The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...
Chapter 46: Vengeance
With Shadow Cell and the X-men now separate, each team went about fulfilling their respective tasks. Their mission had taken a turn, for now that Rogue was safe and Sinister's machine was useless. That left only one more task...Destroy Shadow Cell HQ. They knew Sinister was probably still alive, but now he was on the run. He was no longer pulling all the strings. His plans were crumbling around him. And now they were about to go up in flames, courtesy of his own creations and the young team of mutants that he had so greatly underestimated.
Upon separating, Shadow Cell made their way deeper into the facility where the main power core resided while the X-men made their way back down the corridors they had come from. And since they had managed to fight their way through that area already, there were no GURSO soldiers to deal with this time around. The whole facility had been evacuated upon Asteroid M's appearance, so it looked like a high tech ghost town. But it wouldn't be that way for long...Not after they got through with it.
"This is where we part ways!" said Mystique as they once again found themselves in the hub just outside the lab area, "I have to get to the hangers on the north side! The rest of you keep going!"
"You sure you can handle this alone, Mystique?" said Wolverine as they all briefly stopped as the shape shifter took her share of the C4 and began making her way down one of the paths they hadn't gone through.
"Please, Wolverine..." she scoffed, "You don't spend years as an international mercenary without learning a thing or two about explosives. I'll be fine, just get my daughter out of here and make sure she's safe!"
It was still a bit weird hearing this woman, who had been one of the biggest enemies to the X-men since day one, show such great concern for her children...Then again, she had always been a bit of a mystery as her name implied. Now they were seeing a side to her the likes of which they had never thought she was capable of, nut after having fought alongside them to save Rogue, it was clear that there was more to this woman than the cold, embittered woman they had all known and fought against.
"Don't you be worryin' about Rogue, cherÃ¨..." assured Gambit, who still had the southern beauty securely in his arms, "We'll get her out."
"See to it that you do..." she said, her trusty Patriot still in hand as she prepared to make her leave, "Because I have every intension of seeing her again."
And with those final words, she was about to make her leave. But before she could go, Kurt stopped her.
"Mystique! Vait!" he said to his estranged mother whom he had only just begun to see in a new light.
Upon hearing the voice of her son, Mystique once again stopped to face him, for his desperate tone had once again brought out many of those long dormant maternal feelings that she was only beginning to truly experience.
"Thank you..." he told her, sounding not as just some other enemy on the opposite side of the spectrum, but as a son deeply grateful to see that the woman who gave him life truly did care more than he ever could have imagined.
His words definitely struck a chord with Mystique and for a moment, her stoic poise faded as her maternal instincts took over. Looking back at her son, she knew she had a lot to make up for. She hadn't been there for him or Rogue...She hadn't been the mother she should have been for them. Time and time again, she tried to do what she thought was best for them when in reality it only made things worse.
Now, after having jumped ship from Magneto, she knew her life was probably not going to last much longer, but none of that mattered now. All that mattered were her kids and the fact that she was finally there for them as she should have been. And that feeling alone was more than any triumph she had experienced in her long, complicated life.
"It's not over yet, my son," she told him in response, her usually cold tone faltering somewhat, "We still have a job to do. You have yours...I have mine. So let's finish what we started."
"Right..." said Nightcrawler, knowing that nothing was going to stop her now, "But promise me you'll come back to us."
"Don't worry Kurt...I promise," she affirmed, showing that she had no intentions of backing down.
And with that thought in mind, Mystique made her leave...Ready to fight through the depths of hell itself in order to once again see her kids and make up for everything wrong she did. But once she was out of sight, Kurt was still hesitant to leave, for he didn't want to just see his mother run off into the unknown, uncertain what she would face.
Even as the others began to make their way back down the corridors where they had come from, Kurt still lingered, looking back at the path where his mother had run off into, unsure of he would see her again.
"Kurt! Come on! We have to go!" yelled Angel, leading the group onward from the front.
"Yeah, don't worry about Mystique, luv," said Psylocke, "She can handle herself."
Despite those words, Kurt continued to linger. Part of him wanting to go after her to make sure that she was okay. But the more logical part of him told him to honor her wishes and stick with the group. It was clear that she wanted both him and Rogue out of this place, but that didn't make him worry any less about her.
"Kurt..." said another, more comforting voice from behind, "Come on...She'll be okay."
Turning around, Kurt was met with the crystal blue eyes of Kitty Pryde that he knew so well. Gently, she placed a hand upon his shoulder, lending to him what support she could, for she had always known the conflicting feelings Kurt had harbored about his mother...And now that she had risked her life and betrayed Magneto to help them, it would definitely had an even greater impact on him.
"Kitty..." he said, still unsure, "I just...I can just leave her to..."
"Hey, she made you a promise," she reminded him, "It's up to her whether or not she'll keep it. Just do what you always tell me to do...Have faith."
That actually got Kurt to smile a bit. Sometimes, even he needed to be reminded of his faith. And in times of such great stress, sometimes it just took the simple comfort of a close friend to make all the difference necessary to keep him going.
"Faith..." he repeated, taking Kitty's hand within his, "Yeah...Thanks Kitty."
"Anytime fuzzy," she said, smiling in return.
"Hey! You two!" yelled Wolverine from the group, "You can flirt later! Now, we gotta move!"
"Right Volverine," affirmed Kurt as he and Kitty started working to catch up with their friends, but not before taking care of one last little matter, "Ve'll finish this later, ja?"
"Definitely!" replied Kitty, who had every intention of doing so when the time finally came.
With the path before them open and unobstructed, they moved fast towards the loading area where they had arrived earlier. The point where the perimeter facilities met with the main structure would be the place where they would detonate the C4, maximizing the damage necessary to send this place crumbling to the ground. The vast majority of this particular side of the base was already very unstable from all the tremors caused by the battle with Asteroid M, so it wouldn't take much to deliver the final blow. And once they were in place, it was only a matter of making sure the explosives were put in the perfect spot.
"Over here!" said Wolverine as they all stood near the doorway that separated the main loading dock from the hub that led into the heart of the base, "This should do the trick. Wings, can ya get the charge on top of the doorway?"
