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 28: Shock And Awe
Shadow Cell had gotten what they needed from the Xavier Institute. Cerebro had been every bit as powerful as Dr. Essex had told them and now they knew where Magneto and his hidden base weren't so hidden anymore. Phoenix had put undue stress on her mind in order to find the heavily cloaked facility, but despite the strain, she had succeeded. Now her head was throbbing as if a bomb had gone off inside, but given her training, she had a very high pain tolerance.
"I know..." she said as she leaned on her fellow comrade and lover for support as she struggled to regain her balance, "I know where his base is...I found it."
"I know you did..." said Cyclops in a soft tone...A tone that he almost never used during a mission, but when it involved Phoenix, he was willing to make an exception, "And you did good baby...You did real good."
In his arms, Cyclops felt her quickly fight off the stress on her mind and body and managed to stand under her own power. She took a few deep breaths and shook her head clean of the strain, grunting through the pain as the tried and true soldier in her took over and she felt ready once again to take on anything that stood in her way.
"I'm ready..." she told him, still dealing with a pounding headache, but it was nothing she couldn't handle.
"Good...Now come on," said Cyclops as he took out his gun and knife once again in usual CQC fashion, "Let's get the hell out of here."
"Sounds good to me..." said Phoenix as she did the same, "I think we've overstayed our welcome here anyways."
After gathering up the flash drive they had used to break Cerebro's defenses, the two mutant soldiers made their way out through the corridors, passing the still downed bodies of Professor Xavier and Hank McCoy. Hank was still out cold, but Xavier was slowly regaining consciousness and awoke just in time to see the two intruders making their exit.
"Wait..." he said as he struggled to get back into his chair.
But his please fell on deaf ears as Cyclops and Phoenix promptly made their way up through the elevator shaft they had blown through earlier and back up into the second floor.
Waiting for them there were Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch, who continued to fight off and down anybody who dared to stand against. And just as they arrived, Gambit was trying one last attack with his now broken bow staff, but he was sent flying by a single hex bolt from the Scarlet Witch, leaving the path completely clear for them to escape without any further incident.
"Did you get what you needed?" asked Mayhem as Cyclops and Phoenix did a quick check of all the unconscious and injured bodies now strewn along the grand hall.
"Yeah, piece of cake," said Phoenix, despite her lingering headache, "Any more resistance?"
"Not if they know what's good for them," said the Scarlet Witch, not seeing anybody else daring to confront them.
"Good...Then let's move out!" commanded Cyclops.
"Oh no you don't!" came a voice at the front door, "You're not going anywhere!"
Shadow Cell didn't look too shocked or threatened at the sight of young Jamie Madrox as he made dozens upon dozens of copies of himself that blocked the entrance of the door. They all locked arms and stood in defiance despite the fact that they had overcome pretty much everything the institute had to throw at them. The five mutant soldiers had to admit, the kid had guts...But unfortunately, guts isn't enough when it comes to being a soldier and succeeding in a mission.
"Sorry kid..." said the Scarlet Witch as she used her hexing powers with the assistance of Phoenix's telepathy to find the primary Jamie, "But we're in a hurry..."
Young Jamie let out a pained yell as he felt the affects of the Scarlet Witch's hex bolts and all his clones disappeared. Then, he was flung out of the way into the den where he landed in a daze upon the soft couch, an act both girls made sure wouldn't hurt the young boy and just get him out of the way. And with the last possible opponent out of their way, Shadow Cell filed out the front door, not looking back for an instant.
Then, just as quickly as they had entered and overcome everybody in their path...Shadow Cell was gone.
Upon getting clear of the institute and returning to their jeep, the five mutant soldiers wasted no time in getting back on the road before the X-men could retaliate. They may have surprised and crippled them in terms of their security system and their egos, but they had few doubts that they would attempt to retaliate in some form, if for anything, for answers. However, given that Shadow Cell was so secret, they were confident that even with their resources, they'd just be wasting their time.
Now that the adrenaline had worn off, the effects of what they had just done began to sink in. They had just attacked civilians for the sake of stopping Magneto. Fighting terrorists, armies, and mercenaries were one thing...But fighting innocent people was quite another and it definitely wasn't going to sit well with their conscious.
"Well this sure is a new low..." said Vincent in a grim tone, "Mission or not...We just attacked civilians."
"There was no way around it Vincent...How else were we supposed to find out what we needed to know?" said Wanda, trying to comfort her comrade, simply stating what she knew.
