Closed When It Rains, It Pours

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on smoke break, bother somebody else
Staff member
M.I.R.A. TerminOS version 0.62b
Secure Distribution - Mid-Atlantic Bureau A5
TerminOS kernel 40406 [build 40406 OEM 8eXD]
Running TerminOS as current module . . .
Press DEL to run Setup
`7MMM.     ,MMF'           `7MMF'           `7MM"""Mq.                   db             
  MMMb    dPMM               MM               MM   `MM.                 ;MM:            
  M YM   ,M MM               MM               MM   ,M9                 ,V^MM.           
  M  Mb  M' MM               MM               MMmmdM9                 ,M  `MM           
  M  YM.P'  MM               MM               MM  YM.                 AbmmmqMA          
  M  `YM'   MM      ,,       MM      ,,       MM   `Mb.     ,,       A'     VML      ,, 
.JML. `'  .JMML.    db     .JMML.    db     .JMML. .JMM.    db     .AMA.   .AMMA.    db 
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D-5052-F "MONSOON"


Lead Analyst reporting. Operator Blackjack, you are clear for approach from the northwest. Monsoon, greenlight for fog cover and storm formation in northeast Sector A, based on briefing.

Copy. Moving in now. Waiting for cloud cover.

It was the witching hour. Command had specified for the operation time due to an intimidation effect in addition to practicality; it was easiest to strike when your enemies were likely sleeping, and waking up to a sudden thunderstorm would only add to the disorientation. The mission was quite simple-- confront the remnants of a cartel compound for the near-defunct Tijuana Cartel to get information on the newest and biggest player within Baja California-- La Misericordia. One of the worst metacartels in the region, and the organization that seemed to rise to the top of whatever war had been ongoing for the past 3 years.

Juan Salazar de Valencia was a notable connection within the Tijuana Cartel, and one of the remaining lieutenants within the organization; he was a valuable asset for interrogation. The problem was his availability. Since the cartel wars had started in Baja California, many of the cartels' high-ranking leadership had gone into hiding. It'd taken them about 2 years to find Valencia, and another year to make sure they'd have an operation where he couldn't escape.

Enter: Monsoon, and Blackjack. One had adept infiltration skills, and the other had the means to facilitate that infiltration perfectly while providing oversight and natural artillery. Blackjack had already been doing cartel work in Mexico when the operation was in its planning stages, and he was a perfect scapegoat for plausible deniability if anything were to go awry. Not that he needed to know that.

Monsoon, you are greenlight for theatrics. Make them think God is about to smite them. Blackjack, you are greenlight for lethal.

"Yes, ma'am."

And it was time to go to work.

1:30 a.m.


HALO ("High Altitude, Low Opening") jumps from aircraft were part of Monsoon's training to make sure that he understood the transit procedure. Up to a point, his MIRA insertion mirrored that of an ordinary special forces operative. Only, instead of a parachute, a large cloak opened up behind his back as he cleared the outlet door of the VTOL. Mists swirled around him as the previously-clear night began to reflect his inner state - cumulonimbus clouds formed in the wake of the aircraft as it cleared the drop zone, water vapor which had condensed in the lower troposphere forcibly drawn upward and made to condense around him.

The momentum of his fall came to a halt as he splayed his fingers. The waterproof cloak billowed at his back, a continual air current swirling under it and him; he exhaled, feeling the air in his mask, breathing it back in. To avoid the symptoms of hypoxia and allow for protracted high-altitude operations, he had graciously accepted MIRA's helmet and other gear. Without the entire team, he couldn't do what he was about to do. He wouldn't know that he could conjure up the storm of storms over the compound beneath without tremendous disruption to the hemisphere's delicately balanced ecology; he wouldn't have a HUD readout to tell him where the air currents needed to move, or a compass on his lapel to help steer him northward in the middle of the storm he was brewing. He certainly wouldn't have a V-22 Osprey to get him to where he needed to be.

But as much as he needed MIRA for this, they needed him. At eighteen years old, he'd willingly and proudly become a MIRA operative - designate Monsoon. For seventeen years since then, he had served. Sometimes he Cloaked, sometimes he Daggered - that is to say, he was a celebrity in the public eye, and a clandestine operative in private. He had no problems with this - not really. He submitted to routine psychiatric evaluation to make sure he was on baseline, as a BLU-7, and the results were continually positive. This meant that he was still allowed to use his powers. It meant, also, that MIRA was still allowed to use his powers. And this meant assisting with a decapitation strike on La Misericordia.

