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

Staying The Course

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2006/06/08 - Updated: 2006/06/08 - 6468 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 26: Staying The Course


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After the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell left the Brotherhood to recover from their rather horrifying besiegement, they all stammered about the main area where they had been paralyzed to do anything to fight them. Some like Lance, Freddy, and Todd were still breathing hard, trying to process what had just happened. It was all so sudden and fast and with the way they carried themselves, they seemed all too willing to kill without a second thought. The Brotherhood may not have been experts in the matter, but judging from what they had just seen, it was probably safe to assume that whoever those intruders were...They had killed before and they were dead serious about every threat they had made.

For Pietro, however, was by far the most conflicted, for he had just come face to face with someone who was supposed to be dead. His twin sister, Wanda...The only other family he had growing up...Had been standing right in front of him. For many years now, Pietro had come to reject anybody and everybody who attempted to fill the void after she was...Taken away. The last time he had seen her...She had been crying hysterically...Begging for them not to leave her in such a heinous place. She reached out to them...She reached out as if she wanted to take his hand so he could pull her away. But he did nothing...He let them take her...He let his father take away from him the best and only friend he had ever had growing up.

"Hey, Pietro man...You okay?" said Todd, who was trying to wipe off some of the wetness that now stained his pants from when he had wet himself out of sheer terror while he was looking down the barrel of a gun.

"Yeah...Just...Give me a minute," he said, leaning on the wall for support, grasping his head and trying to hide the expression on his face from the others.

"Dude...Was that really your sister?" said Freddy as he approached the distraught speed demon.

Pietro hesitated before answering...Something he never usually did. Anybody who even remotely knew Pietro knew that he never hesitated or slowed down in anything. It's part of what made him the speedster he was. But this time...The situation was too great for even his super quick mind to process.

"Yeah...It was," he answered, shaking his head in disbelief, "That was...My sister...My twin sister."

"Wow...I didn't know you had a twin sister," said Lance, finding this all to be very shocking to say the least.

"I didn't..." he said, still struggling with what he had just seen as he leaned on the wall in a state of great inner turmoil, "She...She was supposed to be dead. Six years ago...She died in an insane asylum that my father...Threw her in because she couldn't control her powers."

"Wow...Your dad threw your sister in an insane asylum?" said Lance, thinking that was cruel even for Magneto.

"Yeah...I was there...I watched them take her away," said the speed demon as the vivid memory played over in his head in all it's brutal entirety.

"Man...No wonder she was so mad at you," commented Freddy.

"But she was supposed to be dead!" yelled Pietro in response, still finding it hard to accept, "Six years ago...My father told me she had died in the asylum...She hung herself in her cell. I...I was there at her funeral. I saw the letters on her grave! I was there! I swear to God, I was there at her fucking funeral!"

"Easy man...Calm down," said Lance, who had never seen Pietro act like this in all the time he had known him.

"Don't tell me to calm down, Lance!" shot Pietro in response, "I just came face to face with someone who was supposed to be dead! I just saw my own sister...The only other family I ever had...Standing right here!"

"Pietro...It happened...She was here. Accept it man," said Todd, not knowing how else to explain it to the usually cocky and cynical speedster.

Pietro didn't respond to that...He just kept leaning on the wall for support, holding his head in his hands and shaking his head. He couldn't believe what was happening...He couldn't believe she had been here. Had his father lied to him as he so often had over the years? Did he know that Wanda was still alive? He remembered how he had been that day when he told him...It was one of the only times he ever remembered his father getting emotional. It was the only time he had ever seen him shed a tear. But was this really the sister that had been taken away from him all those years ago? Was it really possible? Pietro's mind finally began to accept the notion that she had been here and she was alive and well...But there was still so much about it that tortured his mind.

Just then, another thought came to the mind of the Brotherhood boys, who were finally beginning to catch up with themselves after having been so paralyzed under the force of Shadow Cell.

"Hey guys," said Lance as he looked around, "Anybody want to check up on Mystique?"

The others cringed at the thought, for they had heard her pained screams coming from upstairs while that redheaded girl was 'interrogating' her. For all they knew, she was just a heap of charred flesh by now and nobody wanted to have to be the first ones to see it.

