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 29: Unanswered Questions
After the sudden attacks by Shadow Cell on the institute, the still dazed and confused X-men took some time to heal from their wounds both physically and mentally. They had been overwhelmed on pretty much every level against the five mutant soldiers. They had outnumbered them, they had fought them on their own turf, and had a cutting edge security system on their side...But they still lost. After having faced the Brotherhood, Juggernaut, Magneto, and the sentinels, the X-men thought they were truly prepared to face any such threat that came their way...But whoever these intruders were, they managed to beat them on pretty much every level and it had been rather demoralizing to say the least.
Professor Xavier, Hank, and Ororo had been tending to the injured who were now resting in the infirmary for the rest the night. Few people slept, for after having endured an attack like that, it was rather hard to do so. The other students who hadn't suffered severe injuries also lent what help they could. They had wounds to heal, a security system to rebuild, and a new foe to deal with. But for now, they were just recovering from what had just happened so suddenly and without warning.
"How are they doing, Charles?" asked Hank as he and Ororo stepped out of the main computer room adjacent to Cerebro.
"Aside from a few rather nasty bruises and some pretty severe headaches...Fine for the most part," said Xavier with a sigh, "It's strange though...With all the skill and brutality of these intruders, it appeared as though they truly didn't want to hurt anybody..."
"And what makes you so certain of that?" said Hank somewhat skeptically as he rubbed the still sore spot on his chest from where Cyclops had blasted him into unconsciousness.
"I'm...Not exactly sure. Keep in mind my friends...Whoever these intruders were, they managed to overpower us with a great deal of efficiency. Yet even when faced with so many opportunities...They didn't kill or seriously injure anybody. That was clearly not their objective."
"Then what on Earth were they here for?" asked Ororo, still reeling from all the trauma that this attack had inflicted upon everybody at the institute.
"That, Ororo, is the big question," said the Professor as he began to ponder all the possibilities.
"Well whatever it was they were here for, it seems that it did in fact have something to do with Cerebro," added Hank.
"But what could it be?" thought Ororo, feeling as though she was at wits end, "We checked the systems and the Xavier Protocols are still intact and show no signs of intrusion."
"Then it's safe to say that the protocols weren't what they were after. What about the system tools? Could there be any trace of their actions lodged in the machines user files?"
"I already checked that, Charles...And I'm afraid that I don't have an answer for you," said Hank with an exasperated sigh, "Whoever these most tenacious attackers were, they most certainly knew what they were doing. Cerebro had over seven layers of the best firewalls both money and programming could buy...Yet they tore it apart as if it were mere tissue paper."
"But...How is that possible?" said Ororo, finding that hard to believe that somebody could hack into a computer as complex and powerful as Cerebro.
"Believe me Ororo...I'd definitely like to know," said Hank as he rubbed his sore neck as a result of many hours of intense work that had gotten them nowhere, "But whatever programming they used to rip apart our elaborate computer security, it must have also included a self destruct mechanism that terminated any hint or trace of what it did or what it had been used for...Taking most of our key protective measures with it along with many vital user files."
Professor Charles Xavier was both impressed and distraught at this news, for he had programmed many of Cerebro's key components himself and had thought them to be unbreakable. Yet as confident as he was in his programming skills, they seemed to hold up just as well as their combat skills had against these mysterious new foes.
"Then I guess that means I'll have to program it again from scratch," said the Professor, sounding tired and exhausted after such a trying ordeal, "Hopefully, I'll find something along the way to shed light on this new mystery...Until then, the students are our first priority."
"Agreed..." said Ororo with a nod, "So what do you want us to do?"
"For now, all we can do is help fix up any lingering wounds and help them to recover from the overall shock of this whole ordeal," instructed Xavier as he wheeled himself back towards Cerebro.
"That's certainly not going to be easy, Charles," stated Hank, knowing they needed a more detailed course of action than that, "What if these mysterious intruders decide to attack again?"
Professor Xavier considered that for a moment, but as he thought back to that fateful fight with that redheaded psychic that had actually managed to beat him in a mind to mind face off, he knew there was definitely something more to these attackers. They had fought so tenaciously and efficiently that there absolutely had to be some sort of objective to it all...And whatever it was, it had nothing to do with them. If anything, he and his X-men had just been in the way.
