Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Extermination

On The Brink

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

Takes place 2 years after Apocalypse, 1 year after the Phoenix. The mutant problem has grown and a obscure general named William Stryker thinks he has a solution. Has Scott/Jean, Wanda/Kurt, Kitty/...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Cyclops - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2005/06/24 - Updated: 2005/06/25 - 7133 words

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Extermination
Chapter 6: On The Brink


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Raven Darkholm had just witnessed something she thought she never would...She had just seen two heartless soldiers unveil the mutilated body that had once been her daughter, Rogue. They had exposed to her the charred remains of what had once been a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her...Only now, that life had been brutally and wrongfully cut short. Mystique was not an overly emotional woman by nature to say the least...She had always been one to lock away every emotion she felt with the exception of bitterness and anger. But when she saw the dead body of her daughter laying in a body bag...An overwhelming surge of emotion swept over her mind and soul unlike anything she had ever felt before. And it wasn't long before she felt a massive wave of tears form in her eyes.

"Oh God...Oh God...No. Rogue..." said Mystique as she felt herself begin to sob uncontrollably.

Raven was now doing something that she hadn't done in a very long time...She was crying. The decades of pent up emotion and numbed feelings had finally given way...And the feeling of sheer agony over having so many barriers within her mind burst was almost too much for her system to handle. In her fit of agony...She lost her balance and fell from the branch of the tree that she was on when she saw the horrible scene before her. Her rag body fell and hit several branches along the way as she soon crashed upon the ground, still crying from emotional cataclysm that she had just suffered. Her nose was now bleeding...The bullet wound on her arm was now festering...But she didn't care. She hadn't the strength to bring herself up once again...For she could not see any reason to do so. Two years ago...She finally began to see things clearly...She finally began to overcome her anger and bitterness from the past. Mystique had finally known the mistakes that she had made...And she was at last willing to correct them. Now...None of that mattered. For all her attempts to win back her children, she had just scarred them too much with her bitterness. There were so many things that she wanted to tell them...So many things that she wanted to repent for. Now, she'll never get that chance...Rogue was dead now. And for all she knew...So was Kurt.

"Why? Why them...Why my children and not me?" cried Mystique softly, "I never got to...I never told them I...I..."

However, the fury of emotion was too much for her to handle as she felt unable to finish those words as she broke down in another wave of sobs. Mystique had never felt so awful before in her life...She was alone now. The horrible sins that she had committed could never be atoned for now. There was little else left to live for now and Mystique knew that. She kept on crying her heart out in to the soft earth beneath her.

Then, not far from where Mystique was on the ground...A silent 'bamf' echoed through the night. Mystique hadn't heard it...For she was too lost in her own world of pain to notice. However, her agonizing sobs were quickly discovered as Kurt Wagner appeared in a puff of smoke.

"Mien Gott..." muttered the blue mutant as he took in the sight before him.

Kurt, Scott, and Kitty had been scouting the area in shifts while they all took turns comforting the distraught Jean...Who was still trying to recover from the pain and shock of feeling so many friends and loved ones die inside her head. Although Scott didn't like to leave her side...He knew he had to see for himself if anybody else could have survived. Unfortunately...Jean's grim words were only confirmed by the horrible sights of their destroyed home and the body bags containing their dead friends. Kurt had returned upon hearing a noise from the area while Jean, Scott, and Kitty contemplated on what to do next. Needless to say...He was completely shocked to find Mystique lying face down on the ground. And if his senses were not deceiving him...He could swear that she was crying.

"Mystique?" said Kurt as he wearily approached her.

Suddenly, a newfound strength forced Raven Darkholm to raise her head and meet the gaze of the new presence before her. Kurt's weariness over approaching her soon gave way once he saw the blood dripping from her nose and the stains of incessant tears falling along her face. He had not seen her in two years since that fateful day in Egypt...And in looking into her yellow eyes, Kurt felt as if she was looking at an entirely different person. Mystique felt her heart rate go up as all her intense feelings came to ahead. She didn't know if she was looking at a ghost that had come to haunt her...She didn't know if this was just a figment of her imagination. But slowly...She felt her strength return to her as her biological son knelt down before her.