"Oh man...I don't even want to know," said Freddy with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach, a feeling that was a huge rarity for him to say the least.

"But still...One of us should check on her," argued Lance, "I mean...She could be seriously hurt."

It sounded like a truly grim task...One they never thought they would ever have to do. They had seen just how tough Mystique was in the past and to hear her scream in the mercy of someone even tougher and more ruthless was a chilling thought for them to even contemplate. But before they could debate it any further, they heard sauntered footsteps from the top of the staircase. Then, as they all looked up, they were met with the disturbing image of a tattered and beaten Mystique.

"Wow...Mystique?" said Lance as he and Todd ran up the stairs and helped her down, "Are you okay?"

There were burn marks on her body, purplish bruises all over her face, and her shoulder looked a bit disfigured. But even though she was in a great deal of pain, she shoved the two boys off her as she leaned against the wall for support, coughing up blood as she grunted at pained feeling all throughout her body.

"I'm fine..." she said through the pain, "I can heal...Just give me a few minutes."

The four Brotherhood boys didn't say a word as they kept their distance and simply let her catch her breath. As a shape shifter, her advanced body could heal much more efficiently than a normal human could...But after the kind of punishment Phoenix had inflicted on her, this new round of injuries would definitely linger for a while. Whoever she was, that redhead knew what she was doing when she interrogated her for information on Magneto's whereabouts. She knew exactly how to add to the stress and tension of the moment, causing her great strain and forcing her to weaken her mental shields. And for that, Mystique was certain they were dealing with a truly unusual force.

"So...Who were those guys?" said Lance, breaking the silence, "Did you know any of them? They sure as hell seemed to know us."

"I have no idea..." said the shape shifter, who was beginning to sound more collected through her grunts as she finally managed to stand under her own power, "I've never seen any of them before in my life."

"Well they couldn't have been Friends of Humanity..." reasoned Todd, "Those guys were packing some serious mutant mojo."

"I think that's a pretty safe assumption, Toad," said Mystique in response, still clutching her sore shoulder, "But that's not what worries me...What worries me is how they knew so much about our plans. They knew about Magneto...They knew about his base."

"His base?!" exclaimed Pietro, having a pretty good idea what she was talking about, "How in the hell could they know that?!"

"I don't know!" she yelled back at him, letting out another pained grunt as she coughed up more blood, "I didn't recognize any of them..."

"Well at least we know who one of them is..." commented Freddy.

"What?!" exclaimed Mystique, "What are you talking about? You knew one of those psychos?!"

"Yeah...I did," said Pietro in a low tone, "One of them...Was Wanda...My twin sister."

"Sister?" said Mystique in a dumbfounded tone, "Magneto never told me he had a daughter."

"That's because she's supposed to be dead..." replied Pietro grimly, "She was supposed to have died six years ago in an insane asylum."

Mystique took a moment to digest that. While she knew Magneto had never really trusted her with too much personal information, she still knew that Pietro was his son. But he never once mentioned a daughter. And if one of those soldiers truly was his daughter, then that could open up a maze of new complications...But it may also shed some light on what had just happened. Either way, Mystique knew she had to tell Magneto...There was no way around it. She had a feeling that he might not be too happy to learn that somebody now has an idea where his base was, but this was a very serious situation and if she didn't tell him, he would take that as a sign of disloyalty...And she knew what would happen to her, not to mention her children, if he considered her disloyal.

"This is big..." she said as she finally began to shake off the pain of her injuries, "I have to inform Magneto."

"Wait!" said Pietro, thinking it may not be a good idea to tell someone as volatile as his father that Wanda was alive, "We can't do that...We shouldn't! If he finds out that Wanda is alive, then..."

"Pietro! They knew about Avalon! And now they may actually have a clue as to it's location!"

"But...How did they..."

"They broke me...In more ways than one," grunted Mystique, feeling another twinge of pain at the fresh memory, "That redhead was a psychic...One nearly as powerful as Xavier. And she knew how to get information...She knew how to break one's will. That means we're dealing with real pros here. And if they're after Magneto, then we have to prepare!"

