Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

Fighting Back

by slickboy444 1 Reviews

Takes place 2 years after Apocalypse, 1 year after the Phoenix. The mutant problem has grown and a obscure general named William Stryker thinks he has a solution. Has Scott/Jean, Wanda/Kurt, Kitty/...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Cyclops - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006/05/09 - Updated: 2006/05/10 - 6970 words

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Extermination
Chapter 30: Fighting Back


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Despite the vast military presence all throughout Washington DC, the United States government still operated regularly in order to keep the public from growing even more fearful than they already were. Since the attacks, the media had been fed an unending stream of news stories concerning mutants and the ongoing operation to 'contain' them. And like a master puppeteer, Stryker made sure that they played by his rules and nobody else's. The reports and news that the Friends of Humanity leaked to the press about mutant conspiracies, hidden armies, and cover ups had done so well in pumping the country full of fear that they could have done anything at this point as long as they said it would make everybody safer. Even the President was played thanks to the controlled stream of information that the Friend's of Humanity fed the military. It was the perfect mix of fear and corruption. Such a combination allowed a man named William Stryker to control pretty much all aspects of both the government and the military. Like a dictator in a totalitarian state, he controlled everything...The only difference was that he did it in the shadows and people could not rise up and revolt against somebody that they didn't know existed.

However, for the scapegoats that allowed for him to come to power so quickly and efficiently...It was by far the most devastating. Many innocent mutant boys and girls had been killed in wake of Stryker's horrible reign and at the rate they were going...Extinction was almost inevitable. It was clear that Stryker would not stop until every mutant on the face of the planet was dead. But these dark intentions went completely unnoticed by America as a whole and only those who wielded the power could dictate the very knowledge that the people were allowed to know.

This dark truth, unfortunately, did do some good for the government that only seemed to vindicate what Stryker had done. Because the people were so full of fear now, trust and faith in the government was at an all time high. The barriers that had kept it from fulfilling certain goals seemed to fade away as people grew too scared to rise up out of fear of the so called 'mutant menace.' Honorary parades, large monetary donations, and record low criticism had given the United States government many reasons to celebrate. And on this most festive of nights, they would do just that.

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Practically every politician gathered amongst the tight security around the Capitol for the semi-annual banquet that had been scheduled for over a month now. Practically every major media outlet from TV to newspapers were there covering the event live and broadcasting it everywhere in the country and all throughout the world. Both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, and even the President would be attending to celebrate the ongoing success of the military, as so they were told, and to pass the most vital piece of legislation to date...The mutant control act. Senator Edward Kelly, the author of the bill, was the star attraction since he had been the one whom everybody believed had seen this coming. He had been the one that had tried to warn the world of mutants, but they did not listen when they should have. Both Republicans and Democrats honored and praised him for his work and commitment and the senator, despite his ongoing troubles with Stryker, was basking in the rewards of his achievement. There were already talks amongst his fellow senators that he should run for President next term...And he would most certainly have support. It would be a dream come true for Senator Kelly and he would make sure that he spent this night celebrating the success that he and Stryker had so carefully planned years before.

Outside the Capitol as many of the politicians were entering the building, two ominous onlookers from a distance watched as the men and women that ran this country celebrated despite all the deception, corruption, and carnage going on around them. Professor Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr had spent their lives working with mutants...And while they had their differences, now they were finally seeing things clearly. They knew the truth...They knew what had been done to this government and to this world. They had the proof...And they planned to show it to the world.

"They're celebrating Charles..." mused Magneto as he watched the brilliant light show going on in the distance, "All those men and women...Who think they actually have a scrap of power when they are just puppets in a show...Truly have no idea what's going on."

"It's the blanket of lies that Stryker has cast over them old friend," said Xavier as he and his long time friend prepared themselves for what they were about to do, "The world as they know it only extends to that which they have been told. And unfortunately, it is Stryker that has wielded that power and shaped their world."

"William Stryker...He is unlike anybody we have ever faced before Charles."

"I know Magnus...He is not the brainwashed radical or the ignorant madman. No...He is smart, collected, and driven towards his goals. He is humanity in its most sinister from...Full of greed, hate, and a thirst for power and nothing more."

"These are the kind of people that murdered my family all those years ago," Eric said as he recalled the horrors of the holocaust as if they had just happened yesterday.

