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 47: Sins of the Father
The X-men had done their part and Mystique had done hers. That left only Shadow Cell to finish the job. And naturally, their job was a bit trickier than the others. But tricky or not, it had to be done. This heinous place had to be destroyed. So many secrets had been revealed to them...Secrets that turned everything they once believed in upside down and inside out. But none of that mattered now. They had a mission...A mission to destroy this base before it could ever be used again for Sinister's insane goals. And even if this was the only home they had, the mission took on a greater importance.
After having worked their way into the depths of the base and after taking out the final traces of GURSO resistance along the way, Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch finally managed to reach the main power core. They were still battered, bruised, and tired from the incessant battle. Their uniforms were torn, their bodies were bruised, and they were definitely showing signs of battle fatigue. But years of training, discipline, and determination had taught them to cope with such physical agony as they pushed ahead towards the very core of the Shadow Cell main base.
Like most things in the base, it was one of the most advanced power systems in the world...Completely unknown to the public and completely non-existent to everyone outside the world of black ops. It was a hot and cold fusion hybrid generator capable of supplying enough power to illuminate half a dozen cities and capable of giving the high tech base all the electricity it needed. But regardless of this machine's capabilities...It would also be the base's undoing, for it would provide the necessary medium for which to bring this base down.
"Wanda! Are you almost done?" said Cyclops as a couple of stray GURSO guards tried to sneak their way in and stop them, only to be taken out with a few well aimed rounds.
"Just a little bit longer..." said the Scarlet Witch, using her vast knowledge of explosives to ensure that this was done just right since there was no room for error.
"Well hurry it up!" grunted X23, "We've gotta to get out of here and catch up with Sinister before he gets away!"
"Oh don't worry about that, X..." said Mayhem confidently, "I have a feeling that Sinister isn't one to run away from a battle like this. I know how he thinks...I know how he operates...We all know."
"And that's why he's probably going to stick around and finish us off!" said Cyclops, sincerely hoping that was the case, for he truly wanted one last fight to take that monster down after having learned that he was behind the plane crash that killed his family.
"You mean...One must live and one must die?" concluded X23, knowing that sort of dichotomy all too well.
"Exactly!" said Phoenix, also eager for one final showdown with this madman, for he had also been behind the death of her family as well.
"Well then let's not keep him waiting!" said the Scarlet Witch as she made one final adjustment to the C4 charges and hit the activation timer, "There! Done! This place is officially about to become a crater."
"Sounds good to me! And for safety sake, I'll leave the stone here as well," said X23 as she set the powerful relic right above the main reactor chamber, ensuring that it would be destroyed, "It's power will never be released by anyone ever again."
"Right! So how much time does this thing give us?" asked Cyclops as they all started to move, making their way towards the emergency evacuation corridors.
"Only a minute," said the Scarlet Witch in a grim tone, "It looks like the X-men and the shape shifter pulled through."
"One minute?!" exclaimed Phoenix, "How are we going to get out of here in one minute?!"
"Simple..." said Mayhem as he punched his way through a few poorly secured doors, as they entered what looked to be a secret underground garage area, "We do as we always do...We improvise."
Once they were through the final emergency corridors right outside the power core, they were greeted with the sight of a couple of military vehicles parked along the side. They suspected that this is where the engineers came in to do work on the generator when it was needed and this tunnel provided easy access without disrupting too many of the base's activities. And even though the whole structure had been evacuated, there were still a few vehicles left for them to make their final getaway and escape the power of the coming blast.
"You think these things will be fast enough?" said X23 as she hopped onto the back of a jeep with a mounted with a 40 caliber machine gun in the rear.
"Not sure...But we're about to find out," said Cyclops as he jumped into the driver's seat while Phoenix sat in the passenger's side.
"Just out of curiosity...Anybody even know where this tunnel leads?" asked the Scarlet Witch as she hopped on one of the motorcycles.
"Best guess, the main entrance platform," said Mayhem as he hopped onto a second motorcycle that was set right beside that of the Scarlet Witch, "But we won't know until we found out!"
"Then let's do just that!" said Cyclops as he quickly hot wired the jeep, starting up the engine while Mayhem and the Scarlet Witch did the same, "Come on guys, we still have a job to do! So let's do what Shadow Cell does best and complete the mission!"
"Semper fi! Do or die!" they all said instinctively in response, quoting one of the many sayings that so often guided them through the rigors of battle and brought them together both as a unit and as a family.
With time working against them, the five mutant soldiers began to maneuvered their vehicles around towards the main ramp that led into the tunnel. There was a heavy door in the way, acting as a barrier that was probably activated during lockdown, but it was nothing quick blast from Cyclops, Phoenix, and the Scarlet Witch couldn't punch through with a little burst of optic blasts, telekinesis, and hex bolts. And as soon as the path was clear, they put the petal to the metal and sped through the narrow tunnel...Leaving behind once and for all the place they once called home.
"30 seconds!" said the Scarlet Witch, who was keeping track of the time left for the charges.
"Damn! Looks like we're going to be in for a bumpy ride!" said Cyclops as he pushed the jeep to it's limits while Phoenix and X23 held on tight.
"No kidding!" said the Scarlet Witch as she accelerated her bike so that she was now ahead of both the jeep and Mayhem, "I may have to do a little hexing to hold the tunnel together if we run out of time! Just stay behind me and watch for debris!"
"Hold the tunnel together?!" yelled Mayhem over the noise of the engines, "Have you ever done something like that before?"
"No..." she responded, "But if I can bring a building down then I should be able to keep one up as well!"
"And I'll help you!" said Phoenix, preparing her telekinesis for what was sure to be some really heavy use.
"Thanks Phoenix...Because I have a feeling I'll need it," said the Scarlet Witch in response, not knowing whether or not this would work.
