15530/Operation White Rabbit

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Operation White Rabbit
Date of Scene: 26 August 2023
Location: Japan
Synopsis: X-Force takes out Viper. She'll be back. (OOC note: Viper emitted for scene.)
Cast of Characters: Cyclops, Psylocke

Cyclops has posed:
Kyoto, Japan.

0400 Hours.

"Alright, Betsy. I'll keep this short and sweet."

Numerous hologram images appear in a tightly enclosed space. It seems that Cyclops has borrowed Psylocke for an X-Force sanctioned mission. The target?

"Viper - AKA Ophelia Sarkissian - Was spotted in Japan just 24 hours ago by a trusted source. Located near Ishikawa and tracked into the Ryohaku Mountains, where she runs a HAND facility, supposedly for termination and experimentation of mutant subjects. Our mission, is to find Viper....and neutralize her by any means necessary."

Scott was dressed in a 'stealth' version of his suit. The normal red and blue pipelining on his suit has been resorted to compeltely black, the only color on him being his red visor that keeps his optic blasts in check. "ETA ten minutes from the Ryohaku Mountains. We'll enter by halo jump and strike from above. The name of the game is stealth, something you're intimately familiar with."

He seems to be straightening out his gauntlets and tightening his gloves. "Do you have any questions before we do this?"
Psylocke has posed:

Psylocke was here only a few weeks ago, and though both her entrance and exit were quiet, this place harbors many enemies for the woman who wears the body of the Japanese Hand assassin, Kwannon.

But not for a second did she consider turning down Scott. It's the kind of woman she is, even running on almost no sleep, she is ready and waiting. On the ride over, she doesn't sleep, but she does meditate. While she says nothing, it's clear there's a lot on her mind, but when the time comes to go, she is laser focused.

Dressed in her tight-fitting ninja outfit, complete with slippered feet and tightly wound ribbons, Psylocke has her katana strapped to her back, for once not attempting to psychically conceal it. Her violet eyes take in the hologram, narrowing as she recognizes the Viper. The lack of expression suggests /she/ has no compunctions about ending this woman's life. Scott though? That this is his mission, that surprises her, and it makes her too-knowing violet eyes rest on him.

As if she can see right through him.

Technically, given she's psychic, she can. "You can leave this one to me, if you prefer," she makes the offer, even though she's certain he will refuse. "Catch a nap in the Blackbird and come pick me up after." She straightens, stretching, extending arms above her head and bending back, working through all her muscles in preparation for the jump.

Scott gets a smile from the ninja. It's one full of anticipation: Betsy Braddock thrives on adrenaline, and what is more exciting than leaping out of a jet into Hand territory and facing one of the Hand's deadliest assassins?

"On your mark."
Cyclops has posed:
It made her reliable.

Of course, Scott never expected to look at Betsy, tell her to jump, and be asked 'how high', but he's come to appreciate that kind of loyalty from her that he can ask her to drop everything and come with him. He could've called on the rest of X-Force, but this was meant to be a small operation. He needed Betsy's help to get this done. This is Hand territory...and the five-finger led organization was one whom Betsy was already biting at the bit to get after.

So why not feed her?

Her outfit is eye-catching, but Scott keeps his attention on her eyes. The too-knowing violet orbs peering straight into his soul. Scott was always willing to be the monster. The guy to make the hard decisions while much more beloved leaders like Ororo Munroe or Jean Grey made the decisions that many considered morally correct.

But that's why X-Force was made.

"No. But I appreciate the offer."

Her smile of adrenaline is returned by a slight smirk from Scott before he turns serious, his arms crossing into an 'X' shape in front of his chest. "Dropping in three....two....one..."

Silence as the holograms all go dark, leaving them in the pitch black shadows of night.


Wind floods into the compartment as the X-Jet depressurizes. He had already switched the marvel of engineering to autopilot with remote piloting functionality if need be. Yet, as soon as Scott says 'Mark'? They both fall straight through circular holes and they enter freefall, quickly building up momentum. Yet they didn't need to speak. The drop zone was well in view against the Mountains, numerous structures, localized and compact, shine with specks of light.

Scott had pencilled his figure, entering a straight dive towards the mountain outpost. Their target awaits.

Too high to pull for a shoot or activate a wingsuit.

