Time: 21:00 hours
Location: Wisconsin Mutant Correctional Facility - Boscobel, Wisconsin
Chronology: During Scott and Jean’s honeymoon
Luck of the Irish.
Noxious hadn’t missed a step from his old calling of freelance murder-for-hire or bounty-hunting -- and globe-hopping for high-rollers the world over made him some mad coin in a short period of time.
His primary interest was always the almighty dollar -- his pragmatic, soul-selling craftiness that oozed from his very being like the snake that he was -- but there was only so far one could go solo.
A higher calling? One could call it that -- he had more than enough money to sacrifice a bit of time for a higher cause, but it wasn’t without his own pragmatic spin.
If one man could do so much as a mercenary, imagine a whole crew.
It was time to expand the operation.
But he needed a sound second-in-command. One who kept their mouth shut, who he could trust, and who wouldn’t overstep his authority.
And he knew just where to find him.
Once again, everything was an operation -- executed and planned down to the very last detail.
He was dealing with one of the most heavily-secured prisons in North America -- and he wasn’t willing to take any chances.
Just shy of nine-o’-clock in the evening at the Wisconsin Mutant Correctional Facility, and the entire building was starting its ‘lights-out’ for the night, with the heavily-secured cell blocks bathed in only the dim hall light of security lamps.
And deep in the trappings of that soundproofed, solitary, mega-security cell, sat Trent Bailey -- staring at the wall.
Two months. Two months in this hell, without music -- held at siege for information through interrogation.
But he hadn’t said a word.
The nerve center of the facility was the security and surveillance headquarters, stationed at the core of the building, where guards and superiors could watch every bit of movement on the property -- in the exercise yards, along every corridor, and in the belly that consisted of the prison’s generators and communications networks.
A quiet, typical evening like any other -- guards working the night shift kept an eye on the goings-on within the high-tech facility.
Paced steps, in sleek dress shoes, advanced down the subterranean corridor to the surveillance HQ -- the warden rarely came down here, but tonight was a special case.
They were expecting an important visitor.
Langfield adjusted his glasses on his large, hawkish nose, black hair slicked back neatly, as he dressed in a suit, entering the security room and walking to the chair just behind one of his high-ranking communications officers.
“What’s been happening, Thompson?” The warden asked -- to which the officer gave a short shake of his head and a slight lowering of his brow.
“Really … nothing, sir,” he uttered, pointing to one of the monitors. “I’ve been reviewing some of the footage on the yard this morning -- a few of the guards said they spotted a shady figure on the outskirts of the yard, but I can’t find anything conclusive on what the cameras captured.”
A pause. “Anything else?”
The officer gave a shrug, pointing to a non-functioning light on the console. “Just a malfunctioning motion sensor in the backup generator room three floors down. Cameras couldn’t find anything, but it kept on activating for a few minutes this afternoon -- then just stopped.”
Langfield gave a sigh. Software glitches. He couldn’t afford these kind of security compromises -- not when he had someone of this magnitude dropping by.
One of the guards advanced down the hallway, standing at the doorway of the HQ room.
“Excuse me, Warden -- but Colonel Fury’s arrived.”
The warden gave a faint exhale, and a nod.
“Show him in.”
Colonel Nick Fury -- head of S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization that managed the Boscobel facility. A man with a seasoned military past, regardless of how shady -- and a hard-nosed individual when it came to threats to the United States government.
But an individual Langfield had a number of questions for.
With his employ of suited security men, the Colonel made his way through the network of concrete hallways, entering the HQ room -- and all of Langfield’s employ stood at attention, the guards saluting in accordance with their traning.
Langfield gave a salute, before shaking the Colonel’s hand, who carried a stern expression on his hard, worn features -- grit in almost a permanent sneer courtesy of that eyepatch.
“A pleasure having you here, Colonel,” the warden said. “I take it your flight in was comfortable?”
“Well, it didn’t fly like a Huey, so I’m not likely to complain,” the salt-of-the-earth military man grunted out, before pointing to the large monitor on the console. “But enough of the small talk. We both know who I’m here to look on.”
