Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Between Life and Death

Clash

by slickboy444 1 Reviews

A mission gone horribly wrong leads Scott Summers to make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. But is he really dead? Or something more sinsiter going on? Scott/Jean, Kurt/Kitty, minor hints...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magneto, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat - Published: 2006/03/21 - Updated: 2006/03/22 - 7189 words

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Between Life and Death
Chapter 21: Clash


*************************************************

"They found me..." said Sinister as he looked at the images of his enemies drawing ever closer to him on the surveillance video screen, "All the planning and resources have culminated on this one day...Only to have them find me so close to the moment of truth."

"But how?!" yelled Gorgeous George as the saw some of the enemies he had fought on two rather messy occasions, "I thought you said this place was supposed to be practically invisible!"

"It is Gorgeous," said Sinister, never once doubting his own genius for stealth and evasion.

"The how is it that they found us?" said Vertigo, "We covered our trails exactly as you said."

"It's simple..." said Sinister as he quickly surmised the only possible way that anybody could have found him, "Someone tipped them off."

Both Betsy and Emma felt a wave of anxiety surge through them as Sinister seemed to be drawing ever closer to what they had done. They managed to remain stoic and silent, hiding their feelings of nervousness over what Sinister would do since he was always an unpredictable force at best. They knew probably better than anybody else his knack for cruelty and since he took betrayal to be the ultimate sin...They knew full well that he would show no mercy.

"But who?" said Ruckus, as the images on the screen were drawing closer and closer to the building.

"That's easy..." said Sinister as he turned towards Betsy and Emma, "Only those who would be foolish enough and dumb enough to think that I wouldn't suspect something!"

Upon seeing the bright red glow in his eyes, it was clear that he was quite angry with what Betsy had done. Sinister had already once been betrayed by Magneto...And now he faced a similar situation with his own henchmen.

'Damn it!' thought Emma, as she and Betsy took a step back upon seeing Sinister and the rest of the Nasty Boys look towards them with anger and malice in their eyes, 'Play dumb! Play dumb!'

"What are you talking about?" said Betsy, trying to sound incredulous, "We didn't tell them anything!"

Sinister merely chuckled at their feeble attempts to save their own skin. He knew he was smarter than that...And he couldn't say that such actions on their part surprised them. He had always had a sneaking suspicion over these two young women and now it seems as though his suspicions were rightfully placed as he looked back at the two nervous mutant women with his penetrating gaze.

"Oh please Psylocke...Do you really take me for that much of a fool?" said Sinister, not at all dissuaded, "Who else could it have been? Who else could have revealed this location so soon? And while I'm most certain that you didn't 'say' anything...I'm pretty sure you were thinking it."

Both Betsy and Emma took another step back, knowing full well that their cover was now officially blown. They had run out of time and now with the all of Sinister's enemies bearing down on him, he was more volatile than ever.

"I have to say you two...I'm fairly disappointed in you," said the madman as the two young woman found themselves outnumbered and in the presence of the dangerous and deadly Mr. Sinister.

As feelings of anxiety turned to feelings of concerns of survival, both Betsy and Emma looked back at the madman with nothing but malice and rage in their eyes.

"Oh what did you expect you bloody psycho?!" shot Betsy angrily as Sinister and his three loyal henchmen got closer and closer, "After all the bullshit you had us go through and after all the snide and smug attitude you've shown us, did you really expect us to take that lying down?"

"Besides...If I wanted shit like that, I'd have stayed in the Hellfire Club!" added Emma, tired of this annoying charade.

Sinister simply laughed at their anger, which only further made their skin crawl. Sinister may have no longer had the advantage he thought he had, but he was far from defeated. His twisted mind did not even consider failure at this point after having worked so hard for one goal. And now as he looked at the traitors before him, he found almost a sense of humor in their predicament as the time of inevitable conflict drew nearer.

"You stupid little bitches," said Sinister in his deep, malevolent voice, "You really think you can change anything at this point? You really think that what you've done is going to make a difference in the long run?"

"Oh please..." scoffed Psylocke, not at all daunted by this madman's words, "You know why we got into your little scheme! You know why we've put up with all your shit for months on end!"

"And honestly Sinister...Did you have any intention of giving us what you promised?" said Emma, knowing a thing or two about deceit.

