The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...
Chapter 25: Interrogation Terror
It was a long, quiet ride in the specially converted humvee jeep as the five mutants of Shadow Cell once again found themselves driving towards the city of Bayville on yet another mission. Tensions ran high as the sheer magnitude of what they were doing continued to wear at their young minds. They had never gone on a mission like this before...So cut off from all of Shadow Cell's regular operating procedures.
Their whole lives had been run by rigorous protocol ever since they had been recruited. Every session of training and every mission had been done with the strictest of guidelines and procedure. It was part of what made them such disciplined, determined, and deadly soldiers. But this mission which was only ordained upon them by their trusted mentor, Dr. Nathanial Essex, seemed devoid of any such procedure and was completely in the dark.
It was a strange twist of irony that one of the most shadowy programs ever created was now taking on a mission so secret that even the vast majority of the organization didn't know about it. Yet as they had learned time and time again, a mission was a mission no matter how secretive it was. They may not have had protocols to guide them, but they were merely formalities in the grand scheme of things, for in the heat of combat...Protocols always took a back seat to the mission.
With this thought in mind, the five mutant soldiers that had grown, learned, and worked together for the better part of their lives did their best to look ahead with the given predicament that faced them. A crazed mutant supremacist known as Magneto was out to destroy humanity according to Dr. Essex, and like any other threat, they would have to neutralize him by any means necessary.
However, what made this threat more interesting was the fact that it involved the mutant/human problem that Shadow Cell often found itself stuck between. They had never gone up against a mutant foe like this before and there were plenty of unknowns to consider. But what also made this mission unique was the fact that Magneto was also Wanda's estranged father...A man whom she had come to loath in the utmost for throwing her away all those years ago. Up until now he had just been a dark figure of her nightmares...Now she had to contend with the very real possibility that she may face him again in the flesh. Such a possibility definitely made Wanda weary of this shadowy mission, but protocols or not, the chance to see her father again and pay him back for all the pain he caused her overshadowed any such lingering doubts whatsoever...But despite this, there were still many things that didn't sit well with her whenever she thought about the mission.
"Are you going to be okay, Wanda?" asked Vincent, who was sitting next to her in the back seat, seeing that she was still quite tense.
"I'll be fine..." she said in a monotone response, simply looking ahead in a daze as they neared the Brotherhood boarding house.
"Wanda...You know I can tell when you're not telling the truth," said Vincent, taking her weary hand and gently holding it in his in a show of compassion that they probably wouldn't have been allowed to show at a time like this under normal circumstances.
"Yeah...I figured," she said, choosing not to argue with him on the matter, "But trust me...I'll manage somehow. It's just...The thought of going up against my father again is a lot to take in. He's been nothing more than an image in my nightmares for so long that the thought of seeing him again in the flesh just makes me..."
Wanda chose not to finish as she found herself giving Vincent's hand a firm squeeze, taking a deep breath and doing some of the mental relaxation techniques that Magnum had taught her over the years. The eerie light blue eyes of Vincent Freeman that had so often given her comfort in her darkest hours continued to look back at her with great concern, not knowing how she could possibly feel with such a daunting prospect, but he was intent on helping her through it along with the others as they so often had over the years. And his comforting gaze showed it.
"I know...But we'll work through it..." said Vincent with confidence, "It's simply another mission. Off the books or not...A mission is a mission. That part of the game never changes."
"And it's a part that most certainly shouldn't be lost on us in this instance..." said Scott from the driver's seat as he added into their discussion as they neared the target area, "And like all missions...We'll face major challenges that we'll have to overcome whether it be against the Brotherhood or Magneto. And personal feelings aside...We have to work together and help each other as we would in any mission."
"Right...And against a man like my father, we'll need it," said Wanda with a determined look as the jeep pulled up to the Brotherhood house and stopped along the curb.
It was nearly midday and they were all definitely up. This part of the mission was as vital as any other, for the Brotherhood held the key to Magneto's location. They knew they would not give up their secrets easily...But that was to be expected as always with the kind of work they did and this was no exception.
After doing a brief survey of the house, Scott took out the black cell phone that Dr. Essex had given them as their only means of communication back to the base and dialed the specified number he had been given to contact their mentor, who was in his lab doing some extensive work on the bio-mutagenic accelerator while most of the scientists were at Washington or elsewhere in the base.
"Cyclops," answered Dr. Essex as briefly halted what he was doing and picked up his cell phone and spoke to his creations, "Are you in place?"
"Affirmative Dr. Essex," said Scott as he put the phone on speaker so everybody could hear, "We're parked right outside the house. And according to Jean, they're all in there including the shape shifter."
"Perfect..." he said with an ominous grin, "Then go ahead and proceed to interrogate them for Magneto's location. If they offer any kind of resistance...Well, you know how to handle it."
"Does that mean the others are expendable?" asked Jean.
Dr. Essex thought about that for a moment, wondering if it was truly necessary that the Brotherhood be taken out of the picture. It didn't really matter to him since they posed a minimum threat at best...But then again, if he was not to draw attention to his little operation, namely from Xavier who would undoubtedly be concerned if the Brotherhood were to mysteriously vanish, he would have to simply work around their pestilence...Which he was more than willing to do for the sake of his ultimate goal.