This is, perhaps, the most pivotal aspect of hte mission: landing safely.
Psylocke has posed:
The decline, expected, is merely met with a knowing smile from the purple haired telepath.

Betsy is otherwise silent, her posture full of anticipation but not impatience. The drop comes, and she falls, silently, feet pointed, hands pressed close against her body, streamlining herself. It's freezing -- must be, this high up, the cold wind whipping against an outfit that is definitely not made for the cold, her legs exposed. But there's no hesitation, fueled by adrenaline.

Scott can probably see her, if he turns to look. She is a shadow against the dark night, but she stays close in range.

A thought occurs. Technically they are in shadow. They are in dark. Could she...?

Probably a thing she should test before implementing in flight, but there's no time like the present. Scott can see her, arrowing towards him.

<<Take my hand.>> Betsy's voice sounds rich and warm and close in his mind.

If he accepts, and follows through... one minute they're falling... the next they are unexpectedly stepping onto the ground, all that downward momentum somehow gone like it was nothing, the shadow of the mountain outpost looming behind them.
Cyclops has posed:
They fall.

They fall for what feels like entire lifetimes as the heart beats fast from the adrenaline and the mind struggles to focus from all of the stimulation. Cyclops falls straight down, his hands pressed to his body. The suits themselves are not specifically temperature resistant - and though Psylocke's outfit is a bit more meant for freedom of movement rather than padding and protection, she will likely survive off of the adrenaline (and it's heat response) alone.

Scott does turn his head to look at her, his red-visored eyes spotting Psylocke to ensure that she dropped out of the Blackbird safely. Though as he looks back towards their target landing point, Psylocke comes close enough that they can touch.

Take her hand?

Scott looks at her, and while most would hesitate or blush or question or otehrwise provide backtalk, Cyclops doesn't hesitate to reach out to take her hand, the contact warm and solidifying.

Then they're both on the ground. Whatever Betsy had done, the momentum of their fall had been shattered and now they are stationary on the ground. For a moment, Scott almost forgets to let go of her hand, though he looks at her for a moment with a raised brow underneath his cowl.

"...remind me to document that." Because did he know she could do that? Sure. But he had no clue she could do it from high atmosphere.

He releases her hand then, and he turns his eyes towards the mountain hall. "Viper's going to be there, at the peak. She'll be well-guarded."
Psylocke has posed:
Despite the lack of momentum, it's still disorientating to the senses, but Psylocke has had a lot of experience with it. She sways only for a second, before Scott releases her hand.

He wants to document it. "I'd rather you didn't." A ninja does like to have her secrets, after all.

Betsy follows his gaze upwards. "If she follows Hand protocol, she will have sentries planted, ones who sit, not moving, for hours, and listen for noise or vibration. I should be able to sense them before we near them, but there's always a chance that some can psychically shield themselves. We'll have to go absolute stealth," she says, chin lifted -- the gesture very Betsy but the cool, knowing tones all Kwannon. "I can establish a temporary mind link to allow us to speak silently."

Her gaze once more weights on him: letting him assent or not. She is ready, either way.
Cyclops has posed:
Fun fact: Scott hates teleporting.

He would genuinely rather just fall out of a perfectly working highly-advanced superjet than go through a working portal. He stands there a moment, the connection between Betsy and Scott keeping them both upright before they release each other from their grasp, his eyes turning to regard her. She would prefer her secrets?


That was easy. Except just because it's not going into the main database that Scott upkeeps doesn't mean that Betsy's shadow abilities isn't now permanently invested in Scott's mind-vault. Memorization is key, and since he's never seen her use it during the day, she can likely only use it at night.

...unless that strange power is more complex than that. It most likely is.

"Link us up." He confirms, and only once she's done that will he speak again.

<<Numerous sentries, potentially long-reconnaissance operatives, such as snipers. We'll have to be quiet. No mistakes, or we'll miss our mark.>>

He nods to her, and lifts his hand to gesture with his fingers. <<Lets move.>>

He gets low and gets moving. Ironically, there's plenty of large rocks they can hide behind and other natural abjurations.

He's ready.

It's time to go. And it's a long climb to the top. Once they get moving, it's best to stay quiet and stay low. While sentries are present indeed, there are also regular footsoldiers patrolling about, no more than pairs at a time.
Psylocke has posed:
It seems Betsy takes him at his word. Sure, she could easily erase him of the memory, implant replacement memories of them falling, gliding, landing. But she does not. She trusts his word.

