Greek Infiltration: Part 1

March 16, 2016:

A team of heroes infiltrate a mercenary training facility operated by The Section.

Volos, Greece

Characters

NPCs: Greek citizens, refugees, various thuggish types, and Cigar Grim.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Salut Mayoumba by YELLO


Fade In…

Thanks to his connections with SHIELD, Kwabena Odame was able to secure a military transport from New York to the U.S. Army base in Hamburg, Germany. From there, the Avenger's small team disembarked, bearing minimal supplies and nondescript, street attire, for the local Bahnhof, where a train would carry them to the Greek port city of Volos.

Given its general state of economic disrepair, not to mention an overwhelming influx of refugees from a war torn Middle East, Greece is not as Kwabena remembers it. People flood the streets, many of them of the jobless and homeless Greek masses, still more refugees from various Mid-East nations. Even the small town of Volos seems swarmed, with barely enough room on the streets for cars to pass.

"De training compound is housed in a compound not far from here," Kwabena tells his compatriots. Until now, he's remained relatively silent, barely talking during the train yard unless questions were raised that involved the mission. Even now, with sunglasses upon his face to shield himself from the harsh midday sun, he seems terse. "We can catch de numbah twelve bus. I don't want us renting a vehicle and creating unnecessary papah trails."

*

One hijab later, and Ororo Munroe — Storm to you, buster — is disguised as one of these refugees. Cheap sunglasses are there, not so much to shield her from the sun (she's never really had a problem with the weather) but to keep her cerulean cat's-eyes from being instantly noticeable. A blue-eyed, white-haired, six-foot-tall African-American woman with a mohawk to put the streetiest of street-punk bands to shame? Very noticeable.

Even in her intentionally drab disguise, Ororo has a certain swagger that can never quite be turned off. She has also been mostly silent, gazing out at the condition of Greece and… well, to anyone who's been watching, those deep breaths, inwardly held sighs, and stoic frowns make it seem like she's taking all of this personally. "And flight is not an option either, I take it."

*

"This is horrible" Wanda whispers to the others as they walk through the streets. "I tried to help" she adds sadly. "I went to Syria a few months ago. They didn't want my help. They said I was part of the problem." Wanda has gone more for Greek dress - or modern(ish) woman in other words. Even then it is a very non-descript combination of skirt and top. Not even any scarlet today. Nothing that may bring attention to her or cause mental deceptions to be difficult to work.

"Flight?" Wanda asks Ororo. "We are not here to run. We are here to make a difference." A pause before she blushes brightly. "Oh…you mean flying."

*

"Maybe if we need to make a quick escape," Shift notes quietly to Storm. His version of 'Greek dress' involves an old, slightly ragged white collared shirt and old blue jeans with sneakers.

Wanda's tale only deepens the frown on his face. "We're here to collect infahmation," he reminds them. "Delivah it to X-Red, and to Agent Simmons. When de time comes to rip dis opahration apaht, I promise you both front row seats." Having already briefed Ororo on Wanda's talents, he doesn't see the need to bring it up again.

Soon enough, they've boarded the #12. It's a rickety old bus without A/C, and it's packed to standing room only. The vehicle is stuffy and bears an ungodly smell that quite clearly mixes body odor with stale urine. Even Kwabena, with his poker face, can't keep the expression of distaste from his face. "Maybe flight wasn't such a terrible idea," he murmurs.

*

Ororo turns her head to Wanda and flashes the barest of smiles, as if trying to subtly reassure the other woman that there's no need to blush. "I am no spectator," Ororo says to Shift. It's /just/ haughty enough that it sounds like her inner goddess is peeking out a bit. Maybe the indignity of public transportation is riling it up inside her.

Ororo reacts to the foul conditions of the bus with a frown, but nothing else. She nudges Shift into the bus, keeping him as the buffer between herself and Wanda, and the mass of humanity raising such a literal stink. "Our accommodations have a means to bathe, I assume," Ororo notes dryly but quietly. "I do not care if the three of us must share the shower, it is the first thing on my agenda when we are finished."

