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

Raging Onward

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: 2006/10/08 - Updated: 2006/10/08 - 11182 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 43: Raging Onward


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"Everybody move!" yelled Cyclops as the sound of gunfire and the echoes of war once again consumed the area.

In the main research hub, all hell had once again broken loose for Shadow Cell and the X-men. After having learned some startling truths from Magnum, they were left with yet another great challenge...This time against the best GURSO had to throw at them. They were the elite guard...The Colonel's pride and joy. These were the best trained, best equipped anti-mutant soldiers in existence. And now...They had them in their gun sights.

Not long after Cyclops gave the order to scramble, everybody quickly spread out from the center area, taking cover wherever they could and spreading GURSO's fire. Unlike last time in the warehouse, the research hub gave them plenty of environmental resources to use and plenty of space to get the job done. And while the fight was going on between them, the four dangerous mercenaries that Magnum had brought for backup merely watched in amusement.

"Damn...If I'd have known there was going to be a show, I would have brought some nachos and chili," said Deadpool, thinking this was better than premium cable.

"Don't get too comfortable, comrade," said Omega Red, "My little tsarina told me that this shouldn't slow them down too much...But it will divide them up so we can make our move. We just need to stick to the plan."

"Sounds good to me," said Bullseye as he watched the fight below with an amused grin as he sized up his targets, "I have a feeling this is going to be one hell of a fight."

"It damn well better be..." grunted Guantlet, "That's the kind of fight I'm best at..."

While the four mercs analyzed their competition, the GURSO elite had opened fire below and were showing no mercy as they quickly swarmed the area like a pack of angry locusts. At first, all two teams could do was take cover to avoid the initial onslaught and divide their fire. But it was soon clear to them that these guys were no pushovers and once they were in their sights, there was no escaping...Or so they thought.

"Damn!" yelled Wolverine over the noise as he and Storm stood close to Shadowcat and Nightcrawler, covering them as he led them to take cover behind a few desks, "These guys are seriously packing!"

"Err! Thank you for stating the obvious Wolverine!" yelled Mystique, who covered them with fire from her Patriot.

The sound of high energy blasts tore through the room like miniature bombs. And even with the flickering lights and the numerous tremors that still rocked the area occasionally because of the ongoing battle outside, none of the soldiers flinched in the slightest. They had a job to do and they sure as hell weren't going to stop till it was done.

"Merde!" cursed Gambit as he took cover with Angel and Psylocke, trying to drive them back with a few charged cards, "How do we fight somethin' like dis?"

"As best we can, Gambit!" said Angel, sticking close to his girlfriend and trying to keep his wings from being big targets.

Over with Shadow Cell, however, they were already working to even the odds. Because as determined as the X-men were...They seemed to lack some key combat know how. And even though they hadn't told them anything...They had actually been anticipating this.

"Damn, these kids don't know the first thing about handling impossible situations," commented the Scarlet Witch as she, Mayhem, and X23 took cover on one side while Cyclops and Phoenix laid low in a pile of lab equipment not far from them.

"Well obviously they never read The Art of War," said X23 as she and her comrades took out a few more goodies from the supplies they acquired from the armory.

"Right..." grunted Mayhem in a determined tone, now all the more eager to face Dr. Essex after everything he put him through, "If they even read the short version...They would know that if the enemy has any weakness whatsoever...Take advantage of it and crush them."

Then, even as the heavy duty fire engulfed the area, tearing much of the surrounding obstructions to pieces, the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell took out a series of chaff grenades that they had gotten for just such an occasion. Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch knew they would have to coordinate if they were to make this work effectively, but after years of training, fighting, and learning together...That was one thing they had excelled in.

"Okay guys..." said Cyclops, maintaining his role as unit leader, "Get ready...NOW!"

Then, in a well organized and executed manner, the five soldiers pulled the pin on the special chaff grenades and heaved them across the area, making sure that they affected the maximum radius. At first, the GURSO elite thought they were frag grenades and didn't seem too threatened by them because their suits would offer protection from things...However, they were all in for a rude awakening.

Then, with a series of loud bangs...The grenades exploded, spreading it's electronics and radar scrambling chaff all throughout the area. And for the elite GURSO soldiers who wore high tech, radar reliant suits...The impact was devastating and quick.

"ARRRGGGGHHHH!" yelled the highly trained, highly equipped soldiers as they felt their electronics and feedback mechanisms fail them.

"X-men! Move!" yelled Phoenix as she and her comrades once again took out their guns and knives in full CQC ready poise.

It took a moment for the X-men to process what was going on with them, but as soon as they saw the deadly anti-mutant soldiers stumbling about in a dazed, uncoordinated manner, they were quick to take advantage of the situation.

"Now this is more like it!" grunted Wolverine with a wolfish grin as he drew his claws and prepared for yet another round.

"Yeah...Some elite guard!" grinned Nightcrawler, now feeling more confident as he saw many of the soldiers stumbling about like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off.

"Come on X-men!" ordered Storm as she ascended into the air and began using her weather powers to hit the deadly soldiers with powerful lightning blasts, "Let's take them down before it's too late!"

"Don't gotta tell Gambit twice..." said the Cajun as he quickly jumped headfirst into the battle with his bow staff and tore into the disoriented, disorganized guards.

With the chaff still going strong, Shadowcat and Nightcrawler began to make their move on the south end where they had come, clearing out the GURSO soldiers that had converged there with the help of Mystique and her trusty Patriot, which she used to great effect. Shadowcat's phasing powers were a deadly weapon against the electronics laden suits of the GURSO soldiers and with each soldier she phased through, their suits were taken fully out of commission.

"Well, so much for high tech," grinned Shadowcat as soldier after soldier fell in her wake.

"Good vork, Kitten! Keep it up!" urged Nightcrawler as he used his agility and fighting skills he learned in the danger room to take down soldier after soldier.

"You know I will..." she said in response, flashing her friend a grin.

Upon seeing this, Mystique grew a bit curious...But now was not the time to concern herself with such things. Right now, she needed to focus on Rogue and getting her out of this place. And with her Patriot in hand, she quickly mowed down soldier after soldier...Her skills as a former super mercenary once again showing true. And such skills did not go unnoticed by Shadow Cell.

"Nice shooting lady!" said X23 as she skillfully fired her guns with great speed and agility, taking down enemy after enemy before they even had a chance.

"You're not the only one with some soldier skills..." she grunted as she kept firing into the melee with great accuracy and skill.