"On it Wolverine," said Angel as he quickly took to the air and placed the C4 right above the entrance.
"So how long do we have before this place goes up in flames?" asked Psylocke, already eager to get out of this place.
"These things are synchronized," said Wolverine as Angel flew back down and landed right besides them, "They'll only go into affect after the other two charges are in place. After that, we'll have just one minute to get as far away from this place as possible."
"Well the red light was on when I placed the charge, so chances are neither Mystique or Shadow Cell has placed theirs yet," said Angel.
"Good...Then that leaves us plenty of time to get clear," said Storm, feeling as though they had been here long enough anyways, "It seems as though they have already evacuated this place, so we should probably..."
Then suddenly, before the former weather goddess could finish her sentence, she was cut off by the sound of a deep groan coming from the still weakened body of Rogue. Gambit was now feeling her move in his arms, feeling as though she was returning to the conscious world.
"Rogue?" said Gambit, cradling her head with one hand as she continued to stir out of her dazed state.
Upon hearing that familiar voice, Rogue knew she was no longer in the nightmare that had been that glass prison. Her memory was still very sketchy about what had happened, but upon hearing the voice of the man who so often managed to get under her skin more than anybody else, such details seemed all but irrelevant.
"Remy?" she said softly as she opened her eyes and saw the blurry vision of a handsome Cajun looking back down on her with those alluring red on black eyes.
"It's okay, cherÃ¨...Gambit's got ya," he said with a smile, letting her know that this was real and not just some dream.
As everybody crowded around her, it all began to come back to her. She remembered Magnum grabbing her and knocking her out...She remembered waking up feeling dazed and disoriented...And she remembered looking into the eyes of a cold, sinister looking man as he put her in some strange tank and feeling everything around her fade to black. The details were still a bit sketchy, but she was free now. She was no longer at the mercy of whoever that insidious man was.
Then, something else dawned on her...Something she remembered vaguely after having been freed from the bio tube. And as soon as it hit her, her strength came rushing back to her as a new sense of urgency overtook her.
"Mystique!" she said as she began to struggle her way out of Remy's arms, "Remy, where's Mystique?!"
"Mystique?" said Angel with a curious tone, for it almost sounded as though she was concerned about her when he thought she hated that woman with a passion, "What are you..."
"She was here!" she said, struggling to regain her balance, "Where is she?!"
"Wow, like, calm down Rogue!" urged Shadowcat, thinking that it probably wasn't healthy for her to get so worked up after having just regained full consciousness, "You're still a bit woozy from..."
"Ah'm fine, damn it!" she said, shaking off the support that Kurt and Remy were giving her to help her stand, "Just tell meh where Mystique is!"
"We separated..." said Storm in a calm tone, seeing that Rogue was starting to get a little hysterical for some reason, "We had to separate in order to plant explosives so we could destroy this awful place. And Mystique went off to plant some near the air hanger, but she said that..."
"Ya mean ya let her go, just like that?!" she exclaimed, sounding short of breath, "We gotta go back and get her!"
"Vhat?!" said Nightcrawler in a shocked tone, keeping one hand on her shoulder, for he was still weary about her state, "Rogue, you're in no condition to..."
"Ah'm fine, okay?!" she shot in response, shaking herself free of his grip even though she was still a bit wobbly, "But Ah'm not leavin' this place until we go back and get Mystique!"
"Rogue, didn't ya just hear what we said?!" exclaimed Wolverine, "This place is gonna be wired to blow! We have to get out of here as soon as..."
But Rogue didn't even wait for him to finish, for she wasn't leaving this hell hole without Mystique. She had too many questions that only she could answers.
"Fine! If y'all are gonna go, then Ah'll stay and find her myself!" she shot as she quickly broke away from Kurt and Remy and ran back down the hall they had come from with a renewed surged of strength.
"CherÃ¨! Wait!" yelled Gambit, who tried to go after her, only to be held back by Angel.
"Rogue!" yelled Kurt as he too began to go after her, "Rogue, vait for me!"
Kurt was still limping from his ankle, but he set that aside as he fought to catch up with his sister. They dashed back through the unstable corridor that they had come from.
"Kurt!" yelled Kitty, who started to go after Kurt as well, only to be restrained by Psylocke.
Then suddenly, the ceiling over the corridor gave way as the already weakened structure began to succumb to all the damage it had sustained under the attack from Asteroid M. Now, Kurt and Rogue were separated from the others by a barrier of debris. But that didn't stop Kitty from trying, knowing she could just phase through it. Yet still, Pyslocke held her back.
"Wow! Hold on there luv!" said Betsy as she and Angel held back Gambit and Shadowcat, "We don't need any more people running off!"
"But we can't just leave dem!" shot Gambit in response, trying to shake himself free from Angel's grip.
"She's right, Gumbo..." said Wolverine, who had to help Angel restrain the Cajun from breaking free, "We don't have time and we can't risk it! Besides, Mystique is their mother. This is their fight."
"But Mr. Logan!" exclaimed Kitty, "We can't just..."
"No..." said Wolverine as he looked back towards where Kurt and Rogue had run off to, "We have to get out of here. Kurt and Rogue still have something to take care of and if we go after them we'd just be putting more of us at risk! It's a family matter and they're the ones that have to handle this. It's personal...And trust me, it's best not to get involved with personal matters."
Even though they still wanted to go after them, they could not deny the truth in Logan's words. There was clearly more to this than they understood. Wolverine understood personal vendettas better than most people and he was well aware that if they got involved, it would only further complicate things. Besides, Kurt and Rogue were tough and they could take care of themselves. But what stuck out most about their actions was the underlying attitude Rogue had towards Mystique.
It was as if Rogue had remembered something she hadn't remembered before...Otherwise there was no way she would have gone back to risk her life for Mystique. There hadn't been any time for her to explain it, but it was clear to them that something was different. They just had no idea of knowing what it was.
Finally, Shadowcat and Gambit stopped struggling and conceded to Kurt and Rogue's wishes. This didn't stop them from worrying, but there was little more they could do at this point.