*

Sharing a shower? There's Wanda blushing again as she settles into the kind of crowded bus that reminds of home. At least there are no goats…nope…there it is. There's always an old man with a goat sitting at the back. She mumbles softly to herself and the fingers of her right hand contort and stretch as faint scarlet energy wafts over the three of them. "Now we can talk openly. Anyone listening will hear Greeks talking about shopping." An apologetic shrug to Ororo. "I think there are Greek muslims so it will not be strange you 'speak' Greek."

"We are infilitrating a base, da?" Wanda confirms with Shift.

*

An eyebrow arches at Ororo's suggestion. "You ladies can go first. I have a reputation to protect." It's almost so sarcastic that it isn't sarcastic at all; Kwabena Odame didn't come to the Avengers by way of a respectful past, and there's very little that would separate him from sharing a shower with two lovely women.

"You have a singulah talent, Wanda," he tells the younger of the two. "I wondah if it wouldn't be too difficult to mask the stench." He confirms Wanda's question with a short nod. "It's a secret opahration where De Section is training dere mercenaries. Dere may be some U.S. Army assets dere, not in uniform. De mercs won't be much of a concern; what concerns me is de prospect of some 'augmented' assets dey may be using." He pauses, an expression of anger and pain flickering across his face. "I've already encountered one of dem."

*

Ororo's white brows tense behind the sunglasses. The more she hears about the Section, the less she enjoys hearing it. She would breathe in to calm herself, but she's actually kind of holding her breath as much as possible at the moment. "What security should we expect?" she asks, ignoring the foul conditions of the bus to focus on the job at hand. She does, however, nod to Wanda, as if to thank her for disguising their chatter.

*

"I cannot work miracles" Wanda notes apologetically about the stench. "Besides, it will be better for our cover to smell like the locals. At least for now." She listens to the brief briefing though she has heard much of it before. "And we are disguising ourselves as Section personnel to infiltrate the base." This is to confirm it for herself as much as a question. "All three of us are going in? Uniforms would make it easier…"

*

"Dey're mercs," Kwabena tells Wanda. "Dere won't be uniforms. We could be mercenaries traveling dere for training, even dressed as we are." He pauses, forming a smirk. "Believe me, mercs come in all shapes and colors."

As for the security, Kwabena glances toward Ororo. "Pretty heavy. Wanda will work her magic to convince dem dat we are legit, papahs in ordah, and what have you. But we need to be cautious with de augments. It's some kind of… techno-organic modification. You'll know it if you see it. Very dangerous." Wanda knows Jericho Trent; she'd recognize the telltale traders and glowing energy augments.

*

Ororo's frown stays in place. Techno-organic modification… the thought sits uneasily with her. Even though she lives in a state of the art, cutting edge techno-haven with a Danger Room and a Cerebro, the weather-witch seems deeply discomfited by the idea of going so strongly against the natural order. "I see," she murmurs.

*

Wanda glances at her companions and herself and snorts with amusement. "I think we are proving the many shapes and colors today." She glances out of the dirty window at the passing sunblasted world with their crowded streets and graffittied houses. "Modification" she repeats with a frown. "I have dealt with those before. I hope they have not adapted."

*

"Dey're strangah dan Jericho," Shift tells Wanda, gravely. "So, we must be cautious."

Soon enough, they've reached their stop. Kwabena pulls the cord to alert the bus driver, and once they've disembarked, he leads them to the precipice of an old warehouse. "Let's see if dis works," he says, and keys in a code into the keypad at the loading dock. When the code doesn't work, he scowls. "They must have changed it after we breached de base in Jersey. Not a problem."

The Ghanaian cups his hand over the keypad, staring at it, focusing his power. His hand begins to melt, transforming into a gooey liquid that seeps into the device. It soon shorts out with a spark. Shift winces and whips his hand back, the gooey material bouncing like a rubber band until his fingers resolidify into flesh and blood again.

The loading bay door unlocks and begins rising, a slow and beleaguered movement. Inside is revealed a long and dark hallway, lit ominously by lights above, at the end of which is an old manually operated elevator door.

*

Ororo walks with Shift, giving a glance over to Wanda. She doesn't say a word, but the glance seems to be her way of drawing Wanda's eye contact and, through that, imparting strength in her? It's like the gaze equivalent of a squeeze on the shoulder. Ororo knows Shift doesn't need any such reassurance, but Wanda, she's not worked with before. Shift's little power stunt doesn't even make her blink, other than to say, "I could have shorted it out far more painlessly," in a sotto voice.

