Takes place 2 years after Apocalypse, 1 year after the Phoenix. The mutant problem has grown and a obscure general named William Stryker thinks he has a solution. Has Scott/Jean, Wanda/Kurt, Kitty/...
Chapter 9: Dawn
The order had been given...The small groups of marines were told by General William Stryker to take Magneto down once and for all. All it would take...Was one well placed shot with one of their special lead/plastic alloy bullets. The sniper given this task was the head of the marine group and was safely concealed within the upper levels of the trees. Once he shot the first round...The rest of his group would follow and finish off the man who had once bought the world so close to destruction.
"See you in hell freak..." said the soldier as he prepared to fire his weapon.
In the sky above, Magneto stood transfixed on the sight of the body bags that had been strewn across the front yard of the mansion. The grizzly sight of bloody, mutilated children stung his mind like a red hot spike. However, among these ghastly remains...He still could see no sign of his children, Wanda and Pietro. Piotr Rasputin, the man hovering besides Magneto, could no longer look at the horrible scene below and forced himself to turn away. But as his gaze shifted off towards the side...He noticed a slight rustling in one of the trees. Normally, it wouldn't have sparked any curiosity, for it could be easily contributed to wind. But there was just one problem with that...There was no wind to be felt...And no other trees were moving around them. Then...It suddenly dawned on the Russian mutant what it had to be...And instinctively, he sprung into action.
"Magneto, look out!"
"FIRE!" said the soldiers in the trees.
Then, before Magneto could snap out of his daze, Colossus lunged forth and shoved him out of the way of the path of the bullet aimed precisely in the center of his face. In turn, the bullet grazed Piotr...But thanks to his tough, metal skin it did little, if any, damage. The sound of gunfire then rang out through the night and the soldiers that had concealed themselves in the trees opened fire on the two men hovering in the air.
"Don't let up!" yelled the marine commander, "Keep firing! Take that son of a bitch down!"
Now, more soldiers were shooting at the Master of Magnetism from all directions...And like before, he could not deflect the incoming projectiles with his powers due to the composition of the bullets. This shocked him greatly because it meant that he wasn't dealing with ignorant, uninformed attackers...He knew that in reality, this was much more complicated than that.
"They tricked us! They knew I was coming!" yelled Magneto as he and Piotr flew at great speeds in an effort to dodge the bullets.
"Great...So what do we do now?!" yelled Colossus over the noisy din of gunfire.
"We must look elsewhere to find Wanda and Pietro...And once we do, I'll show these murderers not to attack us!"
Using his powers, Magneto levitated several military vehicles and flung them at the soldiers concealed in the trees and scattered throughout the area. This caused the rate of fire to cease ever so slightly...But it was long enough for Magneto to get both him and Colossus safely away from the area and once again concealed themselves in the clouds.
"Wait!" yelled Colossus as they entered the dark clouds once again, "Where are we going this time?"
"We're going to find out where my children are!" said Magneto sternly, "I don't care what it takes...I'm going to find them!"
"You'll see Piotr..." said Magneto as they sped through the sky, but before he went silent, the Master of Magnetism had one last thing to say to the Russian mutant, "By the way...Thank you...For saving my life."
Upon saying that, Piotr's expression grew cold...For he did not feel as proud as he should have for saving a man that hurt so many others in the past, namely his family. But he was still his soldier...He had agreed to be an Acolyte in exchange for help. As much as he didn't like Magneto...He was still a man who lived by his promises.
"You're welcome...Magneto," said Piotr finally in a monotone voice, "But I just did what I had agreed to do when I signed up...Don't think that this changes anything."
"I know..." conceded the master of magnetism, "I wouldn't expect it to..."
And with those final words, the two men fell silent once more...And sped off into the night sky eastward towards their next destination, New York City.
Back at the ruins of the institute, the marines that had failed to kill Magneto were forced to work with the rest of the soldiers to clean up the light damage caused by the fight. The vehicles that he had used with his powers to get away had to be salvaged as best they could from their current state. The damage had been quite minor and the fight had been over pretty quickly...But in the end, it didn't make things any different...Magneto was still alive. This left the task of informing General Stryker to the group leader that had missed that critical first shot thanks to Colossus's interference.
