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 5: Without a Trace
The flight to Quantico, Virginia didn't take long. But by the time they got there, the sky had opened up and it was raining heavily. This was good in some ways because it would help cover them during their infiltration. Besides, it wasn't like breaking into a Russian nuclear missile silo, but there was still plenty of danger.
Quantico was a hotbed of military activity. It was where the latest developments for soldiers were tested and naturally, it was well guarded. One wouldn't have suspected a secret bio weapons program to be operating here, but that made it all the more likely that this was the place.
"We're approaching the edge official military airspace, Cyclops," reported Wanda, keeping a close eye on the map display, "So far, no radar spikes."
"Good, then that must mean the new stealth enhancements are holding," said Scott as he navigated through the turbulent weather.
"I don't see how they could detect anything in this weather," commented Vincent, "But I doubt it'll make our jobs any easier."
"When does it ever?" quipped Scott, "Hold on. I'm taking it down."
The X-jet rocked as Scott descended to the ground. Visibility was non-existent, but thanks to his flying skills he managed to land safely in a clearing.
"Engaging invisibility mode," said Jean, hitting the necessary switches on the dashboard.
Outside, the large jet went completely dark, engines and all. The XR-77 was built for stealth and they would need it for this mission. After all, one doesn't just waltz into a highly secured military base.
"Okay Shadow Cell, let's get ready," said Scott as he undid his harness, "Mayhem, do you have the readout?"
"Just hacked it from the Pentagon, Cyclops. Fury was nice enough to leave us an opening in the firewalls," said Vincent as he showed his comrades a 3D map on his PDA.
"Glad he's lending some kind of help," muttered X23 in a cynical tone.
Ignoring the comment, the team gathered around the PDA to see the layout of their target.
"Okay, now the base is divided into several major zones leveled one to five, five having the tightest security," explained Vincent, "There are always guards on patrol and Cypher robots with guns mounted doing rounds 24/7."
"Any chance of hacking them remotely to give us a window?" inquired Wanda.
"Not without putting the base on red alert," said Vincent, shaking his head, "So we'll just have to navigate around them. The building we're looking for is in level three. It used to be in level five, but the base has grown since the 70s. According to General's file, Sinister worked out of building C-16 during Project Legacy. But since then, it's become a storage bunker for military equipment. But it's still heavily guarded."
"Some things never change," sighed Jean.
"Don't tell me you thought it was going to be easy," remarked Vincent, "We've got cameras and motion sensors guarding the facility. I'm sure there are some scraps the military doesn't want to just throw away."
"But if this is the place, what do you expect to find?" asked X23, "Military protocol dictates that all decommissioned structures are thoroughly searched and cleared out of every minute trace of activity."
"I know. And Sinister probably knew that too," said Scott, "But if he left any evidence of Legacy behind, then it's got to be here. Besides, if it was destroyed then Stryker wouldn't be after it."
"But that still begs the same question," argued X23, "What exactly are we looking for?"
A brief silence fell over the five mutant soldiers. This was not a normal mission by any stretch and without any support they were stumbling around in the dark.
"I guess we'll know when we find it, X," said Jean confidently, "We all know how Sinister works. He leaves nothing to chance."
"So if it looks suspicious, it's probably a clue," said Wanda, following her logic.
"Exactly," said Scott, "And if we don't find it first, then Stryker will. The deadliest biological weapon in the world is in that building and a genocidal madman wants it for himself. It's up to us to make sure he doesn't get it, so let's move out team!"
Placing their hands in a circle again, the five mutant soldiers prepared to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders once more.
With that final chant Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch filed out of the X-jet and into the pouring rain, ready to take on the last piece of Mr. Sinister.
While Shadow Cell was making their way onto the base, four unmarked aircrafts that looked like a cross between a helicopter and a jet descended upon the area. Each aircraft flew silently and swiftly, tearing through the weather like a hot knife through butter.
On board, a spacious cargo bay held three platoons of soldiers, each of which bore a high tech battle suit that looked like something out of a video game. Armed with such weapons, there was an aura of optimism among the crew. For in their eyes, they were doing Gods will.