"Kurt? Is that you? Are you real?" said Mystique as she nearly choked on her own words.

The apparent strain in her voice was unlike anything Kurt had ever heard from her before. Ever since he had known Mystique, she had always been one to hide every bit of her emotions behind an impenetrable barrier from within her head. Even after he learned that she was his real mother, she kept all of her emotions dormant. But now...In hearing her words...He actually heard emotion...Real emotion from the woman that had once dropped him into a river all those years ago.

Mystique slowly raised her hand to touch the soft fur on his face...As if she was trying to confirm that this wasn't a mere illusion or some figment of her imagination. Upon feeling her soft touch...Kurt gently lowered stroked the side of her face, feeling the wet tears that she was weeping.

"I'm here Mother...I'm real," said Kurt gently.

Mystique kept crying as Kurt helped her up from her position on the ground...And soon, they found themselves in a tight embrace. For the first time in his life...Kurt felt an honest feeling of maternal love from this woman that had once been an enemy to him and his friends. He almost cried as well as he heard his mother weep into his soft fur. Like him, she was in a great deal of pain. It hurt to know that everything that they held dear was now destroyed...But there still remained one thing that hadn't been tainted by this most horrible of events and they were experiencing it at this very moment. As they reluctantly parted...Mystique finally managed to speak despite the overwhelming feelings that continued to paralyze her.

"Rogue's dead..." said Raven in a hoarse tone.

"Ja...I know," said Kurt solemnly.

This caused Mystique to shut her eyes in an effort to stop herself from breaking down again...But it did little to stop the tears.

"After all this time...After everything I've done...She's gone," sobbed Mystique, still unable to fully cope with such pain.

"I know...I...I vish that there vas something...Anything I could do, but..." Kurt soon started choking on his own words.

The young mutant didn't know what to say to his mother now as she sat before him in an overwhelming state of agony. She had just lost her only daughter to a bunch of heartless soldiers. He had just lost his only sister as well. There was nothing either of them could say or do to bring her back. They never even got to say goodbye to her. It was almost too hard and too sad to even think about. As Kurt's gaze drifted back towards the field where the rows of body bags lay, he winced...And he knew he had to get out of here.

"Come on mother...Come back with me to the others. Maybe ve can help..." said Kurt as he looked back in to his mother's tear stained eyes.

"There's nothing anyone can do now Kurt..." said Mystique, as she rested her weakened body up against a tree, "Nothing can undo this...Nothing will bring Rogue back...Nothing will bring either your home, or my home for that matter, back."

"But still...Let me and the others that survived help you!" urged Kurt.

Mystique then opened her eyes and looked at the face of her son that she had done so much to hurt. She had to fight the urge to break down and cry once more...As the longing look in his eyes only made her feel more worthless as a mother and a person.

"I don't deserve any help Kurt...Not after what I've done," said Mystique, full of remorse, "It's because of me that...That you and Rogue have felt so much pain in your lives. I can't ever hope to repent for what I've done...I don't deserve anyone's help...I don't even deserve to live!!!"

"Don't say that!" yelled Kurt in response, "Please!"

A brief moment of silence soon fell over them as the look in Kurt's eyes continued to beg her to come with him. Part of Mystique ached to go with him and be by his side like any mother should...But another part of her urged her to keep away, for she had hurt him enough in his short life. Kurt seemed to sense this as he gently cupped her chin and forced her to look him in the eye once more.

"Please Mystique..." said Kurt as his eyes began to water once again, "I just lost my sister...I don't want to lose my mother as well."

Those final words seemed to make the difference...For the tears in her son's eyes seemed to fend off all the unwavering emotion that was forcing Mystique into a deep rut of sorrow. Slowly, she took her son's hand and gripped it firmly...As if she was trying to prevent him from being taken away from her in the same way that Rogue had. Mystique finally felt the tears begin to subside as she felt her grip on her only living flesh.

"Are you sure...That you're willing to take someone who's hurt you so much before in the past?"