"Let's not concern ourselves too greatly with that just yet. I don't know who those attackers were...But something tells me that it's not us they're out to get...It's something much more grand."
"And what do you think it could be?"
"That, Ororo, is what we must find out..." said Professor Charles Xavier with a new hint of determination in his voice, "And something tells me that whatever it is, it is most certainly something of great importance if it prompted such a powerful and sudden attack."
Back in the infirmary, things had finally settled down amongst the injured and the not-so-injured. Everybody had been in a state of shock over what they had just faced, but as their minds gradually came to process it, many questions arose. However, as with the Professor, they were no closer to finding any answers and had only the lingering marks left by their attackers to go on.
"Dang Remy! Would ya hold still for just a second?" exclaimed Rogue in a frustrated tone as she rubbed some of Hank's specially medicated anti-septic to a wound on Remy's leg.
"Sorry cherÃ¨," grunted Remy as he felt the burning of the abrasive fluid, "Dis shit just burns like hell."
"Hey, at least you only got it on your leg, Remy," groaned Warren, who was still rubbing his sore neck as Betsy patched up his left wing, "Try taking a couple of bullets to the wings."
"Sorry homme...Remy don't have wings," said the Cajun mutant as he winced again.
"Well if you did, you'd be begging for just a measly leg injury. These things are sensitive."
"But at least they're done now..." grunted Betsy as she put a small white medical patch over the wound, "How do they feel now?"
"Better..." he said, managing a smile to his girlfriend, who had put up with plenty of complaints and squirming while she worked on him, "Still hurts when I move them though."
"Then you should probably stay on the ground for a while," she told him as she put the supplies away, "And if that means I have to hogtie you in order to keep you grounded, then so be it."
"Yeah...As if he wouldn't like that," grumbled Rogue, wishing she didn't have to watch Betsy and Warren play nurse.
Just then, Kurt, Sam, Kitty, and Jamie entered the room. They all looked tired and they were still pretty sore just like the rest of them, but given what had happened, such feelings were expected.
"So how are things on this end?" asked Kitty, obviously tired from having been unconscious and working through the night tending to the injured.
"Probably the same as on your end..." answered Warren as he stretched his wings a bit to get the feeling back in them, "Plenty of injuries...But nothing too serious."
"Vell Beast says that Bobby, Jubilee, Ray, Roberto, Tabby, Rhane, and Amara vill probably be out for another couple of hours or so...But at least vhen they vake up, they von't feel as sore," said Kurt as he sat up on one of the tables in order to rest his tired legs.
"At least they got some sleep out of all this..." muttered Rogue, "Ah swear, whoever those guys were, they were just toyin' with us. They practically walked all over us for cryin' out loud!"
"Not to mention how they also managed to mortally wounding the team's collective ego," commented Sam, still reeling from pounding they all took, "Man, it's times like this Ah wish Ah had Logan's healing factor."
"Oh believe me, Sam...We all do," said Betsy as she tried to rub the tiredness out of her eyes, "But ego aside, I think you all know pretty much what this whole thing means..."
"Extra danger room time?" guessed Jamie.
"Exactly..." said Warren, causing everybody to let out a collective groan, "I know...I know...But we can't escape the fact that we got our butts kicked by these guys. There were only five of them, they were fighting us in our own home, and we surrounded them..."
"Yet dey still managed to mop de floor wit us," said Gambit, rubbing his sore neck as he stood up, adjusting to the feeling of his now sore leg, "So much for always bein' prepared."
"And so much for trying to organize any fun training activities as well..." grumbled Sam, knowing that there was no way anybody was going to let them go on a dirt-biking run.
"Guys, this is serious!" said Warren, thinking they shouldn't be taking something like this so lightly, "We were attacked for crying out loud!"
"Hey, like, chill out Warren," said Kitty, even though she had a feeling that as leader, Warren would probably be more anxious about this than the others, "We know it's a big deal and all, but that doesn't mean we have to let it psyche us out."
"But that doesn't mean we should take it lightly either," argued Warren.
