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 3: Making Arrangements
Having made their decision to fight William Stryker and the Legacy virus, the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell went to work. Laura was already on her way back to the mansion to suit up, Jean and Scott were looking after the kids, and Vince and Wanda made a quick flight back to their house so they could get their gear.
In the attic of the Freeman household, Vincent and Wanda kept a large trunk they hoped they would never have to open again. Inside, their old Shadow Cell uniforms were neatly folded and unceremoniously stored. When they moved in, they didn't know how they were going to deal with them. They didn't want to just throw them away, so they fixed up the holes and gashes and kept them safely stashed away.
"I can't believe we're putting these things on again," said Vincent in a distant tone as he zipped up his uniform.
"I know. I guess it was wrong to think we could ever leave them behind," sighed Wanda, "But we have to do this. If Stryker is going to kill every mutant...that includes Maggie."
"Well it's NOT going to happen," said Vincent in a determined tone as he placed his guns and knife in their respective holsters, "I don't care how rich and powerful Stryker is. We're not going to let him harm our baby!"
Wanda found herself drawing her husband into an embrace. Never before had they gone on a mission where the life of their child was on the line. As Shadow Cell, part of their drive was because they had nothing to lose as nameless soldiers. Now that was different. Now they had something very precious to come home to.
"Come on. Let's get back to Scott and Jean," said Vince softly.
"You're right," said Wanda, pulling herself together and putting on her stern soldier demeanor, "Let's give Maggie one last hug and get this over with. Remember, we still have that second baby to plan."
"I know," said Vincent, smiling at such a though, "Then we best get going."
Back at the Summers household, Scott and Jean were in their attic getting their uniforms out of the trunk they had stored them in. Like Vince and Wanda, they decided to just stash them away until they could figure out what they were going to do with them. But as it turned out, they would have to bear them once more.
"Two kids and this thing still fits," said Jean as she secured her uniform.
"And you still look as sexy in it as the day of our first mission," said Scott with a forced smile.
Jean smiled back, knowing her husband was just trying to lighten the mood. It didn't help all that much, but it was a distraction none the less.
With a deep sigh, Scott stashed his two guns and hunting knife on his uniform. While they kept their uniforms stored, they still maintained the habit of keeping their guns. However, with kids in the house, they kept them in locked drawers. It had been a while since they fired them, but given they maintained them with religious devotion, they weren't worried.
"Well, we better tell the kids," said Jean, her gaze growing distant as she put her hair into a ponytail to make it more manageable for combat.
"Easier said than done," said Scott, not looking forward to it one bit.
"I know. But we'll be back," she said, giving her husband an affectionate hug, "Nathan and Rachel are in danger because of this and it's our job to protect them. It gives us all the more incentive to make it home."
"Now that's the determined woman I married," said Scott with a smile, placing a soft kiss on his wife's forehead, "But the sooner we finish this, the sooner we can get back to being a family."
Just then, they heard their doorbell ring. Already knowing who it was Scott and Jean went downstairs to let them in.
"We came as soon as we could," said Raven Darkholm, standing there in the darkness besides her friend, Irene Adler.
Scott and Jean just smiled as they let the shape shifter and her friend into their house, grateful they had someone they trusted to look after their babies.
"Thanks for doing this on such short notice, Raven," said Jean.
"Hey, it's not a problem," assured Mystique, "Besides, with my daughter about to give birth, I might as well practice being a grandmother."
"And with a former mercenary and a psychic guarding them, rest assured that all your children will be safe. You have my word," said Destiny, her shrouded eyes still giving off an aura of kindness to the mutant soldiers.
"Good enough for me," said Scott with a smile, "Just remember, if you foresee any kind of danger, take the kids down to the cellar and hide in the secret safe room. And if need be, use the tunnel below to get them to the mansion."
"Don't worry, we know the drill," said Raven, "And trust me, if anybody is stupid enough to attack, they'll have to deal with me."
"And may God help them," smiled Jean.
It was remarkable how much Mystique had changed since she joined the X-men. Developing a close bond with Shadow Cell and reconnecting with her children had been therapeutic for her. She was still very cynical when it came to Xavier's dream, but for her friends and her children, she was every bit as dedicated as the others. And for Shadow Cell, she was a trusted friend who their children adored.