He was happy to assist. He'd strike the man with lightning personally, if he were asked. Monsoon was more than a strategic asset - he was a tactical marvel, a potential wonder-weapon and ecological salve rolled into one. By day he facilitated crop growth, when time permitted - and by night, he facilitated acts of god.

Perhaps the cartel-bosses would suspect, in their final moments, that the sudden deluge was the product of U.S. intervention, and not nature's retribution. Or perhaps not.

Hovering still, in the heart of the storm, he extended his hands outward, fingers splayed. With a sudden gesture, he clenched both fists together, and lightning began to bombard the area around the compound. These weren't precision strikes; they were there to disorient, to create flash, and to unleash deafening thunder on the desert, accompanied by a torrential downpour of rainfall, heavy precipitation that threatened to wash away the roads around the compound and flood the very buildings therein.

Of course, as high up as he was, he couldn't see any of this. All he had was a green AR overlay, courtesy of the MIRA-NASA joint meteorological division, that mapped out the weather patterns, and where the targets were. He could see a blue dot moving in closer, down there on the ground, which would be Blackjack, whom he'd never spoken with, other than over comms for missions like these. And then there was the compound - yellow.

He waited to see if it'd turn red, and let the rain begin to pour.

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On approach, 100 meters out from compound. I say again, 100 meters out from compound, over.

Copy, Agent Blackjack, you are greenlight for entry. Agent Monsoon, we are reading good effect on theatrics. Multiple hostiles filtering out of the southern building, Sector B3, over.

Thunder and cloud formations roiled beneath Monsoon as the squall line formed and rolled along the countryside, a veritable wall of mist and sound that brought with it a biblical tempest. Upon the ground, though he could not witness it directly, the cartel members had surely begun to wake up; those on patrol were already on the move back towards the compound, represented with an AR overlay in a transluscent yellowish-grey color. The individual bodies of the hostiles were not known to Monsoon.

Not yet.

Two hostiles. Setting lightning rods. On my mark, over.

It had been the brainchild of Cannonade, a TECHSPEC from the Mid-Atlantic branch. Individual enemies were impossible to see from Monsoon's altitude; additionally, the prospect of lightning striking such a small target was a matter of chance. Chance that could be rigged, based on the innate properties of lightning and Monsoon's overt control of theoretical particles known as atmions. Electricity sought the path of least resistance; in a combat situation, this could split a bolt of lightning into countless possible directions. A strike intended for a target could be directed elsewhere, and while Monsoon's explicit control over the manipulation of pressure fronts and potential paths limited the variability of lightning strikes, there was always a way to improve.

The lightning rods supplied to Blackjack, in this case, were small flat discs fitted with an IR laser-emitter, which would no doubt show up on the white phosphor dual-tube NVGs outfitted to Monsoon's goggles. The discs in question were telescopic; when activated, flexible antennae would push from the surface of the disc and automatically orient skyward. The material? Silver, the most conductive metal available.

It was simply a matter of forming the conditions for a lightning strike in the area of the IR strobe, and letting electricity travel to ground in the past of least resistance: through the silver antennae, and thus, the bodies they were attached to.

Antennae set. Fire for effect, over.

Like clockwork, two strobes began blinking from far beneath the CONSPEC. The sound of gunfire echoed into the atmosphere, drowned out by the soft whine of wind and rain; and, of course, the inevitable crack of thunder.

It would be highly unlikely that they would even hear it.

Agent Monsoon-- tracking an unneeded weather formation in Sector C4. Potential for undue influence. Divert winds approximately 20 degrees north of your position. Maintain lightning storm over Sector B3, over--

-- entered Building Alpha, searching for Valencia now. Be advised, I am still undetected, over.

A period of silence followed as the pair fulfilled their separate directives. As always, however, an unexpected variable entered the equation. Though Monsoon could not hear it above the cloud layer-- nor hear it, not directly-- there would be a fast-moving blip that entered the airspace of the operation.

Agent Monsoon, be advised, we have a bogey two klicks south. Possibly cartel-allied air support, but could be civilian. Do not engage. I repeat, you are redlight on engagement, please acknowledge. Wait out, over.

