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

Specimens

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Sci-fi - Characters: Avalanche, Berzerker, Blob, Boom Boom, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Magma, Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Multiple, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Quicksilver, Rogue, Scarlet Witch, Shadowcat, Storm, Sunspot, Toad - Warnings: [?] [V] [X] - Published: 2005/08/27 - Updated: 2005/08/27 - 8079 words

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Sinister Soldiers
Chapter 2: Specimens


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It was a beautiful late summer day in the cool, crisp air of Alaska. The months of July and August were always nothing short of pristine in the northernmost state of America and this year was certainly no exception. The humidity was low, the sun shone high in the air, and the warm temperatures made the weather seem perfect to anybody who walked outside.

This aura from the beautiful weather seemed to permeate at a local private airport not far from the outskirts of Anchorage. It was a little busier than usual on this day since many people seemed eager to take advantage of this perfect time of year in the Alaskan heartland, but this didn't stop many families from wanting to take some time off from the busy day to day living that they all knew and experienced all too often. And one of these families that shared that mentality was that of Christopher Summers.

The former Air Force pilot was greatly looking forward to a nice relaxing long weekend with his wife, Katherine, and his two young sons, Scott and Alex. Work had been so tiring for both him and his wife and he was very eager to spend some quality time with his family. They planned to fly up to the lake deep within the picturesque Alaskan forest and spend a nice long weekend in a quaint little cabin that they had stayed in many times before. They were going to be riding a rather old, yet still very sturdy propeller driven plan that had the capability to land on both water and runways. Christopher had been flying for many years and was a very experienced pilot, so he kept the plane in the best working order possible, maintaining it meticulously and thoroughly.

Major Christopher Summers was making some of the last few checks of his plane as he watched with a smile at the sight of his wife and two young kids playing just outside the hanger, waiting for the final word from him so they could be on their way. He turned towards one of the mechanics who had been helping him get ready, looking rather stoic keeping a rather silent undertone, which was very unlike the usual mechanic that helped him with such matters. Never the less, the man seemed to know perfectly clear what he was doing when he made all necessary checks and went through all the proper protocols that Christopher knew by heart now.

"How are things looking on your end?" asked Christopher to the tall, dark mechanic as he was checking some of the engines, ensuring that they were in working order.

"Very good sir...This baby looks like she's ready to go," said the mechanic in a deep tone, "You definitely seem to have an aptitude for maintaining an aircraft. I feel as though my presence here is rather redundant."

"Well, over a decade in the Air Force teaches you a thing or two about planes," said Christopher with a smile as he checked the fuselage to make certain that the luggage compartments were secure.

"If only more people had your kind of skill, then maybe things at airports wouldn't get so hectic," commented the mechanic, who kept his face hidden for the most part and stuck to his duties working on the engines, "But then again...If that were the case, I would be out of a job."

"I guess so," said Christopher with a laugh, who was now eager to get in the air and went to summon his family, "Come on kids! We're all ready to go!"

"Yay!" cheered young Scott Summers as he and Alex crowded around the entrance to the plane as they had done many times in the past, "I call window seat!"

"No fair!" said Alex, "You had it last time!"

"Did not!"

The ensuing sibling bickering evolved from there as Katherine Summers met up with her husband as he wiped his hands clean from engine grease and stood ready to depart.

"That was quick," commented Katherine as she smiled at the cute little picture of Scott and Alex wrestling over who got the window seat.

"Well I know you and the boys have been looking forward to this little vacation for quite a while now," said Christopher as he looked back at his wife, glad to finally have an opportunity to spend time with her and their boys for the first time in what seemed like forever, "And you know me...When I'm really motivated, I can work at superhuman speeds."

"That you do," smiled Katherine as she felt her husband snake his arm around her waist they made their way onto the plane.

The mechanic who had been working on the engines had already finished up his final duties and was standing back in wait, cleaning his hands as he watched the picturesque scene before him. His dark black hair and V-shaped goatee was hidden by a hat and standard gray body suit that every other mechanic at the airport wore, but the ominous smile on his face could not be hidden as he saw the family comfortably make their way into the plane and prepare for the one hour flight up to the lake.

"You're all cleared to go sir!" said the mechanic, looking towards the open side window of the plane, "Have a nice vacation with your family."

"Thanks!" said Christopher as he waved to the mechanic who had helped him while the engines fired up and the plane began to make it's way out onto the runway.