"Well it's nice to see that at least someone here knows how to handle combat," commented the Scarlet Witch, who stayed close to Mayhem as she fired away with her trusty gun while using her hexing powers to divert any incoming blasts that got too near.

"Oh please...It's not the combat that worries me...It's just getting my daughter out!" she said as she saw a charging GURSO soldier who seemed to be following the sound of their guns out of the corner of her eye and swiftly turned and fired two well aimed shots directly into his head.

"Don't worry Ms Darkholme..." said Mayhem in a determined tone as he performed several CQC maneuvers on a few unlucky GURSO soldiers, using his super strength and speed to snap their necks and break their bones, "We'll get your daughter out of here. We'll see to it..."

"Nice to see that SOMEONE here believes me..." she grunted as she began sticking closer to Shadow Cell, who seemed to be more comfortable around her than the X-men for obvious reasons.

Meanwhile, up in the air Storm and Angel were using their flight capabilities to take down some of the soldiers that were standing on the upper levels. And since they were all still highly disoriented from the affects of the chaff, it didn't take much to push them over the edge whether it was by powerful gusts of wind or simply a slight shove. Either way, many GURSO soldiers didn't recover fast enough to maintain the high ground. And eventually, they began falling from their perches like hailstones.

"Man! How many of these guys are there?" shouted Angel over the melee.

"Too many..." said Storm as she saw a few trying to hide in the shadows while they systems recovered, flushing them out with a few wind gusts, "But we must take down as many as possible!"

"Err! She's right!" said Cyclops as he unleashing a fury of high energy blasts from his eyes and hands at the well armored soldiers, blowing them away as if they were toys, "The effects of the chaff won't last forever!"

"Yeah, we have to take down as many as possible!" said Phoenix as she used her telekinesis and pryokinesis to obliterate large clusters of guards that had gathered around the doors while using her gun and knife for those who were unlucky enough to get too close.

"Sounds like Gambit's kinda game!" said the Cajun mutant confidently as he used his skills with a bow staff to neutralize several more GURSO elite while throwing round after round of charged cards into a few of the clusters that remained around the doors.

"Enough with the card puns already, Gambit..." said Psylocke, rolling her eyes as she tore through a few more guards with her Psoinic blades, "Just shut up and fight!"

With a sizable chunk of GURSO effectively out of commission, their advantage in numbers was quickly dwindling. Shadow Cell and the X-men were gaining the upper hand on all levels and the four mercs still watching from above knew it. Yet this didn't seem to surprise them or worry them for that matter. To them it was like a nicely played out show completely with action and drama. And given that they knew a few things that their adversaries didn't...That made it all the more satisfying.

"Hmm, Magnum wasn't lying when she described their skill," said Bullseye as he kept his eye on Shadow Cell throughout the fight, "They're definitely her students."

"I agree comrade..." said Omega Red with a grin as he kept watching them take down soldier after soldier as if they were an army in and of themselves, "Only Magnum can teach somebody to be that deadly."

"You would know, Omega..." said Gauntlet, keeping his cybernetic eye focused on them the whole time, "And so far, she's been right about them on every level."

"Guess that means it's time for us to make our move..." said Bullseye, seeing the signs as well.

"Goody! Finally, some action!" said Deadpool in his usual obnoxious tone, "Too bad we can't stay and watch the rest of the fight. Damn, I wish I had had a Tivo!"

With GURSO seriously weakened, the X-men and Shadow Cell were on the verge of breaking through. Even as the effects of the chaff began to wear off, the whole unit was left in a state of chaos and were too disorganized to really coordinate against either team. And without coordination, they didn't stand much of a chance against any of them.

"Come on guys! We can't slow down! We have to get to Dr. Essex!" yelled Mayhem as he punched his way through a few more GURSO soldiers, leaving a few paths at the north end clear for all of them.

"Right!" said Cyclops as he blasted one peskier cluster of GURSO soldiers with focused optic blast, "Come on Shadow Cell! Let's move!"

"Hey wait!" yelled Angel, who was still flying in the air, "We have to stick together here!"

"Sorry bird boy...No time!" said the Scarlet Witch as she closely followed Mayhem towards the corridors, not wanting him to face this challenge alone.

"Yeah, the rest of you guys just cover us while we plow ahead!" yelled Phoenix as she used her knife to slit the throats of a few more GURSO soldiers that stood in her way on the path towards following her comrades, "We'll converge at the north end!"

Angel was about to argue the point, but he didn't get the chance as a few recovered GURSO soldiers began firing at him and Storm from below, forcing them to take evasive action. And while the thinned number of GURSO elite continued with the fight, Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch used the opportunity to make their move. Because to them...This was not simply rescue...This was personal.

However, such actions did not go unnoticed by some of the X-men...Namely Wolverine, who had been sticking close to Nightcrawler and Shadowcat since they were the youngest.

"Damn it! We can't let them break away!" grunted Wolverine as he sliced through a few more GURSO soldiers.

"Relax Wolverine..." said Mystique in an unconcerned tone as she once again focused on guarding her son, "From what I've seen, those five can handle themselves."

"Not with this..." said Wolverine in response as he knocked away a few more GURSO goons and began to purse the five mutant soldiers.

"Logan! What are you doing?" yelled Storm from above as she watched her best friend run off into the corridors.

"I have to help them, Ro!" he told her as he disappeared into the narrow tunnels, "Just cover me...I'll be fine! You know me!"

"That I most certainly do..." mused the weather witch in response, knowing full well that part of Logan's reasons for doing what he did probably had something to do with X23...But she didn't voice any comments on it and merely kept up with the fight, hoping that he would be okay.

Once the five mutant soldiers and Wolverine were well into the corridors, the four mercs were already on the move...Getting ready do their duties as Dr. Essex had so carefully laid out for them. They had their part...Shadow Cell and the X-men had theirs...And it was all going exactly as planned. And the only one true constant that seemed to guide them all was the simple phantom notion of inevitability...A notion that only Dr. Essex truly knew as his most coveted creations continued to play their part.
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Back outside with the ongoing fight between the GURSO regulars and Asteroid M, both sides were taking heavy blows. A large chunk of GURSO had been all but wiped out by Magneto's relentless assault and the Brotherhood, armed with the base weapons of the vast facility, managed to take down most of their heavy defenses. However...As Magneto had dreaded, his old ally had an ace up his sleeve.

