[Briefing a PRIMUS Strike Force, 1900 hours 17 April]
“Gentlemen! Tonight, there is actually a public venue here in Los Angeles where those costumed crazies are signing autographs, showing off and, if you can believe this, auditioning “Supers”. They have to be stopped. Their actions serve to idolize the civilly disobedient, the abnormal, and the after effects of terrorism. These monsters are the backlash of a terrorist attack and are probably just what the terrorists wanted, emotionally unstable, powerful beings capable of winning the hearts and minds of a good but ignorant public, leaving our country vulnerable for a horrible attack to be perpetrated probably by those very same unstable beings. The very idea of calling themselves Supers is an attempt to cover up their true origin and what they really are, metaXs.
“Well there is going to be one heck of a party in Los Angeles tonight, that’s for sure. We didn’t go in there Friday night because we want them to feel safe about the whole thing and hopefully every last one of them will be at the arena all in one spot. Our job, gentlemen, is to stop the entire threat in fell swoop, tonight!
“We have been positioning equipment and infiltrating personnel into the arena staff ever since we got word of the event nearly two months ago. We had to wait until the last few days to do most of the equipment installation, didn’t get it all installed either, but we have enough, I hope…
“Our job is close the trap tonight gentlemen. The trap is in place and assembled. All we have to do, is set it off! Civilian casualties should be limited to minor injuries that can be treated quickly by medical personnel who will deploy at the scene with us.
“Now to lay out the details. All the metaXs that are going to be here tonight will have shown up by the time we go in. So far, we have The Key, Xtreme, Cobblestone, Kitty Pryde, American Pride, Shaman, Hardware and The Spider all inside. Even that show-off diplomat, Dr. Domovich is inside. Tor’s body was not recovered from the DuPree Chemicals incident as you all know, but he is still presumed dead. There has been no sign of him since the incident. The only significant ones that are missing are American Gladiator, Starfire, The BAT and Blackwing. They are loose cannons, but they don’t play team ball well and we will be able to locate and take them separately later if they do not show up tonight. We’ll concern ourselves with that when we get to it.
“The files we were able to get on the Pryde sisters, Cobblestone and Hardware are going to make this much easier, we know their weaknesses! Specific systems are in place to disable them. The true metaXs may be even simpler to deal with. They are all the result of mutations suffered when they ingested the tainted Nuclear Fructosion last year. They all have certain shared metabolic traits not common to unmutated humans. To reduce their capabilities and possibly disable them entirely, an aerosol will be introduced into the ventilation system in approximately 15 minutes. Within 5 minutes it will have traveled throughout the entire building. Coincidentally with the aerosol release, we will secure the outside of the entire building. Hardware will be engaged by remotely operated EMP cannons, which fire high energy, high-density clouds of electrons. His circuitry will be dead as a doornail along with any circuitry incidentally installed in the building near him. Only thing working will be lights and other vacuum tube based devices, same as the after-effect from a nuclear blast only without the heat and radiation. He might be able to walk, but that is all he will be able to do. No doubt the sheer numbers of normals will rupture some of the doors and the crowd will start to spill out through the available openings. You gentlemen will have set up your teams outside those doors by then with specific operational goals: take down metaXs!
“The control teams on the ground outside each door will be armed with very heavy bore automatic weapons loaded with rubber bullets. The objective of these teams is occupying any exiting metaX while the sniper teams take them down. Each sniper team will consist of two fire teams equipped with tranq rifles that hit hard enough to stop an elephant. Once engaged, the sniper team will keep firing until the target is down, regardless of how many rounds are required. As far as Cobblestone and Hardware are concerned, the rifles fire armor piercing, penetrating rounds capable of overpowering their defenses. As for American Pryde, the teams are positioned so she can only block one team at a time with her shield. The separate firing angles will make short work of her. That leaves Kitty Pryde. She can only stay desolidified for so long. Any containment team firing on her may have to accept the fact that some normals will be injured by rubber bullets passing through her. We expect her to react out of shock if this happens, solidifying and making herself vulnerable to the sniper teams.
“Any of you gentlemen have any questions?
“OK! One last note; we are not concerned with taking Dr. Domovich. Do not engage him unless he forces you. He is a diplomat and is to be treated as such. Alright, you have your assignments, MOVE OUT!”
[Debriefing from a hospital bed at Balboa, 0530 hours, April 18]
“The operation was an absolute fiasco. When we planned the sting, we knew the gas was not going to affect all of the targets. The problem is none of them were affected! We were actually counting on the panic to get all of the normals out of the building, which it did. However, the metaXs did not react by following them outside as expected. We ended up having to go in after them, challenging them as a group. If it had turned into a debacle outside, we had key press preloaded with a story that would explain the whole thing as another terrorist attack. Once we were committed to going in, we could no longer use that cover story in the event of things going poorly.
“Things went very poorly. We were expected. I don’t think they knew who we were or what we were, but they were ready to defend themselves in there, waiting for anything to come in after them. And worst of all, most of the damn media people stayed inside with their cameras just incase they could get something to use. What a mess! We went in well enough, and we accessed all the corridors, anterooms, and so forth evacuating all remaining normals. That, at least went well; a few inhalation injuries, nothing significant. We could still explain ourselves as mopping up after a botched terrorist attempt. So far so good.
“But when we confirmed the metaXs were still in the main arena, we were forced to make a choice whether to try to take them or not. A direct assault on the metaXs meant abandoning once and for all the terrorist story. There was no way out of it, though. We had to go in. If only Domovich hadn’t showed up, damn glory hound! He didn’t even fire a shot! He seemed to be directing the defense! We didn’t even want him! He could have walked and we would have let him go! Perhaps if we had gone ahead and hit him with the EMP cannons too, he would not have had his sensor data. We could have released him afterward and dealt with the diplomatic fallout later.
“It was that damned armor of his and all those sensors. He had exact positions, numbers, everything. They would attack us just at our most tactically vulnerable moments, taking out entire teams in moments. Even that lumbering Cobblestone was able to thwart one of my best teams by bursting out through a wall next to the door as they were entering, then he pushed the entire team from behind directly into a stack of bleachers he moved into the way as a set up. All of them were unconscious in one quick shove. He actually had the least trouble with us. We did succeed in felling Hardware with the EMP cannons, much good that did, probably only worked to warn them about us. That is probably what started the panic. And the Key seemed to absolutely delight in attacking our people! Whole thing was over in less than a minute once we began accessing the arena itself. Then they just walked out, pretty as you please. Cult magazine photographers and the like had a field day with it! Didn’t care about the civil disregard or anything, only interested in how their precious “Supers” blasted their way free from the big bad government. Communists! If they don’t like this country, they should move!
“Fortunately all of us will recover.”
“If it’s any consolation, Sir,” the debriefing officer offered, “all the ventilation ducts in the main arena were sealed off with webbing. The aerosol never got a chance to work. Your plan was probably golden if they had not done that. The gas has worked on every single test subject so far, every one. Question is: how did they know to do that? Did they expect something like this from the get-go? Do you think maybe this whole arena thing was a set up, Sir?”
A few minutes after the debriefing is over, a candy stripper brings Mr. Lawless the morning paper. He reads the headline, and he smiles.
THE NEW YORK DAILY BUGLE
VALIANT PRIMUS AGENTS BRUTALIZED THWARTING TERRORISM