Hidden Agendas: (1) His Name Was Mudd

March 3, 2014: There's something foul in the state of Massachusetts. Two X-Men come to gather three dangerous mutants and take them away from WH Pharmaceuticals. Another mutant is there for an entirely different reason.

BOSTON, Massachusetts

WH Pharmaceuticals - 9:56pm

Even in the soft moonlight, the ugly mark that WH Pharmaceuticals' ostentatiously large building makes on the beauty of the surrounding area is stark in contrast to the serene lake that swells out around the back and side, and the rolling hills that complete the picture. It's night, now, and there are few windows lit up on the face of the building.



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Mood Music:

BOSTON, Massachusetts

WH Pharmaceuticals - 9:56pm

Even in the soft moonlight, the ugly mark that WH Pharmaceuticals' ostentatiously large building makes on the beauty of the surrounding area is stark in contrast to the serene lake that swells out around the back and side, and the rolling hills that complete the picture. It's night, now, and there are few windows lit up on the face of the building. But, in the back, in the factory, the cheap help toils and sweats over the conveyer belt lines of pill bottles being filled, sealed, and capped. Then, the bottles are packed in boxes, closed, and taped, labeled and shipped.

However, on the face of the building, there is one window that is lit up. The CFO, William Mudd, is drinking his seventh glass of brandy since the sun went down. He's lost another patch of hair. The stress is just too much. He's thinking of leaving. The sound of the factory hums and thrums, even way up here. The sound of it is maddening. …Maddening.

Shift was contacted via a burner phone by his anonymous benefactor and given instructions to pick up an information packet at a bus station in the Bronx. The information packet was very informative, and gave him clear instructions. There was also a plane ticket—two way—first class. Very thoughtful. (Yes, and Emma refuses to fly anything but first class, even if she's riding someone else's mind.)

She can't stand it. She showed Tony too much. She got lost in the moment and her memories took over, a little. Tony's threats ring in her ears, even now. Not now. Not when she's so close. It can't be. She's worked so very hard. The finish line is in sight. She checks in to see what Odame is up to.

Hot-wiring a bike would have simply been too dangerous, and he wasn't ready to risk one of his credit cards on a rental. Fortunately, not long after arriving at Logan International in Boston, he learned that a car had been provided. Infinity, top model. Not exactly his preferred ride, but it fit the cover nicely. And so, he'd made for the large facility on the outskirts of town.

Once parked outside of WH Pharmaceuticals, Shift reached for the info packet once more, if only to give his instructions a second review.

1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, New York

Xavier's Institute for Gifted Youngsters - 9:41pm

There's a sharp sounding knock on Calvin's door (metal knuckles and all), and when he opens it (or if he takes to long and Logan opens it himself), the feral old mutant grunts at the young man, "Get dressed, we're goin' on a field trip to Boston. Some mutants with less than friendly powers hangin' out together, we're goin' to make sure everything's alright." He shakes his head slowly, "Weird thing is the address is showing a pharmaceutical company of some sort. So, be ready for trouble. We're gonna nose around a bit. Meet me downstairs in fifteen. Wear something dark."

9:56pm, 15 minutes later

Waiting downstairs, Logan has on a dark leather jacket and jeans, arms folded over his chest with satellite scans of the address and surrounding space in one hand, an open space near the facility circled in red.

Wear something dark? Cal rummages through his closet but ends up with a plain black body suit made of unstable molecules. He's burned up way too many sets of clothing to wear anything flammable on a mission. Heading downstairs, he calls up his favorite app on his phone: Google Earth. "Oh, you have scans already? Good enough. Big Pharma? Who are we supposed to stop?" Still, looking over the images he puts a hand on Logan's shoulder and BLINK. They arrive just outside the fence on the far side from the gate.

In fact, Cal and Logan arrive just in time. Before the teleport, there is only the sound of Logan's husky breathing, Cal's fingers against the leather of Logan's jacket as he grips his shoulder… Then, BLINK.

"-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH——" A scream, full lung, now fills the air. It's something like flipping channels, late at night, and coming across a horror flick in the middle of an about-to-be-dead person's scream. Because, that's exactly what it is. About the time it takes to discern what the hell is happening…and, the scream is over. Abruptly. There's no sound, now.