It was almost as if he had expected him from the get go and given the kind of man they were dealing with, that was a very real possibility. The specialized high powered electromagnetic weapons that had been concealed from them until a few moments ago were reeking a terrible havoc upon his beloved base. The powerful magnetic shielding that had guarded the whole structure so effectively before was now working against it as the impact from the high energy bursts were causing catastrophic overloads on all levels. Much of the internal generators were now in the red and many of the advanced systems throughout the base were failing fast...And Magneto knew it.

"Oh man, this place is falling apart!" said Toad as the whole structure was once again rocked by a series of tremors.

"No way! This place can't fall...Can it?" said Blob, getting a little nervous as some of the lights began to flicker.

"Will you guys just shut up!" yelled Quicksilver as he tried to get some of the systems back on line, but with little success, "Asteroid M ISN'T going to fail! It can't!"

Just then, a sudden wave of alarms went off all throughout the base...Sending echoes of dread all throughout the area.

"Well I hate to break it to you, Quicksilver..." said Avalanche as another wave of tremors shook the base, "But this thing is a giant rock last time I checked! If it can fall...It will!"

As much as Pietro Maximoff hated to admit it...His friend was right. There was no doubt about it...This whole base was ailing. Clearly, they had underestimated what they were up against. Now, they were taking too many hits...And it wouldn't be long before the laws of gravity caught up with them.

"Magneto! Hey boss, can you hear me?!" yelled Quicksilver into the radio, quickly finding out that it was highly scrambled because of strong electromagnetic interference.

It took a bit of tuning...But eventually, they managed to make out their leader's voice. And from the sound of it...Things weren't looking too good.

"Brotherhood..." he managed to get through despite the static, "Core...Failure....Get...To...Escape pods! Core...Failure! Get...Escape pods!"

"Oh man...This is not good!" dreaded Toad, knowing that when words like that came from Magneto, it was no laughing matter.

"No kidding..." said Pietro as he got up from his station, knowing they couldn't stay here any longer.

"Well I don't know about you guys, but I'm not sticking around to see how bad it's going to get!" said Avalanche as he and his teammates began to make a mad dash for the escape pods.

"I'm with you, Lance!" said Blob, following close behind as more lights flickered and more tremors rocked the area, "And besides...An order's an order."

While the four Brotherhood boys were making their way to the escape pods, Asteroid M was it with another direct blow form the powerful energy weapons below. In the main control room, Magneto struggled to hold his precious base together...But it was quickly falling apart around him. He knew full well that his base couldn't take many more hits and it was his fault he hadn't seen it coming. Essex had been prepared for him...No doubt about it. But that would not stop the master of magnetism from fighting with every fiber of his being.

"Essex..." he said with unabated hatred as many of Asteroid M's high tech components began to fail left and right, "You son of a bitch! I will not allow you to destroy my dream! I will not allow you to..."

Then suddenly, the whole base was hit with yet another burst of high energy electromagnetic blasts...And this time, it had been one blast too many. Critical alarms now sounded throughout the base, ordering immediate action. The core of the vast facility had been damaged and overloaded to a critical point...And from there, Magneto finally came to the harsh realization...Asteroid M was going down.

"No...NOOOOOOO!"

With the core now critical beyond repair, the master control mechanisms were rendered useless as emergency programs kicked in. Magneto no longer had the power to control his base and there was nothing left to do except escape the coming impact.

Outside, the four Brotherhood boys had landed in escape pods near the decimated perimeter which the X-men and Shadow Cell had cleared out earlier. And as soon as they stepped out, they were shocked to see just how much external damage had been done to the large, floating base as a result of Shadow Cell's hardware. From the looks of it, the whole structure was falling apart like a house of cards. The once mighty facility was going to crash to the ground...And all they could do was watch.

"Holy shit..." said Toad in amazement as he watched the now crumbling structure slowly descend towards the hard earth below.

"So much for our new pad..." muttered Avalanche.

Then, with the core now officially in shambles, Magneto's proud base began to descend to the ground. And without the hover mechanisms that kept it aloft, it didn't take long for it to impact. With every part of the base already crumbling, the impact delivered the final blow as the whole structure seemed to collapse in on itself...Rendering the once majestic structure utterly destroyed.

It was right over the area near the front entrance of the base where Asteroid M had impacted and because of it, a huge tremor that could be felt all over rippled through the ground. It was so strong that some were actually knocked off balance by it, but the tremor alone wasn't the big problem...It was how close the whole thing was to the base when it impacted that caused the most damage.

Once the structure buckled under the force of the impact, the uppermost part of the base slammed into the front defenses and garrisons that GURSO had been using to wage their battle. And because the huge structure descended with such great speed, many were crushed in the wake of it's impact. But through all this destruction and devastation...The master of magnetism was still alive...And he was not out of the fight yet.

"Guys, look!" yelled Avalanche as he saw something come up from the now crippled structure.

From the ashes of Asteroid M, a single shell of heavy metal arose from the now flaming wreckage. And knowing that it could only be one man...The hopes of the Brotherhood were once again renewed.

"Dad!" exclaimed Quicksilver as the large metal shell descended before them and opened up to reveal an unharmed, yet somewhat fatigued master of magnetism.

"No time for formalities, Quicksilver..." he said, his voice still brimming with determination, "Come! We still have a job to do...And we're not going to stop until we're victorious!"

"Sounds like a plan..." said Blob as he and the others prepared to follow their leader against the last of GURSO.

"Yeah, yo! Let's show these assholes what the Brotherhood is made of!" said Toad as they all once again converged, ready to fight against the remnants of GURSO.

For Magneto...The stakes were now different. Essex had gone a step further than simply delaying his plans...Instead, he had destroyed them. His life's work was now in shambles...His beloved base was now no more. And for that...He would pay...The madman who had once been his ally would be a truly terrible price for his deeds...That much Magneto would see to.

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Back inside the base, the impact of Asteroid M hadn't slowed Shadow Cell down all that much, for all they could think of was getting to Dr. Essex. The rest of the X-men seemed to be capable of handling the now crippled GURSO elite, leaving them a chance to confront their one time mentor. So many conflicted feelings coursed through their minds as they remembered everything he and Magnum had given them. And now so much of it was called into question. But for now, all they could think about was the truth...And there was only one person on the face of the planet who could possibly give it to them.

"Come on! This way!" said Cyclops as he led his comrades down one of the corridors towards the last security checkpoint.

"He's close...I can feel it," said Mayhem, still driven by his raging determination to find the man responsible for so much loss.