The mind link is like the feeling of someone looking over your shoulder. Not unpleasant, but a thing that would feel bordering on intrusive if it weren't done willingly. Betsy acknowledges his orders silently, just the feeling of assent, and then she's moving. She moves with utter deliberation and silence. If he weren't linked with her, or he didn't occasionally look her way, he might doubt the purple haired woman was even still there. But she is, an ever-present shadow at his shoulder, keeping pace.

Meanwhile, her mind stretches out, scanning the area around them. Reaching out for lifeforms, humanoid and otherwise. Where the former is encountered, she dips, without hesitation, into their thoughts, seeking awareness of herself and Scott: are they expected, have they been seen; where are the other guards; where is the Viper?

For some, this kind of work would be mentally taxing. For Betsy, it is a thing she does almost without thought. That she does it so readily and effortlessly probably should be a point of concern: it says she's well practiced at it, where many of the nuances of fine telepathic control for her are as yet unshaped.

Where the information flows, she shares it silently to Scott, allowing him to guide them around the patrols as readily as the sentries. It doesn't really come in words; it's easier for her to just share the sense of what she knows as she learns it.
Cyclops has posed:
She could most certainly erase him of the memory.

Remove the experience from him, probably tamper with his mind enough that Scott wouldn't even remember the fall out of the Blackbird at all. But alas, that never happens. Scott would object to the very idea, strenuously, if it was offered, as was so often Betsy's experience with him. Yet, all the same, the mind link is a little ominous. It feels like someone's looking right over his shoulder.

Always watching, yet ready to strike on his behalf all at once.

Quite frankly, Betsy had better training in stealth than Scott, but Cyclops was no slouch. He made it work. He hid his steps well, blended into his environment, didn't let his visor give him away.

Betsy's mind stretches out into the entire area, picking up at least six humanoids up ahead that seem to be...well, to be frank, slacking off. They're having some coffee, having a couple beers. These arn't Hand.

These ones are mercenaries.

"Hey, what do you think of that hot chick? Viper? Man, if I could get her a drink-"

"Dude, she literally /breathes/ poison. You'd be dead before you even got the chance to talk to her."

"Oh yeah? Well maybe I'll head up to that big-ass peak right there-" He noticeably points to the tallest point of the structure. "and see if she can handle /all o' this!/"

The rowdy-rowsing keeps going, but Betsy has information as to where Viper is. Extending further, there seems to be no knowledge of the X-Men's presence. They don't even come out to Japan too often for official X-Men business! So there's no reason to fear an attack of this place.

Yet, all the same, Scott keeps moving. But the grass seems to suddenly start vibrating.

They're /listening/. Sentries, not too far above them. Two of them, just sitting there as if they were stone gargoyles.
Psylocke has posed:
Something is off with Betsy Braddock.

It isn't anything he can put into words, exactly. Maybe just a sense that something isn't wholly normal. But the woman hasn't always been openly sharing, so what's 'normal' for Betsy -- or Kwannon -- is a matter of what can be discerned. And Betsy does, by and large, like to stage her encounters. This is his first mission with her since her long absence, so maybe she's just distracted.

It feels like, now and then, her presence just disappears. Like the link has dropped, but it's back a heartbeat later.

Whatever it is or might be, it doesn't affect her capacity to react. The moment she feels the presence of those sentinels, Betsy strikes fast. She doesn't ask this time. The ninja merely sets a hand on Scott's shoulder, gives him a wordless mental warning, and they're suddenly elsewhere. Right at the base of the structure, too far for those sentries to sense.

<<She is at the very top. Do you wish to cut our way through the building, or merely jump to engage with her?>> It's not Betsy's warmth he hears in his head, but Kwannon's cool tones. Kind of unsurprising, really, given they're in the midst of Hand territory: seems only natural Kwannon would come to the fore, lead and guide them.
Cyclops has posed:

Before Scott can actually give any orders, it feels as though she's everywhere and nowhere all at once. She moves quick, using the shadows as if it were her servant. Was this Betsy Braddock? Or was Kwannon? That two souls share the same body makes it difficult for Scott to ascertain. He was no mind reader. He was no heart senser. His mutant ability was shooting laser beams from his eyes. Feels almost useless to have such a destructive power at the moment when he must be subtle.

