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

Arctic Assault

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

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

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2006/07/14 - Updated: 2006/07/14 - 6869 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 31: Arctic Assault


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Colonel Nick Fury didn't linger at the institute. He had to be back in Washington before anybody got suspicious, but if the debate was still deadlocked like he knew it probably was, then it wasn't of any concern to him. He had said what he needed to say and now it was all on Xavier. With the suspicious activity of the Colonel still hanging strong in the old cold warrior's mind, he knew something must be up with Shadow Cell. And whatever it is...It was now out of his hands. He only hoped that if push came to shove, the X-men would be able to triumph.

Once he was gone, the residents of the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters took some time to digest what they had just learned. Nick Fury had just given them information so sensitive, that some of it was never meant to see the light of day under federal law. Yet now they knew what they were up against and now they were beginning to get an idea of just how big this was. Shadow Cell was still a mystery...But at least they were on the right track to untangling the vast web of lies.

Now that they knew the truth, the X-men were left to determine their next course of action. After seeing Fury out, Xavier called Logan, Ororo, and Hank to a meeting in his office to discuss any such ideas that could help their situation. Betsy and Warren were also present, given that they were the eldest students and should probably know the state of things as well. Remy, Rogue, Kurt, and Kitty were left to tell the others about the situation, but there remained plenty of unanswered questions to consider as the sheer magnitude of what was happening finally began to sink in.

"So now we know we were just attacked by one of the deadliest military units in the history of this country..." summarized Logan as they all stood around the Professor's desk, "We know they're mutants...We know they're extra deadly...And according to Fury we're the only ones capable of dealing with them."

"Yes, it seems like quite a quandary Professor," said Hank, thinking Logan pretty much summed it up, "I don't know if the X-men are equipped to handle something like this."

"Yeah, the fight we put up against them was kind of a dead giveaway," muttered Betsy.

"Be that as it may..." said Xavier, still trying to keep the spirits of his students in staff high, "We must uncover more. I think Fury was right when he said there was something about this that doesn't feel right."

"What makes you say that, Professor?" asked Ororo.

"Because the information he gave us was just too sensitive..." said the Professor as he rubbed his chin, pondering some of the things Fury had said, "I doubt he would have told us any of it if he didn't think there was something more to this than a mere attack. He said it himself...He doesn't trust Shadow Cell."

"More like he's afraid of the competition," quipped Logan, who still held many unfavorable views towards his old friend.

"But that alone cannot constitute revealing such detailed information to us," argued Xavier, trying to prove a point, "The fact remains, something is going on with Shadow Cell. Fury suspects it and I believe him."

"Well what do you think it could be?" asked Warren, "Why do you think a unit like Shadow Cell would attack the institute? And why would they want to for that matter?"

"Yes, it is a curious matter..." pondered Hank, "Perhaps it is not the five soldiers we should be thinking about...More so than who it was that ordered them in the first place."

"I agree, Hank," said the Professor, still considering the possibilities, "That Colonel of the GURSO unit hardly seemed like a savory character...Especially if he has such strong anti-mutant beliefs."

They all took a moment to think about that, but for some, that wasn't enough. They may not have known the Colonel and it was a very real possibility that he could come into play with this...But something about this whole thing didn't fit the profile. It seemed too coordinated and focused.

"It's possible...But I doubt it," said Logan, who knew how the shadowy word of black projects operated more than anybody, "If it was that Colonel...Somethin' tells me he probably wouldn't have sent mutants on an anti-mutant operation...If that's even what this whole thing is."

"But could he at the very least be pulling a few strings?" said Betsy, thinking a guy like that probably wouldn't be kept out of the loop.

"Perhaps..." said the Professor, willing to keep such a though in mind, but something told him that this had to be more, "But I feel that a more likely candidate would be Dr. Essex."

"Dr. Essex?" said Ororo as she recalled some of the details that Fury had given them, "Why do you think it was him?"

"Call it a...Gut feeling, Ororo," said the Professor, who still couldn't quite put his finger on the real reason why he felt this way, "I followed the career of Nathanial Essex all throughout college. I know the level of the man's brilliance. I know that the man is truly driven...And the details Fury showed us prove just how far he's willing to go."

"Yeah, don't remind me..." said Betsy, once again feeling her stomach churn as she remembered some of the grizzly photos of Dr. Essex's work.