Sinister couldn't help but grin at their perceptions, for it rightfully expressed their cunning minds that had done so much for him ever since he recruited them to the Nasty Boys. As little a surprise this was...He had to admit, he didn't think they were this stupid to be betraying him now.

"Clever girls..." said Sinister as Betsy and Emma were now backed up against the wall, "I guess as stupid as you may be, you both probably know a thing or two about lies. And you'd be right...I never did have any intention of paying you. In fact...I had every bit of intention to use you in my machine after the first successful test. But I suppose that plan is now officially dead...Just like the two of you will be soon enough."

Knowing that they would both have to fight their way out of this one, Betsy formed two psionic blades while Emma took on her diamond shell. There were still only four of them and they had plenty of help on the way. It was now only a matter of survival for the two young women that had entered into Sinister's gang so eagerly only to find out that it had all been for nothing.

"Don't count on it asshole!" said Emma, who seemed ready and eager to tear Sinister's 150 year old body apart piece by piece, "It's over for you! You're outnumbered and you're experiment isn't going to succeed! So what do you do, huh? What do you do? Are you going to run?!"

"No, I'm not a coward like some people," quipped Sinister as he looked back at the young blonde with a strange look on his face, hinting that he had an ace up his sleeve.

"Then it all ends here!" said Betsy as she took a fighter's stance and prepared to tear into the mad scientist with her psionic blades.

"For once...I agree."

Both Betsy and Emma were about to lunge forth and tear through Sinister and the Nasty boys, but just as they were about to attack...Ruckus, Vertigo, and Gorgeous George whipped out weapons that they had been hiding behind their backs. They were some of Sinister's devious 'toys.' They resembled guns, but they looked nothing like traditional guns. These were the paralyzing stun guns that had been used against Blake and Wanda to great effect...And now, they were pointed at Betsy and Emma.

In their fit of rage, they didn't have the time or focus to react as the each of them fired off a single shot of concentrated energy...Knocking both Emma Frost and Psylock back against the wall with the force of a pickup truck. The power settings had been on low, for Sinister wanted them to be conscious when he 'punished' them in the twisted ways that only he was capable of. Now, all he could hear from the two disgruntled women were groans of pain as they lay on the cold floor, unable to move their limbs through the paralyzing effects of the blast.

"I'll deal with you two later," said Sinister as he gave both Betsy and Emma a hard kick in the stomach, "I left you both conscious so that you would see for yourself the futility of standing against me. And besides...I have nothing to gain from your deaths. Right now, I have a little meeting with an old friend that I must prepare for."

"Fuck...You!" grunted Betsy as she tried to move, but was unable to because of the sting from the paralyzing blast.

That earned her another kick, this time from Ruckus.

"I never liked you two bitches in the first place," he scoffed as he and the rest of the Nasty Boys turned their attention back to the main console.

The X-men, the Brotherhood, and the Acolytes were now nearing the inner perimeter of the complex. Sinister could still see them all clearly thanks to the well hidden security cameras he had placed throughout the area, leaving no square inch unobserved. He had long awaited this day of reckoning...But now with his enemies on his doorstep, something had to give as confrontation seemed inevitable.

"So how are we going to fight them off?" said Vertigo as she and her two comrades saw the advantage in numbers that their enemies had.

"Simple...By using the resources we still have at our disposal," he grinned as he began typing on the computer terminal, "We still have hostages and we still have plenty of machinery to fight back with."

"But what about the experiment?" asked Ruckus, knowing that it was the key goal that Sinister coveted more than anything else.

Looking back at the machine he had worked so hard on that had already been destroyed once before, he felt a great deal of anger at his enemies. But at the same time...There was also a part of him that was yearning for this battle. He was immortal...They were not. He could pass through time unaffected, never aging or weakening. And if anything stood in his way, then he would destroy it utterly and completely. Now he had enemies and former allies converging on him. But that didn't matter to him...For there was only one person in that crowd of aggressors that he truly cared about...And it wasn't Magneto.

"My experiment has already shown itself to be successful," said Sinister as he remembered the first test of the machine that had transformed the lifeless body of Scott Summers into Blake Hellstrom, "But now...The effects of it being incomplete are starting to show. My own test subject his here to destroy me...But I know he can't. For I have something he desperately wants. And no matter how angry he gets or how determined he feels...He is and will always be my creation."

