Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

Raising To The Challenge

by slickboy444 0 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: 2006/05/16 - Updated: 2006/05/16 - 7056 words

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Extermination
Chapter 31: Raising To The Challenge


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Senator Kelly had managed to make a quick and quiet exit through one of the VIP emergency doors in the Capitol upon Xavier and Magneto's arrival. And not wanting to stick around to see what they had to say, the Senator was quick to speed as far away from the building as possible. He knew that once the truth came out, he would be done for. Not just as a politician...But as everything. He had partnered up with Stryker and the Friends of Humanity in hopes of accomplishing his dreams of peace and safety from mutants everywhere...But now it seemed that the risks he took were not paying off and were going to come back to haunt him in the end.

William Stryker, always being prepared as any good general should, had designated a safe point for him just in case something unexpected went wrong in the operation. The destination, an old complex of warehouses along the Potomac, seemed somewhat strange for a safe point...But he had no other choices than to trust the location that he had been given.

"You better not be bullshitting me Stryker..." said the Senator to himself as he weaved through traffic on his way to the docks, "I took the risk and if I have to pay the price, I'll make sure that you pay it with me!"

The city traffic was light as a result of the military curfew and the festivities back at Capitol Hill. The area around the docks was a slew of abandoned and unused buildings that had fallen into disrepair. There seemed to be no other presence around the area as the Senator pulled into a lot near an area where a United States helicopter had just landed and got out to enter the main building.

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

Back in the halls of the Capitol, Professor Charles Xavier and his long time friend Eric Lensherr prepared to give Washington and the world as a whole something they wouldn't soon forget. Eric had sealed most of the doors now and disarmed the guards so that everybody would remain and hear what he had to say. Using his magnetic powers, Magneto readied a projector and wired the speakers so that Xavier's voice would be heard by all. All cameras from practically every news source in existence, including the ones that Stryker had manipulated. The whole world was watching him now...And he most certainly had something to say.

"Three weeks ago the public was told that the military, under emergency powers, had launched an all out, effective military strike on three so called mutant strongholds where everybody believed that mutants were silently waiting in the shadows and preparing to launch an overthrow of humanity. All of you...The media and the government...Started a global campaign of fear meant to do only one thing...Make humans fear mutants. And it worked. You all have praised the success of the military in their efforts in 'containing' the mutant menace as you all so eloquently classify it as. The public was told that these structures...Including MY school...Contained soldiers, weapons, and plans for global dominance and that scared everybody into believing that what was being done was right and justified. Well there's just one problem with that...There were no soldiers, no weapons, no plans...It was a SCHOOL. The boarding house for the Brotherhood of Mutants was just that...A boarding house. There were no bombs or guns or anything of the sort! You think that the threat was contained and neutralized...In terms only as sugarcoated as the public would accept to cover the true nature of what has happened. You think that the mutants you helped 'neutralize' were soldiers? You think that they were enemies of humanity? Well then...Here are the fruits of the accomplishments that you all so praise!"

Just then, Magneto dimmed the lights and activated a projector that was hooked up to the Professor's laptop. Then, a single enlarged image big enough for the whole room to see covered the projection screen and every last senator, representative, judge, executive official, and news personnel let out one large collective gasp as the image of the gruesome body of young Bobby Drake was shown for all to see.

"THIS...Is what you 'neutralized.' THIS...Was the threat that the people were fearing," said Xavier, not able to hide his anger or resentment for this horrible atrocity that had been committed against the innocent, "His name was Bobby Drake...He was 17 years old and wasn't even old enough to vote. Yet here he is...Dead because the 'preemptive strike' that was launched against my school."

Then, Xavier flashed another picture upon the screen...This time of Jubilee. Her body was just as grotesque, but what made things even more disturbing were the armed soldiers standing over her...Smiling at what they had done.

"Her name...Was Jubilation Lee. She was also 17. She was an honor student...An athlete...And a mutant. And now here she is...Murdered because she was seen as a threat."

Then Xavier changed the slide towards an even more disfigured picture...One that actually caused some of those present to look away while many others held their mouths open in shock at what they were seeing.