"But isn't he merely the head scientist of the project?" argued Hank, "Wouldn't his power be limited to that of the commanding officers like that General he told us about?"

"Hank..." said Logan, his tone becoming noticeably grimmer, "You're a smart guy...But you don't know shit about how black projects operate. Oftentimes, it's the mastermind behind the science that pulls all the strings. Believe me...I know."

"All the more reason to suspect that Dr. Essex is the man behind the scenes..." concluded the Professor, "If anything else happens with Shadow Cell...Something tells me that he'll be the chief force behind it."

A heavy silence fell upon the room as they finally began to get a clear picture of what was going on here. What Fury had told them were simply details...The big picture, on the other hand, was something that they had to decipher even though many bits and pieces were still missing. And as certain they were that this Dr. Essex was the center of it all...There still left plenty of room for surprises given that they were still uncertain of what they were truly dealing with.

"So Dr. Essex is the key," summarized Warren, "Then what's our next move? Do we try to find this guy and get the answers out of him one way or another?"

"I wish it were that simple, Warren," said the Professor, who honestly wasn't sure what to do next with this ongoing mystery, "But I think it's safe to say that finding the head of one of the most secretive organizations on the face of the plant, who I might add has been unseen and unheard of for the past two decades, might not be the most feasible course of action at this point."

"But we have to do something!" argued Logan, "We can't just sit around and wait for this prick to make his next move!"

"But if we do not find out more on our adversaries, then I feel any action we take will just have a repeat of our last encounter," said Hank, speaking strictly from the standpoint of logic.

"I don't know, Mr. McCoy..." said Betsy, not liking the idea of just idly waiting by to get their butts kicked again, "I'd definitely like to put up more of a fight time if we have to face them."

"Agreed Psylocke..." said the Professor, "But for now, I believe our best course of action is to actively seek to avoid such fights against a Shadow Cell unless necessary. We simply don't know enough at this point to make any sort of judgment."

"Great..." scoffed Logan, never one to just keel over and accept defeat, "So where does that leave us?"

"Vulnerable," answered Warren, who didn't like the feeling any more than he did, "Not to mention entirely on our own. Fury said it himself...He's powerless against them."

"Then I suppose it is up to us to rise to the occasion," said Ororo, not sounding daunted even though their current predicament was so messed up.

"I agree, Ororo," said the Professor, also not willing to accept despair of any kind no matter what the situation, "If Shadow Cell is as dangerous as Fury says it is...Then we must be willing to go up against them if they pose a threat."

"Yeah, I'm sure that'll be a lopsided affair," muttered Betsy in a sarcastic tone.

"Which is why you and Warren will be stepping up danger room sessions for those who are able," said the Professor in response, "We must be more prepared next time so that we are not taken by surprise. Now that we all know just what they're capable of, we cannot afford to underestimate them again."

"Once bitten...Twice shy as the wise men say," said Hank, summarizing the plan in a way only he could.

"Right...We'll get right on it," affirmed Warren.

"And in the meantime, I will continue to work with Cerebro," said the Professor as he wheeled out from his desk, "I'm still rebuilding some of the component software, but it should be up and running soon enough."

"And I shall lend a hand, Charles," said Hank as he followed him out the door.

Everybody was now preparing to make their leave, but for Logan, too many things had been left unresolved and in response to this, he stopped the Professor to voice his concerns.

"Wait...Is that it?" said Logan, "We're just gonna sit around and wait for them to strike again?"

"Unfortunately, that's all we can do, Logan," said Xavier as he stopped for a moment to address his friend, "Until we find out more...All we can do is remain vigilant."

"Vigilant...More like sitting ducks if you ask me," grunted Logan in response.

"Yes, I understand your feelings, Logan..." said the Professor in all sincerity, "But there are still too many unknowns to carry out any sort of action be it retaliatory or otherwise. For now, we can only wait, hope, and search for more answers."

Logan didn't argue his point any further as the Professor wheeled off with Hank back down to the lower levels with Warren and Betsy following close behind. He stayed stuck in his daze as he let out a deep grunt of frustration concerning this whole Shadow Cell ordeal. It was bad enough somebody had broken into the institute and attacked the kids he had sworn to protect...But to respond only with inactivity and preparations for something that didn't even yet fully understand was just making things worse. He knew the nature of black programs...He knew the nature of black ops in general. It was clear they were up against a force unlike any other, and Logan's instincts were telling him that this was not the way to fight against them.