"But how are you going to stop something like that?!" said Gorgeous, knowing full well the power this test subject of his wielded.

Sinister merely grinned as he saw Blake's image on the screen and reached into a compartment under the terminal and took out another one of his special weapons...Only this was very different from all the others. This one was made for one purpose only...Destroy.

"Don't worry...I'm ready for him," said Sinister in full confidence, "You three must only concern yourselves with subduing and distracting the others...But leave Blaze to me!"

"Right..." affirmed Vertigo, "So what's the plan?"

With one last sinister chuckle, the mad scientist brought up a command prompt on the computer screen...Knowing the time to strike had come.

"Simple Vertigo...We make our guests feel 'welcome.'"

*************************************************

On the surface above, the three teams of mutants carefully made their way towards the building where Sinister and their missing friends resided. So far, they had encountered no surprises. Professor Xavier was keeping a watchful psychic eye on the situation from Cerebro back at the institute while the large team of former enemies and allies stood ready for anything that may happen. And knowing Sinister...Anything was possible.

"This is wrong..." said Mystique as she looked around at the eerily silent surroundings, "This is all wrong."

"I know Raven...I feel it too," said Magneto, who had been fighting bitterly against Sinister for so long now that he knew how the madman thought.

"Care to let us in on it?" said Bobby, who began looking around rather anxiously, "This whole place is already giving me the creeps."

"Sinister tends to have that effect wherever he goes," said Mystique as they all slowed down.

"Well you've faced this prick before, any idea on what the hell it is that we're up against?" said Lance, not one who liked being kept in the dark.

"If I knew, don't you think I already would have told you?" responded Mystique in an annoyed tone, feeling increasingly frustrated by Sinister's continued hold over her life.

"Hey!" grunted Logan from front, "You wanna keep it quiet back there?! I'm tryin' to get a scent!"

"Don't get your hopes up Wolverine," warned Magneto, "It's doubtful that Sinister would leave anything too conspicuous for us to find. For all we know, he's watching us right now and preparing an elaborate counter measure."

"Hey come on boss, try to think positively!" said Pyro who already seemed ready and eager for a fight.

"It's not about being positive Pyro," said Colossus as he looked back at his ally with an annoyed expression, "It's about being cautious."

"Well said...But all the caution in the world won't help if we allow ourselves to get sloppy," said Magneto.

"Then we won't..." said Blake, who followed Logan closely, intent on getting to Sinister so that he could finally get some answers and make sense of the increasingly powerful images that were flashing in his mind.

The group of mutants was now less than 200 feet from the building and so far they hadn't encountered anything. In dealing with a guy like Sinister, they would all have to use cunning over brute force. He still had Kurt and Pietro and there was little doubt that he would use them both in any way they could to tip the balance in their favor. But as long as they were quick and decisive, then there was a good chance that they could come out victorious against this most crafty enemy.

Suddenly, Logan stopped just as they stood within close reach of the structure. He began sniffing the air more intently and in the rear, Sabretooth seemed to smell it as well.

"What is it?" asked Blake, growing all the more impatient to find Sinister.

"That smell...I know it," said Logan, "Its ozone."

"Ozone?" said Rogue as everybody came to an abrupt stop and looked around, trying to see if there were any visible threats, "What's so great about ozone?"

"It means that there's something very close that has a lot of electricity running through it," answered Mystique, feeling as though she had a pretty good idea what this meant.

"Yes...I can feel it," said Eric as he felt a new wave of sensations around him, "The magnetic fields around this whole area have just taken a major jump in intensity."

"And that could only mean one thing..." grunted Logan as he unsheathed his claws.

But before he could say anything else...Suddenly, strange flashes of light appeared all around them in a strange display. At first they were just flashes of intense white light...But then they began to take a certain shape. In something that looked reminiscent of a laser light show, the lights began to take on new dimensions of depth and details, making them look less like unorganized light and more like tangible objects. When they took their final form...They resembled a sort of cybernetic robot that looked like something right out of a Saturday morning cartoon show. Each one of them had a humanoid appearance and had bore the same type of bright red eye color that Mr. Sinister had...An expression Magneto and his henchmen knew all too well.

