Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Sinister Soldiers

A New Reality

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

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...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2006/04/18 - Updated: 2006/04/18 - 7426 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 19: A New Reality


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Shadow Cell headquarters had been brimming with a fury of activity since the sentinel incident. Now, everyone with a media outlet knew of the existence of mutants...An existence that had been a highly kept secret throughout the upper levels of the government for many years. Yet there was no covering this incident up and there was no going back. It was a new reality for everybody now and the super secret organization that had saved the world from catastrophe many times before was already preparing to adapt for the coming conflict.

Almost immediately after the incident took place, the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell were given a revamped routine to go by now that the stakes were different. Their training was stepped up in areas such as spying, stealth, infiltration, and psychological warfare for potential threats to peace and security from both inside and outside of the country from both human and mutant groups alike. Among their most intensive training, however, were the endless simulations they underwent to prepare them to face the very real possibility that they would be forced to discretely contain dangerous mutants. In some ways, it was ironic that they, some of the most advanced mutants on the planet, would be fighting against their own kind. Yet to Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23, it was just another mission in the ever evolving world of Shadow Cell.

The existence of a mutant task force that worked directly for the government when mutants were not supposed to exist had to remain a secret and given the state of the world now, that was going to be a lot more difficult. However, as with previous tasks assigned to them, Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 took to their new rigors with great fortitude and worked with the same uncanny efficiency that they had developed through all their years of intense training.

The increased rigor left even less time for rest than usual for them, but as obedient soldiers...They never once complained. Yet at the same time, the notion that they were going to go up against an entirely new breed of enemy was not lost upon them. If the unit was to continue doing their duty as soldiers of Shadow Cell, they knew they would have to adapt just as the rest of the world had...Only it seemed more miniscule to them given that it was still a mission and Magnum had always taught them that only the mission matters no matter what dynamics come into play.

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

Scott Summers and Vincent Freeman were in a confined area in the outdoor sectors of the base. The field they were training on was about the size of two football fields and was surrounded by perches laced with GURSO soldiers. It was here where they did a wide variety of outdoor training in all types of weather and this instance was no exception.

Out here, mutant abilities that dealt with firepower were the main focus and since Scott and Vincent both had energy powers, they were the ones that most commonly used this type of setting. And while they had been out here before, the overall mood in the air was quite different as it had been for the past week. But the two young men tried to ignore it for the most part, focusing more on their training as multiple solid projectiles were shot out of a mini-cannon at high speeds for them to blast.

"Damn, you think they're going to get tired of making us do all this target practice any time soon?" grunted Vincent as he fired off two double shots that took out a couple of projectiles simultaneously.

"Not likely..." answered Scott simply as he fired several bursts of ruby red energy through his eyes and hands at multiple projectiles, shattering them like glass, "Ever since that giant robot mess in Manhattan, they've been working us like we're about to fight World War III."

"In our line of work...That's always a very real possibility," said Vincent as he caught two more projectiles that he almost missed as they streaked over the horizon of the course.

"Yeah...So I don't think we'll be getting good night sleep anytime soon," he said with a grunt as the next level of target practice began for all of them.

"So what...Sleep is overrated anyways," said Vincent, speaking from experience because of the nightmares that still plagued his mind.

"Definitely," said Scott in agreement, although in the back of his mind he was a bit discerned that this rigorous schedule would leave him and Jean little time to have their discrete visits.

The two young men continued taking down projectile after projectile, trying with each blast to better themselves from the last one. It seemed like an unending game which could never be won since making each shot better, quicker, and more efficient was more art than science for them at this point in their training. Sessions like this had become somewhat mundane and mechanical for them over the years since they had pretty much learned and mastered every facet of their training from each branch of the military. Now, every session they took part in seemed to be merely to keep their skills sharp and hone them as best as possible while not really teaching them anything new.

