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 18: Enter The Brotherhood
Around a somewhat isolated area outside the city of Bayville, a large, old, slightly run down boarding house sat upon the inconspicuous setting of the upstate New York background. To the casual observer, it probably wouldn't have garnered a second glance. But...Like so many things, the outside of the house was one thing...The inside was a very different story.
Inside the house, a group of young mutants lived together under one roof in a style quite different from that of the Xavier Institute. It was no elegant, high tech mansion...But to them, it was home. They were the Brotherhood of Mutants...And they embodied the ideals that stood in opposition to those of Professor Xavier. To them, peace was just a pipe dream...An impossible notion that could never come to pass no matter how much it was sugarcoated. They saw themselves as the realists, for they believed that mankind would never accept humanity and the only way to survive was by being stronger than their enemies...And more often than not, their enemies included the X-men.
The Brotherhood was founded by Magneto, Professor Xavier's one time friend and ally in his dreams for peace and enlightenment. As a survivor of the holocaust, Magneto had seen some of the darkest sides of humanity one could see and it forever impacted how he would view mankind. With the awesome power to manipulate magnetism, Magneto was one of the strongest and most powerful mutants on the face of the planet and because of this strength, he saw himself as a leader for all mutants who wished to break the chains of human oppression and take their rightful place as overlords among the weak masses. To him, evolution was the key to the future and only mutants...The stronger and fitter breed...Would survive to inherit the world. He believed that a war was coming...A war that would rage between humans and mutants. And when that day came, only one of them would survive...And he had every intention of making sure mutants were the breed that inherited the future. The Brotherhood was just the first step in establishing a following for those held back by their human oppressors...In time, many more would come and help work towards what he saw as the destiny of the mutant race...And he would let nothing stand in his way on the course to fulfilling that destiny and paving the way for evolution.
Eric Magnus Lensherr, better known as Magneto, was the visionary that created the Brotherhood...However, it was run on a day to day basis by another mutant who had become a follower of his ideals. Her name was Raven Darkholme, but she was better known by the codename Mystique. She was a shape shifter that could take the form of anybody she wanted, and with this power, she had lived quite an interesting life. Her real appearance was one that most definitely would have stood out in a crowd. She had blue skin, red hair, and yellow eyes...But those who met her seldom saw that, for she had come to rely on her shape shifting to make her appearance acceptable in the outside world, yet the reason she followed Magneto over Xavier was because she believed that she shouldn't have to.
Her past was one of great mystery as her name implied. Much of her life was lived through the lives of others, so in many ways she lived multiple existences and had even worked as one of the foremost mercenaries in the world for a while. In doing this, she had amassed quite a fortune for herself under numerous identities, but it was somewhat hard for her to enjoy it given that in retrospect, it wasn't her that had made it...Just someone who was more acceptable to the rest of the world. Because of this, Mystique was a fairly bitter woman, quick to become angry and even quicker to resort to violence. Having been alone and forced to fend for herself most of her illustrious life, she was fiercely independent and seldom ever let herself grow close with anybody...For every time she let that happen, it would only result in heartache, which only made her more dark and embittered at the world for having shunned her for simply being born different.
While she was seen as an enemy of the X-men, she was in fact the mother of two of their members. Kurt Wagner, the blue fur covered teleporter, was in fact her biological son and Rogue was actually her adopted daughter. In the years before she began running the Brotherhood, she had tried to set up a semi-normal life with a family and a home, but being a mutant always seemed to catch up with her. Her relationship with Magneto was strained at best, for she may have agreed with his ideals, but she had a rather thorough distaste of the man. Years ago, Magneto had performed experiments on her son, giving him part of his disposition he currently suffers to this day and at one point, she had to hide Rogue from suffering a similar fate by entrusting her to an old friend of hers named Irene Adler, also known as the mutant, Destiny. Yet when confronted with the choice of going with Xavier or Magneto...Mystique had chosen Magneto. And to this day, it was a choice she wasn't always comfortable with.