"No...They're still young and they pose no threat. But if they become a problem...Then I can't say it would upset me. I'll leave it up to you. Just find out what you can about Magneto's location and call me."
"Right Dr. Essex! Give us ten minutes, max and we'll get them to sing like canaries," said Wanda, eager to begin in this fight against her father.
"I have little doubts that you will..." said Dr. Essex confidently, "Just carry out the mission as I know you all will do with pride. You have my complete confidence and I wish you the best."
"Thank you sir..." said Scott, looking back at the Brotherhood house, feeling it was time to begin.
"Oh, and one more thing Wanda..." said Dr. Essex, hoping to prepare her for one last little shock she may not have been told yet, "Among the Brotherhood members that may pose a challenge...One of them is your brother...Pietro."
Wanda's expression immediately went cold as she heard that name. While most of her hate remained focused on her father, she didn't forget the one other person who had been there that day when those guards carried her off into the dark asylum...Her twin brother, Pietro Maximoff. She clenched her fists in a fury upon hearing that name, but would not allow him to come between her and Magneto. As much as she would have liked to settle some lingering feelings concerning him...Her father remained her top priority.
"I understand, Dr. Essex..." she told him in a firm tone, earning her a concerned look from her comrades.
"I apologize that you were not told earlier...But I felt as though it would be better if you dealt with only one startling revelation at a time," he said to her, mustering what compassion he could.
"It's okay sir. I'll deal with Pietro another day...But the mission comes first and so does Magneto."
"Very well then my dear...Then good luck and Godspeed my children," he said before he hung up the phone and went back to his job of prepping the bio-mutagenic accelerator for use with the stone which would finally enable it to turn his long coveted goals from mere dreams to reality.
Looking back at his work thus far, Dr. Essex knew he had a ways to go. Magnum was working to ensure that his laborious efforts went without interruption and even procured a few specialized parts for him in order to facilitate progress...Which would have to be quick if he was to get it up and running before anybody got too suspicious. In addition, he had placed a few 'suggestions' in a few of the GURSO officials that had weak minds and managed to use a few hologram projectors to provide an accurate and believable deception. And so far, everybody was believing it hook, line, and sinker.
As for Shadow Cell, they may have been working with a window on their mission, but he was working right along side them in a race against time before someone, namely the Colonel or the General, found out. However, in the eyes of Dr. Essex...Even if they did know, there would be little they could do to stop him from carrying out the goals he had worked so long and hard for.
Back at the Brotherhood house, everybody was still concerned a bit with the revelation that one of the Brotherhood members they would have to go through to get the information they needed was Wanda's twin brother, Pietro. Vincent had suspected at one point that he could be the brother she had so often described to him when she confided in him with some of the haunting memories that she still struggled with, only now he had confirmation.
"Wanda...Are you..." began Vincent, placing a hand upon her shoulder.
"I'm fine," she told them with confidence in her tone as a new sense of determination came over her, "So we're going to have to go through my brother to find my father...Big deal. As far as I'm concerned...He'll just be a nuisance like he always was."
"But are you really willing to go through your family for the sake of this mission?" asked Scott seriously, not wanting any of them to be held back in any case.
"As far as I'm concerned...I have no family...Only Shadow Cell," she told them, speaking truthfully and honestly.
Her response seemed good enough for the others as Vincent gave her an encouraging nod, letting her know that he and the others felt the same way about her.
"In that case...I say let's not keep our soon-to-be snitches waiting," said X23, feeling ready to get down to the action.
"I agree..." said Scott, sharing the former living weapon's feelings since time was a big factor with this mission even more so than usual, "Now I know this mission is different than any other we've ever faced...But let's not veer from what Shadow Cell is truly about. There is a real threat to the world out there and it's up to us to stop it...So let's not keep our enemies waiting."
Then, the five mutant soldiers proceeded to place their hands in the center and kept with the ritual that had bound them with each and every mission to date.
"Kuwabara...Kuwabara..." they all said simultaneously.
And with that, Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch all stepped out of the jeep and began to make their way up to the Brotherhood boarding house, ready to take on the challenges that awaited them whatever they may be.
"So exactly how many are in there?" asked Cyclops as they walked up the unkempt pathways leading to the front door.
"Five, counting the shape shifter," answered Phoenix, doing a quick telepathic sweep of the house.
"Five fully powered mutants who live like outlaws and reject humanity as having any sort of saving grace?" said Mayhem, framing up the situation before them, "Sounds like a challenge."
"Nah, don't worry," assured Phoenix, "If what I can sense from them is any clue, they'll be pushovers at best."
"That'll be nice for a change," said the Scarlet Witch, hoping that it would speed up the overall progress of the mission and get her a step closer to confronting her father, "So how should we neutralize them?"
"Hmm..." said Cyclops taking a moment to think about how to handle a situation like this, "Well Dr. Essex said not to kill them unless they pose too much a threat, so I'd think that maybe a desert scorpion or a Brazilian bushwhacker would work in this instance."
"Desert scorpion to a bunch of teenage wannabes?" said Mayhem in a questioning tone, "Nah, I don't think they'd be all that good at handling shit like that. Maybe we should try with something like a brain burnout or a gut buster."