Lately, the only new things they had been learning had come from Magnum. The nature of CQC was not static like the rest of their skills and was changing almost constantly. Part of what made it such a deadly skill was it's flexibility and willingness to change as the mind and body of the user evolved. And now that it seemed they would be facing a totally new kind of threat, they were giving to step up their CQC skills and prepare them for their inevitable use and Magnum had been quite stringent about making sure they did this right since they were still pupils in many ways.

"So what do you make of all this?" asked Vincent as they were given a brief period of rest while the mini-cannons were reloaded.

"What do you mean?" asked Scott as he turned to his friend and fellow soldier.

"I mean of this new mutant situation," he said in a musing tone, "We're mutants...This whole organization is centered around mutants...And now we're probably going to end up fighting them at the rate the world is going."

"Another mission...Another enemy...It's all the same really," said Scott in response, "What we do has nothing to do with whether we're fighting humans or mutants...Just as it has nothing to do with whether we're fighting middle eastern terrorists or Latin American guerrillas. It's the same game, only with different rules."

"But what if all the tension between humans and mutants sparks an all out war?" said Vincent as they waited for the next part of their training session to begin, "What side do you think we'll be on? And what side to you think we'll end up fighting for?"

"Simple...Our side," said Scott in response, "No more...No less."

"Our side...As in, the side of Shadow Cell?" asked Vincent.

"No...Our side, as in us," he said more definitively.

With a subtle nod, Vincent understood what he was saying. Maybe it was wrong to label sides in a conflict that hadn't even begun yet, but it was reassuring to know which side they were on. Part of what Magnum and Dr. Essex had taught them revolved around the belief that they could only be driven so much by one cause bestowed upon them by orders...Only from within would they ever truly find themselves both as soldiers and as a team.

It was sometimes hard to decide whether what they did was done simply because they were ordered to do so or if there was more to each success they had both on and off the battlefield. Their lives were so strictly regulated and controlled that it was hard at times to remember that the true strength of every soldier came from within. In the past, it had pushed them beyond their limits and brought them and Shadow Cell great victories. It showed both to their superiors and themselves that they were very strong on many levels both physically and mentally. But as the General had once told them...Their hearts were the strongest muscles in their bodies.

"You know it's kind of funny when I think about it..." said Scott, breaking the silence that had fallen over them as they made their way to the far side of the field, their every move being carefully watched by armed GURSO soldiers.

"What is?" asked Vincent curiously.

"You know...All that stuff Magnum told us about faith and how there's only so much she can teach us and it's up to us to teach ourselves..." mused Scott as he considered the deeper meaning of her words, "It was almost like a prelude to what we we're facing now. Both she and Dr. Essex always told us that things could change in the span of a single moment, forever altering the way we view our world. And then...Out of the blue, this happens."

Vincent hadn't thought of that as he considered the somewhat strange way in which things had worked out so unexpectedly. Throughout their training, they had always been warned about how fickle the world is and how it can change so quickly. And given how each one of them came to be what they are now, they were living proof of just how much things could change in a single moment.

"Yeah...You're right," said Vincent as they stood in wait for the order to begin, "It is kind of a strange farce that Magnum taught us something like that only to have it manifest right before our eyes soon after."

"It did more than just manifest," said Scott, pushing further as he thought into it even more, "It was more like it triggered the first step for all of us in finding our own paths with what we've learned. We may do this routine day in and day out, but we only get out whatever we put into it. And like it or not...We aren't kids anymore. We've got to learn how to teach ourselves and how to put in more than just effort with each challenge we face..."

"But like always...I doubt it will happen overnight," said Vincent, "And just because we aren't kids anymore doesn't mean we still don't have a little growing up to do."

"Yeah...Can't argue that my friend," said Scott, managing a slight smile, which helped to lighten the mood a bit.

Then, as the two young soldiers considered their current state of being, a loud blaring voice echoed through the loudspeakers that riddled the vast area.

"Alright maggots! Time to kick it up a notch! This time you'll be running the obstacle course while firing at the disks, so don't get sloppy! We'll be timing you and for ever millisecond you freaks fall behind, I will personally see to it that you both are running laps until sundown! Now fall in!"