Monsoon maintained altitude, a solitary figure held upright in a twisting whirl of gray-black clouds, illuminated in the pitch darkness by the continual flash of lightning. He hovered in a fully sealed suit, impervious to the ravages of the storm he'd created. Neither rain nor cold could penetrate the hermetically sealed ensemble. Even the clash of continual thunder did not drown out the communications from HQ, though he had to be careful to keep most of the lightning below himself, rather than around. The United States would suffer a tremendous strategic blow if he killed himself with a bolt of his own making, to say nothing of how embarrassing it would be.

HQ chimed in to advise of hostiles sighted below. Greenlight for a precision attack, facilitated by Blackjack. Through his HUD, he saw two green dots flash up at him. He awaited confirmation.

Blackjack advised he was a safe distance from the target.

"Wilco. Stand by for direct strike."

Monsoon took a deep breath and let his fingers splay open, arms held outward, and far apart from one another. In his mind's eye, an invisible vector traced down from the clouds to those two points; he compelled the air to charge, while simultaneously holding the maelstrom back, building the charge in the air. Over the next ten seconds, the air ionized - the smell of ozone would fill the area - and then, he squeezed his fingers shut.


The air tore itself apart as two jagged blasts forked down through the sky, each terminating on a disc that Blackjack had deployed. Each conducting channel that he'd created was no more than an inch in diameter, but the flash lit up the entire compound. While his helmet protected him from being blinded due to the blast, he always closed his eyes when the strike was released - an old habit that would keep his vision from swimming. The thunderclap this time was much louder - an induced bolt was more powerful. 5 billion joules coursed through whatever Blackjack had targeted.

He inhaled, unclenching his fists, the storm roiling around him. He maintained altitude, obscured in the cloud cover, focusing on a barrage of new info as it came in.

"Ah. Acknowledged on C4. Mitigating now."

Oh, sure. No big deal. Maintain the storm and fix the wind.

Banishing the unproffessional pique from his mind, Monsoon cleared his throat, then turned as he hovered, simultaneously rotating his right hand as if to cup the air. The wind obeyed. All the while, he kept his left fingers directed at the Earth below, each digit curling slightly. The weather was mostly automatic once he pushed the dominos the right way - he wasn't creating the lightning, only the conditions that caused it to form. Most of the effort was dedicated to confining it - and especially maintaining an aerial shield of sorts, to make sure no bolts diverted up into him. A thin, invisible layer that would deflect errant bolts - keeping it going was second nature by now.

Then, another order:

Airborne bogey, possibly civilian, on fast approach. He furrowed his brow. Civilians could hardly be faulted for flying into a storm that hadn't existed until minutes ago, but intel was supposed to confirm that there were no craft in the surrounding region before initiating ops. This was effectively a bombardment, one that was ongoing, and hard to stop once it'd started.

"Roger on incoming bogey. Redlight on engagement."

He'd not received any order to relax the storm. He kept it cooking - it was essential to whatever Blackjack was doing down below.

He kept his eyes open, as poor as visibility was. His readout flashed and updated to add a small yellow dot where the bogey was.

From his seat atop the world, Monsoon would have been able to see the IR strobes snuffed out in an instant-- the electricity shorting whatever minimal electronics were contained within the silver discs. Variables were subtracted from an equation. The operation moved forward. Blackjack, visible as a blue blip upon the doppler radar projected onto the lenses of the CONSPEC's goggles, was moving through Building Alpha-- the largest section of the compound, based on the satellite images provided during briefing. Neither of the operatives had been in the same room together to receive the information; they'd been separately coached on the available intelligence and given their operational directives. To Blackjack, Monsoon was just another name over the radio. The reverse was most likely true, as well.

They know somethin' is up. Hearing movement from the upper floors. Bedroom was second floor, northeast corridor, can you confirm? Over.

Copy, Blackjack. Affirmative, de Valencia should be on the second floor of Building Alpha in a master bedroom suite, according to our contact, over.

The squall in C4 had begun to dissipate, slightly, but was a stubborn bastard to stamp out-- oftentimes, the storms fought back in a manner akin to wrangling a bull. Dangerous, unpredictable, and strenuous-- though the weather obeyed, inevitably, if it was in the nascent stages of formation. As the winds died down in Sector C4, the unidentified aircraft passed through relatively unharmed; minor turbulence, and the sudden onset of a storm, but apparently civilian. A minute passed before Incident Command patched itself through once more.