"So what's this big mission about?" she asked curiously, "I know it has to be major if you're wearing those uniforms again."
"Sorry Raven, but we can't tell you," said Scott, shaking his head, "When this is all over, we'll let everybody know. Just trust us when we say it's big and Shadow Cell is the only force that can take it down."
"Well be careful out there," said Irene, not prying any further, "I had dreams last night that something was going to happen, but it was fuzzy so I don't know how it's going to turn out."
"That's okay, Destiny," said Jean as she directed them over towards the living room, "We'll make sure it turns out right."
With the kids still watching cartoons, Scott and Jean went over their usual list of details for the two women. They wanted to keep their kids calm and entertained so they wouldn't worry, for they had every intention of coming back.
Then, after about five minutes of going over the rules, Vince and Wanda landed in the back yard and entered to give their daughter one last goodbye.
"You guys ready?" said Vincent as Jean, Scott, Mystique, and Irene stood in the kitchen.
"Shadow Cell is always ready," said Scott to his friend and comrade, "We should probably get going. X is probably waiting for us."
"Yeah, but first things first..." said Wanda as she and the others entered the living room to see their kids one last time.
Looking at them was hard, for they had never had a mission like this before with the lives of their children at stake. But that made their success all the more important as they drew the attention of their innocent little faces.
"Mommy? Daddy? What's going on?" asked little Rachel Summers.
Scott and Jean were forced to contain their emotions as they kneeled down to hug their children for strength and comfort.
"Mommy and Daddy have to take care of something, sweetheart," said Scott to his baby girl, taking her in his strong arms and holding her close.
"What do you mean, Daddy?" said Nathan with a curious look in his eyes.
The two former soldiers and loving parents swallowed hard, for the world was a maze of conflict and explaining it to a little boy was downright impossible. But their children were smart. They understood when something was too grownup for them. But that didn't make this any easier.
"I'm sorry, baby, but we can't tell you," said Jean, giving both her kids a firm motherly hug, "Just know that mommy and daddy will be back. I promise you. But we're going to need you to be brave for us."
"And that means listening to Aunt Raven and Aunt Irene and remembering what we talked about when there was danger," added Scott, "Now what do you do if somebody tries to come in and get you?"
"Go downstairs to the safe room," answered Nathan instinctively.
"And what do you do if they don't leave?"
"Go through the trap door and down the tunnel."
"Very good," said Scott proudly, a slight tear forming in his eye.
Together, Scott and Jean embraced their two children one last time. Neither Nathan nor Rachel knew what was going on, but they were smart enough to know it was important, so they just hugged back.
"I love you both so much," said Jean, fighting off her sobs, "Please be safe and be strong."
"I love you too mommy," said Nathan, "We'll be okay."
"Be sure to look after your sister, son," said Scott, looking down at his little boy with great pride.
"I will daddy," he said, standing close to his sister protectively.
It was a difficult departure, but the mission beckoned them. They had to stop Stryker and destroy Legacy. And above all, they had to come home to their children.
Over with Vincent and Wanda, it was equally emotional. They both embraced their baby girl firmly, letting her know how much love her parents had for her. They knew this was dangerous and they were determined to come home to her. She was just so beautiful. And with all the pain in their lives, she made it all worth it.
"I love you so much, Maggie," said Vincent, on the verge of tears, "Mommy and I love you more than anything."
"I love you too, Daddy. I love you and mommy so much," she said, not understanding the pain of her parents, but staying strong none-the-less.
"Be careful and be safe," said Wanda, trying to hide her emotions as well, "Listen to Aunt Raven and Aunt Irene. Mommy and Daddy will be back."
"Promise?" said the little girl, looking up at her parents with those haunting eyes.
"Warrior promise," smiled Vincent, giving his little girl a kiss on the cheek.
For a good minute, the small family of three stayed in a warm embrace. Vince and Wanda didn't want it to end, but they had a job to do and a promise to keep.
"Be careful out there you guys," said Raven, not knowing what this was about, but knowing well enough to understand that it was dangerous.
"Thanks Raven," said Scott, taking a few breaths to collect himself from his emotional state, "Come on guys. We have a job to do. Let's go."
Taking on their determined poise, the former soldiers took one last look at their children before making their leave. But before they walked out the door, each soldier took a moment to stash a picture of their family on their uniform. It wasn't much, but it would remind them what was at stake and give them the strength to see this through to the end.
