vision, the only people left are the hostages. "Shadowcat. Drive off the trail, get as much distance as you can, then head back towards the town." The claws disappear back into her flesh and Laura scrambles back into the night, taking a running leap onto the hood of the MRAP behind, popping her claws mid-air to stick the landing.

With the rest of the group doing what they do, Lewis moves through the edges of the area. He falls back on age old skills. He was a hunter once, trained to be the best of his people, able to provide for the whole of his tribe of elf-folk with only a few other hands to assist. Known then as a Chosen, the elf stealths toward the vehicles, toward where he can feel that mind. It's a mind he reaches out for.

~ Please. Calm, child. You are not alone,~ his mind presses toward the child, offering as much calm safety as he can muster. As much as he had once wished for, as much as he should have shown to those children so long ago. Their faces have blurred with time, but their cries stilll haunt. He pauses, knelt behind something as he watches Laura cut into the vehicle and Kitty simply walk through the walls. Handy trick, that.

~ All will be well, soon enough. Hold to my mind and center yourself, hatchling.~ Ugh. Some habits! Savith had thought he'd left being a 'bird elf' behind. Ah well. Hoepfully the child latches onto the sensation rather than the word itself, for he is sending as much emotion as he is actual verbal thought. Now, to see about getting into the vechile himself. He reaches out, had and mind both, but finds that the vechicle is far far too heavy for him to lift. His eyes open to seeing Kitty put herself into the driver seat.

Yep. That's also a good idea. He'll just… alight himself onto the roof and then perhaps into the back or into the passenger seat?

He really should have stayed home.

Lewis shifts his weight so he can launch himself after the truck with the child's mind he is hoping to touch and calm.

What had been a harmless handful of bullets directed toward Ororo is now something like a dozen guns all trained on the weather witch. Ororo does her best to keep herself from becoming perforated, zigging and zagging in the sky, using wind currents to try and make the projectiles veer off course.

Ororo can only be so lucky, though, and a shot grazes her ribs, cutting her costume and leaving a line of blood… no entry, but being sliced open by flying hot metal still HURTS.

"Enough of this," Ororo declares through a wince, and the imperious tone carries over to the X-Men's psi-net where the message echoes. Ororo has the power of the elements at her command, and she's a little angry… but she still has the self-control to channel the tornado she creates into a very narrow space, trying to scatter the assembled gunmen without jostling around the carrier Laura is in TOO much.

~Hey.~ Phoenix stiffly tries broadcasting to Lewis again after taking a second to massage her temple and clear a little lingering magenta chaff from her thoughts, courtesy of her attempts at locking onto the armored men. They're long past being adjacent at this point, but the unexpected presence of a mind near her one of a kind stealth solution is no less concerning. ~Seriously, please: gonna need you to ID yourself or gimme a good faith scan, like, ASAP; I'm here to help someone in need, but— did you see that lightning…? That's mine.~

Since Phoenix is preoccupied with tactical paranoia, the important work of keeping at least one of these abducted mutant children from freaking out as a designer killing machine acquaints herself with cruel vigilantes falls to Savith. The elf gets fearful gasps in reply, initially, but a few seconds of patient focus will eventually serve to draw the child's mind into the calm unplace Savith has prepared for him. Once there, he transmits gratitude— albeit tentatively.

When Kitty reaches out after assuring the rest of the hostages - and getting similarly grateful, if tentative looks once one translates for the others - the 'bird whips back around and veers, angling towards a flat stretch of land glimpsed a ways back; the coordinates appear in the X-Men's minds. By now somewhat removed from the fight unfolding below, it'll take a little while to actually get there. The thugs she threw out of the vehicle slowly struggle to their feet— well. Most of them do; a couple just lie there after being thrown out of a careening vehicle.

