The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...
Chapter 13: Becoming True Soldiers
After X23's recruitment, Shadow Cell finally had its team of mutant soldiers. The head of the project, Dr. Nathanial Essex, was overjoyed that the protocols had been filled so much earlier than he had initially planned and saved the organization quite a bit of money in the process. With five powerful mutant kids, each of them with unique powers that would bring a special trait to the battlefield, Dr. Essex and all his fellow scientists felt they had their soldiers and there was no need for more. And with all recruiting efforts halted and called off, Shadow Cell was better able to focus on the more important, if not more daunting, task of training these young, traumatized kids into being true soldiers.
Helping them all overcome their past was no easy challenge for all those who worked directly with the five mutant recruits. Everybody from the drill sergeants to the mind/body specialists had to work through countless obstacles in order to bring Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23 to their maximum potential. However, time and time again, the five mutant kids proved just how strong and driven they were and constantly exceeded their limits with each rigorous session after another.
Training was pretty much all the five mutant recruits did after the team was completed and with no more resources being dedicated towards finding new mutants, they were given the full, unabated focus of each and ever scientist, officer, and specialist within the organization. Their lives were nothing short of intense. Each day was centered around a certain type of training that was rigidly pounded into their heads until they became masters of it.
Every day they had to go through hours upon hours of boot camp. Drill sergeants and military officers would yell, order, and drive them to their limits both physically and mentally on a daily basis. The regular program was modified for their mutant attributes, but it didn't take away from the rigor in the slightest. They received full basic, advanced, and elite training over the years from the Army, the Marines, the Navy Seals, Special Ops, Delta Force, and even specialized training from ex-CIA operatives.
Over the years, this daily rigor of boot camp hardened and toughened the five mutant kids beyond anything they had ever expected. Their bodies grew, filling out with strong, yet perfectly proportioned muscles. Both Scott and Vincent ended up perfectly ripped from so much training and the three girls grew into truly hardened, nimble, and perfectly shaped bodies that looked like a mixture of both athleticism and shapeliness. And it wasn't just their bodies that became strong, for their minds also were greatly affected by boot camp.
Psychologically, their minds were not the healthiest upon their initial arrival in Shadow Cell. They were still wrought with the affects of trauma and sorrow over their dark pasts, but their rigorous training along with the mind/body specialists had helped teach them to focus their minds to intense degrees, helping them to overcome these limitations in the heat of conflict. It also served to break them down in a sense, making them more likely to follow orders and instilling the values of loyalty, honor, and discipline. It would also help make them hard...Steadfast...And above all...Ready to kill.
And along with this psychological aspect to being soldiers, they also underwent unique sorts of training such as watching war movies like Saving Private Ryan, Patton, and the Longest Day. They were even allowed to view action movies as well such as Terminator, Robocop, Demolition Man, and Lethal Weapon. They all did this under careful scrutiny and all was designed to help them develop the mentality necessary to be true soldiers.
Whether it was boot camp, CQC training, or study sessions with Dr. Essex and his team of mind/body scientists, heavy focus helped them overcome dark thoughts of their past. However, despite these powerful strides in overcoming the past, it never truly left their minds. While Dr. Essex and many of the officials had expected this, they had no idea just how much it affected them when they weren't looking. During the brief nights they were allowed for minimal rest, the five mutant recruits were left to remember their jaded memories of loss, sorrow, and loneliness.
Scott Summers could never forget that fateful day in the skies of Alaska when his life changed forever. The memory of his father and mother fighting to make sure that he and his brother lived along with horrible memories of the streets had evolved into recurring nightmares that reeked havoc on his sleep. Remembering how he had watched his family die and how he failed to protect his little brother often brought tears to his eyes. Jean Grey suffered similar ailments when it came to memories and nightmares every time she remembered that fateful night where a car crash killed her entire family and left her as the lone survivor. It was enough of a tragedy in of itself, but the memory of how she had actually felt them die within her head just made it so many times worse. Boot camp and rigorous training had helped harden both Scott and Jean's mind to the point where they could set such memories aside for the most part...But they could never forget them. And even though it became easier to cope with over the years, Scott Summers and Jean Grey kept up their old traditions of sneaking past the GURSO onlookers and staying in each other's rooms to help them get what sleep they could.
The deep link that had been forged on that fateful day they first met had strengthened quite a bit over time and they had a way of comforting each other that even Dr. Essex couldn't explain. Eventually, it got to the point where they couldn't deny that they shared something much more than friendship or comradery. No...They had something much more profound than that. It took a while...But the soon came to admit that they were in love. Yet the bond they formed made that love stronger and deeper than they ever could've imagined. In time, it continued to grow...But they were adamant about keeping such emotions to themselves. At first they didn't understand it...But as they continued to grow and learn more about their world, they began to truly ascertain it. From the knowledge they gained through experience, psychological training, and even some of the movies they saw that had romantic elements in it like Terminator...Which Dr. Essex was actually a part of influencing...It became clear to them that they shared something truly special. And it was from this bond...This link they had shared that grew from simple companionship to a truly powerful love, Scott and Jean grew very close over the years...Much to Dr. Essex's approval.