Such words didn't alleviate the look of worry on Mayhem's face, who couldn't help but harbor a great deal of concern for the woman that meant so much to him. But knowing that nothing he said would have stopped her from doing this, he simply stayed silent and did something he often did whenever the going got tough...He prayed.
Sinister had taken a lot from all them, but the impact he had on Vincent's life was on a level almost too great to fathom. Not only had he murdered his mother...He used him in Prodigy, killed Father Michaels and Mr. Kansuke, and destroyed the orphanage he once called home. Now, they were on a mission to kill him. They were on a mission to take down this madman who had once been a father figure to them all. And as always, he and his comrades were willing to fight through whatever they had to in order to complete this mission. Only this time, it wasn't for Shadow Cell and it wasn't just for the sake of the world. This time...It was for them.
"Here it comes guys! Get ready!" said the Scarlet Witch as she kept a close eye on her watch, which she had synchronized with the bomb, "Hold on, sit tight, and start praying! Prepare for detonation in 5...4...3...2...1..."
Then, a deafening blast rocked the whole area as each of the three C4 charges went off in perfect synchronicity. The blast from the generator, however, was definitely the most intense, causing the entire central area of the base to go up in a massive explosion, engulfing the whole area in a hail of intense flames.
But unfortunately, these flames found their way down into the tunnels, sending a wave of fire directly towards the five mutant soldiers as they pushed their vehicles harder to get them out of this place before they were engulfed in flame.
"Errahhhh!" struggled the Scarlet Witch as she let out a pained grunt, pushing her powers hard to hold the tunnel around them together, diverting debris and delaying the collapse in whatever way she could.
"Come on! Come on Wanda!" yelled Mayhem over the noise, "You can do it! I know you can!"
The encouraging words of Vincent Freeman helped the Scarlet Witch push herself beyond her usual limits, for hearing his voice reminded her that there was still something left worth fighting for even after this base was gone and Shadow Cell was no more. She had made a silent vow to herself before this mission began that if they all came out alive...She would tell him how she felt about him. She was through lying to herself about just how much this man meant to her...And she was not about to let something as simple as a collapsing building stand in her way.
"Err! Almost...There!" struggled the Scarlet Witch, her face now dripping with sweat from the intense heat of the oncoming wall of fire.
"Phoenix! The fire!" yelled Cyclops as he saw it coming up on them fast through the rear view mirror.
"I've got it!" she affirmed as she turned back and attempted to push the oncoming flames back or at least slow it down until they were out.
Phoenix let out an agonizing grunt as she tried to muster every last bit of telekinesis in her mind to hold the force of such fury back. However, the sheer power of the explosion and the sheer force of the blast was too great for even her to hold back. All she could do was slow it down and keep it from cooking them all like a T-bone steak.
The next few moments were tense as the flames continue to draw closer and closer. Time was running out and there was little the five mutant soldiers could do other than hold their breath. Then suddenly...Their luck took a turn for the worse as a heavy chunk of the roof suddenly collapsed right along their path. And unfortunately...The Scarlet Witch wasn't able to react fast enough.
"WANDA!" yelled Mayhem as he watched with horror as everything began to go in slow motion for him.
However, the sound of Mayhem's frantic voice had given the Scarlet Witch the split second warning she needed. But unfortunately, in order to avoid the chunk of debris, she was forced to swerve her bike off to the right, forcing her to go down another path, diverging from the main course that the others were taking.
"Shit!" said Mayhem as he saw this and immediately sped up his bike, "I'm going after her!"
"Mayhem, wait!" yelled Cyclops over the commotion, but it was too late...For Mayhem was already gone.
Part of him still wanted to stay the course and face Sinister one last time, but unfortunately, his heart took precedence over his mind in this instance. And once they were out of sight, it was left up to Cyclops, Phoenix, and X23 to make it through the final stretch.
"Damn!" grunted Phoenix as she was forced to divide her telekinesis between holding the tunnel up and holding back the flames, "What do...We do...Now?!"
"They'll be okay..." said Cyclops confidently, "Wherever that other path leads, I'm sure those two will find a way out!"
"I hope you're right Cyclops!" yelled X23, worried for her friends, "But if anybody can fight their way out of a jam like this, it's those two!"
"Right! I know those two and they know us," said Cyclops as he gripped the steering wheel firmly, watching in the rear view mirror as the flames drew closer and closer, "They'll find their way...And we'll find ours!"
With Cyclops, Phoenix, and X23 staying the course on the underground escape route, that left the fate of Mayhem and the Scarlet Witch in uncertain hands. The ramp they had taken was a detour that led directly to the airstrip and hangers. However, unlike the previous path, this one didn't lead to an exit. Instead, it led right into the thick of the destruction that the blasts had inflicted. And with the fireball from the explosion coming up on them fast, there was no way out.
But none of that mattered in Mayhem's mind. All he could think about was Wanda and getting her out of here. He didn't care what was behind them or what lay ahead of them for that matter...He was going to get her out of here no matter what.
"WANDA!" yelled Mayhem as he managed to avoid some falling debris, "WANDA! I'M COMING FOR YOU!"
The Scarlet Witch was still trying to hold the structure together with her powers to keep it from collapsing on them. She didn't know how much longer she could keep this up, but for her friends...She was willing to sacrifice herself so that they could live. Unfortunately, Mayhem wouldn't let her go that far. And as he neared her on his bike, she knew time was running out.
"Vincent..." she struggled weakly, trying harder and harder with all her might to hold the crumbling structure together.
Upon seeing the exhausted look on her face, Mayhem knew that he had to act fast. If she passed out, then it would be over for her. And he was NOT going to let that happen. There seemed to be no way out and to make matters worse, the tunnel up ahead was blocked by debris. The time for thinking had come and gone...Now the time of action was upon them.
