Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

The Final Battle

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: 2006/06/15 - Updated: 2006/06/15 - 8167 words

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Extermination
Chapter 35: The Final Battle


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The end was in sight. It had been a long, hard road up to this point and it had been wrought with carnage and loss. Homes had been destroyed, friends had been killed, and families had been forever torn apart...But every beginning must have an end. Every war must have one who is victorious and one who is defeated. And for the X-men, the stakes were sheer survival.

The large manufacturing facility that had bred the most advanced mutant killers ever conceived was now filled with smoke and bore the thick scent of gasoline and oil. Some of the 40 foot tall humanoid robots were giving off ominous sparks even though they weren't activated. Many areas were also in total darkness since they had worked to cut the power and delay the launch. However, as the X-men continued to work against the ever ticking clock, desperate to stop William Stryker's final solution from going into effect...Which would mean complete and utter doom for them all. As they all continued to prepare the facility for it's full destruction, suddenly...A loud alarm blared over the still active parts of the warehouse.

"What in the hell is that?" said Alex over the loud noise that echoed through all levels of the structure.

"It's a warning..." Scott deduced, "They're about to deploy!"

"Shit! Then I guess it's time to leave!" said Pietro as he used his speed powers to locate the others.

"Are you sure all this will be enough?" said Kitty as she and Piotr phased up to the surface level while Kurt appeared with X23, Jean, and Wanda.

"In a few moments we'll either know...Or it won't matter!" answered Wanda as she and the others quickly gathered in the area where they had fought the first sentinel X robot.

"Is everybody here?" said Scott with a great deal of urgency in his voice as he looked over the group.

"I think so," affirmed Jean with a quick telepathic sweep.

"Then let's get the hell out of here!"

Nobody argued with that order as everybody soon made a mad dash to the exit, but for Scott and Wanda they stayed behind ever so briefly to initiate what they hoped to be the final blow to William Stryker's final solution to the mutant menace. Armed with their powers, Scott let out several optic blasts and Wanda unleashed the power of her hex bolts towards gasoline and oil laden areas to initiate the sparks that would set these volatile mixtures off. On every floor, a fury of fires suddenly erupted as a result and they quickly began to spread.

With fires on every floor, Scott and Wanda quickly left to join the others as they ran back towards where they had first entered the facility. From the outside, smoke could be seen billowing out of surrounding areas and since the facility extended to areas underground, they would have to find cover soon at a safe distance or risk going up in flames with the sentinels. However, that was not an option at this point...Everybody was poised for survival. That was the key motivation for this epic battle. They were fighting against the Friends of Humanity for their right to live...And by destroying the final solution, they would accomplish their part while it was up to the rest of humanity to do theirs.

"Come on everybody! RUN!" urged Jean as she and the rest of her friends pushed themselves to the limit.

In the depths of the warehouse where Stryker's ultimate machines of doom were being manufactured, the fire quickly engulfed the whole area as the gasoline and oil fed the flames. Like waves of fiery destruction, the components of death that the Friends of Humanity had hoped to use to succeed in their goals were quickly being incinerated. Many of the advanced sentinels were still poised to come online, but in the current environment...It was doubtful that it would make much of a difference even if they did. Drums of oil exploded, pools of gasoline erupted into flame, and the ceilings of the lower levels began to collapse in huge chunks, rendering many of the humanoid robot killers useless as a result.

However, there were still many left to deploy. The moment of activation was very close even as the operating system for the alarm went up in flames. But for some of the sentinels that had been short circuited by Kitty and Wanda, their own power source soon became their undoing. On the second and first levels, dozens of sentinels were poised to explode as a result of the instability in their power cells. But in the depths of the lower most level not affected by the collapse...A far more menacing occurrence was threatening to take place.

The cluster of large generators that had driven the production of these machines was still humming with activity even as the fires drew near and the smoke grew thicker. These powerful generators had a lot of energy within them...Energy that would grow only more unstable as the flames drew near. The large quantities of power that these machines provided created the sentinels...Now in a strange twist of irony, they would prove to be their destruction as well. Finally...The flames had reached the generators. The volatile area around it was laden with gasoline and oil like the rest of the facility. And coupled with the explosive components of so much energy...The result was inevitable.

Outside, the surviving mutants of the terrible attacks that William Stryker had ordered were now far from the facility, but it was still too close for comfort because of the sheer size of the area. They actually got to the point where they were close to the edge of the docks and in the more grassy areas alongside the river. More deep vibrations from the explosions were felt as the generators below neared their breaking point. Seeing a large mound of earth in the grassy area of the riverside, the surviving X-men quickly took cover.