The loud, booming voice of one of their many drill sergeants had become almost like background noise to them over the years, but that didn't make them any less serious as both Scott and Vincent lined up at the starting point, waiting for the signal to being the rigorous session.

"Finally...Now the fun begins," said Scott as he focused his mind on the task at hand with the many mental conditioning techniques that Magnum had taught them.

"And not a moment too soon...Target practice after all these years just isn't as exciting as it used to be without a little challenge on the side," said Vincent as he did the same as Scott even though they didn't have much time to prepare.

"Amen to that my friend..." said Scott, who couldn't help but chuckle a bit as he and his friend slapped hands in an almost ritualistic show of kinship and comradery as they prepared to take on their next challenge.

Finally, the signal sounded...They were both off and running through yet another rigorous session.

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

While Scott and Vincent were outside running their respective sessions, Jean, Wanda, and X23 were in the ballistics training area where they were honing their shooting skills with their guns, making sure their marksmanship was in top notch condition for whatever new challenges awaited them.

The sound of gunfire echoed through the somewhat confined training area as holographic targets no bigger than baseballs appeared and disappeared at random for the three girls to shoot. The program that the high tech device ran on was specially crafted by Magnum to ensure that they all got the maximum benefit from this type of practice and over time they had gained quite a bit of proficiency in terms of hitting each target with lighting fast reflexes.

Even the GURSO soldiers who watched their every move couldn't help but be impressed by how well they wielded their guns. And in a new world where mutants were no longer a secret, sometimes it would be necessary to go the old fashioned route when discretion was a priority.

As the sounds of gunfire ceased and the program ended, the three young women fired their last round and took the momentary downtime to check and see how their guns were holding up.

"So how many did you get this time?" asked Wanda to Jean as she checked the firing chamber of her gun for any signs of wear.

"18...You?" she asked in response.

"I also got 18," she answered, "What about you X?"

"28..." she answered stoically.

"Yeah, big surprise there..." said Jean, rolling her eyes at the somewhat lopsided score.

"What? I use an extra gun," said the former living weapon.

"Yeah...Which you can fire while juggling all three of them at once," made Wanda as she replaced the clip in her gun with new bullets.

"So...It comes in handy on the battlefield," she said as she checked all her precious firearms, which had become almost as much a part of her as her adamantium claws.

"Never said that it didn't...It just makes the scores with this whole program a bit lopsided," said Jean as she checked her other gun, thinking she may need to do a few adjustments on the grip before she used it again in combat.

Ever since they began firearms training, they would have mini-contests to see who could hit the most targets in a given session. It used to be pretty balance...Until X23 and her superhuman reflexes, as a result of a combination of her DNA, her shadow class mutation, and her training from Magnum, pretty much made it all very one sided. Building upon what she ascertained at Hydra, Magnum had molded her into a gunslinger second only to her in terms of agility, skill, and lethality. Her body and mutation gave her an advantage over the others because she had heightened senses and better reflexes written into her blood. And whenever she was faced with any task that involved guns, she was the one that always excelled the most.

"So when do you think we'll be putting all this extra training to good use?" said Jean as she held up her gun in a steady position to test the balance and sight.

"I don't know...Probably soon given that everybody's shitting themselves over the sight of a giant robot tearing through Manhattan," said Wanda logically.

"Fear always breeds chaos," stated X23 in response as she did a few gun slinging tricks to test the balance of her firearms while the next program loaded.

"No argument here..." said Wanda as she held up her guns and pointed them ahead of her, "I just hope we get a chance to blow the heads off the pricks who caused all this shit. I don't know who was responsible for building that robot, who unleashed it, or who those costumed nuts were, but if they caused any of this, then they deserve a one way trip to the morgue."

"But I thought they already captured that guy who was behind that giant robot program..." said Jean in response.

"Yeah...And they just threw him in jail, courtesy of SHIELD," quipped Wanda, "The guy deserves way worse."

"He'll get it if he tries it again..." said X23 as she placed all but one gun back in her holsters, "But what do you think drove that man to make something like that in the first place?"

