5 years after Sinister Soldiers, a sinister ghost from the past arises and brings Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 of Shadow Cell out of retirement one last time. Jott, Wanda/OC
Chapter 1: At Ease
AN: Takes place 5 years after the events of "Sinister Soldiers." Scott and Jean are married and so are Vince and Wanda. They have kids, homes, and a simpler life. This is a sequel so I'd recommend you check out "Sinister Soldiers" first to get the gist of it. Hope you like it!
Summery: The lives of the former members of Shadow Cell is shattered once more when they receive a visit from an old friend and learn of a sinister ghost from the past that promises to permanently end their peaceful world. Now Shadow Cell must dawn their uniforms once more to put a stop to it before their old nemesis truly has the last laugh.
Ages: 5 years in the future from the end of "Sinister Soldiers." Scott and Jean are 23, Vincent is 22, Wanda is 21, and X23 is 19. Nathan is 5, Rachel is 3, and Megan (Vince and Wanda's daughter) is 3.
Pairings: Scott/Jean, Vince/Wanda with mentions of Rogue/Remy, Logan/Ororo, Warren/Betsy, and others.
AN: 'These mean character thoughts or psychic communication.'
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this fic. They are all the property of Marvel. Vincent Freeman, however, belongs to my good friend Agent-G. He has given me permission to use him so this fic is dedicated to him!
And as always, I ask that each and every one of you take the time to REVIEW! Send all your comments to me via email or post them on the fanfiction website. I don't care which you do as long as you REVIEW! Thank you all and I hope you enjoy this story!
Throughout human history, wars have come and gone. People see them as righteous, tragic, brutal, and heroic. Yet most will never know what it is like to fight on the field of battle. Only through soldiers who bear their hearts and souls for what they believe in can the true stories of war be told. And this is their story.
Five years ago, the most powerful team of soldiers ever assembled was disbanded. Project Shadow Cell was the peak of perfection in art of warfare and under the guise of Dr. Nathanial Essex, the lives of five mutant children were forever change and the course of human history was never the same.
They fought off armies, destroyed entire organizations, and saved the world many times. Yet nobody even knew they existed. They were shadows in the maze of human history and their contributions would never be known to the public at large. But that didn't bother them. For Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Vincent Freeman, Wanda Maximoff, and Laura X23 Howlett, they had done their duty and preserved their honor.
Now Shadow Cell was no more, Mr. Sinister was dead, and the mutant soldiers lived quiet lives now at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. They were married, had children, and enjoyed a level of peace once thought impossible. But history can be a cruel mistress, for she can rear her head with a vengeance.
In a quaint house near the lake on the grounds of the Xavier Institute, the sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon. It was early and most everybody on the institute grounds was still sleeping. However, for the Summers family, things got going early.
"Nathan! Nathan, come on! You were first last time!" said a little redheaded girl no older than three.
"It doesn't matter, Rachel! I'm faster than you, so I still get first dibs!" replied a five year old boy as he scurried down the hall of his home with his little sister following close behind.
"No fair! You always get first!"
"You know the rules, sis! You fall behind, you've gotta catch back up!"
The youthful cries of their youth echoed through the halls and reached young Jean Grey-Summers. She couldn't help but smile as she listened to her children run about without a care in the world. No matter how many times she heard it, that sound always struck her in a way few things could.
Standing over the stove wearing a red bathrobe cooking scrambled eggs, it was hard to imagine that she, a 23 year old wife and mother of two, was once one of the deadliest soldiers in the world. As Phoenix, the prime psychic of Shadow Cell, she had killed countless souls. It was a part of her past she could never escape, but she set such thoughts aside as she watched her children take their seats at the table.
"Hey, you two are up early," she said with a smile as she gave them a good morning kiss.
"It's Saturday, Mommy. You always cook our favorite on Saturday!" said Nathan in an excited tone.
"I know, but remember what I said about breakfast specials..." said Jean with a measure of motherly wisdom.
"Don't fight over being first when we all get the same meal," the two young children said in perfect unison.
"Good," she smiled, giving them both a kiss as a reward, "Now apologize to your sister, Nathan."
"Sorry Rachel," said the little boy obediently and honestly.
"It's okay big brother."
Satisfied with her their resolution, Jean went back to fixing her eggs and just as she was finishing the first batch, her husband made his entrance, his hair still wet from the shower as he pulled his beautiful wife into a good morning embrace.
"Good morning, beautiful," he said, giving her an affectionate kiss as he snaked his arms around her waist.
"Morning, hun," said Jean with a smile, returning his gesture with a kiss of her own, "Hungry?"