And for Vincent Freeman, it was now or never. He would either save her or they would both perish. It was life and death...Do or die. Yet these were the situations they had all trained for time and time again, but this time, the stakes were different. This time, the life of the woman he cared about most was on the line.
"No guts...No glory," he said to himself as he prepared to spring into action, "WANDA! HANG ON!"
Then, with a dead end fast approaching them, Mayhem took to the air...Ditching his bike and letting the flames engulf it. Then, with a burst of his super speed, he flew through the air and took the tired and exhausted Scarlet Witch in his arms and shielded her with his body.
Upon feeling his warmth, Wanda Maximoff clung to him tightly, placing all her trust and faith in this man that meant so much to her. She could no longer keep up with using her powers. It was all on Mayhem now...And he intended to deliver.
"Here it comes!" said Mayhem, gritting his teeth in determination as the dead end drew nearer and nearer, "Hang on tight Wanda! I promise you, I'll get us both out of here! You have my word!"
"Good enough for me..." she managed through her fatigue, the sound of her voice helping the former Prodigy subject gain the strength and confidence he needed to see this through.
Then, with his speed and invulnerability to guide him, the unstoppable speeding force that was Mayhem impacted the thick rubble, but because his speed was so great and his invulnerability was so strong, he punched through it like a cannonball. He was pushing himself beyond his normal limits, letting his speed and strength drive him through the thick layers of rock, but keeping the tired Wanda Maximoff securely in his arms while gritting through the pain.
She clung to him tightly, feeling the sting of the debris scraping against her as she kept her eyes closed and placed all her trust within this man. As a girl who had felt the pain of abandonment all her life, placing trust in anybody was difficult at best. But for Vincent Freeman, a man who had helped her through the worst of times, giving her strength she never knew she had...She was willing to make an exception.
The sound of rock and debris shattering all around them filled the area with deafening noise. The flames of the explosion and the layer upon layer of the building structure shattered as Mayhem continued to shoot through it like a rocket, gritting his teeth in determination to get them both out of this. With each pile of debris he passed through, his speed slowed, but he just kept pushing. Harder and harder, faster and faster, Mayhem plowed through each imposing layer, grunting through the impact and letting his invulnerability protect both him and the Scarlet Witch. Each moment felt like a lifetime as they drew nearer and nearer to the surface, feeling almost as if they were trying to escape the depths of hell itself. And with fatigue starting to set in...The former prodigy subject known as Vincent Freeman let out a single raging yell that echoed over the noise...A yell that embodied the determination and drive that had always driven both his mind...And in this case, his heart.
Then, with one last final impact upon the collapsed ceiling of one of the aircraft hangers, Mayhem and the Scarlet Witch felt the cool breeze of the air upon their faces. It was like a heavenly blessing, for they had made it...They had escaped the raw fury of a great explosion and punched through an entire mountain of collapsed debris. And when all was said and done, Mayhem slowly descended towards ground and collapsed from fatigue.
He kept the tired woman close to his body, shielding her the whole way. He coughed up a load of blood, his body feeling so tattered and torn after so much exertion. Wanda had her share of bruises as well, some of which were stinging quite harshly. But she was still alive...They both were. And that was all that mattered.
Even after Mayhem collapsed, the Scarlet Witch clung to him, for the trust she had given him had not been misplaced. It took a moment for the both of them to process, but as she gradually came to, she found herself looking back up at the tired and tattered face of her teammate and friend.
And as she looked back into those enchanting light blue eyes, it finally became clear...It finally made sense. She knew what this man meant to her. She knew how important he was to her. He was more than just a comrade...Much more. And after having risked his life to save hers, Wanda Maximoff was sure now more than ever that this was it...He was the one.
"Vincent..." she choked out, still on top of him as the tired young man struggled to catch his breath, "You came back for me...You saved me."
"Of course..." he said, managing a smile despite his exhaustion, "You didn't think...That I'd leave you...Did you?"
"No...Not for a second," she said, smiling back at him, their faces now so close.
They both knew what was happening. They both knew what this was. But this time, they didn't fight or suppress it. This time, they embraced it. There was a lot they wanted to say to each other. There was a lot they had been meaning to say to one another for all this time. And everything they had kept inside...Everything they had held back on all these years...Was finally going to be expressed not with words, but with actions.
Then suddenly, the sound of an approaching noise shook the Scarlet Witch out of her state. There were few things that could have interrupted such a moment for her, but when she quickly ascertained what that sound was, a new force from within took over.
"Magneto..." she said, brimming with anger as she recognized the sound of warped metal as if it were the clearest thing in the world.
Mayhem was still out of it, but the Scarlet Witch felt a new surge of energy course through her as she sensed her father's presence. She knew he was close...She could feel in her bones. The haunting memories of what he did to her once again echoed strongly in her mind as the agonizing pleas of a scared little girl went unnoticed one fateful night as her father threw her away forever.
"I'm coming for you...Father," she said angrily as she sauntered to her feet, still breathing heavily, but maintaining a look of raw determination.
"Wanda..." said Mayhem in a weak tone, still trying to recover from all the power he had exerted.
However, his calls went unnoticed as the Scarlet Witch began to make her way through the debris, following the sound of warped metal, knowing exactly who it would lead to.
"Finally...After all these years, I can have my revenge," she said with rage in her tone, feeling the adrenaline coursing through her veins, for she had been waiting for this for a long time.
Yet unknown to her, Mayhem had managed to fight through the pain and return to his feet. He was still slow and didn't exert any of his power, for he knew he might have passed out if he did. But fatigue or not, he wouldn't let it stop him. He had to get to Wanda...He had to get to her before she did something she regretted. He only hoped that he wasn't already too late.
In the rubble what was once the base of operations for Shadow Cell, Magneto and the four boys of the Brotherhood made their way through the maze of debris, searching and seeking any trace of the enemy they had come here to battle. Magneto was still determined to find his one time ally and make him pay for destroying his plans, but from the looks of it, there was nothing left.
