An old cargo ship
- Some sailors from Santa Prisca
Santa Prisca is a rather interesting island in the northern Caribbean. It has a long, complex and generally disastrous history that seems to involve several revolutions, military coups and natural disasters in the last 30 years. Currently a ‘Junta’ claims control of the county, but no one is very sure of what kind of control is this. Despite this, it is a tax heaven, and numerous multi-national companies have holdings there, where absolutely no money laundering happens (so they say). Santa Prisca exports sugar cane, some tropical fruit and legal drugs, but it is most infamous for its cocaine and heroin, as well as more exotic drugs. It has been long suspected Gotham is the entry point of its drugs in America, but investigations have been slow.
Magneto asked Calvin to come with his X-men to a point about a hundred miles west of the island, where there is only water. It is an odd place for a rendezvous. Given the sorry state of the island’s military it seems very unlikely they have the means to detect the Blackbird. Although one never knows what a drug lord can purchase nowadays in the black market.
Seated in the co-pilot's seat, Cyclops is suited up in an all-black uniform, sans X-insignia. The incognito uniforms were a recent development, a mandate of his own that some members of the team didn't approve of, but Scott had his reasons. Teaming up with Magneto on an operation, no matter how important, was a moment where he felt the X wasn't exactly warranted.
He reaches over to engage the hover mechanism; the Blackbird's VTOL engines rear back and pummel the waters beneath with exhaust. There is a moment where the aircraft sways from bow to stern, before it levels out into its hover. "Any sign of our host?" he asks drily, while scanning the waters ahead with the enhanced vision tools built into his tactical visor.
When you can teleport, taking a plane often seems like an unnecessaru waste of time. But if you're going to do it anyway, it's best when you're the pilot. Because it's fun. Cal piloted the Blackbird regularly in his home reality because he hadn't met Blink yet. Here, it's a lot more rare and he's used the opportunity to put her through her paces since Scott is the only other person aboard. Hopefully he doesn't get motion sick. Once they've come to a halt and start to hover, he unlocks and opens the jet's door. "Not yet. But I expect he'll be by shortly."
There is a cargo ship in the area. A mid-sized bulk carrier with Honduran flag. And as the Blackbird comes down, the plane’s radio sparks to life. “The vessel is our target,” Magneto’s voice. “I am quite sure it took your students to Santa Prisca months ago. The captain, perhaps others, will know where they were taken. Or at least who picked them up. Expect the crew to be armed. I’ll meet you there.”
When Magneto's voice comes over the radio, Cyclops forms a dour frown, and a very soft, stifled sigh comes through his nose. Cal probably knows him well enough to know that Scott hates breaking international law, even though he's done it more times than he can count.
"What do you think? Land her here and go for a swim, or should we take a more direct approach?" He leaves the radio work to Calvin. This whole thing has him feeling a rather sizable pit in his stomach, after all.
"On the way." Cal responds via radio then magnifies the view of the ship to get a better look at the dock. The Blackbird's door shuts and relatches as he looks over at Scott. He stands. "The Blackbird will be fine this way for a bit. Let's just go ask them a few questions." Once Scott nods and stands, he puts a hand on the man's shoulder and in a *BLINK* they're standing outside the ship's bridge. He instantly puts up a telekinetic forcefield around them to guard against those who prefer to shoot first and ask questions later.
The ship is quite old and needs desperately a paint job. Some freight containers are stacked near the bow, but it gives the impression it goes mostly empty. Despite this, there are several men on the deck, and they spot Cyclops and Mimic rather quickly.
As Magneto warned, some they are armed with a variety of handguns, so the X-Men quickly find several sailors pointing firearms at them, shouting in English and Spanish varieties of "Don't move" and "hands up" as well as "how did you got here? Where is your ship?"
Cyclops looks around when they emerge from Mimic's teleport, first to get his bearings, then to gauge those who have come to confront them. He raises his hands into the air in a sign of mock surrender, before calling out to the group, "We're here for your Captain. He should be expecting us. Better go and get him before things get ugly." There's a touch of rugged ferocity pushed into his voice; here's to hoping they don't call his bluff.
"Five roubles they get ugly." Mimic says to Cyclops in Russian. "They look too stupid to do anything without having someone higher up to tell them to wipe themselves." « I don't know if you speak Russian but if not, just smile and nod. » he then sends telepathically. « Having them think we're Russian instead of American will probably help. »
The sailors look skeptical, but at least they don't shoot them right away. Instead they keep pointing at them while one of the unarmed sailors runs to find the captain.