"Everybody get down!" yelled Scott as he followed the last one behind the mound.

Then...In the span of sheer fraction of a second, a blinding yellow light erupted from deep within the facility as the flames caused the generators to explode into a fireball that illuminated the sky. A chain reaction soon followed, causing many secondary explosions to flare up as well from the rest of the facility. Areas that extended beyond the main warehouse and into the ground below were soon rocked by explosions as well as no square inch of the facility was spared from the fury of the explosion.

In the distance, Wolverine and Mystique saw this bright explosion and were forced to take cover just as the rest of the team had. It was truly a spectacular sight...Seeing the final solution to Stryker's plan go up in flames taking all the sentinels with it. Even the advanced machines of doom couldn't hope to survive the intensity of the explosion as charred metal mixed with the ashes of the structure as it was blown sky high into the warm summer air. Many smaller explosions supplemented the main one, causing more destruction to the area around the warehouse and further ensuring the destruction of the sentinels.

In a dazed, almost dream-like state the surviving mutants rose to their feet and made their way out in front of the mound. They watched the fires and explosions burn Stryker's final solution into dust...Feeling many different emotions come over them. It was as if they had faced the devil himself and survived. Three attacks by the military...Three chances to be killed in the heat of battle...Yet it only took one moment for it all to go up in flame. Everybody was tired in ways that couldn't be described by any words in any language. Tears formed in the eyes of those who were overwhelmed by this strange feeling of absolution that they had stopped the operation that was bent on killing so many innocent people. Ever since this whole thing happened they had been running, hiding, and suffering from the loss of so many friends and family...Yet here they were, fighting together alongside those who were once enemies and coming out victorious against such overwhelming odds.

No words were spoken...Everybody remained in a state of shock that they were still alive even though the hour of Stryker's final solution had come and gone. Some were on the verge of breaking down completely as they looked at what they believed to be one of the most beautiful sights they had seen in some time.

"We did it..." said Wanda in a dazed tone as she soon found herself leaning on Kurt for support, "We actually did it..."

"Does that mean it's finally over?" said Kitty as she felt a tear fall down the side of her face.

The fires continued to burn brightly as Kitty's question soon dominated the minds of all those present. The final step in operation extermination was gone...They had done their part. Did this mean that it was truly over? Did this mean that they had won the day?

Then suddenly, a lone helicopter was seen flying over the river as it overlooked the now destroyed warehouse. In the aircraft, the three occupants had reacted to the explosion in a way similar, but far more serious than that of the X-men. William Stryker, Bolivar Trask, and Senator Edward Kelly had worked for two years on this fateful operation. Stryker had planned everything down to every possible detail. All of this planning and effort was to culminate on this most glorious of days when the final solution was put into effect. Yet here they were...Looking upon what they had worked for as it burned in flames after so much work.

"My creations..." said Trask, his voice brimming with shock and anger, "My beautiful creations...Destroyed...Gone."

"All that planning and hard work...Up in flames just like that?!" mused Senator Kelly as he saw all his laborious efforts seemingly go to waste, "I'm now a fugitive and a criminal and I don't have anything to show for it?!"

Both men were truly shocked and full of rage at the mutants that they felt should have been killed many times over already. Yet the only one who didn't seemed to angry or overly emotional on this startling development was the man who had led this whole operation himself...William Stryker.

"I guess we got to see fireworks after all gentlemen," said the general calmly as he began gathering materials in the back of the helicopter in preparation for yet another one of his plans.

"How can you make jokes at a time like this?!" bellowed Senator Kelly at the general as he remained as calm and collected as ever.

"We simply made the one error that no general, scientist, or leader should ever make...We underestimated our enemies," replied the general, "And for that...This is the result. They have shown how resourceful they can really be. From the attacks that started all this to what we see before us...They have proven themselves as truly worthy opponents. And for that...We need only to respect their drive and fight harder ourselves to make them pay."

"And pay they shall!" growled Trask as he suddenly maneuvered the helicopter to a lower altitude so it was only a mere 200 feet from the surface of the river.

Senator Kelly held tightly onto his seat as a queasy feeling of nausea came over him as a result of this move, but it only brought him further anxiety. So far, he had been a mere pawn along for the ride ever since this operation began...And from the looks of it, he was going to remain so.

"Trask! What the hell are you doing!?" bellowed the Senator as the helicopter began to fly closer to the shoreline.