"I know, I know...But still," said Vincent, feeling deeply disconcerted by all this.
"Yeah, you're right Vincent..." said Jean, keeping her tone strong, "What we did really was crossing a line, but there's no going back now. We still have a job to do. So let's see it through."
Taking a few deep breaths, Vincent pulled himself together. All the years of being a strong, steadfast soldier quickly caught up with him...Remembering that they were doing this for a reason. They were out to save countless lives from a mutant tyrant and if that means that they would have to break a few rules, then so be it.
"I guess we should be grateful that they didn't put up too much of a fight," said Vincent, thinking back to rather lopsided fight.
"Standard ambush reaction," said Jean as she flipped open the cell phone, "What do you think X?"
However, X23 didn't seem to hear her, for she was still in somewhat of a daze. Her mind was still trying to process what she had just experienced. She had just come face to face with the original Weapon X...She saw him, she fought him, and she beat him. He was the man responsible for her existence...He was the reason why she was born into such a painful world. And she had a chance to make him pay for that...She had a chance to kill him. But when she defeated him and he was lying there at her mercy...She couldn't do it. She had killed countless men in that manner without a second thought...But she couldn't do it this time. There were just so many conflicting and confusing feelings that welled up within her when she looked into his eyes...Feelings so alien to her that she couldn't even begin to make sense of them. She tried to focus on the mission...But that moment of hesitation just kept lingering in her mind...Refusing to let her forget that she had seen him...She had seen the only man on the face of the planet who's blood flowed in her veins.
"X...Hey X!" yelled Jean, finally snapping her out of her daze.
"What?" she said, staring back at her comrade with an incredulous look.
"Are you okay?" said Jean as she and the others looked back at their youngest comrade with concerned expressions all around.
"Yeah...I'm fine," she told them, sounding as though she was trying to convince both herself and her friends, "I was just thinking...That's all."
"Are you sure?" asked Cyclops, who knew just as well as the others that it had to be something else.
"I'm sure..." she said in a low tone, "No need to worry...Let's just focus on our next challenge."
Still not convinced, X23's four friends and comrades knew this was neither the place nor the time to deal with such issues and simply nodded back at her, leaving her to her thoughts once again.
"Well challenge aside...We got what we needed from them," said Jean as she dialed the number on the cell phone, "And now it's time to move on to the next step."
The whole jeep went silent as they waited for an answer from their teacher and mentor, Dr. Essex. Yet unknown to them, he was still hard at work in his lab as he had been since they left. Progress on his new machines which would take the bio-mutagenic accelerator to a level unprecedented in the history of science and evolution was going precisely as scheduled and nobody...Not even his most beloved creations...Suspected a thing.
"This is Dr. Essex..." he finally answered after four rings.
"Sir, it's Phoenix. We've just completed step two of the mission. The Xavier Institute was successfully infiltrated and I managed to use Cerebro to find Magneto's location."
"Excellent..." said Dr. Essex, his tone reigning with approval, "I knew you wouldn't let me down my children."
"Thank you sir. The X-men posed few problems," said Jean, always happy to hear approval from their mentor, but still not happy that he had ordered them to attack civilians.
"Just as I expected of them...And what of Magneto's location? Do you have exact coordinates?"
"Indeed we do sir. So what's our next move?"
Dr. Essex could feel it now...The final step of what he was certain would be Shadow Cell's most important mission to date. Looking back at the machines he was working on, knew it wouldn't be long now, for he just needed one last component...Magneto's precious stone.
"You're next move is to return to base Shadow Cell," said Dr. Essex as the five obedient soldiers continued to listen dutifully, "Magnum will take care of the security clearances, but you must follow her instructions precisely if you're to continue to avoid detection from GURSO."
"Understood sir. We'll do whatever's necessary."
"As I'm sure you will. And once you arrive, Magnum will have for you your next course of action. Now I know the X-men and the Brotherhood weren't as challenging as you anticipated...But this next step is absolutely critical, so don't relax you're guard just yet."
"We never do..." stated Jean in a strong tone.
"And for that reason you have my full confidence that you'll succeed," said Dr. Essex confidently, "This mission may be off the books, but it is every bit as vital to the security of the world and humanity as previous missions...However, you mustn't forget that we're dealing with a very tenacious foe, so continue to expect the unexpected...Over and out."