Everything looked normal and went smoothly as the plane took off like it had many times before without incident. The family of Christopher and Katherine Summers looked jubilant as they ascended into the beautiful Alaskan air on route towards a nice weekend of relaxation. However, as the plane ascended higher and higher into the sky, the dark mechanic who had been working on the engines looked back with a sinister grin on his face, his eyes now glowing an ominous bright red as he stared up at the family he had just 'helped.'

"Perfect..." he said in a strange, modulate tone, "Enjoy your vacation while you can...For it will have a very sinister conclusion."

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

The flight to the lake went without incident as the Summers family landed in the calm waters of the remote Alaskan lake not far from the cabin where they would be staying at. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was majestic, and everything seemed so peaceful in this beautiful natural setting.

Christopher and Katherine Summers along with their two little boys spent the majority of the long weekend catching up on all the time that seemed to have slipped by in the busy, hectic world back in the city. Days were spent lounging around the lake, playing catch, fishing for trout in a nearby stream, hiking through the woods, and overall just spending time together as the close knit family that they were. Everything had gone so wonderfully...So peacefully in the pristine wilderness setting. It was a desperately needed vacation on their part and it proved to be every bit as relaxing as they hoped it would be.

But as with all vacations, it had to come to an end sooner or later. After a nice long weekend, the Summers family was ready to head back and return to their home in Anchorage. It had been a wonderful family getaway and it was somewhat of a shame that it had to end so soon, but they all hoped that there would be plenty of time for more family excursions like this in the future.

The plane took off from the water as it had many times before into rather cloudy skies to the south, but Christopher was an experienced pilot and he had navigated such conditions before without incident, so neither he nor his family were very worried as the old plane ascended into the evening sky and set their flight path back towards the airport. The two young boys were both tired and stayed unusually silent in the back seat, looking eager to get home, but still wishing that the vacation could have lasted longer. Both Christopher and Katherine smiled back at their tired young boys, finding it rather humorous how such young children could be so full of energy one moment and so tired the next.

"Looks like they wore themselves out," commented Christopher as he looked back briefly at his two young sons.

"So it seems," said Katherine in agreement, "I guess even energetic little children have their limits."

"I guess so..." said Christopher as he smiled at the sight of his sleeping boys.

"This was a really wonderful trip Chris," said Katherine as she turned back towards her husband, "It went better than I ever could have hoped."

"Well you and the boys deserve it," smiled Christopher, "I know I've been working myself silly these past few months, losing precious time as the kids start to grow into their own. But I promise...It'll all be over soon. Once I've worked through all my obligations at the airport and with the service, I'll have nothing but time for my family. And I promise you...I will not squander a single moment of it."

"You know I'm going to hold you to that," replied Katherine as she smiled warmly at her husband's promise, knowing he never made vows that he wasn't willing to keep.

"I had a feeling...And I would hope for nothing less from the woman I married," he said with a warm smile as he took his wife's hands in his while the plane continued to fly through the cloudy skies.

Then suddenly...The small plane was hit by a massive jolt that shook the two young boys right out of their light slumber.

"Daddy, what was that?" asked young Scott Summers.

Then, there was another jolt and the deafening bang of what sounded like an explosion, causing numerous alarms to blare throughout the small plane. Christopher Summers tried to draw on his many years of experience to frantically work and determine what had happened, but before he could do very much, another explosion echoed through the air, this time from the other side of the plane. Looking out at the wings, Christopher Summer's face turned to one of unbridled horror as he saw flames shooting out from the engines, causing a thick, noxious smoke to fill the interior of the small plane.

He looked over at his wife, who had a truly scared look on her face as she smelled the smoke in the air and looked back at their dazed and confused young children.

"Daddy...Something's burning," said Alex with a cough as more fumes poured into the passenger compartment.

The plane was rocked by another series of jolts and Christopher watched in horror as all of his instruments suddenly went dead. He looked back out at the engines and then back at his family...Until he finally reached a terrifying conclusion...They were going to crash.

"Get the parachutes!" he said to his wife as he struggled to manually engage the autopilot so as to keep the aircraft stable.

Katherine didn't waste time as she scrambled to the back, which only caused more confusion among little Scott and Alex as they began to grow quite scared at what was happening. As the older woman opened the emergency compartments housing the parachutes, she was shocked to find that the flames had seeped through the interior and had damaged the parachutes. One was still burning with flames while another one was already burnt to a crisp. There were only two...And there was no way of knowing if they had been damaged as well. But there was no time to find out as more turbulence rocked the plane and threw both Scott and Alex out of their seats.