The three women thought about that for a moment, but given that they had experienced next to no social interaction outside of combat, spying, and reconnaissance, they had little understanding of what drove the people of the world outside of Shadow Cell.

"I don't know X..." said Jean, "I guess he just really hated mutants."

"But to go that far and create something that destructive...All because he hated mutants? I just don't understand how somebody can think like that? I mean...Why hate mutants in the first place?" said X23, still not understanding certain aspects of human emotion too well despite all that she had learned thanks to the teaching and help she got from her teammates.

"I don't understand it either..." said Wanda, shaking her head, "Some people just hate so things so much for such trivial reasons that they're willing to kill, maim, or in this case...Build a giant robot to do all the dirty work for them."

"And that's where we come in..." added Jean with a grunt as she prepared for yet another round of firearms training, "For whatever psycho out there who lets all this rage of fear turn them into a psychotic madman bent on causing nothing more than war and violence, we'll be there to blow their head off before he can do it."

"Hmm...Sounds like a plan to me," said X23 with a grin as she twirled one of her guns around her finger with great skill and placed it in her holster as she got ready for the program to start.

The three young women were definitely no stranger to new challenges, but this one that now involved humans and mutants alike was on a scale unlike any which they had taken on before. In a way, they would be fighting for and against their own kind simultaneously because the possibility that they would have to take on both was very real.

Yet at the same time, they couldn't forget some of the things Magnum had told them recently about fighting for a cause. Following orders and getting the job done could only take them so far and they had found through their experience that on the battlefield, orders and protocols mean precisely dick when there's a mission that needs to be carried out. And no matter how many times the Colonel scolded them, they never let anything stand in the way of completing the mission...Yet in doing so, the cause for which their lives revolved around often grew skewed in the heat of battle, therefore they would have to seek other means of inner strength...And that's where Magnum came in.

She had always told them that the inner strength from which every soldier draws their capacity to fight was the most important part of the warrior spirit. A cause is just a cause until it becomes a belief because for the most part, simple causes are mere ideas that change with the times...Only beliefs can truly drive a soldier. Yet it's the faith in which those beliefs are held to that brings out a soldier's true strength. And it was for this reason why there was so much scrutiny in the minds of the young soldiers as they pondered the current state of the world.

"Hey...Do you think Magnum and Dr. Essex had this shit in mind when they told us about faith and what we fight for both on and off the battlefield?" questioned Jean.

"I don't see how anybody could have seen something like this coming," said X23 in response as she stretched her arms a bit in preparation for the next level of the training program.

"Well...Maybe not in this respect," said Wanda.

"But still, do you think this could be what they meant when they told us how quickly things would change and how we'd eventually have to chose our own path when the time came?" she asked, thinking about where this whole ordeal might lead them in the long run.

The two other girls thought about it for a moment as the each took out one of their guns for single shot training. Time and time again, Magnum and Dr. Essex had warned about the fickle nature of the world, and up until now they hadn't really thought too much about it. Now, it all seemed to be coming to ahead and there was no doubt it would lead them down a different path. However, the exact nature of that path was still in question.

"I don't know...There never really is a definitive answer when it comes to what they teach us here," said X23, "The world itself is a maze of ambiguity...And I guess that's how they want us to think when we're in the field."

"Yeah...I guess so," said Wanda, wondering if there was ever a concrete answers to begin with in their complicated existence, "But ambiguous or not...We still don't know what kind of path this whole thing will lead us towards."

"I don't think we can know just yet..." said Jean as she readied her gun, firmly gripping it and looking ready to fire as the next program was just about loaded and ready to commence, "For now...All we can do is wait and prepare. Because when the time finally comes...We sure as hell better be ready."

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In the General's office on the upper levels of the facility, both he and the Colonel had been on and off the phone for what felt like days on end. Ever since the sentinel incident, the two high ranking men had been sequestered in their offices handling call after call from high ranking government officials. Some were panicked, some were enraged, some were a little of both as people kept calling on and on, giving them little time to rest in between.