"And it is them we must fight...Not humanity as a whole old friend," responded Charles.

"I know..." said Eric, "I finally see that now. It's taken me a long time...But I think I know what it is I should fight for in this world."

"I'm happy to hear that old friend," smiled Xavier as he looked down at his laptop which contained the information that would hopefully bring an end to all this bloodshed.

"You know...When I think about it...Neither of us was truly right in our views Charles," continued Eric as he kept thinking about what this night could lead to or how it would change things once it was over, "We both believed in ideas that had faults...Some were certainly more faulty than others. But I don't think that neither of us could safely say that we were right or wrong."

"Try not to think of it in terms of right and wrong old friend," replied Charles, "We both fought for an idea. And an idea cannot be right or wrong universally...It can only guide us towards a better future. At this point...That's what we should be fighting for. Not for war or peace...But for a future for those who have survived this horrible ordeal...A future for those who have been hurt or tainted by Stryker's madness. The enemy this time is fear and ignorance...Not humanity. This is not human nature...This is human response. And it is that same response that we will use...Once we show them all the truth."

Both men smiled as they heard the party at the Capitol begin in the distance...Signaling that it was finally time to make their move.

"Well...We mustn't keep our public waiting Charles," said Eric as he prepared to levitate himself and Xavier into the air.

"No, I suppose not. I guess it's now or never."

"And what of Stryker himself?" asked the master of magnetism as they both slowly rose into the balmy summer air.

"We must do our part Magnus..." answered the Professor, "And those who are to deal with the madman directly...Are to do theirs."

"Who do you mean?" asked Eric curiously, not quite getting his meaning at first.

"The only others that know what we know now...It was the last part of the email that I did not mention..."

"Oh..." said Eric, putting the pieces together, but feeling somewhat worried about what it the implications, "So once again we are all fighting together against a common enemy. The odds are definitely against us. Do you think we can succeed?"

"Our students are strong, driven, and resourceful...We must have faith in them. While it appears that Stryker continues to hold every last advantage...Working together, there is always a chance. And by the end of tonight...We may know once and for all...The fate of the mutant race."

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The X-jet was in full stealth mode as it flew at an altitude of 50,000 feet at a speed of over 1,000 miles per hour. The night sky and the dark color of the plane made it completely invisible to the world around it. And it kept the occupants flying in its confines safe and sound as they drew ever closer to the final battle. The survivors of the X-men, the Brotherhood, and the Acolytes were going to fight side by side in this most epic of fights against the Friends of Humanity and William Stryker. In the past, they had fought against each other many times. But now...All those differences would have to be set aside if they were to be ready for what was to come. Washington was not very far away now and everybody was mentally preparing themselves for the battle to come.

"Hey!" said Kurt as suddenly as he looked outside the window and over the horizon, "I just realized something guys! Do you know what day it is?"

Scott looked at the digital clock on the dashboard and saw that the time had just passed the 9:00 PM mark. At first Scott didn't see it, then suddenly it dawned on him.

"July 4th...So that would make it..."

"The Fourth of July!" exclaimed Kurt.

"Hey, yeah! I didn't notice that until just now either!" said Kitty.

"So...What's so exciting about that?" asked Logan, not seeing why they were getting so up in arms about it.

"Think about it Logan..." explained Kurt, "Today...Of all days, ve are fighting back against Stryker. Today...The one day vere everybody celebrates freedom...Ve are fighting for it."

"You're right Kurt," said Jean, "It is kind of ironic. Today while everybody else celebrates their freedom throughout the country...We are here fighting for ours."

"Indeed...It's almost as is this day was fated to be our time to rise up and fight back," said Colossus.

"Maybe its karma or some crazy spiritual shit like that telling us that we're gonna win!" said Pietro.

"Don't think too deeply into it Quicksilver," said Raven, "Being on a single day of the year doesn't automatically mean that we will all succeed. We must fight for it no matter what the day."

"I can see you're not very superstitious," grinned the speed demon.

"No, I just think logically, that's all," answered Raven, rolling her eyes at Pietro's comment.

"Logic or not...It's still kind of ironic," said Scott as the plane was close to entering Maryland and nearing their inevitable destination, "Today over 200 years ago, a bunch of oppressed people rose up against a seemingly unstoppable power to fight for their right to exist as a country. And that's not very different compared to what we're doing here as well. We're about to go up against a guy with the most powerful military in the world at his fingertips and fight for our right not only to exist...But to live."