"Holograms!" said Logan, as his signaled Storm to lift the fog so they could all see.

"Well...I guess we can safely say the element of surprise is out," said Bobby as he took on his full bodied ice form.

"Guess so..." said Remy as he took out his bow staff and prepared for battle, "Now de fun part beings!"

As Ororo's fog disappeared, they all saw that there were actually far more Sinister robot guards than initially thought. Whatever Sinister used to project them, it extended all throughout the area and now he had them all boxed in and right where he wanted them.

"They don't look so tough!" said Freddy, feeling ready and willing to tear each of them apart with his bare hands.

"Yeah, if they're just holograms, then they aren't real," said Lance, not daunted by their imposing image.

Then suddenly, one of them lunged forth and attacked him and to his surprise, he felt it as if it was a fully tangible machine.

"What the?!" he shouted as he felt a powerful punch land right in his stomach.

The cybernetic machine was about to throw another punch, but its head was kicked off by a single powerful kick from Rogue, who didn't doubt for a second the danger that this machines presented.

"Ain't you been in the danger room rock head?!" said Rogue as more holographic robots appeared and began to gang up on them, "Holograms can feel just as real!"

"Great...So what do we do now?" said Lance, not seeing any clear plan at the moment other than to just fight.

"He's trying to slow us down!" said Magneto as he readied his powers to tear apart this sinister apparitions one by one, "He knows we're coming and the more time we give him, the more danger Kurt and Pietro face!"

"Then let's not waste any more!" growled Logan as he lunged forth and tore into the crowd of sinister robots.

Everybody else soon followed as wave after wave of Sinister's frighteningly real holograms swarmed on all of them like angry insects. While it was clear that they were not meant to be the sole force of stopping them, each robot was built to kill. Magneto, Strom, and Jean Grey, all of whom had powers that allowed them to levitate, hovered above the maelstrom and delivered bursts of magnetic, telekinetic, and wind and electrical force to knock back scores of robots...However, with every robot they destroyed, more replacements appeared.

On the ground, the close quarter fighting mutants like Wolverine, Mystique, Sabretooth, Colossus, Blob, Rogue, and Kitty kept up with hand to hand fighting styles to knock back the waves of powerful robots that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Because they were vastly outnumbered, they had to stay close so as not to be isolated and divided. But in order to compensate for having to be concentrated, others capable of more distant attacks like Blaze, Gambit, Iceman, and Pyro spread out more and were able take out more robots on their own in greater volumes.

Pyro was using fireballs the size of dump trucks to mow down waves of robots while laughing mechanically like the young pyromaniac that he was. Gambit, along with wave after wave of cards from the many decks he carried around with him, used the skills with his bow staff that he had been taught how to wield so effectively as a thief from New Orleans. In addition, he also found himself sticking close to Rogue, much to her annoyance, but that didn't dissuade the young Cajun in the slightest as he kept one eye on the oncoming robots and another on her...Watching her graceful, fluid style of fighting.

While Remy remained partially distracted by watching over Rogue, Avalanche and Iceman double teamed large clusters of Sinister's robots using ice powers to freeze them into large blocks and the powerful rumble of seismic waves to shatter them like glass. They worked closely with the others, relieving them of having to deal with large warms that kept reappearing from the holographic projectors. Strong bodied mutants like Blob and Colossus were plowing through them like freight trains, trying to find out where they were coming from, but they kept appearing out of different areas of the ground. Kitty phased through them and short circuited their components, but soon it became more difficult as the robots seemed to start adapting to what they were up against.

"Hey! These things are getting tougher!" grunted Rogue as she felt how each robot she faced was beginning to get harder and harder to take down.

"They're learning...They must be programmed to adapt so that the longer we fight them, the stronger they get!" said Magneto, still hovering above along with Jean as groups of robot began to jumping up, piling on top of one another in an attempt to reach them.

"Wonderful...So how do we stop that?!" yelled Wolverine, getting increasingly frustrated with the level of difficulty these machines were presenting them.

"Simple...We find the source!" said Magneto as he began to scan the area for any signs of holographic projector components, knowing Sinister had to have them hiding somewhere.