Add to that, there were still a multitude of other things about this whole mess that were plaguing Logan...Namely those having to do with the mysterious girl he had fought against in the attack, X23. After hearing what Nick Fury had said about her and how she came into being, he felt sick to his stomach. The thought of another Weapon X program out there was enough to invoke the bitter rage that lurked within him concerning the project that had taken so much away from him. But this girl...This young, teenage girl who had fought so hard against him and came so close to killing him...Had gone through exactly what he had...If not worse. Her scent hung so strongly in his mind...The penetrating look in her eyes was still so vivid to him. And the more he thought about this girl, the more he wanted to know...For he felt this strange connection to her...This connection that he could not fully explain, yet he couldn't deny its power.

Logan was so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't even realized that Ororo had stayed behind and was growing a bit worried. She remembered how he reacted to some of the revelations from Fury and she knew that certain things had impacted him more than others. While she knew Logan had many inner demons that he constantly fought with, she was never one to let a friend go about fighting such things on their own.

"Logan..." she said, trying to bring him out of his state, "Logan...Are you going to be okay?"

Logan, turning his head towards the woman once revered by her people as a goddess, merely let out a frustrated sigh as he finally managed to work his way out of his daze and return to a more level headspace.

"Yeah...Just give me a minute," he told her as he rubbed his head from all the stress that this whole ordeal had caused, "It's just been so damn frustrating, ya know?"

"Indeed I do..." said Ororo as she placed a comforting arm on his strong shoulder, which helped to relax him a bit, "I know you don't like to sit around and do nothing while there's a threat out there...And I don't blame you. But don't think that the Professor doesn't think about that. He's just as worried about the children as the rest of us."

"Yeah...I know. It's just that...This whole thing is such a mess. I mean...I thought I had enough secret government programs for one lifetime. Now we're facin' one that just may be the most dangerous out there."

"But that's not all...Is it?" said Ororo, knowing there had to be something more since she knew Logan batter than anybody else.

Logan actually chuckled a bit, for Ororo never ceased to amaze him with how she seemed to know when something else was bothering her. He had always hidden his emotions and concerns with a great level of tenacity, yet he just couldn't seem to hide them from Ororo. He didn't know if it was because she could simply read him better than most people or if he just wasn't able hide them as well around her for whatever reason that may be.

Either way, Ororo knew there was something else to his mood...And as always, she wanted to be there for him.

"It's complicated..." he stated, not wanting to just blurt it out.

"Is it the girl?" she inquired, remembering how that had evoked the strongest reaction from him out of every other revelation.

Logan let out another sigh at the mention of the young girl he knew only as X23. The fight against her played over in his head once more, yet it always ended in the same way...That one moment where she had the chance to kill him playing out the most vividly.

"Yeah...Guess I wasn't too subtle about that," he muttered, remembering back to how he nearly tore into Fury upon first learning of her.

"And I don't blame you..." said Ororo in a comforting tone, "I know Weapon X has always hung strongly with you...And now to have something like it come up again after all these years must be just...I honestly can't imagine."

"And believe me...You don't want to, Ro," he told her as he pushed the memories aside and focused entirely on Ororo, "But it ain't just the fact that somebody brought that God forsaken shit back...It's the fact that there's now a teenage girl out there with my blood in her veins. I fought her, Ro...I looked her in the eye...And what I saw...I'm never gonna forget. It was like lookin' at myself and...Something else entirely at the same time."

Logan's gaze once again drifted away, but Ororo tightened her hold on him and wrapped her arms around his neck from behind, lending what support she could. Even though Logan was never one to let anybody come into close contact with him, Ororo was one of the few people he trusted and one of the only people he found solstice in when the going got rough. He knew that over time, his feelings for her had changed and evolved...But he was never quite sure what they were growing or evolving into.

As much as he would have liked to consider such feelings, there were more pressing issues at hand that he had to think about. He felt a little better now, but it didn't change the situation that they now found themselves in. He wanted to know more...He wanted to uncover the real truth just as much as everybody else did...Only he had a stake in it much higher than everybody else. Because no matter what was going on now...The fact remained that there was now a piece of himself running around out there...And he was determined to find her.

"We'll find her, Logan...I don't know when or how, but we'll find her. I wish I could say I know how you feel...But I don't. All I do know is that the answers are out there...To you...And to this girl. It just goes back to what I said earlier about having faith..."