Laura lands claws first on the rearmost MRAP, meanwhile, and shortly afterwards the men who formerly occupied it find themselves flying every which way in the wake of a spontaneous tornado. Given that there's only one guy in the back of that vehicle and a driver/co-driver up front, the most difficult thing about clearing it will likely be the measuredly inclement weather. Los Misioneros are having an awful morning, all told: all over the rocky trail, men pick themselves up from road-inflicted injuries, or stumble out of a crashed APC; or bleed, dying. Even the machine gunner that was spitting up at Storm seems to have given up the ghost.

A command in Spanish cuts across the flagging unit's communications: "Sync."

Here and there, heads quickly, briefly swivel before settling on some target or another: Storm and Savith above, Laura getting to work in the fourth vehicle; the APC Kitty's commandeered. Gloved hands clench just so and a baker's dozen of faceless masks swing up to reveal rainbow lights slithering outwards as psychic force crashes against mental defenses like a bomb. Obscuring every inch of human expression, the dancing lights swiftly unspool, coalescing above the mountainous trail—

— and ultimately twisting the field into something sculpted from the fears lurking in each elf and mutant's mind. Every hero is afforded the privilege of experiencing her or his own version of the ordered word while it lasts— which would be roughly as long as it takes to muddle through sense-gripping illusions to properly subdue these vigilantes; unlike frightened civilians, the heroes are likely to have strong enough wills to mount some resistance— if not grit through them entirely, should they be especially strong of mind.

Savith would instantly be aware that this is, perhaps, why none of the hostages were all that willing to place much stock in being rescued.

"That can't be good," says Kitty, quietly, to herself as she sees the odd rainbow lights. The one thing she -does- know is it's not anyone on her side of the fence doing it.

A moment later, and Kitty is screaming into the comm-link, "Jean!?! Ororo?!?" As she watches them bloodily plummet from the sky, Ororo's body crashing to the earth while the Blackbird goes up like an atomic fireball in the heavens — Jean's second death.

The vehicle lurches, almost tilting off to one side and crashing before Kitty feels the lurch herself, and is able to recover enough mentally to take control back over the steering. There is one thing she -can- do, and she does it before anyone else has a response back to her. Kitty keeps her arms, her legs solid, her torso as well, but she phases her head. A test. Her mind so phased and shifted as to be out of alignment with many things on the physical realm - and it affords her some mental protection against telepaths, illusion, and trickery. She chokes a breath when she sees the Blackbird, the true Blackbird, is not a fireball of death. "Sorry," she says, a bit hoarsely. "They've got a telepath on their side. But, you probably knew that. Already. Assholes."

~Savith. I see the lightning. I am wary but undeterred. I heard the child's cry, I have him calming and it takes effort. We can talk later,~ the elf replies to Jean's mind. He sighs when he feels the child calm and lean against his mind. Like a parent to a child, faint memories of having done this very thing, Savith pets that child's mind. His own offers the murmur of a lullaby, a song to help him stay calm.

At least, right up until the lights about him in the sky morph into darkness, clawed hands reaching out, whispering promises of never finding that which he seeks. THe elf chokes, struggling against the mental onslaught while blocking it and his own terror from the child's mind.

He's done this before. He knows he has. He just can't recall the face or the name of who he had rescued from this kind of terror. His four-fingered hands come up to his hand, fingers clawing into his hair as he begins to sink in the the sky; telekinesis giving out as he struggles to keep the child's mind safe from this attack. Floundering, he flings a thought back in the direction of that calm adult mind from before.

His thoughts are wordless, a mere expression of what just occurred to him, of being made captive of this, the fear is the cage… Fear is The Cage, bars made of stone that Savith can not move, can not touch. He should be able to! It's in his blood. it is his birth right! Or should have been had he not been a failure. A failure to everyone.

So focused on keeping the child's mind safe and protected, Savith leaves little left for himself save the natural defenses of his own soul that keeps out any who do not know that key.

Laura is knocked free of the MRAP as the tornado tips it over, the teen tumbling across the ground and rolling to a stop. Staggering to her feet, her leg making a visceral grinding sound as it pieces itself back together, she turns towards the figure striding towards her- A dark skinned woman with dark brown hair, in a tight tactical suit slung with gear. She's carrying a Crossbow.