"Wow! No way yo!" said Todd, feverishly shaking his head, "I didn't sign up for that shit! Fighting the X-men is one thing...But those guys?!"

"I know man...They were seriously ruthless!" said Freddy in agreement, "I'm talking real movie type ruthless!"

"Well we can't just do nothing..." said Mystique, feeling less afraid, for she was no stranger to danger herself, "Whoever these people were...They're a real threat. Now I'm going to call Magneto and pray to God that he's in a good mood today...Because when he finds out, I doubt he'll be too thrilled."

"No argument here..." said Pietro, glad that Mystique was going to be the one giving him the bad news instead of him, "Just...Try not to say too much about Wanda."

"I'll keep that in mind..." she said as she sauntered back up the stairs, "Until then...Stay on high alert and practice some of the training that you all have so frequently negated. Because if we have to face them again...I want us to be able to at least put up more of a fight."

The four Brotherhood boys shuttered at the thought of facing the five mutant soldiers again. But they did not argue her point in the slightest as they watched her ascend the stairs, still limping from her injuries. Mystique did not look forward to informing Magneto that they may have a slight complication in their plans now...But she had come to expect that from the master of magnetism by now...And only hoped that he would have at least some idea of how to deal with this...For whoever those mutants were, they were truly a force to be reckoned with.

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

Back in Washington DC in the super secret meeting amongst the most powerful and influential people of the military and intelligence community was in full swing as each side compiled the data they had gathered and put together the overall scenario concerning mutants. The intelligence Shadow Cell had collected during their reconnaissance mission had been the greatest contribution, which helped garner more influence during the proceedings for the Colonel and the General. However, as always, their opposing views towards mutants helped to fuel the intense debate that much of the upper levels of the government remained divided over.

Throughout the course of the meeting, many of the war hawks who favored radical action against mutants which included registration, internment, and if necessary, termination, all seemed to rally behind the Colonel and his GURSO unit supporters. In contrast, the leaders who favored peace, rallied more around the General and Nick Fury, who had far more peaceful and understanding views towards mutants.

While the first objective of creating a comprehensive database on the mutants of the X-men and Brotherhood had proven successful, the overall progress in terms what course of action they should take remained deadlocked. The heated debates were a show of great struggled between personal, ideological, and political views that all differed among the many men and women present who held in their hands the power to either evoke a war that would wipe mutants off the face of the planet or to work to establish a peace.

For decades now, these people had flooded the public with lies and deceit about the existence of mutants as they often had with many other fantastic forces that they knew nobody was ready to accept yet. But the time for cover-ups was over and even they didn't have the power to go back on what had happened as a result of the sentinel incident. And because of this, there was plenty of animosity and finger pointing going on amongst the officials, but despite such complications, the debate continued and the men and women who held an entire nation in the palm of their hands were now left with many hard decisions to make.

"People, how many times do I have to tell you...We cannot preserve peace unless mutants are somehow managed or regulated!" said the Colonel as he stood and spoke in to the many listeners in the vast secret auditorium which was built in the highly secured lower levels of the Pentagon.

"Colonel...What you call managing and regulation...Some may call persecuting and exterminating!" said one of the female White House officials who was one of the many voices of the President.

"And don't forget Colonel...There is a little something called the constitution that we must consider before carrying out the kind of plans you're proposing," said one of the lead lawmakers sitting in the political seats which directly faced the military heads.

"Oh don't give me that 'we the people' bullshit," scoffed the Colonel, "Do you have any idea just how many times this government violates the constitution on a daily basis?! I mean...Has anybody ever actually read the Patriot Act?"

"Colonel, we're not here to debate whether or not your plan is constitutional," said one of the regulators of the debate, "We're here to discuss plans of action in dealing with this new phenomenon."

"New Phenomenon?!" exclaimed the General, "This government has known about the existence of mutants since before many of us were even born! And in all that time, did mutants rise up and start a war? Did mutants organize and execute a massive coup of humanity?"

"General, we are aware of the 'official' standpoint this government has maintained on mutants, but I think that hardly pertains to our debate," said the regulator.