"A brain burnout would be unnecessary if they don't know anything and a gut buster would take too long," argued Phoenix, who was their chief expert when it came to interrogation.
"I don't know...I think a gut buster or at least a Belgrade bazooka would be appropriate to neutralize them while you handle the shape shifter," said the Scarlet Witch.
"Or...Since this is an off-the-books mission, we could just play it by ear," suggested Cyclops, thinking they were simply running through too many scenarios for a part of the mission that was far from difficult in comparison to some of the other tasks they would probably face.
"Hmm...Sounds good to me," said Phoenix, already knowing what she was going to do once she got her hands on that shape shifter, "With any luck, they'll fall like Afghani fighter jets."
"Only one way to find out..." said X23 as they all approached the door.
Inside the Brotherhood boarding house it was business as usual for them. Todd and Lance were lofting about in the living room, Freddy was cooking another meal for himself up in the kitchen, and Pietro was at always at any number of given places since he seldom stood still for very long. Mystique was up in her room, taking a desperately needed nap after having been in numerous tense phone conversations with Magneto and running errands for him as she was so incessantly forced to do time and time again. Nobody dared to disturb her, for they all seemed bent on enjoying a day when she didn't yell at them for not being able to get them back into school. But as of lately, her efforts had seemed to wane and she had other concerns to take care of. And that was fine with them...For school was overrated to them anyhow.
"Hey Blob! Is that big sandwich of yours ready yet? You're gonna miss the best part of the movie!" yelled Lance as he and Todd lofted lazily upon the couch watching an afternoon movie on cable.
"Hand on man! I'm almost done!" said Freddy as he eagerly put the finishing touches on his sandwich, which looked more like a party sub.
"Well hurry up yo!" said Todd, "And be sure to save at least something in there for dinner later on!"
"No promises there man," said Blob as he poured a few lines of mustard on for the final touch.
Just then, the front doorbell rang.
"Ugh...Who could that be?" grunted Lance, "Todd, go answer it."
"No way yo! Why don't you answer it? I'm comfortable here," he said as he sank into his seat on the couch.
"Because I answered it last time and had to listen to some jerk off Jehovah's Witness guy blab on and on about whether or not I've found Jesus," quipped Lance in response, "You owe me man..."
To further push his point, Lance kicked Todd off the couch and sent him falling to the floor. Not wanting to make a scene, Todd got up and made his way over to the door, hoping it wasn't somebody who was going to make him miss too much of the movie.
"Damn...What kind of people knock on somebody's door in the middle of day?" groaned Todd, "It ain't like most people have the luxury of being expelled from school. Man I don't care who this is, if it ain't Magneto himself, I'm slammin' the damn door in their face."
Todd didn't think too much of what lay before him as he took a quick peak at who was on the other side through the peep hole. But as soon as he got his first glimpse of the five mutant soldiers on the other side, all hell broke lose.
"Knock, knock..." said Cyclops as his body glowed in a bright ruby red color and proceeded to give the flimsy wooden door a hard kick with enough force behind it to dent a tank.
Immediately, the force of the blast sent the young amphibious mutant flying through the air screaming like a little girl. The door was shattered like glass and the five mutant soldiers stepped in with an almost casual stride as they watched the young mutant who now lay before them groan in a heap of pain.
"Oh shit man..." he said rubbing his head, "Who the hell are you?"
"Just passing by..." answered Phoenix as she used her telekinesis to levitate the young boy into the air, causing him to squirm like a worm at the end of a fishing line.
"Wow! What the..." began Todd as he struggled with the strong invisible force that left him hovering just a few feet off the ground.
"The shape shifter..." said Phoenix in a stern tone, "Where is she?"
Hearing the commotion, Freddy stepped out from the kitchen to see what was causing Todd to let out that girlish scream of his. And like Todd, he was quickly drawn into a defensive stance by the five imposing soldiers standing before him.
"Hey Toad..." he said as he entered the main hall, "What the hell?!"
But before Freddy could say anything more, Mayhem sprang into action, using his super speed to land a fast fury of intense blows to the oversized mutant's body. Even though he could easily stop an oncoming car with his strength, the force with which Mayhem hit him was like that of being rammed by a freight train. Then, in a show of his immense strength, the powerful young mutant lifted the immovable Blob up over his head, surprising both Todd and Freddy in the process.
"Take a load off lard ass..." said Mayhem in the stoic tone of the soldier he was, "It looks like you could use it."
"Oh SHIT!" yelled Blob as Mayhem wasted no time in showing him just how serious this was.
Then, in an act that shook the very foundation of the house and awoke Mystique from her peaceful slumber upstairs, Mayhem body slammed him on the floor next to where Todd was still hovering. The commotion quickly garnered Lance's attention, who was next to show up from the living room on the opposing side of the kitchen.
"Todd...Freddy? What the hell was that?" yelled Lance from the other room as he entered the hallway, where he was met with a very vicious X23.
With movements as fluid as reflexes, X23 let out an animalistic growl and did a few quick CQC moves on him, grabbing his arm, twisting it around his back, and listening to him wail out in pain.
"AH! What the..." began Lance, but he hit the floor before he could finish.