Wanda still had the occasional nightmare about being back in the insane asylum and facing her father, which more or less always caused her to wake up in a cold sweat, but each time it happened...She just gritted her teeth and fought it as she would anything else in training. Vincent's nightmares were also very vivid, thanks in large part to his photographic memory and he was hard pressed to find a night when his sleep wasn't deeply troubled. Every time he closed his eyes he could see himself back in that cramped cage in that Prodigy lab where he was poked, prodded, and subjected to inhuman torture and when he didn't dwell on that, it was his time on the streets or the sight of the orphanage burning down along with the only people he ever considered family. And because of these constant nightmares, Wanda and Vincent sometimes sought solstice with each other in the same way Scott and Jean did. And because of this, they also grew very close over the years...But unlike Scott and Jean, they kept such feelings bottled up and weren't willing to admit they had something more. Nevertheless, that didn't stop their bond from becoming so strong.
X23 had become somewhat of the little sister of the group after her recruitment. For her, it was a lot easier adjusting to the rigors of boot camp, but it was many times more difficult adjusting to the style of learning that Shadow Cell used since it was nothing like Hydra. Ever since her arrival, she was actually encouraged to fight with raw emotion and drive and she was even taught to have a sense of self for the first time in her life. However, given that such notions of individuality had been denied to her from Hydra all throughout her life, it was very difficult for her at first. Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda often took it upon themselves to teach her about things like emotion and self. They often found themselves telling her stories about their own lives to help her understand what it means to be human and not just some machine. She was always brimming with question and sometimes she did get frustrated and had violent outbursts, but despite this she learned over the years and was truly grateful that these four kind friends of hers never gave up on her for a second. And for that, she had grown into her own person over time and began to feel stronger than ever, more so than Hydra could ever muster.
And even though much of their lives were dominated by training...The five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell were still allowed time now and again to simply spend time with one another...Developing a close, almost familial bond. While such times were short...They quickly learned to treasure them, for it helped truly solidify their comradery as a unit...And so much more.
As the years went on, the overall mentality of their rigorous training became engraved in their minds. It got to the point where each day, whether it was Monday or Sunday, didn't even matter to them and they were pretty much all the same. There were no holidays, breaks, or rest points for them...Every day brought new training and since the higher ups wanted them ready as soon as possible, it only got more intense as time went on.
Among their rigorous boot camp training, none was probably tougher than sessions with Magnum. Her intense training of CQC and her drive to help them master it was almost something out of a work of fiction. Every day they were taught the complex ins and outs of this most advanced fighting style and as time went on, they all became a force to be reckoned with in terms of hand to hand combat. Gone were the days where they would struggle against being surrounded by guards or officials meant to test their skill. Now, they couldn't get enough guards to subdue just one of them even if they were armed. It got to the point where only Magnum could still take them down, but even that was becoming more difficult as the years went on.
Among other things, Magnum became one of their most trusted and respected mentors. Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 looked up to her as both a teacher and a guide for all things related to being a soldier. She taught them strength, valor, honor, and the manner in which a soldier must think in the heat of combat. Hours upon hours were spent teaching them how to wield their fists as the deadliest of weapons with and without the use of their powers and eventually, they all gained the status of masters of CQC from Magnum...However, they still lacked the title of being THE master as Magnum was.
Along with their CQC training, Magnum also taught them everything anybody ever needed to know about the world of firearms. Not long after X23 joined, they began learning how to become expert shots with many different types of firearms including pistols, rifles, machine guns, revolvers, and pretty much anything that fired a bullet. This was done in coordination with weapons training in all the other boot camp routines as well in order to best teach them all how to become even more deadly in the realm of being a soldier. While their mutant powers were strong, the Shadow Cell officials wanted them to be ready for anything and this included guns. And thanks to Magnum, they had the leading authority on firearms in the world.
At first, guns were tough for them to wield because of their tender age, but as they got older, stronger, and more psychologically hardened as soldiers, they began to show true skill with such weapons and were not afraid to hone them to their deadliest potential. With Magnum's infinite knowledge of everything related to firearms, they were taught how to assemble and disassemble pretty much any kind of gun there was from pistols to assault rifles. They were also taught basic firearm care and shown how to customize and refine certain arms for certain purposes or environments. They were all expected to learn and master these attributes and thanks to Magnum, they managed to do so with unparalleled efficiency.
Eventually, after learning and mastering the use of guns and firearms, the day came when Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 were given the opportunity to customize their own firearms from scratch in the same way Magnum had. They were given highly advanced materials and parts to do this and they all used every last one of them to their utmost in order to handcraft the firearms that they would carry into battle. They all made two guns each and X23 made an extra one for special reasons, but each gun looked like a standard 9 millimeter or a colt. However, that was where the similarities ended. Because of the knowledge imparted to them by Magnum, they created firearms that were almost works of art in a way. They had the capability to fire pretty much any standard ammunition, but they customized pretty much everything else from the weight balance, to the triggers, to the hammers, to the grips, to the firing chambers, to the loading mechanisms, and even the compensators. Many of the parts were made from adamantium, much like Magnum's trusty 44 caliber, and they were all made with the care and position of an expert craftsman, ensuring that their guns would be as rugged, tough, and versatile as they were.