"General Stryker...This is marine leader one here at Xavier's. I regret to inform you that we were unable to take down Magneto. His henchman...The guy with the metal skin, shoved him out of the way of my shot. I'm sorry sir...But he got away."
The soldier then dreaded the general's response, but he was quickly surprised when he heard a calm voice respond through his communicator.
"Were there any casualties in the ensuing fight?"
"No sir...None," answered the soldier, still somewhat weary of the general's calm demeanor, "Just a few damaged vehicles, but I think we'll be able to salvage them all."
"Very well..." replied the general over the communication line, "And what of Magneto's last move? Were you able to determine where he was heading?"
"I don't know sir, some of my men say he was heading east, but we're not sure because he disappeared into the clouds," answered the soldier.
"Then do not concern yourself with such matters anymore...Now that Magneto knows that we can hit him, I doubt that he'll make himself as vulnerable again. This means that we'll simply have to use a different approach. Keep scanning the area and make sure that the next phase of operations are complete within the hour, is that clear?"
"Sir, yes sir!" said soldier as he switched off his communicator and got back to work, relieved that the general had been so forgiving.
Back in Washington DC, General William Stryker looked intently at the screens and quickly became lost in thought as he contemplated his next move. His female associate, Magnum, remained by his side...Silent and stoic as usual. Many of the high ranking officers below him were scrambling to get a fix on Magneto with their scanners. However, Stryker knew that they were just wasting their time. Magneto may have been a madman, but he was no fool. Despite this setback, the general seemed undaunted by this failure and remained calm in the face of his anxious subordinates. Then, the general looked back down at his watch to see that the time now read 2:00 AM. While some of the officers and soldiers present were starting to show signs of fatigue, the general remained wide awake and readily alert. Turning to one of his subordinates, he began to formulate his next plan of action.
"How goes the tracking?" asked Stryker to one of the female soldiers sitting at a computer terminal.
"Sir, it looks like Magneto has disappeared from our scanners again. We can't seem to track him," answered the soldier.
"As I anticipated...He's still looking for his children. That much is clear...And what of the escaped mutants from the Brotherhood and the X-men?"
"Unfortunately, they are proving to be difficult to track as well," said the female soldier as she bought up a special screen on her computer for the general to see, "The aircraft that they fled in had a great deal of stealth technology...It's unlike anything we've ever encountered before. Ground based radar hasn't been able to give us much, but based on readings from satellites and air reconnaissance, we have been able to determine that they are most certainly still in upstate New York and have since landed because we can no longer detect any jet trails or high-speed signatures."
"Good...If they're stationary, they'll be easier to find," said Stryker, satisfied with such a development, "Order all helicopter and search units from the main bases near Rochester and Albany to make a full sweep of all the possible areas they could hide. Synchronize the satellites to aid them in their search...And be careful, that plane of theirs has a cloaking device to mask their presence. Leave no stone unturned and be on the lookout for anything."
"Sir, it will be done immediately," said the female soldier as she began to comply with the general's request, "And what about Magneto?"
"Do not worry," said Stryker calmly, "Like I said before...His main goal is still finding his children. We know that they're with the X-men on that jet and if we find them first...We'll have the bait we need to take him down. And if not...We'll let Magneto find them for us. Either way...We still have the upper hand...And the enemy's days are most certainly numbered..."
It was early in the morning as Scott took the X-jet down in a clearing in the vast forest of upstate New York. Here, they were not at all far from the Canadian boarder and were fairly isolated enough to hide from whoever was attacking them. This had been the same area that the X-men had come after the mansion was destroyed the first time around nearly three years ago. The cave that they had stayed in was still there and would once again provide them some cover. However, everybody stayed on the blackbird that night...For everybody was just too tired and traumatized by the events of the last few hours to find the strength to leave. Kurt, Kitty, and Wanda had since fallen fast asleep. Mystique was drifting in and out of slumber like always in an effort to keep herself from slipping into another horrible nightmare. Jean was still in the back, tending to Pietro's wounds...But through their psychic link, Scott could sense that she was completely exhausted. Upon turning on the cloaking device in order to hide the plane from any observers...Scott made his way towards the back of the jet to see if he could help out.
"How is he?" asked Scott as he saw Jean wrapping up the last of Pietro's bloody wounds on his leg.