*

"I hope the wrong code did not alert them" Wanda muses as the keypad is reduced to sludge. A deep breath as the door rises and she starts into the hallway. Her fingers twitch and spasm as she walks, scarlet energy forming and building. The glance from Ororo gets a smile of thanks. Wanda is no leader and she very much feels like the odd one out in missions like this. She's not used to being so pro-active.

*

"Pain reminds me I am not invincible," Shift tells Ororo. It may seem cocky, but in truth, it's not; it wasn't until he was 31 years of age when he finally learned that he wasn't unbreakable. It's a difficult habit to break.

"We can hope," he answers Wanda. Shift isn't always known for his subtlety, after all.

The elevator ride down is a long one; it's a slow, damn near obsolete device, and the facility is a good eight stories underground. When Shift opens the door, however, they're met with a decidedly different sight.

The construction down here is utilitarian, and it reeks of 'expensive, evil lair'. Polished steel walls painted a dark grey, recessed lighting, and a pair of nondescriptly armored men greet them wielding plasma rifles. "Identification," one of the mercs demands of them.

*

Ororo puts on her game face. She does 'grizzled mercenary' rather well, actually — she can just naturally attain this 'above it all' sneer, probably too easily for most people's tastes. She makes sure that her attitude flows throughout her every gesture, making it clear that she's no mere peasant or refugee. This is the same kind of poker face that helped her win so much money from Shift, once upon a time.

"Here," Ororo says, holding up whatever document or ID tag Wanda is gimmicking up to get them through. She doesn't make a show of being indignant — she acts just annoyed enough to maybe seem like she's been on one too many jobs where people wave plasma rifles around in front of her.

*

Anyone can make a false ID but the trick is to get the other person to believe it. That's where Wanda comes in. Half-concealed behind her companions who tower over her, she reaches into the guard's minds. Her magic seeping into their thoughts, her voice sounding like their own as it notes how correct and proper the identification is. Ororo's and Shift's presence certainly helping out the deception. They look like they've killed hundreds over the years…Wanda must be their valet.

*

Following Ororo, Kwabena provides his 'identification' without a word. These thugs already know of himself and Ororo; the X-Man's garb will do well to conceal himself, but Kwabena has already exhausted his 'American' fake accent. The less he speaks, the better.

Wanda's talents work with perfection. The guard lowers his rifle and grunts, "This way," before leading them down the hallway and toward a set of blast doors.

*

Ororo's accent is a mutant in and of itself at this point. She's spent long stretches of time in Cairo, Kenya, and New York, and she's picked up bits of all three from sheer osmosis. Her normally melodious, rich tones are made more clipped and harsh, and she adjusts her grammar slightly, bringing out the more Arabic tint in her voice.

"Girl," Ororo says, looking over her shoulder at Wanda. "What you see, you say nothing. You look at nothing. You look at no one. We hire you," she says, bopping Shift on the arm to indicate they're the leaders of the bunch. "You stay like we hire you to." If nothing else, that's a cover for why Wanda seems the odd woman out in the group — she's the hired help.

«Let me do the talking,» Ororo says to Shift in passable French. «Speak to me in French if you must communicate. Some here will know it. Hopefully not many.»

*

A momentary surprise on Wanda's face but she quickly understands and offersan apologetic nod to Ororo - as if she had been acting out of turn. No words though, just downcast eyes as she follows the pair, and the guard, into the bowels of the base.

*

Quick to play along, Kwabena sneers in Wanda's direction. «As you wish», he answers in his accented French.

The blast door is triggered to open. Beyond, there is an incredibly large room, carved out of the earthen rock beneath the city above. It's sectioned off into four quadrants by way of tall fences, and a myriad of training materials are scattered about. A firing range, obstacle course, sparring ring, and the like.

A quick head count shows twenty in training, give or take, with another six instructors. None would appear to be powered, but as they train and fight, their skill is impressive.

"Bunkers are downstairs," the soldier tells them gruffly. "Over there." He indicates a stairwell not far from the corridor through which they entered. "You'll get to unpack once you've talked with Grim. You pieces of shit powered, or not?"