After they had their specially hand crafted weapons, the five mutant soldiers were taught to integrate them as part of their own beings by Magnum. In their boot camp routines and in their CQC training, they were all taught to wield their bodies as one big weapon of immense destruction...Greater than that of any bomb or weapon that their foes could wield. Along with their guns, they were given specially handcrafted knives that they would use in conjunction with their guns in combat. It was a deadly combination that would make them deadly enough without their powers, but it was just the tip of the iceberg for them as each day made them stronger and more hardened as true soldiers should be.
But skill, strength, and agility wasn't all that they were trained for in their rigorous routines, for there was so much more to being a soldier than simply being strong mentally and physically and being able to fight...There was also an academic aspect of it as well. From the early days of their training, the five mutant kids were taught with great rigor the academic skills they would need both on and off the battlefield. They were taught basic reading, writing, and math skills, but they pretty much all of this was focused on the combative aspects. Subjects like physics, biology, and psychology was all given a military twist. Biology was used to teach them about biological agents while also giving them advanced medical training for treating wounds in the field. Physics was used to teach them the inner workings of weapons of all kinds from the bullet of a gun to a nuclear bomb. Psychology was taught in order to ensure that they had the necessary knowledge to keep track of themselves and their comrades in the field while also teaching them how to use it for interrogation and understanding the mindset of the enemy.
Thanks to their shadow level mutation and all the physiological enhancements that it brought them, the five mutant recruits of Shadow Cell learned with superhuman speed. Dr. Essex suspected that this was because of the enhancement effect on their brain cells that allowed them to soak up and absorb knowledge more efficiently than any mere human ever could. This worked greatly to their advantage since it allowed them all to master the know how of combat in less time than they had expected. And by the time the academic portion of their training was done, they had knowledge and expertise in biology, physics, medical treatment, psychology, advanced computer skills, hacking, puzzle solving and code breaking, ballistics, politics, and even spoke up to five different languages other than English.
With each triumph, optimism throughout the organization grew over the inevitable effectiveness of the unit when the time finally came to send them out into the field. They were all moving along so quickly and with such efficiency that it surprised almost everybody who worked with them. Only Dr. Essex, the man who understood each mutant in ways they could never even begin to contemplate, seemed indifferent to it all. It was almost as if he had expected this from the beginning, but he never openly said that. Dr. Essex remained very involved with his five proud recruits, but he also remained somewhat reclusive compared to the rest of the officials that worked with Shadow Cell. He would seldom leave the facility and would often spend long hours secluded in his office where nobody dared to bother him. However, the five mutant soldiers were often too busy to really think too much of it and Dr. Essex had become their most trusted elder...Almost as if he were a father figure to them all. He even called them 'his children' at times. And for this reason, they never thought too deep on his behavior.
For the other key players of Shadow Cell like the Colonel and the General, they were also relishing in the success that the project was bringing. The Colonel, despite all his suspicions, tainted track record, and distaste of mutants, began to garner a lot more respect among the higher ups back in Washington. His GURSO unit was expanded, his past was often no longer mentioned, and he was gaining hopes of exacting more of an influence in his military career that seemed to be feeding off the success of the mutants he was still so untrusting with.
Like the Colonel, the General also received widespread praise throughout the political and military levels of the government. While the Colonel still had his unsavory character, the General was far more amiable in the minds of those both inside and outside Shadow Cell. He was an expert politician and negotiator when it came to the day to day workings of Shadow Cell. It was because of him that their political base remained as stable as possible through any and all obstacles that they encountered. With Hydra not a factor anymore, Shadow Cell was now the lone wolf in the super secret weapons espionage game, leaving behind a huge budget and a vast array of new resources that would surly become vital in future operations. And with all the success that Shadow Cell was bringing, many of the General's past mistakes seemed to be forgotten among much of the higher ups and because of this, he looked quite kindly upon Dr. Essex and the five mutant soldiers that had given his career new meaning.
But as the years passed by in a blur for the five recruits, they knew the day was fast approaching when they would go on their first mission. The world since the end of the Cold War hadn't gotten any less dangerous and it was clear that once they were deemed ready for combat, they would have plenty to work with and plenty of enemies to fight.
As Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23 rigorously trained day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year they finally began to mature into a full fledged unit. Working, learning, and growing together had given them all true sense of cohesiveness that few groups had both on and off the battlefield. They had all become very strong both physically and mentally. They had survived and mastered boot camp from the Army, Marines, Navy Seals, Special Ops, and Delta Force...They had become masters of CQC and firearms with Magnum...They had learned to master their powers thanks to Dr. Essex and his army of mind/body specialists...And they had learned to think and act like true soldiers.