"So can I, Mayhem..." said Phoenix, speaking more in terms of her gut rather than her telepathy...Which she knew Dr. Essex could easily block, "He's just up ahead...And something tells me he's waiting for us."

"Well then let's not disappoint him!" said Wolverine, who stuck close to X23 as they entered the final area before being able to enter the lab.

However, before they could finally confront the truth...They had but one more challenge to overcome. And as soon as they reached the main security door, they got a brief taste of just what they were going to have to face.

"C4!!!" yelled X23, her heightened senses quickly picking up the familiar scent, "Everybody down!"

Instinctively, the five mutant soldiers quickly leapt off to the side as the well placed bomb forced them all to diverge. And thanks to well choreographed timing...The bomb went off at the exact moment it was supposed to...Leaving little breathing room for the five soldiers and Wolverine, but not before catching some shrapnel. That blast definitely tore at some of their uniforms, but Logan, X23, and Vincent bore the blast to safeguard their friends. But that was soon the least of their worries as the architects of this trap made their presence known.

"Hey, Shadow Cell, come on down! You're our next contestant in 'the worst day of your life!'" said Deadpool in his usual, over the top voice as he, Bullseye, Guantlet, and Omega Red appeared from the ruins of the now mangled security door that the C4 had obliterated.

"Enough with the jokes, comrade..." said Omega Red, his bull whip like tentacles now fully drawn and ready for battle, "Let's just do our duties..."

"You got it Ruskie!" confirmed Deadpool as he drew his katanas, "And besides...I've been waiting for a chance like this!"

With the affects of the blast still lingering, the now separated team of soldiers were left to handle some of the most dangerous mercenaries in the world. Each one of the deadly soldiers split up to take on a target with Deadpool going for Wolverine and X23, Omega Red going for Mayhem, Bullseye going for the Scarlet Witch, and Gauntlet going for Cyclops and Phoenix. They all had their part as laid out for them by Dr. Essex and Magnum and each one of them seemed ready to carry it out to the bitter end. But despite this...Shadow Cell refused to let them stand in their way. They were so close now...So close to finding the truth. But these four well known killers didn't look as though they were going to make it any easier for them.

"Time to get the party started!" said Gauntlet as he reached Cyclops and Phoenix, both of whom were once again on their feet, "And lucky me...I got a couple of love birds!"

"Keep talking, pal! Maybe somebody will throw you a peanut!" said Phoenix as she and Cyclops held their guns and knives in a ready position.

However, upon seeing this, Gauntlet simply scoffed at them, for they were still as clueless as ever. After what Dr. Essex had told them, it was quite a shame that they were still so ignorant...But that didn't really bother him. He had a job to do and he sure as hell was going to do it.

"You think bullets can hurt me?" he said, showing the two mutant soldiers his oversized, armored hands, "Go ahead...I dear you to shoot me!"

Upon seeing this, both Cyclops and Phoenix quickly got the message. If he was that confident he could block their bullets, then chances were it wasn't a bluff. This guy was definitely no GURSO soldier or run of the mill mercenary...No, he was a mutant...And the rule of thumb in their minds was it took a mutant to beat a mutant.

"Hmm...Essex was right about you kids...You are predictable!" he taunted upon seeing them put their weapons away.

That only seemed to make the two soldiers more enraged as the sting of Dr. Essex and his betrayal quickly set in. But this didn't seem to worry Gauntlet in the slightest...For they were still pawns and no amount of anger could change that. It was only a matter of playing their collective part now...And he was NOT going to fail in his.

"You're going to wish you sat this one out..." warned Cyclops, using his powers to make parts of his body glow menacingly while Phoenix engulfed herself in flame, "This is just between us and Dr. Essex."

"But if you insist on being in our way..." said Phoenix, clenching her fists in determination.

"Believe me you little punks...There's no place I'd rather be," he said with a grin as his cybernetic eye analyzed the situation and gave what he needed to formulate an effective plan.

Then, not wanting to continue any further with the witty banter, Cyclops unleashed a powerful burst of energy from his hands...A burst he hoped would end this fight before it even began. However, Gauntlet had other ideas as he easily avoided the incoming blast and leapt off to the side.

"Is that all you got, kid?!" he taunted, "Come on! I haven't even broken a sweat!"

Then, as soon as he was back on his feet, he grabbed one of the many barrels littered throughout the area with his super strong hands and hurled it directly at his adversaries. Instinctively, Phoenix used her telekinesis to stop it in mid air...But this temporary lapse was all Gauntlet needed as he charged forth, punching through the barrel and landing a heavy blow to the young redhead, sending her flying with force greater than she had expected.

"Phoenix!" yelled Cyclops upon seeing his lover hit by the renegade merc.

However, this concern for his soul mate caused him to lapse as well as he turned to see if she was alright...Leaving Gauntlet with another opportunity to land a decisive blow.

"Come on kid! You gotta do better than that!" shot Gauntlet as he struck Cyclops right in the gut, causing him to keel over as a result, for the force was greater than he had expected.

Cyclops quickly tried to respond with a counter maneuver, but Gauntlet had seen it coming and quickly fought back with yet another attack...This time grabbing his arm and pulling him into a death grip. However, upon feeling this...Cyclops saw an opportunity to change the odds in their favor.

"You just made a big mistake pal!" he grunted as he focused his mind and began tapping a large amount of energy in the air around him.

Immediately, his body began to glow a bright ruby red color and Guantlet was quick to take notice of it. The intensity and power was too much for him to handle and even though he tried to maintain his grip, the sheer force of Cyclops's power was enough to knock him back...Leaving him vulnerable for a change. And now that they had their chance, Cyclops and Phoenix stood ready to end this decisively before it held them back any longer.

"Now it's my turn!" said a now fully recovered Phoenix, her body still engulfed with flames as she flew through the air at high speeds, forming a large fireball upon her fist.

Then, as Gauntlet was about to get up, he was hit with a heavy blow as Phoenix put a load of heavy telekinetic force behind her strike while also using her fire powers to char his skin like a roast chicken. Immediately, Gauntlet felt the impact.

"Argghhh! You little brats!" he spat as he prepared to tear them limb from limp with his super strong hands.

"If only we had a nickel for every time we heard that..." said Cyclops, not giving him a chance as he fired off another optic blast...This time nearly knocking him out in the process.

And with that final blow, Cyclops and Phoenix stood triumphant before the raging Gauntlet. He was still groaning from the impact of the blast, but it was clear he was out of the fight and the two soldiers of Shadow Cell would ensure that it stayed that way.