"So does that mean you're going to give some big ass Mel Gibson speech to inspire us all to fight to the death against this guy leader boy?" laughed Pietro, earning him a punch from Wanda.

Despite Pietro's cynical statement, Scott couldn't help but laugh. Even at a time like this with so much at stake, everybody still acted like the people they were out of uniform. This was something new that had grown out of the aftermath of the attacks...Cyclops being more Scott Summers, Mystique being more Raven Darkholm, Wolverine being more Logan and so on. In order to fight and win a battle like the one they were about to partake in, they would each have to have a collected state of mind. They would have to remain focused on their objective and not themselves. And if this whole ordeal had done one thing...It had made everybody take a closer look at who they are. It had forced them to face their mortality. Now...Each one of them knew who they were going into battle and what they were fighting for. That alone, was a victory in itself.

"You know...I was never big on those sappy monologues myself Pietro," answered Scott, "So why don't we just keep it simple and pray...That we don't screw up."

"Hey, it works for me!" said Alex, "Simple things tend to work better anyway."

"Besides, we've all faced big odds before with Apocalypse," added Jean, "And we've fought together before. Now, it's just a different battle with different goals and when it all ends...Who knows what the future will hold."

"Just remember...It ain't over till the fat lady sings!" said Logan, who had been eager to fight back against Stryker since he first encountered him at Watergate.

"I'm all ears Logan," grinned Scott, "Besides...I always wanted to see the fireworks in DC on the fourth. And if we survive...We'll all get that chance."

Washington was closing in now as everybody took what little time they had to prepare for the final battle. Scott and Jean quietly held hands as a source of comfort, knowing that they were in this together with the rest of their friends. Scott didn't tell anybody, but he still had the wedding ring in his pocket since the day of the attack that he had intended to propose to Jean with. Ever since the Phoenix incident...Scott had been waiting for the perfect moment to ask Jean to marry him. But since the attacks, it felt as though no moment like that would ever come. However, should they both survive this epic battle...Scott made a decision then and there while holding the hand of his long time friend and lover that he would ask her on the spot and not waste anymore time. If they won the day...A new and uncertain future would lay before both them and mutants everywhere. And Scott wanted to make that future with Jean by his side...For better or for worse.

As the city lights of Baltimore shined below, Wanda Maximoff felt herself uncertain as well in such a dire situation. Here she was amongst her friends getting ready to fight another battle for their existence. Some of these friends used to be enemies. But ever since the attacks, she had found a strange sense of peace with them. She had always thought that nobody would ever be able to understand her pain, but in getting to know everybody here...She finally felt a part of something.

In the initial attack, she had come very close to losing her brother. In the days that followed, she had learned the truth about her past. But through it all, her brother and her friends were there for her and had helped her in ways she could never repay them for. She still thought a lot about her father and what he had said before he left to find Xavier. And if they came out victorious in this fight...She wondered if she should give him a chance or risk never having a father again. It was hard to think about...But then as she contemplated how she would handle it, she felt a warm fuzzy hand touch hers. It was that of the man who had saved her brother and had helped her accept the truth...Kurt Wagner. She had never met anybody like him before. He had shown that he could understand her. He had shown her that she could feel things she never even new existed before. Gently, she squeezed his hand back...As if to say, 'thank you.'

As Piotr "Colossus" Rasputin looked around at the people that surrounded him here in the final hour before battle, he couldn't help but ponder. Two years ago, he had fought with them against Apocalypse and such a battle felt right for him. He felt as though he had done some real good with the power that he had been blessed with. But after being persuaded to fight with Magneto again, the Russian born mutant had negated this feeling of being a part of something out of desire to be with his family. Yet they had always told him that he was destined for great things in the world and now that he was about to fight alongside the X-men once again for the sake of freedom, he couldn't help but think that maybe they were right. The friends that he had made now were more than just friends. They were helping him find his place in the world...They were helping him strive for better things for people everywhere.

In front of him, he looked towards Kitty Pryde...The girl that had helped him see many things differently since arriving. She had shown him that there are reasons to have faith in people out there...Even those whom had hurt him in the past. As she looked back, he couldn't help but smile at her...Causing the young valley girl to blush slightly, but only serving to make them more determined to fight and win against William Stryker.