"Faith..." he repeated as he remembered what she had told him earlier when everything was in so much more chaos then it was now, "Yeah...I think I understand now. And I guess we're all gonna need it now more than ever..."

"Does that mean I should stop having enough faith for the both of us?" she asked, managing a slight smile to help lighten the mood, "Because it sounds to me you've found yours."

Logan actually smiled in response to that as he looked back into the beautiful blue eyes of the former weather goddess. Even though faith wouldn't answer any of his questions...It sure helped give him hope for a change that maybe things will work out better for a change...And that alone was all they needed in their seemingly endless fight for the truth.

"Darlin'..." he said to her as they both began making their way out of the office and back down the halls of the institute they called home, "The more faith the both of us have, the better...Because somethin' tells me we're gonna need it for whatever comes next."

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In wake of the attacks, the Brotherhood Boarding house had been unusually quiet. For the next three days, the four boys took the time to recover from the rather traumatizing ordeal of coming face to face with a team of super powered soldiers and living to tell about it. Nothing was scared...Except for their ego. And morale was at a new low as word of Magneto's reaction to the news didn't do too much for their hopes.

Now, they were just waiting to see what was going to happen next with all this. Mystique had come back from her report with Magneto looking like one big bruise. And even with her healing, it was still quite noticeable and she was still a bit weak from it all. The Brotherhood boys couldn't do much other than bring her a ton of aspirin and a steady supply of ice. But even though morale was low, they still held onto the fragile hope that Magneto would find some answers and come up with a course of action that hopefully didn't involve a repeat of what happened before.

Among the worst of the Brotherhood members coping with the whole ordeal was Pietro, who was still struggling with the fact that his sister was back from the dead. The other boys noticed how he had been noticeably slower and quieter since he saw her, as if he was lost in his own train of thought...Which he often was. It was very unlike the witty, cocky, self absorbed speed demon they all knew, but given the circumstances, they could hardly blame him. He spent most of his time in his room, looking over what few pictures he had managed to salvage of his long lost sister. While it wasn't much, it was plenty for the speedster as he struggled to cope with this newfound reality.

"Hey...Is he still in there yo?" Todd asked Lance as he passed Pietro's door on his way to Mystique's room.

"Yeah...And chances are he's gonna stay there for a while," answered Lance, "It's not every day your sister comes back from the dead."

"No kiddin'..." said Todd, who couldn't personally relate, but understood anyways.

"Just keep your distance for now," said Lance as he headed back downstairs where Freddy was cooking up a little snack, "He'll need time to take all this shit in...We all will."

With a simple nod, Todd proceeded down the hall, passing Pietro's room. Inside, Pietro was still sitting on his bed, looking over the photos he thought he'd never lay eyes on again. For the longest time, he wouldn't allow himself to look at them because they just brought back so many painful memories for him. But now that things had changed...He found himself revisiting certain things that he never thought he'd visit again.

Thankfully, the rest of the Brotherhood gave him his space, for this was something that wasn't to be taken lightly. Everybody had been keeping to themselves since the attack. It had stuck with them in more ways than one and they all found themselves a bit jumpy as a result. But for now, at least things were calm and they could simply focus on getting their collective heads straight again...As well as trying to recover the ego that Shadow Cell had so vehemently shattered.

"Uh...Mystique?" said Todd as he knocked upon her door, "Mystique are ya still awake?"

He heard a faint groan in response, hinting that she was still awake. She was still in a world of pain...Not so much from her interrogation anymore and more from what Magneto had done to her as punishment. She had been drifting in and out of sleep ever since she got back and the Brotherhood boys got for her what they could even though they weren't the most adept at dealing with injuries.

"Ugh...Come in," she groaned in a muffled tone.

Todd entered and made his way over towards her bed where she had remained pretty much since she got back. In fact, she was so badly hurt when she got back they had to help her up the stairs just to get to her room. And while her healing had since mended the physical bruises...She was still in a world of pain.

"Hey, I brought you some more ice," said the amphibious mutant as he watched Mystique slowly rise into a sitting position.

"Thanks..." she said flatly as she took it and placed it on her shoulder to help numb some of the lingering pain.

"So...You feeling any better?" asked Todd, seeing as how her skin no longer looked one big bruise thanks to her healing.

However, those words only earned him a penetrating scold from Mystique, who was still wallowing in a world of pain and Todd quickly backed off, thinking that was probably not the best question to ask.