Upon hearing the click of Dr. Essex's phone, the jeep once again fell silent as the dutiful soldiers kept with their determined mindset and began to mentally prepare themselves for whatever challenges the next step presented them with. This mission had already proven to be quite different compared to what they had handled in the past. It had already struck them hard in sense because they had attacked civilians...Something that they were always taught to avoid at all costs. But Dr. Essex ordered them to do this...And whether they liked it or not, they had to comply. It didn't make them feel any better about it, but it sure would hang over them for a while...That much was clear.
But aside from the complications and uncertainties, it was not over yet. They still had one last step to take care of...Magneto.
Back at the institute, both students and staff alike were struggling to recover from the unexpected and unprecedented attack by the five mysterious intruders. The institute's elaborate security measures along with their extensive danger room training hadn't made a difference against whoever these mysterious foes were. Practically everything they threw at them was ineffective and they were able to walk all over them with a level of power, skill, and coordination that they had never seen before.
Among those first to recover was Logan who, thanks to his healing ability, was back on his feet within a few minutes of catching his breath. But while his body may have healed, he was still somewhat troubled by what he had just faced. It wasn't just the fact that whoever these intruders were managed to take him and everybody else down with skill the likes of which he had never seen before...He knew there had to be something much more complicated at work here.
And with each possibility he considered, his thoughts kept drifting back to that girl...That one raging young girl who wielded the same claws, senses, and healing ability as he did. The look in her eye...The scent she gave off...It was something that truly struck a chord with the former living weapon, for it so similar to his, yet slightly different in a way that only added to the confusion and mystery surrounding the whole ordeal. That girl had carried herself as powerful fighter and a cold blooded killer...Yet even when he was at her mercy, she didn't strike him down. She had the chance...Nothing was stopping her...But she couldn't kill him. Something had held her back...Something strong that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but for now, he set such thoughts aside as he scrambled towards the main hall to check on the rest of the students.
"Everybody okay?" he yelled from the top of the stairs, seeing a few unconscious bodies and several others that were moving, but at a very slow pace.
"Ah bloody hell...Depends on you're definition of the word 'okay,'" answered Betsy as she nearly blacked out from the throbbing feeling in her head and the pain in her body from the beating she had just taken.
Just then, another pained groan came from the area not far off from Betsy's side...One she quickly recognized as belonging to her boyfriend, Warren.
"Ugh..." he groaned, feeling a sting of pain shoot every time he moved, "My...Wings..."
"Oh God, Warren!" said Betsy as she quickly scrambled to her boyfriend's side.
She helped him into an upright position, but the look on his face seemed one of great pain as he gritted his teeth in agony. Betsy's eyes quickly fell upon the two bullet wounds. There was one on each wing and from the looks of it, they were very well aimed and had put young man in a great deal of discomfort. They hit about midway down the upper cartilage of on each wing. The bullets seemed to hit the perfect spots for which to make them unuseable, at least for the time being. And while such damage could heal, it still left him reeling from the well placed shots that had taken him out of the fight.
"Warren...Warren, luv, it's okay," said Betsy, gently placing her hands upon his face in an effort to sooth his pain, "You're going to be fine...You hear me? You're going to be just fine..."
"Get him to the infirmary Bets..." ordered Logan as he swiftly ascended the stairs to check on the others, "And let Hank know we got a major load for him...It looks like a lot we've got a lot of injuries to handle."
"No kidding..." said Kurt, who sauntered a bit upon returning to his feet, "Kitty...Hey Kitty, are you okay?"
Kurt anxiously shook his unconscious friend, but there was a rather nasty looking bruise on her forehead, hinting that she had taken a pretty heavy blow to the head in the confusion of the intense, yet lopsided fight.
"Kitty...Oh man," he said as he gently ran his hand over the bruise.
"Is she okay?" asked Rogue, who was helping Remy stand, for he had taken a particularly harsh blow with that final attack of his that only led to more physical punishment.
"Nein...She's out cold," said Kurt as he helped her up.
"And she's not the only one..." came a voice from the top of the stairs.
Looking back up the steps, Logan saw Jubilee trying to get an unconscious Bobby Drake down the stairs, but she was struggling immensely because her eyesight had yet to recover from being blasted with her own powers and looked as though she was on the verge of collapsing. He quickly made his way up to help her, for she seemed a bit light headed from it all, most likely from the lingering affects of being hit with her own blasts.
"Tabby and Amara are upstairs too...And it looks like they got hit pretty hard as well," added Jubilee.
"Go see if you can't wake em' up..." said Logan as he took Bobby from her, "I'll take popsicle down to the infirmary."