"Well can't we take it more seriously in the morning?" groaned Jamie, who was in serious need of some shut eye just like the rest of the team, "I'm totally beat."
"Ja, me too man..." said Kurt in agreement as he slouched over in his position and rested his head in his hands, "I say ve all call it a night. Ve could all probably use it anyways."
Then suddenly, a familiar gruff voice came from the doorway, momentarily snapping them all out of their drowsy state of mind.
"Hate to break it to ya kiddes, but the night's already over," said Logan as he leaned on the doorway, looking over the students that had bore the blunt end of the attack.
"Oh man, you're kidding right?" said Rogue in response, hoping it were so.
"Since when have any of you known me to kid?" he grumbled in response, evoking a wave of groans from, "But don't worry...The Prof says ya don't have to go to school today."
That helped cheer everybody up somewhat, for none of them thought they would be able to manage school in their state. Hell, half a dozen of them were still unconscious, but that only served to make the whole impact of the attack even greater...Not just in a physical sense, but psychologically as well.
"Well I guess one good thing came out of this bloody attack," muttered Betsy, "But who exactly were these guys? And why in the hell would they attack us?"
"Hey, just ask the whole dang school to answer that for ya," quipped Rogue with a snide expression, "They could've been Friends of Humanity for all we know."
"Like, no way!" said Kitty, not believe that for a second, "These guys were mutants. There's no way they'd be with the Friends of Humanity."
"Well, what about Magneto?" suggested Sam.
"Yeah, that's definitely a possibility," said Warren, taking a moment to really think about this, "The Brotherhood certainly hasn't proven themselves to be very effective against us in the past, so maybe he hired a bunch of new cronies to fight against us."
"I don't know about dat, homme..." said Gambit, sounding unconvinced, "De way dose guys fought wasn't exactly Magneto's style."
"The Cajun's right..." said Logan in a definitive tone, having a pretty good idea that what he saw was definitely something different, "They were definitely not Magneto's boys...That's for damn sure."
"What makes you so sure of that Mr. Logan?" asked Sam.
"Well for one thing, since when did Magneto's boys carry guns?" said Logan, which made enough of a point in and of itself, "And it's not just that...It's the way they carried themselves that proves they're somthin' else."
"What do you mean?" asked Warren, not knowing what he was getting at.
"What I mean is, whoever these so called intruders were...They were definitely soldiers of some sort. The way they attacked us wasn't just some ambush...It was an infiltration. They used a classic deception tactic...They divided us and got us to focus on all the wrong things while they slipped in and took whatever it is they wanted. They had an objective...They came here for something...And we were just in the way."
A heavy silence fell over the team as they thought back to how the fight had gone. Now it seemed all the more complex to them as they looked beyond the beating they took. And as hard as it had been to admit defeat, now they had a chance to analyze why they had been defeated. Yet in looking back at how these mysterious intruders had neutralized them...They began to wonder just what it was they were after.
"So I guess the big question now would be...What exactly were they after?" said Betsy as she began to think about it.
"Ja, and if they vere just here to take something, then vhy come in vith so much commotion?" pondered Kurt.
"Maybe they were, like, in a hurry or something?" reasoned Kitty.
"Or maybe they wanted to send a message to us," suggested Warren, "They had plenty of opportunities to kill us and they certainly had the means...But they didn't. It could be their way of telling us to back off."
"Ah don't know...They sure didn't look like they were tryin' to intimidate," added Rogue as she thought back to the fight that brought such a world of pain upon them.
"Well maybe that was just a bonus for them or something," shrugged Sam, "They really knew how to fight and they were pretty darn good at it."
"Or maybe...We don't know enough to make any kind of assumption," said Logan, thinking the kids were just throwing things out there, some of which could be valid and some of which he knew was just speculation.
"Vell to be fair, ve still don't know who the hell they vere," reminded Kurt.
"And hopefully...That'll change," said Logan ominously.
"What do you mean?" asked Warren, catching the subtle tone in his voice, hinting that something had already been done.
"I called in a favor to an old buddy of mine," said Logan as he turned to walk away and see how Hank, Ororo, and the Professor were doing, "And if anybody knows anything about these soldiers...It's him."