"Rogue..." said Gambit as if he could speak to her through the distance.
"She'll be okay, luv," said Psylocke confidently, knowing both Kurt and Rogue knew how to handle themselves.
"Yeah, Logan's right...This is something they have to handle," added Angel, "But for us, we have to get out of here and get the jet ready!"
As much as Gambit hated to admit it, he knew that by going after Rogue, it would only further complicate matters. This truly was something that he could not help her with. This was something only she and Kurt could handle. He only hoped that she would be okay, for he didn't want to lose her again. There was still so much he wanted to tell her and after having nearly lost her already, he was bent on letting her know when this was all over. And hopefully, he would get his chance.
For Kitty, she had reached the same unavoidable conclusion. Mystique was their mother and this was their fight. It didn't make her worry any less about her friends, but it stop her from going after them...Which probably wouldn't help matters in the slightest. She was deeply concerned for Kurt, but she was willing to let him do this and she had no right to stop him. She just hoped he would be okay and he would still be there to make her laugh in the end.
"Come on, you two! Let's go!" said Wolverine as Shadowcat and Gambit finally managed to tear themselves away from where Kurt and Rogue had disappeared into.
"Right!" said Gambit, once again regaining his confident poise, "Let's get de hell out o' dis place."
"Don't need to tell me twice!" said Shadowcat as she quickly caught up with the others.
And with one charge in place, the X-men had done their part. Now it was up to Mystique and Shadow Cell to do their part as well. Their thoughts were still on Kurt and Rogue, but they had a feeling that they knew what they were doing in going after their mother. But they knew that nothing was going to stop them from finding her. They had a lot to make up for together and they weren't about to let it go up in flames because of this heinous organization. It was only a matter of getting to her before it was too late.
Several more scattered GURSO soldiers fell as a result of yet another round of well placed shots from the trusty Patriot of Mystique. There had been less resistance than she had originally expected, but that was just fine with her since it would make her job a lot easier. With the Colonel dead and the base in chaos, the small remnants of the GURSO unit were so disorganized that they no longer presented much of a threat. Many of the officers, soldiers, and scientists who resided within the base had already fled while only the foolish stuck around. This left the shape shifter free to carry out her final task and she had every intention of seeing it through and reuniting with her children once more.
Once she finally made it to the central aircraft hanger where the main entrance to the control tower resided, she was met with a deserted facility. Normally, this place would be bustling with activity, but not this time. And once Mystique was through with it, this heinous place would never be active again.
"Payback's a bitch, Sinister..." said Mystique as she placed the C4 at the base of the control tower entrance hatch, making sure it was in the exact spot it needed to be in order to bring the whole structure down, "This is what you get for messing with my kids."
Once she made sure the explosives were secure, she activated the sensor. And much to her relief, it hadn't synchronized with the other two charges yet, indicating that the others hadn't planted theirs, giving her plenty of time to make her escape. With one final check, everything looked ready. Her job was done here...Now it was simply a matter of letting the others do theirs.
"Now to get back to Kurt and Rogue," she said as she prepared to make her leave.
Then suddenly, something stopped her cold in her tracks.
The former mercenary and skilled shape shifter quickly froze in place, firmly gripping her Patriot and scanning the area. While her senses told her nothing was there...Her instincts said otherwise. She had been in the mercenary game long enough to know how it felt to be right in the crosshairs of a gun...And right now, it was clear to her that she was not alone.
Then, out of the shadows from behind several oversized crates, the stoic Russian mercenary known as Magnum stepped out...Her trusty 44 caliber gun that she so eloquently named herself after pointed directly at the head of the shape shifter. Under normal circumstances, she would have pulled the trigger right then and there...But not this time.
That moment would come soon enough. But first, there was something personal to take care of...Something she had been waiting many years to confront.
"Raven...Darkholme!" she said in her thick Russian accent, her tone brimming with utmost hatred.
"And you must be Magnum," said Mystique, not moving an inch, knowing full well that any sudden movement could earn her a paralyzing shot, "Nice name for a gun toting psycho."
"I could say the same for you...Mystique! But I'm not going to..." she said as she made her way closer and closer to where the shape shifter was standing, her gun still aimed directly at her head.
Mystique could only see her out of the corner of her eye, but near as she could tell, this woman was quite pissed. But that wasn't what was bothering her, for she was used to meeting people like that. What was really bothering her was this undeniable feeling she felt within her that said she knew this woman. She wasn't sure where or when, but the moment she saw her during their first encounter, something clicked within her mind...And for good reason.
Magnum had waited for this moment for many years and she could tell that the shape shifter had some vague idea of who she was, but as she suspected, she didn't remember the full story. However, that was something she intended to fully remind her of before she ended her pathetic life.
"Aren't you going to pull the trigger?" said Mystique as she watched Magnum inch her way closer and closer until she was less than eight feet away from her, "I took you for the kind of killer who wouldn't hesitate."
"Keep talking...It won't do you any good," said the Russian killer angrily, "I know how you operate Darkholme...I know what you've done. When you're in this position, you usually try to outthink your opponent, talking and preaching to them in an effort to confuse and disorient them. Then you make your move...Which usually ends in yet another dead body. Well guess what? That's NOT going to work with me!"
"Then why am I still breathing?" said Mystique, staying completely still, knowing there had to be more to this, "If I can't psyche you out...The least you could do is tell me why."
The Russian born killer was silent for a moment, but her expression was still wrought with hatred. She so desperately wanted to pull the trigger and end it right here, but she wanted this bitch to know who she was dealing with...She wanted her to know before she sent her to hell where she belonged.
Slowly, Magnum reached up and removed her sunglasses, giving the shape shifter a rare view of the eyes she so often kept hidden from the rest of the world. Normally, she would wear her sunglasses so nobody could see what she was thinking, but in this one instance, she was willing to make an exception.
"Look into my eyes Raven..." she said as she walked around so she could directly face the shape shifter, "Can you see it in my eyes? The hatred I bear for your pathetic soul! Deep down, you know you have seen this face before. You know our paths have crossed in the distant past."