"Oh man! Talk about bringing down the house, yo!" said Toad as he looked at the destruction surrounding them.
"No kidding..." said Blob in agreement, "What happened? Some kind of self destruct system?"
"I doubt it..." said Magneto coldly, knowing that wasn't Essex's style, "He's still here! I know he is!"
"But how could anybody survive this?" said Avalanche as he and the others stood in awe of the destruction surrounding them, the fires still raging in the distance.
"Believe me...There isn't much this man can't survive," said Magneto, certain that Essex was still alive and well.
Just then, something caught the eye of the Brotherhood boys...Something that they quickly recognized in the distance not far from where the air control tower near the runway used to be. Magneto was still so focused on the rubble, trying to sift through whatever he could in search of his one time ally, but his subordinates were quick to let him know, not thinking too much about how he would react.
"Hey boss! Look!" said Toad, quickly pointing over towards three figures moving slowly away from the ruins of the base.
"What is it?" said the old holocaust survivor, hoping that they had seen something that would lead him to Essex.
"I...I think it's..." began Pietro, but Magneto was quick to see it as well and didn't even let him finish.
"Mystique!" said the Master of Magnetism in a cold, angry tone.
It was unmistakable to him, for he never forgot the face of someone who betrayed him. He had placed his trust in Mystique. He had given her detailed knowledge of his plans and all he asked for in return was loyalty and she couldn't even give him that. In the end, maybe he shouldn't have been too shocked that she wasn't willing to fight against her children, but that didn't change the fact that she had gone back on her word. That didn't change the fact that she had betrayed him. And for that, she would have to pay a price.
"Wait here! I have something personal to take care of!" he said in a dark tone as he took to the air and quickly made his way over towards the shape shifter, who was still limping a bit and clinging to her kids for support.
"Oh man...I'd hate to be Mystique now," said Blob, thinking she was as good as dead.
"You said it," said Quicksilver, knowing all too well what his father was capable of, "Come on! Let's follow him!"
"But he just said..." began Avalanche, but the speed demon didn't let him finish.
"I know what he said, but we should probably be there for this," he said, "Chances are it may get ugly. And we may have to step in at some point."
Not arguing the speedster's logic, the four Brotherhood boys began to make their way over towards the runway, hoping Mystique knew the services of a good coroner, for she was going to once after Magneto was through with her.
Back near the runway, Mystique and her kids had managed to stay relatively clear of the blast. The shape shifter was still reeling from her fight with Magnum, but she managed to tough it out. She was still limping, but with Kurt and Rogue by her side, that didn't really matter to her, for she had beside her the only two things that really mattered anymore. She almost had to lose them for her to realize it, but now that they had made it out alive, she had come to see the impact of her choice. And for once, it had been a choice she didn't regret.
"Come on, Mama...Just a little bit further," said Rogue, still a bit short of breath from the whole ordeal of her abduction and use in Sinister's machine.
"Ja...You're doing great," said Kurt in an encouraging tone, despite his still sore ankle, "Ve'll get you back to the X-jet so you can have some of those wounds looked at."
Mystique let out another grunt as her ribs kindly reminded her of the injuries Magnum had inflicted upon her, but she managed to keep moving despite this.
"Ugh...Damn it! It still...Hurts!" she grunted, trying to will her healing factor to mend some of the pain.
"I know it does..." said Kurt, feeling his mother limp as she leaned on him for support, "But it's almost over!"
The shape shifter took comfort in her son's words, still amazed that they could be so concerned for her after everything she had done. It was a true testament to the kind of people her children were and in many ways, she couldn't help but feel a great deal of pride towards them. Even though she knew she had no right to, she was still their mother and in seeing how they managed to help even her in times of such great need, it made her feel so grateful to call these two remarkable youths her children. They would no doubt have a lot to discuss when all this was over, but after what they had just been through, it was a challenge Mystique was more than willing to take on.
Then suddenly, as they all were forced to slow a bit in order for Mystique to catch her breath, some of the metal shards from the explosion that now riddled the ground suddenly began to move and shake. And from behind them, vast piles of debris seemed to come to life the power of some unseen force. Neither Kurt nor Rogue noticed it, but for Mystique, she knew all too well what this was. And once again, her instincts sprang into action, for she knew that fate was finally catching up with her.
"KURT! ROGUE! RUN!" she yelled as she shoved broke free of their support and shoved them back as she turned to face the growing cloud of metal.
"What?! What are you..." but Rogue didn't even get a chance to finish her sentence as the swirling metal drew nearer and began an unrelenting assault on the shape shifter.
Suddenly, a large steel beam from the cloud of debris shot forward and wrapped the already pained and injured shape shifter in a tight vice, choking vice. She let out a pained yell that echoed all through the air as her already injured body was once again pummeled by unrelenting punishment. Yet through her cries, a cold voice resonated over it all...A voice that Mystique knew she would face again.
"Hello Mystique..." said a very angry Magneto as he hovered over towards the now trapped shape shifter, "I had a feeling this moment would come one day...I had a feeling that you and I would stand before each other in such a state!"
Then, as red hot pain continued to course through her body, she felt her self levitated up off the ground so that Magneto could look her in the eye before he administered her 'punishment' for her betrayal.
"MOTHER!" exclaimed Kurt as he and Rogue scrambled to help the ailing Mystique.
"LET HER GO BUCKET HEAD!" yelled Rogue.
But such words were of no concern for Magneto as he merely used his powers to send a couple of heavy metal objects towards them, effectively hitting them hard enough to knock them back so that they wouldn't interfere with this, for he planned to let nothing stand in his way from giving this woman what she so rightfully deserved.
"I should have known you'd choose those kids of yours over me!" he said angrily as he tightened his stranglehold around her, "I should have known you'd betray me!"