Surprised by the younger girl's uncanny strength, Lance let out a groan of pain as he now lay flat on his back. X23 kept him down by keeping a firm foot upon his chest, making her message all the more clearer by extending the claw embedded within until it was a mere couple of centimeters from his neck.
Lance was immediately taken by the sight of a super sharp blade sticking out of the young girl's feet right up against his throat and couldn't concentrate enough to cause a tremor...Because judging from the look on this girl's face, she seemed all too willing to see his head and body suffer from a sudden bout of separation anxiety.
"Stay down..." she told him with a grunt, pulling out one of her guns and pointing it directly at his head.
Lance didn't say a word, but then before anything else could happen, a sudden silvery blur passed in front of the staircase as Pietro Maximoff unknowingly stumbled into the lion's den.
"Hey could you guys keep it down! I'm trying to..." but he didn't get a chance to finish...For what he saw standing before him instantly paralyzed him as if somebody had sent an electric shock through his system, "Oh...My...God! Wanda?!"
"Err! PIETRO!" bellowed the Scarlet Witch as her body was engulfed in a purple haze and the whole house began to shake under the power of her hexing abilities.
The sight of her twin brother...The one who had been there that day when her father threw her away...Was a sight that no amount of intense training ever could have prepared her for. Immediately, the four unprepared Brotherhood boys were engulfed in a haze of purple light and were slammed up against the walls, their powers now suppressed and contained while their bodies were now paralyzed and useless to resist.
"Ugh...Lemme guess," groaned Todd, "Ex-girlfriend?"
"No! Worse!" said the speedster as he continued to look back and disbelief at what he was seeing, "She's my sister! And she's supposed to be dead!"
"Dead? DEAD?!" yelled the Scarlet Witch as she turned up the intensity of her hexing powers, causing them all to let out a pained yell, "Why don't I show you just how painful a dead girl can be?!"
Then suddenly, the four boys let out another round of pained moans as they were lifted off the ground and slammed back into the wall, leaving another round of dents as they all struggled to fight against the paralyzing force of her hex bolts.
"Easy Scarlet Witch...Take it easy," said Mayhem as he placed a hand upon her shoulder, causing her to take deeper breaths and lower the intensity of her hexing powers so that they couldn't move and their powers were contained.
It was a tense couple of moments for both the Brotherhood and Shadow Cell, but they all stayed quiet, for only Mayhem was capable of truly calming the Scarlet Witch down whenever she let her emotions get the better of her. Phoenix also helped by soothing her a bit with a few relaxing thoughts, but Mayhem signaled to her that such actions were unnecessary and he had things under control.
'It's okay Phoenix...I got this,' sent Mayhem as the fury of shaking gradually died down and the four mutant boys were now paralyzed before five well trained mutant soldiers.
Once the Scarlet Witch had calmed herself, she locked eyes with her estranged twin brother, who was still looking back at her in disbelief, for his dead sister was now standing before him. He had always thought her to be dead, he had come to accept that she was dead, but now here she was...Standing there before him and understandably angry.
"Well then...Now that you're all settled, why don't we have a little talk?" said Cyclops in a casual, yet menacingly threatening tone, "Now I see you all are now familiar with the Scarlet Witch and her hexing powers, so don't think you're going anywhere anytime soon and don't think you're powers are going to help you."
"Err!" struggled Lance, "What the hell do you guys want?"
"I'm the one asking the question's here asshole! You'll speak when your fucking spoken to, got it?!"
Cyclops's forceful words sent the usually confrontational Lance Alvers into a frightened silence as he saw the eyes of the powerful mutant soldier glow a menacing ruby red color. And once all was silent again, Cyclops continued with the interrogation.
"Now then..." he said as he walked over to Todd, who was now cowering under his penetrating gaze, "I believe we asked you a question earlier...Where is Mystique?"
"I think she's..." began Freddy, but that quickly proved to be a mistake.
"I DON'T REMEMBER ASKING YOU A GOD DAMN THING FAT BOY!" yelled Cyclops in response, causing the immovable Blob to fall silent in an unusual show of fear as the Scarlet Witch gave him a quick little shock to show that they meant business, "Now then...Mr. Todd Tolensky if I'm not mistaken...Are you going to give us an answer? Or are you going to make this much, MUCH more difficult?"
Todd was already sweating in terror at the sight of the intimidating soldier and was too petrified to say anything. He wanted to tell him, but his brain just couldn't tell the rest of his body to respond. Cyclops took a step closer to him, causing him to squirm even more as he struggled against the Scarlet Witch's hex bolts as he cowered before the intimidating mutant's presence.
"I...Uh...Don't...I mean I..." he stammered, unable to find coherent words.
"If he's not going to answer, then please Cyclops...Blow his brains out. He's getting on my nerves," said X23, showing these four mutant misfits the kind of people they were dealing with here.
"Sure...I can do that," said Cyclops as he took out one of his guns from his holster and cocked it in a threatening gesture, "Now...Are you sure you don't want to tell me? Or are you going to have to pick up pieces of your brain off the floor?"
The sight of a gun pointed directly at him only rendered him more terrified, for neither he nor the others doubted for a second that he was capable of pulling that trigger. Then suddenly, before any of them could respond, a booming noise came from the top of the steps.