For Logan, these past few weeks had been nothing short of hell for him and Stryker was the cause of it. Ever since he joined the institute, he had grown very close to the kids and teachers that dwelled within it and had always vowed to protect them from the cruel world that existed outside the walls of the mansion. But on that fateful night of the attacks...He had been powerless to stop a madman from attacking and killing so many friend and children that he held dear. Feeling so much failure for not being there, Logan had actually begun to question the Professor's dream for the first time in many years. But now, as the time drew near to fight against the man who had been responsible for so much death, Logan felt that maybe it wasn't the dream he had lost faith in...Perhaps it was his own self worth that had come into doubt. So much death had hit him hard even though he was a man who was trained to deal with it under Weapon X. Yet in joining Xavier, he had become a part of something. And seeing how the survivors of each team had come together and put aside the past had given him proof enough that it was still something worth fighting for.

As Logan continued to ponder the coming battle, his gaze shifted towards that of X23...The former living weapon created by his blood. Ever since that comment that Alex had made back at the base while they were tying to think of a name for her...Logan had been thinking about what would happen after all was said and done. Would she choose to stay with them? Would she try to build a normal like just as he had when Xavier had first recruited him? She had been forced to endure things that no child ever should. She had grown up in a laboratory scared, alone, and confused. He watched as she looked back at him with a hallow gaze...But such a gaze was not something that Logan was a stranger to. She was still confused...But this time, Logan vowed that should they win the day...She wouldn't be alone...Giving him all the more reason to believe.

'Yer gonna be just fine kid...I promise...And I'll help you,' thought Logan as he watched X23 look back out the window.

Mystique, who was sitting closer to the front had seen the deep looks that Logan and X23 had give each other...Almost as if they were truly like family in some way. Although Logan tried to look away, his eyes still caught the smile on Raven Darkholm's face as Washington DC was now beginning to appear in the distance.

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As the X-jet neared its destination, the party in the Capitol started with great fanfare as the TV cameras started rolling and the reporters started reporting on this most special of national holidays. The Fourth of July was always a time for patriotic Americans to show their loyalty to their nation and it was a time for politicians to come together and celebrate the success of over two centuries of American democracy. But tonight, the festivities held another meaning that went beyond traditional standards. Tonight, both the Capitol and the country as a whole were rallying behind the brave American troops that were currently fighting with all their hearts against the mutant menace that had been revealed to be such a threat. Public fear may have been at an all time high, but trust in the authorities had also been solidified as a result of this. It made things a lot easier for every politician from the lowest town official to the President of the United States. Everywhere...People were jus too scared now after hearing about all the mutant conspiracies and how they planned to kill every last human on Earth and because the government had stepped in and done something about it, faith in America and the human race was at an all time high.

The central chamber in the Capitol had been modified slightly over the weekend to accommodate the vast crowd of officials and media. Practically every camera in the greater DC from news stations all around the world had descended upon the area to cover the activities inside the building while the rest of the crews worked to cover the huge fireworks display planned to take place afterwards.

Then finally, around 9:30 PM...Every congressmen, Supreme Court justice, and executive leader gathered in the main hall for the President's speech to the nation on this most special of Independence Days.

"Ladies and Gentlemen...The President of the United States."

Widespread applause echoed throughout the large dome structure as all cameras were turned towards the President and every last occupant prepared to listen intently to what he had to say about the ongoing success of the military and the state of the nation.

"Thank you, thank you..." said the President as everybody quieted down as he stepped up to the podium, "My fellow Americans, Members of Congress, judges of the Supreme Court...On this day over 200 years ago, our founding fathers brought forth the ideals of a new nation...A new concept...One that had never been attempted before. The principle of democracy and the republic were tests in government on how to do things better and serve the people as a whole. And on this most wonderful of nights on the date of our nation's birth, we celebrate the success of those principles and how they have impacted our world."

The President paused for applause as both sides began clapping in response to the President's inspirational words. Both Republicans and Democrats clapped together in an expression of unity that seemed to convey itself everywhere throughout the nation as each camera broadcasted this image to the world.