"FUCK...YOU!" she yelled as she felt blood trickle down her face.
"You've been nothing but a nuisance, Mystique!" he continued, not fazed by her words in the slightest, "I put my trust in you! I give you the honor of serving as my second in command! And yet you foolishly squandered it! I'm through giving you second chances! I'm through putting up with your insubordinance! Now, you must pay the price that all those who betray me must pay!"
Magneto then tightened the vice grip around her, clenching his fists as he let the metal squeeze the life out of the shape shifter, causing her to let out more agonizing cries. Blood was starting to trickle down her nose, tears were starting to form in her eyes from all the pain, and she could feel her world fading around her. Yet even in what felt like the final moments of her life, the shape shifter still had no regrets about what she had done. She helped save her children...She finally made the right choice for a change. Magneto could torture her all he wanted, but that would never change how she felt about what she did. And as she felt the life draining from her body, her thoughts once again drifted back to her kids, hoping that they would be alright as she let out one final yell of agony.
Such pained yells caused Kurt and Rogue to fight through the affects of Magneto's blow, but it looked to them as if they were too late. Their mother needed them and it hurt to hear her in such great pain. But the cold, emotionless glance of the master of magnetism did not wane in the slightest, for he would not stop until the job was done.
"It's over, Mystique!" he said, seeing that she was on her final whim, "Yell all you want! Hate me with every fiber of your being! But you can't stop me! Nobody can stop me! NOBODY!"
Then suddenly, just as Mystique was about to take her final breath, a voice rang out from behind him, a voice that Magneto never thought he would hear again.
"Hey bucket head!" said a very angry Scarlet Witch, "I'm back!"
Then, before Magneto could even turn towards the source of the voice, he was suddenly consumed by a powerful energy. Then suddenly, the ailing Mystique was freed as another force undid her metal confinement and let her fall back to the hard ground below on the verge of unconsciousness where Kurt and Rogue were already waiting for her. All the metal around them stopped moving and every last piece of debris that the master of magnetism had been using was stopped dead in it's tracks as his powers were suddenly suppressed, almost as if somebody had turned them off like a light switch.
At first, Magneto struggled to fight it, but as soon as he turned around to see who was behind this, his eyes widened in a mixture of shock and horror.
"Wanda!" he gasped as he was now completely consumed by her hexing powers, rendering him paralyzed and powerless.
"Hello Father..." she said, her eyes glowing with the rage and intensity that had festered upon her very soul for so long, "It's been a long time."
Magneto couldn't believe it. It was truly a sight that struck him to his very core. Standing before him, so full of power and rage, was the beautiful little girl he had once thrown away so heartlessly. His daughter...His beautiful, fully grown daughter...Was now right here in front of him. She had grown so much, yet he still clearly saw that little girl he once knew through his tortured eyes. She still looked so much like her mother...She still had the beauty that once made gave his tormented soul so much comfort. Now here she was, brimming with hate and rage, wanting so desperately to have the revenge she so deeply craved.
"It...It really is you," he said as he now stood at her mercy, no longer able to use his magnetic powers to defend himself, "You...You're alive."
"Yet part of me is still dead..." she said grimly as she approached the man who had caused her so much pain, "Part of me is still missing. I still remember that day...I still think about it every waking moment! It's always there...Torturing me with every memory!"
"Wanda...Please..." said the old holocaust survivor, not knowing what more to say to this girl who he had taken so much from.
"SHUT UP!" she yelled as she stepped up the intensity of her hexing powers and drew one of her guns, "Just shut up, Magneto! You threw me away! You threw me away into that god awful nightmare like it was nothing! You abandoned me! You left me!"
"I...I had no choice," he told her, "You couldn't control your powers and...AHHHHHH!"
"That's no excuse!" she shot in response, hitting him with another wave of hex bolts that caused him to grunt in pain, "Do you have any idea the kind of pain you caused me?! Do you have any idea how much it hurts to know that my own father didn't want me?!"
"That...That's not true!" said Magneto, his poise faltering as the effects of Wanda's hexing began to sap his strength, "I...I wanted to help you! I just...ERRAHHHH!"
"BULLSHIT!" she spat in response as she hit him with another painful hex bolt that causing him to fall to his knees, "Father's don't help their kids by throwing them away! Father's help their kids by loving them, protecting them, and supporting them! Not by leaving them to rot in an insane asylum!"
Another wave of hex bolts hit Magneto, almost knocking the air right out of his lungs and causing his helmet to fly right off his head as a result of the force. Now he was powerless, paralyzed, and helpless. It was a feeling he hated...A feeling that he had spent a lifetime avoiding. Yet here he was, at the mercy of his own flesh and blood.
He thought his soul had died on that day he was told that she was dead. And as he looked back into the eyes of the child that once brought so much joy to his life, the memory of that night once again played out in his head...That horrible memory that he hadn't allowed himself to recall for so many years. The cold guise that was Magneto finally faltered in the face of such memories and standing before her now was nothing more than a mere shell of a man. Without his power, he was just another human being. And as the haunting images flashed before his mind, the old holocaust survivor knew what he was about to face. And like it or not...He stood ready to accept it.
"Wanda...I'm...I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he said as his little girl now stood over him with a gun in her hand and pain in her heart that only revenge could mend.
"Too late for that...Dad!" she said with venom in her tone, "You took everything from me. And now look at you...A cold, angry, heartless man who will only bring this world suffering. You deserve to die."
Then, with her hexing powers keeping him powerless and still, the Scarlet Witch raised her gun and aimed it squarely at the head of the man who had caused her so much pain. Her finger was on the trigger and nothing was standing in her way...Nothing was keeping her from finally ending it. At long last, she could pay this monster back for everything he did to her. At long last, this monster who sought the death and destruction of all mankind could finally be taken down. It would only the take the simple squeeze of a trigger...And it would all be over.