"Aren't we all?" he grinned as he turned to his two children.
"Daddy! Daddy! When is Aunt Wanda and Uncle Vince going to bring Maggie over?" asked Rachel as she ran up to her father's side.
"Not until this afternoon, sweetheart," said Scott as he scooped his daughter up in his arms, "Remember, they have to eat breakfast too."
"But what will we do until then?" whined Nathan, ever the impatient one.
"Tell you what...After breakfast we'll all go out to the lake to watch the sunrise and do our morning CQC training. And before you know it, they'll be here."
"The lake?" said the excited little boy, "You promise?"
"On my honor, Nathan."
That was good enough for the two young kids as they eagerly awaited their breakfast. For Scott and Jean, it was a sight they never got tired of. As former soldiers of Shadow Cell, it was hard to get over how much things had changed. They were married now. They had two beautiful kids together. They had a home near a beautiful lake on the grounds of the Xavier Institute. And they couldn't have been happier.
Being soldiers and being parents were two completely different, yet equally challenging tasks. Their soldier traits carried over in the way they raised Nathan and Rachel. They were very strict on teaching them the value of honor, loyalty, and respect. But they never went at it the way their old drill instructors had. They had decided early on that they would distance their children from that life as much as possible.
However, they found it was hard to get away from their lives as soldiers, especially when their children took after them so strongly.
In a house not far from the Summers, the light of the rising sun was creeping in through the windows into the master bedroom. The two occupants, Vincent and Wanda Freeman, were both lying comfortably under the sheets. However, they were wide awake despite the early hour.
It was a common part of their morning routine. After years of waking up at four AM in the military, they still kept the habit of minimal sleep. But instead of arising to the sound of drill sergeants, they woke up to peacefully take in the morning sun together.
"Mmm...Summer sunrises," said Wanda as she snuggled up close to her husband.
"Yeah, can't think of too many better feelings to wake up to," said Vincent Freeman as he admired the warm light bathing the room.
"Oh? Is this one of them?" she asked as she rolled over on top of him and captured his lips.
It was a hell of a way to begin a morning. And after living through so many horrors growing up with insane asylums and inhumane mutant experimentation, it was a welcome feeling for Vincent and Wanda Freeman.
"Mmm...I can safely say it is," said Vincent as he lovingly embraced his wife.
"Glad you feel that way, because it would take a Serbian death squad to get me up from this."
However, no sooner had she uttered those words did they hear the joyous cries of a little three year old girl, echoing through the hall.
"Mommy! Daddy!" came an angelic voice, "Are you up yet? It's morning! It's morning!"
Smiles formed on their faces as they turned to see their bedroom door fly open and an energetic little girl scurry into the room, leaping on her parent's bed.
"Hey there, baby girl!" said Wanda as she took the three year old in her arms, "Aren't you a ray of sunshine this morning?"
"I can't help it! Daddy promised he'd make chocolate chip pancakes this morning!" said the excited little girl.
"Did he now?" grinned Wanda, "Well then let's hope he can make enough for both of us."
"Ah, you know I can't say no to the two most beautiful girls in the world," said Vincent as he sat up and embraced his family in his strong arms, "Just let mommy and daddy shower and we'll be right down, okay Maggie?"
"Okay," said the little girl, looking back up at her daddy with those haunting blue eyes, "Can I practice my karate outside until then?"
"As long as you stay on the porch, sweety," said Vincent, "But don't wear yourself out too much. Remember, we're going over to Aunt Jean and Uncle Scott's this afternoon."
"Yay! We can finally finish our game of GI Joe!"
And with that, the energetic little girl ran off to do her thing. It was remarkable how some girls play with dolls while others like Maggie got into karate and CQC. But as the daughter of two powerful soldiers, it was in her blood.
"She's going to be a hell of a fighter one day," said Vincent with a sigh as he watched her run off.
"Yeah...Just like her, daddy," said Wanda coyly, tracing her hands around her husband's bear chest.
"I just can't get over how eager she is to learn it. She's only three and already she can already do things Marines can't do."
"Does it ever worry you?" asked Wanda in a more serious tone.
"Of course it does," sighed Vincent, "I guess I'm just afraid of her following in our footsteps one day. It's a dangerous life that we've been trying to leave behind."
"Hey, you said it yourself, hotshot...We are who we are and we can't escape that. I'm not too crazy about it at times either, but every time I look at Maggie I just can't help but see a true fighter in her."
"I know. I don't call her my little warrior for nothing," said Vincent with a proud grin, "But still..."