"Tonight...On the night of the Forth of July, we celebrate our freedom...Our liberty...Our rights as human beings. But we also have other reason to celebrate as well tonight. Three weeks ago...I was told by my generals that they had made a horrific discovery about a group of people that lived on our own soil. That group of people...The mutants of this country and this world...Were planning attacks and vendettas so horrific that few words could describe the magnitude of it. That discovery...The unveiling of one of the biggest plots against our nation...And against our whole civilization...Was a turning point in history. Our brave men and women in the armed forces have acted swiftly and efficiently at stopping this threat that had been brewing from within our society unabated. Our government has passed quick and effective legislation on the containment of this threat once and for all so that the American people and the people of the world will be able to sleep soundly knowing that their lives and rights are protected. Thanks to one Senator Kelly...The bill entitled the Mutant Containment Act will ensure the necessary precautions against a threat like this for future generations."

Again, more applause broke out and both Congressmen and Executive officials both smiled for the cameras, taking pride in their accomplishments and showing their confidence and steadfast dedication to all those watching.

"This government will never be played or used in a game like it was by mutants like the X-men ever again. This government will not assist in crimes against humanity. The human race...Is a precious thing that we all must cherish. And as more and more information is revealed about what could have been and what is still possible, we must stay strong and have faith in both our military and our civilization as a whole. We must not let our differences in race, gender, or ethnicity divide us any longer against threats that could wipe us all off the face of the Earth. So now on this most special of national holidays...We rejoice in the fact that we have fought for what was right...What was true. And now, we have brought justice to this world and it shall continue to reign!"

Then suddenly...As the President was about to continue his speech, a loud noise then came over the speakers. Widespread confusion quickly ensued as the President and his staff quickly tried to discern the source of this interference. But before anybody could do much...A loud, booming voice echoed through the speakers and into homes everywhere throughout the world.

"Justice you say? You think you have brought justice to this world with the crimes and atrocities that you have committed?" said Magneto as he used his powers to broadcast his voice over the speakers to every last person sitting in the Capitol, "This charade...This game of lies and deceit has gone on long enough!"

Magneto and Xavier then descended from an opening that Magneto had made with his powers. Both men hovered in the air as security forces and military personnel scrambled to take action. But before a single shot could be fired, the master of magnetism used his immense powers to strip the guards of all their weapons and warp them to the point of uselessness. And before anybody could flee, Magneto sealed the doors and used his powers to keep the cameras rolling and focus them on him and Charles...For they had something for the whole world to see.

"Last time I checked...Murder of the innocent is not justice," said Magneto as his voice continued to boom over the speakers, "Many crimes have been committed in the time you say that justice was being dealt to the so called evil doers of the world. The people of this country...Of this world...Have been tricked by the lies and deceit bred by hatred and intolerance in a country that was founded upon the exact opposite of such barbaric behavior!"

Then, as Xavier and Magneto reached the floor, wires and machinery was flung through the air as a setup was prepared to show everybody what they had uncovered about this so called 'operation.'

In the back end of the hall, Senator Edward Kelly stood wide eyed at the sudden appearance of two of the most powerful mutants on the face of the planet. He looked far wearier compared to the other Congressmen even though he didn't know why these two men were here. William Stryker, the man he had so entrusted his livelihood with, was supposed to have taken care of these two. They were among the top priorities, yet here they were. Gradually, things began to quiet down as Magneto made sure that every last camera was rolling and every single man and woman present would hear what they had to say.

With a single nod, Magneto let the Professor know that everything was ready. Xavier had come to Washington DC over three weeks ago on the night of the attacks to speak in front of congress in order to argue for peace. Now, he was doing just that on this most important of nights...Only this time the stakes were much higher.

"Everybody...Congressmen, judges, and executives...My friend and I have come before you tonight to expose a grave injustice done to this world the likes of which have never been seen before," said the Professor, keeping his voice as calm and collected as possible, for he knew that the things that he would have to talk about would be very hard.

"We don't want to hear anything from a mutant freak like you after all the lies you fed us!" yelled one of the senators.

Magneto responded by using his powers to force the man back into his seat rather forcefully, but Xavier forced him to stop there as he continued despite the outburst.

"I am not the one who has been lying to you...And I have proof!" said the Professor with his laptop still in his lap, ready to use for the big presentation, "This whole operation...This war against mutants that you all have been praising as a great success has been nothing more than a pack of lies bred by the Friends of Humanity in order to gain power and oppress a people that has done nothing to deserve such treatment. You all believe in the words fed to you by the military concerning the so called, plots and conspiracies that mutants all over the world were working on in order to overthrow humanity...But that information was not given to you by the military. That information was a sole result of the Friends of Humanity under a European businessman by the name of William Stryker in order to turn every last man, woman, and child against mutants so that they could fulfill their own personal goals. And I have proof that people throughout this government AND throughout the media have played a part in the wrongful and unjust deaths of many innocent people...People whom I considered to be my friends and family."