Founded by Magneto, run by Mystique...The Brotherhood of Mutants were to be the front line fighters in the future war between humans and mutants, but like the X-men, they were young and merely students of the ideals they had embraced. And as a part of the Brotherhood, they hoped to learn as much as they could for the conflict that was sure to come.
As for the Brotherhood itself, the youngest member of the team was Todd Tolensky, aka Toad. Born with slightly greenish skin, he was a mutant of small stature. His powers included all the nimble attributes of a toad such as the ability to jump great heights, adhere to walls, and the speed and agility that came along with it. He also wielded a super long sticky tongue that he could use in combat, or to catch flies as he had come to dine on so often now. However, along with the abilities of the toad, he also seemed to pick up on their hygienic habits as well, for he bore a rather poor sense of cleanliness. But he made no qualms about who he was and it showed in his down and dirty personality. Despite his stature, he tried to play the cool tough-guy and had a rather joking nature that easily wore on the nerves of those who couldn't handle it. But he truly didn't care what people thought of him, making him a perfect fit for the Brotherhood.
In contrast to Toad, the Brotherhood also had in its ranks a powerhouse by the name of Freddy Dukes, aka Blob. Appearance-wise, his mutation shaped his looks. He was tall and quite obese, but every extra pound on his body was wrought with raw, unbridled strength. Pound for pound, he was one of the heaviest mutants in the world, but it only added to his guise of being super strong. His mutant body was invulnerable to almost anything and he could easily bend steel beams with his bare hands. However, all this strength did have a few affects on his personality. Such strength made him short tempered and easy to provoke into a rage. Throughout his life from his childhood to his time as a rodeo attraction, he hated it when people shunned him and that often drove him to violence and confrontation...An attitude that was well suited for the Brotherhood.
In addition to Toad and Blob, the Brotherhood also had another unique character with a style that reflected his powers...Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver. Pietro by nature liked to live life fast, mainly because his mutant power revolved around speed. He could run, move, and even talk at superhuman speeds, often a mere blur to those who couldn't keep up with him. Cocky, arrogant, and often very smug, he was a young man full of confidence that he could do anything and didn't need anybody there to help him. Yet he was still part of the Brotherhood and for good reason...Magneto, the founder and visionary of the whole team, was his father. With the same white hair and an overall similar appearance, Pietro seemed an unlikely prodigy to the subtle, powerful man that held so much power in the palm of his hand. Yet he still followed his father's ideas, believing that humanity was just too slow and they were destined to be left behind in the wake of evolution. His relationship with his dad was strained at best and it was in many ways reflected by how he shunned most anybody who thought he couldn't do something on his own. Yet he was still his father...No matter how often he wasn't there for him, he could not change what he was and knew that if he ever opposed him, he would face the same fate as everybody who opposed Magneto.
Last but not least of the Brotherhood boys was Lance Alvers, aka Avalanche. Leading the Brotherhood whenever they had to go out into the field, Lance was probably the most well balanced out of all the others and was more level headed both in and out of conflict. His powers gave him the ability to generate seismic waves that could create small, yet very powerful localized earthquakes. Overall, he was a force of great destruction and a key member of the Brotherhood. Like the others, he rejected Xavier's ideas, scoffing at the notion that people would ever accept them. Lance by nature was very cynical and self assured. He never admitted to being wrong and more often then not, it would land him in heated arguments. It was this personality of his that had made it difficult for him to ever fit in with Xavier's crowd, although he did try at one point...But that was mainly done out of romantic feelings he had for one of their members, Kitty Pryde. For a time, they had even dated, bringing upon him a great deal of teasing from the others...More often than not resulting in a repair bill for the boarding house. However, his attitude and allegiance with the Brotherhood and Magneto had made it a strained relationship at best. And after the sentinel incident...Kitty officially broke up with him, leaving him in a rather grumpy mood ever since. However, despite some of his meandering on ideals, Lance had come to see that Magneto's dream was a hell of a lot more realistic than Xavier's. And as a result of that, he led and embraced the Brotherhood in all that they stood for.
