Not a Drop to Drink

May 03, 2015:

Storm, Angel, and Phoenix are called to aid efforts in Kenya.

Lwak, Kenya (AFRICA)

Characters

NPCs: Dr. Matthew Brady, Dr. Curich, Dr. Pettigrew, and random villagers

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N5Bk8FMw9Y New World Water - Yasiin Bey]


Fade In…

TWO HOURS AGO:

A distress beacon hits the consoles of the X-Men headquarters, the call answered by Jean whilst everyone busies themselves with the tasks set forth. It was a quiet mayday, something that has been missed by the National Guard that would usually render aid; and with the current mishaps and tormoil that the Mutants are dealing with, it was 'nice' for a change to know that someone actually would need their help.

Lwak, Kenya. Urg.

Jean had no idea of their people nor the culture, to go alone may not seem as suspect as Jean would think, for the people of Kenya would be glad if a helping hand would be asked. The call was put out to Ororo and others to join upon the Blackbird, Jean herself waiting at the helm and ready, buckled in and seated, ready to fly as she dials in the coordinates of where to land and meet.

This mission would be a simple one; but it had a dual agenda. To see if Smooth had spanned it's reach across the seas from the states and if there was an anomaly.. or perhaps a person that caused the smaller villages mishaps.

Ororo was in her garden when the call came in. Tending it usually has a way of helping her push the various troubles that always seem to follow the X-Men and those they've sworn to protect out of mind, but after weeks of helping the others gather information on the epidemic scything through their people - and seeing the destructive effects of the stuff first-hand in the process - it's getting hard not to see little blue crystals whenever she closes her eyes, even up there.

The call was a cautiously welcome respite— until the agenda became clear, at which point it morphed into a rather more directly confrontational kind of potential field therapy.

"There's so much beauty to be found there," Storm murmurs as she draws the hood of her new Blue costume into place over a head full of black, lifelike hair. "Could this poison have really found its way there, too? Is HYDRA's reach that long?" The costume isn't so unlike her public attire, save for its colors and the addition of the aforementioned hood to the upper portion: the white 'X' dominating her torso has been blacked out, but the gold striping along its bust line and the edges of the attached glider cape remain, albeit in a darker shade.

Ororo was in her garden when the call came in. Tending it usually has a way of helping her push the various troubles that always seem to follow the X-Men and those they've sworn to protect out of mind, but after weeks of helping the others gather information on the epidemic scything through their people - and seeing the destructive effects of the stuff first-hand in the process - it's getting hard not to see little blue crystals whenever she closes her eyes, even up there.

The call was a cautiously welcome respite— until the agenda became clear, at which point it morphed into a rather more directly confrontational kind of potential field therapy.

"There's so much beauty to be found there," Storm murmurs as she draws the hood of her new Blue costume into place over a head full of black, lifelike hair. "Could this poison have really found its way there, too? Is HYDRA's reach that long?" The costume isn't so unlike her public attire, save for its colors and the addition of the aforementioned hood to the upper portion: the white 'X' dominating her torso has been blacked out, but the gold striping along its bust line and the edges of the attached glider cape remain, albeit in a darker shade.

She is riding shotgun, because seniority rules.

The call didn't just go to the X-Men compound, but also to one of the alumni rarely seen by the school, Warren Worthington. The person sending it, also a former student of the school, has been working for Warren for three years. It is not uncommon for the graduates of the school to end up in Worthington Enterprises, Warren aggressively recruits them. But it is unusual they travel so far from the US.

"I am afraid so," he replies. "Unfortunately Hydra is far stronger in undeveloped countries than in North America. Local terrorist groups, as well as bandit gangs, are easy to turn into pawns for a technologically advanced and well organized international outfit like Hydra. Local law enforcement often lacks training and resources, and it might be completely corrupt."

Joined by two others; Jean doesn't hesitate to pull off and out into the sky, sending the bird on the straight and narrow, allowing the speed of the machine to take hold and pick up flight, steadying it and flipping on auto-pilot so that she could finally relax. But true to form, safety first. She never unbuckles her belt, if she needed to look them in the eye? She'd turn her head.