"I disagree...This is something we can't ignore whether we like it or not," argued the General, hoping that some of the hawks would listen to reason when it came to the manner in which they described this so called 'new phenomenon' that was proving to be so divisive, "Now our secretive policy towards mutants yielded no such problems in over 50 years of cover-ups. And to say that all mutants must be 'dealt with' or 'regulated' per se...Does that mean we should forget about how our government tried to make weapons out of mutants like with Weapon X? Does that mean that we should forget that we once used mutation to created heroes that helped save this country like Captain America?"

"General, I realize that you speak from the standpoint of a mutant military unit...But we need to focus on the social aspect of what the mutant phenomenon is doing to this country," argued one of the political representatives that dealt with maintaining social order, "People are running scared out there. They now know that there are creatures out there that have the power to create untold destruction at will and without warning."

"Sir, you speak as though mutants don't have a brain in their skull," retorted the General, "How many of you can honestly say you've met a mutant before? And furthermore, how many of you can honestly say you know of any others out there like Magneto who seek to threaten all of humanity? This government is adamant about condemning just radical Islamic terrorists without condemning the whole of Islam, so why should we not condemn just radical mutants instead of condemning mutants in general?"

A great deal of subtle chatter ensued as the General's words seem to strike a chord with many of the officials. As a man of extensive political experience, the General knew a thing or two about swaying a crowd and many of the hawks couldn't help but let out a light grumble as they saw the impact his words had.

Feeling as though he had gotten his point across, the General took his seat next to the Colonel despite the glare he received from him. But after having worked alongside this man for nearly a decade, he had become somewhat accustomed to that.

Sitting only a few rows away from the Colonel and the General, Nick Fury had yet to say a word in this meeting. For the most part, he had just been smoking cigars and letting the General convey most of the points he probably would have conveyed otherwise. When it came to national security, usually Fury was the first one to speak and was always an ardent believer in immediate and effective action. However, when it came to mutants, he held a much different stance.

Having been one of the few others besides the Colonel and the General who had worked with mutants in the past, he held a much more understanding view when it came to the matter. He had met with mutants and even was allies with a few of them...Namely the former Weapon X soldier, Wolverine. However, despite his more friendly views towards mutants, there were a few things he knew that probably shouldn't be brought to light...Namely the secret moves he made during the sentinel incident to help the X-men when they had to get out of the country.

As a leader of SHIELD and one of the most famous cold warriors still in active service, Nick Fury always commanded a great deal of respect and criticism from people who both loved him and hated him. And among them were the heads of a group that often flew in the face of SHIELD...The program known as project Shadow Cell. From the get go, he didn't like how so many unsavory characters, many of whom had very unfavorable views of him to say the least, had joined together to form such a powerful and influential organization. Shadow Cell had gone from a shady upstart to one of the most powerful and successful defense programs in the history of the government. Oftentimes, they handled certain tasks that even SHEILD wasn't crazy enough to take on, but they had never failed and they had shown both him and the higher ups time and time again just how powerful and efficient they were.

And it was for that reason why Fury had reasons to be concerned about the Colonel and the General. Shadow Cell may have been hailed as a great success many years ahead of it's time, but Nick Fury had his suspicions about the people who ran it. He never trusted that unsavory Colonel who ran the GURSO unit and was paranoid of practically everybody and while the General was a very amicable and dutiful officer, he knew he still harbored a grudge against him for being on the board that reprimanded him after an incident that stagnated his career.

Nick Fury never trusted Shadow Cell and the people who ran it, but it was never his duty to criticize when they kept getting the job done. It was for that reason he stayed silent and kept smoking his cigar, looking more or less indifferent to the proceedings which he knew weren't getting them anywhere.

"Colonel Fury..." said one of the regulators in the center of the auditorium, "Do you have any thoughts you'd like to add? I'm aware that SHIELD has had a few run-ins with mutants in the past."

Fury just exhaled a puff of smoke as all eyes then turned to him and he gave them their answer.

"Nope...You folks are doing just fine dancing around in circles. Don't let me hold you up," he commented.