"You okay?" said Cyclops as he turned to his comrade and lover.

"I'm fine..." she told him, rubbing the blood off of her face and using their link to assure him of her condition, "Can't say the same for this guy though."

"So what do you want to do with him?" he asked, knowing they couldn't just leave him and give him a chance to come after them.

"Well for one...I'm going to use my telepathy to make sure he's out long enough for us to do our job," said Phoenix, "But in addition...I think we should also take 'other' precautions to make sure this guy doesn't present as much of a threat."

"Right...And I think I know just how to do it..." said Cyclops as he took out his knife while Phoenix restrained the still groaning merc.

"You read my mind babe..." said Phoenix with a slight grin as they proceeded to finish up what they needed with the super tough merc before heading over to meet up with their comrades.

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Over with Bullseye and the Scarlet Witch, both fighters looked pretty confident in their odds. Bullseye knew the kind of fighter he was up against and for the first time in quite a while, he felt as though he finally had himself a challenge. For so long now, the only person who he could ever really have a decent fight with was Daredevil...Everybody else were just targets. But in the eyes of the Scarlet Witch, it was he who was the target...Not her. And judging from the way he carried himself, he was no pushover.

"So you're the Scarlet Witch, huh?" he said, holding several knives in each hand, "I have to say...I was expecting more."

"Then we're even, Bullseye," she said in response as she took out both her guns, which she affectionately referred to as 'the twins.'

"Hardly..." he quipped as he took a fighter's stance, ready to do his part for Magnum and Dr. Essex as he had been instructed, "So you affect probability...Big deal. It only works if there's the faintest of a chance. And me...I'm 100 percent baby!"

"We'll see about that..." said the Scarlet Witch menacingly, thinking this guy was way too overconfident for his own good.

Using her gun slinging skills that she had spent so much time mastering over the years, the Scarlet Witch did a standard quick draw maneuver and fired off several shots directly at his heart...However, Bullseye didn't even try to avoid them...Instead, he just let the bullets harmlessly impact his suit, which he had outfitted with enough layers of Kevlar and body armor to deflect the impact of any bullet that came his way.

"What? Is that all you got, kid?" he taunted as he took a menacing step forward.

"Hmm...Body armor," she said, her combat experienced brain quickly going into affect, "Alternating layers of Kevlar and tungsten titanium alloy with a porcelain covering and memory metal technology."

"Smart girl..." he said with a grin, "Sounds like you do your homework. And they say the school systems are failing in this country."

"I do more than that, pal!" shot the Scarlet Witch in response, not deterred in the slightest, "You're body may be armored...But let's see how tough that face of yours is!"

Once again, she prepared to take aim...But this time, Bullseye was ready for her and quickly ducked away from the shots. And before she could even get two shots off, he used his super accurate aiming skills to throw two of his knives directly at her hands...Immediately hitting her guns and knocking them out of her grip.

"Now it's my fight, girly!" he taunted once again as he held his super sharp knives in his hands, ready to end this fight right then and there, "Essex and Magnum told me a little about you...Pretty sad story. I'll bet your one of those psycho killers who loves the heat of battle...Yet goes in each time wishing for death in hopes of ending it all."

Such words stung more than the young mutant was willing to let on, for she knew Bullseye was trying to psyche her out...And unfortunately, it was working. Her powers were simmering beneath her flesh, ready to dissociate this guy on the molecular level...But he remained as confident as ever, not once showing any signs of concern.

"You may think I'm crazy..." he continued to taunt, "But then again...I'm not the one who ended up in an insane asylum!"

"Errrahhh!" yelled he Scarlet Witch as she unleashed a barrage of hex bolts at the trash talking mercenary.

However, her blinding rage had affected her aim and Bullseye's agility allowed him to easily dodge each burst. He could tell he had struck a chord with her. Her angry cries were hint enough of that. But now he sought to make his move...Ready to end this right here...Right now.

With a skilled mid-air summersault, the deadly, ruthless fighter saw his opportunity and threw two more perfectly aimed knives at the Scarlet Witch. Instinctively, she used her hexing powers to divert them...Only Bullseye had managed to compensate for that and the way she deflected them didn't stop them from leaving their mark as one grazed her neck while the other took a pretty deep gouge in her leg just below her knee.

"Ahhhh!" she yelled as she keeled over and fell on one knee, temporarily halting her hex assault.

This seemed to play directly into Bullseye's hands, once again feeling victorious and confident. No matter who he faced, it was only a matter of inevitability...For as his name implied, he NEVER missed his target. And with a chance to end it here...He was prepared to show this inexperienced little girl what being a mercenary was all about.

"You're out of your league, kid..." he taunted as he held two more knives in each hand, ready to use them to end their little squabble once and for all, "You're playing with the big boys now! You say you want to know the truth? Fine! I got a truth here for you...It's over!"

As much as her deep cuts still hurt, the Scarlet Witch wasn't about to accept defeat yet...Not when they were so close. Then suddenly, as looked back upon the face of the deadly killer...She saw her chance to end it all. And even if his words had stung more than his knives...She refused to let them go unanswered.

"Fuck...You!" she spat as years of experience kicked in and she grabbed her knife and in one quick spin move, threw it directly at the head of her attacker.

Her sudden burst of movement had surprised Bullseye for only a fraction of a second...But it was a second too long as his overconfidence caught up with him and he was unable to avoid the incoming knife as it impacted directly on the bulls eye mark on his forehead. The look of shock on his face was suddenly frozen in it's place as his body stood paralyzed at the sudden impact. It was a look the Scarlet Witch took a great deal of triumph in as she got up and walked over towards the unmoving mercenary in a victorious stride.

"Here's a little advice for you, Bullseye..." she said as she ripped the knife out of his head, causing some of its contents to come spilling out, "Never put a target on your head."

Then, as Bullseye's body went limp, the Scarlet Witch put her knife back in his case and gathered her guns. Even though the cuts from Bullseye's knives still stung, they would not slow her down in the slightest. Her comrades needed her...Vincent needed her...And she was NOT going to let them down.

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

Over with Wolverine and X23, they were now facing the ever obnoxious, yet ever deadly Deadpool. Facing these two was something the ever twisted merc had been looking forward to. Upon hearing about them from Magnum and Dr. Essex, it only seemed to sweeten this little gig...For as crazed as his mind was, he never forgot where he came from and how he got to where he was now. And whether they liked it or not...Wolverine and X23 were both a part of it.