"Aside from the horrors that are reported in the news when most of the media outlets deem fit, I truly believe that there are some true gems in Africa. I'm just sad that this is the first time I get to see the beauty first hand, when there is trouble save for a vacation."

As Warren speaks, she nods her head clearly. "Think about the Assassination of the President, and the origins of HYDRA. It did not start on American soil at first. At least I assume that it hadn't."

Jean flips a few switches here and there, checking the meters once, and twice, then again for good measure. Someone is a little paranoid as of late. "I'm cloaking us, we're about to hit International Waters."

Jean's attire was simple. Full green and gold, sash and other things. However, this material is light, thin enough to combat the heat of the weather yet heavy enough to be not too revealing. "I am hopeful, though. From what I've read of the dossier, this is just a small village that's close to Lake Victoria. I doubt that HYDRA is worried about a small village of this nature." There was a pause, then addition; "..unless they were being used as test subjects, but then that would be another matter all together."

"Once we've seen to Lwak's safety," Storm says with a small, sad smile, "perhaps we'll be able to find a few moments between crises to look for some of them. It shouldn't be too difficult: ugliness abounds, much as it might anywhere else, but it is not as dominant as some might shamefully lead you to believe."

Sighing, she turns her eyes forward, settles back into her seat and tries to relax, if only a little. "You have a point, though," she then says, just loud enough to be heard by both of the people she's speaking to. "There's more than enough desperation - for stability, resources, or mere power - for an organization like HYDRA to take root, and given how insidious they are… it may very well be that a small village which nobody would think to suspect is just the sort of target they'd prefer, whether as a base, or for darker purposes still."

Warren is wearing a blue and white outfit he got when he graduated, although for the occasion he added a belt with the X logo. He is hanging at the jet cabin, somewhat annoying at not being the pilot. He loves being the pilot. But Jean probably needs more than him the flight hours.

Adding to the conversation, and showing he actually did read those mission logs back then (which he never admit doing when he was younger) he notes, "not American at all, Hydra started as a Japanese spy and saboteur network just before the end of World War Two. It was based in the Far East at the start." explains Warren. "But then their Nazi allies took over, and it spread. As Nazi leaders took over, paying with Nazi gold, Hydra turned from pan-Axis nationalism to just fascism, then terrorism and world conquest. But taking over an African or South American nation is useless to them because if they show their ugly mugs anywhere they will get bombed back to the stone age by the combined power of all the civilized nations of the world. To crate their fascist empire they need the US, Russia, China, Japan the EU and… well, they need most nations destabilized and ruined. I am not even sure why they are attacking mutants this last year. Maybe their last Supreme Hydra is an anti-mutant lunatic."

"Yes.." Jean agrees with Ororo. "Once everyone in the village is safe.. I do not see a reason for a little sabbatical. Besides, if something is amiss at home, we can call on the Gold Team leader to grab us." She smiles a little towards Storm, then focuses upon activating the cloaking mechanism, her brows furrowing as she follows the hand movements of teammates before her when in flight. She has been watching and learning, eidetic memory has seen to this.

"I just hope that it is not the case here in this village. We're already spread far and thin as it is when dealing with both threats on our soil. I think.." She pauses a little, drawing her hands from the console.. "..if it's here, it'll get to our souls."

Jean makes work of flying, she was amateur at best, so there was a little thanks if she knew how annoyed Warren would be at her flying and not him, she did need the hours. Thankfully, if they were to crash, the three of them could fly.

There was a brief glance backwards as Warren gives information; who knew that he would hit the books as he did? She wouldn't make light of it, for this information was actually much needed, possibly for the future.

The rest of the flight was met with silence, and for once, Jean does allow him to take control of the flying, opting to have them take turns every now and then when the eyes were tired, where sleep was needed or a time apart was necessary for facility use. Rations were eaten by Jean, as well as a nap was had, for a few hours later, they were touching down upon the small landing strip right outside the village of Lwak.

The sun itself shone bright in the sky; which gave way to the noon-time festivities, children litterring the throughways, kicking balls back and forth while the mothers stride by with baskets upon their heads. While the village itself wasn't primitive, they still carried their old ways and manner of dress about them. And often times, none at all. But it seemed to be a joyous enviroment, aside from the small troubles they're inflicted with.