"Hey, don't let yourself dwell on stuff like that on a day like today," said Wanda as she took her lover's hand and pulled him off the bed, "Why don't we jump in the shower together so I can make all your little worries and concerns just melt away?"
"Hmm...I would like that," said Vincent coyly, "Just lead the way my beautiful wife."
Hand in hand, Vincent and Wanda Freeman eagerly made their way to the shower to usher in the morning in their own special way. It was times like this they were grateful for the chances they had been given.
After all the suffering they endured growing up, they had found a wonderful life together. They had a place to call home, friends they were very close with, and a daughter they adored to no end. The married couple had a lot to be thankful for and they had no intention of squandering a single moment of this gift they called life.
In the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, the rising sun awoke few from their slumber. Saturday morning was everybody's time to sleep in, but for some that was easier said than done.
Laura X23 Howlett was legendary for her endurance when it came to sleep. Ever since the institute expanded into a full fledged school, students young and old were awed by her ability to stay alert and focused for days at a time if. And recently, that endurance was being pushed to new limits with the birth of her little sister, Kendall.
Laura was the only former Shadow Cell member who chose to stay at the mansion. After Jean became pregnant five years ago, she and Scott used the money from their vast inheritance from their late instructor, Magnum, to build a house for themselves on the institute grounds where they could peacefully raise a family. Two years later, Vincent and Wanda followed suit as they too got married and had a kid of their own.
But Laura decided she could help out most if she stayed. Besides, her father, Logan, lived within these walls and she wanted to be around him so they could catch up on the things they missed as a family.
In addition, Logan had married Ororo two years ago, giving Laura a full fledged family. And a little over a year later, she gave birth to their first child, Kendall. So now not only did she have someone to officially call 'mommy,' she also had a little sister. And for someone who was born in a test tube, her family meant a lot to her.
"There you go, Kendall. Drink up," said Laura as she fed the six month old infant her bottle of formula.
Sitting in little Kendall's quaint little room, Laura smiled down at the little bundle of flesh she called her sister. Ever since she was born, she had gone above and beyond to help out her mom and dad. They were both stressed enough with their duties as teachers and instructors and she took it upon herself to pick up the slack.
"That a girl," said the former living weapon as Kendall finished the last few drops, "You're gonna be big and strong one day...Just like your mommy and daddy."
"Don't forget her big sister," came a voice from the doorway, drawing Laura's attention to a familiar presence.
"Father," said Laura as she got up with little Kendall still in her arms, "I thought you were going to try and sleep in this morning."
"Ah, you know me, darlin'. Sleepin' in just ain't my style."
Walking up to his two beautiful daughters, Logan smiled at the sight before him. It still felt so unreal. He was a father and a husband. He, former Weapon X, was responsible for a family.
But he set such thoughts aside as he took the bundle of flesh in his arms and held her protectively as any father should.
"So how's mom, doing?" asked Laura as she watched her father hold Kendall.
"She's doing alright. You know her. She's strong, but sometimes she forgets she ain't the one with a healing factor."
"Your stubbornness must be rubbing off on her," made Laura, earning her a look from her father.
"I guess so," he sighed, "But I convinced her to rest up today. She's been pushin' herself hard lately."
"No kidding. But if you want, I can come back from Scott and Jean's early to help out with dinner."
"Nah, this is your day too, darlin'. You need to unwind just as much. And what better way than hangin' out with yer war buddies?"
Laura just laughed at her father's wit, for even as a married man he was still Wolverine.
"I'll let them know that when I see them later on," she said as she turned to make her leave, "Give mom a big hug for me when she wakes up. I'm going to go for a morning bike-ride."
"Will do, darlin'," said Logan as he set little Kendall down in her crib, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"Whatever dad," she said, rolling her eyes such words.
As Laura made her way down the stairs and into the foyer, she passed by the living room, which had a few occupants despite the early hour. Passing by on her way to the garage, she saw that it was Raven Darkholm, who had become a good friend to Shadow Cell, her companion, Irene, and a very pregnant Rogue, who was eating a jar of peanut butter much to Laura's shock.
Since Rogue and Remy began dating five years ago, they got pretty hot and heavy. Then around eight months ago, Remy asked her to marry him. At first it came as a major shock to her and she didn't answer off the bat, but she eventually accepted and just a month before the wedding, she found out she was pregnant.
Mystique, of course, had a few choice words with Remy for getting her daughter pregnant before they were married. But the thought of being a Grandmother helped calm her down and in order to help her daughter through this, she invited her old friend and former caretaker to Rogue, Irene, to help out with the coming baby.