"This young man was Todd Tolensky...And he was one of the boys in the Brotherhood house that was attacked just as my school was. An orphan...A street dweller...And an easy source for bullying...Yet he seemed threatening enough to have his life ended."

Magneto watched as his friend continued to strain himself by going through such horrible images and describing those who were dead. Xavier started to go through more pictures sequentially. John Allerdyce, Lance Alvers, Rhane Sinclair, Hank McCoy, and young Jamie Madrox were shown at their bloody end. Pictures of the dead Morlocks also found their way into the presentation as Xavier described not the powers they had...But the people who they were. Some grew nauseous, some had tears in their eyes, but all of them felt a great deal of shock for what they were seeing.

"These 'targets' as the military called them," continued Xavier as he cycled through the endless pictures of the dead, "These threats to humanity...They weren't soldiers, they weren't mercenaries, they weren't monsters! They were children...They were teachers...They were friends and family...Sons and daughters...Mere KIDS who were slaughtered like animals simply because they were BORN! They had lives...They had families, and some of these children didn't even have homes to go to because of their mutantcy. Now...They will never see their parents again and their parents will never see them again...All because they were deemed threats because of lies! I had dedicated my life to helping them...Yet even the friends and teachers that assisted me were deemed threatening enough to be murdered as well! Now here they are...Here are your threats to humanity...Here are the results of your hatred!"

Xavier could feel the overwhelming sense of shock from the thoughts that many of the people in the room were projecting. And with the camera's still on and the images being broadcasted live all over the world, he hoped that everybody else would see what these men and women whom were in part responsible for this horror were looking at right now.

The look on the President's face was particularly disconcerting as he covered his mouth with his hand at what he was seeing. Now, one could only imagine what the rest of the world was thinking of the actions that they had just been praising a mere 10 minutes ago.

"None of these students wanted a war..." continued Xavier as he showed more images of dead mutant children with military men and women standing over their bodies like trophies, "None of them wanted to overthrow humanity or set themselves up as despotic rulers. They were just children...They wished only for what all children desire. They wished for peace...They wished for a future...They wished for friends, family, love, and everything else that is human by definition. Many of them even had human friends. But that still isn't enough! Still...Everybody goes on fearing them and hating them because they are different. You say that tonight is a celebration of freedom and liberty...The very concepts that this country was founded upon. Yet what kind of country finds it necessary to exterminate a whole group of people? This is NOT Nazi Germany...This is the United States of America! Natural rights were principles of all our code of law! Yet for these people...Some American citizens...And Some not...You deny them the right to live."

Pictures of Ororo Munroe and Rogue then flashed upon the screen, causing only more shock and disbelief. These images seemed like something one would only see in old photos of Nazi concentration camps...Yet this was real and on American soil.

However, while the images alone were shocking enough, Professor Charles Xavier was just getting started.

"All this death and destruction was kept from the public and every last man, woman, and child in this country was lied to for one specific reason...Control. And the only thing necessary for such control is fear...And thanks to the reports that the media broadcasted and the presentation ordained by corruption and greed...The whole country has now been pumped full of so much fear that everybody is now weary of leaving their homes because of the so called 'mutant threat.' And these images were what they were hiding from. But that's not the worst part of this whole situation...And some of the people in this room already know what I mean by that. The worst part is that this government and the military it is supposed to control...Made all this possible through corrupt, illegal, and barbarous actions. And I have proof...I have information that the whole world needs to see."

Many politicians and media reporters shifted uncomfortably in their seat upon hearing Xavier's last sentence. But they could not leave. Some were too nauseated by the pictures, some were just too paralyzed, and some were just too horrified to do anything to fight what was going on. And both the Professor and Magneto were just getting started.

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Senator Edward Kelly anxiously made his way into the dark, ominous building near the harbor along the Potomac. He wasn't sure what he was looking for or why this was Stryker's so called 'safe house.' But he had little choice now as he scanned the dark area, looking for whatever presence he could find.