It wasn't much to go on, but it was all they had at this point. They didn't know the state of Cerebro and they still had plenty of injured to tend to. But despite all the turmoil that remained in wake of the attack, the young team of mutants were still very curious as to who exactly these intruders were. Logan seemed certain that they were soldiers of some kind and more often then not, his gut instincts often proved to be right in the long run. But there were still so many lingering mysteries about what had happened and such curiosity would continue to fester every bit as much as the wounds that the five mutant soldiers had left.
"So what do you think, luv?" asked Betsy as she turned back to her boyfriend, who still had a curious look on his face, "You think Logan could be right about this? You think we could actually be dealing with soldiers of some sort?"
"I don't know, Betsy..." he told her in all honesty as he continued to reflect on everything that had happened so suddenly, "But whatever it is we're dealing with...Something tells me it's big."
The master of magnetism didn't want to believe it...He couldn't believe it. It was impossible...At least, that's what he kept telling himself. It was bad enough Mystique had revealed to him that some strange team of mutants that he had no prior knowledge of despite all his resources now knew of Asteroid M's general location...But to learn that his daughter...The beautiful little girl that he had thrown away because he couldn't handle her...Was alive...It was just too much for him to bear.
Throughout his life, Eric Magnus Lensherr had suffered his share of tragedy. He had survived the horrors of the holocaust that had claimed his parents and left him all alone in the world. He had lost his beloved wife to a lynch mob after having exposed himself as a mutant while working with Charles in the Balkans. And he had been forced to contend with his failure as a father to his children...Namely what happened to his little girl, Wanda.
It seemed like only yesterday she was a regular, happy child that could brighten his day even during the most darkest of times...Yet all too often, that happy child was unable to control her emotions, letting her volatile powers grow beyond her control. She was able to cause undue destruction with every temper tantrum and no matter what he did...He couldn't control her. And because of that...He threw her away into an insane asylum.
With one fateful decision, he tossed his daughter away as if it were trivial. Yet no matter how cold or bitter he felt, he could still vividly remember her agonizing cries. The sight of his beautiful young daughter struggling against those asylum guards, crying and reaching out to him, begging him not to leave her...Yet he didn't listen. In fact, he didn't even shed a single tear.
For years, he kept telling himself that he had no other choice. She had been angry, unmanageable, and volatile. But then one day...He got news from the asylum that Wanda had committed suicide...She had hung herself in her cell. At first, he was furious...Then, when the asylum guards showed him some photos of her dead body...His anger turned to sorrow, for his little girl was dead...And it had been his fault.
Then, at her funeral, he shed what would later be his last tears...For after standing over the grave of his daughter and seeing young Pietro morn the loss of his twin sister, any last bit of humanity that had endured throughout his life died with his little girl. From that moment on, his bitterness and apathy knew no bounds...For there was nothing left for him to hold onto other than his hatred for humanity. It was for that reason and so many others that he sought to wipe out emotion, for they seemed to cause nothing but sorrow for him. And in the years since news of Wanda's death, he sought to pursue the complete and utter destruction of Homo sapiens...For that seemed to be his only true outlet.
But now...Things were different. Now...Everything had changed. As much as he didn't want to believe what Mystique had told him...One thing stood out in his mind above all others...He never saw her body. The only thing he had to go on were pictures and he knew those were easily manipulated. But still...The thought of his daughter actually being alive after all this time brought forth a mixture of many conflicting emotions. He kept telling himself that it was impossible...Yet his mind couldn't seem to let go. His little girl was out there...She wasn't dead...And he was finally beginning to come to grips with that. However...If he was going to accept it, he needed proof...And he knew of only one way to do that.
"I can't believe I'm doing this..." he said to himself as he stood in a place he vowed never to stand again, "I can't believe I'm even thinking this..."
The master of magnetism was torn through inner conflict as he stood upon the grave of his little girl. After her funeral, he vowed never to return, for it would only remind him of his failure and his loss...Yet if he was going to confirm that Wanda was truly dead, he would have to see her body...Or whatever was left of it. The thought alone of seeing the dead corpse of his beautiful little girl sickened him in a way few things could, but he had to know...He had to find out the truth. He had photos, autopsy reports, and a death certificate...But without a body, such documentation would mean precisely dick.