Katherine quickly rushed over to her scared children's aid while Christopher finally managed to get the auto pilot working to keep the plane steady. But they were still losing altitude and there wasn't much time before the fires hit the fuel tanks. Looking back at his frightened family...He knew what he had to do.

"Hurry! Put them on!" urged Christopher as he saw only two parachutes, each one fitted only for a children's body.

"Mommy, Daddy, what's going on?" said a very scared Scott Summers as he began to take in just how frightened his parents were.

"Please honey," coaxed Katherine, trying hard to hide the fear in her eyes as she frantically worked to get the parachutes on the two scared little boys, "Just put these on...Everything will be okay."

The noxious fumes caused everyone on the plane to cough as the flames on the engines grew bigger and the turbulence grew more intense. But despite this, Christopher Summers managed to fight his way through the fumes and force open the hatch, sending in a powerful blast of cold Alaskan air through the small plane. Upon seeing this, both Scott and Alex began to ascertain what was going on, but their young minds didn't want to process it as their little legs almost refused to carry them in their state of heightened fear.

Both Christopher and Katherine Summers exchanged solemn looks...For they both knew what they were about to ask of their two sons would be truly horrific, but it was the only way.

"Scott...Alex..." said Christopher, trying to hide the sorrow in his tone, "I know you're both scared...But your mother and I are going to need the two of you to be very brave and jump."

"No! Please Daddy no!" cried Scott with tears filling his eyes, "Please! I don't want to go! I want to stay here with you and Mommy!"

The tone in his voice was like a thousand hot daggers through the heart as both Christopher and Katherine Summers could no longer bear to hold back their tears as more turbulence rocked the plane. These were their children...Their beautiful little boys...And now they were being asked to leave their mommy and daddy to an uncertain, but dark fate. But there was no avoiding this...There was no turning back. They knew that if they didn't jump...They would all die. And for the old couple, it was a truly heart wrenching decision because it would mean having their children live on while they wouldn't be around to love, care, and nurture them as any parent should.

Both Scott and Alex didn't want to do it and they clung desperately to their parents, not wanting to let go.

"I don't want to go!" cried little Alex, "I'm scared..."

"I know you are sweetie..." said Katherine, choking on her own words, "But we need you to jump. I know you both can do it...I know you both are brave enough."

"But...What about you?" asked Scott with tears steaming down his young face.

Both Christopher and Katherine Summers looked back at their scared little boys and began to cry, not knowing how to explain to such young children that their mommy and daddy were going to die and they were never going to see them again. But they had to live...It was their duty as parents to make sure that their children were safe. And if that meant that they had to die...So be it.

"We'll be fine boys..." said Christopher, his words thick with emotion, "I promise you...We'll be watching over you. Now please...I know it's hard...But I need you both to jump."

Christopher and Katherine Summers gave their two sons one last powerful hug...Knowing that this would probably be the last time they would ever embrace their children...But time was running out. As Scott and Alex stood before the icy Alaskan air, their breath was practically taken out of their lungs as fear consumed their young minds. There was nothing but darkness surrounding the burning plane as they watched the orange flames burn and consume the engines at an ever increasing pace. They didn't want to go...They didn't want to leave their parents. But if they stayed...They would die.

"Mommy...Daddy...Please," cried Scott as he looked back at his parents with tear filled eyes.

"It's okay..." said Christopher to his two sons as he now clung desperately to his wife, "You're both strong enough...I know you are. Just watch over your little brother, Scott. I promise you...We'll always be with you."

Then suddenly, another jolt rocked the plane and Christopher's keen ears knew what that was a sign of...And from that, he knew that time was up.

"Hurry! Jump now!"

With courage far exceeding their years, both Scott and Alex took one another's hand and leapt into the cold Alaskan air. Their parents watched them fall with tears in their eyes as they both held onto each other for what they knew would be their final moments. Scott and Alex hadn't been falling for more than a few seconds before they looked back at the plane still containing their parents...Only to watch in horror as the fires finally hit the fuel tanks and the plane exploded...Incinerating their mommy and daddy.