A pause. Langfield’s expression grew blank for a moment -- then he nodded at the command of his superior, patting his security officer on the shoulder to give him the go-ahead.
And on the screen was the video feed from Trent Bailey’s cell -- the lone mutant sitting on his bed, staring off into the distance in the dim light, arms crossed in his lap.
“Any progress made with the interrogation?” Fury asked, giving Langfield a scrutinizing glare -- to which the warden glanced back with a faintly unwelcome look of his own.
“None yet,” he said lowly, making a faint sigh. “He’s remained quiet, as always, not divulging any information on the Brotherhood of Mutants. We know he’s not mute, but he … just chooses not to talk.”
Fury seemed to nod -- and, with his hands behind his back, turned to look at Langfield.
“Warden, I’ll have you know that, in this situation, you’re cleared to use Class 4 interrogation techniques for the security of our nation.”
Langfield’s eyes widened a bit, giving Fury a slightly incredulous look, gaze meeting his. Class 4 -- it was certifiable torture, the allowable limit they use in Guantanamo Bay.
And it was a limit Langfield wasn’t willing to skirt. Despite what was going on, these inmates deserved basic rights.
“ … With all due respect, Colonel, we can’t possibly in good faith as a detention center use the-“
“I’m not asking, Warden, I’m ordering,” Fury shot back with an interruption. “The Brotherhood of Mutants has been behind one of the largest terrorist attacks on American soil in years, and despite information that the core group has disbanded, I’m not one to take chances for national security.” A glance to the monitor -- and a pointed finger directed at Vibe.
“I want a response out of this mutant fugitive. He knows where they are, and we’re going to get it out of him.”
As far as Langfield was concerned, they had already crossed the boundary into torture -- psychologist measured Trent’s mental state, and knew his attachment to music. Depriving him of his only method of communication and expression was like forcibly extracting the voice box from a person.
But the look in Fury’s eyes showed he wasn’t giving any leeway.
And neither would Langfield, if he knew the situation around his reasons.
Maybe it was a personal vendetta -- but Colonel Fury couldn’t let what happened go by unpunished. For years, he’d been trying to track Nicholas McGrath -- without much luck.
He was slipperier than an eel.
Somalia, 2003 -- Just the previous year, Fury had permanently left his post of commanding a tactical squad of commandos to head the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D., promoting his long-time second-in-command Dum Dum Duggan to head the group.
They were dropped near Mogadishu, to help fight the civil, warlord-driven unrest rife in the region.
But something happened. Someone had gotten the drop on the unit -- a mercenary, with a killer shot and a cold demeanor.
Three commandos killed by shrapnel from a tripwire bomb, lying in wait for their advancing unit.
Two more taken out by sniper rounds, in the left eye socket, and dead center between the eyes, respectively.
And Corporal Dum Dum Duggan -- found dead with his weapon drawn behind a shield of burned-out cars, with a single stab wound into his heart.
A whole unit -- dismantled by one man.
And Fury had been tracking him this entire time.
All of a sudden, there was a deep thud that rumbled through the entire building -- and the entire building went black, the electronics throughout the security room out with the lights -- and the entire detention wing plunged into darkness.
Silence, and darkness -- it was all the same to Trent, as he sat on his bed. But … his brows furrowed for a moment.
“To yer feet, me friend,” that husked, Irish-brogue-tainted voice sounded from the silhouetted figure, holding a hand to the fellow mutant. “It’s time we make our stand.”
And as Vibe rose to his feet, that other hand held out an MP3 player -- a transformable Soundwave player, and a black Yankees baseball cap, with a set of headphones hanging from his thumb.
It was time.
All this happened in the dark -- the power had yet to return to the security HQ, before the automatic backup generators -- four in all -- would kick in, returning power to the entire facility.
“What the hell was that?” Fury muttered, looking to Langfield -- who only offered a curt and cool glance back to his superior.
“I don't know -- our generators run independently from our fuse system.”
“Uh … Warden,” The security officer called, looking over his shoulder to both Fury and Langfield -- and then back to the monitor with the feed into Trent Bailey’s cell.
Standing there, with his back turned to the camera, was the man Fury had been seeking for the last five years.