Some Congressmen, executives of the President's cabinet, and media personnel began to shift uncomfortably upon hearing Xavier's words. But nowhere was this more serious than with Edward Kelly...The man whom had drafted much of the anti-mutant legislation that had been passing so well since the attacks. Part of him hoped that Xavier was bluffing when he said that he had proof, but his gut instinct said that he knew something. And once the President and the rest of the world found out, he would be as good as dead.

"Oh shit...Oh shit..." mused Senator Kelly as he contemplated what to do, "I have to get out of here!"

Using the vast crowd to his advantage, the senator quickly weaved his way through the cluster of people, carefully making sure that the cameras didn't see him. He was only one man now in a sea of danger. He had to do something. He had to go somewhere to get help...And unfortunately there was only one man who could get him out of this now...William Stryker.

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

As Senator Edward Kelly made a quick escape from the Capitol and jumped in his car with the Pentagon his sole destination, William Stryker and his Friends of Humanity subordinates continued their preparations for the final stage of the plan. He no longer concerned himself with finding the escaped mutants. As far as he was concerned, they had already lost. Stryker was now on the phone constantly with Trask going over the final steps as they had planned them over two years ago.

"So my dear Trask, how's our timetable working out?" said Stryker as he looked over the data on one of the computer screens at one of the terminals.

"Right on schedule," answered Trask confidently from wherever shady location he was calling from, "At this rate, it should be put into effect in under an hour."

"Perfect, until then I've stepped up security and tripled the troops around DC so that no surprises will interfere."

"I take it you've stuck with Friends of Humanity soldiers instead of regulars for the more important tasks?" said Trask in the form of a statement rather than a question.

"Oh come now Bolivar...You know me better than that," grinned Stryker, "Regular army grunts ask too many questions and don't have the drive of Friends of Humanity soldiers. And after the training I have so generously paid for, they should be more than sufficient to operate here in DC until the real party starts."

"Indeed my friend...And trust me, it's going to be a night to remember."

Stryker then hung up and prepared to make another call when suddenly, one of his Friends of Humanity soldiers came running towards him with an urgent look on his face.

"General Stryker, sir! I have some urgent news!"

"Calm down soldier," said Stryker, always one to keep a level head, "Now what is the problem?"

"Well it's...Sir, I think you should just turn on the TV and see for yourself," said the soldier.

Turning towards Magnum, both the general and his associate quickly walked over to one of the TVs that the officers had been watching earlier and turned it on. And as soon as they did, what they saw was unexpected to say the least.

"Hmm...Well this is certainly quite a development..." said Stryker, not sounding as concerned as one might have thought he would, "That Xavier...That crafty little cripple is just full of surprises."

The soldier that had reported the event stood mildly amazed at the general's overall calmness despite this development. In fact, he had been calm throughout the whole operation to this point. It was as if nothing could surprise or faze him. But to Stryker...This was simply because he felt that he had already won long ago.

"What do we do now?" asked Magnum, making an angry fist upon seeing Xavier on TV talking to Congress and the rest of the world.

"We change it up a bit," answered Stryker, "We've come this far and it would be a shame if we let something like this stop us."

Stryker then turned away from the TV and made his way towards the exit with Magnum close by him. However, the officer that had reported this wasn't done just yet. There was one more thing that he needed to report.

"Sir...There's one more thing," said the soldier wearily as Stryker turned back to face him.

"Go ahead soldier," said Stryker, not sounding at all too worried.

"We also got a reading on an incoming aircraft heading south not long after the battle in Canada few hours ago. It went completely invisible an hour ago, but we suspect that it may be the survivors. Although we don't know where they could be heading now."

"South you say?" repeated Stryker, "You mean to say that this aircraft was heading south?"

"Uh, yes sir...But unfortunately we lost track of it. The cloaking device is proving hard to get around."

Stryker didn't really care about that last part. He merely looked back up at the central computer monitors and observed a map of the Northeast. Then...A slow smile spread across his face...One that hinted something was going to go his way despite this new development.