Logan then watched Jubilee saunter up the stairs, causing him to shake his head in amazement at how much of the team had been beaten by this attack. All the danger room sessions and training over the course of their stay hadn't done much to help them, for whoever those intruders were, they knew how to fight and they knew how to win. But beatings aside, there still remained many questions in the minds of the X-men...And given what they had just gone through, it was certain that this little incident would not soon be forgotten.
"Merde..." groaned Remy, limping on one leg as Rogue continued to help him stand, "Who in de hell were those guys?"
"Beats me..." said Betsy as she helped Warren up as well, using her telepathy to send soothing thoughts in order to fight the pain, "But whoever they were...They knew how to leave their mark."
"Ugh, tell me about it..." said Kurt as he felt some blood on his lip.
Then, before they could make their way down the hall towards the elevator, they were suddenly confronted with Ororo, who also seemed to be moving a bit slowly and leaning on the wall for support. Not far behind her was Roberto and Sam, who were both helping Ray since he was out cold. And not far behind them was Rhane, who was forced to lean against the wall for support because of the injuries she sustained.
"By the Goddess...What on Earth happened? Is everybody alright?" she said, rubbing her head slightly from the throbbing pain that still lingered.
"Everybody's fine...Injured, but fine," said Logan.
"But...Who were those guys?" asked Rogue as she struggled to support Remy as he continued to sway off balance, "And what the hell did they want? Did they just come here to kick our asses?"
"I doubt it..." grunted Logan, feeling somewhat angry at himself for letting this happen to the kids he had sworn to protect, "They were too well organized...Too focused. They had to have come here for something..."
"But what?" asked Ororo, "And why with such force?"
Logan just looked down at Bobby and the rest of the injured kids and sighed. The X-men had gone up against the Brotherhood, Magneto, and the Friends of Humanity, but never did so many of them come out this hurt before. They had all been taken by surprise and every one of their weaknesses was exploited to the max. None of them were given a chance to counter or so much as regroup...Hinting that they were dealing with a group that knew not just how to fight...But how to completely overcome and overwhelm. Such skill had to come from somewhere...But at that moment, there was little time to dwell on such matters.
"I don't know, Ro..." said Logan, shaking his head in defeat as he looked back at his battered and bruised students, "But we'll have to worry about that later...Now, we've got other problems to deal with."
Then, just as they were about to help the injured down to the infirmary, a telepathic voice resonated in their minds.
'Is everybody okay?' sent Professor Charles Xavier, who was still in the lower levels with Hank recovering from their minor, but not too serious injuries.
'Everybody's still alive, so yeah...' answered Logan, 'We've just got a ton of injuries, bruises, and a few unconscious kids.'
'Injuries? Is there's anything serious?' sent the Professor with a hint of concern.
'Nah, ain't nothin' that can't be healed,' replied Logan, 'I don't know who these guys were, but they definitely went out of their ways to leave no serious injuries.'
'But still, some are in need of treatment,' added Ororo.
'In that case, send all those down who need it through the secondary elevator...The other one was rendered inoperable by whoever those intruders were.'
'Yeah...And it looks like they did the same to the whole institute security system,' added Betsy, 'They practically waltzed right through it.'
'We'll worry about that later, Betsy,' sent the Professor in response, 'For now, let's just tend to the injured.'
'But Professor...' argued Rogue as she looked back at the wounded Gambit who was still leaning on her for support, 'Just who in the hell were those guys anyways? And what did they want?'
'You're right stripes...' sent Logan, his thoughts drifting back to that fateful fight with that girl, 'Whoever they were, they had a clear cut objective from the get go. They got in, they neutralized the resistance, and they held everyone at bay...Definitely a standard, if not somewhat advanced, military tactic.'
'Wait...You mean the military could have been behind this?' grunted Warren, feeling a bit uneasy having an army after him and his friends.
'It's too early to tell...But whoever they were and whatever they were here to do...I believe they succeeded.'
'Succeeded?' said Kurt in response, 'In vhat? Kicking our collective butts?'
'No...' sent Xavier with a more ominous tone, 'They succeeded in using Cerebro.'
'Cerebro?' gasped Ororo, 'Why would they want to use that? Were they after the Xavier Protocols?'
'I'm not sure, Ororo...' sent Xavier, soundings somewhat at a loss for having failed to protect his students and fellow teachers, 'I know you all have many questions...As do I. However, for the time being, we must focus on treating those who need it. Just bring them down to the infirmary for now...But I assure you, we will look into this...And we will find some answers.'