"I think he'll be just fine if his speed healing keeps up...But he's still going to be in a lot of pain...And there's still the risk of infection from the lead. That...And he just lost so much blood. I honestly don't know how anybody could have survived something like this...Even with a healing factor."
The tone in Jean's voice was raspy and thick with exhaustion. Her head still hurt a great deal after sensing all the death and using her powers at such high levels during their escape. It was a harsh combination that contributed a great deal to her state...But she remained awake despite all of this.
"Try not to think too much about that Jean...He survived, that's something to be thankful for. I mean...There's been enough death around us as it is...At least we managed to save one person," said Scott, trying to sound optimistic despite the grim situation.
"I guess you're right..." said Jean, as she finished up the last bandage.
"Are we going to need anything else for him?" asked Scott.
"Well, we'll definitely need some pain killers and disinfectant to help ease his suffering...And we don't have any here on the jet."
"We'll find some...Don't worry," assured Scott.
"I hope so..." said Jean as she finally felt herself collapse on the floor and fall back against the wall off to the side of Pietro's bed.
Scott quickly made his way over to her and sat by her side. She quickly leaned into his warmth and they both quietly sat together in their tired state, holding on to each other as if something was going to come and snatch them away at any second. They were both so tired and on the verge of fainting. The horrible images of the destruction of the institute and the mutilated bodies of their friends and family strewn across the lawn still hung strong in their minds. And now that they were safe for the time being...It left them to think about everything that had happened since that fateful moment when their world came crashing down in a hail of bombs and bullets.
"We can never go back...Can we?" mused Jean as she rested her head in the nook of Scott's shoulder.
"So much death...I felt it Scott...I felt every one of them die within my mind," said Jean as tears formed in her eyes from recalling such a painful experience, "They were our friends...Our family...All killed while they slept...And there was nothing we could've done to save them."
"I'm sorry Jean...I'm so sorry..." whispered Scott as he held her close and tried to sooth her pain, "I know it hurts...But it's over now...We can't undo any of this. I wish we could...I wish that this was all just one big nightmare that neither of us seems to be able to wake up from, but..."
Scott soon trailed off, unable to finish such painful words. The two young adults soon fell silent, not wanting to speak anymore in fear of bringing forth any more feelings that would make such wounds fester. The memories of what had just happened hurt...But there was no going back now. Scott and Jean finally gave in to their exhaustion and fell asleep as the events of the night played over and over again in their minds. Now, the whole plane was dark and silent...But through the memories of each survivor of the brutal assault on their homes, the feeling of hopelessness soon became all too great to bear...For the world that they would wake up to in the morning would most certainly be different.
The hours crept by slowly for the remnants of the X-men and the Brotherhood as they slept off what was left of the night. It was equally slow for high command of the operation back in Washington DC as time ticked away in to the hours of dawn. While some soldiers were relived and replaced, William Stryker and his loyal associate, Magnum, remained awake and alert the whole time. They seemed to be immune to exhaustion as little hints of sleepiness showed for either of them. It only served to heighten his status as a supreme general and further asserted his power among the armed forces of the United States. He pushed each one of the soldiers both in the office and on the ground to finish the tasks set before them. And as dawn came upon them...The final stages of the next part of Stryker's plan were nearing completion.
"General...We have incoming transmission from each team on the ground," said one of the communication officers near Stryker in the center of the Pentagon.
"Patch them through," ordered the general.
The lower ranking officer immediately complied with the request as four images of each field captain on the ground appeared on the screen.
"Gentlemen...I trust you have good news for me," said Stryker.
"Sir, we do. We are proud to inform you that the soldiers and the Friends of Humanity officers have just completed the secondary objective that you have assigned to us and are ready to begin transmission over a secure bandwidth. We simply need confirmation and you should have what you requested."
"Excellent, confirmation granted," said Stryker with an accomplished smile on his face.
"Very well...You should have the images in your hand momentarily."
And with that, the field captains signed off and readied for the transmission. General Stryker then turned his attention back towards the communication officer who quickly led his superior over to a state of the art, high resolution printer located in the back of the large room where they would be free from prying eyes.
"Sir, they're uploading the data," said the communication officer, "We should have the full printout in less than five minutes."
"Good work soldier...Now return to your station...I'll take it from here."
