Operation Goliath, Part I


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Operation Goliath, Part I
Synopsis The team arrives in China, where Bennet explains the plan and gives Alia a present from Rebel.
Date October 12, 2010

Xichang, China

Xichang is a bustling city, the capital of the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, in Sichuan, China.

It, like many Chinese cities, is an urban sprawl of densely packed buildings chokingly close to one another, surrounded by a lush and beautiful wilderness that is ever so rapidly being encroached upon by the violent hand of progress. In Southwestern China, the climate is more arid than one might envision the Chinese mainland being as a foreigner, though the dense forests still border this sprawling metropolis, it is under a batteringly hot sun and in a concrete jungle that illegal travelers from foreign shores experience this city.

Known for its famous Xichang Space Center, the city is otherwise a tangle of railways, highways and roads like a labyrinth without a minotaur to navigate it. No English signage can be seen in any direction, leaving for only a handful of trained guides among the group to help understand the lay of the land.

From the airport, a twenty minute ride to cover four miles by box-truck takes the wayward travelers to a gritty industrial parkland some five miles from the Xichang Space Center. Surrounded by highrise apartment buildings stacked like wafer-crackers atop one another, the boarded up facade of an abandoned textile factory seems all the more uninviting.

Viewed only when the box truck comes to a halt and the back door rolls open, the factory stands as a four-story carcass of what was once a building. Slathered with graffiti, crumbling and in disrepair, all of its ground floor windows are covered with plywood while the upper floors have panes of glass shattered by vandalism.

Silhouetted by the sunlight where he stands at the mouth of the truck, Noah Bennet has been a rarely seen face amidst this journey, opting to fly co-pilot on every leg of the journey, not mingling with the others involved. Squinting behind the lenses of his horn-rimmed glasses, it's the first time Bennet and Gael Cruz have directly seen each other in years.

"Good afternoon," Noah cheerily admits as he steps back away from the door of the truck, motioning to the warehouse at his back, eyes nearly closed as he tries to squint against the sun. "Welcome to Xichang and our new place of residence for the next twenty-four hours." The loose button-down shirt Noah wears ripples in the cool breeze as he lifts one hand to shadow his eyes, looking back into the dark box-truck.

"Come on out and I'll show you inside, we've got a lot to discuss…" and if Noah trusts the message he received while in-flight, one of these people has something to assemble.

Anything has got to be better than a freezing cargo plane, and Melissa is very glad to be out of it, even if it takes forever to get from point A to point B. She climbs out of the truck and stretches her legs, a backpack slung over one shoulder with the few things she elected to bring with her. Like a mask. So her face doesn't get plastered over the news and revoke her no longer wanted status.

"Noah? I adore you, I do. But next time, warning that we should bring coats or blankets for the trip would be wonderful." She pauses, glancing around. "Wonder where I can get a shot glass," she murmurs softly.

Alia hops out of the truck, holding a bag over her shoulder, her jacket tucked inside it as it's now much warmer than it was on any of the planes. That said, she smiles, and is glad to be able to MOVE.

It's not been since the fall of the Company that Benjamin Ryans wore his father's fedora, but there it is shading the older man's eyes from the sunlight that suddenly invaded the tiny box truck. The brown canvas duster seems to have also found it's way out of the closet at the old man stands up to his full height. What hasn't made it out again… the suit. He wears those brown work boots and a simple white dress shirt, finished off with a pair of blue jeans.

A square cloth, about the size and shape of a handkerchief is tucked into his inner pocket before he picks up the old olive green duffel and moves to hop out of the truck. He seems more at ease for whatever reason, a smile given to Noah and a hand clapping the other man on the shoulder as he murmurs a soft rumbled, "Thank you." Only Noah really understand the reason for that.

The ex-agents sharp blue gaze takes in their surroundings as he steps away, boots crushing a bit of grit under his foot as he turns to inspect the immediate area.