"Hello?" said the Senator, hoping to find some Friends of Humanity soldiers or something of the sort to help him, "Is anybody here?"

Suddenly, the light above flashed on and the whole building was illuminated. Then, the Senator fell back in horror as the light revealed something truly unexpected in front of him.

"What in God's name?" he choked out.

Before him stood a 40 foot humanoid robot that looked like something out of a nightmare. It looked like a sentinel, only bigger, stronger, and with many new armaments from the looks of it. It had a dark red and black metal plating all around the body two visible laser guns built into to each hand...However because of the size, it was a pretty safe bet that this wasn't the only weapon that this metal monstrosity wielded. And from the looks of it, the creature was on a stand by mode of some sort because of the flashing red eyes. The senator had thought he had seen the last of these beasts after all the trouble they caused last time...But here he was standing in the shadow of something that he never thought he would see again.

"It can't be..." said Kelly as he tried to regain his composure.

"But it is my dear senator..." said a familiar voice from behind him, "I had a feeling that you may come here."

"Stryker!" said the Senator sternly, "What the hell is going on here? What is this place?!"

The general remained calm despite the senator's tone. Magnum was still by his side and her intimidating presence kept the senator from lashing out any further. But he still had questions that he desperately wanted answers for and he knew that Stryker was the only possible one that could help get him out of this mess before the truth came out and his name was everywhere and wanted for treason.

"Why...This is the final step of Operation Extermination that I have assured you of for these past two years," said Stryker as he and Magnum approached the weary politician.

"The final step?! Sentinels?!" bellowed Kelly angrily, "The final step is a bunch of sentinels?!"

"Not just any sentinels Senator Kelly...THE sentinels to end all sentinels," said a new voice from the shadows behind the giant robot in the center of the room.

"Bolivar Trask?" said the Senator with even more shock, "But...How?! You're supposed to be in federal prison!"

"I got out on a count of good behavior," smirked Trask.

Kelly turned back towards Stryker, who seemed all too satisfied with the reaction he had gotten as a result of this little revelation. It was annoying to the senator that this man kept playing him, but at this point there was little he could do about it and Stryker knew it.

"Now you see why it was necessary to keep you in the dark senator," said the general as he moved in closer to the weary man before him, "Getting Trask out was easy...All it took was a little money. I simply needed him for his knowledge and expertise in creating the ultimate mutant slayers...And after two years of patience and planning, we have it. This, my dear senator...Is the final solution to the mutant problem...Sentinel X."

"Sentinel X?" said Kelly as he looked back up at the giant robot standing before him, "This is what you were planning behind my back? Right here in Washington?! How? How could you manage to create something like this without me or anybody else knowing!?"

"This is America senator..." grinned Stryker, "Don't look so shocked. This country has a rather large problem with oversight...One that I find somewhat humorous because it made this whole thing fall together better than I ever could have hoped. And part of that success was because of you senator...You should feel very proud."

Senator Kelly looked back Trask as he continued smiling at his reaction and ignorance to this whole situation. Now, the senator felt like the only one who didn't know what was going on here, yet he had been the one to help make it happen. He had put so much faith in what Stryker had told him that he never could have possibly imagined something like this becoming of it.

"You...You lied to me!" bellowed the Senator in anger, "You promised that this would be swift and nobody would know about it! You said that this would remain clandestine...But I have a pretty good feeling that some people are going to notice something like this flying the air!"

"I told you everything you needed to know Senator...Nothing more," said Stryker, not wiping the grin off his face for a single moment, "I told you no lies. I am a man of honesty."

"Save the Euro gentile bullshit for somebody else Stryker!" said Kelly, which seemed to cause Magnum's face to twitch with anger, "This was NOT how it was supposed to happen!"

"The general is right senator," said Trask as Kelly now stood surrounded by two powerful men, "You were given a part to play and you played it quite well. You should be proud. You'll go down in history as the man who helped wipe out the mutant menace."