Mystique couldn't quite ascertain what she was implyiny, but deep down, she couldn't deny the truth in this woman's words. Looking into her dark brown eyes, she saw nothing but raw unbridled hatred. But beyond that, she saw something that looked...Familiar. She knew it was there...She just couldn't quite remember.
"Who are you?" said the shape shifter, suddenly feeling a burning need to know as she looked back into the hate filled eyes of the Russian born mercenary.
Magnum firmly gripped her gun, gritting her teeth in raw anger as she looked back into the yellow eyes of the woman who she so desperately wanted to kill. It wasn't surprising to her that she didn't remember given her history. But thankfully, the Russian killer was more than happy to jar her memory.
"Twenty years ago, Raven...Twenty years, four months, eighteen days, six hours, and forty three minutes ago..." she told her with rage in her eyes, "Do you not remember that moment? Do you not remember that day? It may be just a faded memory for you...But I remember it so clearly I can still smell it. Every sight, every sound, every smell within the air...It's so clear to me that I can practically relive it in it's entirety at any given moment."
"You've officially lost me," said Mystique, already beginning to feel a bit uneasy with just how thorough this woman kept up with the flow of time, meaning it must have been something major.
Magnum let out an angry grunt, frustrated that this blue skinned bitch couldn't recall that which had haunted her so all these years. But she would know soon enough, for the Russian born killer knew the only thing she needed to rekindle that memory that hung so clearly in her mind was a simple name...A name that meant more to her than anybody could ever contemplate.
"Sergi...Gregori...Noriscovitch!" she said sternly, the words dripping from her mouth like venom, "Does that name not ring a bell?"
"Sergi Noriscovitch..." said Mystique, saying that name as if it were a spiritual revelation.
Suddenly, it all came rushing back to her...That day twenty years ago. She never thought she would have to relive it again. Yet here she was, standing in the presence of probably the only person on the face of the planet who understood that moment in the same manner as her.
"So you do remember..." she said in an ice cold tone as she watched the look of shock on the shape shifter's face, "You remember that day. Sergi Noriscovitch...Also known as the Kingpin of the Russian mafia! In the days of the crumbling Soviet empire, he ruled the free underworld with an iron fist in one hand and a velvet glove in the other. Arms, drugs, extortion, prostitution...He practically ran it all with fairness and efficiency. He alone flew in the face of the corrupt Soviet government. He alone created an isle of freedom in the Russian underworld...Isolated from Communist oppression."
"That's one way of looking at it..." grunted Mystique, knowing all too well who she was talking about, "Another way is he was also a madman, a lunatic, and a blood thirsty psychopath who killed more people than the old Soviet government ever could have managed! He killed thousands...Probably millions with his greed! He was a monster...One no different than the Communist government he hated!"
"SHUT UP!" yelled Magnum in response, firmly gripping the trigger of her 44 caliber, wanting so badly to blow her away for that, "Sergi was a true Russian! A soldier of the Motherland who sought to save it from oppression and oblivion! He killed only those who deserved to die! The criminal underworld was strong, organized, and efficient under his guidance. With all the money he made from the crime that he controlled...He brought many out of poverty, protected the weak from the corruptions of the state, and kept in balance the fragile power structure that could have left the world engulfed in am atomic fallout. But most importantly...He was my father."
That alone caused Mystique's heart to skip a beat. Sergi Noriscovitch was a name she hoped would never hear again. It was a name that still brought fear amongst Russians of every kind. But now, here she was...Standing in the presence of the devil's offspring...And all she could do was gasp.
"Oh my..." she began as she looked back into the stoic woman's eyes, seeing the same darkness within them as she had within Sergi.
"Yes...I can see it's all coming back to you. You remember Sergi...You remember the little girl who he trained and nurtured to follow in his footsteps...And you remember how it all came crashing down that day twenty years ago on that cold, January night."
Once again, the memory played out in the stoic Russian's mind, still as vivid as the moment it happened. Only this time, she wasn't the only one...This time, Mystique knew as well. It was a memory she had tried to forget, but Magnum wouldn't allow that. She wanted her to remember every little detail before she finally met her doom.
"It was the biggest deal in the history of the Russian mob..." she said as she recalled the details of that fateful, snowy night, "The forces of American, Russian, Sicilian, and Columbian mafia were to meet together for a record exchange. And part of that exchange were plans for nuclear weapons, advanced assault rifles, and a new breed of explosives that would have flooded each participant with an ocean of money. I was eighteen at the time and I had just completed my training with the KGB and Soviet Special forces. And to celebrate, my father allowed me to accompany him. I remember standing right by his side as he shook hands with the kingpins and godfathers of crime. He worked his skills like a magician, negotiating a deal that would have secured the Russian mafia's place for many years to come. But unfortunately, there was but one little bug in the plan...One insignificant little pest that destroyed it all!"
"That would be me..." said Mystique, not allowing her to finish, for she could take it from here, "Yes...I remember now. That deal was seven years in the making and it was going to cement a global criminal empire that would have bathed every nation in blood. And for a few small time militias in Siberia and Eastern Europe, it was something they couldn't allow. So they pooled their resources together and hired the top mercenary at the time to stop the deal. And twenty years ago, the number one mercenary in all of Central and Eastern Europe was me."
This once again caused Magnum to let out an angry grunt, for that memory was one of the few things that could shake her usually cold, stoic demeanor. No amount of rage could ever match what she felt at this moment...No amount of hatred could ever equate towards how she felt towards this woman. And on her father's grave, she was going to end it here.
"It was an act that destroyed everything!" growled Magnum, now holding the gun a mere couple of inches from the shape shifter's forehead, "Everything was in place! Everything was set to end right then and there! Each party had what they wanted and each party was satisfied with the terms. Then...A single shot rang out from a PSG1 long range sniper rifle with a mounted infrared tactical scope, hitting my father directly in the forehead. His brains...Fell right...In my hands!"
The sound of that shot rang clearly in the Russian born mercenary's head as if it had just happened a moment ago. It had echoed all throughout the area, forever searing itself into her memory. Mystique could tell that it really did affect her. Her breathing became more ragged, her hands were literally shaking as she firmly gripped her gun, and she was gritting her teeth in raw anger. The feeling of her father's blood splattering onto her face and body was still so vivid, like stains that could never be washed away. But she wasn't done yet.