"What does it look like Senator?" said Trask with anger still brimming from his voice, "We're going back!"

"What!?" said Kelly as he held on tighter to his seat, "But why? The operation is over! The sentinels are gone! We have to get the hell out of here!"

"No my dear senator...We can't," said William Stryker as he pulled prepared a little surprise for his mutant enemies in the back, "We still have unfinished business to attend to."

The Friends of Humanity leader then proceeded to unveil a Browning 50 caliber machine gun mounted on the side of the helicopter. In the back, hundreds upon hundreds of deadly rounds lay in wait for their use. With a few simply motions with the mechanisms, William Stryker took a strong position behind the gun as Trask flew the helicopter in closer.

"Want a job done right, you've got to do it yourself..."

Back on shore, the moments of the helicopter didn't go unnoticed as Scott saw it begin to head back towards their position. Knowing from his extensive knowledge of military machines, he quickly ascertained that it was some kind of gunship. And that could only mean one thing...And like before, they would have to take action.

"He's coming back..." said Scott, "Stryker's not going to stop until he finishes the job."

"Vhat?" said Kurt as he and the others soon came out of their dazed state, "How can you be sure?"

"He's right Kurt..." said Jean with her hands on her temples, hinting that she was sensing something, "Stryker's coming back...He wants to finish us all or die trying!"

"Well if it's a fight he wants, it's a fight he's going to get," said Scott as he looked back at the nearing helicopter through his red tinted vision, "I'm going after him to draw his fire...The rest of you go find Wolverine and Mystique. The fewer targets he has grouped together, the better."

"What!? No way Scott! That's crazy!" said Alex upon hearing his brother's idea.

"There's no time to discuss it...Hurry up and go now!" said Scott.

And before anybody could respond, Scott had already run off.

"And you say I'm stubborn and rash," commented Pietro.

However, the speed demons words were ignored for the most part as Jean stepped forward to follow him.

"Scott wait! I'm coming too!" said the redhead as she prepared to follow her boyfriend along the banks of the Potomac River as the armed helicopter drew nearer.

"Jean!" said Kitty, not liking where this was going.

"Just find Wolverine and Mystique and meet up with us!" urged Jean, "We'll be alright, I promise!"

And like Scott, Jean was soon out of sight leaving the rest of the others to find their two elders. It was not an easy ploy to go along with, but because they knew that hesitation only compounded the situation they proceeded to find Logan and Raven while Scott and Jean, the first two students of the Xavier institute, sought to find the man responsible for destroying their home and bring forth justice to all those who had lost their lives as a result of this madman.

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The situation in the Capitol had greatly changed in terms of its intention from when this major meeting had started. What was supposed to be a big celebration for all the success of their armed forces and a gathering for the Forth of July had turned into a shocking and disturbing display of blood, carnage, and injustice against citizens of this supposedly free nation. Professor Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr had brought forth the truth about what had been done by William Stryker and his Friends of Humanity soldiers. Those who helped them saw it, the media saw it, and the entire world saw it live on TV and in front of hundreds of newspaper reporters. The sheer magnitude of this awful situation was beyond measure in the minds of both the Congressmen and the two men who had exposed this truth to them in such a bloody, shocking manner. The Professor had given the presentation of his life in showing how the hatred and intolerance of the world had killed so many innocent people, some of which included young children and his own students that he had vowed to help. Injustice, carnage, and deception had been shown in his emotional words as he spoke with every bit of intensity that his crippled body could muster...But would it be enough?

Intense discussions among the senators, representatives, judges, reporters, and executives including the President had echoed through the halls of the historic Capitol building for some time now. Xavier and his long time friend waited anxiously for their verdict on whether or not they were going to do something about the horrors that they had just been shown and put a stop to Stryker's hold on the government. Both men had fought their entire lives for the betterment of mutants everywhere...Now it looked as though it would all culminate right here on this fateful night in wake of so much loss and death.

'Will this work?' thought Charles as his thoughts drifted back to the children that had died in the rubble of his institute, 'Will those deaths be in vain?'

Seeing his friend's anxious disposition, Magneto looked back down at the man he had once fought to destroy and knew what he was probably thinking now that they had said everything they had wanted to. While he was unsure himself of how this would turn out and the subtle voice of his past pessimism towards humans still resonated somewhat, he did not want to fall back into old habits...After all, he had a promise to keep.

"Have faith Charles..." assured the old holocaust survivor, trying to keep his own spirits up as well, "You've done you're part...Now the rest is up to them."