Imaging confirms the bogey was a Cessna. Good work, Agent. Over.

But things were hardly peaceful for long.

Hard contact-- Gunfire over the comms. The comms line hissed, for a moment. -- some sort of alarm. Got a visual on Valencia, he's making for the roof. Family's running with him, I don't have a shot-- dealing with guards, over.

Agent Blackjack, be advised, we have multiple hostiles inbound from Building Beta, Sectors B1-B4. Also vehicles along C3, C2, B2, B3. Agent Monsoon, divert focus to these sectors-- manifest a high-to-low pressure front for gale-force winds. Hurricane mimicry. Mandating ideal conditions for lightning. Greenlight on all fronts. I repeat, greenlight on all fronts, over.

The heatmap changed-- projecting an overlay of suspected locations of enemy armor and footsoldiers. All gravitating towards Building Alpha, while other vehicles began to move southward along the road to the compound, evidently in an attempt to escape the horrific storm that was bombarding the area.


On the inside, Monsoon breathed a sigh of relief. It was just a Cessna. No signs pointed to him having to engage in any kind of mid-air battle. It'd been years since something like that had tested him. He'd ran plenty of simulated combat scenarios in the meantime. Other metas had learned a sharp, short lesson about engaging him in the heart of a storm - but he didn't boast any kind of enhanced durability, and mostly relied on Mission Control for targeting.

The People's Hummingbird had once pushed him to his limit over Groznyj Grad - that was the closest he'd come to death in an aerial combat situation. He looked back on that encounter with some measure of nostalgia. It'd been an interesting duel - the high speed flier had actually patched his way into his comms and taunted him throughout the encounter. Didn't save him from the ol' spicy cloud. The bodycam footage was still reviewed by MIRA trainees for operational professionalism and cool-under-fire. The most fascinating part was that Hummingbird was visible throughout the fight, darting in and out of view. Most of Monsoon's 'battles,' if they could be called that, took place outside of visual range. And they tended to end in a flash.

It'd been like something out of a comic book, and he was allowed to play hero. It might've been a Dagger op, but he'd felt more like a Cloak that day than he had during any guest appearance on Good Morning America.

New orders came in.

"Wilco on all fronts. Watch your head, Blackjack."

Not letting his thoughts drift or allowing the storm to dissipate, he redoubled his concentration on the compound itself. The building would be spared - but around it, gale force winds, as commanded, began to swirl, threatening to lift cars off the ground and toss the incoming hostiles like rag dolls. He typically only ever saw the aftermath of what he could do - right now, this was a PMPD-powered weather-based game of Will it Blend?, though he kept that name to himself. Jokes about powers weren't really tolerated when they came from him. That was the price of being a

Blackjack had mentioned the man's family.

Now wouldn't be a good time to start developing feelings. There was a comrade's life on the line. If it came down to Blackjack or collateral...duty demanded he choose his MIRA compatriot. His eyes fell, and he clenched his invisible grip on the sky, wringing as much rain out of every cloud as he could muster. He let himself become the storm, and let all private insubordinate thoughts fade away into the deluge.
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The aftermath of the engagement would be a horrifying sight to behold. Most operations were seen purely in photographic confirmation of effect; very rarely did MIRA send their valuable assets on ground missions like these. Something this tactically tenuous was best reserved for independent contractors like Blackjack, without fear of paper trail. Plausible deniability was, of course, the absolute endgame. Deputized vigilantes like Blackjack understood that; if anything, the man welcomed it. Plenty of vigilantes were adrenaline junkies-- their powers were a means to an end. A way to tip the odds in their favor in the event they gambled with their lives.

Good effect, Monsoon-- keep wind speeds below 100 MPH. Saffir-Simpson Category 1, and holding. Do not let this drift coastal-- I repeat, do not let this drift coastal, direct trajectory inland.

Made it to the God-damned roof. He's got men like rats down here. Something-- God fucking damn it--

There was a pause on the line. Somewhere far below, perhaps distantly to Monsoon's ears, there was the faint mechanical whir that bled out into the nighttime.

-- got a fucking helo. Where the fuck was the intel on this?