"I'll go down in history as a traitor and a butcher!" said the Senator angrily, "Did you not see the news? Xavier and Magneto are at the Capitol RIGHT NOW showing them the pictures of the dead kids that YOU gave him! And he also says he has proof of how we orchestrated this whole thing right down to the bill that initiated this whole thing! And I believe him...Xavier is also a man of honesty and never makes claims that he's not willing to back up."

"Oh please...Don't take me for a fool senator," scoffed the general, "Of course I know about Xavier's little escapade at the Capitol. It's one of the reasons why I came here sooner than scheduled. But don't worry...His little presence will not change anything at all. It will all be over soon enough for the both of us."

Senator Kelly was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of everything that was happening. Ever since the whole operation began, he had been anxious nearly 24/7 because it was such a big risk with such big payoffs. But the longer that the operation went on, the less likely that he would see the rewards of its success that he had hoped for. Yet despite this development with Xavier, Stryker didn't look fazed in the slightest...And it was becoming increasingly disturbing how he managed to stay so collected in a situation like this.

"But even if that's true!" shot the senator in response, "What do we do about public outcry when this whole thing is blown wide open?! The whole world will see us as murderers! We'll have the FBI, the CIA, and even SHIELD after us no matter where we go!"

"Will you relax senator," scoffed Stryker, not feeling threatened at all by the groups that Kelly mentioned, "I have plenty of friends in very high places that will keep us all as safe as a Swiss bank vault. The FBI and the CIA were a part of this too because they were paid to overlook us and I doubt that the exposure will be good for public relations. And as for SHIELD...I made sure that they were kept busy by bogus events in the Middle East and I have a few friends looking after Fury and keeping him docile. We are all safe...So long as you stick with me."

It wasn't a very comforting thought for the senator. It only meant that this man's innate control over his life was further strengthened because only he could get him out of this. Stryker seemed sense the senator's anxiety about this, but that only made him less of an issue because now...He owned him.

"Face it Senator Kelly...You have no other means of getting out of this. You are just as responsible for it as I am," said the general.

"We'll all go to prison for this...There's no way we can escape!" worried the Senator.

"We can and we will!" bellowed Trask, who was definitely getting annoyed by this man's petty graveling, "But first...We must prepare the final step for full activation."

"Agreed..." said Stryker, "And you will help us senator. For when the moment finally comes...Mutants everywhere will finally face the natural destiny of all threats to the human race...Extermination."

"NO!" said the Senator taking a step back, "I won't partake in this any longer! I'd rather go to prison now than trust you! I'm just a puppet now and I refuse to..."

Then suddenly, before he could finish, Magnum sprang into action and swiftly pulled out her silver 44 caliber magnum gun and pointed it directly at the senator's head. The weary politician was stopped cold in his tracks under the dark, ominous gaze of this intimidating woman.

"Insolent swine..." said the Russian killer, "You've been nothing but a nuisance since this whole operation began."

Then, with her free hand, Magnum grabbed the senator by the neck and easily lifted him off the ground without breaking a sweat while keeping the gun pointed straight at him.

"I was not making a request senator..." said the general as he looked at the feeble man before him at the mercy of his Russian female friend, "And at this point, I don't see how you are in a position to make such choices anymore. Now you will finish what I have dedicated my life to for the last two years or in ways I can only describe as deeply disturbing...You will die. Now you can answer to me...Or you can answer to her."

As the senator struggled to breathe, he managed to see a small smirk come across the stern, Russian woman's face...It was the first hint of emotion she had shown since he had met her. He could tell that she was enjoying this and couldn't care less what choice he made. Either way he was doomed to submit to someone rather he liked it or not.

"Okay...Okay I'll help..." choked Senator Kelly.

"I thought so..." said the General, "Magnum...Let him go."

The strong Russian woman complied and dropped the feeble man to the ground like a rag doll...Somewhat disappointed that she didn't get the chance to end this pitiful man's interference once and for all. But as long as he was of some use to them, Stryker would take full advantage of it.

"Little man..." said Magnum in her thick accent, "You don't know how lucky you are. But don't think it will take you that far...Because if you try anything for even a fraction of a second...I dismember your pathetic little body with my bare hands."