Back in the mansion, Laura was in her room doing one final check of her guns. Unlike her comrades, she carried three and wielded them with unparalleled skill. Even though she had to keep her guns secured in the sub levels with so many kids in the house, she made sure she kept up with her skills.
Wearing her Shadow Cell uniform felt strange to her. Having grown over the past five years, she adjusted hers so it would still fit. It was sort of a keepsake from a past she had hoped to leave behind. She was still X23, but she was also Laura now. And after building a new life over the last five years, it felt odd being part of Shadow Cell again.
Using the relaxation techniques she had mastered over the years mentally prepare herself, Laura secured each gun in their respective holsters. But just as she felt she was ready, a familiar presence knocked at her door.
"Laura?" came a gruff voice.
"Come in, father," she said in a monotone.
Opening the door, Logan stepped in to see his eldest daughter in full gear. She looked deeply conflicted, but he only knew what he told her. She just said there was a big threat that only Shadow Cell could handle. She didn't give any other details.
"Chuck told me to tell you the jet's ready," he said, hiding his emotions under a gruff veil.
"Good. The others should be here any minute," she said as she turned to face him.
She looked ready for war with that face of hers. She was so determined and strong, just like her father. It was times like this Logan felt great pride for having her in his life. But as a parent, it didn't stop him from worrying.
"Are ya sure we can't help?" he asked, finally letting his emotional guard down.
"No, this is personal, dad...very personal," said Laura in a strained tone, "You and the rest of the team need to stay here in case something goes wrong."
"But ya don't have to do this on yer own!" exclaimed Logan, "We're part of a team! We can help you!"
"Dad, please! You don't understand. It's...complicated."
A heavy silence fell over the room. Neither Logan nor Laura knew what more to say. But they weren't going to leave without a final word.
"Is there anything at all I can do, darlin'?" asked Logan with a sincere look.
"Yes. Stay here and protect Mom and Kendall."
"Yeah...I can do that," sighed Logan, "But if anything happens..."
"Don't worry, father. I promise you we'll be back. I still have to teach Kendall CQC."
That got Logan to smile and in a rare show of affection the two living weapons embraced one another as father and daughter.
"Be careful out there, ya hear?" he told her.
"I will," she said with a slight tear in her eye.
Then, as she stepped out her door, she saw Ororo standing there with baby Kendall in her arms. She had a worried look, no doubt because Logan had told her. But Laura just smiled and hugged the woman who she was proud to call her mother.
"We love you, Laura. Please, come back to us," said the former weather goddess.
"I love you too, Mom," she said smiling at her and at baby Kendall, "I can never tell you how grateful I am for everything you've given me. But I have to do this...for you and for my family."
Once Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda arrived, they met up with Laura and made their way down to the lower levels where the SR-77 Blackbird was waiting for them. Professor Charles Xavier and his fellow friend and associate, Hank McCoy, were waiting as well.
But given the nature of this mission, the former soldiers of Shadow Cell kept the details of this crisis secret.
"You're all fueled up and ready to go," said Hank as he and Xavier stood by the loading dock.
"You're a miracle worker, Hank," said Scott, giving him a friendly swat, "We'll be going ghost for most of this mission, so let's hope those stealth improvements hold up."
"Well despite the lack of testing, I'm confident they will," assured Hank.
"Good enough for me," said Laura as she and the others prepared to depart.
However, before they could go, they had to have one final word with Professor Charles Xavier, the man who had helped them so much.
"I'll keep Cerebro running in case the need to contact us arises," said the Professor, "But are you sure you don't want the rest of the team to help?"
"Kurt and Kitty are on a date, Betsy and Warren need some alone time to plan their wedding, and Bobby and Jubilee were plastered to the couch last I checked," said Vincent, "We'd rather not bother them. Like we said, this is personal. But if something happens to us, you and the team have to be ready to respond."
"I already have them on standby, so we'll be ready," assured Xavier.
"But keep in mind that if we fail...well, let's just say the possibilities aren't too pleasant," said Wanda, "But even if that does happen, will you do us one favor Professor?"
"Name it," said Xavier without hesitation.
"Protect our children," she said, the tone of a concerned mother mixing with that of a soldier.