Xavier could sense a great deal of turmoil within the minds of the men and women that ran this powerful country. Some of them were sweating bullets, for parts of his presentation had implied them to be involved in very serious criminal offenses like abuse of power, corruption, and bribery. Others were still trying to recover from the horrors of the pictures that they had been shown of dead bodies of innocent mutant children. And despite this horrible situation, nobody once considered leaving. The media cameras were beaming their every move all over the world and the watchful eye of those that had helped Stryker were now turning around to aid in the ultimate destruction of his plans. It was still unclear what they would decide, even for a telepath as powerful as the Professor. But he remained hopeful along with his friend as more tense moments passed with no verdict given. Then...One of the high ranking officials that had been beside the President, the secretary of State from the looks of it, quietly came up from behind him and whispered something in the commander and chief's ear.

"Excuse me?" said the President as he heard what his secretary said.

Once again, the news was whispered into the ear of the President and he quickly turned back to the podium.

"Ladies and gentlemen...Apparently we have another development that's being shown live on the news."

This triggered more intense discussion as the President turned back towards his secretary and asked him one last question.

"Is it possible to patch it in here? I need to see this..."

"We're working on that sir," said the secretary.

But before they could even do so, Xavier was already hard at work on his laptop patching through to the live news feed. Like the President, the Professor had to see this...He had to see what few students were left. He knew that few had made it out of the heinous attacks, but it only made him more eager to see their faces once again. With Magneto's help, Xavier was soon able to find the right signal into the live channel 5 news broadcast that looked as though it was reporting the same thing as the rest of the news channels.

Then, with a few taps of the keyboard, the broadcast suddenly came up on the projection screen, evoking a gasp from the rest of the Capitol as the leaders of America took in the images.

"My God..." said Xavier, his voice brimming with relief, "They are alive..."

Xavier saw news images of Scott, Jean, Kurt, and Kitty fighting against Friends of Humanity soldiers from video captured by a single traffic helicopter that had been flying over the area. He knew that they had survived, but this was the first time he had seen them alive since his departure from the institute before all this happened. They all seemed as though they had grown even though it had only been three weeks or so. Each one of them had the expression of a fighter and a survivor. And in seeing this, Xavier couldn't help but feel a great deal of pride towards the students that he had helped raise.

And in addition to this, he also saw former enemies wearing X-men uniforms who he never would have suspected to do so in a dozen lifetimes. He actually saw Mystique fighting alongside his students in a unique X-men uniform along with the Maximoff twins, Wanda and Pietro. For all the conflict between them in the past, here they were now fighting together for a common goal. Colossus was also a part of the group and he had even gone so far as to save Kitty from several gunmen at one point, guarding her like good friends should. It was a sight that almost made the Professor break down, but he remained strong and managed to smile at what he was seeing...His students and new friends fighting back against the injustice that had been brought upon the world.

For Magneto, it was an equally emotional response...Seeing his children fighting for their lives and their freedom against the Friends of Humanity. They were no longer fighting each other...They were helping each other. The whole ordeal had brought them all together and they had connected as a group in wake of their darkest hour. It seemed so...Right to him. It brought out emotions in him that he never thought he would feel again. He had once tried to reject all emotion because it made him weak...Yet in feeling the emotions he was experiencing right now, he felt stronger than ever. He felt as though there truly was hope for something more than violence and bloodshed...There was hope for peace.

Many of the politicians and news media present took in the sight of fully armed Friends of Humanity soldiers rushing out of the Pentagon and aggressively trying to shoot the mutants that they had so passionately targeted. The look on the faces of the soldiers was one of true murderous rage, as if they had been brainwashed into soulless, hateful monsters. Over the speakers, phrases like "DIE MUTIE FUCKS," "HAIL GENERAL STRYKER," and "ALL FREAKS MUST DIE" echoed through the halls, showing he world the extent of the hate.

"They fight together very well Magnus..." commented Xavier as he saw scenes of his students helping Magneto's in the heat of the fight.

"Indeed they do Charles. They are remarkable individuals...That, I have come to see in these last few weeks. I only wish we could have seen it sooner..." replied Magneto in a tone showing a man conflicted by the past and the present.

As the battle before the men and women of Congress raged on the President, the Vice President, and all the leaders of both houses of Congress along with the chief justice of the Supreme Court came together and began to discuss something out of listening range from the cameras or other onlookers. At first Xavier and Magneto looked weary at what they were discussing...Then, a slow smile spread across the Professor's face as if he knew what they had already decided.

