2011-01-30: Rising Tensions


Connor_icon.jpg Cloud_icon.jpg

Hilde_icon.jpg Hosea_icon.jpg

Summary: The stress of the situation in Africa is getting to those who remain in the village.

Log Title: Rising Tensions

Rating: PG-13

Africa - Rundown Village

The lush green trees of the rainforest hide the small village, with only one road that leads out. The road clearly doesn't get much use, high grass growing up the center. It's nestled next to a beautiful river, flowing with the clean source of water. Still, it is a good walk down a slippery slope to get there.
The village here is poor, but hardly unpopulated. There is one solid building standing at the middle of town, and that's the church, though even that is a roug stucco building. It also seems to double as a clinic. There is no steeple, it is a simple block building, but a cross stands high over the main entrance of the buildling. There are no white people who live here, a dark shade of black on the skin tones of each inhabitant. Though it is small, there are people who live and play. Children run amidst dogs, the women wash clothes and cook while men bring in the food. Some traces of civilization can be found, playing cards and checkers seems to bethe popular activities among the elderly, and they can be found in the shade of any of dozens of trees or around the large fire kept burning at the center.
The rest of the buildings in town are all the same. They are grass huts, and offer little privacy. None of the inhabitants seem to mind, content with their community life. This might offend some of the sensibilities of Americans, but they don't seem bothered by such things.


It's about 5-6am local time, and there's a displacement in one of the few tents brought for the volunteers turned guardians of the village. Connor steps out, instead of coming from the Blackbird in it's secured landing zone, and steps into the tent where the camp supplies have been stored. Flopping down, he grabs some fresh water for his canteens, and then snags an MRE from his own stash, ripping it open and setting things out for a quick and dirty meal. The usual greetings are given by the villagers, but the pensive young man is relatively generic in his replies… nods and met looks… but the tiredness in his eyes is only matched by the hard line along his jaw, still sporting a rifle-butt bruise like a reminder of the failed rescue attempt.

The tent that Hildegarde has been sleeping in unzips after the sun begins to rise. She stretches slightly and moves to the supply tent as well, blinking when she finds Connor inside. "Good morning, glad to see you are ok." She rummages through the medical supplies and pulls out some fresh bandages to redress the wounds she got from the initial strike. "We need to get the others back soon. I don't want to explain to Miss Frost why I lost half of the students on this field trip." She takes off a button down shirt she was wearing to reveal a tanktop underneath. Hilde unbandages her shoulder and begins applying alcohol to what appears to be a bullet wound. It does not appear to be healing well.

Cloud is sitting in the corner of the supply tent (he came in for some water and kind of forgot to leave again) feeling kind of numb now that the anger bought about by his sister's kidnap has dispersed, however over the last hour or so some of the anger has been returning due to the fact they have yet to make another rescue attempt, he's dressed in cargo shorts and sneakers, he looks round as Connor walks in before looking ahead again.

Abraham has not been happy about Yabani. The captive that Hosea and Connor brought back hasn't set well with the elder. The people treat him surprisingly well, though. Given the reception he would receive if he returned to Nero's camp, he hasn't even needed to be restrained. He's bewildered by the kindness the little village has shown to a man who has killed and captured many of their loved ones. It is truly an unnatural behavior.
Hosea exits one of the huts, content to stay with his kin rather than one of the cramped tents. He glances around the camp, as if something was wrong, but he couldn't quite place his finger on it. "It seems quiet dis morning," he says to the others. "Dere are not as many children out yet." He gives a shrug.

Connor downs half his canteen and then fills up again, "Ma'am… Cloud. Thanks for watching things here, but it was necessary… and I'm sorry I've been tightlipped until now… but we're getting ready to attack. I don't intend for this to stand one moment longer than we have to. Which is why I've been back stateside. I let the staff know that there's been an incident, and I haven't let them press me too much… but…" He then looks to the German teacher, and Cloud, "I've contacted Magneto. With the information I provided him, he's coming down here to drop the hammer on Nero. He's not coming to help us… but we get the side benefit of using the chaos he's going to cause to attempt a rescue. I've also got Lucas to go pick up. We're low on ranged offensive power… and he's the best cannon I know short of Mister Summers himself." Eating as he speaks, his voice sounds close to dead, most emotion turned inside.