"From that one shot...Everything fell apart. My people thought it was a double cross...Their people thought it was a double cross. Everybody suspected everybody. There was no time for questions...Only time for actions. I tried to get my father out of there, but he was already dead. I was armed with nothing more than the gun you now see before you and I managed to hold my ground for a short while. But each group had brought too many soldiers and wielded too much firepower. It was not a battle...It was a slaughter. Each side lost their leaders, their associates, their elite guards...Everything. I tried to hold things together, but my youth was my weakness. I took seven bullets that day...Seven bullets that tore through my body. Without my father, I was left for dead...My corpse thrown into the icy waters of the Volga River. Only...I wasn't dead."
Before Mystique's eyes stood the lone survivor of that fateful night...Before her eyes stood the little blonde haired girl standing by her father's side as he carried out a deal that would have secured them all in terms of funds and alliances indefinitely. It was a scene from her darkest nightmares. Olivia Noriscovitch...The daughter of the Russian Kingpin...Was standing here right before her very eyes.
"I just barely survived that night," she went on, her voice shifting back towards her usual stoic demeanor, "My body was wounded, but wounds can heal. No amount of time or treatment could ever mend the scar upon my soul and my honor! And from that moment on...I truly was dead in every sense of the word. My father was dead, the livelihood he created was in ruin, and I was alone. I tried to reorganize the Russian mob to it's former glory, but with the death of my father, there was no more honor among those who were driven only by greed. And it was from that moment on that I forever broke away from the underworld that had spawned me. It was from that moment that Olivia Noriscovitch truly died...And Magnum was born."
It was a story that Mystique never thought she'd hear again. But now, as she looked back into the hate filled eyes of the woman that had fought so hard for this day, it all made sense now. The link in their pasts was clear to her now. The lone survivor of that one deal was right there before her. The final piece of that fateful moment had come back to haunt her twenty years later. And Magnum had every intention of rectifying that which had been done to her and he father all those years ago.
"So you became a mercenary..." finished Mystique, "Just like the one who killed your father, you became a murderer for hire."
"Indeed...And even as the daughter of a Russian kingpin, I couldn't bring the empire my father built back to it's former glory. Honor had been lost among the criminal underworld, replaced by greed and apathy. My father always taught me that honor, loyalty, and strength, be it in crime or combat, mattered most. I sought to carry on those ideas, so I became a soldier. I filled my body with the best chemical steroids that the black market could muster, I trained religiously, traveling abroad and perfecting CQC, and most importantly. I carried on the fight my father began, working to weed out those without honor be they in the world of crime or otherwise."
"And yet here you are working for Sinister...Paying the price for your actions."
Such words stung the Russian born killer more than she was wiling to let on, but unknown to Mystique, there was more to it than that.
"Don't judge things you don't understand, Mystique. Unlike you, I cannot pass my legacy on to a new generation. I cannot bear the offspring to carry on the unending battle. Twenty years of fighting is twenty years too long. And from what I've seen...From what I've experienced...I've come to realize just how sick this planet is!"
"And you think that gives you a right to destroy it?!" shot Mystique, keeping the Russian born killer on edge, "You lost your ability to reproduce, so you decide to shack up with some psycho because he can give you what you yourself threw away?!"
Such words were seriously trying Magnum's patience. She was so close...So incredibly close to avenging her father and regaining the honor she had lost that day. Yet still, she wanted this woman to know the truth before it finally came to and end...She wanted to know just who it was she was dealing with.
"No...There's more to this than my legacy. Those five mutants...Those perfect genetic marvels that my blood helped create...Are already a testament to my genes. It is only through their evolution that my legacy will truly live on forever. Once they become the dominant species...They, along with their descendents, shall carry my genes on through each passing generation. And through this, I will have truly left my mark upon the world...I will have left something behind after I follow my father towards my rightful place. That's why I joined Sinister...That's why I helped him. It wasn't merely to see my legacy passed on...It was to cement it onto the next dominant species that will finally wipe out all the corrupt filth of humanity that has consumed the world."
"Well I've got news for you, Noriscovitch..." said Mystique confidently as she looked back down the barrel of Magnum's 44 caliber without fear, "Sinister's plans have been terminated!"
"Oh, but that's where you're wrong, Darkholme," grunted Magnum in response, "You see, he has already given me part of what I wanted. He put my genes into my students. And in return, I gave him unyielding loyalty. And through that loyalty, he let me in on his little secret..."
"Secret? What secret?" said Mystique, quickly becoming confused.
"He is immortal...He can never be stopped. Even if you stop him today, that won't hinder his plans...It will only delay them. And as long as he's alive, he'll keep working towards his goals."
"And I take it you'll keep helping him?" scoffed Mystique, finding it somewhat insulting that this woman considered herself honorable.
"That's where you're wrong, Mystique..." said Magnum in response, much to the shape shifter's surprise, "I only helped him because he gave me something in return. And since he's already given me exactly what I wanted, our deal is complete. Now, it's up to him to keep up with his own plans and since he's immortal, it's only a matter of time."
"No. You're wrong!" said Mystique, knowing from what she saw earlier that Sinister was far from immortal, "Just because that freak told you he couldn't die doesn't make it true. He may be strong, but he's still mortal...And he CAN die."
"Oh please...Do you think that matters to me?"
"What?!" said Mystique, once again shocked by this woman's turn of words.
"Even if what you say is true, there is only one force capable of stopping him...My students. If they destroy him, my genes continue to live on in them. If he destroys them, Sinister will just use my genes to create more advanced beings. Either way...I win."
It was a true testament to this woman's madness. Mystique knew she was no poster child for sanity herself, but even by her standards this woman was sick. She was willing to help a madman wipe out humanity just so she could pass on her legacy. She foolishly destroyed her ability to have children...And now she was willing to destroy so much more in order to make up for it. And for that reason, Mystique could only think of one thing to say to this woman.
"You're crazy!" she said with raw venom in her tone, "Your fucking crazy!"