The Colonel probably went through two boxes of cigars as he kept getting call after call from agencies asking about his GURSO unit and if it was possible for them to do something. But oftentimes, the irrational fears of all those who called were just the government's way of pointing fingers at whatever they believed to be the problem. At times, phone conversations turned into outright yelling as everybody seemed to be seeking answers to problems they had little knowledge about.

The thirteenth straight hour of incessant phone conversations had now passed for the day and it seemed they were finally starting to die down. While it hadn't been as bad as it was earlier that week when they were nearly dealing with it for twice as long, that didn't make it any less annoying.

Finally, after a two hour conversation with the director of the CIA, the General finally hung up the phone and let out a deep sigh as he sank into his chair. The Colonel was finishing what was probably his tenth cigar that day as he gave his superior a moment before saying anything.

"God almighty...I'm too old for this," said the General in a tired, exasperated tone.

"So what's the word?" asked the Colonel as he took another puff of his cigar.

"Well...Not very uplifting to say the least," answered the General grimly, "The only good news is they found out who was responsible for the sentinel project. His name was Bolivar Trask and he's currently in a jail cell at SHIELD for an indefinite period of time. And one of the many reasons why they're yelling at us so much is because he once worked for a black ops program before getting kicked out for 'radical idealism.'"

"Yeah...I had a feeling he'd have to have some sort of knowledge of advanced, classified technology in order to build a monstrosity like that," said the Colonel with a distasteful tone.

"But that's not the only think that's bothering the higher ups, Colonel..." said the General as he leaned forward on his desk and began to muse over the effects all these changes were going to have on Shadow Cell, "They've been yelling at all the intelligence agencies for having let a man like Trask slip under the radar. Not only was he able to get a hold of some very illegal technology to build that thing, but he was also able to do it on our own soil...Right under our noses."

"See!" said the Colonel, his voice becoming more irritated as a result of serious sleeplessness as a result of all this turmoil, "I told you our intelligence gathering needed to be revamped! I told you that it only took one little slip up to cause mass chaos! And now look what happened!"

"Calm down, Colonel...This is not the fault of our intelligence team," said the General, who managed to maintain calm, sensible tone, "There were many failures that allowed this to happen and many of them have nothing to do with our organization. Remember, internal threats are not usually our jurisdiction...We handle the outside stuff. If anything, this is a lapse on the part of SHIELD and the NSA."

"But part of this organization's purpose is to find threats of any kind at any given time in any place...Especially on our own soil!" said the Colonel, sounding increasingly irrational and enraged.

"The circumstances were beyond our control, Colonel," said the General in response, "Just because we have the tools doesn't mean they're going to give us all the results we want. Now I don't like that we missed this either...Nobody does. But like it or not, it happened and all we can do now is learn to cope with it."

This seemed to silence the Colonel's rage as he took one last puff of his cigar and put it out in an ashtray which was already full of spent butts. All his paranoia seemed to finally gain a little justification now that something like this had happened, but it didn't make it any less frustrating for him in the end. He hated how this whole ordeal had turned into one big fiasco for both the government and the world at large. And it was all because some guy couldn't keep his hatred of mutants suppressed and chose to go the path of outright insanity. The Colonel may have still harbored an intense distaste of mutants, but even he knew the importance of maintaining a sense of subtlety.

However, like it or not, Shadow Cell would most certainly have a role in dealing with the aftermath of this whole situation given it's position as the most prominent secret task force in the US arsenal. Mutants may not be secret anymore, but they sure as hell weren't going to topple civilization on the Colonel's watch.

"So what happens now?" asked the Colonel, knowing that there was no way the government was going to take this new phenomenon lying down.

"First things first...We have to know what we're dealing with," explained the General, "According to CIA, the NSA has maintained a large list of the names of known and suspected mutants. Many agencies encountered them in the past and even did some discrete surveillance on them, but their findings always end up back with the NSA. But with all the data they found, it was always kept under lock and key because of the governmental position of mutants being secret."

"I take it that protocol has been shattered now," said the Colonel, knowing full well how the government operates.