The captain doesn't look much of a sailor. He is in his late 20s, wears a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, and keeps his handgun in a shoulder holster. Looks more like a young gangster from New York than a Hispanic sailor like most of the others.
One of the sailors hastens to mutter something to his ear and he looks at the X-Men with a frown. "Yeah. I had not seen these clowns in my life." He looks at Scott, "you got two seconds to convince me not to kill you."
"Da," remarks Cyclops in an off-hand manner to Mimic. No, he doesn't speak Russian, but he knows that much at least.
When the Captain comes down to confront them, Cyclops turns to eyeball the fellow with a speculative look. "Alright."
Both hands form fists. Cyclops has upgraded his tactical visor; the triggering mechanism is now controlled by touching the pads of his fingers to the palms of each hand, with the triggers built into the gloves. More pressure, more fingers, a greater blast. He looks out to the open ocean, and a massive optic blast bursts forth, digging into the waters and sending a massive wave up into the air. He waits for a moment, trusting in Mimic's telekinetic shield to protect them from any return fire, until the wake of the blast rocks the ship with violence.
"The two second are up." Mimic says, using a Russian accent. "But be warned that after you fail, it will be our turn." Pause. Or…" He trails off, shrugs and waits.
Sure, a couple of the sailors manage to shot, while others are just too stunned, or dive for cover as the ship rocks visibly and water washes the deck. "Kill them!" Screams the captain, trying to run back to the ship insides.
Before the bulk of the sailors, now numbering almost a score, the ship shudders again, and all the sailor's guns, knives and the odd hook, float up, pulled by an irresistible force. Magneto hovers a score feet over the deck, wearing white and black armor. "Enough this foolishness," he states. "We demand answers. Defy us and you will perish!" That sends many of the sailors running, but several do surrender, raising their arms and all.
To be truthful, Cyclops was expecting Magneto to make his entrance after the proverbial can of worms was torn open by way of optic blast. It's almost ironic; the X-Men were known for their tag-teams, and that was one hell of a bit of unplanned teamwork. That being said, Scott is forced to stifle a grimace at Magneto's threat, for he's not entirely sure if it's a bluff.
"We know that you are behind the abduction of mutant children," he announces on the tail of Magneto's threat, giving the sailors little room to retort. "We want them back. You can turn them over, or we'll take them from you; just as your people took them from us."
He doesn't look at Calvin, but the telepath will certainly be able to sense the trepidation in Scott's soul. They could easily do this without killing.
Unsurprisingly, all the bullets come to a halt inches away from the two X-Men when they impack the forcefield. The captain comes to a sudden halt as Mimic grabs him telekinetically. He could just lift the man off the deck a bit and float him back but it's more impressive, and satisfying, to drag him back so his heels scraps across the deck instead. "You will tell us where they are, who paid you to transport them, and who gave them to you to whom you gave them." he tells the captain, keeping up the accent. As he asks the questions, his thoughts slide into the man's mind, looking for the answers. Don't think about the elephant is pretty much guaranteed to get you thinking about an elephant. The same thing works when questioning someone unless they're extremely disciplined and expecting telepathy.
Magneto could be bluffing, but it is more likely he means to do exactly what he said. All the old X-Men know too well how vindictive and bloodthirsty the old mutant can be. That is one of the reasons why the X-Men do not trust him to go alone to rescue the children. He /could/ do it, but the body count would doubtlessly be very high.
The captain knows exactly what Calvin is talking about. His main business human trafficking, but someone has been paying him big bucks for mutants, so he transports those too, delivering to one of Santa Prisca paramilitary organizations. Not many, just handful each month. Both from Honduras and from Gotham.
But the main cargo is mere human beings. Desperate men and women from Central America seeking a better life in the north and paying all they have to the mafias that hire him. Some end up as little more than slaves in Santa Prisca. Others travel to Gotham to be shipped to the cities of the East Coast as cheap labor, or whores, depending on what friends they have and where. About three hundred of them are right now in the bowels of the ship, in the dark, hungry and terrified.
Scott folds his arms. For the moment, his play is to simply look intimidating; let them assume he has mental control over his optic blasts. To that end, he turns and looks toward the crew who have remained, letting his idling visor do the talking that his lips aren't.