Knowing better than to question the general's commands, the communications officer did as he was told while William Stryker and Magnum waited eagerly for the printer to come to life and give them what he hoped. After a few seconds of waiting, the machine came to life and in quick succession, began printing the data that the general had so highly requested. The process was fairly quick and the volume of images coming through was quite large. But with each finished sheet, the triumphant grin on William Stryker's face grew bigger as he looked at the fruit of his accomplishments.
"We've done it Magnum...We've accomplished in the span of a few hours what this pitiful government couldn't do on it's own in three years," mused Stryker as the last few images finished printing.
The strong, Russian woman then proceeded to hand the general a single empty folder. Upon gathering up all the completed images, Stryker stuck them in the folder and walked back over to the main terminals from where he commanded the operation to this point. The time was now 6:00 AM and the sun was rising over the horizon outside. It was the beginning of a new day...A grand new day that Stryker looked forward to seeing as he looked down at his watch and prepared for the next phase of his plan.
"Attention all ranking officers...The time has come for the next part of the operation. This requires that I make a brief trip into the heart of DC. While I take care of these matters, I am still in charge. The operation protocols are NOT to be veered from and I will maintain a constant link with the Pentagon. But should something come up...I request that you all yield to the operation...And nothing else. I shall return within two hours time...While I am gone I want consistent updates. Now I can't tell you the nature of my task...But know that it is not something that concerns either of you. Do I make myself clear?"
"Sir, yes sir!" said all of the present officers, both military and Friends of Humanity alike.
"Excellent, now...Let us make haste and pay a little visit to one Charles Xavier," said Stryker with a sinister grin as he and a dozen armed Friends of Humanity soldiers led him out of the Pentagon and into an armored convoy heading towards the Watergate hotel.
Professor Charles Xavier violently tossed and turned in his bed during the early morning hours of sunrise. A cold sweat had formed over him all throughout the night and he had barely slept a single wink all night. In his mind the kind, intelligent man was haunted by images of fire and pain. His dreams were plagued with feelings of intense loss and hurt. Not a moment of rest came to him as he attempted to rest up for another big day at the Capitol. Then...As the haunting images and horrible dream finally came to ahead...The Professor was finally jolted into consciousness.
"NO!" yelled Xavier as he finally awoke from his nightmarish state.
Forcing himself to take deep breaths, Charles Xavier tried to wipe the cold sweat off of his face. As he struggled to gain control of his thoughts once more, the door connecting his room to next swung open and Logan came barging in with his claws defensively drawn.
"Chuck! What's goin on?! I thought I heard something!" grunted the Wolverine as he sniffed the air around the room.
"No...It's nothing Logan...Just a bad dream, that's all," assured Xavier as maneuvered himself over to the side of the bed towards his wheelchair.
Logan then retracted his claws as he looked at Xavier's troubled expression. The smell of terror sweat hung strong in Logan's powerful nose as he saw the Professor shrug his sudden outburst off like it was nothing.
"Are ya sure Chuck? It sure didn't sound like 'just a bad dream' to me..." said Logan, knowing that his ears wouldn't lie to him.
"Yes...I'm fine Logan. It was a dream...That's all...No need to worry so much about it," responded the Professor, sounding as though he was trying to convince himself more than his observant friend.
Logan didn't buy it...Even though Xavier was his friend and mentor, he knew when he was lying. It was definitely not in his character to do so. But that only heightened his suspicions.
"You don't sound too sure of that, Chuck," quipped Logan, "And ya look like ya didn't sleep at all last night."
"It's nothing Logan," said Xavier in quick response, "I just...The stress of these congressional hearings must be taking their toll. I have been working myself quite hard lately...I suppose that I am in need of some substantial rest afterwards."
Logan still didn't believe him...But for now, he wasn't going to pry. He knew better than most people what it was like be affected by nightmares and he knew how annoying it was when people pushed him to talk about it. So, he decided to back off...For now. To Xavier, last night had been anything but restful and there could be any number of reasons for that. However, he tried to push such feeling to the back of his mind as he prepared himself for another day in Washington...Fighting for mutants everywhere in an increasingly hostile world.
"Well, I'm gonna call for some room service and check up on the others back home," said Logan as he headed back into his room, "Ya want me to order anything for ya?"
"Just coffee Logan...I'll eat later," said Xavier as he began to dress himself for Congress.