"Sir! I think you're not taking this matter seriously!" said one of the other SHIELD officials who often came alongside Fury.

"Serious or not...I think it's pretty clear that we're not making any progress," said Fury as he put out his cigar.

"Well perhaps in all your infinite wisdom of SHIELD experience, you could help us overcome such deadlock," said the regulator.

"Since when has anything I said really made a difference with shit like this?" quipped Fury, "You all think I'm bias towards mutants and anything I say or suggest is always thrown out the window because you don't trust me to make sound decisions in instances like this."

"Well that was before a giant robot went rampaging down Manhattan!" said another one of the regulators, who was growing just as frustrated with the meeting as many of the others.

"Then if it makes you feel better...I agree with the General. Is that good enough for you?" he said, hoping that would say enough to get some of these people off his back.

Another round of subtle chatter began to circulate around the auditorium. Fury just let them talk as he lit another cigar. He could feel the distasteful glance the Colonel was shooting him from a few rows up, but he ignored it. He was used to men like that making things difficult for him, so he could care less. The General seemed a bit more approving of his words and despite his views towards Fury, he looked glad to have a little support from someone who wielded nearly as great an influence as he did.

The Colonel's penetrating gaze did not wane, then suddenly...His cell phone went off and he was immediately taken out of his daze as he checked the display to see who it was from.

"God damn it!" said the Colonel as he prepared to get up.

"Where are you going?" said the General, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing..." he told his superior, "Just a personal call. I'll be right back..."

The General let him go as he got up from his seat and scurried up the staircase. Upon seeing this, Fury grew a little suspicious. He had been in meetings with the Colonel before and he knew that whenever he got a call, whether he said it was personal or not, it always meant something. He played off the General's trusting nature way too much and had a gut feeling that something was amiss.

As he put out his cigar prematurely, Fury got up and began making his way up the steps as well.

"Sir..." said one of his subordinates, "Sir, where are you going?"

"To take a piss..." he said simply, "Cover for me."

Not wanting to argue with the former cold warrior, Fury was allowed to make his way up the steps, following closely behind the Colonel's path. Knowing he would probably want to answer his call in a place far from prying eyes, he made his way over towards the stairwell, thinking that would probably be the least conspicuous location for a man like him. It was just a hunch, but as soon as he got close and heard faint shouting from the other side of the door, his hunch was quickly confirmed as he listened in.

"What?!" the Colonel exclaimed through the phone, "What do you mean you're not sure?! You're always..."

Fury kept listening, committing each word to memory.

"I thought it was your job to keep an eye on them!" he spat into the phone, "And if you're not sure, then FIND OUT! Because if I get back and something is amiss, I'm going to send you to rot in Iraq, you hear me?!? Now find out more and call me back as soon as possible! And in either case, insatiate protocol 604...But keep it off the record because if what you say has any validity, we have to be ready..."

That was all Fury needed to hear as he quickly made his way away from the door and back towards the auditorium. He always knew that Colonel was an unsavory son of a bitch to say the least, but when he got mad, he was capable of anything. And with the GURSO unit at his fingertips, there was no telling how far he would go.

Either way, Nick Fury had a feeling that Shadow Cell may be having some internal problems. And if something happened with them, he would have to be prepared to deal with it. Bearing that thought in mind, Fury decided to make a few calls of his own before returning to the meeting...Hoping that if that Colonel had any kind of restraint in him, he wouldn't do anything too brash. Then again, knowing his luck, it could only escalate...And it would most likely come back to bite him in the ass later on.

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

Back in Bayville, the first part of Shadow Cell's discrete mission against Magneto had been a success. They got in there, neutralized the resistance, and extracted the information as they were told with the uncanny efficiency that only they could muster. And now that they had at least part of what they needed, they could proceed to step two.

They were now driving down the back roads away from the Brotherhood house in their jeep, waiting until they were clear from the boarding house before they contacted Dr. Essex. They had been a bit surprised to find that the Brotherhood had been such easy prey, but they weren't complaining. It was a nice change of pace for them, for they were so used to dealing with outright impossible odds. But they continued to remain vigilant, knowing that the next step of this little mission could bring forth challenges the likes of which they had never faced before. Then again...They were used to such things by now after so many years of toil and hardship both on and off the battlefield.