Yet, for a moment and a moment only, Psylocke arrives next to him, a hand on his shoulder. Then they are at the base of the structure. They've made it past those sentries, and now? Now it is just them against their target.

<<...Can you take us straight there?>> Scott wobbles for a moment, as if trying to remind his feet where they stand. Yet, he nods softly to Betsy. <<Shock tactics. Arrive, complete the mission, leave.>>

No need to get into a massive fight. They're just cutting the head off of a snake.
Psylocke has posed:
Even before he wobbles, the ninja's hand on his shoulder tightens, steadying him. Did she guess, or merely read his mind? He'll probably never know.

<<Of course.>> The purple-haired woman's eyes gleam with anticipation, but it feels different than Betsy's eager, warm anticipation of earlier. Her hand reaches up and she draws the katana, the blade silent as it glides free and she holds it by her side. <<Prepare.>>

It's the only warning he gets before she steps them through the shadows and to the top of the structure.
Cyclops has posed:

Together, Psylocke and Cyclops vanish into the shadows as if out of thin air, just in time for a patrol to look their way because of curiosity on their features. They converse briefly amongst each other, smacking around the one who 'wasted the unit's time', completely unaware that that one soldier had better sense than most.

But that's not where this journey takes them...

Instead, Cyclops and Psylocke arrive right in the very room of Viper herself, the woman testing her poisons at a laboratory. Like a snake, her tongue is serpentine and tastes a vial of one of her own concoctions and waits for merely a moment...

Nothing happens.

"One more to add to the list...." A low laugh hums through her body.

They have only a split second before her guards are aware of their presence. Scott doesn't even wait. One of his hands lift to his visor controls, the slides opening as a red beam blasts one of the guards in the temple with concussive force, knocking them aside and into the back wall, causing them to slump.

Psylocke...your move.
Psylocke has posed:
Psylocke reacts without thinking to that momentary attention. In another time, it might be alarming to see -- sense -- how quickly and readily the telepath warps the minds of those around her, without really thinking. It's nothing but a nudge, done quickly and effortlessly, to make the soldiers forget they even noticed anything amiss.

Then they pass through the shadows and emerge into the Viper's den.

A split second is all the time in the world to a ninja.

While Cyclops takes out one of the guards, Psylocke's already gone from his side, stepping out of the shadow closest to the Viper. The katana cutting through the air is almost soundless, given how sharp the blade's edge is -- but not completely soundless. The sharp of hearing might detect it as the purple-haired ninja drives it in a downward stroke towards the Viper's neck.

Some might say her method of attack is cowardly. Kwannon thinks it merely opportunistic. Viper is a deadly opponent whose ruthlessness can not be underestimated... she's rather like Psylocke in that way.
Cyclops has posed:
It all happens so fast.

Like lightning even.

That red beam from Cyclops is effective, one guard down. As he's turning his head, Viper has her eyes right on him. A knife slowly being drawn in the same instant that Psylocke is leaping from the shadows with her katana in hand. With a blade that cuts through air molecules as if it were naught but paper? Surely Viper's neck can survive no such onslaught. The blades cuts cleanly through the neck, slicing the carotid artery and sending a spurt of blood across the floor.

....oddly, her blood was green, not red.

Even still, she falls to her knees in front of Psylocke while choking on her own blood, with Cyclops sliding across the floor on his knee to handle the other guard, his hands reaching for his weapon and lifting it sharply upwards before he could discharge it, the weapon striking him in the forehead hard enough to cause whiplash, even with a helmet to protect him.

He slumps to the ground in a heap, allowing Cyclops and Psylocke to have a moment as he stands in front of Viper.

The mutant enemy spits on the ground with her last moments quickly approaching. "Damn....m-mutants..."
Psylocke has posed:
The blade carves through flesh and bone, momentum continuing and spraying blood along the walls, as Psylocke drops to one knee to follow the woman down to the ground.

It can't be that easy... can it?

Doubt springs briefly into Betsy's mind, and while Kwannon seems content to merely watch the woman die, it's Betsy that makes the purple psychic knife spring into being, slamming it forward into Viper's head. The knife acts, more often than not, as an extension of her psychic abilities, allowing her to bypass shields and defences, to cut to the heart of another's mind.