"They're coming here..." said Stryker, who seemed to see this as a good thing unlike the rest of his subordinates, "They're going to try and fight back...Against me...Against all of us."

It was a ploy that the general found nothing short of laughable as he couldn't hold back a light chuckle from this development.

"Well it looks like things have turned back in our favor," said the general as he turned back to face his subordinate, "Call off the search. We no longer have to find our enemies...They will find us. Put all soldiers within the greater DC area on high alert and tell them to initiate protocol 311."

"Yes sir!" said the officer obediently, "What about you General Stryker?"

"Don't worry about me soldier," said Stryker with a laugh, "I had a feeling that any remaining survivors would come to fight back sooner or later. Unfortunately for them, it was later and now they're all pretty much done for. That leaves us with only one thing left to do."

Stryker then took off his headset and turned back towards the rest of his Friends of Humanity officers.

"My fellow Friends of Humanity soldiers...Our targets are on their way. We need not find them this time, for they are doing all the hard parts for us. Within the hour, it will be over for them either way. The final step is about to be set into motion and should begin within the hour. And once this happens...Every last mutant on the face of the planet will be doomed. I must go forth and see this through. Until then, the protocols that I have written out are law. We are all very close to seeing this operation end my soldiers. We have already been victorious in so many ways. Now...Let us make it final."

"Sir yes sir!" said every last Friends of Humanity and military officer present.

And with that, Stryker turned towards the door and began to make his exit.

"Come Magnum," said Stryker to his ever loyal associate, "We have a helicopter to catch."

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

On board the X-jet, everybody looked out over the night lights of Washington DC. They had finally arrived and were prepared to make their last stand here and for the whole world to see. Below them, a city brewing with clandestine activity echoed through the darkness as countless armed Friends of Humanity soldiers rolled through the streets in military Jeeps while normal army soldiers and marines provided secondary assistance. The Capitol was bustling with light in the distance, most likely from the activity going on there.

"You think Professor Xavier and Mr. Lensherr are in there?" wondered Kitty as she looked at the Capitol in the distance.

"With the stakes this high...I'd say that's a pretty safe guess," said Scott as the X-jet stayed cloaked and flew towards the southern part of the district.

"That place is swimming with media coverage and has every important politician in the government there," said Raven as the lights remained visible in the distance, "If ever there was a place to expose the truth of this whole thing...That would be it. And I think those two both know it."

"Well then let's let them do their part while we do ours!" said Jean as more FOH patrols were seen in the streets below him.

"Sounds like a plan..." grunted Logan, just itching to unsheathe his claws and go into battle, "Any idea where to begin?"

"Wherever that son of a bitch, Stryker is!" said Wanda, already feeling her powers start to simmer within her mind.

"But how do we find a man who has been living so effectively in the shadows for so long now?" asked Colossus.

"Simple...We just have to think how he would think," reasoned Scott, "He's been using the same logic against us since this whole thing began. It's part of the reason why he was so effective. So let's use it against him!"

"Easier said than done leader man," said Pietro.

"You're probably right, but what else do we have to go on?" said Scott shaking his head, "We just have to ask ourselves...If we were an ultra powerful general who wanted to stay concealed and secure while having the capacity to command an entire army effectively and secretly without us knowing...Where would we be?"

"What kind of place around here would be that secure?" asked Kurt.

As the X-jet descended lower and flew further south, the surviving team of mutants that William Stryker had worked so hard to annihilate thought about this issue. If they were William Stryker...Where would they be? Then, as they passed over the Potomac river, something came into view that answered their question for them.

"There!" said Scott as he gripped the controls and changed the direction of the aircraft, "That's where he's been doing it from!"

"There?" asked Colossus, "Are you certain?"

"It's the only logical place," said Scott as the SR-77 Blackbird under his control picked up speed, "Hold on everybody! Next stop...The Pentagon!"

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

AN: That's all for now folks! The countdown to the final step that Stryker has been talking about for quite some time is about to be revealed! It's been a long, hard road for the surviving mutants and it's soon to come to ahead! Be prepared for the action to come as the X-men go up against William Stryker and the Friends of Humanity! So what do you think? Has my story been a satisfying read thus far? Please let me know! Send your reviews to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website! I'd love to know! Thanks a lot for reading! I appreciate it and I wish you all the best!
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