"That's in the past...I'm talking about the present," answered Kurt softly as he continued to gently squeeze the hand of his mother, "This time...I can safely say that I am certain."

There were a lot of things that she had to repent for...There were a lot of things that she wanted to say to Kurt...Things that she would never get a chance to say to Rogue. But now she had a chance to do what she should have done years ago. She swallowed hard...Unsure if she was making the right choice or not...But now that Mystique had made it, she knew that there would be no going back.

"Okay son...Let's go."

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Kurt had been gone a bit longer than he said he would. Scott, Jean, and Kitty were still at the same secluded spot in the forest where they had held up in for a little over a half hour now. Their furry friend had gone to make one last sweep...Always trying to stay hopeful that somebody else may have survived. However, deep down they knew that there was no more hope left for those who had been inside at the time. They were the only ones that made it out...Four out of over a dozen friends and family. The Professor and Logan were in Washington DC now...But they were out of psychic range and there remained the anxious notion that if they hit here, they may have already gotten to them as well.

"Kurt's been gone for too long..." said Scott as he, Jean, and Kitty remained huddled under a large tree.

"You don't think..." began Kitty, but she was soon quickly cut off by Jean.

"No Kitty! Don't even consider that possibility," said Jean, not wanting to think about losing anymore friends, "I'll summon him."

But before Jean could call out to Kurt psychically, a sudden rustling in the trees off to the side of their position drew their attention. At first, the three mutants thought that it may be soldiers or marines, so they began to prepare themselves for battle. But this vigilance was quickly lost upon them when they heard the desperate cries echo through the trees.

"Anybody there?! Please...Help me!"

Then, out of the trees, the source of the voice was suddenly revealed to the surviving X-men. It was none other than a completely, utterly exhausted Wanda Maximoff carrying the bloody body of her twin brother in her arms.

"Wanda?" said Kitty in shock, who was most definitely surprised to see Wanda out here in such a state.

The Scarlet Witch was on the verge of collapsing as precious seconds ticked away. She had hoped to find more than what she was looking at before her. There were only three of them...And each one of them had looks on their faces that bore little resemblance to the X-men that she had known and fought against in the past. They all looked just as sad, scarred, and traumatized as she did. However, they seemed to be the only ones around now...And if they couldn't help Pietro, then all would be lost for him.

"Please...You have...To help...My brother," said Wanda, completely out of breath from her exhausting run.

It was then that Scott, Jean, and Kitty got a full glimpse of the wounded Pietro Maximoff. Much of his body was now stained with blood and there were weak signs of breathing. It was a grizzly sight to behold even if he had once been a bitter enemy over two years ago before Apocalypse.

Wanda then suddenly fell to her knees as she felt herself weakened from the overexertion that she put on her body.

"Oh man...Here, lay him down," said Scott as he and Jean both quickly rushed to her side as Wanda reluctantly let go.

"Can...Can you help him?" asked Wanda desperately, not knowing if she was already too late.

"We can try," replied Jean as she looked over his wounds, "I'm training to become a doctor...I guess I'd better put my knowledge to the test."

Jean quickly felt for a pulse and listened for signs of breathing. Pietro's body chemistry due to his speed powers made this hard, but she was still able to detect weak signs of life from within the young man.

"Oh god...What happened? Did they hit your home too?" asked Kitty as Scott and Jean continued to try and help Pietro.

"Yes..." said Wanda weakly with a nod, "Only me, Pietro, and Mystique made it out alive...Todd, Freddy, and Lance were...They were still in the house when the bombs started going off."

Wanda soon became choked up at the mention of her lost friends and Kitty soon felt a new sense of shock upon learning this. To know that they weren't the only ones attacked made her feel even more dread...Which confirmed all of their suspicions that this wasn't some random assault...Instead, it was a well planned, well executed blow to all of them. Upon hearing about the Brotherhood members that didn't make it, Kitty felt her eyes tear up once more. Even though the three of them had been bitter enemies in the past...They still didn't deserve such treatment or such brutality. And even though it was hard to get past how things ended between them, Kitty felt a sinking feeling in the back of her mind knowing that Lance was now dead. He had been her first boyfriend and her first serious relationship...And even though it didn't work very well in the long run, that didn't erase the time that they had together.