As they continued to master the arts of being soldiers and neared the inevitable initiation of their unit into the battlefield, each one of them began to develop their own unique persona. Throughout their training, Dr. Essex and Magnum had helped them develop codenames that they went by during training situations and simulations. Each name somewhat reflected their mutant abilities.
Scott, because of his energy powers and how they most strongly manifested through his eyes, was given the codename Cyclops. The mythological beasts that were said to be so unstoppable in the field of battle seemed like a perfect slate for the young man to go by and it was a name he willingly embraced, later tattooing the word onto both his biceps.
Jean, because of her powerful psychic and pyrokinetic abilities, began going by the codename Phoenix. Like Scott, it was a name taken from mythology and she became quite immersed with this concept and even had a beautiful, elaborate tattoo of the fiery, mythological bird tattooed onto her lower back.
Vincent Freeman, given that his powers were known to bring untold havoc and chaos, began going by the codename Mayhem. His powerful persona and the sheer force he could deliver with his mutant abilities made it a fitting name and as a spiritual dedication to the people back at the orphanage like Mr. Kansuke and Father Michaels who had laid the foundation for the man he had become, he had the tattoo of a Japanese symbol for warrior on his chest that reflected the sense of honor they taught him when he was once a lost, broken little boy and how he had come to refine it with Shadow Cell.
For Wanda Maximoff, whose powers brought truly awesome destruction and hexed pretty much anything into oblivion, began going by the codename Scarlet Witch. Her hexing powers gave her almost supernatural abilities to manipulate probability and the environment around her, so it seemed to be a fitting name for her and what she could do. Her relation to occult-like power ended up inspiring her to get tattoos of Ancient Egyptian ankhs along the sides of her biceps, showing the world that she had the power of a witch and was not afraid to use it.
For X23, it was a somewhat different for her. Since she never had a real name, the others tried to think of one for her to go by so she wouldn't be designated as some number that Hydra gave her. However, despite numerous suggestions, she decided to keep the name she had been given, simply because it's just who she was. It didn't matter to her that it was a number, for it was still a name in her eyes. And because of that, she continued to go by the name X23. It was her decision, so they did not argue with her. In learning how to become an individual and develop a sense of self, X23 had almost embraced the weapon she once was and used it to make herself a full fledge soldier of Shadow Cell. It may have been a harsh reminder to some, but to her...It gave her pride in who she was and even had a large X specially tattooed on her lower back to forever remind everybody just how deadly she was.
With codenames in place and the time for them to begin taking on the enemies of the world, the five mutant soldiers were coming into their own both as a unit and as individuals. Each one of them brought a unique talent to the battlefield. Each one of them had special skills that they could use in combat to their advantage. Such diversity promised to give them maximum versatility and utility on the battlefield and it was greatly encouraged by Dr. Essex and Mangum.
Scott Summers wielded truly awesome power in terms of his energy blasts and brought the team a great deal of firepower that could effectively take down the overwhelming foes they were sure to face. Such power would allow him to focus great force on a specific area, giving him an undeniable presence on the battlefield. This power also gave him extra strength that may not have been as strong as Vincent, but it still gave him the ability to tear through solid steel with his bare hands with relative ease. Such firepower and inner strength, all the result of being able to tap any of the vast amounts of energy that surrounded him at any given time, gave him, as Dr. Essex so often described, the power of a nuclear bomb in the palm of his hand.
And among the many skills he and his friends became proficient in, he had also proven himself to be a superb pilot of basic and semi-advanced aircraft, which would definitely prove useful in future missions. Also, over time Scott had shown that he had exceptional leadership abilities. In the heat of combat, he could keep a level head and make split second decision, deliver them to the rest of the unit, and carry them out in a matter of seconds. The others came to trust his decisions in the utmost and they followed them quickly and efficiently, making Scott the perfect field leader for the team while they were in combat.
Jean Grey's powers had made her one of the most powerful psychics that had ever lived. Her delta level telepathy and telekinesis were powerful on levels that even the scientists and former Psy Ops agents found impressive. In addition, her pyrokinetic abilities gave her a medium for destruction that would prove very useful in certain situations. With these powers, Jean had specified a few rather important skills that she would bring to each battle Shadow Cell took part in.
Because of her telepathy, it gave her an unrestricted view of any and all minds on a battlefield within a limited range. So there was no running or hiding for the enemy, meaning that it would be Shadow Cell that always had the stealthy edge. Along with detection, her telepathy proved to be a very useful tool for communication between her and her allies. It practically eliminated the need for radios and made it impossible for any enemy to listen in or take records of what their presence.
And thanks to the enhancements done to her powers, Jean had the perfect aptitude for the art of interrogation. With her powers, mental shields could be shattered like glass so no information could escape them. She was trained by Magnum and a legion of ex-CIA operatives to make her the most powerful and efficient interrogator that ever lived. Along with her destructive telekinesis and pyrokinesis, she had a well balanced style of both offensive and defensive powers that would make her a powerful force on the battlefield.