"Boy did you two take a wrong turn," laughed Deadpool with both his katana's in hand, ready for combat, "But I have to say...I'm glad I finally get a chance like this to skin you two alive!"

"Sorry...But I find it a little hard trying to take a guy who sounds like he came from the nuthouse and wears clothing like that seriously," said X23 as she drew her claws in preparation for battle.

"Ooh, you got a quick wit girly!" said Deadpool, who seemed all the more motivated as he prepared to tear into the two living weapons, "Maybe if you were a little older, you and I could get together and test the limits of our healing factor together! Just think of the records we could break!"

After that, Wolverine had heard enough. The more this guy talked, the more he wanted to shut him up. He may have been annoying...But he was clearly crossing too many lines. Although that didn't seem to bother him given his twisted demeanor...It would definitely make this fight interesting.

"Enough bub!" growled Wolverine with his claws drawn and ready for combat, "If you won't shut that mouth of you then I'll just have to shut it for you!"

"Bring it on badger boy!" said Deadpool, grinning under his mask, "Let's have some fun!"

Both Wolverine and X23 both attacked together, looking for a quick and decisive blow to end this battle before it even began. However, as crazed as Deadpool was, he still had a lot of skill when it came to the arts of combat and he made that clear early on.

With the force of two former living weapons lunging at him, Deadpool quickly used their momentum to his advantage and somersaulted off to the side. While Wolverine needed a moment to shift his body, X23's nimble form was quick to counter the mouthy merc's move and tore into him with a barrage of horizontal slashes. However, Deadpool managed to counter each and every one of them, showing a surprising level of skill and stamina.

Soon, Wolverine joined in the fight as well, but Deadpool kept up with them every step of the way, laughing manically the whole time...Almost as if he was enjoying this. Such actions gave him a psychological edge in combat and it had often been a key factor in his survival as a deadly mercenary...And this instance was no exception.

"Ha ha! I knew you two wouldn't disappoint me!" he said over the sound of clashing metal, "Keep it up! I could go all night!"

"Err! Do...You...Ever...Shut...Up?!" growled Wolverine, through each slash that connected with Deadpool's swords, which also seemed to be made out of a super strong alloy that their adamantium could not cut through.

"Only on weekends!" he taunted as he hit Wolverine with a heavy drop kick, knocking him back but not knocking him out.

"Then I guess I'll just have to cut out those fucking vocal chords of yours!" shot X23 as she attempted a stabbing motion right towards his throat, but Deadpool was quick to counter this as he grabbed her arm and spun her around, throwing her off to the side alongside Logan.

Deadpool continued his rather disturbing laughter...Sounding as though he was growing increasingly twisted as the fight continued to progress. It was a disturbing sight even to those of experience, but given the circumstances, Deadpool knew something like this was going to happen...And he wanted to make sure that these two would be right in the thick of it.

"That's some mouth you got, girly," he commented in between laughter, "But...Like father like daughter I guess."

That got a bit of a reaction out of both of them...A reaction that struck deep at their very core. It was clear through the expressions on their faces...It was evident through their respective histories...And it was something Deadpool seemed to pick up on.

"You peeps are great...But I'm getting a little nuts here, so let's make this quick!" he said, taking a battle stance once again, "Not to sound like Lex Luthor here, but...I've been waiting a long time for this! It's because of you two I'm still alive and kicking!"

"What?!" shot Wolverine as he and X23 got back up, ready for another round, "You're crazy!!

"No shit Sherlock," laughed Deadpool, "But I'm only as crazy as Weapon X made me! In a ways, I guess I should give you both a great big hug because if it wasn't for a bunch of pricks trying to recreate the original project, I would've died of cancer a long time ago. But I didn't...I went through a little procedure that gave me a healing factor, and now here I am feeling like a million bucks! Even though it messed me up in the end...It still saved my life!"

"So then why do you want to kill us?" growled X23, who had just about had enough of secret projects trying to make a living weapon for one lifetime.

"Good question mini-Wolvie...Why don't I show you?" he said with a grin.

Then, in a scene right out of a horror movie, Deadpool removed his mask to reveal an appearance that would have sickened even the most hardened warriors. His whole face looked like one giant scab...Yet still, he laughed like the twisted merc he was at heart. And upon seeing the priceless looks on their faces, getting pretty much the exact reaction he wanted...He felt it was time to finally end this once and for all.

"Boo..." he taunted with another laugh, "Ready for the final round where the stakes are doubled?"

"Err...Bring it on scab boy!" growled X23, not letting his appearance deter her in the slightest, "When I get through with you, that face of yours will be the least of your problems!"

"Ooh...Feisty! You sure know how to make em Wolverine!" he said in response.

Not wanting to give this guy any more chances to psyche them out with his obnoxious behavior, Wolverine and X23 tore into the skilled merc simultaneously. This time...They didn't hold back. However, as crazy as Deadpool was, he wasn't stupid. The psychological edge he had kept him one step ahead of them as he quickly managed to divide their attacks, focusing on X23 first and then Wolverine. He used quick, effective maneuvers to knock them back, taking his time to gradually wear them down.

However, the longer he fought, the more twisted he became. One of the major side affects of his condition was that sometimes he would black out in the middle of a fight and go on a major rampage, not remembering anything about what happened afterwards. And when that happened...He wanted to make sure that he would be completely focused on these two so as to make himself as deadly as possible. Like the others...He had a task to carry out and even though he was twisted, he was still very good at what he did.

But...As good as Deadpool was, the two former living weapons eventually did pick up on his style. And after studying many years of CQC, X23 knew how to analyze and counter when it came to a tough foe. Deadpool had made it clear early on that his stamina was his greatest weapon, so he could carry out quick and decisive blows in short order without tiring. Yet this speed also opened him up in some areas...Particularly when it came to his narrow field of focus. And as soon as X23 realized that, she made her move.

"Laugh at this asshole!" she growled as she did a quick spin move, narrowly avoiding a major attack from his katana's and quickly plunging her claws into his chest in an area directly over his lung.

This temporarily stunned the foul mouthed mercenary, giving Wolverine an opportunity as well as he added a blow of his own...Plowing his claws into his back right below his neck. Immediately, Deadpool began to feel it coming on...The pain seemed to only fuel the madness in his mind as he began quivering uncontrollably. It was a reaction that both Wolverine and X23 were forced to take a step back from as they watched the crazed killer descend into the depths of true madness.