Ororo has spent some time in the Danger Room's Blackbird simulator, but she is usually content to let others handle the controls. She 'could' use the practice time, but— practicing over international waters on the way to possibly combating terrorists seems both unnecessary and unwise. Jean and Warren can trade off on controlling the plane as they will; she'll settle for keeping them company. Or— trying to keep them company, anyway.

Most of the flight is spent gazing out over the ocean, savannah, or desert and asking herself if this is ''really'' how she wanted to come back home after so many years gone.

Warren's expository spiel does draw appreciatively upraised eyebrows and a nod of approval, though; she has done some homework, given how often HYDRA has sought to meddle in mutant affairs, but clearly not enough.

Upon landing, she disembarks and a warm breeze sets her cape aflutter the moment her feet hit the ground. Despite the possibly dire nature of the circumstances behind their trip here, her lips curl into a smile mere seconds after she sees the bustling village.

"Thank you for thinking to contact me," she murmurs with a glance towards Jean.

Once the Blackbird is close to Lwak, Warren pulls out his cellphone and calls to Matt Brady, the Xavier alumni down there. Matt, a short but well-built African-American in his early twenties, has the mutant power of controlling insects. It was quite the mess when he arrived to Xavier and the insects in the Xavier compound would act upon his emotions (and worse, his dreams when he slept) but when he left for college, he had a great deal of control.

He graduated a meteorologist and was helping an engineer team setting up windmill farms to generate electricity. He called the school because he suspects a mutant is altering the biosphere of the area.

The young man is waiting at the landing spot he and Warren agreed. The Blackbird is stealthy enough to avoid the detection of Kenyan radars, but it is still a pretty flashy airplane, it would be asking for trouble to land it in the middle of a town.

It was a breath of fresh air. HYDRA nor the Smooth left their imprint on their small villiage, which definitely makes Jean glad that she was wrong. When you think the worst, you are definitely surprised by the best, and it caused the shoulders that were already anchored and ready to do battle to lessen and relax. There was still trouble here, hidden beneath the happiness of the unknowing, but thankfully, it didn't deter from the usual operations of the village, much.

Jean does cast a grin towards Ororo, her hands drawing behind her back. She wasn't going to take the lead on this one, she rarely ever does.

But the villiagers, ones who notice their approach stop and look; while they are of the peaceful sort, they were still wary of strangers encroaching their ground, it took them a lot to trust Warren Industries, so the same liberties would be afforded to the three, no matter name.. color.. costume..

"Welcome!" Matt calls out, the young man rushing towards the three; two of them teachers, the other not, but was greeted all the same. "Welcome to Lwak!"

The man was not alone; accompanying him were two of the best researchers the villiage was able to spare. And they two, bowed their heads in greeting and respect to the three that approached the villiage proper.

"I am sorry that we are meeting under unfortunate circumstances. These are my collegues, Dr. Curich and Dr. Pettigrew, they have been helping me on the matters that are occuring here."

He waves them on, Jean taking the initiative to walk, but remaining silent all the while, her hands pressed behind her back and clasped neatly, yet her gaze remains upon the villiagers, and the way they interact.

"Here in Lwak, we are used to the lack of rain and common drought, but when there is rain, there is no evidence of it have ever been fallen. However, it has gotten worse, as the nearby Lake has been lowering in its volume and our food and water stores have been damaged."

Pettigrew speaks up then, her hand reaching up to press against the bridge of her nose where her glasses used to be. "At first we thought that the insect population has become mutated because of the prescense of Dr. Brady, but that was swiftly ruled out due to his.." She clears her throat. "Many demonstrations."

"Matth— Dr. Brady." Storm returns the greeting with a smile and reaches out to briefly-but-firmly shake Matt's hand before turning her attention to the other two doctors.

The smile doesn't last for very long at all, once they begin to explain.