Compared to the X-men, the Brotherhood of Mutants were like outlaws...A band of mutant bandits out to cause conflict and provoke what they felt was inevitable. They were far less organized and trained, but that didn't stop them from constantly putting up fights and making things more difficult for Xavier's students. Over time, a great deal of animosity had developed between the two teams and they had clashed many times in the past. However, with the recent sentinel incident, it had been taken to a whole new level because now humanity was involved.
It had been a perfectly orchestrated plan in the eyes of Magneto...Take the X-men, set a trap for them, and get them to expose mutants in the worst possible way. It had all gone so flawlessly...He tricked Wolverine into chasing his old nemesis, Sabretooth, whom he had handsomely paid for his services, and leading him right into the hands of the Friends of Humanity...Courtesy of a 'anonymous' tip. And once Wolverine was captive, it was only a matter of luring the X-men into Manhattan with yet another little tip by letting Cerebro sense them and getting them to fight the Brotherhood. From there, it was only a matter of exposing hidden sentinel, which just 'happened' to be right underneath the area where they were fighting.
Everyone had been his puppets and he had been the puppeteer. The Friends of Humanity may have been a very discrete organization, but when it came to information, they were willing to deal with anybody...As long as they didn't know who they were dealing with. It's how he found out about the sentinel project and since they needed a test subject for their little toy, he was more than willing to assist. Trask may have been crafty, but the man's innate hatred had made him too naÃ¯ve. And once he got the X-men in place by telling them they knew where their friend was, he used his magnetic powers to lift the metal robot humanoid to the surface where it simply ran on it's primary program and took on the X-men.
Once the sentinel was up, the Brotherhood just made a clean getaway via a few metal spheres that he used for transport and let things run their natural course. While part of him hoped that the sentinel would do a way with some of those annoying X-men, he had a feeling that they would overcome it since it was only a prototype and wasn't exactly combat proven. And as always, the X-men managed to pull together and subdue the giant robot...But that still didn't keep it from causing plenty of damage in downtown Manhattan.
By the time it was over, the military tried to arrest the X-men and the Brotherhood, but thankfully Magneto had a safe house arranged for the Brotherhood while Xavier was forced to call in a favor from his old friend, Moria McTaggart, to let them stay on her secluded mutant research facility at Muir Island for a couple of days while the world reacted and fear and shock took over. In the end, the President was going to attempt to instigate emergency protocols that would round up mutants and register them, which was somewhat redundant since the government already knew about them, but because of public outcry, they were left with little choice.
But remarkably...Xavier had pulled one last move at the end, organizing his team and paying the President a 'surprise' visit before he could issue his commands. It took quite a bit of placating on his part...But in the end, Xavier's calls for peace and reason won out and the President called off his actions, instead using the messages of peace and understanding to placate the public. The message of peace seemed to win out over the drive to war. Neither the public nor the President wanted a war...And through Xavier, they had a means to avoid it. And unfortunately for Magneto's plans, such desires won out. It was not exactly the resolution that master of magnetism had wanted...For he was hoping that the actions of the government would simply leave mutants with no other choice than to join him. But Professor Xavier was a resourceful man...And through his cunning, he managed to delay the war between humans and mutants...For now.
Once the President addressed the nation about the sentinel incident and mutants, the X-men and the Brotherhood were allowed to return to their homes. There was still a lot of fear and anxiety amongst the public, but the desire for peace instead of war seemed to win out just barely over such shock and fear. While this didn't stop men like their Principal, Edward Kelly, from trying to get mutants out of the schools...And failing at it as a result of desperate and impassioned pleas from Xavier's students...It still sent a message that the world was still ripe for human/mutant conflict. Humans still hated and feared mutants and through the sentinel incident, a ripple effect had resulted, sending shockwaves all over the world. Like it or not, mutants were mainstream now...And there was nothing Xavier or the X-men could do about it. That alone was success enough in Magneto's mind.