Both Scott and Alex tried to hold onto one another...But the shockwave from the explosion had torn them apart and some of the flaming debris hit little Alex, causing him to let out a pained scream that burned itself into Scott's mind. They both managed to pull their parachutes and they both opened despite the shockwave, slowing their decent. However, the debris still falling from the plane was showing down upon them incessantly, reeking havoc on their already turbulent decent. Scott knew that his little brother was in pain and he had promised to his father that he would protect him...But as he reached out desperately to him, he watched in horror as the top of his parachute caught fire.

"ALEX!" yelled Scott desperately as he kept reaching through the darkened sky towards his little brother...The only family he had left now.

"Scott..." said the younger boy weakly, trying to reach out to him as well.

Everything seemed so far away...Like something right out of a nightmare. Then...To Scott's horror...He saw the flames finally exact their toll on Alex's chute and watched with tears in his eyes as the fire caused some of the strings to snap...Sending the scared and already injured little boy falling down into the darkness.

"NO!" yelled Scott in pain as he watched his little brother disappear from sight...Knowing there was no hope for him, but wanting desperately to save him.

The young mind of Scott Summers couldn't have taken in anything more horrible. He had just jumped out of a flaming airplane...Looking back only to see his mother and father consumed by flames. Now...He had just watched his little brother fall to his death. No words in existence could describe such a horrible pain as Scott's tears mixed with the icy air. Then...He suddenly felt his decent accelerate as his parachute caught fire as well. However, young Scott Summers didn't seem to register this as the great shock and unequaled trauma to his system seemed to finally take its toll. Knowing his whole family was now dead and not knowing if he himself was about to join them...Young Scott Summers finally passed out as the world around him faded to complete darkness.

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

It was a dreary, rainy night on the back roads of Connecticut just outside the city. A long, thick sheet of gray clouds covered the entire sky, dumping a steady stream of rain upon the land below as it had for many hours now. It was well into the evening and there were few cars out and about at this hour and in this nasty weather, but one such car that was making its way down the twisting roads was that of a black Sedan carrying a small family of four.

They were the Greys, a fairly typical upper middle class family from the suburbs of Connecticut. John Grey, a respected professor and family man rode with his wife Elaine and his two young daughters Jean and Sara. They were as close and happy as any family could be, not the kind that would have stood out all that much in a superficial sense. They lived a fairly normal life wrought with few heavy complications and it was a true blessing for them to have such a gift in such a vast and unforgiving world.

"Daddy, could you please turn on the radio? I'm bored..." said eleven year old Sara Grey from the back seat as the black Sedan drove slower down the familiar back roads than usual because of the weather.

"Sorry sweetie, but we can't get any decent reception in this weather," said John, keeping his focus on the road through the worsening weather, "But don't worry, we're almost home."

"Can't we play a tape though?" asked the ever restless and impatient Sara.

"Sara, your daddy needs to concentrate on the road now," said Elaine, choosing to let her husband focus on getting them through this nasty New England weather, "Just sit tight...It won't be long."

Sara slumped back in her seat and let out a sigh as she turned towards her seven year old sister, Jean. Compared to her, Jean wasn't as restless or as impatient. She was more the typical quiet little girl with fiery red hair and a smile that could melt the heart of anybody who saw it. She was young and lived a blessed life that many children throughout the world didn't have a chance to live. Such notions about the ever complicated world just didn't exist in the mind of a seven year old girl and it was that precious innocence that was so important to hold on to, for such joyousness was rare to those who knew the dangers of the world around them.

Jean Grey was looking out her window, fixated on the eerily beautiful scenery that passed by as the car made its way down the winding back roads that they had all been down so many times before. However, this time the dark and dreary rain seemed to add something more to this usually mundane scene and it captivated the young girl's imagination as she looked out with a sense of wonder on her face.

"What are you looking at?" asked her older sister, seeing the way she was staring out the window.

"Nothing..." said Jean, not tearing her gaze away from the passing sights outside the window, "Just watching the outside...It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Jean...We've ridden down these roads like a zillion times before," said Sara, not seeing what it was that her little sister was fixated on, "I know how they look."

"But it's different now..." said Jean as she smiled at the eerily calm and serene landscape outside her window, "The rain and the night just...They make it seem so pretty."

"That's stupid," scoffed the older girl, "Rain doesn't make things pretty...It makes things wet."

"Sara..." scorned Elaine as she looked back at her ever restless daughters, "It's not stupid. If Jean thinks the rain can make things pretty, then you shouldn't poke fun at that. Everybody sees the world differently...Now apologize."

"I'm sorry..." said Sara, rolling her eyes at her mother's somewhat overbearing nature.