"Ooh...Hang onto your butts kiddes...Here it comes!" he said as his healing factor kicked in and the expression on his scarred face turned to one of complete insanity, "Oh yeah! I feel it! YEEAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

The conscious part of Deadpool's mind had shut down...He was in full blackout mode as he lunged forth and tore into the two former living weapons. His speed, drive, and stamina were all seemed to culminate as he slashed, stabbed, and cut his way into the two living weapons. However, as crazy as he was now...That didn't make him any more effective. Wolverine and X23 managed to block his attacks every step of the way...But they were quickly being driving back and given no chance to counter.

Deadpool had truly gone insane as he laughed and slashed like a madman. His stamina showed no signs of weakening and soon, both Wolverine and X23 found themselves backed into a wall. And once he had them where he wanted them...Deadpool made his first move...At X23.

"DIE!!!" he yelled like a madman as he finally managed to plunge his katana into her shoulder, just missing her neck.

"AHHHHHHH!" she howled in response.

This howl seemed to set Logan off as well, who was through playing on the defensive. This guy was crazy...No doubt about it. But once he hurt X23...Something within him just took over and he went straight for the giant scab he called a face.

"ERR! Take this chicken shit!" he yelled as he avoided one of his incoming stabs and pounced the menacing merc, plunging his claws directly into his head.

Immediately...Deadpool's body went limp...And the laughter finally stopped. There was no expression of shock or anger on his face...Only one of lingering madness. He kept on laughing to the bitter end...And now, that expression seemed permanently plastered on his face as Logan pulled out his claws and let his body fall limply to the ground.

Both he and X23 needed to catch their breath after this one and as soon as he was able, Wolverine went straight for the girl who bore his flesh and blood and helped her up with a look of concern not unlike that of a parent.

"Are you okay, kid?" he asked her as he took a look at the stab wound on her shoulder, which was already healing thanks to her heightened healing factor.

"Yeah...I'll be okay," she told him, remaining somewhat stoic, but managing to slip a little gratitude into her words.

As he looked back at her, the Wolverine couldn't help but smile...For she was every bit as tough as she made herself out to be. It wasn't at all unlike himself...Grunting through the pain and working through sheer determination and drive. It was an odd moment for the both of them...But it all seemed to be defined by one feeling...Pride.

"Come on..." said X23, not letting a mere stab wound slow her down, "Let's keep moving."

"Right behind you, kid!" said Logan with a wolfish grin as they turned around to meet up with the others.

Yet as they left the unmoving body of Deadpool behind...They did not see notice that he was starting to twitch. His healing factor was kicking in...His body was already on the path to recovery. And while he wouldn't remember what happened...He would remember enough. But even as he recovered, he didn't go after Wolverine and X23...Instead, he just made his escape. He had done his job...He had done exactly what Dr. Essex had laid out for him. He was still laughing to himself as he slowly made his escape, for he took comfort in the fact that he knew something they didn't. Now it was all on those two...And whatever happened next would all depend on them.

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

In the center of the room where the explosion had been most severe...Only two fighters stood over the rubble in preparation for battle. These were the two skilled warriors that bore the power of invulnerability and embodied raw strength and power. One was a Russian born super soldier...The other was an orphan from Canada who only sought the truth. Both were determined to carry out their role...Both were determined not to let anything stand in their way...And both were willing to fight till the bitter end.

"You are out of your league, boy..." taunted Omega Red in his deep, Russian accent, "This game is not for lads such as yourself...Driven only out of the desire to leave the past behind...Wanting nothing more than to forget."

"I take it you had a little chat with Dr. Essex..." said Mayhem in a low, menacing tone as he held his knife and gun in a ready stance.

"Indeed...And my did he have a lot to say," grinned the Russian super soldier, confident in his psychological edge since he knew something Mayhem didn't, "He told me quite a bit about you boy, and I must say...I'm eager to see just how well you live up to that name of yours."

"Care for a demonstration?" grunted Mayhem with a determined tone.

"Please...I insist," grinned the Russian super soldier, his metal tentacle thrashing about, ready to tear into the boy without mercy.

Mayhem made good on his word...Starting off his attack with a few well aimed rounds from his gun. And as he had suspected, Omega Red's tentacles were made out of a super strong alloy that his bullets had no effect on. But this didn't deter him in the slightest, for he intended to use this against him as he used his super speed to put his gun and knife away and flew through the air at breakneck speeds directly at the Russian super soldier, using his blocking motions from the bullets as a means of distraction to make his move.

However, Omega Red was quick to pick up on this and quick to counter, using one of his tentacles to grab the boy in mid air and throw him into one of the walls nearby. His beloved Tsarina had been right about her students...They knew how to fight. Unfortunately, they still seemed to lack the capability that warriors such as himself enjoyed.

"You'll have to do better than that, boy!" he taunted as Mayhem quickly got up and took to the air again.

With a determined grunt, Mayhem zeroed in on the menacing mercenary and began focusing on the tentacles now as he made a few quick maneuvers to avoid them. However, that proved to be tougher than he thought, for Omega Red seemed to have a tight level of control over them and managed to bind him again in a death grip that would have crushed a normal human being...But only brought pain to the invulnerable body of Mayhem.

"Pathetic..." he continued to taunt as he tossed him off to the side again, further enraging the young soldier as he once again prepared to attack.

"You're going down asshole..." he said in a low, determined tone, "I don't care who you are or why you're doing this, but I'm NOT going to let you stand in my way! I have to know the truth..."

"Boy...If you knew the truth, trust me...This fight would have already been over," said Omega Red cryptically as he once again launched an attack upon the young man who was proving to be every bit as invulnerable as he was.

Such words, however, only further drove young Vincent Freeman as he continued to launch attack after attack, landing a few heavy blows upon the Russian super soldier, but unfortunately, his body was just as invulnerable as his. The damage they caused one another wasn't great, but since Omega Red landed more blows, he quickly began to wear him down.

The more they fought...The more determined Mayhem became. With each shot of pain, he remembered those images that still haunted him with the Prodigy Project. And ever since he learned that Dr. Essex was behind them...They had reached a new level of meaning and hurt. But it wasn't just that...It was also the orphanage that he once called home. It had been destroyed...All because Dr. Essex wanted him. His home and all those innocent children had died just because of some madman's greed...And he was not about to let that go unanswered. He owed Father Michaels, Mr. Kansuke, and the rest of those innocent kids that much.