The anxious senator faltered under the powerful gaze of the blond Russian looming over him. Like the grim reaper, she would be his agent of death if he did not capitulate. Stryker seemed quite amused by this and had a rather disturbing grin on his face.

"Well said my dear...Now, do we have an understanding Senator?"

"Yes..." said Kelly as he struggled back to his feet, "We do..."

"Excellent, now let us get to work," said Stryker with an optimistic tone, "Trask...How's our timetable?"

"45 minutes and counting..." answered Trask, "It will all be over soon...And every last mutant will finally have met its match."

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The X-jet landed not far from the vast parking lot that surrounded the Pentagon. It was here where all the major decisions to kill off their friends and destroy their homes had been carried out. William Stryker...The madman behind this whole ordeal was the main target and the new group of X-men that included both friends and enemies were the only ones left to fight back. For so long now, Stryker and the Friends of Humanity had kept them with their backs against the wall...Fighting and grinding their will to resist down so that they could take control. For some...It was hard not to falter under such pressure, but for everyone...The will to fight had never been stronger. For whatever dream for tomorrow that rested within their minds...Be it peace or war...The battle that they were about to partake in was going to be fought together. The odds against them were truly daunting, but despite this...This was their last stand. This was their battle...Not Stryker's. And after all the pain and grief that this man and his dark organization had caused them...The fear of failure or even death was now the last thing on their mind as they exited the X-jet and looked at the large structure before them.

"Okay team..." said Scott as everybody formed up alongside him, "The Pentagon is no playground. Knowing Stryker, he probably prepared for just such an emergency and is most likely expecting us."

"Well then...Let's not keep him waiting!" grunted Logan as he unsheathed his claws, ready for battle.

As they all approached the entrance, it seemed all too eerily quiet for the most active nerve center of the most powerful military on Earth. Even though it was night, more was definitely expected in terms of security.

"Man...I have a bad feeling about this," said Kurt as they neared the entrance.

"That makes two of us..." said Alex in agreement.

Suddenly...An alarm from within the Pentagon went off. At first it sounded like a fire alarm...But this one was louder and more urgent. The X-men stopped cold in their tracks as the doors leading into the building seen burst open and dozens of heavily armed Friends of Humanity soldiers stormed outside and quickly surrounded them in a swift, military style maneuver. From behind, jeeps and armed 4 by 4 vehicles sped across the parking lot from behind...Hinting that their arrival had been planned just as they anticipated.

"Give it up freaks! It's over for you and your kind!" said one of the soldiers as each soldier readied their weapons and prepared to fire.

Normally, one would be weary of having so many guns pointed at them from many directions...But for the X-men, they had faced this so often within the last three weeks that it didn't really faze them this time. They had come here expecting this to be hard...And this time, their expectations proved to be right on the money. And upon hearing the words that they had become so familiar with now, the survivors and remnants of the target mutants didn't falter in the slightest as they took their battle stances for what promised to be the fight of their lives.

"Please..." said Raven, her tone dripping with sarcasm, "Don't you have any other words to threaten us with?"

"Heard one, you've heard them all! X-men, move out!" ordered Scott.

The Friends of Humanity soldiers didn't want to waste any more time. They wanted to finish what they had started with the attacks.

"All soldiers! FIRE! TAKE THESE FREAKS DOWN!"

Shots rang out, but as the team of mutants scattered quickly from the gunfire, Pietro used his speed to kick up a strong cloud of dust from the asphalt, hindering their ability to see as he and the others began to fight back.

With years of martial arts skill at her disposal, Raven Darkholm sprang into action as she pounced upon several soldiers and disarmed them of their guns. Kurt and Wanda helped her out with hex bolts and surprise attacks.

"This one's for Rogue!" yelled Mystique as she drop kicked two soldiers and stole their guns.

Just then, three other guards scrambled towards the shape shifter in order to assist their downed friends, but Kurt was quick to see this.

"Mother! Look out!" said Kurt as he quickly teleported over to the area and appeared in between two of the guards.