Hildegarde winces as she presses a gauze against her shoulder, pulling it away to look at the blood. "Magneto?" She shakes her head. "No doubt he'll be useful, but I worry a little about his methods." She had been present during that little war in Mutant Town. At the time she was very impressed with Magneto for basically ending the assault, but she had later found out that he set the whole thing up as a trap. "They're not sending anyone else?" She shakes her head, "No matter. Maybe Magneto will bring some of his people. I see them on the news ocassionally." She glances over at Hosea, "Oh? They're probably tired is all."

As soon as Connor tells them theres another rescue attempt soon and he's arranged for more help, Cloud stands up and walks over, "Nice one Connor, contacting Magneto was an excellent idea, and you're right about that Lucas guy, i've seen him in a fight, he's packing some serious power", looking round to Hosea he shrugs, "Maybe they're quiet cos they're scared?"

Hosea perks as Magneto is mentioned. "I have heard more about dis Magneto man since da attack in America," Hosea says. "He cannot handle dis type of situation. He acts foolishly and recklessly." It doesn't sound like the Nigerian is a fan. "He will make another event like da Mutant Town massacre." He continues to look around for the children. "Maybe," he answers Cloud, "Or maybe it is just a slow morning for people to be waking up." Still, it's Sunday, the highlight of everyone's week in this little village.

Those eyes narrow slightly as he listens to all the talk, and then replies, "Magneto is coming after the Sugar Man, Hosea… he's also perfectly aware of who they've taken here… and better aware than we are of what might have happened to them." Some bites of the instant meal are taken by Connor, before he adds, "Mutant Town was his fault, but he couldn't prevent what happened… only direct it to minimize the cost of lives. He's a selfish, vindictive bastard… but we can trust him to behave to form, and scratch our backs as per the deal we made."

Once more Connor pans the group, "Nero has the advantage of numbers… in firepower, preparation, and his men will dogpile us until they can dart us… and we're just another resource for him to use. Nero has the terrain and the firepower. And he has hostages. The only way we can fight is by putting a wild card on the table, something he couldn't anticipate or easily stop. You can all hate me if you want, but I made the decision, and if things go wrong, I accept the blame for it."

Hildegarde finishes cleaning the wound and begins to rebandage the area. "No, you're right Connor. Magneto is one of the most powerful mutants I've ever met. And when dealing with someone like Nero he's probably a very good choice. Who else could single-handedly make all of his weapons useless?" She winces again as she presses the bandages down over her shoulder. "Is he coming here alone or are you bringing him? I would like to speak with him before the assault if I could." She glances around the villaige again, not to much movement around.

"It was not your decision to make," Hosea bites back at Connor. "Your lack of wisdom will cost lives. I am not interested in pinning blame, I am interested in saving lives." Hosea doesn't like wild cards, they are unpredictable. People who plan black ops missions don't like unpredictable. "You doubt dat God will provide, which is a folly," he says. "You believe in only what you can see. But you see nothing."

Connor pushes out of his chair immediately, going face to face with Hosea in a blurred teleport movement that could be mistaken for superspeed, "We wouldn't even be down here if you hadn't asked… these people are in danger because of us. Our FRIENDS are in danger because of us. God does not provide anything more than that which we need to make free choice, Hosea. That's all. You CHOSE your path, and you CHOSE to come back here, knowing what might be waiting, and not warning ANYONE. What right do you have to judge me for choosing to instead of turning the other cheek, that someone needs to put a stop to him! Someone needs to draw a line in the sand… and do more than shake a finger when people like Nero step over it. Call it justice, call it revenge… I don't CARE. Your faith isn't the only faith. I might only believe what I can see, but I'm not the one walking around with blinders."

Hildegarde sighs when Hosea speaks. SHe shakes her head and stands up, walking over to the two boys and placing a hand gently on Connor's shoulder. "Connor." She's silent for a moment. She agrees with him in this instance, but being the teacher she cannot say that. The woman sighs again and looks at Hosea, "Unfortunately it is the best chance we have here. Of course we want to minimise deaths here, but we cannot afford to fight a drawn out war. Your friends are trapped over there, and we need to get them back as fast as we can." She motions around the camp with a hand. "You cannot assume that your god will save them. Since I came to Africa I have seen nothing provided, only things taken away. It is time for us to take back."