However, as determined he was, Omega Red gave him little chance to unleash his rage as he kept with his attacks...Using his super strong tentacles to hit, bind, and toss the young soldier about like a rag doll. It was almost fun in his mind...Inflicting such great punishment on someone who had attempted to harm his beloved. And he intended to do exactly as he had been ordered...For his dear Magnum, he would pay any price.

"You are a good soldier, boy..." he said as he once again bound him in his tentacles in another death grip, "But you are no warrior. You are just a scared, lost little boy too haunted by his own past...It's really sad. And worst of all...You tried to strike my beloved Tsarina...You tried to hurt Magnum. And for that...you must pay."

"AHHHHH!" yelled Mayhem as he felt the tight grip of the tentacles around his body.

Then, upon hearing his yells, Omega Red once again threw his body towards one of the walls...Only this time, it was with much greater force and he actually penetrated through several corridors...Ending up in a room he had never been before...Magnum's.

But when he got up, his body still stinging from both the impact and the words that had struck him down to his very core...Something caught his eye...Something that both enraged and encouraged young Vincent Freeman to a whole new level.

"My God..." he said as his eyes fell upon a small mount on the wall just above Magnum's bed, "I don't believe it..."

Before his very eyes stood the sword of Mr. Kansuke...The sword he kept in his dojo and bore with pride. He remembered how Mr. Kansuke always used to tell him and the other orphans tales of the samurai and ancient Japan passed down to him through countless generations of noble warriors. Now...Here it was...The relic that embodied everything that Mayhem had come to so greatly treasure.

Part of him grew only more enraged...For it proved that not only was Magnum behind the fire that destroyed the orphanage...He was also behind Mr. Kansuke's death. She and Dr. Essex had taken so much from him...Yet at the same time they had given him so much as well. But it was all lies...All deception. They lied to him and to the rest of his comrades...And now they sought to find the truth. Whether or not they would find what they were looking for was one matter...But as Vincent Freeman took the decorated sword in his hand...He knew he had one small piece of truth right here.

"Father Michaels...Mr. Kansuke..." he said to himself, knowing that somewhere out there, they could hear him, "This is for you..."

Back out with Omega Red, his confidence was growing as Mayhem didn't seem to arise as quickly from his latest blow. It was a sign to him that he was beginning to falter...A sign he couldn't help but laugh at in some ways because it showed just how much stronger he was when it came to the spirit of the warrior. And once he finished his job...He could finally go after his sweet Tsarina...And they could be together again, ruling the motherland as was their density.

"Come on out boy!" he taunted, his tentacles ready for the final round, "It's time to end this! No more taunting...No more obstructions...Just one more fight! One more to end it all and you shall finally have your precious answers!"

Then, as Omega Red was prepared to take down Mayhem once and for all, he heard a loud war cry coming from the hole that he had thrown him through. Immediately, Omega Red took his stance...But was in for a rude awakening as he saw a speeding Mayhem flying out of the hole, the sword of Mr. Kansuke now firmly in his hands.

Omega Red quickly went for what he hoped would be his death blow...But this time, Mayhem proved to be too fast and managed to narrowly avoid his attacks...Leaving him with one clear shot. And with his window open to him, Mayhem quickly took it...Speeding directly towards the Russian super soldier with his sword in hand. Then...In one quick, fluid motion...The young soldier plunged the sword directly into Omega Red's left eye...Instantly penetrating the soft flesh.

"Peak a boo motherfucker..." taunted Mayhem as Omega Red's body quickly tensed and his tentacles went limp.

"No..." he choked out.

But Mayhem didn't show any mercy towards the deadly super soldier as he twisted the sword in his eye socket...Causing the contents of his head to come flowing out. And then, with one more quick motion...He did the same to the other eye, plunging the sword right into the iris and penetrating directly into the contents of his head. Omega Red may have been a super soldier...But without his eyes, he was just freak show with a couple of tentacles for accessories.

"I'm not just a soldier..." he said to Omega Red as he stood victorious over him, "I am a warrior."

Then, as Omega Red's body fell to the ground, Mayhem put the shining sword back in it's case and hitched it over his back...Wanting to keep this sacred relic with him until the bitter end.

Then, as he stood over the unmoving form of the Russian super soldier, his comrades met up with him near the blown security barrier that led towards their final destination...Dr. Essex's lab. Naturally, the Scarlet Witch was quick to make her way to Mayhem, for she could see the conflicted look on his face after what Omega Red had told them. And as always...She was there for him.

"Mayhem..." she said as she found herself standing close to his warmth, running her hands upon is beautiful face, "Are you okay?"

Looking back at the woman who had given him so much hope in the past, Mayhem actually managed to smile. Even in this most darkest of moments...She could still get him to smile. That alone spoke volumes about how much she meant to him. And even though some, namely Wolverine, seemed inclined to comment about it...Cyclops, Phoenix, and X23 quickly dissuaded such things...For they knew all too well that this was something only they shared...And it was not their right to interrupt.

"I'll be okay..." said Mayhem, finding a great deal of strength in her gesture.

Just then, the rest of the X-men came running into the area, quickly drawing their attention as they all now stood poised to enter what was sure to be the final round of this most deadly of games.

"Wow...What happened here?" said Shadowcat as she looked around at the destruction all the fights had caused.

"Do you five do this to EVERY place you come across?" commented Psylocke.

"Comes with the job..." said Cyclops who now had Gauntlet's cybernetic eye in his hand, which he and Phoenix had cut out in order to ensure that he wouldn't be a problem.

"Yeah...Some job," muttered Gambit.

"Like we said before, this line of work is not for the faint of heart..." said Mayhem as he and his comrades now stood ready to storm the final corridor, "And trust me...What you've seen so far is just a prelude. Our final destination is just ahead of us..."

"Well then..." said Phoenix as the final path now lay opened to them, "Let's not keep Dr. Essex waiting."

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

AN: Ooh! It's getting so heated! Now that the mercs are out of the way, that leaves only one more foe to take care of...Dr. Essex. The stunning culmination of every conflict lies just up ahead and you won't want to miss it! The truth is there and just waiting for them! Will they like what they find? Or will it only make things worse? Stay tuned to find out as the world of Shadow Cell finally comes to ahead! So what do you all think? Has this story been a good read so far? I urge you all to tell me what you think! Send me your feedback directly via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I don't care which you do as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a lot for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!

STRIKE WHILE THE IRON'S HOT! REVIEW!!!
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