X-Men Mission: Opera Redux
Part 2 of the Kingmaker Arc.
|X-Men: Opera Redux|
|Dates run:||January 22-26, 2008|
|Read the logs:||Opera Redux|
"I doubt it. Remember that briefing? Sabra said we had a limited window before they pulled out. Why risk explicitly tying this to Israel by coming back. We get picked up, we get the blame." Kane paused. "You think we'll get our paychecks docked if Iran declares war on the school?"
A delicate mission goes wrong, leaving a team of X-Men stranded in hostile territory.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You could call that the motto of Iran's nuclear program. The problem, of course, is that if you keep trying, eventually, you're going to make something work.
One of the Mossad's agents uncovers some extremely dangerous information: an Iranian mutant with a unique power, to turn metals into other metals. Specifically, enriched uranium. With a single person, Iran has just solved the two ways to control their access to nuclear arms; stopping supply and enrichment. Israel is not about to wait for Iran to step up production, and the IDF immediately crafts an operation similar to OPERA in the 80s, to destroy Iran's potential nuclear capabilities and to remove the mutant.
The information gets to the Americans as well, although the Israelis refuse any suggestions of diplomatic solutions from the West. The President of Iran has essentially reapplied the ideals of the Khartoum Agreement since his rise to power, and the nuclear question makes it far too dangerous to wait. However, there is a concession that Israel is willing to make, in part at the urging of the President and their own sense of debt.
Through the most secret channels, an offer is forwarded to the X-Men. The facility in which the mutant is at and the research is taking place is completely staffed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The only potential innocent in the entire complex could be the mutant. There is no intelligence on him beyond his abilities. The IDF is willing to allow 8 X-Men to travel in with the IDF assault force, and have first run at the research center itself. They will get the first chance at recovering any data and they can attempt to secretly remove the young mutant without harm.
It's a simple proposition. They don't even want to make the offer, but they feel it is a necessary condition after what the X-Men have done for them. A chief voice beyond their inclusion is Sabra. However, they'd be just as happy to see the X-Men say no too. For the X-Men, operating under the IDF cover gives them a chance to save the mutant's life without exposing themselves to discovery and the potential consequences.
The units fly out, and hit the facility as planned. It starts smooth as silk; IDF forces are mining the facility while the X-Men move in two teams. The first secures the mutant while the second goes to get the data, behind the IDF team there to dispose of any stockpile. Of course, things go wrong. During the stockpile disposal, an unanticipated secondary explosion exposes the IDF team. Clarice is able to save the IDF team by teleporting the material out into space, but not before the purple mutant is dosed with an dangerous level of radiation. Shiro is protected by his powers, but Clarice is now extremely weakened and can't access her powers.
A quicker than hoped response time leaves them behind while making it back to the helicopters, even with Kane's enhanced speed/strength carrying her. Cain hops out of the first team's helicopter, getting the 'rescued/kidnapped' mutant out of the fire zone, using himself to help block some of the fire while they wait. Just as team two makes the landing point, an RPG destroys the helicopter, stranding them. The other IDF coptors are making their way back, forcing them to flee into the countryside.
Now they are in trouble. Clarice can't teleport, is extremely sick and weak, suffering from radiation posioning. If they can't get her to a proper facility like Muir, she'll die within three or four days. They can't even fly her out via Shiro, since she couldn't take the stress of it. Worse, the rads fried their comms, which means they can't contact the mansion, and if the Guard finds or catches them, the results would be catastrophic for the mansion.
So team two, with Cain added in, try and make their way north, avoiding capture and keeping Clarice alive. The X-Men have an idea where their people are, but in the wake of the assault, trying to get the Blackbird in carries an enormous risk. If they are spotted, it would be as bad as being captured. Worse, if it was mistaken for an American plane, signaling that the Iran attack was a joint US/Israeli mission against Iran, it would start a war in the Middle East.
Understandably aware that all these things might occur, and the X-Men are not likely to leave their teammates to die, Farouk steps in. He's got contacts all over the Middle East, an organization in place, and knows that the Israelis don't want dead mutants caught either. As well, they have the Iranian mutant, who turns out to be a teenager, not interested in staying in the US, but also not a fierce patriot either. He reveals that he's actually from North Afghanistan, and he was sent to Iran to be 'discovered' by the Guard by a Russian. The mutant also does not possess the powers he was believed to have. He can remove impurities in metals; a potentially valuable skill, but no where near the danger of the Tommy-level power of being able to create fissionable materials as believed.
In an unlikely meeting in Israel, Farouk spoke with Vazhin, Langstrom and Yitzhak Shavit. Farouk has put together an interesting deal, and Xavier helped by sending a discrete word through the administration to the Russian executive. The mutant will be returned to his family, and has agreed to resettle a little further north in one of the Russian satellite states. Shavit has traced back the Mossad contact with help from the CIA, who is now hiding in Azerbaijan. The Russians offer to send in an old Hind, as long as the Israeli's agree to provide the crew and the CIA to fake the ownership on. Romanova and Sabra fly the Hind into near the borders of Iran and Iraq, where the X-Men have found themselves herded towards and pick them up.
At the same time Farouk and his men find the Mossad contact, an Iranian researcher. His brother was put to death years ago, and with the new rise of the President, his nephew suffered the same fate, being a homosexual. He started to pass information to the Israeli's then, but was approached by a man who represented the Kingmaker - Phase 1, offering to help him fulfill his fondest wish. When he said the destruction of the current Iran government, he furnished him with some details, and had him wait for the mutant to be 'found'.
Trivia and Meta
During the operation, Haller showed an alarming new symptom to his DID, with his form appearing to physically change as he switched to Jack and used his telekinesis.
Clarice was shipped to Muir Island Research Facility, where Moira MacTaggart - Phase 1 and Henry McCoy were able to save her life, but not her hair. She remained there for several weeks, before returning to the mansion to continue recovering.
Farouk deeply resented having to lay open his Alamut connections to save the team, and blamed Garrison.
The scenario was plotted after much reading of Middle Eastern history, in particular, accounts of the first OPERA operation.