Cloud's seen the look in Hosea's eyes before. He wants to attack Connor so badly he almost does. "You are a FOOL!" he roars back. "God provides because we cannot. YOU cannot, you think you have strength but you do not! It was not my idea to come here. You people wanted to come, and so you came. I warned you dat it was dangerous, but you all thought dat it would be a fun little field trip. You know nothing of Africa." He doesn't flinch from the teleport, instead, he advances on Connor's encroachment of his space, which will bring them to physical contact if Connor doesn't back up. "You are da one who is blind," he accuses. "Dere may be more dan one faith, but dere is only one truth."

The African looks to Hilde, next. "I did not ever say dat God would save dem. I said He would provide. God does as he pleases, and it is we who must adjust to His desires, not expect da other way around. How can you not see what God has provided here? Dis village should be gone by what man says. Nero stops at nothing, dey have no defense, but dey are still here. You look for riches to be provided? For comfort to be provided? Dere is more joy in dis village dan in all of America I think. God has provided for us here what is needed, not what is wanted."

Cloud has seen that look in Hosea's eyes before and it worries him enough that he moves to stand in front of Connor, between him and Hosea, "Hosea, are you seriously considering attacking because Connor isn't leaving things up to your god?, is this who you wanna be?, if someone doesn't agree with you they're the enemy?, think for a second".

"God… God… God, God, God, GOD, GOD, GOD, GOD!", Connor almost builds up to a roar, and then since he cannot really shrug the grip of a superstrong german woman, he instead turns in the direction intended, away from Hosea and walks back to the chair, straightening it once more, "You are so full of it Hosea… God this, God that. God that makes people hate for loving the same gender. God that makes people go to war in His Name. God that rendered upon us Cancer, and created mutants. And truth? Truth is perspective. It always is. What's true for me, isn't for you, isn't for Cloud… or Miss Von Regenlief, Hosea. The more you stare up at the sky, the less likely you are to see the end of the cliff."

Hildegarde releases Connor when he walks back and shakes her head. "Nope. No no no." She stamps her foot on the ground once, causing a minor tremmor that gets a few looks from others in the villaige. Well, a few more looks than those they'd already earned from the yelling. "Stop." She looks at the three boys in turn. "This is not a discussion we should be having right now, ok? We have to deal with the rescue of our classmates. We do not have the privelege of fighting amongst ourselves over what god does or does not do." She turns and looks out the door of the tent, "All I know is that WE have to do something here. Whether or not a deity wants to assist or interfere does not change the fact that Rashmi, David, Travis and Star NEED OUR HELP."

Cloud's words are well placed. He was so close to taking Connor apart right there, and couldn't even see it. He takes a deep breath, but his feet are like roots, not moving. "You are right, Cloud, I should not expect breath from da dead."
"People bring hate, God brings love," Hosea answers, not content with leaving Connor's statement lie. Needs the last word? Maybe, but attacks on his faith never go without a response. "Look at Nero, you can see it. To save dem, we do not need to be filled with dat same hate dat will kill." The phrase is directly for Connor, having witnessed how he behaved in the first rescue attempt. "We do need to act," he agrees with Hilde, "But we must act with wisdom. Dis is not a situation where we can simply smash things like a gorilla wit a stick. Dat outpost is not all dat Nero has at his control. He has many more, and many larger."

"I dunno, hate can be a powerful motivator", Cloud realises he should shut up but his mouth appears to be temporarily detached from his brain, "Hosea, we have a solid chance of helping everyone now because of what Connor did, if Magneto can cause a big enough distraction, we have a chance, my aunt was religous too, she said everything that happens, happens cos god wants it too, so if Magneto is coming here, you can think of it as a good thing, yeah?"

Connor wheels around, "God doesn't bring love, Hosea! Faith does!" Looking up at Hilde for a moment he takes a breath to calm himself, a brief look of appreciation to Cloud for his timely intervention, but the debate doesn't seem to be over just yet, "God didn't provide you with peace… your faith in the path that was laid out in his Name did. God didn't choose for you to put aside your past, you did. The problem with your answers is they're the easy answers. They're the safe ones. Blame the situation, preach caution. How many lives does he have to destroy one at a time before someone says no more, Hosea? Until someone is willing to stain themselves to save others." Picking up his canteen he walks over and holds it out to the native-born young man, "How long are we supposed to live with the knowledge we have, and do nothing? I would rather fail doing the right thing, than succeed at doing nothing." His tone having softened, and his breath taken, some of the outburst lifting the weariness from him.