Jean continued to look out the window at the tall shadowy trees that passed them by like an eerie scene from a book or a movie. What some children may have found scary, Jean found almost enchanting as she kept looking out and watching the every majestic world she knew pass her by.

John Grey couldn't help but smile as he looked back at his two daughters and the way they both seemed to bring out the best in the world around them. Both Jean and Sara had such a glowing aura to that it was almost impossible for anyone not to be taken by it's majesty in his opinion. It always brought a warm feeling to his heart every time he felt the gentle peace his daughters gave him when he saw them smile and laugh. And both he and his wife knew that there were few things that could equate to such a feeling.

"It's been a long week for you John," said Elaine as both Jean and Sara seemed to settle down in the back, "Maybe you should take it easy this weekend and let me handle Jean's soccer tryouts."

"I know honey...But it's just one of those weeks, that's all. It will get better," said John with confidence, "And besides, I don't want to miss Jean's first tryouts. What kind of father would I be if did?"

"One who's conscious about his health?" quipped Elaine with a light hearted smile.

"Oh come now Elaine, you know me better than that," said John with a grin, "Family before health."

"Yes, I know...I just feel that it's my job to at least try no matter how redundant my efforts may be."

"And that's one of the many reasons I married you..." he said with a warm smile, "You worry about the things I don't let myself worry about because I'm too stressed."

"Well...If I don't, who will?" said Elaine with a smile in response as the black Sedan turned down one of the most difficult parts of the road.

This was a drive that John had made many times before without incident in weather just as bad as this. Neither he nor his family thought twice about it, placing their trust in him and the car as they simply sat, waiting to arrive back at their home which they had lived in for many years now. Nothing seemed amiss to them and they had no reason to suspect otherwise. But as John began making the turn down the most treacherous parts of the road...Something happened.

Suddenly, the headlights to the car cut off and the windshield wipers that had been going strong suddenly stalled. In a faction of a second, John Grey was completely blinded by the sudden darkness and the obscured rain on the windshield. He tried to keep going down the road he knew so well, but the sharp turns and slick roadways made that all but impossible as time itself seemed to slow down for both him and his family as what happened next happened very quickly.

With a horrifying shriek, the wheels began to skid on the wet road, causing the car to suddenly veer off and careen into the rough, hilly terrain that was littered with tall, imposing trees. John tried to hook the wheel back in order to keep from skidding off of the road...But it was too late.

With terrifying yells echoing through the small car, the black Sedan flipped over as it tumbled down the hills towards the heavily wooded areas below. A paralyzing sense of fear gripped the entire family as everything happened within the span of a few heart stopping seconds. They were powerless to do anything...There was no way to stop it.

The ghastly sounds of shattering glass and bending metal echoed through the car, nearly masking the screams of the two terrified little girls in the back, who were only beginning to process what was going on. Then suddenly...The tumbling car came to an abrupt stop as it finally crashed into a large, imposing tree with a loud bang...Followed by a deathly silence. Then suddenly...Jean Grey let out a terrifying scream as a powerful, painful feeling shot through her mind and she heard the collective cries of her entire family echo inside her head. It was as if she had felt them...She had felt their pain. She had felt the pain of her entire family within her young, fragile mind as they all died almost instantly from the crash.

The air bags had not deployed...Every seatbelt except Jean's had failed. The car was now resting upside down in the thick mud as the rain kept pouring outside. There were no voices...There was no movement except for that of the scared, traumatized Jean Grey as she struggled to undo he seatbelt in highly warped interior of the car. Since hers had been the only one that had not failed...She had survived. There was glass and twisted metal everywhere and a small trail of blood was trickling down from the side of her young face that mixed with her tears of fear and sorrow. There was a powerful pain in her arm and a large bruise on her shoulder that had chunks of glass within it, but the young redheaded girl almost completely ignored it as shock gave way to horror as her fragile mind began to process what was happening.

Finally, she managed to undo the seatbelt and she collapsed to the confined area that was now riddled with mud, rain, and glass. Tears were streaming down the young girls face after feeling what she had just experienced in the depths of her mind. It was so...Strange to her to feel thoughts and sensations that were not from her. No words could describe it...But nothing could possibly equate to the pain and horror that she felt from it.

Feeling dazed and confused, Jean began to take in her grizzly surroundings. There was a slight pain in her neck from the wound on her shoulder and there was still blood trickling down her face as her clothes began to soak up all the mud and rain that was building up around her. Then...She turned to the side of her and was met with a truly ghastly scene.