"Indeed," said the General in response, "Now, the lock has been undone and the secret is out. So in response, the President has discretely ordered that all intelligence communities are to share the list of known and suspected mutants for national security reasons. Every department, including ours even though it officially doesn't exist, must know who is a mutant and if they are potentially dangerous."

"They're all dangerous if you ask me," grumbled the Colonel, "Its part of the reason why I formed the GURSO unit."

"Colonel...I know how you feel about mutants," said the General, his tone growing more annoyed as he looked back at his associate with a penetrating glare, "But for now...You'll have to set those feelings aside in order to deal with this situation."

"Set them aside?!" he bellowed in response, "Didn't you see what the rest of the world saw? Is that not proof enough that mutants are a menace?!"

"No, that's only proof that provoking violence is going to cause chaos and panic..." said the General, keeping his calm despite the Colonel's rage, "Don't think I'm not taking this seriously...Believe me, I am."

"Oh come on, General!" shot the Colonel in response, once again letting his temper drive his actions, "How can you be so naïve?! I've been saying it for years, and now this happens! Mutants are a ticking time bomb waiting to go off at the slightest provocation! Isn't the news making it abundantly clear that humans and mutants are destined for conflict? And still...You want to ignore the problem and just let it slide until it's too late?! Because if you think that this little incident with the sentinel was bad, I doubt you'll be willing to face the kind of chaos that's sure to come!"

"Colonel..." said the General in a deep, serious tone, showing that he did not at all like the tone of disrespect that he was addressing him with, "This is just where you and I differ...And personally, it's getting to be somewhat of an annoyance dealing with your rather dogmatic views on the matter. Yet like it or not...We are NOT going to take sides. This is not a war...And I have no desire to see it turn into one. Shadow Cell is in the business of stopping wars...Not starting them."

The firm tone of the General seemed to silence the Colonel's raging anti-mutant feelings for the moment. As much as he disagreed with his superior's views and mannerisms, he still outranked him and much of what he said did have some merit to the situation. But despite this, it could not alleviate his feelings towards mutants. He still thought that every last one of them should be wiped out before they unleashed untold terror upon the world, but not matter how much he wanted to...He could not see such actions through given his current situation.

"Now it's still early, Colonel..." said the General, shifting his voice to that of a more collected tone, "But the higher ups back and Washington are all in agreement...We must do what we can to subvert all out war. This matter needs time and the world needs to absorb it. And in order to keep the world intact, Shadow Cell must do all it can to ensure that men like Trask don't threaten peace and security."

With a grudging mumble of affirmation, the Colonel pushed aside his personal feelings for the moment and focused more on his duty as an officer of Shadow Cell.

"So what is it that they want us to do?" he asked his superior officer.

The General responded by typing a few commands on his computer and turning the monitor screen so that they both could see.

"As of now, most all mutants are scattered throughout the world in a fairly random array of big and little mutations here and there," he explained, "Many are harmless for the most part, but some have put them on the watch-list."

The Colonel scoffed at the idea of a 'harmless mutant' as the General called it, but nevertheless he continued to listen as he looked at some of the readouts on the monitor.

"However...As of right now, the NSA has released information on two small organizations of mutants. One is a school, founded and run by Professor Charles Xavier...A powerful mutant psychic and former teacher and humanitarian worker who has garnered a great amount of respect in his field. His institute, the aptly named Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, is a school for mutants to live, learn, and manage their powers. Overall, the man has a genuinely peaceful message to convey to the world...But some of the higher ups are still suspicious and insist that he and his students are watched."

Then, a picture of Xavier's school came up on the screen and the Colonel was actually somewhat impressed with what he saw. The institute looked more like a mansion than a school and had a very prestigious look to it...Yet the fact that it was run and occupied by mutants was not lost on him as the General continued.

"The other group...Which already has many of the higher ups worried...Is the Brotherhood of mutants. It's uncertain how they came to be, but from what SHIELD managed to gather, it was founded by a man named Eric Lensherr...A somewhat mysterious character who's kept a low profile for many years, yet we're certain that he's a mutant...And a powerful one at that."