'Yer damn right we will Chuck!' grunted Logan in response, not willing to let something this profound just pass them by, 'And if what I saw was any hint...I think I know just who to turn to for some answers...'
In a remote area not far from the junkyard where there some light construction was going on, a lone raven flew towards a small clearing just outside the main structure. There were many steel girders visible in the unfinished structure and the whole area was laden with discarded tools and beams, most likely from the construction crew that had left for the night. The whole area was completely deserted now in the late hour, but that just made it all the more ideal for a very clandestine meeting.
Mystique shifted back into her full form, still a bit sluggish from the beating she took earlier. However, she was a fast healer and she was feeling better for the most part despite a few pains and twinges here and there. Her shoulder was still killing her and the headache that ensued after the 'interrogation' with the raging redheaded psychic that left her in such a pained state still lingered. But injuries or not, Mystique didn't waste any time in informing Magneto, for she knew this was something he needed to know about. And while she wasn't exactly too thrilled with the notion of her being the one to have to deliver this rather bad news, she knew that if she delayed, that would only make him angrier with her and she sure as hell didn't need that.
"Argh! Damn shoulder!" she cursed as she stood in wait for her superior, "I hope this is over quickly...I seriously need some ice and at least a bottle of aspirin."
Then suddenly, no sooner had she muttered those words then several metallic beams start to shake. This quickly caught the shape shifter's attention, for she knew it was Magneto's calling card. Almost immediately, she forgot her headache as numerous metal bars, bolts, and tools began swirling around her in a threatening manner.
"Magneto...What are you..."
Then suddenly, before she could finish, she was hit in the head with a metal wrench, only helping to add to her already throbbing head. The metal parts around her continued to swirl with increasing ferocity...So much so that a few actually grazed the shape shifter, hinting that Magneto was not exactly in the best of moods.
"You had better have a good reason for calling me out her Mystique!" said Magneto in a deep, menacing tone as he descended from the air and hovered before her.
"I wouldn't have called if it wasn't important," justified Mystique, holding onto her bruised shoulder in an attempt to guard it from an increasingly hostile swarm of metal.
"I am on the verge of completing my machine that I have spent a lifetime on!" he shot, hitting her again with a heavy metal ratchet, "What could possibly be important enough to call me away from that?"
Mystique, ignoring the pain, just up and spoke, for the longer this went on, the angrier he seemed to get.
"The Brotherhood was attacked!" she told him, stressing the matter with her tone, "In our own house...In broad daylight...We were all attacked!"
"Attacked?" said Magneto, not sounding all that impressed with this news, "That's it? You called me here simply because you were attacked?"
"It wasn't from the X-men! And it wasn't from the Friends of Humanity or some other whacked out locals! If it were, don't you think we would have fought them off?"
"Well then who were they?" demanded Magneto, turning up the pressure on her as the whirlwind of metal continued to grow more intense.
"I don't know..."
That only earned her another strike from a steel bar.
"You don't know?!" bellowed Magneto, growing increasingly frustrated.
"It's the truth!" said Mystique, rubbing her sore ribs which had bore the blunt end of the strike, "They were all highly skilled...They didn't even break a sweat taking down the boys! They also had mutant powers...Strong ones too."
"So they were mutants..." said Magneto, still not buying it completely, thinking there had to be more to it than that, "Were they Xavier's?"
"No...Definitely not. These attackers were efficient, ruthless, and stone cold. They carried guns and knives which they certainly weren't afraid to use...Making them far too violent for Xavier's tastes."
"Indeed..." said Magneto, growing somewhat more intrigued, "But who were they? And what were they after?"
"I told you...I don't know who they were. But I know what they were after!"
"What then? Why did they attack you?"
"They wanted information..." she answered, grasping her shoulder more tightly as the swirl of metal continued to grow increasingly menacing.
"Information on what?" he pressed on, knowing it had to be important.
"On Asteroid M..."
Then suddenly, Mystique was hit on her bruised shoulder with a heavy tool box, sending her falling to the ground with a pained groan. Magneto was clearly angered upon hearing what he believed to be some of the most vital information to his plan. Only he, Mystique, and Pietro to some extent knew of Asteroid M and he had gone to great lengths to keep it that way. And if anybody out of the loop knew of his true goals, then the whole plan would be in jeopardy.
"Asteroid M?!" he yelled, now brimming with anger, "They knew about Asteroid M?! How?!"