As Logan walked back into his room he picked up the room service menu and looked over the selection, he took the phone and dialed out. However...He was soon met with a mysterious silence over the line. He tried again...Still, no sound or dial tone. Checking the connections, he tried a third time but got nothing. He then tried calling the front desk and the operator...But each time he was met with complete silence over the phone. It sparked his curiosity as he went back over to the door connecting his room with Xavier's.
"Hey Chuck, are the phones workin' back in your room? Cause I can't get a dial tone."
"That's strange..." said Xavier as he adjusted his tie, "The phones were functioning properly when I called the Institute last night."
"Well they ain't workin' now...Try your phone," suggested Logan.
Xavier then wheeled himself over to dresser near his bed and tried to dial out...But just like Logan had said, he could get no outgoing tone.
"I can't get a dial tone either...Something must be wrong with the phone lines."
"Ha...Some five star hotel they got here..." grunted Logan.
"We'll take it up with the front desk on our way out, but we must get going if we're to arrive at the Capitol on time."
"Yeah, yeah..." said Logan as he ignored the rumble in his stomach for now, but couldn't help and mutter, "Could at least make time to take a shower..."
They had a long day ahead of them in the nation's capital. And like all previous visits, it would most likely be difficult for two mutants to make their way around such hostile feelings that they knew they would encounter. In previous visits, Xavier had been subjected to ridicule, taunting, and endless slurs from supporters of the Friends of Humanity and angry citizens over the events of Apocalypse. There were even instances where people actually tried to attack him physically, but since he usually had a body guard with him...They never got too far. However, as tensions over mutant affairs grew, these attacks were becoming more violent...And that was one of the reasons why Logan offered to go instead of Storm, who had been Xavier's escort most of the time. Last time had been too close for comfort when some nut with a gun actually tried to shoot at her and the Professor. That was the bit that tore it for Logan and he pretty much insisted that he take over guard duties from that point on. Although she argued, in the end Logan managed to persuade Ororo that he would be better suited because of his healing factor and adamantium skeleton. While it was clear that he probably had more reasons than he was willing to admit, she eventually conceded to the request. Logan didn't like DC now with all the anti-mutant hysteria going on and he didn't like Xavier or anybody else being around such violence...But he knew nothing would stop his mentor from fighting for his dream.
"Are you ready Logan?" asked Xavier as he picked up his laptop that he had bought with him to help him in his debate.
"Yeah, I'm ready," said Logan, still hungry and in dire need of some caffeine.
"Then we best not keep Congress waiting..."
Logan then proceeded to assist the Professor as he wheeled him out in to the hall. They had been given a special sweet on the top floor that had special accommodations set up for Xavier's handicap, but it was somewhat peculiar that they couldn't do it on a floor lower.
"So what do ya think you'll be facin' today?" asked Logan as they headed towards the elevator.
"I've...Learned to stop trying to expect things when it comes to these debates old friend," said the Professor, "When it comes to issues of such controversy...It is usually more wise to expect the unexpected, less we be caught off guard."
"With so many fanatics stinkin' up this place, I can't say I'm surprised," grunted Logan, remembering all too well how mutant hating scum enjoyed tearing into the Professor's arguments.
"You mustn't think of them like that Logan...After Apocalypse, many people are scared. We all came so close to complete destruction on that day...And if the public knew how much closer they came from the Phoenix then it would be even worse."
"Yeah, let's hope they don't find out about that little incident," said the Wolverine in his usual gruff tone as he recalled the events of the Phoenix.
The two men neared the elevator as they walked the quiet halls of the Watergate hotel. There weren't many people up yet even though it was well past 8 in the morning. It seemed somewhat peculiar, but there were more pressing issues at hand. Then, as they approached the central hall...Their paths were blocked by three, casually dressed individuals wearing normal clothes, but bearing rather peculiar headbands with a strange emblem on the center.
"I'm sorry Professor Xavier, but I'm afraid you'll have to return to your room," said one of the men.
"What? But why? I have to be at the Capitol in an hour," said Xavier.
"We can't tell you why, but you must return to your room," said the man as he and his two associates refused to budge from their path.
This act seemed to annoy Logan, who seemed to smell something unnerving about these men.
"Yeah...Well where's your hotel uniform, bub?" grunted Logan in a deep, threatening tone, "We don't gotta listen to nobody unless we hear from guys that don't smell like the east end of the Potomac!"