One of Gael's hands is clutched tightly around the handle of his own bag, alternately squeezing and releasing in an effort to restore blood flow; the other rummages around inside, eventually coming up with a thick woolen cap that covers up his ears. He probably should have worn it on the plane, but then it might have been soaked with sweat by this point.

"There's probably a factory somewhere in the city turning them out by the thousands," he replies to Melissa. "Maybe you'll have time for a side trip." Then, after Benjamin speaks up, he adds a nod of his own, his expression otherwise unreadable.

Noah Bennet's 'welcome' introduction to Xichang sticks to Huruma even as she is the last one to disembark from the back of the truck. So much so that she takes a good, long look at the aforementioned accommodations. Huruma's clothes are as utilitarian as she can get; denim leggings, thick-soled boots, a drab colored shirt, a black jacket belted at the waist. The less that she- a sore thumb as it is- sticks out, the better.

"I'ave stayed in worse, I think." The dark woman muses out loud as she drags up a military backpack up into one shoulder, pacing out enough to loom near Benjamin and inspect her surroundings. It doesn't last long, hopefully, as Noah should be showing them in.

Linus and Cat are the last two out of the back of the truck, stepping down onto the asphalt of the parking lot, shouldering their bags and scanning their surroundings. Noah offers a look back to Huruma with the crack of a smile, then slowly turns his back to the group and starts headed for the doors of the factory. "I'm sorry if this trip seemed a little hastily planned, but admittedly it was. I was pulling favors down to the wire on getting us here, and we're lucky my friend Sherman in Singapore was able to get us flown over here. He has a few friends in the Chinese military who were paid to look the other way when we touched down."

Beneath the metal awning of the factory's front, Bennet approaches the green-painted and graffiti-marred metal doors, withdrawing a key from inside of his pocket to unlock the padlock from the door and yank off the chain, letting both swing around and land on the concrete out front. "Unfortunately, we aren't the first people to get here, and we won't be the last…"

Pulling open the doors, Bennet walks inside, and beyond that entrance there is an expansive two-story factory floor, replete with a rusted iron catwalk suspended above the ground level, hanging fluorescent lights with no apparently electricity connecting them to any power grid.

The factory floor is completely clear, a level field of smooth concrete interspersed with iron support columns that hold up the third floor and rusted pipes that support the scaffolding from below. A few doors partly ajar lead off into different wings of the building, and everything in here stinks of dryrot and mildew juxtaposed against one another in unfortunate odor.

Notably, however, there is a large set of wooden shipping crates laid out on the factory floor, stamped with delivery markers and nailed shut. "Rebel arranged for a delivery for us, which— according to his description— we're going to need Miss Chavez' help putting together." As Bennet approaches the crates, each one about two feet tall and four feet long, nearly the same wide, he pauses and turns to look back over his shoulder in Alia's direction.

"Rebel contracted a machine empath to construct some sort of… microwave emitter, it's a kind of electrical cannon that can operate in a vacuum. With any luck, we'll be able to smuggle it and its power cells on board the shuttle, and use that to fry the circuitry on the satellites without having to go with… alternative plans." Noah offers an askance look to Linus at that, then to Melissa. "On that note, Pierce, you, Agron and I need to speak in private later."

Melissa grins at Gael. "I sure hope so. I collect 'em and I gotta get a souvenir besides pictures out of this deal." She looks back to Bennet then follows him inside. "A microwave emitter? Hell, if you'd told me that, I know a guy who emits microwaves. Though he is a little punkass…"

The mention of private talks has Melissa frowning a little. While she blames Scott for the Ferry fiasco, she's still not entirely happy or trusting of Noah just yet. "Just say when. I hate putting things off. Especially if it's gonna be bad news. Sure as hell better not be news sayin' that I'm not going up, or I'll be irked. I'm excited about zero g's."

Alia sets down her backpack, as she looks at the shipping crates, shrugs, and makes a statement that is utterly geeky. "Paging Dr. Freeman?" This was rather unexpected… a present from Rebel… now to find a way to unwrap it.

