Part 6 of the Go Tell The Spartans Arc.
|Dates run:||March 17-20, 2005|
|Read the logs:||Thermopylae|
We are Spartans. Let's take what they made of us and make something remarkable out of it.
NPCs: Colin MacInnis, Timothy Morgan, Mick Foley, Anika Bender, Ian Piers, Chris Cole, Isabel Matsuda, Gavin Nash, Jackie Valeri, Melina Konstantakis, Jason Elliot, Neil Bourne, Mark Nolan, Ellen Pulaski, Ben Dyson, Greg Forrester, John Lense
In mid-March, Morgan got in touch with the mansion with the stunning news that Mistra had decided to relocate temporarily to Youra, an uninhabited Greek island, while they decided on their next move. All of their operatives, candidates and staff were in one location for the first time in years, providing an unprecedented opportunity to take them down for good. After some fast and furious planning (and consultation with the Greek government), the X-Men, MacInnis and his team, and the government's Mistra taskforce arranged a joint invasion of Youra. The risks of the plan were very clear to the X-Men, many of whom made preparations for the possibility that they wouldn't come back, spending the night before their departure getting their wills in order, writing letters for their families, or attempting one last time to come to term with their lives.
The next morning, the Blackbird departed, leaving the trainees manning the coms and some of the older students keeping their younger counterparts entertained and distracted. The X-Men met the taskforce's planes at a local military airfield, then made the hop across the Atlantic to MacInnis's base in Galicia, where the planes were refueled and final briefings were given, including one last pep talk from Nathan to his fellow former Mistra operatives.
Arriving over Youra, the first move was to drop Cain from the Blackbird - and directly onto the communications tower, taking out Mistra's ability to give orders easily to its operatives. As the Blackbird and the helicopters landed, Carmella Ruiz, one of Mistra's directors, issued a one-word order to an unknown party: "Masada". The consequences of her order were not immediately evident; the assault force moved in, finding that the element of surprise was serving them well. What appeared to be a major turning point came when the other members of Morgan's team from Canada turned against their comrades at a critical moment, revealing that their conditioning had been fractured by the Trojan Horse as well. They had been waiting for an opportunity to run, but upon being presented instead with an opportunity to fight back, took it with enthusiasm. Scott, Alison, Nathan and Morgan quickly readjusted their tactics, pairing operatives with X-Men and redeploying to hit more of the critical targets.
Hank, with Chris Cole and a government team, went for the medical wing to free injured operatives and any children currently undergoing conditioning, while Foley had a brief confrontation with Lense, the sole member of Morgan's team who remained loyal to Mistra. Wanda and Lorna worked to disable all of Mistra's aircraft, until Lorna was ordered to accompany Piers to the operatives' barracks so that he could try to talk down them down. Scott, Sam and Konstantakis went for the command bunker, hoping to capture some of the directors, but were nearly drowned when an aquakinetic flooded the bunker. They believed they had knocked him out and moved into the control room to take the directors there into custody, but found themselves trapped when the aquakinetic suddenly regained consciousness and created another flood. Using the security cameras, Scott realized that second-generation operatives all over the island who had appeared to be safely incapacitated were getting to their feet and attacking their fellow Mistra personnel. The directors protested that they had not ordered any kind of trigger - later, it would come out that Ruiz had acted alone.
The consequences for the other teams were severe and immediate. In the operatives' barracks, Piers and Lorna barely escaped as the second-gens around them went beserk, killing the one first-generation operative who had been beginning to listen to reason. Kylun, attempting to get into the training barracks the back way with the help of Forrester, the operative he'd fought in Canada, found himself under attack. Hank and Cole, despite successfully finding the injured Valeri, were pinned down and forced to leave the microwave-projector to cover their retreat after they were both injured as well; Hank got Cole out and started to head back to get her, but was too late to save her. Nathan led his team towards the training barracks, realizing that the trigger meant that the second-gens would be targetting the children as well.
