X-Men Mission: Hotel Saragarhi
|Dates run:||October 25-27, 2009|
|Read the logs:||Hotel Saragarhi|
"You're not stupid. Stop acting like it. '" Kane took a step forward knowing that the Guard could easily wipe him out of existence in a heartbeat. "An isolated terrorist action this far in. No real demands being issued. And Shahraj being held in a different part of the hotel, and not mentioned in the terrorist's demands. You're going to tell me you can't work out what's happening."
Indian politics again come to the fore when the X-Men are called in to rescue an opposition politician from a hostage situation - without being seen.
Part 7 of the Imperium Stratagem arc.
Following her successful re-acquisition of Lhendup Rimpoche Lhatsun, Prime Minister Neramani has increased his sister Lilandra’s standing in his increasingly militant government. Ken’s machinations with Russia and with Indonesia have been effective in neutralizing China blocking his imperial ambitions, and his victory in Sri Lanka has given him a safe base to build on. All that remains is to counter the last potential threats to his control of the government, and he will have essentially a free hand for his plans.
However, there is an obstacle in his path. Mankaran Singh Shahraj, a popular Sikh politician, has been slowly assembling a coalition in the Indian Parliament in order to finally put brakes on Neramani’s currently barely checked power. Shahraj has taken a working holiday in Chharabra, staying at the famed Wallflower Hotel in order to put together a final opposition position paper with his staff, and finish negotiations. Neramani, aware of the potential challenge, has used his connection to pass along details of the retreat to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a fundamentalist Pakistani terrorist faction who have been manipulated by Neramani in the past.
While Shahraj is in the hotel, a contingent of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists seizes control of it, demanding concessions otherwise they will start killing hostages. Indian forces quickly isolate the hotel, negotiating with the terrorists based on their demands. However, Neramani has secretly placed several of his loyalists in charge of the forces. When he gives the orders, the terrorists will begin the executions and his men will attempt a ‘rescue’, in which any inconvenient political enemies will be eliminated. Lilandra has been brought into these plans, and she secretly passes the information along to Charles Xavier and General Bastion. Lilandra makes it clear that if successful, there will be no one in India’s political landscape that can oppose Neramani.
Bastion has both vast connections and influence with the US military, especially with the current UN deployments in Pakistan. His suggestion is that he can arrange for an Indian helicopter with a couple of Special Forces men to covertly approach the hotel and seed an X-Men team into the facility. If they can quickly rescue Shahraj and his aides, and get them out, they can drop him in a public location free of the attack, the publicity being his safety. Without Shahraj, the Indian counter-terrorism teams will have to follow their already announced plans with the hotel, neutralizing the terrorists and protecting the rest of the hostages.
The X-Men meet with Bastion’s contact, someone known to them who will be leading the US military side of the covert op: Maj. John Greycrow. They make it fairly easily into Chharabra, with a straight route to the Wallflower. The X-Men enter, neutralize some of the terrorists, and get Shahraj out. There is the question of whether or not the X-Men can free all the hostages, but at one point, the realization comes in that the risk of being identified is too high, the hotel is too big and the terrorists too numerous and spread out to make it a wider attack without risking a lot more people.
The X-Men leave just moments ahead as the main anti-terrorist forces assault the hotel. However, their route to the helicopter is temporarily blocked by Daciot and part of the Imperial Guard. The Guard significantly outpowers the X-Men team, but by pointing out the fact that Shahraj is a part of the Indian state they are sworn to serve, not just the office of the Prime Minister, Daciot actually lets the X-Men pass, showing not only that India is not simply all controlled by D. Ken Neramani, but also that the Imperial Guard are more than the standard villain. Shahraj is dropped off a little while later near a major city, and the X-Men make it back over the border and slip out quietly.
Trivia and Meta
For his first mission, Lex did well, only mildly over-extending his powers taking out a city block's worth of power.
The events of this plot still occurred in Phase 2, but specifics, such as which characters were involved, remain fuzzy for the purposes of not breaking the world. ;)