"Get out of my house!" yelled a very angry looking Mystique as she stormed down the stairs armed with a nine millimeter, getting off a few shots.
However, whatever shots she got off were worthless, as years of training kicked in and Mayhem used his super speed to appear before her, taking each bullet with ease as they all bounced off of him harmlessly. Mystique didn't have time to react to this as Cyclops then sprang into action, jumping back towards the area besides the stairs and firing a perfectly aimed optic blast at her hands, blowing the gun right out of her grip.
"Augh!" she yelled out in pain as she clutched her hands.
"There you are..." said Phoenix as a halo of fire quickly enveloped her and she used her telekinesis to slam her to the wall and back up the stairs, "Just the one we've been looking for."
Unable to fight against the sheer power of her telekinesis, Mystique was as helpless as a rag doll as she was flung against the walls, letting out pained yell after yell that echoed strongly within the minds of the Brotherhood, for it only added to the intimating aura of power that these five intruders wielded.
"You guys have a little fun down there...The shape shifter and I are going to have a little chat," said Phoenix as she ascended the stairs and used her telekinesis to fling the shape shifter back into her room where she soon joined her, slamming the door behind before letting the interrogation begin.
After having been thrown around the hall like a tennis ball, Mystique was struggling to get up from the stinging pain that lingered throughout her body. She now lay on the floor trying to push her self up with her arms, but Phoenix wouldn't give her the chance as she pressed her foot down upon her back and held her down.
"Ugh..." she grunted in pain, "Who...Who are you? What do you want?"
"I'll ask the questions here...Mystique!" shot Phoenix in a menacing tone as she used her telekinesis to once again fling her against the wall, causing her to let out another pained yell as she helplessly braced for the continuous punishment of this mysterious intruder, "Now...Let's keep this quick and easy...Where is Magneto?"
Mystique's eyes widened at the mention of Magneto, for she thought no one else outside the Brotherhood and the X-men knew of him or his plans. But keeping with her word of loyalty to the master of magnetism, she didn't give the angry redhead the answer she wanted.
"What do you want with Magneto?" she grunted as she struggled with a stabbing pain in her shoulder and ribs, "How do you know about him?"
That earned her another telekinetic slam against the wall...This time causing a cut along the side of her face. She felt blood trickle down her face as the young mutant soldier looked down at her with an intimidating, irked expression.
"You can ask more questions that'll keep on resulting in more punishment...Or you can tell me what I want to know," she said menacingly as she levitated her off the floor so her limp body now hovered a mere few inches from the deadly mutant soldier's face, "Now...Where is Magneto?"
As much as Mystique disliked Magneto, she wasn't stupid. She knew that if she told him, no amount of punishment that this woman could bring would ever equate to what Magneto would do to her if she betrayed him. Therefore, she kept her silence.
"I don't know..." she answered sternly, "That man doesn't tell me anything! He trusts nobody!"
Phoenix studied her expression as she had numerous other adversaries over the course of her experiences as a soldier. This woman was clearly strong willed and resilient, but she was still clearly lying. And if she wouldn't tell her directly...Then she would have to use more persuasive means.
"I don't believe you..." she said simply as she used her telekinetic powers to apply force on her pained shoulder, causing her to yell out once again, "You knew he called it Avalon...You knew of it's existence. Therefore...You must know something about it. And since you won't tell me...I'll just have to tear your mind apart to find it."
"Don't bother...My mental shields are unbreakable! You won't get anything out of me!" taunted the shape shifter, earning her a punch to the ribs.
Phoenix looked back into the yellow eyes of the shape shifter with a venomous determination that showed just how tough a soldier she was. Mystique seemed undaunted, but she was beginning to wonder just how far this stranger was willing to go to get what she wanted. She could clearly see two guns and a large knife assorted upon her futuristic military uniform and if her actions so far were any indication, she was more than willing to use them.
"Unbreakable you say?" said Phoenix as she used her telekinesis to lower the blue mutant down to the ground so she was now on her knees, "Well guess what lady? Breaking the unbreakable is what I do best. Now you can guard your mind all you want with every shield you want...But you will break. I will find out what I need to know one way or another...And you can either accept it and free yourself from a world of pain...Or you can fight me and feel just what it's like to have your mind burned through like the flames of the Phoenix!"
"No...NO!" she struggled as Phoenix placed her hands upon her temples.
"Tell me!" she yelled, tightening her telekinetic hold.
"I...Won't!" struggled Mystique.
Then, Phoenix used her pyrokinetic powers to engulf herself in flame, turning the heat up on the shape shifter as she prepared to go full throttle with her telepathy, ready to probe as deep as she had to in order to find the information she needed.
"Fine...Have it your way then," said Phoenix as the flames began to cause the mangled shape shifter to break out into a hot sweat, "But don't say I didn't warn you..."
Mystique's yells then echoed through the halls and back down to the Brotherhood boys as they all remained paralyzed and powerless as a result of the hexing powers of the Scarlet Witch. The four boys shuttered at the thought at what that redhead was doing to Mystique, but from the sound of it...It couldn't have been pleasant.
The four timid boys tried not to listen to the yells of their usually tough superior as they cowered before the four intimidating mutant soldiers. They were all sweating bullets as they looked into the penetrating eyes of the intruders, afraid to say anything that could possibly set them off.