"I'm sorry Wanda..." said Kitty after a brief silence as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

The Scarlet Witch tried not to think about her lost friends at this most horrible of times. However, that proved to be hard now, for the memory was too fresh in her mind to forget. Now, she could only focus on the state of her dying brother as everything around them seemed to be falling apart.

"Is he going to be all right?" asked Wanda anxiously as she knelt down to get a closer view at what they were doing.

"I don't know yet..." said Jean with uncertainty, "Do you know how many times he's been shot?"

It was a harsh question to ask and an even harsher question to answer...But if it was vital for them to know, Wanda forced herself to trust the hands of the two older mutants before her. Even though it was somewhat strange having two opposing sides help each other...The given situation, however, proved to be the deciding factor and the mere notion of witnessing more death seemed unbearable to any of them.

"I...I'm not sure...At least nine or...Maybe ten times," answered Wanda, as she choked on her own words, "He...He shoved me out of the way when...When a group of soldiers snuck up behind me. He...He saved me and..."

Wanda couldn't finish her words...For the mention of the horrible moment when she watched her brother fall in a bloody heap was still a painful scar within her mind. For a brief moment, she almost felt herself relive the whole ordeal...Feeling Pietro push her out of harms way only to take so many bullets that were supposed to hit her. This horrible recollection was almost too great for the young woman to handle as her fears got the best of her and she felt her powers start to simmer from within her mind and body.

"You have to help him! He can't die! I can't lose my brother!" yelled Wanda as she started to get hysterical.

"Wanda, please...Calm down," urged Jean, noticing that her eyes were starting to glow, "We'll do all we can...I promise. But you have to stay calm...You won't be doing Pietro any good by losing control."

This seemed to do the trick as Wanda's eyes stopped glowing and she collapsed against the tree and started to feel more tears form within her eyes. She could see the grim prospects of her brother's chances just by reading the expression on Scott and Jean's face. The fragile hope within her mind was quickly fading the closer Pietro came to death. There seemed little that could be done now...Other than to wait and hope. Then, as Scott and Jean continued to try and clean some of the wounds and check for infection, a sudden 'bamf' was heard in the trees near them. It was Kurt, for he had returned...Along with Mystique.

"Kurt, I need your help! Wanda brought Pietro here and he's been..." but Scott soon stopped cold in his tracks as he looked up to see that Kurt wasn't alone, "Mystique!"

Instinctively, Scott raised his hands to his glasses upon sighting Mystique...However, Kurt was quick to jump in front of his mother and dissuade him from attacking.

"Vait, Scott!" yelled Kurt quickly as he urged his friend to back down, "Don't vorry...She's okay now. She's vith Vanda and Pietro."

"Are you sure Kurt? You know what happens every time we trust her."

Scott's hands were still on his glasses, but Mystique soon stepped forward. She could hardly blame the man for his actions...Being as how she had once tried to kill him by leaving him to die in a desert in Mexico. But she didn't want to fight...She didn't have the strength. Her mind was still devastated from what had happened to Rogue and her exhaustion only added to this.

"Cyclops...Nothing would make me happier than for you to put me out of my misery once and for all...I know I deserve it," conceded Mystique in a monotone voice, "But my home was destroyed in the same way your home was. My friends were killed in the same way that yours were. I don't want to fight you...I don't want to fight any of you. I know I don't deserve it, but please give me a chance. It may not be much...But this time I mean it."

Scott then turned to Jean, who had an uncertain look on her face. She too seemed somewhat apprehensive, and so did Kitty for that matter. Mystique's words seemed sincere...But they had been fooled before. Being a shape shifter, Mystique was always prone to trickery and deceit so it was somewhat difficult to believe in her. However, Kurt seemed to stand by her and Wanda seemed to trust her. But still...There remained a bit of uncertainty among the surviving X-men.

'What do you think Jean...Should we believe her?' asked Scott through their psychic link.