For a moment, Magneto just stood there, gazing back upon the grave of his daughter. He kept reading over the epitaph which said, 'Here lies Wanda Lensherr Maximoff. Rest peacefully young child for now thy spirit is free.' Those words had been the one thing that actually got him to cry on that day when he stood in the dreary rain as they buried his daughter, but now he was out to uncover the truth...And there was no turning back.
"I best get this over with..." he told himself as he summoned his powers, causing several rusty shovels that had been resting against nearby trees to levitate and hover over towards him.
Then, in a quick and furious pace, the rusted tools tore into the ground, guided by the magnetic force of Magneto's powers. He dug with unabated ferocity, as if he was fighting against the demons that had haunted him for so many years. His heart rate jumped as he dug deeper and deeper...Until finally, they hit the coffin.
Taking a deep breath, Magneto then focused his powers on some of the metal fixtures of the coffin and with one solid yank...Drew the whole casket up out of the ground in a show of brute force. Once it was set down, Magneto knelt upon the wet ground and ran his hands over the black outer casing. As much as he wanted to open it and see for himself whether or not his daughter was alive...At the same time, a part of him didn't want to know. There was no telling what he would see and he kept shaking his head, not believing that he was about to do this...But it was too late now. He had made his choice...And he would find out the truth one way or another.
As the old holocaust survivor took one last deep breath, he finally pried open the lid and what he saw both shocked and horrified him in a way no words could describe.
"Empty..." he gasped as he looked into the empty casket, "It's...Empty."
It looked as though there had never been a body in it to begin with. There were no traces...No marks...Nothing. It was just an empty casket...Not the final resting place of his beautiful little girl.
"Empty...Empty!" he repeated as he began banging his fists upon the lid in a blind rage, for he was unable to control his emotions from this revelation, "Empty. Empty! EMPTY! EMPTY!!! NO!!! WANDA!!!"
He kept yelling and screaming into the night as he angrily pounded his fists upon the empty casket. It was impossible...He could not believe it...But now he had proof. He could no longer deny it. After all these years...After so much loss, sorrow, and bitterness...Wanda Maximoff...The daughter he once believed to be gone forever...Was alive.
As the rest of the day went by at the Xavier Institute, most of those who had suffered injuries in wake of the attack were beginning to finally heal up for the most part. Despite lingering bruises, everybody was up and about for the most part as the evening fell upon the institute. Everybody pitched in for the extensive cleanup and helped out in whatever way they could while also taking the time to recuperate from the lingering effects the attack had left on them. However, for some, recovering was a bit slower.
Down in the infirmary, those who had been knocked unconscious in the fight had woken up, but not without major headaches. But as with the physical wounds, they too would heal. As brutal as their attackers had been, they didn't seek any real permanent injuries upon them, which spoke volumes for their skill. And such considerations were never very far from the minds of the students and staff of the institute as they continued to recover from this startling new development while also pondering the many questions that had been left in wake of the attack.
"Ugh...I'm going to need a pound of aspirin for the next three days," groaned Amara as she rubbed her head from the lingering affects of X23's CQC attacks.
"To hell with aspirin...I'm going to need morphine!" said Tabby, who was in the bed right next to Amara.
"Speak for yourself you two..." groaned Roberto, who now had bandages around his body along with Roberto since they had bore the blunt end of an impact from Sam thanks to the telekinetic power of Phoenix, "At least you didn't get knocked over like a couple of bowling pins by Cannonball."
"Aw, quit your bellyaching!" said Ray, who tried to stand up under the lingering strain of the injuries he suffered on his torso, "At least your solar powers protected you a little from the impact. I didn't have dick to protect me!"
"Will all of you just quit complaining!" exclaimed Rahne, who wasn't exactly being aided by all this commotion, for she was still reeling from the blow her body had suffered as a result of Cyclops's blast, "It's not like it's going to make any of the pain go away!"
"Took the words right out of my mouth, Wolfsbane," grunted Wolverine, who was bandaging up her arm, "Ya fought against a bunch of intruders and lost...So get over it and learn from it."