Once it was all over...Humans found out about mutants...And now they feared and hated them. And from this, Magneto planned to let human nature take it's course...Driving mutants into a world of oppression, discrimination, and poverty...Leaving them with no other choice than to join them in his grand plan to organize mutants into a united race destined to overtake the world. Yet still...Despite public outcry, men like Xavier remained stubborn, grasping onto the feeble hope that man and mutant could ever live in peace. But in Magneto's eyes...It was only a matter of time. And with one part of his plan a success, the Brotherhood of mutants were poised to follow Magneto on the path to glory in hopes of one day standing above those who once looked down upon them.
In any case, for what they were, the Brotherhood stood in star contrast to Professor Xavier, feeling that mutants and humans could never live in peace. They knew that Magneto was grooming them as he planned and prepared for the coming conflict between humans and mutants. The sentinels were just the beginning and now as the reality of mutant existence set in, it would be a true test of ideals between that of Xavier and Magneto. And in the eyes of the Brotherhood, Xavier was a fool and if he and the X-men weren't part of the solution, then they were part of the problem.
"Aw man...This damn news thing about the sentinels is still on every channel yo," groaned Todd as he lounged upon the couch of the Brotherhood living room with Blob, who was in the process of eating a rather sizable sandwich for lunch.
"Yeah, yeah, we know, Todd," said Lance with a disgruntled tone as he entered the room with a bowl of cereal, "Its big news. A giant Robot fighting a bunch of mutants in the middle of Manhattan is a pretty big deal last time I checked."
"Eh, so what..." scoffed Freddy as he swallowed another chunk of his sandwich, "Let em all watch the stupid news and freak out about us. It's not like it'll change anything. It'll only make em fear us even more!"
"Yeah, you're right about that Fred," said Toad in agreement, "And as my mamma always said...It's better to be feared than loved."
"Amen to that," said Lance in agreement, feeling all too fed up with love after his breakup with Kitty, "I still can't believe those stupid X-men are going to keep trying to butter up the humans after all this shit. They're just wasting their time with everybody now that mutants are mainstream."
"No kidding! And the best part is, it's their own damn fault for falling right into Magneto's trap!" said Fred proudly as he took another bite into his sandwich.
They all let out a round of laughter as Toad once again tried flipping through the channels in search of something to watch other than the news. Yet with each channel they turned to, there was something or another about the sentinel incident and there was barely anything to see that they hadn't already seen before with the ever so sporadic newscasts that kept reporting the 'mutant menace' as they had come to call it.
Then, while Toad was flipping through the last few channels, a sudden gust of wind blew through the air and a familiar blur passed by them, heading into the kitchen before heading right back into the living room. When the blur cleared, Pietro stood casually in his usual demeanor munching on an apple as he watched Toad flip through the channels.
"Hey Quicksilver, did you just get off the phone with you know who?" asked Lance as he turned to face the ever cocky speed demon who liked to live life in the fast lane.
"Who, dear old dad?" scoffed Pietro jokingly, "Actually...I did."
"Wow, really?" said Todd as he put down the remote and turned his attention to his white haired friend, "What did he say yo?"
"Not much really...Only that he actually went back to Xavier's to offer him another chance to join us," said the speedster in a humored tone, dripping with sarcasm.
"Oh I wonder how he responded to that..." said Lance, shaking his head at the mere notion of Xavier ever waking up from his incessant dream world.
"Meh...Couldn't hurt to try," shrugged Pietro in a rushed tone, "Hell, I would have gone there just to see the looks on everybody's faces now that they can't hide behind their precious secret anymore. In fact, I could still probably head over there right now just quick enough to catch a glimpse while they're blinking!"
Ever the cocky one, Lance just rolled his eyes at Pietro's words, thinking he was just too confident for his own good at times.
"Nice yo," said Toad, thinking he would probably do the same if he could, "So did he say anything else? When do we make our next move?"
"Oh please...You know Magneto," scoffed Pietro, "He never reveals his plans until they're just about to be executed. I mean come on! I'm his son and sole surviving child for crying out loud and he doesn't even trust me enough to tell me!"
"Yeah, there's a shock..." muttered Lance under his breath.