"Professor Charles Xavier..." said the President, evoking the attention of the entire Capitol building, "What are you asking of us?"

The Professor felt a wave of relief fall over him as he looked back up at images from the fight between the X-men and the Friends of Humanity. His whole life, he had dedicated himself to the betterment of both mutants and humans alike. And in these past weeks, William Stryker had tried to forever destroy those dreams and the spirits of all those who believed in them. And at some points, he had to say that he did stop believing...But right now, in front of the whole world, he had proven to himself that the dream was not dead...Stryker had not destroyed it. The costs of having everything come to this point had been higher than either he or his friend ever could have imagined. Many innocent people had died because of this pointless, hate driven war. Yet only through their deaths was the human race able to see the atrocities committed and the results of their intolerance. And even though defeating Stryker wouldn't bring those innocent people back, it would help their souls rest in peace now...Forever a testament to the horrors of war and hate.

"I have only one thing that I ask of anybody and I have been saying it for many years now. And it is that I ask for...Is peace."

It was a heartfelt, emotional time for both him and Magneto as they stood before humanity, fighting for peace and not bloodshed. This moment had come only in dreams...The moment when he got to address humanity as a whole and show the world what he truly stood for. While he knew full well that all humans may not believe in peace and will still hate mutants for years to come...It was those that did believe that were worth fighting for and keeping through the times when the dream doesn't seem possible. Yet in shaping the future, it wouldn't take one giant leap like some, like Stryker, wanted to do so eagerly...It would be done gradually and in time.

Magneto soon found himself placing a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder as he saw the result of Xavier's words for peace. They had been strong, emotional, and passionate for a cause that he once deemed impossible. Yet from what he was witnessing now...He knew that it was not only possible, but it was a cause that would lead to a much brighter future for both mutants and humans alike.

"We've done our part Charles..." said the master of magnetism as his gaze shifted back up towards the projection screen where he saw the new united X-men fighting on against the Friends of Humanity, "Now let them to theirs."

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Scott Summers could hear the deafening sounds of the helicopter blades as they got ever closer to his position. Having sent the others back to find Wolverine and Mystique, this left him to be the one to draw away Stryker's attention. He was the leader of the X-men...And as the leader he was supposed to protect those he led. It had always been a part of his mindset since becoming an X-man and now he was going to have to go head to head with the murderer of many of his friends and the destroyer of the only home he had.

However, as he navigated through the trees in seek of cover in case Stryker fired back, he was met with another presence as he felt himself yanked off to an area behind a large tree by an invisible force. But to Scott, he knew what this force was and who was behind it and he didn't waste time once he came face to face with her.

"Jean!" said Scott, as he saw his girlfriend and they were forced to stay low to avoid the searchlight from the nose of the helicopter, "I thought I told you to go with the others!"

"Don't even start Scott Summers!" said Jean, "There's no way I'm letting you do this all by yourself! And don't bother trying to convince me otherwise because you know me and you know that nothing you say will make me leave."

She was right...Scott knew that there was nothing he could say to Jean that would make her leave him alone to draw Stryker's fire. He had once said it himself...He knew her better than anybody ever has or ever will, and she was not one to let anybody she cared about, namely him, go into something so dangerous all alone.

Feeling the searchlight from the helicopter bear down on them once more, Scott turned back to the girl he had been eager to propose to before all these horrible events got in the way. He vowed to himself earlier that should they both survive this whole ordeal, he would ask her to marry him on the spot. Now...This was the final battle. Should they win this...This ordeal would be over, but a new one would begin. Eager to see that new beginning...Scott gave Jean what he hoped wouldn't be their last kiss.

"You're right...I know you...And we are in this together," said Scott over the noise of the helicopter, making sure Jean knew his heartfelt feelings through their link.

"Yes...Together," she said gently running her hand down the side of his face.

The helicopter was now too close for comfort and it was time to make their move...It was now or never. William Stryker would not concede to defeat as long as there was a breath in his body. And they would have to fight him off right here, right now for both those that had been lost and those that Stryker had yet to affect in future generations.

"Come on..." said Scott as they prepared to make their way out and draw the madman's fire away from the docks where their friends were, "Let's go!"

Once they began to make their way out of their cover behind the tree, their presence was quickly seen by the searchlight from the helicopter and by the watchful eye of William Stryker as he sat behind the heavy machine gun, eager to finish what he started.

"There you are my prey...Time to die," he said in an overly calm voice with a sinister grin.