Panic from Laura floods into the psychic link. ~Kimura… Run! Everyone run!~ The teen throws herself forwards, charging, claws outstretched, trying to buy her friends some time to- …Her claws are embedded in the woman's forehead. She can't stab Kim-Oh. It's not Kimura. It's some bigoted zealot, who's making little gurgling noises in his throat and twitching. She lets him fall, stalking towards any surviving members of the convoy.

What Ororo sees when the telepathic attack invades her mind is probably less important than what it directly causes. The wind-rider is trained to resist psychic assault, but clearly something here really and truly touches a nerve, as the weather here suddenly and completely goes apocalyptic.

In less time than it takes to blink, torrential rain comes down, and winds increase to terrifying strength. Meteorologists in the region will spend time, later, trying to figure out the full-on hurricane that manifested out of nowhere… and then was gone in under thirty seconds, as Ororo grits her teeth and puts the will of a goddess to work, forcing her mind to reject whatever it is she's seeing.

~Okay!~ Phoenix transmits, wasting no further time in extending the 'net to bring Savith into contact with the rest of the crew. ~Okay. My name is— Phoenix. My teammates and I are here for the children too, a~

Terror explodes across the psi-net, filling the Blackbird with an anguished scream; Phoenix gets none of the others' visions, but echoes of the awful desperation and doubt, the all-consuming fight-or-flight, and raw wrath all stick in her thoughts like barbed arrows.

Kitty, at least, is able to desync herself from the astral apocalypse in relatively short order, while Laura manages to murder her way through it. Savith's protective mantra is less immediately effective in banishing the effect, but - especially as Laura's dropped bodies degrade its overall intensity - the Cage's bars eventually stir and inevitably shatter. Despite the relatively non-violent nature of he and Kitty's escapes, several of the men fall over shortly after they're free, the light dissipating to reveal their faces.

All told, the effect comes and goes in less than a minute; the real trouble, after a certain point, is the hurricane Storm whips up while it does.

When that ends, there isn't a vehicle or man left upright and the Blackbird's autopilot is straining to pull itself back on course; Phoenix only just stops screaming, by that point.

"Everyone okay?" Kitty asks over the comm-link, as she manages to park the vehicle. She looks back at the children, too, and gives them a warm smile, as she removes the keys from the ignition, and heads into the back. "Come on. Let's go meet my friends. And get you back to your families, okay?" She pats one of them on the head, before opening the door to show them that they are, indeed, free.

"I am fine." Laura can't truly say she's uninjured but… She'll live. Definitely going to need a new costume, though. This one's full of bullet holes and blood, and not all of it's hers. The teen retracts her claws except for one toe claw, making her way through the remains of the battlefield, giving each body a kick to make sure it is well and /truly/ dead.

The battlefield is much more… wet than it was a minute or two ago, but the severe weather was mercifully brief. Ororo begins to fly toward where Kitty is headed. As she trails overhead, she observes the bodies left in Laura's wake… and her frown tightens. This will be addressed. As Ororo resolves that, she suddenly winces, as the wound on her side asserts itself angrily.

~NO!~ Phoenix immediately blurts in response to Kitty.

A beat later: ~Fu— ugh. Yeah, look, are the kids okay? Do we have any surrenders-slash-subduals to accommodate?~ she quietly wonders before doing a scan of her own, then letting relief hit the network.

The kids are, in fact, fine— now. Basically. Kitty was treated to a few seconds worth of wailing and crying before she managed to short-circuit her portion of the effect, and while the children are physically fine, it's only the oldest of them - the sixteen year old girl who's been playing translator - who actually dares approach Kitty when the door opens. The child she pats gets real tense; it takes a few quiet words from the sixteen year old before he begins to relax.

Before much longer, Kitty manages to get through sodden terrain to reach the the rendezvous zone, where she - and the other X-Men - will find Jean slumped in her seat with her hands tightly set upon the controls, ready to get out ASAP.

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