The more Mimic learns from the captain's mind, the more his expression grows flat and hard. Once he's learned all he needs to know, he steps forward and drives a fist into the man's stomach. Then the captain goes flying overboard and splashes into the ocean. « I won't let him die. » he assures Cyclops. « But I should. There's a few hundred slaves below deck. We need to contact… someone. »
Magneto hrms when Mimic throws the captain overboard, coming down to the deck. "I assume you got the information we need before… doing that. Right?" Mostly so he doesn't have to fish the man out of the water. "I will sink this ship when we depart. There should be enough lifeboats… if they are following international regulations." Which is unlikely, of course.
«I have a contact in SHIELD.» Cyclops smirks a bit as the man goes overboard. Turning away, he reaches for the communicator upon his utility belt and begins drafting up a message, directed to one Senior Agent Melinda May. "You." He points toward one of the men who seems to have a bit more IQ than most of the grunts, before striding toward the crewman with long steps. "Round up the crew and bring them up." He glances to Calvin. «Someone around here must know where the mutant trafficking operation goes next. We need to find that person.»
Back to the crewman he says, "I'll be on your ass. Any funny business, you'll be joining your Captain."
"I know which organization they deliver the people to." Mimic tells them both. "But we can't sink the ship." he tells Magneto. "There's a few hundred prisoners below deck. We're calling for help to come get them." He should have thought of SHIELD himself. Then he yanks the Captain up above water and lets him hang upside down, coughing and gagging. Once he catches his breath, he's submerged again.
Magneto tsks. As if the presence of the 'passengers' was terribly unimportant to him. "Fine. Tell me what you found out from the captain. My interrogation techniques would take too long, and likely bring up some moral objections from you two." He turns away, to look over the the ship's railing. "Santa Prisca is 95 miles away, this is only the first step of our task."
Calvin's report changes Scott's plan. He grabs the crewman by the shoulder. "Hold it."
Scott turns back to Magneto. "I'll disable the ship's comms, navigation, engines; inform SHIELD we have a few hundred starving slaves to be fed. Can you fashion some restraints for the crew?" He's got vengeance in his heart too, but his is related to international law and justice served, rather than death. He turns back to Calvin. "Round up the crew." For a telepath, that ought to be easy.
With that, Scott heads for the bridge.
"He gets his prisoners from Gotham and Honduras." Mimic tells Magneto. "Most are human but some are mutants. He delivers most to a paramilitary organization on the island - I know which one - but some are also delivered up and down the east coast. Once he's done breathing seawater, I'll get the names of every contact he has." He could do it without dunking the captain but if anyone deserves to be terrorized, it's the man who's inflicted so much of it. "Once SHIELD gets here, we can continue." Nodding to Cyclops, he glances overboard and the captain rises again. This time he floats back to the ship then drops onto the deck. "I'll go find the crew and port them to you here so you can restrain them." he tells Magneto and wanders off, homing in the crewmembers' thoughts.
"I think you are confusing SHIELD with the coast guard, X-Men," comments Magneto dryly, walking with Cyclops. "But they won't appreciate my presence here. Capturing me would be their priority, not your refugees." Calvin reports fit what he knew already of the ship's routes. He nods to the younger man. But the key information is the name of the organization and the contacts in Santa Prisca. That is what they needed to break this operation. The ship can be replaced, they need to strike higher.
"A Senior Agent owes me a favor," Scott tells Magneto. "Don't worry. We'll be long gone before they arrive." He means it, too; it could be argued that SHIELD would, or at least should, be as interested in detaining himself and Calvin, as well. That whole 'breaking international law' thing.
With that, he's off. Disabling the vessel's means of communication and movement shouldn't be too difficult.
"SHIELD can get here the fastest and can provide medical treatment to the prisoners." Mimic tells Magneto, pausing at the stairs before he goes below. "We should stay till they arrive though. Magneto can hang out in the Blackbird once they get close. Anyway, back soon." He disappears below deck and periodically, one of the ship's crew suddenly appears about ten feet in the air before creashing to the deck at Magneto's feet. Mimic is not fond of slavers.
Magneto hrms, looking at Scott, "I think you are confusing illegal immigration with slavery. Do you truly believe the people under the deck don't want to be there if it is their path into a life in America? If you want to help them, just have Mimic teleport them to one of the American cities. SHIELD will just send them back to Santa Prisca. Or if they are lucky, they arrange for transport to their countries of origin, which they wanted to leave behind." He turns back again, and floats up. "But you are right in one regard, it is better if I wait in the Blackbird."
Scott holds back for another moment. He turns to look at Magneto again, and for a moment, there is argument upon his face. Then, however, he can't help but admit… the man had a valid point. He turns to look at Calvin, shoulders rising and falling in a sigh. "They still need to be fed," he points out. "We'll let them decide."
To be continued…
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