Then, with two of his targets in sight the general unleashed a wave of powerful gunfire from the 50 caliber machine gun. The rounds were powerful and tore through the trees with ease as they passed too close for comfort for Scott and Jean. Stryker's aim was much better than they had expected and Jean was forced to use her telekinesis to deflect some of the rounds. As they left Stryker's range, they took cover behind another tree along the riverbank. But this did not dissuade the Friends of Humanity leader in the slightest. From the looks of it...He was actually enjoying the hunt of these two mutants that his three attacks failed to kill. His confidence ran high like always, but he made sure that he was precise...For he knew and respected their resourcefulness as enemies and would use that knowledge to bring forth their final demise even if he had to do it with his bear hands.

"Swing around for another pass Bolivar," ordered Stryker over the noise, "They cannot escape."

"Right..." said Trask, eager to see some of the freaks that had destroyed his creations die.

Senator Kelly looked on nervously, but there was little he could do to remedy this situation. He could only hope that Stryker would succeed in taking down the survivors that had wrought so much havoc this time around. As the maneuverable aircraft prepared to swoop in to make another pass, Scott and Jean looked intently at its movement over the river from their position behind the tree.

"It's coming back...I think I can hit it with one well-placed shot," said Scott adjusting his visor, "It's fast, but it's big...And I'll give away our position if we miss."

"Go for it Scott...Besides, what other choices to we have?" mused Jean as she saw the aircraft getting closer and closer.

"Good point...I'll try and make this one count!"

Using years of experience from the Danger Room, Scott stayed low and took aim. He knew that other chances may not come as he prepared to make his move once the aircraft came into view.

"Ready..." he said to himself as he prepared to fire, "Not yet...Not yet...NOW!"

Then, with a quick roll out from behind the tree, Scott unleashed a single optic blast towards the helicopter. The sudden red burst of energy startled the inhabitance of the helicopter...But unfortunately for Scott and Jean...It missed.

"Damn!" said Scott, cursing himself for missing what could have been his only shot.

"I see you..." said Stryker from the helicopter as he turned his high caliber gun towards the area where the blast came from.

Scott and Jean were once again forced to find more cover, but their movement only gave Stryker a clearer shot as he let forth a rain of bullets upon their position. Jean once again tried to deflect them with her telekinesis, but her mind had been worked extensively in the previous fights before and mental fatigue was starting to show. She wanted to conserve her energy for when they got another shot...That is, IF they got another shot.

"Quickly Jean!" urged Scott as he led Jean towards more cover over the hail of bullets, "We have to find more cover! It doesn't look like he's going to run out of ammo anytime soon!"

The bullets tore through the trees like cardboard as the two youths were forced to hit the ground once again. Scott wanted to try another shot, but he couldn't get a clear view through the trees. If he ran out into the opening, he would be a sitting duck for Stryker's keen aim and Jean's telekinetic shielding would only make her a target as well. Yet, they were still determined to bring this man down because if he finished them off, then there would be nothing in his way to try do the same against the others by whatever means he saw fit.

"They are a crafty duo...I'll give them that," said Stryker as he ceased firing for a brief period as Trask increased the forwards speed of the aircraft around the area, "But not crafty enough."

He let out a series of more rounds, this time in bursts in order to draw them out. The trees were not good shielding in the slightest and there seemed to be no rocks or mounds along the shore for them to hide behind. And adding to their problems, they were running out of places along the shore to take cover in. If they kept going the direction they had been, they would soon run out of cover and they would be open targets. Knowing that they couldn't keep this up, a new plan would have to be formulated.

"Jean...It looks like we'll have to back track," said Scott as they both tried to avoid the bursts of bullets that Stryker was using to draw them out.

Looking back at the shredded trees from the bullets, it didn't look to promising. The trees wouldn't provide them as good of cover the second time around and the more they kept this going, the more vulnerable they became.

"We're definitely cutting this close Scott," said Jean as she heard more bullets whiz by their position, forcing them to stay low.

"I know...That's why we have to end it soon!"

With Stryker bearing down on them, they were once again forced to move...This time down a more vulnerable path. Jean readied her mind for another round of shielding and Scott prepared head out into another wave of gunfire.

"Ready...GO!" said Scott as they both dashed out of their hiding spot and back through some of the mangled trees.

"I don't think so..." grinned Stryker as he opened fire again.