Her eyes shift curiously towards Matt when Pettigrew mentions her initial suspicion, and she even arches a brow at the mention of 'demonstrations'. "All very controlled, I'm sure," she asks/confirms before turning her eyes back to Pettigrew. "Then— the crops, the livestock…"

She doesn't wait for an answer, there; it'd be redundant after that explanation, after all.

"If something is— broken here…"

Storm closes her eyes, bows her head, and concentrates on letting go of the joy and uncertainty of coming back to Africa; her fears regarding HYDRA's possible designs on this village or the continent beyond; the drug ravaging communities back in the States.

She lets it all slide from her thoughts, just for now— just long enough to open her senses to Mother Earth and hear— feel— whatever she might have to tell her about the situation in Lwak.

Warren shakes his hand with Matt, and then greets the others. He check the young man reports while the women talk with the doctors. He is no scientists, but either the town has incredible bad luck or someone is sabotaging the… well, everything. Particularly the water supply. "I am going to do some aerial recon. Jean, I'll be in touch through the comms. Let me know if you find out something here."

Matthew tried his best to remain professional as handshakes were passed around. For whatever reason, the three avoided approaching Jean even though she regarded them with warm smiles and brief nods of her head in greeting. Though, the heavy gaze that lays upon Matthew was met with one that causes him to lower his head.

"Yes Professor, every experiment was done in a controlled enviroment."

Dr. Curich finally cleared his throat, the labcoat he wears straining against his large belly; he was a short and stocky man, but it was obvious he fit the young and brilliant scientist type. "The crops are slowly withering.. naturally." His gaze nearly becomes vacant. "..But there are times where the crops themselves disintegrate into dust." Strange. "The livestock are fine, however. This ailment does not extend to them directly, however, we are trying to ration the water stores toward the people and the animals, but we are slowly running out of supplies."

Jean takes a step forward, her head tilted a little to the side as she inspects the three of them directly, "And with all of the evidence gathered here; what is your hypothesis?"

While the doctors talk, the sound of the voices drown themselves out from Storm's perception. The laughing, the playing of the children, the sound of balls being kicked around and water canteens being filled from the stores.. it all fades away into nothingness as the cool caress of the Mother touches Storm's senses.

Her heart was everywhere; spanning across the village and touching the lives of its people through their shoes and barefeet. But there was a hole in that heart, and obvious pain there, something being feasted or possibly drained, a shared pain that reaches into the Earth that possibly would devour her whole if not stopped. And it started with the water, the precipitation in the air, bearing the feeling that just a little was not enough. Then it drew itself to the river.. and then to the lake.. often times the moisture that touched the crops were taken, devoured until they shrivel and die away.

But there was also innocence there. An unknowing…

"Storm?" Jean finally turns back towards her, her green eyed gaze watching her rather suspiciously. "Should we visit the lake or the facilities first? Your call."

Storm is initially still and silent as she communes with the world around her, save for breaths that waste little time in growing rapid and uneven once the trauma at the heart of everything is revealed to her.

Five, ten seconds in, she abruptly breaks her seeming tranquility with a sharp, clipped note of agony while bringing her hands up to clutch her chest. Her eyes remain closed, but her features contort in pain— and sadness.

She can't say for certain whether or not HYDRA is involved in prolonging her Mother's thirst, but that underlying sense of innocence tells her that the perpetrator very well might be in need of their help as much as Lwak at large is.

Bright, white eyes open wide with a gasp.

"Something… or someone is drawing whatever moisture it possibly can from the air, the lake, the crops— anywhere, and everywhere. Taking it for itself. Themselves. I— it is— I don't think that they mean to, but the damage…"

A shiver passes through the goddess as she finally begins to actually focus on the things around her rather than the world itself.

"We— we need Cerebro," is her first answer to Jean's question. "Let's… try examining the lake first. We will need to be thorough, I think."

There was almost a look of alarm that crosses Jean's face as her friend grips her chest, her own hands needing to reach out to offer comfort but, she doesn't. She's her own woman, she can steele the agony and use it for a greater purpose, even sadness is a tool in doing some good. Jean knows this, like everyone else does.

"Professor Munroe?" Matthew asked hesitantly, casting his gaze towards his two companions, who all study the dark woman; one wary and one worried.