'I don't know Scott...With Mystique, I never know,' answered Jean.

'Can you sense anything?'

Jean tried for a brief moment, but didn't get much. Her mind was too tired and her energy was already sapped from lack of rest and the earlier pain of feeling all of her friends die.

'I...I can't be certain,' sent Jean with uncertainty, 'Her mind is a jumbled mess. But it's different than before...I can't sense anything other than pain...And hurt from within.'

Scott contemplated this information briefly as he looked back into the eyes of the blue mutant. His expression was hid by his ever present ruby-quartz glasses...But through the young man's tinted vision...He noticed something that he had failed to see before. He took a closer look...There were strange marks along the side of Mystique's face. There was also a distinct smell coming from her that Scott also took note of. Then...It suddenly dawned on him...She had been crying. The angry, bitter Mystique that had been such a powerful foe...Had been crying. Scott knew the signs...He was definitely no stranger to them. Mystique may have been a master of covering up mental scars...But she was most certainly not a pro when it came to hiding her emotional scars. It was strange...But to Scott, she looked like a completely different person now. He was now feeling as though this was the first time that they had met. It had been over two years since any of them had seen her. But Scott couldn't help but ask himself, what could have happened during those two years? He knew that Jean, Kurt, and Kitty still saw him as the leader of the X-men...But right now he really didn't feel like much of a leader now that his home was gone and his friends were dead. In thinking about this, he actually felt like he could empathize with Mystique. He felt as though he could understand...And through this, the decision became clear. After a brief moment, Scott then proceeded to stand up and took a closer look into Mystique's eyes.

'What do you see Scott?' asked Jean, knowing that he had sensed something that she hadn't, 'Should we trust her? Is there any reason to believe her?'

Scott simply sent his girlfriend one word in response.

'Rogue...'

Then, a gentle hint of understanding came over the young telepath as she quickly ascertained what Scott meant by that.

'Oh...Okay. I see now...I understand,' said Jean as she went back to tending to Pietro.

Scott then turned back to the shape shifter, who was still waiting for the final verdict.

"Okay...I believe you," said Scott to Mystique.

Mystique actually looked somewhat shocked by the lack of apprehension from Cyclops. She hadn't expected him to change so quickly and give her a chance after everything that she had done to him and the others.

"You believe me? Just like that?" asked Mystique somewhat bewildered, "Why?"

"Why not?" answered Scott.

They were almost humored by the shock in her voice...For it was clear that she hadn't expected such a response. Jean also seemed to sense her confusion towards their acceptance. The mental shielding that Mystique had used to shut her out in the past had never been this weak before. The once powerful shields had now eroded away as if they had been shattered like glass. Whatever force had done this to the once bitter and enraged shape shifter had to have been quite severe. Either way, Mystique seemed somewhat grateful that her presence hadn't sparked another fight that would just lead to more suffering.

Mystique was silent as both Scott and Jean turned their attention back towards Pietro. But as they went back to tending to his wounds, Kurt managed to get one last word in to Scott after giving making the decision to trust Mystique.

"Thank you...Mien friend," said Kurt.

Scott managed to smile in acknowledgement of his gesture. Mystique seemed to pick up on this and made a decision of her own.

"What can I do to help?" asked the shape shifter.

"Do you know anything about medicine?" asked Jean as she looked up to meet the eyes of the blue mutant.

"Yes...A little," replied Mystique.

"Good...That's enough for this situation," said Jean, not liking the dwindling prospects for Pietro's injuries.

"What are his chances?"

"Not good..." said Jean with a sigh.

Wanda felt her heart sink upon hearing Jean say those words as more tears began to form in her eyes. Now, Scott, Jean, Kitty, and Mystique crowded around her dying brother trying to keep him breathing and stop the profuse flow of blood coming from the wounds. She couldn't be certain as to what they were doing...But she didn't have the strength to process such information at this point anymore. Her spirits were now the lowest that they had ever been. She feared that she would lose her brother forever because he saved her. Losing her sibling was too great a horror to bear for her. However, despite all of Wanda's isolation...Kurt Wagner noticed the pain she was in and couldn't help but sympathize. She was worried about losing her brother...And he had just lost his sister. Knowing that there was nothing more that he could do to help the others with Pietro, Kurt turned to Wanda in an effort to help them both get through their darkest hour.