Xavier smiled and nodded in affirmation.
"It shall be done."
"Thank you, Professor...for everything," said Jean.
"Think nothing of it. Good luck my students."
With one final goodbye, the five mutant soldiers filed into the X-jet and prepared for takeoff. Hank and Xavier stayed behind to see them off, hoping that whatever threat they were up against, Shadow Cell would do what it always did and come out on top.
With a deafening roar of the engines, the powerful jet shot through the underground tunnel at breakneck speed, flying out through the hidden opening in the waterfall behind the mansion like a shooting star.
Once they were in the air and the mansion was behind them, the mission started and the fight against Sinister's Legacy began.
"So where to first?" asked Laura, "Fury said he can't support us, we can't risk getting the team involved, and all we have to go on is a single file."
"That may be all we need, Laura," said Vincent, who had the file in his hand, "What's the first rule of handling a situation you don't know anything about?"
"Easy, ask somebody who knows," said Wanda instinctually, having heard that many times before.
"Well take a look at the last page on the document that officially terminated Project Legacy," he said, tossing it over for Wanda, Laura, and Jean to see, "Notice anybody familiar?"
Turning to the last page, the three girls saw the name and immediately their eyes widened, for it was a name they never thought they'd hear of again.
"General Nathan Grimshaw," said Jean, a look of shock on her face.
"You're kidding," said Scott as he continued flying the plane, "The General? He's the one who terminated the program?"
"His signature's right here," said Laura, not believing it herself.
"Then he's probably our best bet," said Vincent, "If anybody knows about the secrets of Legacy, it's him. He's retired now so he shouldn't be too hard to find. Let's just hope he has a way to stop this monstrosity before it's too late."
"Only one way to find out," said Scott as he engaged the autopilot and turned to face his comrades, "Now I know it's been a while guys, but we have to do this. Stryker and Legacy are a danger to everybody. And unlike other missions, our own children are at risk. So for their sake and the sake of many others, we have to be Shadow Cell again. We have to lay the final ghost of Mr. Sinister to rest. So let's make it happen!"
With a look of great determination on the five mutant soldiers, they all placed their hands together in a show of unity. And just like old times, they ensured that they fought together as one, seeing the mission through to the end.
The night was young as a middle aged man dressed in all black with a golden cross around his neck sat comfortably at a desk on the top floor of one of the biggest skyscrapers in New York. He had a bible in one hand and a cup of wine in the other. Holding his head up high, he prayed to God, bearing his heart and soul for the creator.
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," he said as he took a sip of the wine and held the bible over his chest, "Grant me thy strength, God. I have heard your word and accept the responsibility you have bestowed upon me. And on this night before the holy Sabbath, I shall bring divine judgment unto the world you have so graciously gifted us with."
Setting down his bible, the man known as Reverend William Stryker put his hands together and sent God his prayers.
Then, just as he was about to read the lords prayer, a uniformed guard entered his office.
"Reverend Stryker, sir!" said the guard as he knelt before his superior, "I have an update on our task force."
"Go ahead, my disciple," said Stryker kindly.
"Our mole at SHIELD has reported that another attack is coming our way, but thanks to your generous coaxing he has also given us some formerly classified locations that may hold the missing pieces of Legacy."
"How certain is he about this information?" inquired Stryker.
"Very certain. He said it came directly from SHIELD's archives. I'm sure they've already scoured the sites, but near as we can tell they still don't have the virus."
"Typical military inefficiency," sighed the self proclaimed Reverend, "I suppose it's up to us to do a little search of our own. What's the status of our task force?"
"We have secured suitable transport and are awaiting your command."
"Excellent. Proceed to the listed locations and find that virus. Leave no stone unturned."
"It shall be done, Reverend," said the loyal subordinate respectfully.
"Be sure to keep me updated. Call me the second you have the virus in your possession. We must act before SHIELD makes their move."
"Yes sir! I'll get right on it."
The subordinate went on to carry out his orders, leaving William Stryker to return to his prayers.
"Thy will is almost complete, oh Lord," he said as he held his golden cross, "Soon, the wicked shall be purged and you kingdom shall finally take shape. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit...watch over us as humanity is finally judged before the wrath of God."
THE FIGHT AGAINST SINISTER HAS BEGUN! REVIEW!!!