Pietro was among the most flabbergasted, for he couldn't take his eyes off his sister. For so long now he had accepted the fact that she was dead. He had moved past it and always assumed that he would never get a chance to make up for what happened that day when their father so heartlessly threw her away. But looking at her now, seeing just how strong she had grown physically, he was downright amazed that this was the same girl who he once used to play hide and seek with as kids. Now she looked as though she wanted to put a bullet in his head and as fast as his mind was, he just couldn't process the sheer magnitude of what he was seeing.
"Wanda..." he finally managed to say as he collected himself well enough to speak, "How...How did you?"
"Shut up..." she said in a low, stern tone, sending another round of pain his way via hex bolts, "Over ten years of nightmares and I finally have to see your sorry face again...Don't say anything to make it worse."
"But...Wanda," said Pietro, looking back at the angry eyes of his sister with a mixture of shock and sorrow as many long buried memories surfaced as she stood before him, "Father told me you were dead...He told me that you died in the asylum six years ago. I...I went to your funeral...I stood in front of your tombstone."
The Scarlet Witch couldn't help but be a bit surprised at the revelation that she had a grave somewhere with an empty casket. But she did not falter even as a result of such news as she kept her focus in the face of a past she had come to hate so much.
"Well I'm not dead," she said in a firm tone, "I never was dead...Not completely anyways. Maybe I am to you and father...But I'm still breathing and I still haven't forgotten what you both did to me that day."
Images of that fateful moment when young Wanda Maximoff was carried off in the arms of two dark asylum guards resonated through her mind as she looked in the eyes of the white haired young man that used to be the boy she called her brother. At one point they had been inseparable, now she hated him as well as their father for what they did to her. They threw her away like garbage...They threw her away as if she was nothing. But now she was back...And she was out to prove that she was definitely a force much greater then he ever could have imagined.
"And understandably so...For there are certain memories that can never be forgotten," said Mayhem, who knew all too well how the actions of her father and her brother had affected her as he stepped forward and stood before the young speedster with an intimidating look on his face.
Pietro didn't like the look this guy was giving him. Having seen the effects of her family's actions, Mayhem couldn't say he didn't feel a bit of distaste for the young man who had caused the Scarlet Witch so much pain. Her most recent shift in demeanor upon the revelation about Magneto's presence was a testament to that and seeing her so conflicted was hard for him to witness. Now they were all standing before the source of all these troubles...The team for which Magneto had formed to further his cause. In the eyes of the five mutant soldiers, they were the enemy...And they would treat them as such as they had with countless other enemies in the past.
"So you're Pietro? And this is the Brotherhood?" said Mayhem as he looked down at the four helpless mutants, "I have to say, for a group that's supposed to be the front for mutant advancement, I expected more."
"Magneto must have really lousy recruitment policies," commented Cyclops, his intimidating gaze still holding strong, "I was expecting to see a team...But here we are standing in front of a bunch of mutant misfits who probably think that by rejecting the rest of the world, they can reject what they don't like about themselves. It's really sad..."
"Sad indeed..." said X23 in agreement, "And you do all this for what? Because you think Magneto will reward you? What kind of a cause is that?"
"Not a very good one..." said the Scarlet Witch in a deep, venomous tone, her eyes still locked with Pietro.
"It's an insult to people who actually fight for something more than insecurity," added Mayhem as he looked back down at the four boys with a threatening look in his eyes, "You guys are pathetic...Give us one good reason why we shouldn't shoot you out of general principle?"
The four mutant boys began to squirm again as they struggled against the hexing power of the Scarlet Witch. But no matter how hard they fought, they couldn't break free. It was like being a fish out of water and all they were doing was flapping helplessly, waiting until this dangerous looking intruders got bored with them. Some tried to speak, but only stammered words found their way out.
"Hey man! Don't-uh...I mean...I...I," stammered Todd, still petrified.
"Come on! What did we do to you?" shot Lance, who was also breaking out in a nervous sweat.
"Lance shut up!" said Blob, thinking he was just going to piss them off more.
"Wanda...Don't do this," said Pietro as he continued to struggle, "We haven't done anything...Father hasn't even..."
But he didn't get a chance to finish, for another round of hex bolts shut them all up as the four mutant soldiers continued to loom over them like hawks. Mystique's screams were still coming from the top floor and the longer this went on, the more nervous the four boys got.
"We know 'father' is planning something Pietro..." said the Scarlet Witch in response, hating even the mere mention of the man she hated so much, "And you guys intend to help him...Do you not?"
The four Brotherhood boys didn't say a word in response, fearful that if they said yes, it would give them enough reason to put a bullet through their head. But their silence seemed confirmation enough for the mutant soldiers and they were never ones to let something like that slide.
"Not gonna answer?" said Cyclops in a lighter, somewhat taunting tone of voice, "We ask you a question and you don't answer...Now I may not be an expert, isn't that by definition poor manners?"
"I think it is, Cyclops," said the Scarlet Witch in agreement, turning up the intensity of her hex field and adding to their discomfort, "And usually, when disobedient people are ill-mannered...That constitutes a punishment."
"Punishment, huh?" said Mayhem, also shifting his tone as he looked back down at the four mutant misfits known as the Brotherhood, "So then I guess that means we should punish them...But how?"