It was tough since Rogue was one cranky pregnant lady. Between cravings and mood swings, she made Logan look mellow. But when she was eating, she was docile enough and at the moment, she and her family were watching the news.
"Another day of anti-mutant protests erupted in Washington today as Senator Edward Kelly's repeated efforts to push the Mutant Registration Act have once again been stalled. This is the second time this session that the bill has been held back for a vote and many supporters, such as internationally renowned industrialist and self proclaimed Christian revivalist William Stryker, have expressed great frustration with lawmakers. Stryker has been quoted as saying 'The repeated delay of this important legislation is detrimental to our security and if we don't act fast then our children will be the one to pay the price.'"
"Jeez Rogue, all this garbage can't be good for your baby," commented Laura.
"Ah can't help it," she said as she shoveled more peanut butter in her mouth with a fork, "Damn hormones got me cravin' this stuff like no tomorrow."
"I wasn't talking about the peanut butter," she chuckled.
"Yes, I agree. The news as of lately is just too depressing," said Raven as she picked up the remote and started flipping through the channels, "So I take it you're heading out early?"
"Yeah, I thought I'd go for a nice long bike-ride before I head over to Scott and Jean's," said Laura as she stretched her limbs, "Care to join me, Raven? I'll give you another chance to race me!"
"Maybe some other time," replied the shape shifter with a humored grin, "I've got to stay here for Rogue's ultrasound."
"And just think, Raven, in a few months you'll be a full fledged grandmother," added Irene, who was sitting next to Rogue, occasionally rubbing her bulging stomach.
"Don't remind me. I already feel old enough," she muttered in response.
"Ah yer only as young as ya feel, momma!" said Rogue in an encouraging tone.
"And besides, you don't age so why worry?" added Laura as she turned to make her leave, "Anyways, I'll see you guys later. And when Remy makes up, let him know he's still got dish duty."
"Don't worry, sugah. I'll make sure he remembers," assured Rogue with a grin, "Mah hormones will keep him in line."
With one final wave, Laura left her friends to the TV and mounted her motorcycle. Thanking back to Rogue's impending child, she didn't know how Remy managed. But then again, he was the one who married her.
It was a bit of a drag, however, because with Remy now happily domesticated, she had fewer riding buddies. At first, she would ride with her father and race down the back road with him. Later, Mystique showed off her biking skills and as an ex mercenary, she was always a challenge. Remy also joined later on, but having a pregnant wife left little time for such activities and young Laura would have to go it alone.
"Ah the morning sun and the hum of a hog," she said as she put on her sunglasses and revved up her bike, "What better way to start the day?"
Later that day, the Freemans met up with the Summers at their house for their usual get together. As soldiers and comrades, they still shared that same familial bond and they had made it a common ritual to spend time together as the closely nit friends they were.
Laura joined them later as well, arriving on her roaring motorcycle and giving her nieces and nephew a big hug. Nathan, Rachel, and Maggie had always adored her and bore the uncanny talent to get the once reclusive soldier to smile. But she didn't mind and she embraced the happiness they radiated. It helped make her family feel more complete.
No sooner had Nathan, Rachel, and Maggie linked up had they started to enjoy their summer fun. Scott had set up a sprinkler and the three kids eagerly took to playing their care free games of youth. All the while, the proud parents and former unit just sat back and admired the show.
"Come on, Maggie! Don't let Nate get ahead of us!" exclaimed a playful Rachel as she and Maggie were trying to catch Nate in a game of tag.
"Face it, girls! I'm too fast for you!" said Nathan proudly as he jumped through the sprinkler.
"We'll see about that!" grinned Maggie as she kept up the chase.
It was a sobering sight to the former soldiers of Shadow Cell as they watched their children play without a care in the world. Since most of them didn't have a happy childhood, it was surreal seeing the joyous frolicking of youth.
But that didn't bother them, for they wanted their children to experience the kinds of things they had been denied.
"Maggie's really growing fast," mused Vincent as he watched her chase down Nate and tackle him to the grass, "Hard to believe that I was only changing her diaper a few years ago."
"Yeah, and she's really coming into her own," said Laura in agreement, "Already steadfast and tough."
"Just like her mother," said Wanda proudly, "Pietro's already boasting about how she bears the famous Maximoff charm."
"And just think," added Jean, "One day she'll manifest mutant powers just like Nate and Rachel. Imagine the kind of games they'll be playing then."
"I shutter to think," chuckled Laura, "Hell, my dad has already started designing Danger Room scenarios for Kendall."