"I don't know..." she answered, but that only earned her another blow on the shoulder from a wrench.
"Liar! Who else could have known?!" he bellowed, thinking it could only be her since he knew Pietro wasn't stupid enough to blab to anybody about something so important to him.
"I told you! I don't know!" she yelled, even though her response just gave Magneto more reason to inflict greater punishment on her.
"Then what do you know?! How much did they know about Asteroid M?"
"Just that it existed..." answered Mystique, still keeled over on the ground in a world of pain, "And they wanted to know where it was located..."
"And did they find out?!" he yelled, knowing that it was one thing to know of his base's existence, but it was quite another to know it's location...Something that he alone was supposed to know.
Mystique didn't answer, for she knew that if she told him she broke, it would only make him angrier and cause him to inflict more pain upon her. She didn't want to tell him...For she was already in such a world of hurt that she didn't know how much more she could take. But this was a man whom she had known to be completely unaffected by the suffering of others and she, a woman whom had given him plenty of reasons not to trust her, was most certainly one of them.
"Mystique..." he said in a tone and gaze that would have caused even the mightiest to tremble, "What did you tell them?"
"I didn't tell them anything...But one of them was a psychic...A very powerful psychic almost on par with Xavier."
"Then you should have been able to resist..." he said sternly, knowing Mystique was supposed to have unbreakable mental shields that even Xavier couldn't penetrate.
"I tried..." she struggled, knowing that what she was about to say would only bring more pain, "But whoever this woman was, she also had telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers and practically tossed me around like pinball! She knew no bounds and didn't have anywhere near the restraint Xavier has when it came to probing! She knew how to interrogate...She knew how to put pressure on anybody...It was impossible to keep my shields up! I tried, but I..."
However, as she had expected, she didn't finish...For Magneto, in a fit of rage, pummeled her with several steal beams, some of which were sharp enough to tear gaping wounds in her flesh, causing her to yell out in pain as she once again keeled over onto the ground.
"You broke?!" yelled Magneto angrily as he hovered closer towards the helpless mutant on the ground before him, "I entrusted in you some of the most fragile data concerning my master plan and you broke?!"
He continued his assault on her, hitting her with bolts, tools, and anything he could levitate and accelerate. Mystique tried to guard the already bruised parts of her body with her arms, but that was having little effect on the relentless punishment the master of magnetism continued to inflict upon her. Yet still, despite her pain, she tried to defend herself.
"I had no choice!" she told him, causing him to temporarily halt his assault, "But rest assured, I didn't give her an exact location. I only knew the general area, remember?"
"It's still too much, Mystique! You know I won't tolerate any kind of hindrance...I have worked too long and too hard for this and I'm NOT about to let some ruthless mutant dissidents who you couldn't handle stand in my way!"
Mystique continued to bear the blunt end of Magneto's rage as she was pummeled once again by a series of heavy tools. But before he could hit her with anything heavier, she knew there was one last thing he needed to know...And this was something she had no idea how he was going to handle. Anger over his base was one thing...But this...This was an entirely different matter altogether.
"Wait! There's more..."
"More?! What do you mean?" shot Magneto in a stern tone, feeling as though this woman was becoming more of a nuisance and a liability than he had previously thought.
"One of the attackers..." she said, catching her breath and gritting her teeth through the pain, "One of them was someone who Pietro recognized...And from what he told me...You know her as well."
"Who?!" demanded Magneto, "Who was a part of these rogue dissidents?! I'll have their heads for their pestilence!"
Mystique hesitated a bit before saying, not knowing how he was going to react to this. But nevertheless, she went head and told him anyways...For he definitely had to know this.
"It was Wanda...Wanda Maximoff...Pietro's twin sister...And your daughter."
Magneto's eyes widened at the mention of that name...That one fateful name that he had not heard and no one had dared to utter for over ten years now. It was the name of his little girl...The beautiful little girl that once so clearly bore the eyes of his late wife, Magda. Only she had grown angry and unmanageable when her powers manifested at a young age...Forcing him to take drastic action. He threw her into an asylum...For he was unable to deal with her. Then...Nearly three years after that...She died. He knew...He was at her funeral...He had seen her coffin...He had been there. And for that reason, he couldn't and wouldn't accept what Mystique had just told him. Instead...He erupted into a rage like no other.
"Wanda...ERR! NO!!!" he yelled, as he suddenly ripped a dozen steel beams up from the ground with unparalleled force.