*

"I could take that rifle from you and shove it halfway into your rancid colon before you could even blink, let alone think to stop me." Ororo could rely on her thieving skills if she had to prove anything — she's kept her sleight-of-hand game strong. "That is all I need." Ororo looks to Wanda, then to Shift, then back to the soldier. If Shift seems good to go, she says, chin tilted upward, "We do not need the grand tour. We will speak with Grim now."

*

Wanda is playing her role…which means she doesn't answer questions unless given permission. But she certainly doesn't look powered. Just a meek, petite young woman who is obviously nothing more than a servant. If not a slave. Her eyes do wander the room though, taking in everything as it is pointed out…and then wincing at talk of rancid colons.

*

The soldier smirks ruefully at Ororo. "Watch your mouth, cunt," he tells her. "This is a professional operation. You spout off like that to Grim, or any of the instructors? It'll be your ass with the high caliber dildo."

He reaches out in an effort to usher them along, but his arm is caught by Shift. It's a quick motion, but he soon has the soldier in an arm lock. "«Don't touch me, and don't touch her»," he seethes in French, before shoving the guard away.

The soldier's counterpart levels his plasma rifle in Shift's direction, but the assailed one waves him off. "Stand down, Harrison." He stares at the trio with a displeased frown, before pointing his weapon toward the stairwell. "Downstairs. Grim's waiting. Move."

Kwabena moves away with purposeful steps, though he flips his left hand up and shoots a middle finger at the soldier. "«Be mindful, Wanda. We don't know who's powered here.»" He's not sure if she understands his accented French, and leaves it to Ororo to translate.

*

When the soldier calls her a cunt, Ororo's shoulders straighten and her neck seems to rise just that much. She smirks like she's just been challenged to a knife fight and she's got a gun in her pocket. "«Calm down,»" Ororo says to Shift. "«Do not let this small man rattle you.»"

Ororo gives a nod to the soldier who moves them on, and heads toward the stairwell, leading the pack. She pulls Wanda close to her for a moment so that she can whisper, "We do not know who is powered. Be careful, but also be ready." A glance at Shift, and then Ororo continues down the stairwell, ready to meet this Grim.

*

Wanda nods to the whisper even as she glares at the soldier with the dirty mouth. There is a sudden urge to turn the saliva in his mouth into soap but they can't have anything odd happen yet. They are in disguise for now but…she still makes a note which soldier it is.

Wanda follows the pair down the staircase, noting any surveillance as they descend. More things to confuse and throw into chaos. And then there is a voice in Shift's and Ororo's heads - Wanda's voice. "I could find out if I knew how they were powered. I could do things like make anyone with a cybernetic enhancement have a blue dot on their forehead." A pause. "In theory. I am still trying to work on that."

*

"«Part of the show,»" Kwabena answers Ororo. He's not nervous. Not yet, at least.

There is plenty of surveillance to be noticed. Cameras abound, not to mention any number of installed, auto-targeting weaponry. The walls seem to be reinforced by a stronger metal as they descend, suggesting that they're headed into a far more secure area.

Hearing Wanda's voice in his mind, Kwabena does what he's learned tends to work with telepathic communication. He thinks his words, directed toward Wanda in his mind's eye. «As long as it doesn't distract you from your trickery, it would be helpful.»

Once downstairs, the corridor angles around twice, leading past open doors beyond which can be seen bunks and lockers. The corridor is clearly leading toward a large, open door, beyond which a large man sits behind a desk. A cigar is perched out of his mouth, and three computers rest upon his desk. He's currently on a telephone, having a conversation in fluent Greek. His voice doesn't sound nice; it's rough, grizzled from years of shouting and smoking, and the tone is somewhere between angry and cold.

*

Ororo has been behaving imperiously, but even she knows better than to interrupt this man on the phone. «Telepathic silence,» she tells the other two. «You never know who is listening to unsecured lines.» If she was on this mission with, say, Jean Grey, Ororo would be more confident of their minds' wire being harder to tap. But she doesn't know Wanda's level of skill, or Shift's level of defense, and she wants to be safe rather than sorry.