Hilde shakes her head again and steps out of the tent for a moment. She runs a hand through her hair and looks up at the sky, letting the kids calm down for a few minutes before re-entering the tent. "Look, all that matters right now is getting them out of there. Who knows what is happening to them right now. We need to get them as quickly as possible before something truly terrible happens to them." If it hasn't already. "You say Nero has many establishments and a lot of resources? Fine. Let Magneto kill him. You say it's not the will of god? I say let fate decide." She sighs once more, "Look, I teach history. And history is filled with men like Nero. Do you think they view themselves as evil men? Do you think Hitler thought he was an evil man? Of course not. They see themselves as heroes. They're over there thinking that god is leading them. And maybe he is, who knows. It doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter in any decisions we make. Our decisions should be based on what is most likely to get the results we need."

"Connor, if you knew me well, you would not say such a thing," Hosea says softly. "God provided me with peace before I knew Him, He provided me with love when I was faithless. He brought me from death into life. You speak outside of your knowledge."
Hosea full well knows the state he was in, and the change in his life was most certainly not because of any merit from his end. "But I should not expect you to do any differently, I am sorry for imposing for you to need to understand something you cannot."
Cloud's second statement strikes Hosea's hear again. He's quiet. "Nothing happens outside of God's will," he says, slightly rephrased, but an echo of the thought. "He used Babylon to judge Assyria. He used Assyria to judge Egypt." Good historical reminders that evil people have been used for similar purposes in the past. Then again, those evil people were in turn destroyed as well. "Perhaps God does will dat Magneto come. But it was still an imprudent choice," he adds.
The most terrifying statement to the Nigerian is Hilde's final statement. "Never say dat," he says to her, a rather horrified look on his face. "Dat is what Nero uses to justify all of his evil. What is most likely to get him what he wants. It is how he corrupts people to follow his commands. What seems to be the most effective. Nero does not believe himself a hero. He does not pretend dat he is a good man. But he only cares about getting what he wants, and so decides based on what will get him results."

Cloud can't help but wonder why he seems to be the only one trying to CALM the Nigerian with the tendency to go into a homicidal frenzy rather than push him towards it, "Miss Von Regenlief, i don't think it's as simple as that, there are other factors".

Rubbing at his temples, Connor says softly, "Hosea… Miss Von Regenlief… would you two start work on the rescue plan for the others? I'll be bringing Lucas down, and I'm sure his firepower will be a good asset to whatever needs breaking, or keeping heads down. See if Kisha has the Blackbird working. It would be an ideal means of getting everyone clear once we have a better clue where everyone is, and how to take advantage of the chaos that's being created in Magneto's wake?" Eyes closed, he adds, "I know how to bring resources to the table… and I know how to handle things on my own. But I'm not a leader. And I've got a job to do. Something no one else here can do. I'm going after Nero himself. Out of all of us, I'm the only one with the powers and skills to find him, capture him… and…" There's a long hesitation, "Do what needs to be done, for everyone. I don't want to kill. I'm not saying I should. I'm also not saying he shouldn't die. But to shut down his entire operation… we need his information and his contacts. Hosea's right in one thing. Just breaking this camp won't solve the problem."

Hilde seems a bit on edge this morning. Perhaps it's the combined stress from staying in the villaige, dealing with a gunshot, and having her students kidnapped by a psychopath. In either case, the look she is giving Hosea right now is not a friendly one. The woman shakes her head and looks over at Connor. "Well I'll tell you one thing. This trip has given me about a hundred new lesson plan ideas." She turns back to Hosea. "Do we have an accurate map of the camp?" Turning to Cloud, "Could you do a quick check around the village? See if anyone's missing or hurt? The quiet's beginning to worry me."

Hosea lets out a sigh. "Yes, we must have a plan to rescue dem. One dat does not bring attention to them. I am certain dey will not be able to walk well on deir own. I will show you da map which Yabani made for us," he says. "We will also need to take into account da strange mutants we have met. Dere is no way of knowing how many Nero has at his control. I will go to fetch da map now." Hey, at least he didn't try to kill Connor. That would've been counter-productive.