For Vincent Freeman, he had proven himself to be the major powerhouse of Shadow Cell throughout his training. His strength, speed, and invulnerability made him the kind of soldier that could be sent into the thick of the conflict. With CQC mastery and power over both mind and body, Vincent had shown that he could easily take down swarms of enemies without a scratch and could take being shot, burned, stabbed, electrocuted, crushed, and pretty much any other danger the battlefield could throw at him.
He took mostly to heart the marine and CQC training that was built around hardening the mind to the point where it had a focus that could not be affected even by a morbid past. For someone like Vincent, whose past was never very far from his mind, such a skill was a real godsend because it gave him something else to focus on other than his past.
In addition to his overall strength as a soldier, he had also proved himself to be the best when it came to information gathering. Because of his photographic memory, he was given special training by ex-CIA and Delta Force personnel to make him the perfect spy for sensitive data. His powers and skills had helped him grow into a truly powerful warrior of Shadow Cell, one who took to heart many of the aspects both Magnum and Dr. Essex preached such as honor and valor. This was mainly due to the always lingering memory of Mr. Kansuke and Father Michaels, who he always thought about and would take comfort in knowing that he could honor their memories with what he doing with his life and what he could do as a soldier of Shadow Cell.
Wanda Maximoff's growth as a soldier of Shadow Cell was nothing short of miraculous in the minds of many of the sergeants and scientists that worked with her. When she first came in, it was hard for anyone to believe that she would make it as a soldier like the others...But time and time again, she proved them to be dead wrong. Wanda had learned with a determination unlike no other to master the arts of being a soldier. Whether it was CQC or mind/body training with her powers, she had a drive to become strong that was second to none. Being deemed weak and unworthy had left some lingering trauma in her young mind and memories of what her so called 'father' did to her were never far from her mind...But that only fueled her drive to become stronger. She may have had to deal with a pretty sizable learning curve, but she adapted with uncanny skill and had developed her own specific niche in the unit.
Because of her powers, Wanda had the power to bring truly awesome destruction, so one of her major fortes was demolition. Her hexing powers gave her the ability to bring down pretty much any structure and make it look like an accident...A vital skill for an organization that needed to stay secret. It also gave her the power to paralyze people and machines while exerting powerful control on any other objects in her surrounding environment. Such powers would give her a knack for causing distractions and disabling key components of the enemy's arsenal like electronics and firearms. And with the sensitive missions that Shadow Cell would be working under, such skill was necessary to stay one step ahead of the enemy.
In addition, her knack for destruction made her perfect for explosives training and thanks to Magnum, she had the best authority on explosives in the world. With help from her mentor, she gained the ability to construct and deconstruct pretty much any type of bomb in existence and do it with a level of precision and skill that few others could ever hope to master. Understanding her powers gave her a true understanding of destruction and probability and because of this she was able to make everything from a car bomb to a nuclear bomb if she had to. She could build them and un-build them with great care, making her a very explosive element on the battlefield, giving Shadow Cell's chances for victory with each mission all the greater.
X23 was somewhat of a special case when it came to her recruitment in Shadow Cell. After being tortured and trained by Hyrda her whole life, it was a bit of a challenge to undo some of the things they did to her. Initially, she was supposed to be just a cold blooded killer...But Shadow Cell didn't need killers, it needed soldiers. And X23 was perfect soldier material. With training from Magnum and her many drill sergeants and help from her friends, she began to think of herself as less a living weapon and more a born soldier. Learning emotions both on and off the battlefield had given her a new view on things, particularly her purpose and path in life. Doing as she was told all the time as she did with Hydra was one thing...But actually fighting for something was another. It seemed to push her all the harder as she worked to master skills that Hydra never would have taught her.
With her advanced healing, X23 was perfect for getting in and out of high risk areas of danger. With the help of Dr. Essex and his mind/body specialists, she learned how to center her thoughts and focus her mind instead of simply letting her rage drive her...Although that part of her mentality was something no amount of training could ever erase. But combined with both focus and determination, X23 was able to take a lot of physical pain, yet keep going strong despite it. She even held an impressive record of being able to make it through one of the advanced obstacle courses with 15 bullet wounds. Healing also made her vital in infiltrating highly toxic areas like nuclear reactors and extremely hazardous areas as a result of chemical contamination. While Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda had powerful healing as well, it was still nowhere near the level as X23.
In addition to her healing, X23 took quite well to CQC training. The former living weapon came to see Magnum as almost more than a mentor because of all the skill she taught her. Her agility, mindset, and drive made her perfect for the mastery of CQC and in conjunction with her adamantium claws, it made her a truly deadly force to be reckoned with. Her weaponized body gave her capabilities in terms of both agility and execution that nobody else could ever manage and she was practically unbeatable when it came to close range combat, for only Magnum could take her down now.
Also, because of her enhancements from the bio-mutagenic accelerator, X23 had developed a great deal of new strength in both her body and mind. Being created for the sole purpose of being a soldier seemed to be written into her mutation since Hydra chose only the exact features that would make her strong. With the accelerator, she had strength that surprised anybody unlucky enough to have to fight her, especially for a young girl, and she had a focus that could almost make her entire world slow down in her mind.