Back in the bunker, Konstantakis made use of her precognition to alert Sam to his opening to get out using his blast field. She and Scott were forced to try and get out on foot with their prisoners as more of the berserk second-gens attacked. Outside, Sam engaged a triggered Mistra flyer and wound up crashing as his blast field flickered under the strain. Konstantakis sacrificed herself to save Scott, stepping in front of an energy blast meant for him and allowing him to get out with the surviving directors. Alison and Nash, sabotaging the generators, were attacked and Nash was severely injured by a young second-gen he thought he had successfully incapacitated minutes ago. Wanda, Dyson and a government team attempted to protect a team stripping Mistra's databases, but started taking fire and losing people. In the evacuation zone, MacInnis listened to the utter chaos over the coms and the field hospital was flooded with casualties. Madelyn went out to retrieve the injured Sam and was attacked, saved only by Kurt's intervention. Morgan's team raced to join Nathan's to defend the door to the training barracks, arriving to discover half of Nathan's team dead, the door to the barracks jammed, and the Trojan Horse not working. The berserk operatives pulled down the rest of Nathan's team, Bourne and Pulaski, leaving Nathan, Morgan, Foley and Anika to defend the door on their own.
Elsewhere, Ruiz tried to escape and was stopped and taken into custody by Cain. Lorna and Piers continued to fight for their lives, Matsuda appeared to help Alison defend Nash, Wanda was forced to kill one of the attacking operatives in self-defense, and Haroun rode to an injured Scott's rescue, helping him get his prisoners safely out of the chaos. Cain heard Nathan's call for help over the coms and started to make his way to the training barracks, but made the choice to stop and save a group of young trainees when a triggered operative tried to bring a building down on top of them.
Back at the training barracks, fighting side-by-side with Nathan, Morgan went down, unable to trigger his exoskeleton fully in the close quarters to protect himself. Foley was seriously injured, and Anika, giving in to her feral temperament, went berserk but went down under the sheer weight of bodies. Nathan, already injured, was left fighting alone. Back in Westchester, Moira sensed all of this down the link with Nathan and collapsed in hysterics.
Alison arrived at the training barracks and shielded the door, shouting at Nathan to get back behind the shield with her. He refused, knowing that he needed to defend the shield as he'd defended the door. A dying Foley urged Alison to let him fuel the shield with his sonics, and when Kylun warned them over the coms that he was unable to defend the emergency access hatch, she realized that she not only had to take him up on the offer but had to shield the entire building. Nathan, still fighting, warned Elliot that someone was jamming the Trojan Horse, and the younger telepath, with Kurt's help, managed to find and incapacitate the anti-psi.
Before Nathan could take advantage of the opportunity, he was struck from behind, hard enough to break his back, despite the body armor. Paralyzed, the triggered operatives still swarming him in an attempt to beat him to death, Nathan managed to reach his psimitar and trigger the Trojan Horse. It cleanly removed the conditioning of the few surviving first-generation operatives and the incomplete conditioning of the children in the training barracks, and the triggered second-gens went down all over the island as if someone had flipped their off-switch.
In the aftermath, Alison held Foley as he died, and then located Nathan and Anika, both severely injured. Kylun and Wanda helped with the children, who were all understandably in shock. Cain, emerging from the rubble of the building with the trainees he'd saved, nearly lost control when he discovered that Nathan had been injured, but was stopped by Nash and Matsuda, who told him that Nathan was alive - but that many others, including Morgan and Foley, were not. Madelyn found Foley's body and broke down, as did MacInnis as he took stock of how many of the people he'd wanted to save were dead. Nathan, regaining consciousness briefly in the triage tents, found out that they had 'won', but broken-hearted by the cost, was only able to respond that he wanted to go home.
The X-Men returned to Westchester, taking Morgan and Foley's bodies with them. All fifty-odd children in the training barracks had been saved. The surviving second-gens were left in vegatative states, their minds damaged both by the Masada trigger and the Trojan Horse. Very few of the first-generation operatives had survived. Casualties among the government teams, MacInnis's people, and the Mistra staff had been high. In various states of shock, the X-Men tried to come to terms with the experience. It would be a long process for many of them, stretching over the days, week, and months to come.
The following week, Morgan and Foley's ashes were scattered on the lake and a small memorial service was held for them. A gravestone was erected on a hill overlooking the lake, at Anika's request. It was engraved with the Spartan epitaph from Thermopylae: 'Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by; that here, obedient to their laws, we lie'.
Trivia and Meta
Two and a half months after the events of Youra, Nathan was summoned to Arlington National Cemetery to meet President McKenna, who had ordered a memorial created for all the victims of Mistra. He had a device installed in a tombstone that broadcast the names of all of the Mistra operatives and candidates on an unused, short-range frequency. Nathan later took Kyle to see the memorial after his kidnapping by Lense.