"How powerful?" asked the Colonel, always one to be suspicious.

"Like I said...We're not sure," answered the General, "But we do know that he was once a friend and associate of Xavier's long ago back in the Balkans. From what we've gathered, they had a falling out and Lensherr disappeared for the most part. It's said he has the power to manipulate and control magnetism...And it's also believed that his views aren't as 'noble' as that of Xavier's."

"Great...A mutant supremacist?" asked the Colonel.

"Could be..." said the General, not having much more than that to go off of, "But either way, he is seen as more of a threat than Xavier at the moment within Washington and I happen to agree. This man's past is somewhat ugly...Both parents lost in the holocaust, wife killed by a lynch mob, and a rather unsocial attitude...All the ingredients necessary for a twisted man."

"No kidding...And they say HE'S the one who founded this Brotherhood?" said the Colonel as he looked bitterly upon an old image of the white haired man who could only be a threat given his powers and persona.

"I'm afraid so..." answered the General, "While nothing concrete links him to the Brotherhood, there have been numerous sightings from a few lucky observers and for now, we're operating under the guise that he and the Brotherhood are linked."

The Colonel let out a low mumble of disgust as he watched images of the Brotherhood boarding house flash across the computer screen. It wasn't anywhere near as affluent as the Xavier mansion and some of the photos of the mutants occupying the area looked shady at best. This only seemed to fuel his distaste of the situation as his stomach churned at the notion of organized mutant supremacists.

"So what do they want us to do?" asked the Colonel, "Do they want some of them...Taken care of?"

"No, Colonel...We're nowhere near that point yet," answered the General, rolling his eyes at his subordinate's irrational, innate eagerness to see that mutants die, "Mutants are still human and we have to treat them as such as in any operation."

The Colonel mumbled a few incoherent words, some of which the General ignored even though he didn't like having to hear them.

"For now, Shadow Cell will simply do extensive reconnaissance and surveillance as they have been training so ardently at lately," said the General as a picture of both houses flashed upon the screen, "We simply don't know enough about what we're dealing with to make any kind of sound judgment. And with raw data, we'll be able to discern enemies from possible allies, allowing both Shadow Cell and the government in general to make a sound policy to benefit us all."

"They're all still enemies if you ask me..." he mumbled as the General turned the monitor off for now, "These mutants will bring nothing but conflict...Mark my words, sir...It'll all happen in due time."

"And it is for that reason, Colonel..." quipped the General, not skipping a beat and not giving into his subordinate's irrational paranoia, "That Shadow Cell must be at the front lines...Ensuring that such a conflict will never come to pass. I know our team is strong enough...And I think that this could very well be their most daunting challenge to date."

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While the rest of the world along with the shady organization of Shadow Cell seemed to be reacting strongly to the sentinel incident and the revelation of mutants everywhere, Dr. Nathanial Essex appeared to be the only one who seemed indifferent to it all. In his office, he watched the video clips of the sentinel incident on his computer screen again and again with a sinister smile on his face. He knew a day like this would come...He knew that it was only a matter of time before something this profound happened.

Now, the seeds of conflict between humans and mutants were being sewn. Now, mutants were no longer a farce in the minds of the ignorant masses who had little idea of the true nature of this phenomenon. He had spent decades studying and understanding mutation...Many more decades than most people thought. In his own skewed mind, he saw mutants differently in comparison to those who think there's nothing more than the prospect of peace or war. To him...Mutants were so much more than that...They were the key.

Dr. Essex had spent a lifetime uncovering the secrets of mutants, but only now were his true goals so tantalizingly close. For many decades, he had been working towards a dream...A dream that he believed he was destined to fulfill. Shadow Cell was just the first step in achieving that long sought after dream...And as he had predicted, it had all gone flawlessly.