"Sara..." she said weakly, her voice choked by pain and sorrow.

Her older sister was completely motionless, her neck snapped from the force of the crash. She was completely still with a small amount of blood seeping from her mouth. Jean tried to shake her, hoping she would wake up...But no matter what she did, her big sister wouldn't move...She wouldn't wake up. More tears filled the eyes of the young redheaded girl. The aura of innocence and happiness that once surrounded Jean Grey had been shattered like the glass that lay in shards around her as she wept at the sight of her unmoving sister.

Then...The young girl turned her attention to the front...Or what was left of it. Her parents had bore the blunt end of the crash and since the airbags hadn't deployed and the seatbelts failed, there was no way they could have survived. The windshield had been shattered by the force of the tree and parts from the front had nearly impaled John and Elaine Grey...Killing them almost instantly...Just long enough for them to suffer so that young Jean Grey's mind could sense it.

Her mother's body was completely soaked in blood, for the pieces of glass had practically torn her flesh apart and her faulty seatbelt had almost flung her into it. Jean fought through the pain in her young body and reached up to touch her mother...But all she felt was blood. She then saw her father, whose head impacted the steering wheel with force powerful enough to break his neck while shards of glass impaled themselves in his body. His skull had nearly been crushed because of the force and there was blood trickling down his nose, his mouth, and even his eyes...Which were still open and staring back at Jean with a deathly gaze.

It was a truly horrifying sight for which there were no words to describe. Physically, mentally, and emotionally...Jean Grey was in a state of unbridled anguish. She began crying hysterically as she looked back into the eyes of her dead father, having remembered the last sensations that he, her mother, and her sister had felt in their final moments. It was as if she was in a horrifying nightmare that she could not wake up from and she had felt everything as if it had happened to her. Tears were streaming down her face...Mixing with blood and rain water as she began to shiver in a state of unparalleled fear and sorrow. And through the darkness of the night, the powerful cries of anguish from a truly distraught little girl who had just had her innocence and childhood shattered permeated through the night.

"Mommy...Daddy...Sara...Please...Wake up. Mommy...Daddy...Sara...Wake up...Please wake up...Please..."

Unknown to the deeply distraught and traumatized little girl who was still crying her heart and soul out for the family she had just lost...A dark presence observed the wrecked car from thick woods. The dark, dreary rain and the shadows of the tall trees seemed to blend perfectly around the sinister presence...As if it was attracted to his malicious aura. His body was covered in black...Yet his face and skin were as white as snow. His very demeanor was like that of a demonic figure from a thousand of the worst possible nightmares any conscious being could imagine. His eyes glowed a bright red color that seemed to penetrate the thick darkness of the night and as he looked upon the tragic wreck before him...A sinister smile spread across his face...As if he had just seen exactly what he wanted to as he turned away and disappeared into the night.

*3 Years Later*

In a rather shady part of New York City, a fleet of ominous black cars, unmarked and inconspicuous, pulled up in front of an orphanage. The building looked as though it had seen better days and weather outside was dreary, adding somewhat of a more solemn feel towards the setting. However, this did not seem to register with the occupants of the cars, which were mainly military personnel and causally dressed GURSO soldiers armed with concealed weapons.

In the lead car the general, the Colonel, and Dr. Essex led the discrete, secret convoy and there was constant communication between them on secure bandwidths so they could coordinate themselves to be as inconspicuous as possible.

"Are you sure this is the place?" said the Colonel as he looked skeptically at the run down orphanage before him.

"Positive Colonel," said Dr. Essex in full confidence, "As I have said before, I have been watching over this young lad for three years now. I know this boy's history and I know that he is an alpha class mutant with every bit the potential that Shadow Cell needs for a future generation of elite soldiers."

"Well with all due respect doctor..." said the Colonel as he, the general, and Essex stepped out of the car, "An orphanage isn't exactly the prime breeding ground for soldiers last I checked."

"Sometimes the most precious of gems are found in the dirtiest of places, Colonel," quipped Dr. Essex with a grin as several other officers and a few disguised GURSO soldiers stepped out of the cars around them.

"But are you certain that this kid has what it takes?" said the general as he and the Colonel did a quick survey of the area and the surrounding cars to make sure that they didn't look too suspicious, "I've done some reading on his file...And I'm not sure a ten year old orphan is the best candidate for a project this ambitious. Aren't there other mutants out there that we could use with greater ease and assurance?"