Shift, however, sees more. As he's placing his suitcase on the conveyor belt for scanning, he can hear the sound of glass breaking. When he looks back through the glass doors to find the source, he might catch sight of a chair as it hits the ground. Very shortly thereafter, William Mudd, CFO of WH Pharmaceuticals, comes tumbling out of the window. He flails, as if he wishes he hadn't made this decision, and thinks that, if he moves his limbs fast enough, it'll…. Do nothing. The scream ends as he lands on top of the broken remnants of his chair.

….The three mutants in question:
* Gail Messing ― Carrier Monkey ― Spreads 'dead' and rare diseases. (Polio, small pox, etc.)
* John Pierpont ― Blue Monday ― Secretes a chemical that causes severe chemical imbalances in the brain that ends in depression and worse.
* Lulu McNair ― Bad Penny ― Uncontrollable bad luck follows this person around.

Shift pulls the car out of visitor parking and rolls up to the security booth. Following a brief exchange and the provision of his falsified identification, the security officer permits him to park closer. Within moments, the African is coming through the front door, briefcase in hand.

He's dressed in a manner that is fitting for some douchebag middle executive in Big Pharma; a pair of slacks, a shirt from Nordstrom Rack, and a god damn Northface jacket. Cover's important, even when it hurts.

"Yes, I am here to meet with Mr. Mudd." He offers his ID, and sets the briefcase down upon a conveyor belt to be scanned. "He won't be expecting me, unless he's reviewed his e-mails within de last ten minutes."

Kwabena smiles sweetly as one security guard begins looking over the paperwork. He willingly spreads his arms out to the sides so that a second guard can run a weapon detector over his person.

"Late night for a visit, Mr. Kwertan?"

Kwanena smirks at the security guard addressing him. "Business nevah stops, Officah McEvert." The brown contact lenses in Kwabena's eyes help to make him look like just any normal human.

Just then, the three of them turn to watch as William Mudd goes splat against the concrete sidewalk. Kwabena winces at the mass of clothing, flesh, and shattered furniture, and reaches up to scratch his head. "Oh. Dat sucks."

Its enough to distract the guards from the X-Ray activated diffusers. A toxic gas bursts out of the suitcase, suffocating the guards immediately.

"Time for Plan B."

Kwabena disappears, the horrible clothing falling to the ground as a plume of black smoke goes flying down the hall.

"Yeah, I got scans," Logan answers before showing them and then tossing them aside before the younger man reaches for him and they BLINK their way to Boston.

The old man doesn't even get a chance to start acclimating to the new surroundings before the scream reaches his ears. There's a pause as blue eyes blink before the mutant grunts, "Are you $&@*#@! kidding me.." Shaking his head, Logan sweeps a glance around the surroundings, sharpened eyesight taking in their surroundings before he wonders of Cal, "Well. $&@!. Get us closer? Guess we're in the right spot. Let's see what's going on."

"The way that scream suddenly stopped, I'm pretty sure we know what's going on." Cal points out. Given his and Logan's night-vision, they don't need much light to see clearly and what's provided is enough for him to survey the company's grounds. With no activity in sight and no obvious movement inside, he ports them to the side of the building, right before the corner and within inches of the wall. As he's over a foot taller than the other man, he just leans forward over Logan to carefully peek around the corner.

The guards are dead. The gas dissipates and leaves only two corpses behind. One of them had his face right in the line of fire when the suitcase went off. His face is discolored, and slightly burned from the chemicals. The lower floor is otherwise empty in the office areas. A lot of cut-backs have left WH Pharmaceuticals with the barest bones of employee structure.

As Shift makes his way down the halls, he finds…nothing. It's like a business that's been gutted. Here and there, there are empty desks with some office supplies scattered here and there. No personal items. Nothing to show that anyone will be there when the morning comes. There is the sound of the factory, though, toward the back. It seems to be the only place there is any activity.

Shift reforms on the second floor, having slipped into the HVAC system and reformed wearing his uniform of gunmetal gray unstable molecules. He pulls the hood up over his face, silver eyes revealed, then dashes with silent footfalls toward a directory.

As soon as he finds the office room number for William Mudd, he's back into the HVAC system again, making his way toward the top floor. Tendrils of black pour from vents in the ceiling, dropping to the desk where Mudd once sat. There he reforms, and calls up the computer.