As he moves further in, Ryans eyes the boxes with interest, his duffel thumping heavily on the ground near one of them. He crouches down near one reading a label even as he listens to Bennet speak. There is a look of approval when he straightens and looks back towards Noah. "Good." He rumbles, a glancing going to Linus out of the corner of his eye. "I'd rather something like this then the kid." No apology goes Linus' way. This has elevated the technopath in the old man's eyes even more. Amazing how several month about the two looked at each other from different sides of the coin and now… Ryans some trust in the digital being.

Looking mildly amused, Ryans glances Melissa's direction with a small hint of a smile threatening to curl his lips. "Not sure if I should be worried that your do not sound more nervous about all this."

After a look around to scope out the building in general, Gael rests a hand on top of one of the crates, tipping it just far enough to get a feel for the contents - keeping an eye on Noah and Alia in case either of them frantically gestures to cut it out. The emitter had better not be too fragile, considering that it needs to actually make it into the shuttle. Probably while they're under duress, too.

It occurs to Huruma a few moments later that he may have thought her being finicky. But that is not the case- she really has stayed in places a lot worse. Namely, a wet wooden crate not terribly different from the ones she now encounters as Bennet leads them all inside. She pauses long enough to consider the irony of musing over this little ouroboros, though talk of what is inside these boxes draw her back.

"A microwave cannon?" Huruma purses her lips and makes an attempt to form layman's terms. "How lovely." Pale eyes flick after Ben's words to Melissa, and she can't help but let out a puff of a laugh. "Don'be worried. Although, I am quite jealous m'self- I shoul'like t'b'closer t'th'moon. Jus'once."

"I've got some tools in my pack," Noah admits, swinging a duffelbag down with a noisy clatter to the ground. "There's a small prybar in there you can get the crates open with. I don't know how delicate the machinery is, but I was told it's going to take at least two people to carry, it uses six car batteries to power it. We might have to come up with some sort've dolly to wheel it on. It's not going to be easy to make our way out to the shuttle and keep the weapon safe."

Walking away from where he laid the bag down, Noah motions towards one of the open doors across the floor. "I've had my friend here in Xichang who owns this factory stock up the armory. It hasn't seen use in about a decade, but he was able to pick up enough body armor for everyone, several boxes of ammunition and enough firepower to— hopefully— allow us to confront the security at the launch pad."

Tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks, Noah nods to another door. "Stairwell. Second floor's mostly empty, third floor is an open loft, there's some sleeping bags up there— or should be. We'll be staying here till Wednesday morning, then moving in teams to the Space Center. The site isn't too heavily guarded, so getting in won't be as hard as it is for the ground team that won't be leaving on the shuttle getting out.. Hopefully, Huruma, you'll be able to cover everyone, if what I remember about your ability is right."

Noah taps one finger on his temple, faintly smiling at one half of a cat and mouse game from years back. One that Noah, much to his own disappointment, never got to participate in.

Ryans gets a shrug from Melissa. "Oh, I'm worried. But what would be the point in freaking out about it? Besides, how many people actually get to go into space? It's compensation. Maybe not equal compensation, but it's something." And Huruma's words only prove that, and she nods briefly to the woman.

She gives Noah a skeptical look. "Rebel expects us to tote a weapon that takes two people to carry and six car batteries while fighting out way to a shuttle and trying to get the space team aboard and settled? Okay, now I'm worried. Still not freaking, but definitely worried." Though now she has more to worry about than the hijacking plans.

Alia digs out the prybar, to make open everything up, and make sure everything is in, well, the right number of peices.

Gaze drifting back to the boxes, Ryans brows furrow a little in thought. "That is an interesting problem." He murmurs a little. "Too bad he couldn't have it made like most guns where it can be carried separately and snapped together when people are on the shuttle."

Then the ex-agents back is turned on the boxes, head tipping back to look beyond the brim of the fedora, looking towards the ceiling as if he can look past it to the areas above. It's only a brief look before Benjamin is looking towards the armory with something like interest. No doubt the old man will be in there first chance checking out what was provided.