"If only I could cause you the same pain you've caused me..." she said coldly, squeezing her gun in determination, ready to deliver the final shot.
"I know..." said Magneto as he swallowed hard, knowing now that his life was in the hands of this angry little girl that he had hurt so much, "Do what you have to do, Wanda. You know I can't stop you."
Wanda was about to do it...She was about to pull the trigger. It was almost over. She could feel it in her bones. However, just as the moment of truth seemed so near, a single voice echoed through the air and stopped her before she could make it happen.
"Wanda!" said Vincent Freeman as he emerged from the rubble, fighting through his fatigue in order to stop the woman that mattered most to him from making what he knew was a terrible mistake.
Her grip upon her gun faltered as she heard that familiar tone and turned to face the young man that meant so much to her. Her hex bolts weakened somewhat, allowing Magneto to catch his breath, but his powers were still being contained and there was little he could do to break free. Wanda showed no intention of letting him go, but as he saw the way she looked at this young man, it was clear that something about him was causing her to falter.
"Vincent..." she said, still keeping Magneto under her control.
"Please Wanda..." said the young man with a look upon his face that seemed to strike directly at the anger that had so deeply consumed her, "I know it hurts."
"No!" she said, looking back at Magneto, keeping her eyes squarely on the man who brought her so much pain, "Please...Don't make me stop! I want this...So badly!"
However, Vincent wouldn't allow her to ignore this. He knew that this was not the way it should end for her. This was not the way she should handle it. He could see the blaring hatred in her eyes as she looked back upon the man she hated so much. But he also saw that there was still a part of her that he could reach. There was still a part of her that went beyond the sheer thirst for vengeance. And it was through this that Vincent Freeman sought to save this woman from herself.
"Wanda...You know this isn't right," he went on as he slowly made his way towards her, "You know that by doing this, it won't make those memories go away."
"But...He...He took everything away from me! He threw me away!" she cried as tears started to form in her eyes.
"But that doesn't make what you're doing any different," he went on to argue, "Wanda...What you're about to do isn't for justices...It isn't for honor...It isn't even for the people he could potentially threaten. This is just vengeance...Plain and simple. And you know as well as I do that there's no honor in vengeance."
As much as Wanda Maximoff wanted to ignore that, she knew didn't have the strength or the capability to do so. She, Vincent, and the rest of her friends were still soldiers...Bound by the bonds that had brought them together and driven by the ideas that they embraced. Honor...Duty...Compassion...Self sacrifice...This was what drove a soldier...This is what drove a warrior.
And as she looked back at her paralyzed father, it all became clear to her now. This wasn't for honor or duty. This was just for her and her alone. It was selfish, cold, and downright heartless. These were not the qualities of a soldier. No, these were the qualities of her father. And even if his blood did flow in her veins, she would not be bound by his sins.
"Wanda..." said Vincent as he placed a gentle hand upon her shoulder, which seemed to say more than any words could possibly muster, "Please...I know you. I know who you are in probably every way it's possible to know somebody. Don't destroy yourself with this. The choice is yours, but I think already you know the one you should make."
Wanda Maximoff swallowed hard as she felt the warmth from Vincent's presence sooth her tortured soul. She knew he was right. She knew what she had to do. It was just so hard, for she hated her father so much. She may have killed countless people over the years as a soldier, but not for reasons like this. The memories still haunted her...Her tortured screams still echoing through her mind.
But in looking back at the enchanting blue eyes of the young man who had been there for her in ways nobody else had...Such memories were all but meaningless. She knew as well as he did that such things never went away. No matter how much she hated it, she could never escape them. Killing Magneto wouldn't do anything other than fill her with more hate and bitterness. And through the eyes of Vincent Freeman, she knew that's not what she wanted.
Finally, with a deep sigh, Wanda lowered her gun, allowing Magneto to breathe a sigh of relief as Vincent's words got through to her. Nothing could change the past, but she sure as hell wouldn't allow that to affect her future...That much was clear to her.
"You're right, Vincent..." she said, looking back towards him with a look of deep sorrow upon her face, "I just...It hurts so much."
"I know...I know," he said as he drew her into a warm embrace, "And it will always hurt. But no matter how bad it feels, you can't let it destroy who you are. And I don't want it to destroy you Wanda...Because I don't want to lose you."
Upon hearing those words, the ailing heart of Wanda Maximoff seemed to sooth under such gentle guidance from the man who knew her in ways she couldn't even begin to imagine. Now here she was in the arms of Vincent Freeman, having given up that which she wanted most for the sake of her soul.
Finally, as they broke their embrace, Wanda turned back to her estranged father, the look of rage no longer apparent in her eyes. Her hexing powers were no longer paralyzing him and he was free to once again rise to his feet. Yet still, he simply stood there, looking back into the pained eyes of his little girl, knowing that he truly had lost her forever.
"Wanda..." he said, feeling so much at a loss, "I know I have no excuses for what I did. I made a truly horrible mistake...I'm willing to admit that now. But just know that...No matter how much you hate me...No matter how distant we are from one another...You're still my daughter...And I'm still your father. And I don't care whether you choose to believe it or not, but...I'm sorry."
Hearing those words from her father spoke volumes to her, for she knew it sounded more like the father she once knew instead of the father she hated so much. His message was clear. His words were true. But both he and Wanda knew that they were too little, too late. The man he once was died long ago and the father she once knew died with him. Now, there was nothing left other than a broken shell of pained memories...Memories that would forever hang strong on Wanda's fragile soul. And no matter what the future brought them, such feelings could never be forgotten.
"Father..." she said as she and Mayhem, stood firmly before the master of magnetism, "No matter how much I hate you or how much the memories hurt...I know that there are just some things I can never change. The pain you've caused me...The anguish I still feel to this day...You can never undo something like that."
"I know..." he said solemnly, "But I feel as though if I could just have your forgiveness...Then that would be enough for the both of us."