Let's see if Mudd left his workstation unlocked, or if Shift is gonna have to do this the hard way.

Peeking around the building when they teleport closer, Logan sniffs sharply, trying to see if he can pick up anything out of the ordinary. Growling quietly to himself, the old canuck shakes his head as he listens to the sounds of what's going on around the grounds. Or what isn't. "Don't hear much of anything or anybody except in the back. Shall we go take a look 'round?" Turning, the feral begins to make his way towards the factory area of the facility, ears listening for anything else that might be happening as he goes.

Cal nods at what logan says and follows him around the corner. But, between one step and the next, he BLINKs over to the security gate at the entrance. There should have been guards visible but there wasn't. Because they're on the ground and… yeah, no need to check closely: obviously dead. He's next to Logan again a second later. "Guards are dead, one with some kind of strange burns. Be careful. We'll need to call the police soon as we know it's safe for them."

The late William Mudd's office is shut down. The lights are off, his desk is neat, the bottle of brandy is empty. The glass is on the floor, near the window. The one that's broken. As Shift sits down at the desk and wakes up Mudd's computer… It flips right open to a NotePad file.

"Uh, they say that people who commit suicide don't leave notes, but… I feel like I ought to say something. So. I quit. I quit life. WH Pharmaceuticals can suck the marrow out of my bones after I'm dead, if it wants, but I'm done being drained while I'm alive. I quit."

His desktop is messy and disorganized. There are random files and lots and lots of shortcuts. Some of them are clearly related to the finances, labeled: Accounts Incoming/Outgoing, XXX Accounting, Cashflow, etc.

As Logan and Cal make their way toward the back of the building, skirting along the lovely, placid lake, the sounds of machinery gets louder and louder. The foul smell of pollutant smoke begins to dirty the air the closer they get to the factory. Around the corner, there is a flat wall with a large set of double doors, cracked open. There're two factory workers outside having smokes, dressed in scrubs, hair nets, and the weariness of the rough-trodden.

Two things happen as soon as the computer is opened. A small memory stick (small enough to fit through HVAC vents) goes in and begins downloading data, using a special data-mining program. At the same time, Shift opens Facebook, Twitter, pulling up both Mudd's personal access and company access, and… commences with the defamation. All of the posts run through a fairly basic hacking program that pre-dates the entries to a period mere minutes before the notepad file was saved, and it's that notepad file that receives the last treatment, some modifications made to Mudd's suicide note and it's final save date changed.

One more step… okay, quite a few more steps in advancing the ultimate defamation of WH Pharmaceuticals.

All of this, of course, is done with his gloves and mask on, and once he's finished, it's time to locate the security room.

Closer to the factory now, Logan walks along, not objecting to Cal's disappearance. The guy knows what he's doing. Usually. Looking aside to him when he returns, the feral grunts and nods, "Well !#*@. Wonder what we stumbled on here…We'll call the cops before we leave." As they near the corner, Logan slows and takes a peek around, squinting at the factory workers and huh'ing quietly to himself. Glancing to Cal, the man grunts, "Thoughts on getting them out of the way? Could 'port over and try to be gentle…"

"Think they didn't hear the scream?" Cal asks and it's not a rhetorical question give the machinery is loud. If they heard it and don't care, it says something. "I could go get into costume quick and do the official hero on site thing. Was planning to do that for the police anyway. Or we could just go talk to the and see what happens."

The malicious smear campaign goes out as quickly as Kwabena's fingers can type and click send. He finishes editing the suicide note and edits the last save's time. He finishes up on Mudd's computer and leaves everything, from all appearances, the way he found it. The sound of the wall clock's ticking sounds incredibly loud in the quiet office of a dead man.

"They don't got no respect for us, down here, in th' fuckin' sweat hole," one of the smokers says, spitting angrily on the beautiful grass—that is littered with cigarette butts.
"Yeah," the other one says. "S'not gonna be much longer. This place is goin' down fast. You better get ready for the unemployment line."

They seem to be almost done with their smokes, but who knows. Sometimes, people chug two or three smokes during a fifteen minute break, to help them make it through to the next one.

Continued in: The Stink of Fear-Pee

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