"Vanda...Are you going to be okay? Were you hurt at all?" asked Kurt as he carefully made his way over to the distraught girl as she sat up against the tree.

Wanda then looked up at the blue, fuzzy mutant standing before her. She had only met Kurt Wagner a few times in the past. One time, she fought against him with the Brotherhood. On another occasion, she had helped him by giving him the statue of Mystique and offering the services of Agatha during the coming of Apocalypse. In the time after the big battle with Apocalypse, Mystique had ended up telling her a lot about Kurt and Rogue since they became friends. She would always describe them as the children that she had lost forever...Yet they had turned into such wonderful young people. That was all that the Scarlet Witch had to go on as Kurt sat next to her with a sympathetic look in his eyes.

"No...I'm fine. What do you care?" said Wanda bitterly as she swallowed the lump in her throat.

"I care..." answered Kurt simply, not at all surprised by her response.

"What does it matter?" scoffed Wanda, "My brother's dying...And it's all my fault."

"Vhat? Vhy do you say that?" said Kurt, intent on listening.

Wanda let out another round of sobs the whole horrible image once again played out in her mind.

"Those bullets were meant for me..." said Wanda as her tone became more full of sorrow, "I...He shoved me out of the way. Those soldiers...They were aiming at me. I should be the one laying there...Not him. I should be the one dying...Not him. I..."

Her words soon devolved in to heart wrenching sobs as Kurt placed a hand on her shoulder.

"He must really love you if he was willing to do such a thing in order to save you."

That got Wanda to cry even more as she thought about what her brother had done for her. For all their fighting...For all their disagreements and differences...He still loved her like any brother should and was willing to sacrifice a lot in order to save her. Now, that sacrifice may end up costing him his life...And Wanda didn't know if she could handle the guilt.

"He can't die...I can't lose him," sobbed Wanda as she looked back at her brother as the others struggled to keep him alive, "I can't live with this...I can't live knowing that he died because of me."

"Vanda, vould you rather have him go through what you are feeling right now? Vould you rather have him feel the pain that you're feeling right now?" said Kurt in response, hoping to get her to understand why Pietro did what he did.

"No...But..." Wanda couldn't finish her words as her buried her face in her hands.

Kurt moved in closer to her and felt his already broken heart shatter even more. He too began to shed tears as he watched the young woman cry her heart out at prospect of losing her sibling. It must have been a lot harder for her because she and Pietro were twins...Their lives were somewhat connected in a sense. Kurt knew that he could never fully understand the twin relationship that they had...But he could understand the sibling relationship.

"Shh...It's okay Wanda. I understand how you feel..." said Kurt softly as he let her cry, "Believe me...I know the kind of pain that you're going through."

"How...How could you know?" sniffed Wanda as she managed to look back into Kurt's eyes.

Kurt paused for a moment as the expression on his face turned to one of great sorrow. His head quickly sank as he remembered what had happened on this most horrible of nights.

"My home was destroyed too..." said Kurt in a deep tone as the horrible image of dead bodies flashed before his mind's eye, "Many good friends died tonight...Friends that I considered like family...The only family I've ever really felt a part of."

Wanda watched the expression on Kurt's face turn to one of great pain as he mentioned his dead sister's name. Her tears finally began to cease as she listened to Kurt struggle to get out the words that he was trying to speak, for they were something of great strain for him to even think about now. The events that took Rogue away from him were so recent and still fresh in his mind...Making it all the more painful for him to recall.

"I'm sorry..." said Wanda, now feeling guilty that she had forced Kurt to remember something so horrible.

"You have nothing to be sorry for Vanda. I just...I vanted you to know that you're not alone...That and..."

Now Kurt was the one who felt his emotions start to take over. In seeing him struggle so much with what had happened and having his home destroyed much in the same way her home was, Wanda began to believe Kurt when he said that he understood her. In many ways, it was worse for him because there was nothing more that could be done.