While he started looking, Jean stepped up her telekinetic barrages and Ororo helped her with more intense wind bursts to give him some time. Below her, Blake's powers were growing increasingly destructive as he stepped up the level of energy he tapped and manipulated with his body and mowed down more and more robot guards. His anger over Mr. Sinister fueled his desire to bring for the power that he knew he could tap, but never did out of fear of causing too much destruction. However, with his mind a mess of countless conflicting images, he was beginning to set aside those barriers he had placed on himself as his desperate desire for clarity continued to bring havoc upon his fragile mind.

Jean kept an eye on him and could sense the waves of anger, confusion, and sorrow that were pouring from the confused young man. The strange feeling she had in the back of her mind was growing as she struggled to maintain focus at times. However, she found that the longer she felt this strange feeling go on, the clearer it became. And whatever it seemed to be connected to Blake. She still didn't forget about some of the things she saw in his mind when she unlocked the Pandora's Box that had caused such great confusion and turmoil within the young man. Some of them didn't resemble Blake Hellstrom...Some of them felt frightfully familiar. And ever since that moment she was in his mind, Jean couldn't help but ask herself...Could it be? Is it really possible?

In the heat of battle, Jean was unable to consider such notions, but she couldn't ignore what she was feeling in her head. The longer this went on, the more angry and confused Blake got and it was starting to take a toll on the both of them.

"We can't keep this up!" said Mystique, as she found it increasingly difficult to take down the robots even with her fighting skills, "We have to stop them! We have to find the source!"

"Yeah...Sounds...Easy!" grunted Sabretooth in between attacks as he let out a loud, animalistic roar as several robots managed to land a few blows on him before he ripped them to shreds.

"But where the hell is it?" asked Colossus as he shook off several robots that tried to dog pile him.

Up from above, Magneto kept scanning for any signs of holographic projectors, but couldn't find anything. Nothing was standing out as he was forced to divide his attention between taking down the growing number of robots and searching for where they were coming from. The battle was getting too intense and the robots were adapting at an alarming rate as they began to wear down the group of mutants below. Then finally, it dawned on him, for there was only one way for Sinister to be able to do this.

"There aren't any topside...So they must be underground!" said Magneto, seeing that it was the only plausible way.

"Underground?" said Avalanche getting the idea, "Leave it to me!"

Rolling his eyes back into his head, Lance Alvers concentrated his powers on the ground below him and triggered a strong tremor that caused those who were still on the ground to lose their balance. Cracks in the ground began forming and they quickly grew wider and wider as Lance stepped up the intensity of the seismic waves. As the others quickly ran off to the side in order to avoid falling in, down below the machinery that was causing the holographic projections became visible.

"Good job Avalanche!" said Magneto as he lowered himself to the ground and prepared an electromagnetic burst, "Now it's time to end this!"

With one powerful electromagnetic pulse, Magneto managed to short out most of the visible part of the projectors. While this did cause a sizeable amount of the robot holograms to disappear, there were still plenty present to keep up the fight.

"Hey! What gives?" said Bobby as more robots ganged up on him, "They're still coming!"

"There must be more projectors!" said Storm as she formed dark clouds above and caused lightning strikes down on the ground below, taking down clusters of robots and hoping to strike at the underground projectors.

"Then we'll just have to take them out too!" said Kitty as phased through several robots and descended into the ground.

While it was hard for her to see, it didn't take long for her to reach some of the elaborate machinery that Avalanche had not been able to expose with his powers. Using the devastating effects of her powers on machinery, Kitty continued to move through the ground, shorting out projector after projector. On the surface, more robot guards disappeared upon having their source cut off. But soon, her need to breathe prompted her to return to the surface in order to get a breath of fresh air. And as soon as she returned to the surface, she was ambushed by some of the remaining robots.

"Kitty!" yelled Rogue as dodged the attacks of two robots.

Rogue quickly ran to her aid, but there were still active projectors not far from the building and if they wanted to get in and find Sinister, they would have to destroy them as well.

Blake Hellstrom had definitely had just about enough of this as time kept ticking away, giving Sinister more and more of an edge over all of them. He could not allow this to happen...He couldn't allow Sinister to do this to his friends. Among everybody else there, Blake was the only one that considered each one of them his friends. From Magneto and Mystique to Lance and Jean Grey...They were his friends in his mind. Whether it was from his missing memories or the memories he had gained after he had been rescued by Magneto was still unclear...But Blake wasn't about to let this go on for any longer than it had to. After all...He had unfinished business to attend to with Sinister.