The surprise of the blue mutant's appearance gave Kurt all the time he needed to make his move while Mystique used the guns she had stolen to fire back, stopping the third guard that was still coming. And with the agility that he had been blessed with at birth, Kurt easily downed the two armed guards and got their weapons away from them so that they were more or less out of the fight.

"That's my boy..." said Raven to herself as she fought on with only more motivation to succeed.

As the sound of bullets echoed through the DC night, the mutants that had been so ruthlessly targeted by the Friends of Humanity fought back with every bit of ferocity they could muster. Security reinforcements from inside the Pentagon burst out, bellowing loud war cries in the name of General Stryker and all that they stood for. But these reinforcements soon hit a roadblock as they encountered Wanda Maxmioff...The Scarlet Witch.

"Take this!" yelled Wanda with bright glowing eyes as she levitated the soldiers into the air and warped their expensive, high powered guns beyond recognition. Then, with one final burst of hexing power, she slammed the group of soldiers back against the concrete walls of the structure. "That was for the Brotherhood..."

Out in the parking lot, the armed jeeps that had sped into the area fully armed and ready to take out the intruding mutants were nearing the main fight. However, in their way stood the immobile Colossus in full metal form...Showing little intention of getting out of he way.

"It's the tin man! Shoot him!" said the driver of one of the three jeeps as each 20 caliber machine gun was manned and aimed solely on the Russian.

Shots rang out...But the bullets had no effect on his hard, metallic skin. Like rubber balls, the bullets bounced off him and he didn't move in the slightest. The Friends of Humanity soldiers manning the guns merely wasted their ammo against him as they drew closer to the unflinching Colossus.

"DIE MUTIE FUCKS! DIE!" said the fanatical driver as all three vehicles sped up and the engines roared louder.

Colossus readied himself for impact as the three jeeps drew ever closer. He was prepared to punch each one of them back with all his might. The occupants of each vehicle let out a war cry as they prepared to ram him with little or no thought of their own lives.

They were about to make impact and the Russian was about to knock them all back...When miraculously, they passed right through him as if he were a mere mass of air. This surprised both Colossus and the men in the jeep, but when the Russian looked down at his feet...He saw the source of this act and smiled.

"Katya..."

"You didn't think I'd let them hit a friend now would you?" said the teenage girl as she quickly phased up out of the ground.

"No...I suppose not. Thank you..." said the Russian with gratitude as he and Kitty jumped back into the fight.

For the soldiers that had been driving the jeeps, the shock of passing right through their intended target was short lived...For as soon as they recovered, they were met with the angry and hardened Wolverine. With a loud animalistic growl, Logan pounced upon the front of the lead jeep before one of them could man the guns and began tearing into the vehicle with his claws.

"Holy shit!" yelled one of the men as he pulled out a 9 millimeter only to have it sliced into three pieces, "Somebody shoot it!"

The vehicle on the right side of the jeep under attack by Wolverine was about to come to their aid when suddenly...They heard another animal-like roar not at all dissimilar to Wolverine's. It was X23.

With her claws in both her hands and feet drawn, the former living weapon aggressively tore into the vehicle like a wild animal. Years of being pent up in a cage and mistreated by scientists and soldiers alike had triggered the deep rage within her and the occupants of the jeep didn't stand a chance.

While two of the other jeeps were being torn to shreds by Wolverine and X23, the last one was free to enter the thick of the fight against the mutants that were currently holding their own against many of the soldiers. The occupants of the vehicle manned the gun and prepared their rifles.

"Okay guys! Let's show these freaks what humans are made of!" said the driver as he they neared the building where most of the fighting was still going on.

"Not so fast!" yelled a voice off to the side.

Suddenly, a energy blast erupted from the hands of Alex Summers and the tires and rims of the military jeeps exploded under the force...Sending the three occupants of the vehicle flying out of the jeep while it erupted into flames.

"Whoa...Wipe out," said Alex.