"Which I can only take as meaning we'll be spending extra hours in the danger room after we're all back on our feet," groaned Roberto.
"In that case, I'm staying in bed..." said Amara with another groan as she fell upon the soft infirmary bed, closing her eyes in an effort to stave off the pain of her headache.
"Oh come on Wolvie!" said Tabitha, not wanting to think about things like the danger room in her current state, "It's not like we didn't try to fight back! Those guys just overwhelmed us..."
"Yeah...Especially that chick with the claws..." groaned Bobby, who was lucky enough to avoid any real bruises thanks to his ice form, but not lucky enough to avoid a slight concussion.
"Ugh, don't remind me," said Tabby in response as she rubbed her stiff neck from where X23 had hit a nerve cluster.
Just then, another thought came to her as she looked back at Logan.
"Speaking of which...That chick seemed to have quite a resemblance to our favorite burly Canadian here," said Tabby, immediately prompting Logan's suspicions.
"Yeah, I remember the way she practically growled at us..." said Bobby as he sat up and looked Logan in the eye, trying to get a clearer picture of the resemblance that was clearly there between him and whoever that girl was, "It sounded a lot like you, Logan. You wouldn't happen to know her, would you?"
Logan was silent for a moment as he thought back to that fateful fight that ended so mysteriously and left him in such a daze. He knew there was something about that girl...Something that had to do with him. At the moment, he had no answers...Only questions. But if some of the students could see it just as clearly as he did, then that was only further indication that this mysterious girl was somehow linked to him...He just didn't know to what extent or what this could possibly mean.
"No...I didn't know her," he said simply in a low, monotone voice.
Then, without saying another word, Logan made a sudden exit...A move not at all uncommon given his mysterious nature, but one that still sparked the intrigue of all those present...Namely Ororo.
"Hey, what's with him?" asked Jubilee, who Ororo was tending to, removing a bandage that had been placed over her eyes after having suffered a blinding blast from her own powers.
"I'm not sure..." said Ororo in a curious tone, "How do your eyes feel?"
"A lot better than before, that's for sure," answered Jubilee, still squinting a bit as she continued to see stars swirling about in her vision, "But I guess I should be grateful that I wasn't going full power on that girl...Otherwise I might have fried my retinas."
"Well continue to rest them for at least 12 more hours just to be on the safe side," she said as she got up from her bedside and began to make her leave as well, "They should be okay in a day or so."
"Hey wait! Where are you going?" asked Jubilee.
"To catch up with Logan. Something's bothering him...I can tell."
"Since when is anything NOT bothering him?" commented Tabby, but Ororo seemed to ignore that remark as she continued to make her leave.
"Continue resting..." she told them, "Hank should be back down later to give you one final check up. Until then, don't worry about Logan...I'll find out what's troubling him."
A strange silence fell over the injured students of the Xavier Institute as they watched the former weather goddess leave, for they were definitely a bit curious as to what they had just seen...And it wasn't just what Bobby and Tabitha had said to him about that girl.
"Do you guys ever get the feeling that those two are...Well, you know?" said Jubilee to her friends, hoping she wasn't the only one who found what they had just seen as a bit strange.
"Hmm..." said Amara, "I don't know...With those two, it's always hard to tell."
"Yeah, definitely!" said Tabitha with a laugh, "I mean, come on! Those two?! You gotta admit, they would make a pretty odd match."
"I know...But still," argued Jubilee as she found herself trailing off in her words as everybody else went back to focusing on their lingering injuries.
While some, like Tabitha, Ray, and Bobby, chuckled at the notion...That didn't mean they found it any less intriguing. Whether or not there was something else between Logan and Ororo was anybody's guess...But for now, they had other things to worry about.
Back up stairs on the ground floor level of the institute, Logan was simply gazing out the front window from the den, finding himself in somewhat of a trance as he thought about what the others had said. While he knew they were probably just making observations, that didn't make them any less valid. It was true...That girl was a lot like him in many ways...Too many ways for it to be mere coincidence. And that just made things more complicated because it simply left so many unanswered questions.