Given such skills, X23 was perfect for gun slinging. From early on, Magnum saw her aptitude for handling guns and firearms and she pulled out all the stops in teaching her how to master it. Her powerful agility and drive made her a near flawless shooter when it came to guns and could get off enough shots from a standard pistol to kill an entire platoon of enemies before they could even fire a shot. She had the power to shoot her way through any crowd of enemies with almost a sense of grace, for she made it look so easy and the only one who could match her was Magnum.
Because of her exceptional skills with guns, X23 took the most care in hand crafting her own. Like the others, she used adamantium parts to make her firearms indestructible and one hundred percent reliable, but unlike the others she made special adjustments that worked alongside her near superhuman aptitude for gun slinging. Her guns were specially crafted to handle both regular and special caliber bullets and were crafted with a special mechanism that allowed her to change clips of ammo with little or no hesitation. In addition, instead of just two guns like the rest of her friends had made, X23 had three guns that she would carry into battle. This was mainly because she didn't need a knife like the others since she had her claws, but having three guns also worked to her advantage because it meant she always had a spare in case the situation grew extreme.
Along with gun slinging, X23 showed a natural aptitude for handling pretty much any kind of firearm with great skill. She grew very good at using assault rifles, rocket launchers, and machine guns. However, one gun that she proved herself to be most proficient at was the sniper rifle. Thanks to her superhuman skills of focus and drive, X23 proved herself to be one of the best snipers in existence. Along with her handguns, X23 also crafted a special, super ranged sniper rifle from a standard M1. With a special gun and special skills, she had sniping abilities that were once deemed unimaginable by her drill sergeants. She practically doubled the maximum range of even the most well trained sniper and was capable of operating completely independent of a spotter. With the power of sniping, gun slinging, CQC, and her own animalistic senses that gave her a clear and concise feel of the battle, X23 was truly a soldier the likes of which nobody had ever seen before and as a part of Shadow Cell, she would prove to be most vital in their ever ongoing pursuit of victory.
In the ever evolving organization that was Shadow Cell, the five mutant recruits became more than just a unit...They became a family. Dr. Essex, Magnum, and even the General to some extent had become almost parental figures to them as they grew from young, traumatized children to full grown mutant soldiers.
As a unit, they worked with a level of cohesiveness that truly made them seem like one entity...Not just five powerful mutants forced to work together. They were all very close since they had helped each other so much through all the hard times they had to face both before and after they were recruited. Some like Scott and Jean or Vincent and Wanda were even closer than that, but they all worked together no matter what. It got to a point where they could very accurately predict each other's moves and read the looks on their faces even though they had all been so hardened from their training. But this unique gift was more than just a result of friendship...It was a result of so much more as they all lived and grew together.
With the mastery of Army, Marine, Navy Seal, Delta Force, Special Ops, CIA, CQC, mind/body, survival, and medical training along with a multitude of other aptitudes gained through their extensive and rigorous training that seemed to go on without any kind of rest whatsoever, the five mutants of Shadow Cell were deemed nearly ready for combat. It had taken over five years and a truly intense level of training. Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23 were now beyond mere soldiers...They were in a class all their own. Tragedy had had given them all early lives that they'd much rather forget and rigorous training and conditioning had turned them into true warriors.
Now, their lives before Shadow Cell were completely non-existent. They had no past...And as far as global authorities were, they weren't even born. They truly were shadows...Living in the depths of secrecy that the true wielders of power and truth required them to exists in. However, to them it did not matter. Their past was something they were all too willing to give up. Now they had no other life other than that of Shadow Cell. Every day, they trained themselves to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than they were the day before. Combat was their only purpose...Victory was their only task...And they would carry out these lives they had built to their fullest extent for as long as there was a breath in there bodies. And if victory every required their deaths...So be it. Their cause was not just one of peace, honor, valor, and patriotism...It was also one of simple drive...The drive to fulfill the mission.
However...In order for them to become true soldiers, they had to pass one final test.
Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23 were all running an advanced infiltration course in the holographic VR simulator located deep within the Shadow Cell base. With so many resources at their disposal, Shadow Cell could afford the best VR technology money could buy with fully tangible holography and real danger...Perfect for training soldiers.
Over the years, the five mutant teens had spent a lot of time going through scenario after scenario with such technology. It helped give them experience in a controlled environment that would eventually help them function more efficiently on the battlefield. It was almost kind of like a high tech video game in the eyes of those who saw it...Nearly indistinguishable from the real thing. There was blood, destruction, and pretty much anything else one would find on the battlefield. Yet still...There remained one key difference that always bothered Magnum and the many drill sergeants they worked with...It wasn't real.
Even after arduous mental training that was meant to strengthen their will and drive while also breaking down certain parts of their being so they would be willing to go beyond their usual boundaries to get the job done...The five mutant soldiers still had yet to face the most difficult part of being a soldier...Killing.
Magnum knew from experience that killing was an experience like no other. For some...It destroyed them. For others...It empowered them. She had been working with them for years preparing them for such a step. They were all now very hardened both physically and mentally. They took their lives as soldiers very seriously...Fighting through each challenge with a level of drive determination and desire that could not be matched. And while nobody could deny just how tough they were...But only with this one crucial step would their future as soldiers be forever sealed.