"I don't know about you," Gael says, stepping back to get out of Alia's way, "but this looks like it'll be hard enough to assemble down here in the time we've got— never mind trying to do it up in zero g. We'll have enough trouble just moving ourselves around." And now that Rebel's front man is around to ask questions, he brings up one that Melissa posed during the second leg of the flight. "How's the team that is going on the shuttle getting back? Is someone else being paid to look the other way at a landing site somewhere?"

When ammo fails, carry a big knife. A mantra that has never steered Huruma wrong. And there have been many times without ammo. She watches Noah from just past the boxes, head tilting slightly, enough to seem like she is taking time to parse him. His faint smile and gesture, and a flicker of something familiar in him gets a smug, knowing little smile out of her, chin tucking in an inch. She peers up for a moment at the stairwell, then across to the armory. Ryans probably won't be alone in his nosing around in there, that's for sure.

"Lego cannon?" Huruma murmurs, in vague response to what Ryans had said. "Melissa is right. There could be a problem." Could be. Not 'will be'. "As f'ground team, as long as w'can find wheels w'should no'ave t'cause a second mess in escape. I can handle men, but not slow feet."

"Water landing?" is her short, curious answer to Gael, though it also poses a question towards Noah at the same time.

"Utah," Bennet explains without any form of context, reaching into his back pocket for his cell phone, thumbing down the screen. "According to the information Rebel sent to my mobile, he's planning on guiding the shuttle back himself through the atmosphere, and landing it out in the Utah desert. He'll be able to blind radar to its presence, and if he picks a desolate enough stretch of land, no one should see it coming in, and if they do it'll be too late to do anything about it."

Turning the phone off to conserve battery life and putting it back int his pocket, looking over to the crates once they're opened. Inside there is loose wood shaving packaging, stuffed with a complete clusterfuck of metallic components all chromed for no good reason. Most of them look like parts from household appliances, cords cut and re-attached to make connections, large internal components belonging to what must have been a microwave oven attached to some sort of paneled dish shape on the end of a long cylindrical barrel.

In another box is a bukly switchboard with five toggle switches, several unbolted handles and levers, and the third box contains six car batteries stacked in a row and connection cables for them. Rolled up baside the batteries is a set of blueprints drafted for the design.

"I was told to warn you that the man who designed this said it was a prototype, and he'd only tested it once." Bennet slowly raises a brow, then looks back around the others, as if to say doesn't this sound wonderful?

Bennet is stared at for a moment. Most of the things that come to mind are dismissed, and instead Melissa asks, "And once we land in Utah, what then? Another plane waiting for us? A car? Teleporter?" Because if all else fails, she knows a speedster she's calling to bail her as out. Everyone else is on their own.

Alia shakes her head, idly wishing for her partner from Redbird R&D to be here. Instead, she rolls the blueprints out, and gets to work assembling the thing. "Utah. Nevada…" She continues her assembly of the crazy damn machine, then, as a thought strikes her, she asks something very silly. "Who wants a Microwave Cannon?"

"Fan-tasitic," growls Ryans at Noah's warning, he sounds less then happy about it. It makes him curious enough to look at the boxes as they are opened, seeing no rhyme or reason to them. His hands are folded behind his back as he does so, he doesn't plan to touch a thing. He might be able to assemble a bomb, but stuff like this is way beyond him.

"Why do I feel like I am looking at the work of some mad scientist." Ben murmurs as he crouches down to get a closer look at the switch board. Again not touching.

Gael is staying clear of the apparatus as well, at least unless Alia starts handing off some simpler parts of the instructions, a la 'plug engine A into receptable B'. Instead, he turns back to Melissa. "Utah's back in the States, at least. Familiar territory. Cell phone reception." One-time throwaway, currently powered down. "And the mad science figures, at this point— steal all the equipment from reputable businesses, greater risk of someone following the money in time to foul all this up."

Huruma is not immune to peeking in as well, her expression having reached critical mirror capacity to Ben, Gael, and everyone else, almost. She is not reassured by the thing, whatever it actually is. She sighs out through her nose, leaning back and away from the boxes. "Where does he find these people?"