Do not let Valencia leave, Blackjack. I repeat, do not let Valencia leave, this is an incident if he is allowed to escape, over.

He's taking off and I'm fucking pinned. I--

There was silence, on the line, for a good few moments. The whirring grew louder-- or perhaps it was just the echoing remnants of the sound over comms.

Lightning rod set on the bandit. Out of my fucking hands. He's got his--

A hiss. Silence, again.

You are greenlight for a strike, Monsoon. Heading into Sector B3, trajectory taking the bandit to A2. He's out of your AOE in 10 seconds. Asset cannot be allowed to leave. Over.

The time to make a decision was now.

"Enough. Keep the comms clear, Blackjack," he growled.

This was his fault. Mentioning the damned family like he was some kind of YouTube streamer running color commentary. There was no tactical value to it whatsoever. Monsoon typically kept his consternation to himself, but he felt the strategic need to cut the man off before he could mention any other details that would slow the storm down. Even now it wavered, in sync with its commander's inner thoughts. He tried to refocus, but like a thunderbolt, the new fact-pattern intruded on his concentration. This was why they called him uncharismatic, 'hard to work with' - because pissing him off changed the literal air pressure in the surrounding region. And this time, it was when he'd whipped up a localized typhoon.

There was nothing to think about. This changed nothing. Every little green dot he zapped had a story, and in this kind of situation, he put his trust in MIRA. If this man got away, he'd only hurt thousands more, directly or indirectly. It was beyond his vision to see - much like the weather. He had to believe in their projections. If they say moving the storm beyond region A10 would disrupt Mexico's water cycle for the next month, then he took it as the word of God, because he had a responsibility not to abuse his powers. He had a duty not to be selfish with where he caused it to rain, or shine, and when, and on whose behalf.

He felt the storm start to drift coastal, and heaved it back, teeth grit. A vein started to bulge on his neck. HQ was saying something, but he couldn't hear what - he couldn't think, with all this bullshit.

Reaching up, he unclipped the lower portion of his gas mask, the one that held his comm. It fell away from his face, held on only by a single strap - and then he let out a long scream of frustration into the night air, one which echoed into a burst of forked coruscation.

10 - 9 - 8.

He couldn't think with HQ shouting in his ear. But he wouldn't let this be their call, either. He was more than just a weapon. He was a man and he made his own choices.

Centering the target in his mind, he closed one eye, keeping the other open, and locked on the green dot. Seven seconds for the air around the copter to ionize. Then -


He snapped his fingers, and single flash obliterated the helicopter. He watched the fireball spiral down toward the desert; he cleared his throat, reached up, and clipped the mask back over his face. With a hiss, he took a deep breath of fresher air.

"Target confirmed down. Copy," he said, in his trademark droning voice.

The storm would keep going on its own now.

This was why he'd never be premier.


The helicopter dropped from the sky. The lightning strike completely fried the internals; halfway through the descent, the fuel tank ignited. The sky was bathed in an orange hue as the fireball struck earth. There was some distant crunch of metal, a clap of thunder from the impact, and then silence.

Good effect, gentlemen. Target neutralized.

It wasn't what they came for. Valencia would've proved a valuable asset alive; killing him was a last resort. Better to have the head of the snake cut off if you couldn't milk its venom; a necessary evil, in the grand scheme of things. There was no telling the harm that would've come from letting him live through this.

But now they didn't need to consider that. Variables left the equation, and they were left with the simplified endpoint.

On-site threats neutralized. Silent here.

Copy, Blackjack. All agents, rendezvous at crash site and confirm E-KIA. Monsoon, once you confirm, RTB for debrief. You are greenlight for dropping the leash on the storm. Blackjack, scour the compound for any available evidence and hand it over to our inbound analyst.

Copy. His voice was notably hollow-- or perhaps it was just relief.

It'd be somebody else's problem; certainly not theirs. Monsoon had been trained to facilitate optimal conditions for weather dissipation, but to completely neutralize an event was impossible. They'd leave it to chance, as they always did. The storm raged on, and an all-clear was given to Monsoon through his goggles.

You are advised to direct the storm southeast, Monsoon. Away from Tijuana.

Though it would go where it pleased, in the end. Such was the law of nature.


Monsoon, with one final push, let the storm flow away from Tijuana. It'd go its own way. MIRA-NASA joint division had greenlit the operation, which meant they were OK with him conjuring the weather he'd made.