His brows lowered. “ … Patch me through,” He commanded the communications offer, before giving him a glare, nabbing the earpiece microphone from off the console. “Do it!”
A glance to Langfield -- who nodded to the officer to follow the command, as he opened the feed between the HQ and the cell.
”It’s been a while, McGrath,” Fury’s voice boomed through the intercom into the cell -- which Nox coolly responded to with a light smirk, turning to face the camera, as if speaking directly to the Colonel, dark features highlighted by the dim security lights.
“Ah, Colonel, so ye’ve finally decided tae come down from your lofty perch tae see the business end o’ yer precious group’s happenings,” The Irishman snidely uttered back, quirking a brow facetiously. “Forgive me fer not rollin’ out the red carpet in an eager stride.”
Fury’s expression was exact -- cold -- as he continued to speak. “I would’ve made you the first resident of honor here, for what you did to my boys,” he uttered, vengeance lifted in his tone -- to which Noxious only drew a cold smirk and a low chuckle.
“Speaking from personal experience here, Nick, your ‘Howling Commandos’ weren’t much o’ a challenge,” Noxious shot back, giving that casual, devil-may-care smirk and stare right to the camera, brushing his scruffy brown locks back with his hand, as he adjusted his leather jacket. “A bunch o’ overpaid privates, if ye ask me -- an’ I did ye a favor in cleanin’ house.”
A casual stride -- he turned away from the camera for a split second, giving a smirk of thoughtful, private glee, before looking back to the lens.
“At least I found out why ye called them the ‘Howling Commandos,” the Irishman continued. “Because Corporal Duggan howled like a dog on the streets o’ Calcutta when I put me six-inch blade right intae his left ventricle.”
Fury’s hand clutched at the desk a bit tighter -- still a sensitive subject.
Wisely, Langfield looked back to a few of his guards, giving them a nod of a command to head right to the cell, to apprehend Noxious.
“So you’re the one behind this little blackout, hm, Noxious?” Fury taunted right back. “I don’t know what you did -- crossed the wires, set a bomb, or whatever -- but this place has four backup generators, and you’ve put yourself in an active cell, where all we have to do is send in the guards to cart your sorry ass into custody, friend.”
But Nox’s expression didn’t match -- he feigned nonchalant surprise, brows lifting at that revelation.
“Well, isn’t me goose cooked,” Nox uttered right back in his low tone -- before sliding a detonator out from his pocket. “But I’ve had the time tae plan ahead, Fury.” A smirk, and a confident stare into the screen. “So after talkin’ tae the inmates during yard time, they’ve agreed tae riot as soon as the generators are down -- with the four separate batches o’ C4 I put on each o’ them.”
Fury’s teeth grit -- and the Irishman just gave a short wave into the screen before hitting that button.
A heavy rumble, rocking the foundation of the entire prison -- cracks shaking and fine dust falling from the concrete ceilings.
Everything, plunged in darkness -- the squadron responding to Langfield’s command stopped cold for a moment in the hall, before making their way to the cell.
Slow, careful steps -- the squad leader signalled for the others to follow, shining a flashlight down the dark corridor, to the entrance to the cell.
Steps. And all took positions, with their guns drawn -- but it was too late.
A ripping wave of bass, blasting through the wall, tearing it like rice paper -- and flaying the guards on the other side like rag dolls, as Vibe stood there with his hands outstretched -- giving the damnedest of smiles.
It was good to be back.
“Wings A through L, I want the maximum security sectors shut down!” Langfield shouted through the shortwave radio, holding down the button and waiting for a response.
The only one would come in the form of a garbled, static-filled transmission -- with one of the guards yelling.
“Sir, we can’t secure the cells with the power out! The prisoners are too much, they’re -- “
The sounds of a struggle could be heard in the back, before it cut off -- and out of anger, Langfield threw the radio mouthpiece to the shortwave, before resting his hand at his forehead.
A glance, between him and Fury.
“We’ll have to evacuate,” Langfield uttered with a sigh, catching Colonel Fury giving an angered expression.