"I saw the bodies..." said Kurt as he started choking on his words, "I saw the look on their faces when they...And they're...They're gone now...Gone forever.."

He couldn't fight it anymore as he let his emotions get the best of him. Now, instead of him comforting Wanda, it was her turn to comfort him. She leaned against him and took his shivering hand and held it softly. She felt somewhat better now that she knew that she wasn't alone. It was hard dealing with the loss of her friends and her home...But Kurt was dealing with the same things, if not more. Wanda found a great deal of compassion from him when he forced himself to relive the horrors of his sister's death in an effort to show her that he understood. But Wanda still struggled to fully grasp why Kurt had done such a thing for her...A messed up, ill-tempered girl who used to be an enemy. However, she tried not to think about such things as they both simply leaned on each other for support in this darkest of times.

"I'm so sorry Kurt..." said Wanda to the tearful young man, which managed to help calm him, for it was the first time that she had called him by his real name.

Back with Pietro, Jean and the others were beginning to get frustrated with Pietro's wounds. There were just too many of them...And they couldn't get the bullets out of him without risking a major infection that even his speedy body chemistry couldn't heal from. Treating him on the dirty ground in the forest wasn't helping very much. In fact, it was a miracle that he had survived to this point. But time was quickly running out for the speed demon and it was growing all the more hopeless with each passing second.

"This doesn't look good," said Jean, using as much of her limited medical training as her mind would allow, "We have to get him proper medical treatment soon, otherwise he won't last much longer out here."

"But how? The medical bays were destroyed!" said Kitty, not liking the prospect of seeing even more death.

"I don't know!" said Jean as she rubbed the temples of her forehead.

"Well there has to be something!" said Mystique, not liking the prospects that they were giving Pietro, "What about the Professor? Was he in the mansion at the time?"

"No...He's in Washington with Logan," replied Jean, "He's out of psychic range for me to contact him. But if they've hit us both, then they probably already got to him as well..."

It was not an easy thing to think about, but given the situation that now hung over the group it was not at all impossible. However, everything was hopeless enough and thinking about something like that only made things worse...And that couldn't happen if they were to survive.

"No...We can't assume that he's been hit..." said Scott vehemently, "He has Logan with him...Even if they do try, he's got protection...So we must find a way to get out of here and contact him!"

"But how?" said Kitty, not seeing how it could be done.

"What about the underground facilities? Doesn't Xavier have some kind of shelter for occasions like this?" asked Mystique.

"No...We thought of that already," answered Jean, "But they were hit too. Whoever organized this attack knew a lot in order to pull this off. They knew exactly when, where, and how to hit us all."

"Jean's right..." said Scott as they continued to go through their limited options, "This isn't some blind assault by a local mutant hate group...This is too well organized and too perfectly executed. So we must all think of our enemy, whoever it may be, as crazy, but not stupid."

"Great...So what's left for us to do?" said Mystique in a frustrated tone.

They all looked back down at the dying Pietro. The color was quickly draining from his face and all signs of life were fading fast. Then, their gaze shifted over towards Wanda, who was having the hardest time trying to cope with this awful situation. The chances of for her brother were not good...And if they didn't think of something soon, he would be dead just like all the others. Wanda quickly saw their disposition and began to fear the worst. Immediately, she sprang up from where she was sitting in an emotional fury with Kurt right behind her, trying to stop her from losing control.

"What are you doing?!" yelled the Scarlet Witch, "Why have you stopped?!"

Her eyes began to glow an ominous purple color as she approached the tired group of mutants that had been trying to help Pietro. Kurt held her back by placing a hand on her shoulder and trying to dissuade her from going any further...But that did little to calm her fiery emotions from within.

"I'm sorry Wanda," said Jean as she tried to speak in a calm tone, "But there's nothing more that we can do for him out here. We don't have the tools or the resources to save him...I'm sorry."

"So get him somewhere you can help him! There has to be someplace! Because if he dies I'll..."