For now, he was tired. It wasn't just the substantial effort that had gone into reshaping the very makeup of the troposphere over Tijuana. It was the tiredness that sleep wouldn't fix.

Exfiltration was the next objective on the list. His part of the mission was effectively done. He wasn't going to leave by air - his flight speed was less than that of the craft he'd just shot down, and a mid-air pickup was infeasible and unnecessary at this juncture.

He reached up to his shoulder and pulled a ripcord, a parachute unfurling from beneath his cloak and opening over his head. The winds died down and he slumped, limp, in mid-air.

After touchdown, he'd take a moment to just sit, waiting for the humvee to come and get him.

There was ample time for reflection, in the odd fifteen or so minutes that passed since Monsoon's landing. The burning wreckage of the helicopter lay not too far off-- available to investigate, if Monsoon had the curiosity-- though the subject of photography would be handled by the Lead Analyst once the humvee rolled around. Distant thunder swept along the arid air of the Mexican countryside, a stiff breeze heralded by the summoned storm fluttering the CONSPEC's poncho.

Two vehicles inevitably crested the horizon. One rolled past Monsoon without stopping; the second rolled to a stop beside Monsoon. They were not humvees-- rather, they were Oshkosh L-ATVs, all-black and modified for use by MIRA. Spotlights and a short-range crowd control sonic cannon were outfitted on the roof of the vehicle; the windows were fully tinted. The rear door opened, allowing Monsoon to step in, if he so desired.

Sitting in the seat beside him would be none other than Deputy Director Jedediah Ross. To subordinates, he was simply known as "Ross"-- or, perhaps even simpler, "Deputy". He was dressed in a simple tan button-down, a MultiCam plate carrier, jeans, and tac-gloves; a rifle was set beside him. In one hand, he held a tablet. He did not look pleased.

Then again, he never did.

"Burke." Was all he stated, for a moment. He had a habit of referring to Agents as their surnames, and not their appointed aliases. It was an affirmation that he was a cut above the facade; either that, or the subtlest intimidation tactic. Referring to an Agent by their name often got their attention, after all.

Deputy Ross kept his gaze trained on the tablet, sorting through the information on-screen as he conversed with Monsoon. The L-ATV rolled forward, pulling a U-turn and driving back to the border checkpoint. It'd be a bit of a drive. That meant ample time for a debrief.

"Give me your assessment of the operation."

Monsoon clambered into the vehicle. He'd fully unclipped the oxygen-providing facemask, but left the goggles on and his hood drawn. That was his Cloak garb, and until he was off the clock, he kept to uniform. It was part of preserving The Myth, which he was fully on board with. Cloak agents were encouraged to bring their personalities into sync with their personas. For him, it had always been something he had just done, without ever being asked. Perhaps that somberness had held him back from exposure in the public eye - and his usefulness in missions like this one.

"Deputy director Ross," he acknowledged, clicking his seatbelt into place.

Ross was the only person he knew who called him by his actual name, instead of 'Monsoon.' It'd started a long, long time ago, and Monsoon had heard that he did the same thing with other MIRA agents. He took no issue with it.


Thunder rumbled in the distance as the CONSPEC's blood pressure began to climb again. He laced his gloved fingers together, and tapped his thumbs at the tips.

"Two years for a lead on La Misericordia. Would've been nice to have brought him in."

The monotone voice betrayed no consternation, but it was obvious from the incoming drizzle that he was frustrated. He elected to speak his mind.

"I don't really care for Blackjack, sir."
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Ross was hard to read by nature. His face seemed to be eternally molded into a faintly-vexated expression of neutrality, brow furrowed as he looked over the doppler map on his tablet; heading southbound, and it'd most likely break up over Sierra del Juarez. Limited collateral, if at all. The Deputy Director withheld such information; telling him of positive outcomes would only necessitate giving him the negative, as well. If he only gave the positive, then silence would equate to negative. It was a delicate balance, and better to keep Burke in the dark.

He let the CONSPEC say his piece, and did not return the dialogue for a good few long moments.

"I agree." He stated, plainly. "On both accounts. The matter of Blackjack will be dealt with; I doubt we'll work with him in any capacity for the foreseeable future." His head tilted. "Wasn't your fault, by any means. Don't go thinking that it was. There's a reason he's an affiliate, and you're a BLU-7."