Looking back at the old man who had given her life, Wanda felt a cold pain in the pit of her being. A part of her did want to forgive him, but she knew that was all but impossible. She hated this man so much that there was no way they could ever truly regain the relationship they once had before he threw her away. But as Vincent once told her, forgiveness is a long, difficult road. And for every deed, it has to start somewhere.
It took a moment for Wanda to think about a response to that, but as she looked back at Vincent and then back towards her father, she knew what she had to do.
"You know, they say it takes a great person to forgive someone..." she told him as she took a deep breath.
Then suddenly, just as Magneto was waiting for the second part of her answer, her soldier reflexes once again came to life and she fired two perfectly aimed shots from her gun directly at his legs, effectively shattering both his kneecaps and causing him to keel over with a pained yell.
"Ahhhhhhhh!" yelled the master of magnetism as he fell to the ground, his legs now bloodied from the shot.
"Guess that just makes me a good person," said Wanda as she put her gun back in her holster.
Vincent had been a little surprised by her actions, but he couldn't blame her for doing what she did. She may not have been able to kill him, but that didn't stop her from sending her message. And from the looks of it, she had made her peace as she turned away from her wounded father...Forever turning her back on both him and her past.
"Come on, Vincent...Let's go," she said as she began to walk away.
"Right behind you, Wanda" he said, knowing that a weight upon her soul that had been bearing down upon her for so long had finally been lifted.
Then suddenly, just as they were about to take to the air and rejoin their comrades, one more voice stopped them, for there was still one last matter to take care of.
"Wanda!" yelled Pietro as he and the Brotherhood finally managed to catch up to her and Magneto, "Wanda wait!"
At first, Wanda took a defensive stance, mainly out of instinct. But as she saw the look upon her twin brother's face, she relaxed her poise.
"Wow...Guess she didn't kill him," said Lance as he, Blob, and Toad made their way to Magneto and helped him up, despite his shattered kneecaps.
"Yeah...Guess that makes him lucky too," commented Blob.
"Quiet!" said Magneto bitterly through the pain as he felt a powerful sting shoot up through his legs as he returned to his feet, "Let's just get out of here."
"Huh?" said Toad, definitely confused by this change of heart, "But what about..."
"There's no more reason for us to be here," he said as he looked back at Wanda, knowing that he could not win this fight, "Everything is gone...The stone is destroyed...And so is whatever Essex was planning. Our job is done here...So let's just make our leave."
"Uh...Whatever you say boss," said Toad as he followed Lance and Blob back towards the runway, where Magneto formed a few metal spheres to whisk them away from this cursed battlefield.
Yet before he and the Brotherhood could make their leave, Pietro had one last task he wished to take care of. Standing before his twin sister, he could see that she still harbored plenty of bitter feelings towards him after what happened on that day. But in his eyes, what's done is done and there was nothing either of them could do to change it.
"Wanda..." he said to her, struggling to get the words out as he looked back at his estranged sister, "I...There's a lot I want to say to you after all these years."
"I know..." she said in response, not feeling as hostile towards him as she did towards her father, "But you know as well as I do that you were never really good with words."
That actually got Pietro to smile somewhat. Hearing such words from his sister helped him see that she hadn't forgotten. And even though he may not be able to tell her everything he wanted, he could still make his peace with his sister in his own way.
"You know that with the way things are now, salvaging what we once had isn't possible," said Pietro with sorrow in his tone, "We fight on different sides. We fight for different ideas. And because of that, we can never really be the kind of siblings I wish we could be. I just..."
However, he couldn't seem to finish his words...But thankfully, Wanda knew what he was trying to say and she managed to finish it for him.
"Pietro...Side or no side...You're still my brother...And I'm still your sister," she said to him, speaking for him that which she knew he could not say on his own, "That will never change."
"Yeah...I know," he said, his voice becoming more hopeful as he managed a smile, "I just...Seeing you alive again...And knowing that you're okay...I guess that's enough for me. I just want you to know that...I sure did miss you...And I never stopped thinking about you."
Then, in one final show of brotherly concern, Pietro reached into his pocket and pulled out a picture he seldom let out of his sight. It was one of his most treasured possessions, for it had helped him hold his life together when the going got tough. It wasn't much...Just a little picture of him and Wanda together when they were young, carefree, and full of hope. Now, at this late hour of the night many years later, he could finally connect both the present and the past. And hopefully, with a little luck, things between them would one day change. But for now, this was all he had to give. And in Wanda's eyes...It was enough.
"Here...Take this," he told her as he gave her the picture.
At first Wanda was hesitant, but as she took the small photo and held it in her hands, she got the message.
"Thank you, Pietro..." she told him, managing a smile as she held the picture securely.
"Anytime sis," he said with a smile.
Then, with that finally said, the two siblings met in one last embrace. It was an embrace that was many years overdue, but in the eyes of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff...It was worth it. And once they parted, it was unclear whether or not they would get another chance like this, but for now, the two estranged siblings had made their peace.
"Take care, Wanda," said Pietro as he prepared to make his leave along with the rest of the Brotherhood.
"You too, Pietro," she said to him as her brother once again disappeared from sight, leaving her and Vincent alone, ready to take on their final task.
With the picture in hand, Wanda knew there was only one thing left to do. They still had a mission to accomplish and they still had a madman to stop. And as Wanda Maximoff looked back at the picture that seemed to hold so many forgotten memories, she felt she was ready to finally move on.
"You ready, Wanda?" said Vincent, smiling as he saw the look of hope and determination on her face.
"You know it, hotshot," she said with a grin, ready to finally finish that which they had started, "Come on...Let's do what Shadow Cell does best...Let's finish the job!"
And with that, the Scarlet Witch held onto her closet friend and comrade as they both took to the air, ready to rejoin their friends and finish the malevolent Mr. Sinister once and for all.