"Uh...Forget I said anything," he said quickly, "You want anything else? Freddy's cooking up a snack."

"I'm fine...Thank you," she muttered, knowing Todd was just trying to lighten things up, but doing a very poor job at it so far.

"Well if you change your mind, you better hurry or else it'll be gone before you know it," he said, still trying to keep things casual, "You know how Freddy is when it comes to snacking."

"I'll manage," she said in a flat tone as she leaned her head back and let out a deep sigh as the ice helped to numb the pain in her shoulder.

Todd continued to linger, not knowing what else to say. This was a very unusual situation for the Brotherhood...One they never could have expected. The lingering dread of the attack and the impact it had on them had shifted the overall demeanor of the Brotherhood.

In addition, Magneto had also been affected...As Mystique's wounds clearly showed. Everybody had been surprised to see the punishment the shape shifter had endured as a result of her report, for they hadn't expected Magneto to react with such ferocity. Pietro was the only one who didn't seem too surprised, but he had enough on his mind already and nobody commented on it thus far.

"So...Magneto really did this to you?" said Todd, breaking the shape shifter out of her dazed state.

Once again, she let out a frustrated grunt as the sting of what that man had done to her once again returned with a vengeance. Todd backed off a bit, but at least Mystique didn't scold him like before since she knew he was not to blame.

"Yes..." she answered simply, "This is what he does to anybody who betrays his trust...Or it's simply what he does to people he doesn't like. I'm not sure which it is for me..."

"So then...Why does he keep you on board with this whole thing?" asked Todd, not understanding why somebody like her just didn't pick up and leave since he never figured her for the weak type.

"Leverage..." she answered plainly, "Trust me, once you enter a contract with Magneto, you damn well better be willing to see it through...Otherwise he can grow a tad disgruntled. I chose to go with him rather than Xavier...And it's a choice I can't unmake. End of story."

Todd still didn't get it, but then again...Neither did Mystique for that matter. She was just another lackey in Magneto's plan. She went with his ideas and carried out the duties he gave her. And over time, she came to see just the kind of man he was. At first she thought he was some mutant freedom fighter out to fight for those like her who had been oppressed their whole lives...But as time went on she quickly saw him for the power hungry madman he truly was. The years had twisted him and there seemed to be no humanity left in that hallow shell of flesh. Yet even after learning this...She was stuck doing his bidding with no conceivable way of escaping. It had cost her more than she ever could have imagined...Yet in her mind, there was no going back.

"Well...If you need anything else, just give us a holler and we'll..." but before he could finish, the bedroom door flung as Pietro came speeding in with his usual abruptness, only this time carrying a sense of great urgency.

"Wow! Pietro, what the..." began Todd, but the speed demon didn't give him a chance to finish.

"Mystique...Magneto's here," he said with a certain level of dread in his tone.

"What?!" yelled Mystique as she got out of bed, still holding the ice to her shoulder as a new sense of urgency gave her a burst of energy, "What's he doing here? What does he want?"

"I don't know..." said the speedster, "But he wants to see us all out in the front. It sounds urgent."

Then, in a blur of super speed, Pietro disappeared as he made his way down the stairs to meet up with Lance and Freddy, who were already at the front door. Having a feeling that this was no joke, Todd soon followed along with Mystique, who set the lingering pain of her sore body aside as she rushed down the steps and out onto the front lawn where the master of Magnetism was waiting with five silver transport orbs at his side.

"Magneto..." said Mystique as she and the four Brotherhood boys stood in the presence of the most powerful mutant on the planet.

"You were right..." he said in a deep tone that seemed wrought with torment, "I didn't want to believe it...But you were right. Wanda is alive...I have proof of that now."

"I knew it!" said Pietro, now finally starting to believe that he wasn't crazy and what he saw wasn't a mere figment of his imagination, "I knew it was her! But...What's she doing? And where has she been all this time?"

"That I do not know...I looked into it for three days and I still don't know..." said Magneto, his tone wrought with sorrow upon the mention of Wanda.

"But what about those guys she was with?" asked Lance, "Who were they and why was she with them?"

"I do not know that either..." answered the master of magnetism, "But whoever they are...They are now a grave threat in more ways than one. So now I must accelerate my plans ahead of schedule."

"Does that mean we're finally going to Avalon?" asked Pietro, who had known about the base and had been waiting many years to actually see it.