It's also a bad idea to be connected to someone that is dying. That is a lesson hard learnt, but Psylocke doesn't intend to be in there long enough. She wants to be sure they struck correctly, and maybe get a sense of what Viper was really doing here.

She doesn't for a second look Cyclops' way: she's worked with him long enough to trust he'll do what he needs to do. Trust in him to protect her back while she falls still, all her focus turned inward.
Cyclops has posed:
Could it be that easy?

<<Do it.>>

Cyclops moves to watch her back as Psylocke presses the purple knife into the skull of Viper. Though she lay dying, Psylocke will find that as it so often is, the mind is a tricky and finicky thing - time passes far slower in the brain's synapses than it does in 'real' time. It gives her a moment to speak to Viper, if she so chooses.

And so, in that moment, she feels Viper's hands grip Psylocke by her temples, green eyes staring into her own hues.

<<Are you pleased with yourself? Congratulations! You got one up on me. Poor, poor X-Men doing poor, poor work. Truly, I expected more of Cyclops - we've been enemies on so many occasions he should know my singular trick of trade.>>

She releases Psylocke from her grasp in the mind-link. <<Oh well.>> She groans in dissatisfaction and acceptance of her current situation, though despite that...she doesn't seem afraid of her approaching fate.
Psylocke has posed:
The rules can be tricky, in such a situation. While in theory Psylocke has the advantage of her powers and experience, such a strike does put her inside another's mind, a position in which the unwary could be trapped. When Viper grips Psylocke's temples, there's a slight mental /shove/ -- a warning to keep her metaphorical distance.

<<I take no pleasure in the death of a skilled fighter,>> comes Kwannon's cool response. <<What happened is as a result of the choices you made.>>

When Viper releases her there's a moment of imbalance, as Psylocke seeks to release Viper from the mental connection before she passes, even as Psylocke's reaching out to Scott, now.

<<She mentioned her trick of the trade -- said you should know it. And she does not fear death, Scott. What manner of trickery does she have in store for us?>>
Cyclops has posed:
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled...

<<Sorry, Psylocke. This was a message. The kind that needed to be sent. Viper was first on the list, her fortress difficult to penetrate by our normal show of force and teamwork.>>

Cyclops stares at Viper as she seems to grin, distance managed by Psylocke mentally...even as Viper's eyes seem to slowly fade from the light they once held, menacing as it was, and slowly she ebbs away, threatening to flop onto the ground in a deceased heap at any moment.

<<Viper has a problem staying dead. She has benefactors. I wanted her to know - all of them to know through her - that we can strike them at any time. She'll be back in a few days, most likely the HAND's doing. She's too valuable an operative to them. The message was less for her and more for everyone else. As for her trick? I have a few theories.>>
Psylocke has posed:
It's fortunate that Psylocke manages to mentally extricate herself from the link with Viper before she passes. Death is never pleasant, as Betsy well knows.

But it's Kwannon who meets Scott's gaze. Listens to the knowledge of how she was used as a messenger... how Viper will come back, knowing who killed her, likely. It's not the plan she has issue with -- sending a message like this, /wherever you go, we can hurt you/ -- it's a powerful one. Kwannon understands that.

It's actually Betsy that has an issue with Scott not sharing his intentions. Betsy that breaks the mindlink between them. Betsy that stalks over towards the body of Viper, crouches, and seeks to lift the woman onto her shoulder. She knows, better than most, how the Hand work -- how they bring their dead back. At least one way. And she intends to deny them the body of the Viper.

"I am sure the blood and the lack of a body will convey as much of a message," she doesn't explain, just changes it up, stalking towards the nearest shadow with the body of the Viper over her shoulder.
Cyclops has posed:
Indeed, Kwannon would understand.

It's Betsy Scott was worried about. Though he didn't fear the ninja, he feared her perception of him and that he would've lost respect by not sharing with her the entire story. However, it's clear that Scott has no intention of leaving Viper like this. They have other plans. Betsy breaks their mind link, perhaps a showing that trust was injured in that moment. Yet, all the same, Cyclops watches as Betsy picks up the body and starts to walk into the shadows.


Though Scott is not suspecting Betsy will be pleased enough with him to take him with her, he follows her into the shadows all the same.

Mission accomplished.