"Time is running out Shadow Cell!" yelled Magnum from the observation deck of the VR room as she watched her pupils make their way through a high level infiltration scenario, complete with live gunfire and danger, "You're starting to lag behind!"
Down in the training area, the five mutant soldiers were fighting hard through challenge after challenge. This program was really throwing everything at them...Bombs, RPGs, automatic weapon fire, and even a few hostage situations with mockups of enemy terrorists dressed in standard camouflage with black masks covering their faces. However, they had gone through such tasks in VR many times before and were making their way through as they would any other...Not suspecting anything being amiss.
"Come on guys!" yelled Scott, firing several optic blasts at a few terrorists trying to shoot at them from a truck with a mounted M60, blowing them away in a heap of twisted flesh, "They're slowing us down! We can't let them get away!"
"Don't worry Cyclops...They won't!" yelled Jean over the gunfire, who stuck close to Scott like she always did as she turned up the heat of her pyrokinesis, "We'll just have to punch our way through!"
"Leave it to me!" said Vincent, who was using his invulnerability to draw the fire away from his comrades, "I'll clear the way! Cover me!"
"Don't worry Mayhem...We've got your back!" said Wanda, who was using her hexing powers to deflect bullets away from her and X23 while they unloaded round after round into the surrounding guards.
With his back in safe hands, Mayhem proceeded to use his super speed and flight powers to turn himself into an unstoppable flying ram. Several of the sentries tried to slow him down with RPGs and high caliber machine gun fire, but it did little, if anything, to stop him. And once he made impact with the outer wall separating them from their destination on the other side, the ensuing shockwave cleared the way for his comrades while also taking care of a couple of pesky gunmen.
"It's clear!" yelled Vincent to the others, "Hurry before they send reinforcements!"
"Right!" said Scott in response, mowing down a few more gun toting terrorists as he issued the command to move forward, "Come on team! Let's move! Let's move!"
With X23 using her gun slinging tricks to provide cover fire and Jean and Wanda using their powers to shield them from any remaining projectiles, the five mutant soldiers converged on the other side where their primary targets resided. They had gone through several intense layers of defense to get to this point and now they were finally on the verge of completing their task...This time in the form of six high ranking terrorists commanders, all fully armed with advanced MP5s.
As they entered the area, they were faced with a few more surprises...Most likely last minute tricks the programmers threw in to test their wits.
"Wanda look out!" yelled Vincent as he saw a guard appear from the shadows and point his AK-47 at her.
Instinctively, the Vincent's training kicked in and he used his super speed to jump in front of her, taking each bullet and snapping the neck of the guard that dared to stand in their way. But this wasn't the only surprise they faced.
"Cyclops! Ambush!" yelled Jean, using a quick telepathic sweep to see a full ambush just waiting for them down the final stretch.
"I see them!" said Scott as he unleashed an optic blast to blow them away while using his CQC to take care of those that were too close.
Jean and X23 aided him as they too were forced to fight it off, using a mix of deadly telekinetic waves, pyro bursts, gun slinging, and adamantium claws to take them all down. Then, once Vincent and Wanda caught up with them, they were ready to enter the final area.
Scott energized his body and delivered a single, supercharged punch to shatter the reinforced door, destroying the last obstacle in their way and leaving the path clear to their targets.
"GET BACK!" yelled one of the six lead terrorists as they immediately pointed their guns at the five mutant soldiers.
"GO!" yelled Scott as he and his team opened fire, using their split second advantage of surprise to mow down the six targets with a hail of gunfire, optic blasts, pyro bursts, hex bolts, and energy blasts.
The six bodies hit the ground in a bloody heap...Successfully completing their mission. And once the chaos of battle subsided...The five mutant soldiers were finally allowed to catch their breath as the holograms powered down. Only...Once they were gone...They were in for a truly shocking and unexpected surprise.
"Hey...What the?" began Scott, but he didn't get chance to finish as the realization of what had just happened finally set in.
All the holograms faded...Every last charred area and mangled corpse disappeared...All except the six men they had just gunned down. The room returned to it's bland, metallic state...But lying on the floor were six unmoving bodies with a pool of blood forming around them. It wasn't something they expected...It wasn't something they even thought twice about...But the people they had just killed...Had been real.
"Oh my...Are they real?" asked Wanda, confused at what had just happened.
"I...I thinks so," said Jean as she took a step closer to check and see that these men were indeed real.
The blood from the bodies spread until it reached their feet...And yet even after having taken these lives, the five mutant soldiers simply stood there in a daze...Their minds processing what they had just done. For the first time...They had just killed somebody. It wasn't a hologram...It wasn't a dummy...It wasn't some intangible, lifeless form...It was a real human being. So much hard training had made them so indifferent to the prospect of taking lives over the years...But now they had truly done it...They had ended the life of another.