"Are we clear?" asked Jean as she looked back to make sure that the Brotherhood house was out of sight.

"Yeah...I think we're clear," said Scott as he remained focused on the road, "Go ahead and call Dr. Essex."

"Right...We should probably find out what he wants to do next before the Brotherhood tries to report anything...Not that anyone will believe them," said Jean as she picked up the phone and dialed the number.

"Yeah...I have to say, I was expecting more from them," commented X23.

"Yeah...But what are you gonna do?" shrugged Vincent, "They were wannabe tough guys who thought they had nothing to fear."

"Well now they do have something to fear..." said Wanda, the memory of facing her estranged twin brother still fresh in her mind, "And hopefully, they'll fear us enough to stay out of our way in the long run..."

"Yeah...Hopefully," said Jean as she waited for Dr. Essex to pick up.

Back at Shadow Cell HQ, Dr. Essex was hard at work in the main lab area, toiling over adjustments and enhancements to the bio-mutagenic accelerator. The plans he had kept so secret contained all the details he needed to take his dream to the next step, but given the sheer scale of what he planned to do, it would definitely take some time to say the least. But he was close...Very close now. His glorious machine was finally beginning to take shape before his very eyes...But he still needed a few more components to make it fully operational.

"Nathanial..." said Magnum, who was carrying a couple heavy oversized crates on each shoulder with relative ease, "Where do you want these?"

"Set them near the servers...We'll have to add those once the new bio tanks are installed," he told her, his eyes not deviating from the work he was doing with the main feed in tubes.

"And what of the other crates?" she asked him, "I still have to find the components necessary to utilize the stone."

"Don't worry...I already know where you can get them," he told her with confidence as he finished making his adjustments and stood up, "Just leave everything to me...And it'll all be ready soon enough."

Just then, his cell phone began ringing.

"Ah...Right on schedule," he said in an optimistic tone as he answered it, "Hello?"

"Dr. Essex...Step one is complete," said Jean's voice through the other line, "The Brotherhood sang like a flock of canaries."

"Yes, I expected as much," said Dr. Essex confidently, knowing that a bunch of mutant misfits could hardly measure up to his advanced, well trained creations, "What did you find out?"

"Well I didn't get an exact location..." began Jean as she filtered through some of the images she saw in Mystique's mind during the interrogation, "But I was able to find out that it was somewhere in the arctic north...Probably around the north pole where the Earth's magnetic field would read the strongest."

"For someone like Magneto...I can't say I'm very surprised," said Dr. Essex, rolling his eyes, "Exactly how narrow a field did you manage to get?"

"Well that's the problem sir," said Jean, "We know he's at the North Pole now, but that still leaves an area three times the size of New York for him to hide. Is it possible to do a more thorough rescanning with spy satellites?"

"No...There isn't enough time and I don't have the authority to do so," answered Dr. Essex.

"Then how do we find him?" she asked, knowing there had to be another way.

"That, my dear pupil, I have already prepared for," he said confidently, speaking with the great poise and assurance that had come to define him so much, "Now that you have an area to focus your search on and a general outlay of the surroundings, it should be possible to do a psychic scan to get his exact location."

"But I thought you said he had a powerful cloaking device around his base," said Jean in response.

"He does...But now that you have an image to look for and an area to narrow down on, it should be possible to penetrate it with your powers," said Dr. Essex.

"Sir...I know I'm a powerful psychic, but I hardly think I'm that capable of searching such a wide area for something that's so heavily cloaked," said Jean.

"You may be right about that in some ways...But I already have a solution for you...Put me on speaker," he said.

Jean immediately complied, hitting a button on the phone that would allow his voice to be heard by the rest of the team.

"Okay...You're on sir," said Jean as she and her comrades all listened attentively.

"Good...Now that you have the right data, you can proceed with the next part of your mission," he said to them, knowing they all should probably hear this, "While I had a feeling that Mystique wouldn't know of the exact location, all we truly needed was a hint in order to effectively do a more thorough search to find his exact location. But since radar and reconnaissance won't be sufficient enough...That leaves only room for psychic means."