The branches on the trees began to rustle and a powerful wind began to form around them as Wanda Maximoff's powers began to boil from within as her emotional state began to worsen with each passing second. Then, Kurt finally stepped in.

"Vanda! Stop!" yelled Kurt as he kept her from going any further, "Ve'll find a way to save him...He von't die...I promise."

"How can you be sure of that!?" said Wanda as she turned towards Kurt with tears forming in her eyes.

"Ve'll think of something...Von't ve?" said Kurt as he turned back towards his friends, who by all accounts looked fresh out of ideas.

A heavy silence soon fell over the group of mutants as they considered their next course of action. Nothing seemed viable at this point...For they were trapped in the woods with an entire army standing in their way. One of them was dying fast and they knew that they couldn't remain here forever. Never-the-less, both the remnants of the X-men and the Brotherhood tried to think of something. The noises of military activity echoed through the air as the powerful military division that had destroyed the mansion walked triumphantly over the decimated area. Bitterness over the destruction of their home and remorse for the death of their friends and family hung strong...But they couldn't give in to such emotion of they were to survive this ordeal and help Pietro. Then suddenly...A new idea came to Scott as he listened to the noises echo through the air.

"Wait a minute...The X-jet!" exclaimed Scott.

"What?" said Jean in confusion, "Scott, they hit that part of the mansion too. There's no way that the hanger could have survived."

"No! You don't understand...The Professor, Logan, Beast, and I were working on a new layer of shielding for the underground hanger that would double as a detection cloak from sentinels," explained Scott, "The old layer of shielding was probably destroyed, but the new layer might have remained intact long enough to protect the hanger."

"And how do you know that the military didn't already plan for taking care of such shielding?" asked Mystique, skeptical of his words.

"Because we just finished it a few days ago," answered Scott, "It's our only hope! The Blackbird can get us out of here, and it also has a complete array of medical supplies in the back!"

This was all that Wanda needed to hear in order for her to accept this plan.

"Then what are we waiting for?!" yelled Wanda, "Let's hurry up and get Pietro down there!"

"We will...We just have to check and see if I'm right," said Scott, "Kurt, can you teleport down there?"

"Yes...But if it is destroyed like the rest of the mansion...It may be somewhat risky," answered Kurt.

This seemed to invoke a worried look on Mystique's face as Kurt mentioned the risk involved. It was clear now that she was adamant about keeping her only son now that Rogue was gone. However, before she could say anything, Kurt got a brief glimpse of Wanda and the tears of hope that had formed in her eyes. Not wanting to see anybody else lose a sibling, Kurt made his decision.

"Kurt..." began Mystique, but she was unable to finish as her son made it clear that he wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to prevent further suffering.

"Don't vorry Mother...I'll be fine," assured Kurt as he prepared to teleport.

Then suddenly...A loud booming voice startled the group as a bright, shining light from above then flashed over them from the sky. The rustling of the ground and movement of the trees soon hinted that their cover inside the forest had been discovered.

"ATTENTION RENEGADE MUTANTS...THIS IS THE UNITED STATES MILITARY. BY DIRECT ORDER FROM WASHINGTON DC, YOU ARE UNDER ARREST. SURRENDER NOW...OR BE TERMINATED."

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

AN: I'll leave it there for now. I know, big cliff hanger...But I will continue! I know that some of you may think that Mystique is a bit out of character when she turns to Kurt and the rest of the X-men, but I wanted to show her with a more human side. From the show, I thought it was clear that she still had a great deal of love for her kids and this traumatic experience only helped her express it for the first time. So keep that in mind if you must flame me for it. I know things are looking bad for the X-men and the Brotherhood, but this is still just the beginning! Magneto and Piotr are still alive, the Professor and Logan are still in Washington, and Pietro is still dying fast. I'm still somewhat debating whether or not it would make the story better if he lived or died because it really could go either way. What do you all think? What should happen to Pietro? Please tell me what you think! Send your reviews to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Your feedback may determine the very course of this fic! Thank you all so much for reading and I wish you all the best!

BEFORE YOU LEAVE, HIT THE BUTTON AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE AND REVIEW!!!
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