This time, he had clearer views through the trees and his aim was more accurate. Jean kept her telekinetic shielding up in bursts as bullets passed too close to them for comfort. But running and focusing her mind were not easy tasks and she was getting disoriented. But Scott managed to keep her close and guide her despite the seemingly endless swarm of bullets. Fatigue was starting to catch up with them as the running had induced heavy exhaustion on the both of them and their bodies screamed for rest, but they kept pushing themselves. Stryker would not stop...Nothing would stop him from fulfilling his precious operation. They could not keep this up forever...But they also couldn't allow this man to continue on his genocidal rampage. He had to be stopped...But for the moment, Scott and Jean were both preoccupied with avoiding the bullets to concern themselves with anything else.

Their fatigue and exhaustion from everything that they had faced on this one night was starting to slow them down...And as the reached an extended opening in the tree cover formed by Stryker's last pass, the general saw his opportunity and would not let it go to waste.

"You're time is up..." he said as he then focused his gunfire solely on the boy out in front.

As Stryker's skilled gunfire concentrated on Scott instead of the both of them, Jean was forced to once again use her tired mind to shield him...But in the process she made herself vulnerable as well. Stryker seemed to know that and while she was still protecting her boyfriend, the general turned his sights towards Jean and opened fire. Then...In a fraction of a second, it all came to ahead as Scott heard to his horror a pained scream from the woman he loved.

"AHHHH!" yelled the redhead as she fell to the ground while the helicopter above passed them and began to make a long path back towards them over the river.

"JEAN!" cried Scott as he quickly knelt to her side, fearing the worst.

"Got one..." said Stryker with a grin as the helicopter began the process of another attack route.

Jean Grey's felt her heart skip a beat when she had felt the pain and was afraid to look at whatever wound she had suffered. Given all the death and horror that she and her friends had felt these past few weeks, she had much reason to assume that the worst possible scenarios would always happen to them. But she was still breathing, her heart was still beating, and she could feel Scott's gentle touch ease her anxiety as she once again managed to focus on what had happened.

"Jean...Jean are you all right?" said Scott, his tone full of worry as he quickly scanned her for injuries.

Jean gritted her teeth as she felt the source of the pain focus on her leg near her knee. Scott quickly noticed this and took a look at the injury. One of the powerful, 50 caliber bullets had really grazed the area and the flesh was charred almost to the bone. It wasn't broken, but it definitely looked fractured and as it started bleeding, Jean tightly gripped the wound and tried to null out the physical pain.

"Damn...He got you in the leg. Can you stand?" asked Scott as he sat her up.

"I...Think so. I just need a few minutes," said Jean still clutching the wound.

"We don't even have that," said Scott as he quickly scooped her up in his arms and carried her further back into the trees where he found one of the larger trees settled behind a small mound of earth for cover. Gently, he set her down and leaned her up against the tree. He then proceeded to rip off both his sleeves on his uniform and tightly wrap them around the wound while Jean gradually adjusted to the pain of the wound.

"You'll be all right..." said Scott, making sure that her entire knee was covered.

"I've had worse," she responded.

"No kidding..." said Scott, managing a smile despite the seriousness of the moment.

As the young leader took a look back over the river where the helicopter was circling around for one last pass...A risky yet powerful opportunity arose that he knew he had to take. It was another chance to end this war right here, right now. Like before, it was risk that could go horribly wrong and end up with even more innocent people dead...But there were little other options to go by as Scott made his decision to try and finally end operation extermination.

"He's coming back around to confirm his hit..." said Scott as he saw the aircraft make its way around over a bridge and back towards their position.

"Then you had better run..." said Jean, her hand still over the covered wound.

"No...I'm not leaving...I'm going to end this," said Scott, "I think I can manage one more shot. This time...I won't miss. I'll have to go out into the open, but I think I'll have my window when he comes back to see the same area where you were hit."

"But if he sees you..." began Jean, not liking this plan at all, even though that seemed to be the only kinds of plans that they were both stuck with ever since this whole ordeal began.

"I know...But if he does then at least he'll come after me and not you," said the young leader as time was running shorter and shorter.

"Scott..." said Jean, taking his hand, not wanting this to be the last time.

"I'll be okay Jean...I promise. Do you trust me?" asked Scott as he held her hand in his for comfort

"Of course I trust you," said Jean, not even having to think about it.

"Then trust me when I say that I'll be alright..." said Scott, his words showing all the emotions that this girl had made him feel ever since the fateful day they met, "I'm going to end this...It'll all be over. We are both going to survive...We are both going to live...Together."

"Together..." she repeated, swallowing the lump in her throat.