"Still more projectors..." grunted Blake as his entire body began to glow brighter, "Gotta...End this!"

Then suddenly, much to the surprise of everyone present, a blinding ruby red flash erupted from Blake's body and a shockwave blew all throughout the area. Windows were shattered, robots were blown apart, projectors were disabled, and nearly everybody had been knocked off their feet. This blast had cleared the area of Sinister's robot holograms, but it had also greatly shocked everybody because of the sheer force that had had been unleashed.

Blake was now on the ground gasping for air. He had not let himself unleash that much power before. Even though he knew he was capable of so much more, the personal barriers he had placed on himself kept him from doing so and some of those barriers were definitely beginning to wane as a result of his dizzying mental state.

"Blake!" yelled Jean as she quickly descended to his side and helped him up.

He was breathing hard, yet still full of determination to press on. As soon as he was back on his feet, he didn't seem to need any support simply needed to catch his breath and collect at least some part of his mind in order to focus on the task at hand.

"I'm fine..." he said, rubbing his head slightly.

"Blake..." said Mystique as she and the others looked back at him in surprise at what he had just done, "Where did you learn to do that? I thought..."

"I don't know..." he said, still trying to get his thoughts in order, "But let's not worry about that now! We have a job to do! So let's do it!"

Shaking off the gazes he still felt upon him, Blake took the lead as he stormed into the building with Jean following close behind in search of Mr. Sinister. While some hesitated at first, they knew he was right and quickly followed, for time was still against them and with each passing moment, the inevitable confrontation drew nearer.

*************************************************

As the large collection of X-men, Brotherhood, and Acolytes entered the building, Sinister continued watching their every move from his monitoring station below. Ruckus, Vertigo, and Gorgeous George were all in position, ready to play their parts in this most desperate of plans. With the stakes so high, neither side could afford any slip ups. Kurt and Pietro remained the main balancing force for Sinister as he watched them blow through the heavy duty elevator on the monitor and make their way down the shaft towards his level.

Behind him, Betsy and Emma were still feeling the effects of the paralyzing blast that Sinister had given them...But they were slowly starting to recover. However, if they were to affect the outcome of this battle, they knew they would have to heal quicker. But Sinister didn't seem worried as he hit the communicator function on the computer and contacted his Nasty Boys.

"Vertigo...Are you in place?" asked Sinister through the com link.

"Affirmative Mr. Sinister," replied Vertigo, ready and willing to do her part, "They will not have any appetite for conflict once they face my full, unabated power."

"Good...What about you Gorgeous and Ruckus? How are things on your end?" he asked, knowing that this all had to run flawlessly if he was to get what he wanted out of this.

"Exactly as planned boss," replied Ruckus, "We're both ready on our ends."

"Yeah! They're in for a rude shock when they reach us!" boasted Gorgeous over the com link.

"Don't get too cocky," said Sinister, knowing such arrogance could only lead to trouble, "Just play your parts...That's all you need to do. Leave the rest to me."

"And what of your machine?" asked Vertigo, knowing full well just how much he coveted his creations.

"Do not worry," he assured, "I have everything I need to make thousands of them...And at this point, I'm only concerned with one thing...Unfinished business."

As he stood fixated on the computer screen, he saw that his enemies had now breached the elevator area and were now in the main halls. They were getting closer and closer...He could feel it. With the strange gun still in hand Sinister left the computer and made his way towards another area of the underground facility, leaving the still ailing Betsy Braddock and Emma Frost behind.

Still feeling like they had both been hit by a car, Emma managed to force herself up into a standing position and helped Betsy up as well. They both had to lean on the wall for support as their head continued to spin. Their limbs felt like they had lead weights on them and the dizziness caused them both to feel sick to their stomach, but they both fought hard against the pounding effects of the paralyzing blast, knowing they had to do something to help take down Sinister once and for all.

"Betsy...You alright?" said Emma as she took deep breaths in an effort to fight off the soreness all over her body.