With plenty of soldiers still willing to readily throw themselves at the X-men, the fight was getting more intense. Even soldiers that had their rifles taken away from them refused to give up and still rushed their enemies armed only with their bare hands. It was a fanatical drive that motivated these men to kill them...A drive instilled in them by William Stryker and the ideals of the Friends of Humanity. It was not like previous times when they fought against fanatics...No, this was something truly different. Whatever Stryker had done to these men and women in uniform...It had been truly extreme and it was clear that they were willing to die for what they believed in.

"They won't stop coming!" said Jean as she unleashed another telekinetic burst against a group of armed soldiers trying to sneak up behind them.

"Then we can't stop fighting!" replied Scott as more reinforcements stormed out of the Pentagon fully armed.

The new group of soldiers did not want to waste their time getting close. They wanted to take them all out and by any means. While still on the steps of the Pentagon, the largest office building in DC, a dozen armed Friends of Humanity soldiers aimed their rifles and prepared to fire while the rest of the X-men were busy fighting.

"Everybody take aim! Don't hesitate!" ordered the leader of the group.

However, Quicksilver soon picked up on this and sprang into action while Scott and Jean remained occupied with another group.

"I got this one!" yelled Pietro.

With his powers of super speed, Pietro Maximoff quickly ran over to the armed group in a dizzying blur and disarmed them of their weapons within a fraction of a second. It caught the Friends of Humanity soldiers off guard, but it didn't dissuade them as they saw the speedster appear in front of them in a triumphant stance.

"Too slow fellas! I'm not letting you put any more bullets in me after last time!"

"Get him!" yelled one of the soldiers as he whipped out a pocket knife and charged the speed demon.

Quicksilver merely scoffed as he easily avoided their attacks, but the fanatical looks on their faces showed how truly driven they were towards killing them. Without weapons, they would still charge them as they had been ordered to by General William Stryker. This strange fanaticism seemed strange, but there was little time to think about it. As a nearly a dozen unarmed guards swarmed the position of the speedster, he quickly fought back with his lightning fast reflexes. However, no amount of punishment could stop them unless they were completely knocked out...A task not very simple to say the least.

"These guys are crazy!" said Pietro as he dodged another lunge attack from one of the guards with a knife.

Scott unleashed another optic blast upon stray jeep that was about to open fire with it's mounted machine gun, but the occupants of the vehicle merely ditched their disabled vehicle and came charging at them with the same fanatical war cry.

"He's right..." thought Scott to himself, "They all seem like brainwashed fanatics."

Jean, Wanda, and Alex weren't far behind as they used their collective powers to drive several more groups of soldiers back. But once they got up, they just kept coming. It was pointless to drive them away. None of them had any inclination to surrender against their general's orders.

"They won't stop coming!" said Jean as she and Wanda once again supplemented each others' powers to deflect incoming bullets, "Stand back, I'm going to try a psychic blast to knock them all out!"

"No Jean!" said Scott as he kept firing his optic blasts against the attacking soldiers, trying hard not to kill or seriously hurt them, "Save your energy! Something about this is very wrong! We have to stop this and get into the Pentagon! We're wasting too much time!"

"I'm with you bro! This isn't getting us anywhere!" said Alex as he lunged away from another barrage of bullets.

"X-men! Reassemble and let's get inside before Stryker gets away!" ordered Scott.

Then, with the help of Jean's telekinesis and Wanda's hexing power, the X-men were temporarily shielded while they all grouped together and stormed through the front entrance past the fanatical Friends of Humanity guards. Once they were in, Logan and X23 slammed the door shut behind them while Alex welded it shut with a finely tuned blast.

"They're trying to stall us..." said Scott, trying to catch his breath after the intense skirmish that they had just taken part in, "I don't know why...But I'm sure that they want to slow us down for some reason."

"How do you know that?" said Pietro, not seeing that.

"Because they wouldn't stop throwin' themselves at us speedy," answered Logan, "It ain't like the attacks back up at the base. Just open yer eyes for once kid."

"But why would they want to slow us down?" asked Kitty, "Why not just try to take us out like they've been doing ever since this whole thing started?"

