Operation: Flesh Mechanic
|Operation: Flesh Mechanic|
|Dates run:||October 22-26, 2006|
|Read the logs:||Operation: Flesh Mechanic|
"Your team is very strange, Gambit. And very good. Are you X-Men?"
"X-Men? They are heroes, Natasha. Do any of these people look like heroes to you?" Remy cocked a thumb at the group.
"No. They look like anything but."
"Good, because that’s their job."
X-Force agree to take a job in Russia in exchange for access to new intelligence assets. Brought on by an old associate of Betsy's, they get involved in the results of a top secret Soviet experiment in the 70s that has gone wrong. Now they face a dangerous foe that is growing rapidly in both strength and power, and it seems dubious that they can shut it down in time.
X-Force maintains ties to the shadowy and oft interconnected world of conspiracies and espionage. It's through them that one of Betsy's old contacts (and rivals) discovers that Braddock is back in the game and arranges a meeting through her with Wisdom and LeBeau. Natasha Romanova, the daughter of a Politburo member and one of the youngest scions of the former KGB, now working for the GRU as one of the best field operatives in the country. Her boss, Col. Alexei Vazhin is the head of Esoteric Weaponeering for the GRU, a name to describe SPB assets and issues.
X-Force travels to Moscow to hear Vazhin's proposal. Apparently, the caretakers of the Chernyakhoskoye instillation all disappeared a few weeks ago. The base itself has been shut tight as a drum. Three days ago, one of the caretakers appeared in the port of Archangel, apparently spontaneously manifested an increase in size and strength, and went on a rampage for two hours, until an army sniper brought her down with a shot to the head. The 42 year old woman was almost two thousand miles from Chernyakhoskoye and had tested negatively for mutations. Her body was found to have no internal organs remaining. Vazhin hasn't connected the woman and the Mastermod project yet, but the discovery of a second body once X-Force arrives, and their own investigations make some association clear.
The media frenzy over the 'mad mutant' has been large, which is why Vazhin is forced to look outside of his own country's services, knowing that it will be leaked to the press otherwise. Airing the twisted Soviet experiments is not in his country's interests, and he's openly distrustful of involving the FSB. He's convinced that the death is somehow linked to Project MASTERMOLD, but can't understand how and why. Nor why the sudden and seemingly random rampage. If X-Force agrees to help 'solve' his little problems quietly and anonymously, he's willing to share assets with them in the Far East and Europe, an offer they can't refuse.
During their search, more of the bizarre mutants turn up in other places, wreaking havoc. Eventually they begin to see a pattern. Each of the attacks is a strike against an agency or company involved in the region, in many cases removing old systems for replacement, or doing the environmental assessment on a first generation nuclear plant that services the Chernyakhoskoye complex. More worrying is the appearance of 2nd generation mutants, which are being called 'Primes'.
X-Force, supported by a few operatives from the GRU and Romanov head to the complex, only to find that it's a little more active then they thought. Trapped inside, they begin to discover that Ingatova isn't sleeping, but has been awake and expanding her influence for the last twenty year. The whole bottom floor of the complex is filled with her flesh growths, and labs of twisted material serve as the construction point for the tiny web of biomaterial that can turn someone into a Prime and allow her to control them. To their horror, Mastermold actually forms up into a giant biolaced robotic form, built specifically to give her mobility, and possessing giant strength and speed in the towering twenty five foot construct.
Mark and Amanda are comms, waiting with Natasha at the entrance. Doug is off to computer central with Sarah as his phsyical backup. Sofia, Remy, Wanda, and Marie-Ange are the main assault team. The combat team, along with a half dozen GRU agents are getting the snot kicked out of them. Doug is frustrated because you can't outhack something that codes at the speed of thought. All he can do is try and slow it down a bit. During the fight, MA reaches for a tarot card and pulls the wrong one. She sort of 'why did I pull this. it means...' to herself over the comms, and Mark chimes in filling in the blank. Electronics need power. There's an old power conduit in the subbasement. All of Ingatova/Mastermold's strikes have been about protecting her access to power. Doug pulls up the map to it, Mark and Natasha head for it, joined by Sarah. They kill the power, Ingatova/Mastermold is suddenly vulnerable, and can be taken down.
Vazhin's team moves in to sterilize the entire compound, but there are hints that Ingatova/Mastermold may not be as dead as they hope.
Trivia and Meta
This mission re-affirmed the team's ties with the Russians, leading to further cooperation.
The mission also marked the first useage of code names, for the sake of maintaining secrecy concerning the identities of the team members.
Mastermold is a reworking of the original comics canon plot, with little in common beyond the actual name.