"I feel like I just got run over by a freight train..." she groaned, "But other than that, I think I'm okay...You?"

"Same..." she replied, feeling her legs wobble from strain, "But I think my diamond shell absorbed some of the blast."

"Does that mean you're good enough to fight?" said Betsy as she stumbled forward, struggling to keep her balance, but walking under her own power never the less.

"Are you kidding?" said Emma in response, "A fucking army couldn't keep me from fighting in this!"

"Glad to hear luv," said Betsy, managing a smile as they both fought through the pain and pressed forward, "Now come on...Let's help take down Sinister for good."

*************************************************

The halls of the underground complex widened as the three teams of mutants made their way deeper into Sinister's domain. Knowing they didn't have the element of surprise anymore, they would all have to rely on speed, luck, and skill to succeed in saving Kurt and Pietro. For Magneto and Mystique, who knew Sinister best, they were certain that he was probably ready for them...But that most certainly wouldn't stop them from pressing onward and saving their kids.

"The corridors are starting to straighten out!" said Magneto as they neared another turn, "We must be getting close!"

"Any idea where in the hell we're goin' anyway?" asked Rogue who never liked to go in anywhere completely blind like this.

"Wherever we have to cherè," said Gambit who stayed close behind her and was more used to situations like this, "But don't worry...Gambit's got your back!"

"Yeah, that's real comforting..." said Rogue, rolling her eyes.

They neared another corner which appeared to lead through to a central area, but then...Logan, who was near the front, stopped them all as something all too familiar caught his senses.

"Hold it!" he ordered, causing everyone to stop, "I smell something...And it ain't Sabretooth's breath."

"Why you!" growled the former weapon X soldier.

"Easy comrade," said Colossus as he held him back.

Despite this comment, the others impatiently stood back while they waited for an opportunity or a signal from Logan. Time was still against them and Pietro and Kurt's situation wasn't going to get any better the longer they stayed in Sinister's custody, however, Logan would not budge from his lead position. Whatever he smelled was definitely serious, but be that as it may...The overall eagerness of the others seemed to override traditional merits of caution.

"Err! We can't slow down!" said Mystique, as she moved towards the front, "We have to keep moving!"

"Wait!" yelled Logan, but it was already too late.

Suddenly, an intense blast of bodily pain and nausea shot throughout the bodies everybody present. The unexpected feelings caught them off guard as they all fell to the ground, clutching their stomach in pain. It was as if someone had just set a bomb off within their bodies and every possible nerve for pain was activated simultaneously by an unseen force. But as moans and groans echoed throughout the group, the source of this pain suddenly made herself known...It was Vertigo.

"I will not hold back for any of you!" she yelled as the bright yellow glow in her eyes was more intense than it ever had been before, "This time...You face the full power of Vertigo!"

Pushing her powers to the limits, every last one of the mutants in the large group felt the unmitigated force of her incapacitating powers. It was so strong that it even penetrated Blake and Mystique's mental shields as well as Magneto's helmet. The dizzying feeling of intense nausea and bodily pain made it nearly impossible to mount a response and some were already on the verge of passing out. However, despite this, some were trying hard to strike back.

With a determined growl, Logan crawled through the pain with his claws already drawn, looking intent on stopping the source. However, this wasn't enough, for Vertigo merely kicked him away, leaving the halls ahead closed off as long as she kept up her paralyzing powers.

"You will not go an inch further!" she yelled as she kept the full force of her powers going, "You cannot beat me! This all ends now!"

More groans and yells echoed throughout the halls as Vertigo showed no signs of letting up in her attack. However, despite the intensity, Magneto's helmet was still providing some protection against her and while he was still hit hard by the feelings if dizziness and nausea...He was still more cognizant and coordinated than the others. Through the pain, he remembered what was at stake here...Pietro. The bodily pain that Vertigo was causing him was not intense enough to make him forget that. Then, as he forced his dizzy eyes open to look at the area around him...He saw the overconfident Vertigo standing within a few feet from them. She looked as though she was feeling triumphant...But failure at this point was not an option.