Shadow Cell was the pride and joy of his achievements. He was getting everything he needed out of those five mutant soldiers and then some. There was so much left to accomplish, and all he needed was time...Which in his case, he had plenty of. For eight years, Shadow Cell had reigned supreme as the cornerstone of his work. The bio mutagenic accelerator and five young mutants that it was used on provided him the necessary groundwork for his future plans. Since then, he had been doing thorough, yet discrete research. With his five successful test subjects, he had all the raw data he needed to make his dream happen...Now all he needed were the resources.

"Oh how fate has turned the tide..." he mused as he watched images of the giant robot sentinel fighting off a group of young mutants that were now known to all as the X-men, "Yet as always...It has turned in my favor."

On his computer and in his desk, files containing the information pertaining to the X-men and their counterparts, the Brotherhood of Mutants, had been compiled...Yet there was still more he needed to know. From what he saw with each mutant on each respective team, they had the potential necessary facilitate his goals. Already, he knew that Shadow Cell was scheduled to do some major reconnaissance work on Xavier and the Brotherhood and if he was going to maximize the use of such data for his plans, then he would definitely have to keep a close eye on it.

Shadow Cell had proven themselves time and time again to be the strongest fighting force ever assembled. With their combined power, Dr. Essex had seen them take on seemingly impossible challenges and succeed with uncanny ease and efficiency. They were the bread and butter of his ultimate goals...The first pivotal step that he would build upon now that he had what he needed to proceed.

As he turned off the video feed and switched to the database files of the X-men and Brotherhood, a few pieces of data stood out. Some of the members on the X-men were mutants he had actually considered for recruitment for Shadow Cell and from what he saw in the videos of them fighting the sentinel, they had all received some pretty good training from Xavier on how use their powers. And there were even confirmed reports that his institute even employed the legendary Weapon X himself, now a reformed teacher in the eyes of the students. This was very beneficial to him because it meant that Xavier had pretty much done all the work for him and all he had to do was determine how he could use this to his advantage.

Then, there was the data from the Brotherhood...And that only made the smile on Dr. Essex's face grow even more as intelligence reports constantly blared a name that he had hoped he would see again...Magneto. To the rest of the world he was a dangerous mutant supremacist...But to Dr. Essex, he was just a poor deluded fool. He claimed to be a champion of mutant ascension, yet if anybody looked into his past, they could probably ascertain the real reason why he did what he did. However, Dr. Essex knew somewhat better than most and of all the people he had worked with, Magneto had aided him he most in his research.

Whatever Magneto was planning, Dr. Essex knew it could only be something grand. And for the scientist who had created Shadow Cell...It was something that he knew he could use. Magneto had knowledge that he had imparted to him many years ago and if he had used that knowledge wisely like he suspected he would, then his goals may come even faster than he thought.

The path was open to him...The time had finally come. This whole phenomenon was the perfect catalyst he needed to make his move. The human/mutant conflict would only feed his goals and in the end, it would be the undoing of both sides. All he had to do now was take the next step...And once it was completed, there would be no stopping him...Not now, not ever.

"Countless years of blood sweat and tears...And now it is finally happening...It is finally within my grasp," he said to himself as he opened up the secret compartment built into his desk and pulled out the papers and blueprints that would turn his goals from mere dreams to full reality, "Shadow Cell has given me everything I need...Everything I could ever want. My beautiful creations...So strong...So powerful...So ready for their ultimate purpose. So much time...So much work...And it's all about to manifest just as I have so often envisioned it. Step one was completed long ago...Now finally, step two can begin. And once it is complete...The world will be in or a very sinister future."

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AN: Things have taken quite a turn in this world and with the presence of Shadow Cell, it looks like things may get a bit more complicated! Trust me, this is only the beginning of the thrill ride to come, so stay tuned to see how Shadow Cell, the X-men, and the Brotherhood all manifest in this profound world! With all that's happened in this fic, I'd love to know what you all think! Please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Do one, do both, to either! It doesn't matter to me as long as you REVIEW! Thank you so much for reading and I wish you all the best!

SLICKBOY LOVES REVIEWS! PLEASE GIVE HIM REVIEWS!!!
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