“No!” He shot back, looking to his personal guards. “He’s here, we just have to shut this place down and take hi-“
“We’ve got upwards of one-hundred-and-fifty angry mutants running rampant in this building and they’re out for blood,” The warden shot back, evidently losing his patience with his superior. “As far as I’m concerned, security’s been lost, and we’ve got to salvage what we can.”
Fury glared coldly at Langfield for a moment -- before turning and heading out to the hall, as everyone filed out to the emergency evacuation point.
There was no saving the prison now.
Up top, a massacre -- the riot spilled out from all cells, and into the mess hall, with bodies of guards strewn about in the chaos. And from the rioting crowd -- cheers, to the man who organized it all.
The Irishman smirked, ascending onto one of the mess hall tables to the cheering and chanting crowd of freed and unruly mutant prisoners -- before raising his hands, as if to make a speech.
“Me mutant brothers an’ sisters,” he uttered to them all, speaking clearly and charismatically. “I’m nae gon’ tae pretend tae be something I’m not -- an’ I’m far from as seasoned an orator as Magneto. But if there was something we both agreed upon, it was the welfare o’ our people -- the proud, the gifted -- the mutants on this fair planet.”
A cheer, as he smiled -- and continued. “Too long have we been put underfoot -- an’ as far as I’m concerned, it’s time tae put the shoe on the other foot. Together, we’ll overthrow this tyranny humanity’s been tryin’ tae pass on us, with their Gestapo an’ their legal wrangling -- as one. As an independent. As a people. ... An' we'll all be a little richer for it in the process.”
A raised hand -- and the entire enclave of freed prisoners cheered and chanted his name, with the Irishman looking to Vibe with a smirk -- and glancing about the crowd with a lifted brow.
“Now, who knows how tae hack into a high-security computer system?”
They had to take the utmost caution -- but the S.H.I.E.L.D. cavalry was called in. An infiltration squad, flown in by Chinook helicopter, to drop them in from the roof -- and take any escaped prisoners they could find.
But for the last few minutes, the facility had been strangely quiet -- and as the troops landed on the roof and threw a number of flash-bang grenades down the stairwells, they advanced through the haze of gas and faded light.
Nothing. At least, nothing they were looking for -- all the prisoners had gone, leaving only the dead or injured prison guards laying about haphazardly.
“Strike Squad Alpha reporting, sir,” The team leader spoke into his radio, directed right to Fury. “We have a negative on the escapees. I repeat, a negative on the escapees. Target has fled.”
A sigh -- and the eyepatch-clad Fury responded.
“Then make your way to the server room, and get the database files on the inmates. We’ll have to craft a nationwide search for them.”
A long trip, down to the furthest basement floor and to the server room -- the squad made their way around the twisting corners, but it became clear as they neared the heavy steel door that something was wrong.
“Sir,” the leader spoke back into the microphone, “ … The door’s been blown open. They’ve been here.”
Furrowed brows. A look of concern in his good eye -- and he barked an order. “Check the computers. What’d they take off with?”
One of the squad slipped off his gas mask, deftly typing on one of the panels -- and went through the files, before shaking his head.
“Everything, sir. All the data on the server’s been deleted -- even to the root of the FBI files,” the leader broke to the Colonel. “We’ve got nothing on the prisoners -- no records, no fingerprints, nothing in the database. … It’s even been reverse-hacked into the Federal servers, deleting what information we have there.”
A distant glare. He had nothing -- no method to even apprehend Noxious, even if he was out in the open.
Because there was nothing criminal to charge him with.
An irritated huff -- and Fury turned, to look at Langfield.
The warden gave a passing glare right back -- then looked to the side.
The man’s own pride -- his own infallible sense of revenge brought them here, and unleashed something far worse on the world.
“ … Consider this my resignation from S.H.I.E.L.D., Colonel,” The warden uttered, looking over to the greying-haired soldier. “I won’t be a part of where this is going. … I’ve seen where you’re willing to go … and I don’t agree with it one bit.”
A long stride -- down the poorly-lit hall, and away, for good.
The world would know that the prison was destroyed -- ransacked and rioted, though the means in how it happened were top secret.