"What was that Lance?" said Pietro in a confrontational tone, "You got something to say to me rock head?!"
Lance was about to tell Pietro to fuck off when suddenly the door opened and Mystique entered, looking as disgruntled as always. While she was the main force that ran the Brotherhood, she didn't often stay there with them all the time, for she had her share of missions and task as assigned to her by Magneto and sometimes for personal reasons. And because she was gone, it left the house in the hands of four unsupervised mutant teenage boys...Which was pretty much a recipe for trouble by any stretch of the imagination as the current state of disrepair in the house showed.
"Back already Mystique?" asked Todd, knowing the shape shifter most always returned late at night.
"Don't start with me, Todd..." she said in a deep, disgruntled voice.
"Rough day?" commented Pietro as he dashed over towards the doorway and stood in front of the stairwell, blocking the shape shifter's intended path.
"That goes double for you, Quicksilver..." said Mystique in a threatening tone, "It's bad enough the lot of you had to get expelled from school so I have to keep coming back just to make sure that you haven't obliterated my house, but I'd rather not deal with your snide comments."
"So I take that as a yes..." quipped Pietro, only further provoking her much to her dismay.
"I just got back from talking with your former principal...So of course it was rough!" she shot back, causing some of the others to cringe.
"Oh...Yeah," said Toad, scratching the back of his head at the mention of their principal, "That little thing..."
"Little?!" she said angrily in response, "You four let that bastard, Kelly, use you!"
"Hey, it wasn't our fault!" shot Freddy in response, for he hated being yelled at, "That guy tricked us! He told us we could come back as long as we stuck it to the Xavier kids and got them to use their powers!"
"And you believed him?!" she yelled in response, "Honestly, from what you know about that bigoted man, did you really think he had any intention of letting you back? You're teenagers for crying out loud, you should be smarter than that! On second thought, maybe I shouldn't say that given who I'm talking to..."
"Hey!" said Blob in response, but Lance quickly restrained him, knowing it was probably not the best idea for him to lose his temper with Mystique.
"Enough! Now listen up and listen good..." said Mystique menacingly, garnering the four mutant teenagers' full attention, "I need you boys in school, so I'm going to do what I can to get the board to reverse your expulsions...At least in part."
"Aw come on, Mystique," protested Todd, "Why the hell do we have to go to school anyways?"
"Well for one, I don't think my house could take being occupied 24/7 by you clowns," she said, her tone leaving little room for argument, "I've already had to do three foundation repairs and that unfortunate kitchen mishap!"
"Hey, it's not my fault the gas vain to the stove ruptured!" said Pietro, looking back into Mystique's cold, hard glare with far less fear in comparison to that of the others.
"Oh please, then I guess it was those shitty tools you were trying to 'fix' it with," quipped Lance with a half grin, earning him a cold look from Pietro.
"I rest my case..." said Mystique, "And in addition to the much needed fresh air, you'll still need to keep tabs on Xavier's students. I've spoken to Magneto about this and he agrees. We need to know their state in case they try something that's going to interfere with future plans. Now mind you, it won't be easy getting around the school board, but I'll do what I can. And if you are accepted back, I will NOT tolerate any more discipline problems! So once you're back in, be sure that you stay in! And that means NO POWERS! Is that clear?"
"Crystal..." they all said grudgingly as the overly stressed shape shifter looked back at them with a look that kept them from making any snide comments.
"In the meantime," she added as she began to ascend the stairs, "Don't mess up my house any more than you already have! As long as you're living under this roof, you'll keep it habitable or else I'll throw you in the nearest raging anti-mutant mob!"
And with that final threat, Mystique made her way upstairs to her room, which was the only real place in the house that the boys hadn't messed up in some way since they never dared to enter, for they valued their health. While the shape shifter had a knack being a bit moody, she was still the boss when Magneto wasn't calling the shots. She wasn't exactly very likeable to say the least, but they didn't have much of a choice in the matter as they heard her bedroom door slam shut in a loud echo that was felt throughout the house.
"Man, and you guys say I've got a bad temper," commented Freddy with a grin.