Magnum just let out an unaffected scoff. Coming from this woman, those words hardly meant anything to her. It was all a matter of relativity to her. This was what she had been working for and she was not about to let this shape shifting bitch stand in her way. She owed her father that much...And now she was finally ready to finish the job.
"Crazy or not...This is the end, Mystique!" she said, firmly gripping her gun in preparation for the final blow, "I got what I want from Sinister and now it's all on him. But my legacy isn't the only reason I chose to follow him. In fact...It's only half the reason."
"Oh really? Then what's the other half?"
"You..." she answered coldly, "I captured your daughter...I brought you here...And now I can finally make you pay for what you've done. And honestly, of all the things I've done, NOTHING felt better than making you feel the pain of your seed in harms way! For twenty years, I vowed to find the one responsible for my father's death and the destruction of the world I held so dear. Now, at long last I can finally finish what should have been done years ago. And once I'm through with you, I'm going to have a hell of a time working on those kids of yours!"
That did it for Mystique. Those were the words that sent her over the edge. Even by her standards, this woman was a monster. By all accounts, she should have died with her devil of a father twenty years ago. And now here she was threatening her children. For Raven Darkholme, threatening her was something she could take...Hell, she was used it almost. But threatening her children was going too far...And she would NOT allow this psycho bitch to hurt them.
"NO!" she yelled as she sprang into action.
With reflexes almost too quick to be human, Mystique managed to duck below the sights of Magnum's gun and deliver a firm punch to her extended hand, effectively disarming her of her beloved weapon. The adrenaline surge from the mention of her kids drove her speed as Magnum still managed to get one shot off before she lost her gun, which was all she really needed in her mind. Unfortunately, this fateful shot missed and Mystique wasted no time in making the first move.
Mystique then tried to fire at her with her Patriot, but Magnum quickly knocked that out of her hands as well with a quick disarmament move, leaving the shape shifter with only her bare hands to fight this gun wielding super assassin. But in her mind, that's all she needed.
"Eraahhh! Nobody threatens my kids and gets away with it! Especially not some bitch who should have died twenty years ago!" she spat as she unloaded a barrage of punch combos and heavy kicks upon the powerful Russian mercenary.
Mystique's sudden rage did not surprise Magnum, for she had a feeling that the shape shifter would probably react upon the mention of her children. Her willingness to fight alongside the X-men to save her daughter was evidence enough of that. And even though she missed the shot that should have ended it all, she was quick to counter each one of her moves with effective counters while the shape shifter quickly wore herself down.
"You'll have to do better than that, shape shifter!" taunted Magnum as Mystique quickly wore herself to the point of exhaustion, leaving her more vulnerable to the Russian mercenary's tactics.
"Fuck you!" yelled Mystique in response as she attempted to land a decisive blow upon her face.
However, Magnum saw this coming and was quick to counter.
"Bad move bitch!" she said as she managed to quickly grab her arm and pull her into a grapple.
Immediately, Mystique tried to break it, but was quick to learn just how strong Magnum was on a physical level. In her rage, she had briefly forgotten that this woman had pumped herself full of ever conceivable steroid on the black market. Trying to overpower her was like trying to overpower over twenty men and Magnum was quick to let her know as she easily pushed back, causing Mystique to keel over onto the floor, causing a few bones to crack in the process.
"Errrrr!" grunted Mystique in pain as she felt the sting of the Russian assassin's grip on her arms.
Her vain struggle only made Magnum grin as she watched her face twitch in pain. She was definitely going to enjoy this...And if her father was watching from somewhere beyond the grave, she had a feeling he would as well.
"Time to die, Darkholme!" growled Magnum as she hit Mystique's arm with one of her knees, bending it in the wrong direction.
"Ahhhhh!" she yelled, feeling the sting through her body as she was then drop kicked onto the ground.
Then, with her spare guns in hand, Magnum now had two shots to finish the job...When in her mind, she only needed one. Mystique was grasping her dislocated arm in pain, trying hard not to focus on it. She knew from years of experience that when injured in the middle of a fight, it was not wise to focus on bodily pain for any period of time. There was plenty of time so suffer afterwards, but during a battle...Pain took a back seat to victory.
"As you once so eloquently put it...Payback's a bitch!" said Magnum as she pointed her guns directly at the head of the blue skinned shape shifter.
"Yeah...And so am I!" muttered Mystique as she quickly sprang into action, setting aside her pain and forcing herself up off the ground in order to effectively counter.
Magnum was about to fire off her shots, but this time Mystique got to her before she could and kicked one gun out with her foot while using her good arm to effectively disarm her other by dislodging the trigger and feeding mechanism. It was a move that merely frustrated Magnum, for this woman was proving to be quite meddlesome. But then again she had a feeling that this woman would be no pushover.
"Come on, Noriscovitch! Fight like a soldier!" grunted Mystique, still grasping her arm as she stood before the unarmed Russian mercenary.
Then, much to Magnum's dismay, Mystique finally managed to bend her arm back in the right direction. And thanks to her shape shifting abilities, it was still good enough to fight with, despite some lingering sting. But no matter what her state, Magnum was determined to see her fall...Even if she had to do it with her bare hands.
"Let's end this!" grunted Magnum as she launched her attack.
This time, it was Mystique's turn to go on the defensive as she was force to block a barrage of punch combos mixed with effective grabs and skeletal manipulation techniques that were common with CQC. Such skill was difficult for the shape shifter to avoid and she sustained numerous blows as a result, taking a foot to the gut and several punches to the face.
"You're losing your edge, Mystique!" grunted Magnum as she landed several more blows to the face and torso.
"Erah! Lose this!" grunted the shape shifter as she managed to counter one of her kicks with an effective roundhouse to the face.
This caused Magnum to fall back slightly and gave Mystique the opportunity to go on the offensive. And despite the pain from Magnum's powerful blows and the lingering sting of her skeletal manipulation, she fought on with great determination. Yet still, she only managed to land minimal blows to the angry Russian mercenary, striking at her face in an effort to disorient her since the rest of her body was too hard and strong. But Magnum showed she had very quick reflexes that were pretty much on par with hers, causing her to once again wear herself down.