"None quite like this strapping young lad General," answered Essex with a confident tone, "I know it's hard to believe given your lack of expertise in the fields that I have spent the better part of my life mastering, but I have been watching this kid for some time...And he and the girl are the only one I want for this."

"But why them?" asked the Colonel, who was also familiar with the information on these little subjects that the doctor seemed so predicated on having.

"That Colonel...Is a bit more difficult to explain," said Dr. Essex with a grin, "But for now, just trust me on this one. All the work has already been done with these two and it will be easier on us all if we go with what I have already meticulously planned. Both this boy and the little girl we'll pick up later are orphans, so nobody will take much notice in the knowledge that they we'll take them in. In addition, we won't have to deal with the logistics of family matters and it will give as a clean slate to work with when we build them up as a team and a unit."

Dr. Nathanial Essex spoke with confidence and poise as he looked back at the building housing the first of his most precious specimens. Inwardly, he had been waiting for this day for a long time...Longer than any of the officers present could possibly imagine. There were many things driving this enigmatic doctor, but there were few that he was willing to share or reveal at the moment.

"So how are we going to do this doctor?" asked the General as he got final word via radio that they were all clear.

"Like so many other aspects of life General...I feel that it would be best if we keep this simple," answered Dr. Essex as he then turned towards the Colonel, "That means no armed GURSO soldiers present and no excessive shows of force. It would be better if we got young Scott Summers to join us by choice rather than forcing him, for it would ensure future loyalty to our cause."

"And just how are you going to get a ten year old to join something I doubt he has any understanding of?" asked the Colonel skeptically.

"You need not worry about that Colonel...I have already taken care of the matter," said Dr. Essex with a grin, "Besides...Look at this place. Do you really think he'll be leaving much behind by choosing to come with us?"

The doctor's use of logic was good enough for the General as he followed Dr. Essex into the building. Behind them, the Colonel ordered the GURSO soldiers present to stand down, but he kept his radio on just in case. As skeptical as he was about part of this plan, he did see the logic behind keeping armed soldiers out of sight until they were needed.

As he caught up with the doctor and the General, he found himself going over some of the data on this young boy with the file that Dr. Essex had given them when he proposed the project. In addition to being very ambitious, Shadow Cell was breaking quite a few rules by bring children into it...A major violation of international laws to say the least. But given the nature of black programs, laws like that were being broken on a regular basis, so it was pointless to worry about it at this point. Nevertheless, there were still some other points to this project that the Colonel found to be inconsistent even though the General seemed far less bothered by it. Then again, the General hadn't been dealing with mutants as long as the Colonel had.

"This place is a dump," commented the Colonel as he took in the rather dreary building around him, "I don't see how anybody who stays here could be much of a soldier."

"It's a harsh existence Colonel," replied Dr. Essex, "There are too many orphans out there and not enough resources to take care of them all. Some get lucky...Some don't. And in this particular case...We're dealing with someone who wasn't very lucky at all."

"So I see," said the General as he continued looking over the file, "It says here that the boy is the sole survivor of a rather nasty plane crash three years ago that killed both his parents and his little brother. According to his medical history, he was in a coma for three months while they worked to recover what was left of the bodies. The state seized all his family's assets to pay off back taxes and he's been a ward of the state ever since."

"A sad story indeed," said the Colonel as he looked over the papers on the boy once again, "But what's even more disturbing in my opinion is the medical charts that show psychological issues of deep trauma and depression. It also says here that he suffered tremendous child abuse in some of the foster homes he was sent to before he ended up here."

"I am aware of the boy's past Colonel," assured the doctor as they neared the front desk, "But trust me...I know he has what it takes. The deep trauma of loss that he suffered at such a young age will make him easier to mold and aid in utilizing the killer instinct that he's going to need if he is to become a master of the battlefield. You just can't expect it to happen overnight. All projects, no matter how small, require patience...And that's exactly what we'll need with this boy and the little girl we have yet to obtain."

"I have patience doctor," quipped the Colonel, "That's what being stuck in the same rank for the better part of a decade will do to a man. I just like to consider all possibilities both good and bad in any situation."

"Which is why I want you on this project Colonel," added the General, "Thanks to some rather precarious coaxing on my part with the higher ups, I managed to obtain a rather sizable budget to work with. However, given all of our collective histories, we cannot afford to squander it."