Just then, an idea came to Cyclops as he turned back towards X23.
"Hmm..." he said, pretending to really think about it, "Hey X23...You wanna do 'the test?'"
"I'm always willing to do 'the test,'" said X23 with a slight grin as she stepped forward and looked down upon the four unfortunate boys.
None of the boys liked the sound of this as they all began struggling more against the Scarlet Witch's hexing powers, but it was no use as they watched the former living weapon loom over them menacingly in preparation for what she was about to do.
"You boys look as though you're pretty lucky..." she said as Cyclops, Mayhem, and the Scarlet Witch took a step back so she could do her thing, "Born with amazing powers...No parents or rules to live by...The promise of leading a revolution to place yourselves at the top along with Magneto...You've really got it good here."
She then proceeded to take whip out the two advanced handcrafted guns that had secured in holsters on each hip and did a few quick gun slinging tricks, twirling and spinning them around her fingers to show off her skill and add to the tension that was clearly growing among the four boys.
"I think it's time we test how lucky you are..." she said, doing a few more quick tricks which left some of their mouths hanging open in amazement, "These guns are both empty...But my 'special' gun isn't."
Then, taking out the last gun that she had hand crafted herself to perfection, she showed the four Brotherhood boys what would be the means in which to test their luck. They all began breathing irregularly as they saw her hold up the loaded gun before them and began struggling more...Which only earned them another reprimand from the Scarlet Witch.
"Five shots...And trust me, it'll take only one to kill you," she told them as she held all three guns in her hand.
"What?! You're crazy!" shot the ever confrontational Freddy Dukes.
"Okay...Make that six shots!" said X23 with an annoyed gaze, shutting the immovable Blob up as she prepared to do the test, "Watch them go...And if you're all lucky...Then maybe one of you won't be spitting gum out through your forehead."
The four petrified mutant boys didn't make another comment as they watched with a mixture of horror and amazement as X23 tossed the loaded gun up into the air and began juggling them in a show of great skill. The four boys tried to keep track of the loaded gun, but they all looked the same and she was doing it too fast. At some points, she pulled off a few tricks that only further confused them as to which one was loaded.
"Oh man...Oh man..." said Lance, getting worried as to the outcome of this so called 'test.'
Cyclops, Mayhem, and the Scarlet Witch watched with complete indifference as they saw X23 pull off the kind of gun slinging tricks that only somebody like her could muster. This tactic was one they had often used in the past with enemies during interrogations to keep them tense and anxious so they wouldn't consider escaping. And so far, the Brotherhood wasn't even putting up a fight.
Then, after a good solid minute of juggling, X23 began to take a few slow steps towards the paralyzed mutants and fired off her first shot.
"Ahh!" yelled Pietro as he cringed at the sound of the gun letting off a simple click, hinting that it was empty.
She then proceeded with the next shot...This time on Freddy, who also closed his eyes and cringed, but again...The gun was empty. Next was Lance, who gasped loudly as if he was going to have an aneurism, but luckily, the gun was empty. Then after pulling off another couple of gun slinging tricks, she fired her fourth shot...This one at Todd, who let out another girlish scream as he began hyperventilating. It had been empty, but it was still causing him to shutter in uncontrollable fright. The next shot was back at Pietro...Who shut his eyes and cringed, but heard only the click of an empty gun.
"Oh shit...Oh shit..." began Todd, unable to control himself, which quickly drew X23's attention.
With only one shot left, X23 had to pick her victim carefully. And since Todd wouldn't seem to shut up...It was an easy choice. Only this time, she did something a bit more dramatic...She tossed two of her guns up, threw her third up afterwards, caught each of the first two guns on their way down and skillfully put them back in her holsters, and then easily catching the final gun as she pointed it directly at Todd's forehead with her hand firmly on the trigger, stretching out the tension for as long as she could. The young amphibious mutant closed his eyes and continued whimpering uncontrollably, thinking this could be it...This could be the end. All it would take was for her to pull that trigger...Which she finally did.
"AHH!" he yelled out in a girlish scream...But instead of a bang, there was only a click.
Not hearing a shot go off, Todd began hyperventilating again and in his fit of fear, lost control of his bladder and wet his pants.
"Oh shit..." he said as he looked down at the wet spot that formed in his jeans, "Oh man I pissed myself!"
It was a show of weakness and humiliation for them, but Shadow Cell didn't show an ounce of empathy for them as they simply looked back down at them with pity.
"Pathetic..." said X23 as she put her gun away.
"I agree...But also pretty damn lucky," added Cyclops, "They're all still breathing and they all still have their brains in their skulls."
"And trust me...That's not an easy feat and I'm still tempted!" said the Scarlet Witch, mainly looking at Pietro.
"Then you four had better pray to God that the shape shifter cracks soon...Otherwise we'll just have to find more ways of amusing ourselves," said Mayhem coldly, even though he knew along with the rest of his comrades that this was just for show and they had no real intention of killing them...For they just wanted to know they would be willing to if they got in their way in their fight against Magneto.