Then suddenly, before she could react, Mystique felt the hard steel bars warp and bend around her body, encasing her in a death grip of solid steel. Her arms and legs were bound and the metal encasement tightened around her and lifted her already wounded body into the air as she was squeezed and crushed under great pressure, causing her to yell out in a fit of agony.
"HOW DARE YOU SPEAK THE NAME OF MY DAUGHTER!" he yelled at her, using his powers to give her a choking squeeze with the steel bars that now so tightly encased her, "MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD! WANDA IS DEAD! I WAS AT HER FUNERAL! I SAW HER COFFIN! I STOOD OVER HER GRAVE!"
"Did you...Ever...See...A body?" gasped Mystique, her lungs crying for air.
In his rage, Magneto had let his usually cold, stoic demeanor fall apart like a house of cards. He never spoke with so much rage and emotion...Not since he claimed to be completely dead of such things. But this...The mention of his dead daughter...The daughter he so heartlessly threw away...Was just too much for him to handle. He didn't want to believe it...For he had come to accept it over the years that he had failed and she was gone...Gone forever like her mother.
Magneto's raging fury soon gave way to a feeling of disbelief and bewilderment as he finally loosened the steel bars from around the shape shifter's body and let her fall limply onto the ground in a pained heap. He took a moment to process what he had just heard...Allowing himself to breathe a bit after having heard something he never thought he'd hear again. Anger, bitterness, sorrow, and self loathing hung over him like a haunting shadow as he clenched his fists in an all consuming bit of rage that boiled beneath his skin. He was so close to finally completing a lifetime of dreams and goals...Then something like this had to come along...Something so shocking and unexpected that he never thought he'd have to deal with again.
"I threw her away..." he mused as Mystique struggled to get her lungs working again, "I threw her away because I couldn't manage her. She was too unstable...Too volatile to control. I was told by the asylum...That she had hung herself in her cell. They showed me pictures of what I identified as being her dead body. But...To hear that she's alive...After all this time...How can it be possible?"
"I...Don't...Know," groaned Mystique, still in a world of pain, "But...She was...There. She...Is...Alive."
"Shut up!" he said, his words stinging from years of conflict and self loathing as he hit her once more with a heavy piece of construction equipment, "You are on extremely thin ice Mystique. I have tolerated your failure and insubordinance for too long! Now, because of you, a very real threat exists to my master plan...And Wanda is a part of it."
Magneto then used his powers to manipulate a steel beam that suddenly wrapped itself around Mystique's neck and levitated her so that she was eye level with the angry master of magnetism. She choked and struggled as her mangled body hung limp and helpless before the old holocaust survivor that she had so blindly given her trust to.
"I will give you one final chance..." he told her with raw venom in is tone, "Prepare the Brotherhood for an early departure to Asteroid M and keep anything and everything as secret as can be. I don't care if these attackers come around again...But if you break again, I'll break you as a result! Because if I find out that anything else is revealed concerning my plans, I will blame you and you alone! You chose my path...And you better be willing to follow through, or else no amount of shape shifting will repair your body from what I will do to it!"
And with that, he released her, once again allowing her body to fall limply upon the hard ground below. Then, the whirlwind of metal finally stopped and Magneto ascended back into the air, disappearing from sight, leaving the hurt and wounded shape shifter behind in a world of pain.
She struggled to breathe and many parts of her body were littered with bruises and gashes from the punishment she had just endured. She knew Magneto wouldn't be pleased with her, but she had no idea he would inflict such great pain upon her. The shape shifter was in so much hurt, that she couldn't even get back up. Instead, she found herself curling in a fetal position, grasping the most painful of her wounds on her shoulders and ribs. It hurt so much...But she refused to shed a tear...For this was the life she had chosen...This was the existence she was forced to endure. And even though she had been dealt so much pain and punishment, she couldn't deny the truth in Magneto's words...She had chosen his path. And after having endured so much failure and punishment with a cause she found herself increasingly doubting...She was finally beginning to deeply regret that fateful choice.
Back in Washington, the big meeting was going pretty much as everyone had expected it to go with both sides deadlocked. The side of those in favor of 'active' mutant policies and the side in favor of 'passive' policies continued to clash and remained unable to agree upon any real course of action. The classic battle of the war hawks and the peace doves quickly devolved into a stalemate with neither side making much headway. However, for some, there was more stress looming over their minds that didn't necessarily involve anything having to do with the meeting.