"Certainly not th'same hole I crawled out of…" Just sayin'.

"Once you land in Utah, I… haven't… gotten the plan that far," Noah admits with a lift of his brows, "but I'm working on it." That Alia is dutifully putting the machine together with little need for explanation save for the blueprints has Bennet arching one brow. The technopath just earned herself a spot on his short list of people for the Ferrymen to sniff out should they all make it back from Communist China in one piece.

"Tonight we'll go over the mission specifics, once everyone's had a chance to get a proper meal and stretch their legs. Ryans has told me that we should be expecting Flint Deckard too, I'm not sure how he's getting here, but I imagine he has his own way. If he's not here by tonight, then we'll have to go over theplan without him. With Sanders bowing out late in the game, that means that the ground team is going to be thin. Hopefully we'll still be able to pull this off. But it does mean I'll have to be going in with you all as backup."

Noah Bennet, as backup?

"My original idea had me serving as your getaway driver, but I think I'm going to be able to make arrangements otherwise. There's someone out here in China that I just found out about, and I'm going to try and meet up with him now that we're here. If we've any luck, he'll be able to help get us out of the Space Center, I'll… just owe him a favor in the long run."

Reaching up to adjust his glasses, Bennet offers a furtive look to Ryans, then Gael, then starts to head towards the factory doors. "I think you all have everything else under control. If you decide to head out into the city, keep your heads down. I'm not rescuing anyone."

Melissa cocks her head. "Any chance of that talk now, Noah? My legs are stretching as we speak, and I'm not really that hungry at the moment." And it's driving her a bit nuts, not that she'll admit that to anyone here. "Though if you wanna spend this time figuring out how to get us from Utah to New York, I'll totally wait happily."

Alia if she knew Noah was asking about it, she might be amused. After all… well, there are some t hings about Alia that are very entertaining. She moves along merrily… but knows she has no real choice as otherwise this won't get done in time.

"Handled well and good," Benjamin reassure Noah with a nod of his head towards the other man. There might not be any plans yet, but Ryans learned long ago to trust Bennet to know what the hell he's doing. Comes with being associates for so many years.

A glance goes to the Armory and after only a moment of hesitation, Ryans is headed in that direction, the hem of his duster flaring behind him. "Same goes to you, Bennet. Keep safe." He tosses the comment over his shoulder, followed a pointed look at the Ferry founder. He doesn't have to remind the other what happened the last time they were out of the country. Ryans doesn't want to have to try and explain to Sandra what happened to her husband.

While Gael has been on a couple overseas missions before, there was usually enough time to study up first. Without that advantage, he's not about to head to the city just yet. Maybe after he's had a day or so to get a better idea of where the others stand, how they handle themselves in unfamiliar territory.

And he's equally uninterested in selling Sandra any innocent tales about what her husband's been up to. No one's rescuing Noah from that painted corner, either.

At 'proper meal', Huruma snorts. She didn't mean to, it looks like, by the glance she gives several of them, lips pursing into a momentary frown. Mmm. Rather than spare a second to somehow retract it, she starts off at a brisk pace after Ryans, only to pass him by. She's content to wait for the brief- meanwhile, claims must be staked.

"I get th'big one."

Pausing when Melissa asks a relevant question, Bennet turns and offers her a serious look, then flicks his attention to Linus, who is hunched over the microwave cannon with an awestruck and somewhat goofy expression. "Later," he says quietly, looking back to Melissa, "I don't feel like upsetting anyone right now…" and from the sounds of it, his discussion with them is going to be upsetting. When Bennet turns, he slowly makes his way out the front of the warehouse, well wishes taken like water off a stone.

Lifting up his cell phone once outside, Noah's eyes narrow in the sunlight, looking around the cityscape that spreads out before him as he waits for the man on the other end to pick up. After a few long moments, finally there comes an answer.

"Claude, where do you want to meet up?"

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