Then, Scott Summers placed one last kiss on Jean's forehead and made his way towards the clearing and into the open where he hoped to take the one shot that would put a stop to William Stryker for good. Jean stay safely behind her cover as she prayed for Scott's well being and an end to this horrible war that had brought so much death upon them. The end was in sight...And it was either them or Stryker that would live to see the future. One path by war...One path by peace...Each with its own outcome...Each believing in what they are fighting for. Yet every war must have a victor and a vanquished. Every story must have an end. And for William Stryker, the Friends of Humanity, and the X-men...It was about to come to ahead.

"Come on Stryker! Come and get me!" said Scott as he observed the heavily armed helicopter as it drew ever closer, "All I need is one shot...One good, clear shot."

Scott did not want to miss this time. This war had gone on long enough and it was time to see who was destined for survival and who was doomed to perish.

"Time to die..." said Stryker as he neared the area and prepared to unleash the power of his gun upon the targets he had fought so hard to kill.

"That's it...Come closer...Give me one good shot. Give me something to aim for...Something to shoot at!" said Scott as his right hand eagerly rested upon the side of his visor, ready to unleash the power of his optic blasts at any given moment.

The helicopter was getting closer...The sinister smile on Stryker's face only grew wider as the lights from the surrounding city illuminated it in the night sky.

"Come on...Let me see that smile. Let me see that big, evil smile I know you love to flaunt..." said Scott as he gritted his teeth in determination.

Then finally...His helicopter was in sight and in range. And through the lights of the city of Washington DC...Scott Summers could see the grinning face of William Stryker. He had started this war that had claimed too many innocent lives...Many of which included good friends of his. This man had changed the world of both the X-men and humanity forever with his incessant drive that bordered between ambition and madness. Such a man couldn't be allowed to win any more. Tonight was the night to either stop him or keep fighting him while he continues his rampage. One moment in time is all it would take for the fates to diverge on either path...Victory or defeat. And that moment was now.

The sound of the helicopter was now louder than ever and the aircraft in range. Scott Summers stood strong and aimed hard...Then, he saw it...The face of William Stryker. His was smiling, confident, and forever driven down the path he had chosen. His eyes met with that of the murderer, the general, the leader of the push to exterminate him and every other mutant on the face of the planet regardless of who they are. Two opponents...Two sides were now face to face. The still smiling face of William Stryker behind his 50 caliber gun and the staunch, determined look of Scott Summers were now so close...And only one would leave here alive.

Finally, Scott saw his opening...He saw his chance. Stryker's gun wasn't pointed at him...It was pointed back at the area where he had hit Jean. The window of opportunity was only one shot...One chance. But he would not allow himself to miss this one...For he knew that the friends that had died were now watching over him...And cheering him on. With his hand firmly on his visor...It all finally happened within the span of a mere fraction of a second.

"Exterminate this..." he said as the moment of truth finally came.

Then, with one touch of his visor...A single optic blast shot out of his eyes and blasted through the air...And this time, it made contact with the helicopter right below the volatile components of the rotors.

"Pull up!" ordered Stryker.

But it was already too late. Bolivar Trask had lost control, Senator Kelly was about to lose his lunch, and the heavy aircraft then began to swirl in the air as smoke began billowing out of the top where Scott's beams had hit it. Then...As time itself seemed to freeze, it happened...A deafening explosion rocked the helicopter as it plunged into the river and was blown apart in a fireball. Bolivar Trask, Senator Edward Kelly, and General William Stryker...Were consumed by the flames...Finally bringing an end to operation extermination.

For Scott Summers...He was stuck in a daze. What had just happened seemed so unbelievable after losing so much hope in wake of the horrible events that had transpired. He couldn't believe what he was seeing with his own eyes...It was over...This was the end. And the X-men had succeeded.

"Happy Forth of July Stryker..."

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

AN: That's it! That's the end of the final battle! William Stryker finally faced justice. The final solution is gone, the leader is gone, and the operation is over. It's been a long hard road for the X-men and those that were lucky enough to survive. But that doesn't bring back those that were lost. Now...One thing has ended and a new beginning is upon them. This story has been a long, drawn out display of action, suspense, and drama. The darkest and the lightest sides of human nature are shown for all to see. Now the end to this long story is in sight. Stay tuned to see what happens to the group of former enemies that fought with each other against a common enemy. There is still more to come and I urge you all to review every bit of this story you can! Send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I'd love to hear what you think! Thank you all for reading and I wish everybody the best!
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