Deputy Ross gave a look to Burke, holding his stare on the man for a period of silence. "Couldn't blow his God-damned nose if his brains were dynamite, kid. This is what happens when you trust a vigilante to do an agent's job. Wasn't my call, unfortunately." He resumed his perusal of the tablet, swapping to some analytics of the compound and real-time evidence gathering. "I'll chat with the Lead Analyst when we're back on-base. I'm down here because I had a vested interest in seeing Valencia brought in-- and while I will settle for him being a bit of gristle on the underside of a flaming helicopter crash, it sets back our leads on La Misericordia."

He rubbed at his nose. Gave a sniffle. His eyes narrowed, a moment, as he looked at his watch. The pickup of rain was noted, but not addressed. Would only make it worse, in his experience. Then again, what he was about to say probably would, too.

"They've got you slated for an 8:00 interview on the Today Show. Some softball shit-- weather patterns analysis. Talk about MIRA's funding for doppler tech and smart-prediction systems. We'll get you carted up back to Manhattan for it." He was sure to say they, and not we-- cloak appearances were thoroughly out of Ross' purview. Thankfully. "After that, I'll need you back in South-Central to discuss next steps. Might not need you for a while, unfortunately. Unless you want to try your hand at something out of your usual methods."


Objectively speaking, it was a ranking connected to his PMPD, not to him. It wasn't anything to be proud of, like a rank. It was something earned by dint of his potential for destruction, not his skilfulness, or his experience. The continual reminder of what he could do inspired a godly sense of responsibility in Monsoon, one that he'd carried with him for a very long time. It was practically a compulsion by this point, reined in by the matrix of professionalism that had been constructed around him at MIRA. On his worse days, he felt as though it'd been built up to accomodate him. But on the better ones, he knew - rationally speaking, at least, if not emotionally - that they were teaming up to maximize the utility of his powers.

It was meaningless to just make rain. It was a dice roll on helping, or harming. Without MIRA, he could maybe stop a robbery, with a burst of wind. If he could incidentally be in the right place, at the right time. And he'd be doing it with no authority - no jurisdiction.

After a moment, he realized, adrift in his mindstream, Ross had been talking to him. He caught up instantly.

The weather picked up noticeably more - not enough to make for hazardous driving conditions - but enough.

In contrast, Monsoon's voice remained fairly monotone.

"Al Roker still hasn't apologized."

He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose under his goggles.

"I'll be ready for the interview. It'll be smooth sailing."

Someone had to be a professional, after all. That someone was him.

"South-Central? Outside my usual methods?" he prompted, voice gravelly.

That could be good. Something different, outside the routine.

"If I sat around waiting for apologies, I'd die of fuckin' boredom." Ross replied, tapping once on the tablet's screen before turning it off-- and centering his attention fully upon Monsoon.

"While we're immensely grateful for the natural artillery you're able to provide, this would involve some more... discretion. In initial stages, at least. We have reason to believe that La Misericordia's in possession of some cultivation fields for some... genetically-modified plants. Scientific term for it is camellia sinensis-- the common tea plant. Now, as far as environmental surveys have told us, this strain of the plant hasn't been released or exposed anywhere it could be invasive. Yet. As for why they have it-- we believe it was the Russians gave it to 'em. Or the Chinese. Doesn't quite matter now. What matters is finding these fields and manufacturing centers and shutting them down."

He shrugged, at that. "Would involve some boots-on-the-ground operations. I'll have more information once we get back up to New York; ideally, you'll be working with solid folk from the dagger side of things."

"Common tea plant, huh?"

Repeating Ross' words back to him, Monsoon sat in thought. He wasn't inattentive, but his focus was divided. He peeled back the rain shower that was encroaching on their position, thinking less about the Today Show and more about the security implications of Russia and China supplying the very metacartel they'd just forcibly disrupted. There'd be retaliation for this, down the line. Somewhere, far away, the gears of revenge started turning.

"Whatever's needed, I'll do it," he said simply, turning his head to look out the window at the brewing storm. It seemed to pulse with the rise and fall of his chest, the heavy poncho and pouch-covered suit largely obscuring the shift in body language as he slouched somewhat into the chair.

I need to decontaminate.

A shower - a real shower - would help clear his head.