Cloud gives Hilde a nod, "I'll be back in a few", and then he's out of there as quick as he can, things were getting tense in there, and yay for him he has an excuse to leave for a few.

There's a bit of a sigh from Connor as he looks up at Hilde, "Sorry about all of that. I could have handled that better. I've been running on little sleep, and… I failed. It's that simple. I failed, and because of that someone I consider close to me… close as family… is now in the hands of a madman. I can't help feeling like it's my responsibility to do something about it. To make it right. I know that doesn't make sense, but that's how it is."

Hildegarde shakes her head and looks outside of the tent to make sure the others are out of earshot. "It is ok. Believe me I understand how you feel. Things are difficult and the beliefs of the people here do not help the situation." She turns back to Connor. "I do not like the idea of you going after Nero alone, but I understand that you think it will be easiest for you." She pauses for a moment. "Remember that our goal is to save the others from Xavier's. Please don't think me cruel or heartless, but we did not come here to fight a civil war. If we can get Magneto to fight for us and then get the Hell back to America then that is what we'll do."

Going back to his meal, Connor wolfs down the rest of it, before he replies, "I know what our goal is… but what about the repercussions of our actions, Ma'am?" Shaking his head once, the young man sits back and takes another drink, "It's a pretty messed up day when Cloud is the rational one. He usually thinks with his heart first, not his head."

Hildegarde sits down on a rock she'd pulled into the tent earlier. "We're already dealing with the repercussions of our actions. Africa is a continent that has been screwed up beyond all reason since white men first contaminated it with their belief systems. We cannot spend our lives fighting every single injustice we encounter." Hilde rummages through a box and pulls out a pad and paper. "But we should focus on this. What all mutants can we assume we'll be dealing with? There's that big one who's not quite as strong as me. I can take him out if I can get close enough." She begins writing.

Connor shakes his head once more, "I haven't been around when the mutants have been used. All I've faced have been regular soldiers. But don't match strength with strength, Ma'am. Remember that we'll have Lucas with us. Have him fight the strongman. His blasts will do more good at fully negating him than anyone else."

Cloud returns to the tent after gaining several worrying reports from people in the village, "Err, i don't want to alarm you guys, but a bunch of the villagers seem to have gone missing, like poof", and theres a "poof" hand gesture to go with it.

Hildegarde shakes her head, "Yeah I was away for most of the attacks too. But this guy can move like me, too. He jumped out of the woods and landed next to me before I could react. So even though he's close combat, he can close gaps pretty fast." She jots a few more things down, looking up when Cloud enters the tent. "Missing? How many and from where? Do they seem to be from the tents closest the forest or more spread out? And how come none of us were targeted?"

Connor stops what he's doing and just listens for once, finally shutting up, and using some camp cleaning towels to work some of the grime off his face. Then he removes the top half of the black bodyarmor costume enough to be able to clean off his chest and armpits as well.

"I'm not sure but i'd say about a third of the village and it seems random who was taken, no pattern as of yet, that’s if they were taken, from what I know the literally just vanished without a trace", Cloud sighs, Hosea had mentioned it sounded quiet outside.

Hilde quirks a brow. "A THIRD of the village? A THIRD?" She sighs and shakes her head. "Do we know if they have a teleporter? Or maybe someone with mind control like Miss Frost?" Either way that could be problematic. "And do we have anything on board the Blackbird we can use as a tracer? We might be able to clip some to a few of the remaining villagers and if it happens again at least we can see where they went."

Finishing up his cleaning, Connor begins buttoning the uniform back up over his lean body, and nods once, "Assume the worst, hope for the best. As for the Blackbird, closest thing we have is comm gear and emergency supplies. Even if you used a tracking beacon from the crash kits… you'd still only be able to put something on two or three of them. I've been over the inventories myself." Sighing again his eyes close, "Look… we can't blame this on ourselves. If this was a card he had to play, then it was not something we could have expected. If this was their choice, then it was their choice… and we should respect it."

Cloud can see there’s planning to be done, so he's gonna get outta the way, "I'm gonna go check with the village again and attempt to find something else out, get as much info a possible you know?", with that he's gone.

Hilde sits down the paper and stands up again. "I suppose we should go check things out too. Maybe there are some clues in the surrounding forest. I'll go look around. I'm the least likely to get hurt out there…Probably." Except Hosea.

~ Fin ~

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