"Back off freak...Don't make this any harder than it has to be," warned one of the men as met Logan's angry gaze.
Logan was about to unsheathe his claws and make these men get out of their way himself...But Xavier quickly decided to step in before things got out of hand.
"Logan please..." said the Professor, trying to alleviate the tension, "Sir, if something is wrong, surly there must be a reason."
"There is...But we ain't tellin' you...You'll find out soon enough," said one of the men with a mysterious grin.
"What's that supposed to mean?!" yelled Logan as he whipped out his claws and pointed it at the man's neck.
Just then...All three elevators opened along with the doors to the stairs and a deep, somewhat amused voice then answered Logan's question.
"Be careful what you wish for Wolverine," said William Stryker as he stepped out of the elevator with Magnum by his side and six heavily armed Friends of Humanity soldiers.
But before Logan could finish, Magnum whipped out a fancy looking taser launcher and shot it at his claws. Two small electrodes then made contact with the adamantium appendages and Logan then felt a massive jolt of electricity surge through his metal bones.
The Wolverine's loud roar of pain echoed through the halls as he fell to the ground in a smoking heap.
"Logan!" yelled Xavier as he watched his friend fall.
"Adamantium is a rather nasty conductor, wouldn't you agree...Charles Xavier?" said Stryker as he casually approached the Professor.
Over a dozen heavily armed guards then surrounded the crippled Professor and the unconscious Logan as the general now stood within mere feet of Xavier. A sinister grin soon spread across his face as he kicked Xavier's wheelchair back down the hall towards his room.
"Get the animal..." ordered Stryker, referring to the downed Wolverine who was beginning to mumble incoherently as his healing factor started to kick in.
The soldiers obediently followed his instructions as two guards dragged Logan down the hall back towards the sweet that Xavier was staying in. The Professor tried to recover from the shock of such an attack and wondered why he didn't sense something like this earlier. He then realized that all the soldiers surrounding him were wearing the same mysterious headbands that the other men were wearing earlier. But before he could contemplate this any more, Stryker delivered another kick, sending him back into his room with enough force to nearly knock him out of his wheelchair. The guards then forcefully dumped Logan's still burning body back in the room beside him as the doorway now remained completely surrounded by the armed guards.
"What is the meaning of this?!" demanded Xavier.
"Why Xavier...I thought you would have already known. I mean...You are supposed to be the most powerful psychic on earth..." quipped Stryker as the grin on his face only grew wider.
The tall, ominous man and his dark female associate then proceeded to walk in to the room along with a few of the guards while the rest of the soldiers remained at the door with their weapons drawn.
"What's the matter?" taunted Stryker as he then pointed to the headband that he and the others were wearing, "Something blocking you out?"
"Who are you?!" demanded the Professor as he felt his psychic powers being blocked out by whatever was in those headbands.
The general let out an amused laugh as he saw the look on Xavier's bewildered face. He knew that the Professor could not use his powers against them...And he knew that it only served to make him more anxious about the situation. It was exactly as Stryker had foreseen it...Down to every last possible detail, he reveled in having everything come together in such a wonderful display of his own genius. Logan began to come to as Stryker slowly made his way over to Xavier's...Giving of an ominous sense that he knew something that they didn't...Something big that only served to make him feel more in control.
"Professor Charles Francis Xavier...At last, we finally meet. You have no idea how long I've waited for this day. Even a man of your intelligence could never possibly understand the meticulous planning and patience that I have committed myself to these last few years...All leading up to this fateful day. But enough banter...I feel that introductions are in order. My name...Is General William Styrker. And today...Will be the worst day for you and all mutants alike..."
AN: That's it for now! I know it's kind of a cliff hanger...But I felt that this was the best place to stop. So what do you think the Professor's reaction will be? What do you think is going to happen to the rest of the survivors? Stay tuned to find out! So what do you all think? I apologize again if you didn't like the extensive amount of death that I have had in this story...But this is AU! It's just a story. I wanted to tell it because I thought it would be an interesting and dramatic take on the X-men universe. I'm sorry if some of you don't like it, but it's just something that I really wanted to do. Well, with that said...Please don't forget to review!!! Send me your thoughts via email or post them on the fanfiction website! I love getting reviews and they really help inspire me in my work! Thank you all very much for reading! I appreciate it and I wish you all the best!