Upstairs, Mystique wasn't faring much better than the boys, for she had been battered, burned, and beaten by the determined telepath as she prodded and probed into her heavily shielded mind. She most certainly hadn't been lying when she said she had powerful mental shields, but they were not impenetrable and Phoenix was slowly breaking through.
"This can go on all day Mystique..." said Phoenix as she telekinetically pinned her to the floor and stretched out each of her limbs.
"Nn...NO! I won't...AHH!" she yelled out in pain as she struggled to keep her shields up.
All the physical punishment she was enduring was beginning to take a toll on her. She couldn't keep her shields up under the strain of this woman's powerful telepathy. She was definitely no Charles Xavier...She knew how to push and tear at her mind with a relentlessness and ferocity that he would never be capable of. Yet still, she resisted...But Phoenix hadn't even broken a sweat yet, for she was willing to go as long as necessary to get what she needed out of this woman. She was tough, that much was clear...But not tough enough.
"I just want to know where his base is...You don't need to tell me anything more," she said to her as she formed a large ball of fire and lowered it to her body, letting it heat the air up around her and making it difficult to breathe.
"I...Won't..." she struggled, but it was finally becoming too much for her.
The heat of the fire, the pain of the telekinetic blows, and the onslaught of her relentless telepathy was eroding her powerful shields rapidly as she let out another yell of pain. She tried not to falter, but it was all but impossible under the strain...And for a split second, her formidable defenses cracked and Phoenix got a clear glimpse of something.
It wasn't much, just a few images of the large, elaborate Asteroid M facility both inside and out. There were no inside images, but clues to the location were clearly there. It was in a cold, inhospitable environment wrought with thick snow and howling arctic winds. But what gave away the true location were the brilliant lights in the night sky...Lights that Phoenix immediately recognized as the aurora borealis...Meaning it could only be one place...The north pole.
Finally, the fires disappeared and Phoenix halted her telepathic probing, for she had gotten exactly what she needed. She was still pinned down by her telekinesis, but even if she wasn't she was too battered and bruised to put up much of a fight.
"There...Now was that so hard?" she told her in a light hearted tone, "Thanks for the info...You've been most helpful."
Then, with one last telekinetic burst, she flung her back onto her bed and exited the room in an almost casual manner, leaving the tattered and bruised shape shifter to deal with her pained body. Only the pain was just part of her concern now...For if she had managed to see what she thought she saw, Magneto would definitely not be pleased with her.
As Phoenix descended the stairs, she saw her four comrades still looming over the Brotherhood boys, who looked as scared as a bunch of rats in a cat convention. She had expected as much and hoped that what they did to them would make them think twice about fighting them in the future.
"Did you get what you needed, Phoenix?" asked Cyclops.
"Of course...She was a fighter, I'll give her that. But she broke...They always do," she said with confidence as they all turned back towards the rest of the Brotherhood, "So what do we do about them?"
"Don't worry..." assured X23 as she shot them a threatening glance, "I think we made our point to them."
"Good...Then let's get out of here," said Phoenix, "We've got much bigger fish to fry."
"Right..." said the Scarlet Witch as they all began filing out of the front door.
But before they all left, the Scarlet Witch shot them one last menacing glance, mainly focused at her brother. Having had the chance to look him in the eye for the first time since she cried out to him for help that day she was thrown into the asylum, it had been a trying ordeal for her to say the least. But nevertheless, she managed to vent many things towards him and had gotten a different reaction than she had expected. It was almost as if he felt remorse for what he had done...Remorse after having not shed a tear when she cried her heart out to him all those years ago. But she scoffed at such a notion at this point...For she and her comrades had much greater concerns at the moment...Like facing Magneto.
Once they were out the door, the four boys were finally released of the Scarlet Witch's hexing powers. They all let out loud gasps as they struggled to catch their breath after what they had just experienced. Even though they had fought in hard battles against the X-men...Never before had they ever faced such ruthless and determined adversaries. For these guys were not afraid to kill...They were not afraid to go the distance.
For Pietro, it had been even worse...He had just come face to face with his dead sister. All the sorrow and remorse that he had spent many years dealing with and pushing aside had suddenly come back with a vengeance...And now it seemed as though that vengeance would find it's way to his father as well.
"Oh man..." groaned Todd as he and the others struggled back to their feet, "That was messed up yo..."
"Yeah...No kidding," said Freddy as he helped the younger mutant up while trying to collect his thoughts after having come face to face with such violent intruders.
"Man...And I thought the X-geeks were bad," commented Lance as he leaned against the wall for support, "But compared to those guys, they're fucking angels!"
AN: Oh boy, the Brotherhood really took a beating with this one! Shadow Cell proved just what they were capable of and just how far they were willing to go in order to get what they needed. It just goes to show how different they all are in this universe given their upbringing. Now they have another challenge ahead, but trust me...The big stuff is still waiting in the wings! Oh and just so you know, that bit X23 did with her guns was inspired by that scene from Metal Gear Solid 3 where Ocelot did a similar juggling trick against Sokolov. Just thought you should know! Stay tuned to see how Shadow Cell continues to impact the X-men world as new events unfold and the plot continues to twist and turn it's way through this very ambitious story! So what do you think of the world I created here? I'd love to know, so please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Any reviews would be greatly appreciated so please take the time to tell me what you think! Thanks a ton for reading and I wish you all the best!