"And we shall not, General," said Dr. Essex confidently, "By the time this project is in full swing, the higher ups will be kissing our boots and Nick Fury, the CIA, and all the other organizations that have been holding us back will be left with their thumbs up their asses."

"And that's something I'll look forward to doctor," said the Colonel with a grin, ambitious for true status after so many years of been stuck with grunt work.

As the three men talked to one of the social workers and stated their business, which they had to keep secret for the most part, they were left to wait for the head of the orphanage, who would see to this little transaction personally due to the complicated nature of the situation. While they were all waiting, the General closed the file and handed it back to Dr. Essex, who seemed the most eager to see this curious young boy that he had been keeping track of for some time now.

"So what kind of powers does this kid have?" asked the General as they waited patiently for the head of the orphanage to show up.

"It's rather complicated, General," said the doctor, who knew the nature of the boy all too well, "But in the simplest of terms...His mutation gives his body the ability to metabolize specific energy, namely that of the sun, and turn it into a photo-concussive blast."

"Sounds destructive..." commented the Colonel.

"Which is one of the many reasons why I want him for Shadow Cell," continued Essex, "He's a walking force of firepower...Capable of bringing great destruction to the battlefield. And once he goes through my bio-mutagenic accelerator, that power will be greatly enhanced and perhaps even yield other useful abilities as well."

"I guess we'll just have to wait and see," said the General, who had become all the more eager to see project Shadow Cell manifest after hearing so many of the possibilities that the doctor had told him about, "But if this kid is only ten...Won't that mean it will take longer for his power to show? I thought that mutant abilities didn't manifest until puberty."

"The nature of mutation is very fickle General," answered Dr. Essex in his wise tone, "There is no definite measure yet for which we can predict when and how which genes will manifest and the X-gene is no exception. While you're right that puberty tends to be the main ignition force for most mutants, there are some variations as there are with most things in life. I have learned through my work in the Prodigy Project that it is possible for mutants, particularly high level alpha mutants like the two specimens that we are going to use, to manifest their powers at a much earlier age if they experience some form of heavy trauma or deep stress. It isn't exactly understood how such trauma causes mutations to activate so much sooner, but I can safely say that it is evident in all the studies I've done."

"Well you know more about it than I do doctor," said the General, not fully understanding the complex nature of what Dr. Essex was describing, but not concerning himself with that since it was not his field.

"That I most certainly do...I am the best in my field after all," said the doctor with a rather ominous grin.

"So you think that all these factors are going to make this kid a soldier worthy of Shadow Cell?" asked the Colonel.

"I don't think it Colonel...I know it," he said sternly, feeling completely confident in his knowledge, which he knew was far more complex than anybody could possibly imagine, "This boy...Scott Summers...Will be the first subject of Project Shadow Cell. He has everything we need...He has everything we're looking for. But keep in mind my friends...He is only the first, but he will most certainly not be the last to join the ranks of this most glorious project."

As the every mysterious doctor stood in a poise of complete assurance, both the Colonel and the General had no such words to dispute a man of such determination. Nothing was going to change his mind and nothing was going to stand in his way...That, he had made clear. He seemed completely set on taking Scott Summers and Jean Grey...Two young traumatized children...And using them for his ambitious plans. Then finally, as the head of the orphanage stepped out to greet the three men, a sinister grin formed on the face of Nathanial Essex...For he knew it was time.

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

AN: I'll leave it there for now. Scott and Jean's pasts are quite dark in this, but unfortunately they kind of have to be if Dr. Essex is going to use them properly. And just so there's no confusion later on...Yes, Alex did die in that plane crash because of the 'mechanic's' tampering, so he is dead in this AU. Sorry people, but trust me, it works better that way. And now Jean Grey has a dark, troubled past as well. I know it's very different with her experiencing something not at all dissimilar to Scott with losing her entire family in the span of an instant, but like I said, it is somewhat necessary for this fic. In addition, I don't want people to read the same old stereotypical Mrs. Perfect Jean that so many people bash in so many fics. Jean is not perfect at all either way you look at it no matter what universe she's in and I don't think she or anybody else deserves to be bashed in any way, shape, or form. But stay tuned! Things are very different for Scott Summers and Jean Grey in this universe, but you'll just have to read on to see how radically different it is in the coming chapters of this very ambitious story! So what do you think so far? Please tell me! I'd love to know! Send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a lot for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!

HOLD ON! DON'T LEAVE YET! REVIEW!!!
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