"So I guess this means that Jean is going to have to find it," concluded Scott.

"Yes...But not without help," said Dr. Essex ominously, "You see...Thanks to a little tidbit of intelligence courtesy of SHIELD, we now know that Professor Charles Xavier of the X-men locates and monitors mutants with a specially designed computer he calls Cerebro that amplifies his psychic abilities and allows him to effectively sense and connect to every mind on the face of the planet."

"But I thought Magneto's mind was supposed to be heavily guarded," said Vincent, who, thanks to his photographic memory, was usually the one to bring up certain details that may otherwise go unlooked.

"Ah, but it's not his mind that you must seek...It is simply his base," answered Dr. Essex, "On your own, it would take too much time to do a regular psychic search...But with the help of Cerebro, it should be possible to do a broad, yet thorough psychic scan of the area in and around the North Pole. And given you're exceptional abilities, you should be able to penetrate Magneto's cloaking technology since it's very much the same as the one that guards the base and I know you all managed to get around that time and time again."

"So wait...Let me get this straight," said Scott, who tried to piece together what Dr. Essex was saying, "You're suggesting that we break into Xavier's Institute..."

"Which has over a dozen powerful mutants mind you including the most powerful telepath in the world..." added Jean, who knew the institute quite well after the extensive surveillance she and the others had done on it earlier.

"Right..." said Scott as he continued, "And we fight out way through that security system of theirs that's on par with most nuclear missile silos, hack into a computer that probably operates on a level of functioning that no other system in the world could probably match, and use it to find a heavily cloaked base in an area the size of a small country in as little time as possible?"

"Well in simplest terms...Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting," said Dr. Essex, not sounding too dissuaded by the challenges presented.

There was a brief silence amongst the five mutant soldiers as they took in the details of their new objective. The Brotherhood was one thing, for there were only five of them and they were based in a rickety, messy house...But the X-men were a different story. They lived and operated out of a huge mansion with an elaborate security system that worked off of a technological backbone that most government facilities only dreamed of operating on. Not to mention, the mutants in the Xavier Institute were much better trained, equipped, and organized. And if their teachers were any indication, one of them including the original Weapon X, then they would most certainly know how to handle themselves.

It was a difficult task with plenty of unknowns...But to Shadow Cell, it was pretty much the same kind of objectives they were always faced with...Unknown, unprecedented, and exceptionally difficult. Either way they had a mission to accomplish and they were bent on finishing it no matter who or what they had to go through.

"Well...Sounds easy enough to me," shrugged X23.

"Yeah, breaking and entering a place more secured than Fort Knox and fighting off a legion of trained mutants...Sounds like a plan," affirmed Wanda, not at all daunted by the prospect of what they faced.

"Excellent..." said Dr. Essex in full confidence, "Take on each challenge with pride like I know you always do my children, for the weight of the world is once again upon your shoulders. Good luck...And Godspeed."

"Thank you Dr. Essex," said Jean, "Over and out..."

And with that, Shadow Cell had their next task...Breaking and entering into the Xavier Institute. They would have to fight through high tech security, a legion of super powered mutants, and operate a machine that few people on the face of the planet were qualified to handle. But as with every challenge they had faced throughout their lives as mutant soldiers...Shadow Cell was ready and willing to fight with every ounce of skill, power, and experience they had in order to get the job done.

"Okay team..." said Scott as he stepped on the gas and set course for their new destination, "We have our next challenge, so let's not waste time. Next stop...The Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters."

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

AN: Oh boy! First the Brotherhood, now the X-men! Shadow Cell is really getting around now and they have already begun to leave their mark! The Brotherhood sure as hell knows it, but now the X-men are about to find out! Stay tuned to see the action packed first encounter between the X-men and Shadow Cell! And believe me, you won't want to miss it! In the meantime, don't forget to REVIEW! Send your feedback to me directly via email or post it on the fanfiction website! Thanks a bunch for reading and I wish you all the best!

KEEP GOING! JUST A LITTLE BIT FURTHER! REVIEW!!!
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