Back with Cyclops, Phoenix, and X23 they could tell they were close to an exit. They could feel the rush of oncoming air. But Phoenix was quickly tiring from so much extensive power usage that she was on the verge of passing out. But as always, Cyclops was there to encourage her and give her the strength she otherwise never would have had.
'Come on Jean...Come on!' he sent through their link, 'I know you can do it, my love! I know you're strong enough! Come on! We still have a job to do...We still have to take down Sinister! For ourselves...For the world...And for our families...We have to keep fighting! Come on! You can do it, Jean! Come on!"
Feeling his endless love through their link, Jean Grey pushed her powers to the max as the fire continued to approach them and the end of the tunnel drew nearer and nearer. The vivid memories of the car crash that took her family away from her echoed so strongly within her mind. For the longest time, she thought it had been just a tragic accident. But now, she knew the truth. Sinister had murdered her family...Sinister had taken away her childhood in the same way he had done with Scott and Vincent. The vivid images of her sister's blood soaking her cloths, her mothers frozen face of agony, and her fathers bloodied head all shot through her mind as they approached the final critical moments, pushing her and driving her further as they neared the final exit from the world that created them.
"Almost there...Just a little bit further!" said X23, trying to encourage Phoenix as well.
"Come on! That's it! Just a little bit longer, Phoenix!" urged Cyclops, feeling the heat of the fire as it started to scorch the rear of the jeep.
Finally, after what felt like the longest drive of their lives, the lone jeep sped up the final ramp and shot out into the darkness of the night just as the fireball had nearly overtaken them. As soon as they touched real pavement again, it was only a matter of getting away from the flames as they quickly consumed the base.
The fires had shot out of the tunnel like a bullet through a gun, but now they were far enough away to finally breathe a sigh of relief. They had done it...They had made it out of the base. And now, as they looked back at the facility that had been their only home for so many years, they were finally given a chance to take in what had just happened.
Shadow Cell HQ was no more. The place that had turned them into the proud soldiers they were was now in flames. It was a strange, almost surreal sight. They had done their duty...They had done their job. But was this truly the end?
"Is it...Is it over?" said Phoenix, gasping for air and trying to catch her breath as she, Cyclops, and X23 watched their former home go up in flames.
"I'm...Not sure," said Cyclops, still feeling as though the job wasn't done just yet, "But we made it out...We succeeded. And you did good, baby...You did real good."
Hearing those words from the man who had given her so much actually brought a smile to the face of Jean Grey...A smile that seemed to make all the strain worth while. The look of love and heartfelt passion within their eyes were symbols of triumph to them, for they had made it out alive...They had made it out together.
For X23, such a sight was still a bit mysterious since the concept of love remained a mystery to her. Yet in seeing how Cyclops and Phoenix looked at each other, X23 couldn't deny just how strong the connection between these two was. In thinking back to what Phoenix had told her earlier about love during their reconnaissance mission, it was finally becoming clearer to her what she meant by it when she described it through her connection with Cyclops. And through seeing it in it's true, unabated majesty, the former living weapon couldn't help but smile as well, for it truly was a testament to this ever mysterious force know to her as emotion.
Then suddenly, before either of them could ponder any more thoughts of triumph, a deafening noise echoed from one of the hangers deep within the structure.
"What the...Cyclops, Phoenix! LOOK!" yelled X23 as her acute sensed picked up what looked to be some rather odd activity from one of the fire engulfed hangers.
The three mutant soldiers watched on with great intrigue as the noise grew louder. It was a strange sound...Almost as if it were a roar from some kind of monstrous beast. The top of the hanger began to twist and warp right before their eyes, as if some force from within was pushing upon it.
"What the hell?" said Cyclops as he, Phoenix, and X23 stood up to get a clearer look.
Then, a deafening bang echoed through the air as the top of the burning hanger blew open with the force of a bomb and a massive mechanized beast shot up into the sky. Almost immediately, their eyes widened, for what they saw seemed like something right out of a nightmare.
It had blades like a helicopter, yet rotating jets like a plane. It was nearly twice the size of a Chinook transport chopper and had nearly four times the armaments. It was all a metallic silver color, giving off a sense that this was a very high tech piece of machinery. There were two arm-like extensions from the side, each of which had what looked like a supped up version of a GURSO energy gun, on the underbelly there was a 50 caliber machine gun, and located on the sides, there were numerous missile launchers armed to the teeth with the destructive force that other countries could only dream of.
The sound of the blades and the jets roared through the air as it quickly descended to an altitude just above the jeep. The light from the burning base illuminated the whole aircraft in an ominous glow, making it seem as though it was some evil entity from the depths of hell that had come to inflict great death upon the unwitting masses. But for Cyclops, Phoenix, and X23...They knew all too well who this was. And they were ready to fight him to the bitter end.
"IT'S NOT OVER YET MY CHILDREN!" yelled Sinister over a blaring speaker from the main cockpit of the craft, ready and willing to take down that which he had so painstakingly created with every piece of machinery he had at his disposal, "THIS IS THE END! ONE MUST LIVE...AND ONE MUST DIE! IT'S YOUR FINAL MISSION SHADOW CELL! SO LET'S MAKE THIS ONE COUNT!"
AN: Oh boy, it's finally here! The ultimate showdown between Shadow Cell and Mr. Sinister! This has been a long time coming and now it's finally about to happen! One must live and one must die...So who's it going to be? Stay tuned to find out as the battle to end all battles takes shape and finally culminates in this epic story! But before I get to the big bout, please tell me what you all think so far! Send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! I don't care which you do, as long as you REIVEW! It's all about to come to a head folks! Stay tuned to see how it all comes together! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish you the best!
THE BIG SHOWDOWN IS ALMOST HERE! REVIEW BEFORE IT PASSES YOU BY!!!