Eventually, the blows Mystique had suffered caught up with her and she began panting for air, which was a good sign for Magnum and a clear indicator that it was time to make her move.
"Face it bitch...You can't beat me!" said Magnum, with only a small hint of blood on her lip.
"Shut up!" spat Mystique in response, whose face and body looked quite a bit more mangled as a result of all the blows she suffered, "You're good...But you still have all your father's faults."
"Oh don't be so sure about that..." said Magnum with a grin.
Then, seeing her chance to make a decisive move, Magnum lunged at her with a powerful punch. Mystique instinctively blocked this, but Magnum had anticipated this and used the split second she had to land a devastating targeted kick to the torso which sent the shape shifter flying back up against the crate, effectively knocking the wind out of her lungs.
Trying to get the air moving in her lungs again, Mystique struggled in gasps. But this was all Magnum needed as she prepared to make her final move. However, before she ended this long overdue fight, she quickly made her way over towards the area where the fight had began and picked up her beloved 44 caliber, wanting to have this with her when she finally succeeded.
"My father may have had his shortcomings..." said Magnum as she did a few gun slinging tricks while making her way over to the downed shape shifter, "But unlike him, I have had time to learn from them. In all my years as a mercenary and a soldier, I've come to see the darkest side of humanity."
Mystique tried to get up as she got closer, but her head kindly reminded her just how devastating Magnum's blows were as she was hit with a sudden bout of light headedness. Magnum seemed to notice this and only grinned at her predicament, for her suffering was merely the icing on the cake. And after what Mystique put her through...She deserved far worse.
"The human race, in all its majesty, is still too flawed for it's own good..." said Magnum as she placed her trusty gun back into her main holster as she neared the struggling shape shifter, "And as time has gone on, I've seen just how fast mankind is devolving. Greed...Apathy...Hatred...They fester and grow like scars. The world itself is ailing, all because mankind cannot accept peace. The human mind is ignorant, stupid, and undeserving of the gifts that evolution has presented them. Only with Sinister's plans will this world attain a new golden age...And only through evolution will the suffering of this world finally end. And as a soldier, I plan on seeing it through even if takes the lives of every last ignorant fool on the face of the planet!"
Mystique tried to get up and fight back, but this time she was too weak. This time, Magnum wouldn't give her the chance. With one swift move, the super strong Russian assassin grabbed the neck of the blue skinned shape shifter and lifted her up off the ground, pinning her against the crate while she began to struggle for air.
"We're both soldiers, Raven..." she said as she watched the shape shifter struggle and choke, quickly becoming weaker and weaker by the second, "We have our causes...We have our ideas that we fight for. We're both professionals. But this...This is personal!"
"Augh!" choked Mystique, feeling her world start to spin as she tried to break free from the iron grip of Magnum, but to no avail, "No..."
"Yes!" said Magnum with a grin, feeling so close to victory as she felt Mystique's movements become increasingly weak, "Your time is up, bitch! With you dead, I will forever be known as the greatest mercenary of all time! The honor of my father and the Russian Motherland must be forever avenged!"
Mystique was nearing her final gasps. She couldn't hold out much longer against this woman...She couldn't talk, breathe, or even fight back. Every limb began to grow weak as the world around her began to spin, yet the blaring hatred in the eyes of the angry Russian mercenary remained clear and Magnum wanted them to be the last thing she saw before she sent her to hell where she belonged.
"It's over, Mystique...Now you die!"
Then suddenly, a deafening shot rang out over the tense ambience of the moment...Quickly shaking Magnum out of her triumphant mindset as her grip slightly loosened in response. The bullet had passed right by her, impacting the crate and leaving her unscathed. This allowed Magnum's mind to quickly trace the path of the bullet. However, once she saw the source of the shot, her concerns were quickly set at ease...For it seemed as though her luck just got better.
"Put...Her...DOWN!" yelled a still shaky Rogue, holding in her hand the Patriot that Mystique had been carrying earlier.
Magnum merely let out a scoff as she saw the young woman that she had kidnapped earlier standing a mere twenty feet from her, aiming the powerful gun directly at her head. Standing right by her was Kurt, the fuzzy blue son of Mystique who shared his sister's determined glance as they both saw their mother in peril.
Yet despite their presence, Magnum did not seem at all threatened as she let go of Mystique's neck and let her fall limply to the ground, knowing she could deal with her later. And besides, it was only fitting that she be alive when she killed her family in the same way she had killed her father.
"Well, well, well...The bitch's seed finally decides to show up," taunted Magnum as she casually made her way over towards the two younger mutants.
"Step back! Ah'm warnin' you! Ah'll shoot you, Ah swear!" yelled Rogue in response, her hands shaking as she firmly held the Patriot with both hands.
"Really? Then why did you miss that first shot?" said Magnum, not slowing down in the slightest, causing both Kurt and Rogue to take a step back.
"It...It was a warning!" stammered Rogue, her hands continuing to shake as she kept the gun aimed at the approaching mercenary.
"Was it?" questioned Magnum, looking back into the young eyes of Mystique's children with the same unbridled rage and hatred as she had looked at her earlier, "Well if that was a warning, then I choose not to heed it...Because I'm going to keep walking."
"No! Stay back! Leave our mother alone!" shot Kurt, staying close to Rogue as the Russian born assassin continued to get closer and closer.
"Do you really think you can pull the trigger? Do you really have what it takes to kill another human being? Can you handle it? Are you really willing to become a killer? All for some blue skinned bitch who probably has done nothing but fill you head with lies?"
Magnum's psychological taunting seemed to have the desired affect as her words struck deep with both Kurt and Rogue. Neither of them wanted this woman to hurt their mother. Yet at the same time, they just weren't willing to kill in the same way she was. They were X-men and X-men don't kill. It was a fact Magnum seemed all too aware of as she got closer and closer.
"No! Don't come any closer!" yelled Rogue, her hands still shaking.
"Too late, girl!" said Magnum in an ominous tone as she sprang into action.