Knowing he would have to make his shot count, Eric Lensherr fought through the pain searing through his body and focused on the metallic paneling on both the walls and ceiling. Vertigo didn't seem to notice this, for she was too focused on blasting them all with the full force of her powers to see. Then, using both her oversight and his powers, Magneto dislodged one heavy metallic panel from the ceiling and caused it to come crashing down upon Vertigo...Knocking her out and crushing a great deal of her bones in the process.

"It seems the power of Vertigo is no match for the power of gravity," said the master of magnetism as he forced his way back to his feet and helped the others up.

Everyone was still feeling the effects of Vertigo's powers, but they did not have time to let themselves fully recover and Magneto knew it.

"Come...We don't have time to catch our breath!" he urged as he helped Lance, Freddy, and Pyro up.

"Ugh..." groaned Bobby, "Can you just give me a few minutes?"

"No time for that Iceman!" grunted Logan as he set aside most of his bodily pain, "We have to keep moving!"

"Damn...Remind me to skip lunch," groaned Rogue as she rubbed her head, but was back on her feet none the less with a little help from Gambit.

"Careful dere cherè," he said as he helped her up.

"Come on then! What are we waiting for?!" said Blake who seemed to recover the fastest, for he was still driven by his rage towards Sinister, "Let's go!"

As each combatant fought through the pain, they managed to once again forge ahead, leaving the crushed body of Vertigo behind. As they turned down the path that she had so ardently blocked, they both reached a diversion in the hall. Kurt and Pietro could be down either one of them or both, but a split second decision had to be made if they were to keep the pace going.

"Split up!" ordered Logan.

Not having time to organize, many simply diverged on their own. The X-men, Mystique, Blake, who was simply following Logan, and Gambit went down the path to the left, most likely because that's where Rogue was going, while Magneto, the Brotherhood, and the rest of the Acolytes went down the right. The corridors narrowed as they passed locked doors and storage areas laden with barrels of chemicals that Sinister used in his experiments. When Blake saw them, he felt his memory flashes grow in intensity...For he knew he was getting close. Whatever answers he desired seemed to lay just up ahead as he and the X-men forged ahead down towards a more darkened with only Logan's nose to guide him.

"This way!" he said, following trace scents along the path, "We're gettin' close...I can smell it!"

'And I can feel it...' thought Blake, which was loud enough to be heard by Jean and only served to heighten her anxiety as to where this was all going.

*************************************************

Over with Magneto and the Acolytes, they were following Sabretooth's heightened senses in the same way the X-men were following Logan's. The corridors were nearly identical, but they were still difficult to navigate. There was nothing to go on...No map, no indicators, nothing. All anybody could rely on now was their senses...And hope for a little bit of luck as well as Magneto felt the tension grow as they probed deeper into Sinister's domain.

"Sense anything Sabretooth?" asked Magneto anxiously as the animal-like mutant led them all down another turn.

"Yeah...A little," he grunted as he took another whiff of the air, "And boy does it stink."

"Could be Pietro..." commented Lance, but his words were ignored as they kept going.

Seconds felt like hours as each passing moment felt like an eternity to them. Every corridor was unmarked and it felt as though they were a rat trapped in a maze.

"This is getting redundant mate!" said Pyro as he looked around at the featureless walls, "We're going around in circles!"

"Shut up Pyro!" growled Sabretooth, "We're close...I can sense it!"

Once again, Sabretooth led them around another corner...But as soon as they did, they froze at what they saw. Magneto's eyes widened as a wave of anxiety soon fell over him as he and his henchmen now stood before Ruckus as he held one of Sinister's deadly weapons at a barely conscious Pietro Maximoff's head.

"I wouldn't move any closer if I were you..." grinned Ruckus as he tightened his hold around Pietro, keeping the gun right at his temple, "You've been seriously getting on Sinister's nerves Magneto...And mine as well. But now it's time to pay the price for your actions...Say goodnight to sonny boy!"

*************************************************

AN: Dun, dun dun...Dramatic pause! Quite intense huh? But there's still more to come! Kurt and Pietro are still in mortal danger and the X-men, Brotherhood, and Acolytes still have Sinister to worry about! Things are really heating up as the time for confrontation draws near! Stay tuned if you want to see what happens and I don't think you'll want to miss it! And don't forget! Send me your REVIEWS! Send them to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine just as long as you do it! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish everybody the best!

HURRY UP AND REVIEW WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME!
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