The fight with that mysterious girl who wielded so much of his attributes played over again in his mind and kept wondering what it could mean. She smelled like him, growled like him, and even looked like him to some extent. When he looked her in the eye, it was as if he was looking at himself...As if somehow this girl was a part of him. And being a guy who had always assumed that he was all alone in the world with absolutely no family, it was a pretty overwhelming feeling.
It was bad enough that somebody had attacked the institute and made it look easy...But for one of the attackers to possible have a connection to him made things all the more difficult. Yet in the back of his mind, he knew this girl meant something to him...He just didn't know what it was. But he was determined to find out.
Logan continued to wallow in this state of confusion for an unknown amount of time until finally, a new presence came and broke him out of his daze.
"Penny for your thoughts, Logan?" said a familiar voice that almost startled him since he was so consumed with the fresh memories of that fateful fight.
"Oh, hey Ro..." he said in a monotone voice as he shifted his attention back out the window.
He didn't say anything else in response, which was typical of Logan given his nature, but Ororo knew there was something else on his mind and she was determined to find out what it was. And she, as well as Logan on some level, knew full well that of all the people at institute, only she had the power to break the big bad Wolverine out of his shell.
"Is something wrong?" she asked as she leaned up against the window to face him, watching as he remained utterly focused on the landscape, "You look troubled."
"The institute was attacked Ro...And almost everybody was hurt. OOf course I'm troubled."
"That's not what I meant Logan and you know it..."
Logan just let out a frustrated grunt, for he just couldn't hide anything from Ororo no matter how hard he tried. She had known him the longest out of anybody at the institute minus the Professor and she made it clear time and time again that she wasn't the kind of person to just allow a good friend to wallow in self pity.
"Can't get anything past you, can I?" he said, managing a slight grin.
"Well...You should know that by now," she responded, also managing a light hearted smile to help ease the mood, "So are you going to tell me or am I going to have to whip up a tornado to get it out of you?"
"Nah, save your strength."
"Then tell me..." she said in a sincere tone, "What's wrong?"
Logan took a deep breath, for he knew it was going to be hard talking about something he didn't even understand. But at this point, he knew was getting nowhere fast trying to do this on his own and maybe Ororo could think of something he couldn't.
"It's like I said, Ro...This place and everybody in it was attacked," he told her, trying to find the right manner in which to explain his situation, "It was my job to protect everybody...And I failed."
"But there was something else..."
Logan let out another sigh, for he wasn't exactly sure what to make of this. He only knew what he had seen, smelled, and experienced and nothing more. But that alone was enough to make him seek out more even if it meant finding out things he'd rather leave unknown.
"It was more than something..." he went on to tell her, "It was someone."
"Someone? Who?" asked Ororo, growing all the more curious.
"One of those attackers...That girl...The young one with the long dark hair...She was...Different."
"Different as in she had eyes like me, she had adamantium claws like me, she had healing powers like me, and she even smelled like me..." he told her, his tone growing somewhat frustrated as he went over the many details that just seemed so unreal to him, "It was as if...She was me in some ways. The way she fought me...The way she handled herself...It was almost like fighting myself."
It was a strange predicament...That much Ororo couldn't deny. Nobody had recognized these intruders...Nobody had even so much as detected them despite having two telepaths and a security system on par with Fort Knox. But for one of them to be so much like Logan...Could it mean something?
"Did you recognize her?" she asked him, wondering if maybe this was someone from his past.
"Nope...Never saw her before in my life."
"Then how do you know she's connected to you?" she asked him.
"I'm not sure. It's just...The way that girl looked at me and the way she acted...It definitely meant something. I looked at her and I felt as though I knew her...And I think she knew it too."
"What makes you say that?" asked Ororo, finding this all the more mysterious.
"Because she had me on the ropes, Ro..." he said, his tone becoming more aggravated as he continued to feel plagued by all these lingering questions, "She beat me...And you know that ain't easy. She had me on the ground and at her mercy...And she could have killed me right then and there. I could tell she wanted to...I could see it in her eyes. She had the perfect chance to kill me...But she didn't do it...Something stopped her...Something was holding her back."