"How extensive is the damage?" Jean murmurs quietly, stepping in front of the three with her voice low. Surely, they can hear her, words needed to be spoken aloud. "If this.. person is taking from the crops.. how are we going to bring them aid?"

Cerebro. Hearing that nearly broke her heart but it was a necessary assessment, it means that they would have to leave these people to suffer the fate for a little while longer. This was obviously no easy fix. But if it were? They wouldn't have come themselves to help.

"I.. will not accompany you to the lake. However, I will allow use of my vehicle and return to the facility on foot to prepare the lab for your findings." Dr. Pettigrew offered up. It is no question that she does not like working under these conditions; perhaps that's what makes her more vigilant.

"I'll drive." Dr. Curich offers up, already strolling towards the jeep. "It's but five clicks west of here."

"It's only a hunch— a feeling. A sense of innocence and inadvertence accompanying an unquenchable thirst," Storm murmurs in reply.

She meets Jean and Matt and their concern with fleeting glances meant to communicate that yes, she's fine, this is totally a normal part of life as a weather goddess, never mind the fact that impact-resistant material is the only thing keeping her from breaking skin.

"If not a person, then a device constructed without malice or ill-intent." Her gaze lingers on Jean and her heartbreak. "We will investigate every angle before even thinking of leaving. I promise."

She slowly exhales, then says, "It began with the moisture in the air and spread from there to affect the lake, the river, and the crops," in a voice meant to be heard by all rather than merely happening to be. "Whatever the cause, it's draining every drop of water it can get, from wherever it can get it; if allowed to continue unabated, this village will… the damage would be incalculable. Complete. The crops are turning into dust because this— thing, or person, it is drinking from them until they have nothing left to give."

Running her hands over her hooded head, she turns towards Pettigrew, then brings one hand down in a gesture of dismissal. "Keep your vehicle; there's no need for us to inconvenience you. You have enough on your plate. Tell me, though:" Her eyes move towards Curich as her arms go out to her sides. "Have you - either of you - noticed anything… strange in the village, besides the drought? Amongst the villagers themselves, perhaps?"

That last question is louder than everything else because it's spoken over the sound of wind picking up around the group.

Ororo was fine. This draws Jean's ease out in spades which causes her to hang back a step. She listens like an apt pupil, the temptation there to search all minds, yet there was a little fear that built within her that she didn't know she had until the other night. Reliving memories; disappointment, the loss of love. It's holding her back like ten men who seek to restrain a ruffian from a fight. She shivers at this, turning her back towards the four, her arms drawing around herself, eyes upon the village once before as it had been, but she listens. With her whole heart. And silently thanks Ororo for the reassurance.

"My one fear is, that if it cannot get enough of what he, she, or it needs from the village, if it would take it out upon the people." It would be a small scale massacre; one that was not intended. The situation, in light of her spoken word, became grave.

Pettigrew did stop in her trek, a glance given towards Ororo as she offers up a slight frown, a light shrug of her shoulders is given as she soon follows Curich towards the vehicle.

"Don't mind them." Matthew kindly offers up. "Dr. Curich is more of a logical mind and does not do well in social situations. While Dr. Pettigrew, well.." He laughs a little, gaze falling away from the two women, smile still there, yet uneasy. "She just doesn't like me. But I can answer the question." His lips purse slightly.

"I will admit that everything was fine when I came here. But after two days, we were expecting a heavy rainfall that would be enough to sate the crops, yet it came and went. We did not notice it at first, we thought that it was expected. But once the second rainfall occured, we noticed that the crops were not taking water as they should."

He gestures towards a construct not too far from where they were standing. "We've managed to create a concoction to add to our water stores that would help with evaporation, and fashioned metals to the body, but we're unsure as to how long that this will last."

The wind itself, bothers Jean. Not so much of what or who was causing it, but the smell within the air. This causes Jean to turn, her gaze towards the expanse of the smaller village, her eyes soon turned towards the horizon. "Do you feel that?" She murmurs quietly towards the last two standing.

"Feel what, Professor Grey?" Matthew asks curiously, taking a perch upon her left.

The three stand in a row now, eyes upon either side of the village..

"Deception."

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