"Nah, she's just been extra moody ever since the whole Rogue incident," said Lance.
"You mean the one at the concert where Goth girl touched her and found out she was her mom?" asked Freddy.
"Oh yeah, now that was a hell of a mess, yo!" said Toad, laughing somewhat at the memory of the rather unpleasant aftermath that followed.
"No kidding..." said Lance, "I still can't believe she posed as a student all this time without us knowing."
"Yeah...Me neither," said Pietro in a somewhat suspicious tone as he looked back up at the stairwell where Mystique had just ascended in a fury.
Even though Mystique was in charge of them, that didn't mean she was infallible. She was still subordinate to Magneto and oftentimes, she wouldn't exactly go along with the plan...The incident with Rogue where she disguised herself as a student named Risty Wilde and befriended her being one of them. While Magneto let her run the Brotherhood on a day to day basis, that didn't mean he completely trusted her. After all...He was the one who experimented on her son and was mostly responsible for her losing him.
It was for that reason along with a multitude of others why Magneto entrusted Pietro to keep an eye on Mystique in case she ever showed signs of dissent. He reported to his father on a weekly basis, letting him know how things were going both in terms of overall function and management around the Brotherhood. Mystique was completely unaware of this and Magneto wanted to keep it that way, for if she ever presented herself as a dissident, he would have no qualms about taking her out.
Only lately, Magneto had been extra suspicious and Pietro could see why. The knowledge of Rogue being her adopted daughter along with Nightcrawler being her biological son didn't sit well with him since it meant she would be fighting against her own children. And while Mystique often gave off a rather cold, emotionless demeanor, it was clear that it had an impact on her and if push came to shove...Would she really be willing to fight against her own kids? There was no solid answer to either side just yet, but only time would tell if such a dilemma would come into play in the ever uncertain future that lay ahead.
Upon entering her luxurious room, Mystique practically collapsed on her elegant bed in a fit of exhaustion and frustration. Letting out a low, tired groan, she felt like just falling asleep right then and there and not waking up for a week. Running errands for Magneto, managing the Brotherhood, and carrying out her own personal missions was taking a toll on her mentally and physically. She couldn't even remember the last time she had a full night sleep and it was getting to the point where she was lucky to get more than a couple hours a night if even that much.
She had been stuck with doing survey work for Magneto ever since the sentinel incident, most of which included disguising herself as aids and infiltrating the offices of politicians and policymakers. And when she wasn't doing that, she was trying to hold the Brotherhood together even though they seemed intent on driving her insane. Her house was now a mess and they had just gotten themselves expelled from school even after all the restraint she tried to teach them. She had tried to be patient with them and on some occasions they cooperated, but lately it had just been devolving ever since Magneto took a more proactive role. Now she was finding herself increasingly pushed a lot more, feeling like her role was becoming almost like filler detail in the overall scope of things. She didn't know if it was because Magneto didn't trust her or if it was because he thought she couldn't handle it...Either way, it was making things quite difficult for her with each passing day.
"God...I'll bet Xavier never has to deal with this shit," she groaned to herself as she lay back in her bed, just stretching out her tired muscles.
It had been three days since her last rest...Three days since she had even been able to stretch out. But even in a state like this, sleep was not coming any easier. Lately, she had found herself doing side missions in addition to the ones Magneto gave her. Whenever she had a chance, she would fly over disguised as a raven and just check up on her kids, Kurt and Rogue. She had not spoken to them since the unfortunate incident where Rogue accidentally touched her at a concert and found out that she was her adopted daughter. And since she tricked her yet again as she had done when she tried to recruit her for the Brotherhood, her reaction was not very positive to say the least. Now she hated her with a passion...And she could hardly blame her.
She had let Magneto experiment on her biological son...And she had lied to and deceived her adopted daughter. She knew that didn't make her much of a mother to say the least, but she still took as much time as she could to just check up on them to see how they were doing. And in the back of her mind, she was glad they had gone with Xavier because they had a life with him and the X-men that she never could have provided them. Even if she didn't agree with the ideals that they were fighting for and the ones she already found herself questioning on a daily basis, she was still their mother...And like it or not, they had a place in her heart.