Ororo stands with her hands crossed behind her back, waiting patiently a pace or two into the office. Her poker face is still in place, even as the man speaks. Her Greek is minimal, at best — she can ask directions to the hospital, but not much more, really.

*

Wanda stands at the doorway when they reach the office. She isn't the important one here so she almost blends into the wall as they wait. Cigars…yuck. Would it be funny if she altered the compostion of the tobacco into gunpowder? Wanda could probe the man's mind but it would be nowhere to the quality of Jean…and she may give herself away. Plus, despite making their English sound like everyday Greek, she doesn't actually understand the language so being in is mind may not help at all. So she stands quietly while pondering what to do about the cameras and the guards.

*

After nearly half a minute, Grim finally slams the phone down and stands up. "You three." He walks around the desk and comes to rest just close enough from the trio that it borders on invading their personal space. With beady eyes, he inspects them visually, each in turn. "New recruits. You'll tell me why you're here. What you want. And I ain't talking money. You know what's in it there."

*

As ever, Ororo is not afraid. Her back stays straight, her shoulders stay strong, her chin stays lifted. She tracks Grim behind her sunglasses with her eyes, but she does not flinch at his close inspection.

"I want to be on the winning side," Ororo says to Grim. "I always want to be. Her," Ororo says, gesturing at Wanda, "she wants what /I/ want." It's a very possessive statement. She looks to Shift. "«What about you, what do you want?»" she asks in French.

*

Wanda starts to open her mouth but Ororo answers for her and she simply nods in agreement before her eyes are cast downwards once more. Her body may be in the room but her mind is reaching out to determine who is nearby and where. She was never good at her telepathy for a long time, in fact she thought all the voices were hers for a long time, but some clarity has been brought to her after the tests of the Vishanti. Breathing slowly and quietly, she concentrates on what lies beyond the walls of the room.

*

"«Money.»" Kwabena's answer is simple enough.

A wicked smirk crawls across Grim's face, and a moment later he erupts in boisterous laughter. The cigar is poked toward Ororo. "We are the winning side." Next, a jab toward Shift. "Money's all yours, long as you follow orders." He finally lets his eyes fall upon Wanda, at which point he hesitates. A look to Ororo, then back to Wanda, then to Ororo. "Funny. Usually the slave thing works the other way. Then again." He walks over toward Wanda, reaching out in an attempt to grasp at her chin. "The bone structure. It's Slavic. And we all know where that word comes from."

Its not what lies beyond, but rather, what lies beneath. Wanda's probing will reveal two powerful individuals, about thirty feet below their location. They burn with power, their minds corrupted by what they're capable of.

*

"If this was America I would say it is my reparations," Ororo replies glibly. "Handle her gently, please. She was expensive." Ororo wants to reach out and snap Grim's arm, but she knows that she can't. Not yet. Wanda can probably sense the rage that she holds back, though. Hell, Shift can probably sense it, even without reading minds.

*

For a moment Wanda holds her chin high before remembering her role and letting Grim hold it…no doubt roughly. Her green eyes turning away from his face to help keep her anger in check. 'Below us' she sends to the minds of her compatriots. 'Two. Powerful. Confused. No…corrupted. They want to do pain'. She can feel Ororo's anger but tries to ignore it lest it fuel her own. Wanda knows she has to stay cool…calm…so very much not her.

*

Grim finally releases Wanda's chin. The cigar is crammed back into his mouth. "Don't worry, your prize won't be damaged. So, here's how this works. You three pick a bunk. Your names will be researched. Everything checks out, we go through the vetting process in the morning."

The burly man sneers. "Vetting process will probably kill you. If it doesn't, then we evaluate you for upgrade. If you can't be upgraded, we will condition you as foot soldiers. Be glad; you'll leave behind a legacy, in cash if nothing else. If you're chosen for upgrade? Well, that's when the real hell begins."

He slams his fist onto the desk. "We will cleanse this planet of filth, and keep the order as it should be. You will believe this, or you'll never again see the light of day. Now, get out of my fucking office and get some sleep. You'll need it."

Shift turns away, passing a look to Ororo while pointedly ignoring Wanda for effect. They can discuss things later, once they have what might pass for privacy in this underground lair of lunacy.

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