"Guess that means you'll have some competition down the line, X," commented Scott with a grin.
"Meh, doesn't mean she'll ever top my high score," shrugged former weapon X23.
The former soldiers all shared a good laugh as they sat back on the porch together, living it up just like old times. It was hard to believe they had come this far, going from constant battle zones to watching their children play together in the front yard. But it was a journey they had made together and they were proud of it.
"You know, thinking about our kids becoming mutants kind of has me wondering just how much they'll take after us," mused Scott.
"I wouldn't worry about that, hun," said Jean, taking her husband's hand in hers, "Beast has assured us repeatedly that their powers should be stable when they manifest because of their shadow class parents."
"It's not the powers I'm worried about, Jean," sighed Scott, "It's some of the other attributes they've picked up from us."
"Oh...Yeah that," said Vincent, knowing exactly what he was referring to.
A silence came over them as they looked back at their children. They were so young, yet they had so much energy and drive. Already, they were teaching them how to be strong and defend themselves as warriors. They even joined them in their morning exercise rituals they still did before sunrise.
Already, their children were learning the basics of CQC. And in their eyes, they could see the seeds of true soldiers being sewn. But for the former mutants of Shadow Cell, this came with mixed feelings.
"Looking at them now, I have a feeling they're going to make some great soldiers," said Scott as he went on, "They're just so eager to learn. But every time I think about them fighting in the same battles we fought as a unit it just..."
However, Scott couldn't find the words to finish. He found himself taking his wife in a warm embrace while they all mused over the future of their children.
"Yeah, I know how you feel, Cyclops," said Wanda with a sigh, "I don't want Maggie seeing the kind of horrors we saw on the battlefield either."
"Well at the rate humans and mutants are going, that might be unavoidable in the future," said Laura, still remembering that newscast from earlier.
"That may be true," said Vincent, "But after everything we went through, I want my kids to grow up in a world of peace. I know that's naÃ¯ve, but that's what I want for my family."
"That's everyone wants for their family, Vincent," said Wanda as she leaned into her husband's warmth and rested her head on his shoulder, "But it's like the General once told us, sometimes you have to fight 10 years of war for 100 years of peace."
"And we certainly fought our share," added Laura, "If we hadn't, then Nate, Rachel, and Maggie wouldn't even have a world to grow up in."
"I know and I just get the feeling that they want to follow in our footsteps in that regard," sighed Scott, "They already have our soldier genes, they've adopted our erratic sleeping habits, and they want to learn CQC. I guess I'm just worried that they've already chosen their path and there's nothing we can do about it."
"If that's the case, then all we can do it support them," said Jean in a comforting tone.
"Yeah, I guess you're right, Jean," sighed Wanda, "That's the role we assume when we become parents. And we all best remember that...Especially if I'm going to have another."
Everybody turned to give Wanda a shocked look, especially Vincent. Knowing what she probably implied, the former demolition expert of Shadow Cell clarified her words.
"I didn't mean right away!" she shot, "God, do you have to assume everything?"
"Sorry Wanda, knee jerk reaction," said Vincent, now blushing profusely.
"Oh, but I thought you wanted another kid?" teased Laura.
"Yeah, I was thinking maybe we would try for a son this time," said Wanda as she sensually embraced her husband, "I remember you once telling me about how much you wanted your own little prodigy, Vince."
"Good memory," said Scott with a chuckle.
"Yes, well um..." said Vincent, still stammering.
Wanda couldn't help but laugh, for he was so cute when he was shy. Even after spending years oblivious to their feelings for one another and eventually tying the knot, he still bore that sweet shy charm that attracted her to him in the first place.
"Hey, you don't have to worry about it now, sweetheart," she said teasingly, "One of the benefits of having a wife who can control probability is that we never have to worry about taking chances when it comes to birth control."
"And I can't tell you how many women would kill for control like that," laughed Jean, "After I had Rachel I got my tubes tied the same week."
"And she made me get a vasectomy just in case," added Scott, "So consider yourself lucky, Vincent."
"I already do," smiled the lone Prodigy survivor as he gave his wife a loving kiss.
It was a surreal moment for the former soldiers. Here they were living happy, peaceful lives together. The laughter of their children filled them with so much hope. After all the battles they fought and all the challenges they overcame, it was truly a happy ending for them.
They had rebuilt their lives. They had triumphed over the odds. Life was good. Their endless fighting in a world of conflict was over.
But they would soon learn that the past has a way of coming back to haunt them.
LET THE STORY AND THE REVIEWS BEGIN!