The aftermath of what happened with Rogue had been bad enough...If not worse than when she had revealed the truth to Kurt. But now the whole sentinel incident had made things all the more complicated as her duties both in and out of the Brotherhood increased tenfold and the world descended into a pit of fear and hate...And understandably so. But this was Magneto's doing and like it or not, she would have to go along with it. She was stuck in her state of isolation and bitterness, compounded by both what she had to do as a subordinate to Magneto and a leader to the Brotherhood.
One of the only things that kept her sane at times were the times when she checked up on her kids, but the more she did it...The more she hated herself and the world that seemed bent on making her suffer.
She was on the verge of finally falling asleep, when suddenly one of her windows flew open and several metal objects throughout the room began to move on their own. Forcing herself to reawaken, she scanned the room...Knowing already what was responsible for this.
"Is this really necessary, Eric?" she said aloud, not seeing the presence she knew was there just yet.
"Mystique..." said a deep, cold voice from a shadowy corner, "How many times to I have to tell you...Address me as Magneto."
"Sorry...Magneto," she said as she stood as she was always required to do so in his presence, if for nothing to at least show her obedience to someone who could easily rip her to shreds.
"You're late..." he said as he stepped into the light, giving her a full view of his imposing demeanor.
"It took longer than I thought," she said in her defense, "Reconnaissance work is not necessarily an exact science...Even for someone of my skills."
"I expect results...Not excuses," he said sternly in response.
"And you got your results," said Mystique in response, "Or didn't you see my report?"
Magneto shot the shape shifter a cold glare, but she didn't falter as she simply stood firm in her position, even if it was somewhat of an annoyance. Even thought Magneto had come to expect this from her, given her personality, he did not like to deal with insubordination of any kind no matter how minute it may be.
"Be careful of your tone Mystique..." he said in a threatening voice, "You know I don't tolerate disrespect."
"And when have I given you a reason not to trust me?" she said, still holding firm even in the face of one of the most powerful mutants on the face of the planet.
"Plenty...Like when you lied to me about Rogue," the master of magnetism retorted in response.
This caused the shape shifter to falter somewhat as the expression on her face shifted, knowing she couldn't avoid some of the mistakes she had made in the past...Especially when dealing with this man. It had always been one of her most damaging moments in the eyes of Magneto and no matter how well she did her job, she could never seem to escape it.
"Do I really have to be reminded of that so many times?" she said bitterly, knowing Magneto always had the dirt on her he wanted whether she liked it or not, "Haven't you made me regret it enough?"
"I only do what I must in order to ensure that my associates don't forget who they're dealing with," said Magneto in a deep, stoic tone, "Now I know you have delivered thus far...But with each little task that runs longer than it should...It makes me worry. And Mystique...You know how much I hate to worry."
Letting out a deep sigh, Mystique chose not to try and justify herself any more, knowing it would only push this man further. She hated being treated like this, even from a man who she had pretty much sold her life too since she stopped doing mercenary work all those years ago and chose him over Xavier. She knew he could never know the real reason why she was late with some of her mission, for if he found out that she was out watching her kids, she knew it would only make her situation many times worse. And given that he didn't trust her enough as it is, she didn't want to give him any more reasons to be suspicious.
"Yes...I know," she said, trying not to stagger under this very dangerous man's presence, "It won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't..." he warned her, making it clear that he wasn't going to warn her twice.
Mystique only nodded in response, not showing any weakness or hesitation in her actions. Magneto finally seemed placated as some of the metal objects in the room stopped shaking and the tension finally settled.
"So what about Xavier?" she asked, hoping to dissuade any further interrogation of her loyalty.
"Do you even have to ask?" he said, still noticeably bitter about his trip to the institute and how it turned out, "Even in the face of tremendous public outcry, he insists on living in a dream world where he believes it's possible for humans and mutants to live peacefully. I presented him with my offer...And again, he turned it down."