Until this moment, they never really thought about it. Until this moment, they hadn't been faced with such a scenario. Yet now...Here they were...Killers.
"What...How..." began Vincent, finding this more difficult than the others because despite all his battle hardened training, he still never forgot some of the morals Father Michaels and Mr. Kansuke instilled upon him.
It was hard to process even for a bunch of battle hardened youngsters that had been trained to be so hardened and strong. Even X23, who was practically raised to be a living weapon, found it hard since she never truly thought about it until now. They were all dazed...Yet they didn't show a hint of emotion, for the affects of their deed was now mixing with the training that had been instilled in them...Causing many internal conflicts that seemed to rage within them.
Then suddenly...They were brought out of their daze by the strange sound of clapping from Magnum...Who had just entered through the secure hatch to greet her pupils after having seen them accomplish what she hoped they would.
"Congratulations my most prized pupils...You've taken the final step," she told them in her thick Russian accent.
"But...How did you...Are...Are they real?" asked Scott, struggling to keep his usual demeanor around one of their most respected teachers.
"Yes...True flesh and blood...A bunch of 'volunteers' from Fort Leavenworth who were on death row," said Magnum, confirming what was all becoming so clear to them.
"But...Why?" asked Vincent, looking down at his guns that he had just used to end a life for the first time.
"Because...As strong as you have become over the years...There has been but one part of your training that cannot be avoided...Your capacity to kill," explained Magnum, "Right now...You are conflicted...Yes. But consider this...Had you not pulled the trigger, those six men most certainly would have. And it's not just them...It was all of the holograms. They were all firing live ammo...Each one just as capable of doing the same kind of damage as the real thing. Whether it was them or the real thing...You all made a choice when you took them down."
"Choice?" said Jean, not understanding, for her mind was still a bit dazed after having just been behind her first death, "What do you mean, choice?"
"The choice of killing..." explained Magnum, "It's simple really. It's a matter of assessment...If you don't kill them, you've got a death on your conscious...A death you could have prevented. But if you do...You're a killer. It's a choice I make every time I pull the trigger...And it's a choice I don't take lightly. And you shouldn't either."
The five mutant soldiers were still a bit conflicted...But as they looked back down at the dead bodies and back at themselves, it finally began to dawn on them...It finally began to sink in. They were killers now...They had just killed. And yet...Through all the training, the discipline, and the mindset of being a soldier...They managed it. They killed those who would have in turned killed or hurt others. And the price they paid for stopping those who would have hurt others was becoming a killer...A price that they had all just paid whether they liked it or not.
Yet the more they thought about it...The more everything seemed to come together. All the training, hardship, and philosophy of becoming a soldier all seemed to culminate in that one moment. It was like a strange religious experience...Taking their cause to the next level. A part of them still felt conflicted...But the more they thought about it, the more it settled within their minds. They were killers now...Plain and simple. They were soldiers that were willing to kill...And even though it took a moment, their minds were finally beginning to accept it.
"So...We're killers now," said Vincent, still coming to terms with it, but slowly beginning to accept it as his mind began to adapt to the feeling along with the others.
"Yes..." said Magnum without hesitation, "It is the most difficult thing about being a soldier...Yet only those true of heart and spirit can ever complete the cycle. It'll take some time to adapt...But eventually, you'll all come to see such deeds for what they truly are. Some say killing is never justified...Yet is letting those who could have been stopped live on and inflict such grave suffering any more justified? Is taking one life that would have in turn taken many truly unjust? But justice or not...Such things have no place in your case...For you are soldiers now...True soldiers. You are no longer students or recruits...You are warriors, tried and true...Bearing all the means necessary to carry out the mission. And now...You are complete...It is only a matter of how you choose to use the power and will that you have been blessed with that will ensure whether or not you face victory or defeat on the battlefield."
And with that, Magnum left her five pupils alone so they could have some time to think about things. But in her mind...The final step had already come and gone. There was no turning back now and they knew it. The feeling of killing wasn't something they enjoyed...But it wasn't something they considered unpleasant either. And through it all...They truly did feel different about it. And even with the lives they had just taken...They didn't necessarily feel like killers in a sense. No...They felt like something much more...They felt like...True soldiers.
And unknown to any of them...Dr. Essex had seen the whole thing and a smile hadn't left his face the whole time. Now...His prized and beloved students had finally taken the last step. He felt so proud...So overjoyed now that his creations were complete. They were true soldiers now...And from this day forward they would be ready to carry out their duties to their country and Shadow Cell...Until the day came when they would fulfill their 'true' purpose.
AN: Well, Shadow Cell is officially open for business! And boy does Dr. Essex seem ecstatic, and for good reason...But you'll find out more about that much later! Now Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, the Scarlet Witch, and X23 are ready to become that which they have trained so hard for. I know this chapter didn't have much dialogue, but I wanted to fill in the gaps. And now that I have, this story promises to move onto the next step and trust me...You won't want to miss it! So what do you think of this fic so far? The main intro of how everything comes into being is over now and I'm eager to know what you all think of it. Please tell me! Email me your reviews at my email address or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a lot for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!
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