Using her super quick reflexes, Magnum lunged forth and kicked the Patriot right out of her hand. And before Rogue could even get a chance to react, Magnum hit her with a double roundhouse kick, knocking her off to the side and sending her falling to the floor.
"ROGUE!" yelled Kurt as he quickly tried to go to his sister's aid, but his temporary lapse proved to be a costly mistake.
"I don't think so demon boy!" yelled Magnum as she used her limitless CQC skill and delivered a powerful two punch combo to Kurt's stomach and face before grabbing his throat with her hands, locking him in the same choking hold as he had done with Mystique.
Kurt quickly began to struggle and choke, trying to break free of Magnum's unflinching grip, but it the Russian born killer wasn't about to take any chances with this one. As the biological son to the woman who killed her father, she would NOT let him go. He would die by her hands, right in front of his mother. It was the perfect payback...The perfect revenge...An eye for an eye...A life for a life. And it was all going to end here.
"Ack! Can't...Breathe!" choked Kurt, his lungs crying for air.
"You've taken your last gasp, boy!" growled Magnum, feeling poised for ultimate triumph, "The sins of the mother shall be paid with the blood of her children. I'll see to it that you burn in hell with her! I'll see to it that my honor is avenged!"
"Nn...No!" gasped Kurt, his world starting to spin as Magnum looked back into his yellow eyes with raw hatred.
"Yes! Can you feel it? The sound...The taste...The smell of death? I caught a whiff of it once and let me tell you...It bears a stench the likes of which no words could ever describe! Now, it's time for you to feel it as well. The time has come for you to pay for the blood that flows within your veins! The time has come for you to DIE!"
Then, with one hand still grasping the neck of the young man before her, Magnum reached for her trust 44 caliber gun to ceremoniously end the life of her greatest enemy's seed. But to her shock and horror, her beloved gun was not where she put it...It was not in her holster.
Almost immediately, her mind began to race as the expression on her face shifted, for she NEVER lost track of her most beloved gun. She always knew where it was. Then suddenly...It dawned on her...As if heaven itself had fallen atop her.
Then suddenly...A devastating shot rang out from behind her and she felt the force of a heavy, 44 caliber slug tear through her body like tissue paper. It entered right at her side, puncturing both her lungs and ravaging her insides and creating a wound that began to gush with blood. This blinding pain caused her to lose her grip on Kurt and his body fell to the ground as he began gasping for air.
Then, as Magnum managed to turn her head towards the source of the shot...Her eyes widened with a mixture of shock and rage. Mystique...The woman who had killed her father...Was standing there, leaning up against a crate, still bloodied, battered, and short of breath, holding her 44 caliber in her hand that she had swiped when she dropped her earlier.
Her own gun...Her own beloved gun that she had wielded with unparalleled skill...Had just been used against her. In the hands of the woman she had vowed to kill...Her own gun would be the means of her demise.
"No...NO!" yelled Magnum as her mouth filled with blood and her body began to give out.
"Yes..." said Mystique, still in a world of pain, yet standing in triumph as she delivered what was without a doubt the most devastating blow imaginable, "You lose Magnum. When you see your father again...Send him my regards."
And with those final words, Mystique unloaded one shot that echoed all throughout the structure. From the very gun that this woman had named herself after, a single bullet flew through the air at great speeds...Going right through the head of the deadly Russian mercenary...Ending her life once and for all.
Her brains spilled right out of her head. Her skull was shattered like glass. And from that one shot, the body of Magnum went completely limp, leaving her dead for the ministers of death to take her darkened soul. And with one last show of twisted compassion, Mystique tossed the gun that Magnum so deeply coveted onto her bloodied corpse...Allowing her to die with her most prized possession at her side.
It was finally over...Magnum was dead. The fight had been won for Mystique and her kids. And once it finally sunk in her body slumped as her injuries caught up with her. But this time...She would not suffer alone. This time, her children were there for her.
"Mama!" said Rogue, finally recovering enough from the blow she suffered earlier as she rushed to Mystique's side.
Kurt, after having had a chance to catch his breath, managed to get up as well and scramble over towards his fallen mother, still limping from his festering ankle. Mystique was still in a world of hurt from her injuries and would definitely need some medical attention, but once she heard the voice of her two children, her heart warmed...For that was all that mattered to her.
"Kurt...Rogue..." she managed to get out as they both helped her onto her feet, holding her up as she tried to filter out the stinging pain of her body.
"It's okay, mother...Ve're here," said Kurt, managing a smile as he looked at the tattered and beaten face of the woman who had been his enemy...Yet who had also given him life.
In seeing the compassionate looks upon the faces of her two children...Mystique couldn't help but wonder. She had lied to them so many times...She had not been there for them when she should have. In nearly every conceivable regard, she hadn't been a very good mother to either of them. Yet here they were...Standing by her side in her time of need.
"You came back for me..." she said in a hoarse tone, "After everything I've done...You came back for me. Why?"
Rogue merely smiled at the woman she once hated so much, for after having woken up from her time in Sinister's machine, she had a few new memories that definitely cleared things up a bit...And with such thoughts in mind, she felt it was up to her to make good use of them.
Not needing to hear anything more, Mystique simply smiled back. The pain in her body now insignificant compared to what she was feeling at the moment. She knew...She remembered...And if she made it out of here alive, they would certainly have plenty to discuss.
"Come on, mother...Ve can talk about this later," said Kurt as he and Rogue stood at both her sides in order to help her walk, "For now, let's just get out of here."
"You're right..." said Mystique, fighting through her pain as she held onto her two children as they guided her on their final path to freedom, "Come...Let's go."
And with that, the two X-men and their mother made their way out of the hanger and into the clear, leaving Shadow Cell to take care of one final task...Mr. Sinister.
AN: Man! Mystique versus Magnum...What a fight! Their paths were destined to cross again and as always, there is a victor and a vanquished. Now Magnum is no more, but it's not over yet! Stay tuned to see how it all comes together! Who will come out on top? Keep reading to find out, but before I get to that, please tell me what you think so far! Send me your feedback via email or post them on the fanfiction website! I don't care which you do as long as you REVIEW! Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best!
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR! REVIEW!!!