"I still don't understand why you even bothered to try," said Mystique, knowing Xavier well enough to understand that he was never going to take the path that Magneto had gone down.
"Because Mystique...Like it or not, Xavier is still a friend," he said, "He may be a fool...But I still respect him, and he and his X-men are still our mutant brethren. I had hoped that this whole sentinel incident would show him the error of his ways and we could unite as one team fighting for mutant liberation...But once again, he disappointed me with his choice to continue down the route of futility."
"So what do we do now?" asked Mystique, who had hoped that this whole ordeal would get Xavier to see at least some of the truth, yet she knew from what she saw while undercover as Rogue's friend, Risty, that he was a man just as dedicated to his cause as Magneto and would not allow even this to stand in his way.
A look of great distaste fell upon the master of magnetism's face as he once again remembered his one time friend's outright refusal of his offer. Of all the people who feared and trembled at his feet, Professor Charles Xavier was the one who never did anything of the sort. Even in his crippled state, he never looked back at him with fear. It was a disappointing choice for him...Yet in choosing to continue down his respective path, it sealed his fate in the eyes of Magneto.
"Simple...As of now, Xavier and his institute are sworn enemies of the Brotherhood and our cause," he said in a stern tone of voice, "And if he and the X-men stand in our way, then we'll have no choice but to take them out. One way or another, evolution will not be stopped...Not by Xavier...Not by the X-men...Not by anyone."
Mystique merely nodded in agreement, not showing any emotion over what the master of magnetism had just said. Even though it meant she would be fighting against, and possibly killing, her own children, she still managed to lock it all away as she had become so good at over many years. She may have hated Magneto with a passion, but she still believed in his principles concerning the fate of all mutants...Even if it seemed harder and harder for her carry out those principles for him with each daunting task he gave her.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do...And so do you," said Magneto as he headed over towards the window and prepared to fly out, "Remember...The Brotherhood must be prepared to take on the next challenge when the time comes. But before that...Make sure they're ready. It's a different world out there now and anything can happen. Just keep in mind that I've chosen to put a lot of faith in you, Mystique...So don't squander it."
"I won't..." she said, keeping her answer simple.
And with that, he was gone, leaving Mystique to once again collapse upon her bed in a tired daze. Normally, meetings with Magneto weren't this nerve racking, but this time it had been another story. It was the first time she had seen him since the sentinel incident a week ago, and already she could tell that it had impacted him just as it had everybody else. Once again, Xavier turned down his offer to join their cause and once again she found herself caught in her own trap, feeling as though this most recent meeting was less productive than she had hoped.
'Well THAT could have gone better...' she thought to herself as she groaned into her pillow, already on the verge of passing out.
She knew she didn't have a lot of time to rest, for her reconnaissance work was to pick right back up later this evening. However, despite Magneto's stern warnings, she still planned to swing by the institute and see her kids. Even a threat from the most powerful mutant in the world couldn't keep her from them. She would just have to be more careful now and in future visits, which meant there was even less room for error. But like so many other things in her life, Raven Darkholme would work around it, taking each challenge as it came whether it was a task Magneto assigned her or one she chose herself.
Either way, life in the Brotherhood was just as chaotic as the rest of the world as mutants went from an abstract dream to reality. In their minds, it was only the first step towards a future dominated by mutants. For too long, they had been forced to live in the shadows, hiding who and what they were from the world around them. But now, there would be no more hiding. The cat was out of the bag...The future of the world was at a crossroads. On one side was the peaceful path of Professor Xavier and the X-men...On the other was the aggressive side of Magneto and the Brotherhood. It was an uncertain which path would manifest, but for now...Only time would tell.
AN: So there you have it! The X-men and the Brotherhood as they are in the Shadow Cell universe! I know I took a few liberties, but remember, this is a very different world with many different sets of circumstances. There will be plenty more revealed about how things will manifest in this world, but for now, consider this the base structure that will be shown throughout the story. So what do you all think? Now that this world has become clearer, do you wish to see more? Please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine just as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a lot for reading and I wish you all the best!
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