"Yes..." he said, "I must make preparations and the Brotherhood must prepare..."

"Wait...You mean to say we're gonna actually try and fight those crazy soldiers?!" exclaimed Todd, still reeling from their last traumatic encounter.

"Indeed Toad..." answered Magneto emotionlessly, "They now constitute a grave threat to my final plans and I cannot have that at this point in time...Not when I'm so close."

"But how in the hell are we going to beat them?" asked Freddy, who never usually was one to avoid a fight, but he was willing to make an exception for these guys.

"By any means necessary..." he responded as he used his powers to open the orbs that would take them to Asteroid M.

"But...What about Wanda?" asked Pietro, not knowing if he could fight his own sister.

Magneto shot him a grim expression, actually faltering somewhat for the first time in recent memory for Pietro. For so long now, ever since he threw Wanda away, he had been so cold and heartless that he never bore any such resemblance to any sort of feeling in any way, shape, or form. Now, in wake of this startling revelation, many old demons were catching up to him after having been suppressed deep down inside for so many years. Pietro didn't know what to make of this, but since this involved Wanda...He knew it was going to be all the more difficult for the both of them.

"We'll do what we have to..." he finally answered coldly, "Now get in...We have work to do."

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

In the icy cold skies over the arctic north where the sun sets for months at a time and the only thing to light the sky is the aurora borealis, a lone plane streaked through the air at mach 5, bearing northward towards the uppermost tip of the planet. It was a very strange, alien looking aircraft...Looking like a mix between a fighter jet and a flying wing. If any average person had laid eyes upon it, they surely would have mistaken it for a UFO piloted by extraterrestrials.

However, this aircraft was not being flown by aliens...But it wasn't being flown my mere humans either. This plane was carrying Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and X23...The five soldiers of Shadow Cell. They were on a direct course with Asteroid M...Magneto's coveted base and the centerpiece of his dream. They had a mission to stop them and after going through both the Brotherhood of Mutants and the X-men, it was all finally about to culminate with this last fateful task.

"Man...I can't believe Magnum managed to get us an F-32 Super Raptor for this," commented Scott as he skillfully flew the plane through the night sky under conditions that would have made regular pilots wet their pants, "These things are supposed to pack more muscle than the collective air power of entire countries."

"They're also not supposed to exist," added Jean, who was working the navigation components that were helping to guide them to their target.

"Since when has that been an issue before, anyways?" made Wanda, since she knew as well as the others that Shadow Cell had a great deal of experience in working with supposedly non-existent technology.

"Good point..." said Jean as she did a quick scan of the area, trying to filter out all the bad weather obstructing the scope.

As they continued to make their way through the unforgiving arctic skies, their chief concern remained Magneto. After having returned to the base with the proper information on his location in hand, they followed Magnum's instructions exactly as Dr. Essex had told them to and procured one of the F-32s from the secret underground hanger that was harbored most of the classified aircraft Shadow Cell used. And under the guise of a routine flight test, Shadow Cell managed to get a good, reliable transport up to the North Pole where Asteroid M awaited them.

As always, the five mutants of Shadow Cell found themselves in a harsh, unforgiving environment that was necessary for them to manage if they were to complete the mission. The perilous arctic night was further compounded by vast clouds of blowing snow and ice large enough to engulf a small city and the high winds had made it somewhat of a bumpy ride. But thanks to Scott's exceptional piloting skills, they managed to make their way through the worst of the turbulence with few troubles.

Finally, as Scott slowed the aircraft down to mach one, the blowing clouds of snow began to let up and the air before them began to clear as waited in anticipation for what would happen next. The magnetic compass on the digital display screen was starting to move a little erratically, hinting that they were getting close to the magnetic North Pole of the planet...The obvious place for a man like Magneto to reside.

"Jean...We're getting close to magnetic apex," said Vincent, who had been monitoring the magnetic activity for any signs of spikes that could hint the master of magnetism's presence, "How far is it to the base?"

Jean was using her psychic powers at full throttle to navigate through the powerful electromagnetic disruption of the arctic north, having only the signature she found while using Cerebro to guide her. Magneto's defenses were elaborate and vast...But no amount of his deception could keep Shadow Cell from carrying out the mission.

"We're close..." said Jean as she closed her eyes and placed a hand upon her temple, "I'm beginning to sense some of the psychic shielding that I sensed while I was using Cerebro."