"Like I said, I don't know...But something is definitely going on here," said Scott, "Stryker must know something...Otherwise he wouldn't have launched such a half assed attack."

"You call THAT half assed?!" said Alex in a bewildered tone.

"I call that an attack that is very non-Stryker. It just wasn't his style...But why?" thought Scott.

Just then, a lone Friends of Humanity soldier who had been hiding around a corner armed only with a European made MP5 sprang into action. He was only one soldier against 11 powerful mutants...But he knew his orders and he would not disobey them, for they were directly from William Stryker.

"DIE MOTHER FUCKERS!" yelled the soldier as he quickly unloaded his weapon on the X-men.

However, his frantic yell had triggered an immediate response with Wanda as her hexing powers quickly activated and she deflected the bullets from her friends. While the lone gunman was still shooting, Kurt took action and teleported behind the soldier and swiftly disarmed him with a kick to the bottom of his gun and knocked him over towards the others with a jump kick. As the fanatical guard stumbled forward, he was grabbed and held in an iron grip by Colossus. The man struggled to break free, but the super strong Russian had no intention of letting him go.

"Stay calm..." said the Russian to the struggling soldier, "You will not be harmed if you simply cooperate."

"NO! I will not help you mutie freaks! My Friends of Humanity brethren will kill every last one of you, I swear! You all must die!" yelled the struggling guard.

"Keep talking bub!" grunted Logan angrily as he pointed his claws directly at his neck, "I dare you! I fucking dare you to keep talking like that and see what happens!"

The horrified look on the man's face grew more intense as he stood before nearly a dozen angry mutants.

"You know it's men like you that are responsible for my daughter's death...I would have no qualms about you continuing your little rant," said Raven in a deep and stern tone, "It will only give me more reason to disembowel you for all the crimes you have committed!"

"We are not criminals...You are the criminals! You are the ones that want to kill us all! The Friends of Humanity WILL stop you!"

"Look, we don't have time for this!" said Scott, not wanting to hear this man push an angry Wolverine and Mystique any further, "Now where's William Stryker? You can talk to me...Or you can talk to them."

Both Logan and X23 gave the bound man a good look at their sharp, adamantium claws. He broke out in a nervous sweat, but he still resisted.

"I will NEVER betray my leader! You can torture me all you want! I will NEVER tell you freaks anything!" bellowed the soldier.

"Don't worry...You won't have to," said Jean as she stepped forward and removed his helmet.

"No..." said the soldier as he saw his helmet, which gave him protection against psionics, get thrown to the floor, "NO! Forgive me General Stryker!"

Jean placed her hands on the temples of the struggling man and quickly penetrated into his mind. The young psychic almost found herself thrown out upon feeling such resentment and hatred. It was as if this man was truly brainwashed because the only words that resonated clearly in his head were that of William Stryker. It explained his fanaticism, but it also made his mind harder to probe.

"Jean...Can you find anything?" said Scott as he and the other waited anxiously for the results.

Jean probed deeper as the man let out another struggled yell, trying to force her out of his mind. But because her telepathy had grown so strong since the Phoenix incident, his shields of hatred could not keep her out. Then finally...She found what she was looking for and the man fell unconscious.

"I did it...I know where he is," said Jean, "I know where William Stryker is!"

"Then let's move out!" said Scott and he and the X-men wasted no more time and burst out the door and fought their way to the X-jet.

No amount of Friends of Humanity soldiers could hold them back now. Not when they were this close. The battle had already proven itself to be hard and full of obstacles. But they had a goal now and this time they knew where to go. And they would not deviate from their path now...For William Stryker was waiting.

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

AN: Well, the first part of the battle is done! Now that just leaves the confrontation with the 'final step.' It's been a long road leading up to this, but there's still more to come! Xavier and Magneto must do their part while the new X-men do theirs! So what do you all think of this fic thus far? I know it has been pretty long, but has it been a good story? Please tell me! Send your reviews to me at my email address or post them on the fanfiction website! I love getting reviews! They really help inspire me to write more and write better! Thanks a lot for reading! I wish you all the best!
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