Ororo could see the great frustration in her friend's eyes as his face contorted and his fists clenched, for this was pestering him on so many levels. She had seen him get baffled before...But never like this. She could only imagine what was going through his mind when he saw that girl...Whoever she was. But it was clear that it left an impact on Logan...One that was festering more in his mind with each passing moment.
"I don't know what it was," he went on as Ororo gently placed a hand upon is shoulders in an attempt to calm him, "But she saw something...She knew something."
"Do you think it may have something to do with your past?" asked Ororo, knowing that it was never very far from Logan's mind.
"That's just it...I really don't know, Ro."
Her grip on his strong, burly shoulder tightened as she moved in closer to him. His tension remained high, for the image of that girl hung so strongly in his mind. Ororo could see how it was causing him so much stress after already having had to contend with a multitude of other complications in his long, complicated life. And this new development only further added to his problems, for it was clear that this meant something...It meant something to him in a way that he couldn't fully ascertain, but he knew it was important...And it all revolved around this mysterious young girl.
"Logan...I wish I could give you the answers you want," said Ororo, trying to be there for her friend in the way he needed it at this moment, "I know there's no way for me to fully understand how you feel about this. But I do know one thing...You will get through it...We all will. We'll find the truth...About this girl...About this attack...Everything."
"What makes you so sure about that?"
"I never said that I was sure...I just have faith that things will work out even if it means facing many difficulties in the process."
"Faith alone doesn't give any answers," he made, still not sounding convinced.
"No...But it does help," said Ororo, giving him a reassuring smile, "And as long as you have faith, then there's no challenge we can't overcome."
Logan couldn't help but scoff a bit, for it still sounded pretty far fetched to him. There were still so many questions left unanswered and everything was still such a mess...Yet through it all, Ororo still managed to smile.
"I wish I could believe that, darlin'..." he said as he looked back out the window at the setting sun, "But I guess I just ain't the faith havin' type."
"Then I guess I'll just have to have enough faith for the both of us..." she said, her smile not waning in the slightest.
Logan then shifted his gaze back towards the former weather goddess standing before him. Even in times of crisis, she managed to hold onto whatever hope there was even when he dug himself into a stupor. It was one of the many things he admired about her and as he looked back at the comforting look upon her face, he actually managed to smile back somewhat...An amazing feat in and of itself on Ororo's part.
Looking back at her, Logan honestly did feel a little better about this whole thing, knowing that at least one of them had faith that they would uncover the truth. In all the years he had known her, Ororo seemed to be the only one who could bring him out of the shell he so often concealed himself in. She was one of the few people he trusted and felt comfortable talking to and it was times like this he was glad to have her in his life.
Upon seeing him crack a smile, Ororo actually felt her face begin to blush somewhat, which almost made Logan laugh since he knew she had expected to leave herself in a position like this. And even though she had to constantly maintain control with herself because of her volatile powers...Logan could still catch her off guard with something as simple as a smile.
Ororo was about to say something to break the awkward silence, when suddenly...The expression on Logan's face quickly changed and he turned back to the window with a more serious look his face. Almost instantly, his demeanor sharpened and he shifted himself as if to better ascertain what he had just sensed, which also broke Ororo out of her state as she grew anxious over his sudden change.
"Logan, what is it? What's going on?"
"We've got company..." he grunted as he used his sharp hearing to decipher the clear sound of helicopter blades echoing outside.
"Company?" said Ororo as she closely followed Logan to the front door, "Who is it? Should we warn the others?"
"We will..." he said as he stormed out the front door as a large, black helicopter appeared in the distance and began to descend upon the front lawn of the Xavier Institute, "But it ain't another attack...It's an old buddy of mind who owes me a favor. And hopefully...He'll give us some answers."
AN: Looks like the X-men have guests now! And maybe they'll know something they don't...Or maybe they'll just add to the confusion. Only one way to find out! Stay tuned to see what how things continue to evolve for the X-men as well as the Brotherhood and Shadow Cell! The mystery is just beginning to unfold and it's only going to get more complicated for each team as this story continues to go down many profound routes and you won't want to miss a second of the intense ride that awaits! In the meantime, don't forget to REVIEW! Send me your comments directly via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish everybody the best!
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