"Then that means we shouldn't be very far from his cloaking field either," concluded Scott as he leveled off the plane at around 25,000 feet.

"What about other defenses?" asked X23, whose job was to keep an eye on the weapons system and if necessary, use them, "Do you think he has anti-aircraft batteries?"

"Knowing Magneto...Anything's possible," said Wanda with a grunt, who was most eager to come face to face with her estranged father after what he did to her all those years ago.

"Then we'll just have to stay vigilant..." said Scott as he increased the throttle, "This is still a mission filled with plenty of unknowns...And Magneto is probably the biggest of them all."

Activity in the high tech aircraft grew tense as the five mutant soldiers kept a watchful eye out for any sign of change. In their line of work, anything could happen within the blink of an eye and they had spent a lifetime preparing for such moments and this was no exception. They had no idea what they'd find with Magneto and his mysterious Asteroid M base, but if what they knew about this man was any indication, they were certain that it was far from pleasant.

Scott continued to skillfully maneuver the aircraft through the rough weather conditions, having only Jean's telepathy and a digital scope that was being scrambled by magnetic interference to guide him, but thankfully, he had flown in worse situations before. The closer they got, the more ominous everything seemed to feel...For this wasn't just some run and gun style infiltration of a house or mansion...This was a huge floating base with technology on par with anything Shadow Cell could muster. And it was all run by a madman who had a pretty strong grudge against the human race. Magneto was clearly a threat to the world and it was their job to ensure that he never had a chance to unleash his fury upon the innocent masses.

Then suddenly, the radar and scanners began to go haywire and the compass began moving more erratically as the blowing snow outside once again picked up.

"Scott...We're getting close...I can feel it," said Jean as the signature began to resonate more clearly through the elaborate deception of Magneto's defense.

"And we're just about over the apex," added Vincent.

"Good, because our scanners are pretty much offline, so I don't think they'll do us any good," said Wanda as she hit it couple of switches, "I'm going to reroute their power to the weapon's system for now so at least we'll have a little extra firepower just in case we need it."

"Hopefully it won't be necessary," said Scott as a new round of turbulence rocked the aircraft as the blistering winds grew more unforgiving.

Just then, Jean sensed something as she felt the signature grow stronger. It was still a little shrouded, but it was enough.

"We just passed through the first cloaking barrier..." said Jean as she sensed some of the main obstructions pass, "I think we should be getting a visual soon."

"Right...In that case, hold onto your butts," said Scott as he kicked in the afterburner and blasted through the worst of the blowing cloud of snow.

Then finally, as they emerged from the white shroud of ice and snow...The empty sky before them began to fade as if it were a wavy haze. Many of the instruments on board began exhibiting strange readings...A clear sign that they were passing through the thick of Magneto's security. The plane continued to shake, but thanks to the high tech, super alloy frame...It stayed intact long enough for them to reach the clearing...And as soon as they did, they finally got their first clear glimpse of Asteroid M.

"Holy shit..." said Vincent as he and the others looked with a sense of unabated awe at the sight before them.

"Took the words right out of my mouth, Vince..." said Scott as a heavy silence fell over the plane as the turbulence died down and the only things standing between them and their destination was Asteroid M.

This profound, elaborate, super secret mission that was known only to them, Magnum, and Dr. Essex had all been leading up to this point...Now it was finally here and they were poised to proceed with their final task. They had no idea what they were about to encounter, but that wasn't going to slow them down in the slightest...For Magneto awaited.

"Shadow Cell..." said Jean as the shock quickly wore off as they neared the vast, elaborate base which they would have to infiltrate, "We had to go through two teams of mutants to get to this point...But here we are. This has been a hell of a mission already...But we've got a job to do...So let's do it. Let's show Magneto what Shadow Cell is made of..."

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

AN: The action just keeps coming! Shadow Cell is now on the doorstep of Asteroid M and the complications are just going to continue! Things with X-men and the Brotherhood have also began to unfold as the affects of Shadow Cell's presence finally begins to truly intertwine with the X-men universe! And stay tuned my loyal readers, for there is plenty more to come! There are still fights to be had, secrets to be revealed, and shocking truths to be uncovered! So what do you all think so far? Has this very ambitious story of mine been an enjoyable read? Please tell me! Send me your comments via email or post them on the fanfiction website! I don't care what you do as long as you REVIEW! Thanks for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!

THE ADRENILINE IS BUILDING! KEEP THE REVIEWS COMING!
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