While the General remained a vocal peace proponent, the Colonel for some reason or another fell silent for the most part...A rare occurrence for anybody who even remotely knew him. Usually he would shout the loudest or argue the most passionately in any debate, but after he received a mysterious page from one of his GURSO soldiers back at Shadow Cell, he had been quite distracted from his usual demeanor. And while his silence was welcomed by many who had seen just how adamant he could get about his views, others became more suspicious...Namely Nick Fury of SHIELD.
Fury had stayed relatively quiet for the most part, letting his officials and the General do most of the talking while he just sat back and watched this clusterfuck of a debate rage on. However, after having overheard an ominous conversation over the phone from the Colonel, his attention began shifting over towards him instead of the meeting. His gut told him something was up...And given what he knew about the Colonel, it was something he felt was definitely worth taking note of. He knew the man didn't have a very valorous record to say the least and he knew his attitude made him a pretty unpleasant guy to be around...But that only made his suspicions feel all the more vindicated as he watched the Colonel constantly check his phone, growing increasingly disgruntled by whatever it was he was seeing. Fury wished he could have seen what was going on with him...But given that the Colonel was no idiot, he could only watch and grow increasingly suspicious.
'What are you hiding, Colonel?' thought Nick Fury as a bunch of meaningless arguments once again filled the room, 'I know something's up...Something big.'
Unknown to most of the intelligence community and the black world of secret government programs in general, Nick Fury had some of the most detailed knowledge about Shadow Cell outside the highest echelons of government. The project had garnered so much success and praise that even he couldn't deny it's effectiveness in carrying out the task that even SHIELD wouldn't touch. Then again, it was never the project that bothered him...It was the people that ran it that sparked his suspicions. From the beginning, he had his suspicions about their activities and he and SHIELD had been tasked by the higher ups to keep an eye on them not long after they started doing fieldwork. But the more success Shadow Cell experienced, the harder it was for him to exact his influence. They had already caught him and SHIELD with their pants down with the whole Hydra affair and his credibility had faced stiff competition from Shadow Cell leaders given their success. But credibility or not, it didn't ease any of the lingering uncertainties he felt about the organization and the people who ran it and he remained determined to keep a close eye on them no matter what anybody else thought.
Fury's attention remained diverted as he once again looked over at the Colonel, who still seemed deeply irritated. He continued checking his phone, letting the General do much of the talking and allowing his supporters to keep the discussion deadlocked. It was clear that his mind was somewhere else now and whatever it was, it took far greater precedence over what was going on now.
Just then...Fury felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket, indicating that someone was calling him over a line he only used when something major came up. Most people would never be stupid or crazy enough to call him when they knew he was in a meeting, but as soon as he flipped open his phone and saw who it was from and along the message that he had left...He knew that his problems just got a whole lot bigger.
"Damn it..." he cursed under his breath, "I knew it...I knew something had to be up..."
While the debate was still going on, Fury quietly got up from his seat, evoking the attention of one of his trusted aides.
"Sir...Where are you going?" he asked him anxiously.
"I'm taking an extra long smoke break..." he told him in a cryptic tone, not leaving any room for argument.
A subtle hint of understanding quickly came over the subordinate officer, who knew from those words exactly what he meant.
"Oh...I see," he said, not wanting to know anything more, "I'll...I'll take care of it."
Nick Fury didn't say another word. Instead, he merely nodded and stepped out of the room. And while the meeting continued to go on without him, probably with the same lack of progress, Nick Fury made a quick and silent exit through a specified path that only he and a select few knew about. He moved swiftly, being careful not to draw any attention to himself, for what he was about to do was a serious breach of regular protocol. But he didn't think too much about that now, for he had plenty of other concerns to deal with at the moment. He had a gut feeling that whatever this was, it was something major that he could not ignore. And even though he knew that getting involved would piss off plenty of his associate, it was still his duty to see it through...For he owed as much to an old friend of his which he knew he would be seeing very soon.
AN: And this is where they say the plot thickens! Everything is really starting to heat up now with tensions running high on all sides! Now with so many people involved in this complex web of events, it can only grow all the more intense, so stay tuned to see just how things unfold! And don't worry, for there is still plenty to come! The mind blowing action, drama, and suspense is just getting warmed up and you won't want to miss a second of it! As always, I implore you all to REVIEW this story that I have put so much effort into! Please tell me what you think by posting your thoughts on the fanfiction website or by sending me your comments directly via email! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish every one of you the best!
IT'S HEATING UP FOLKS! HURRY UP AND REVIEW BEFORE IT GETS TOO INTENSE!