"General Stryker, sir," said the pilot of the lead aircraft over the radio, "We're beginning our final descent. Halo force one, two, and three are all ready."
"Excellent," said a sophisticated voice on the other line, "Leave no stone unturned. The data I've collected on Legacy has narrowed it's location down to three possible buildings in Quantico. Make sure each team gets in and out quickly and efficiently. If anybody attempts to slow them down, you know what to do."
"Yes sir!" said the pilot, "Operation Eden is officially underway. Over and out."
"May God be with you."
In his opulent office at the top of Strike Tower in downtown Manhattan, William Stryker turned off his radio, gathered his things, and made his way down the elaborate corridors of the structure.
He was wearing the robe of a priest and carrying a hardcover version of the King James Bible in his hand. As he walked through the hall, followers stopped and bowed to him. In response, he smiled and acknowledged their loyalty. He was the charismatic leader that held them together and that charisma was the driving force behind this momentous event.
Descending through his private elevator, Stryker arrived at an observation deck overlooking a high tech lab. In the center a huge chamber with numerous tubes going in and out of it was humming with activity. Technicians were scouring the area, preparing for what they believed to be their greatest task to date.
And for William Stryker, it was all coming together.
"It's almost time. The day of judgment is at hand. After six thousand years, the will of God shall finally be carried out."
Through the pouring rain in the darkened night, Shadow Cell advanced on the perimeter of the vast base. It was an imposing sight. The whole area was a 20 foot concrete wall with electrified wiring on top, motion on the ground, and cameras every 25 feet. But having done this many times before, the five mutant soldiers made their move.
"You're on, Scarlet Witch," said Cyclops as he took command, "Give us some cover from the sensors. Don't short them out. Just make it seem like interference."
"On it," she affirmed, her hand glowing as her powers went to work.
With a narrow window, Phoenix flew Cyclops and X23 over the wall while Mayhem carried the Scarlet Witch. Once they were over, they scrambled before the sensors could get them and took cover behind one of the smaller sheds.
Already, they could see guards in panchos patrolling the area. They were armed with high grade Scorpion automatic weapons, the kind that sent a clear message to would be attackers. But this was just the beginning.
'Okay team,' sent Cyclops, switching to psychic communication through Phoenix's telepathy, 'We've got cover from the night and mother nature so let's use it. Phoenix, you and Mayhem fly cover. But stay low. Don't let the Cyphers see you. X23, Scarlet Witch, and I will sneak past the main checkpoint between area two and three. Be careful. They probably have night vision.'
'In that case, we'll just have to create a diversion,' replied Phoenix.
'Yeah, leave it to us,' affirmed Mayhem as they both took to the air.
Taking their knives in hand, Cyclops, X23, and the Scarlet Witch made their advance, going from each area that offered cover and working their way closer to the gate.
Meanwhile, Mayhem and Phoenix took to the air in the raging downpour. They scoped out the security and even for this weather, it was very tight.
'Looks like they don't take chances here,' commented Mayhem.
'No kidding. It's going to be hard to distract them,' replied Phoenix.
'If we can't find one, we'll make one!'
Down on the ground, the three other soldiers carefully snuck their way up to the checkpoint. There, another barrier awaited them. This time, it was a series of large, electrified fences, each of which had a no-man's land in between. Add to that, Cyphers were all hovering over the area, making flying too risky.
'X, how many do you sense?' asked Cyclops as he turned to his feral comrade.
'I see about 7, but I smell 15,' she replied.
'Oh we're definitely going to need some help with this,' groaned the Scarlet Witch, 'Why don't I try shorting out the fence and Cyphers like before?'
'No, that would arise too much suspicion,' reasoned Cyclops, 'We can't afford to be seen.'
'Well we can't just sit here!' argued a frustrated X23.
Then, from above, Mayhem noticed something.
'Phoenix, look!' he said, pointing out a disturbance through the rain.
Gazing down at the gate, she saw an armored transport going through the checkpoints. They were all open in the back with soldiers carefully handling barrels of hazardous material. And from the looks of it they were in a hurry.
'You thinking what I'm thinking?' sent Mayhem to Phoenix.
'I'm psychic, Mayhem. Of course I know what you're thinking,' she quipped, 'Cyclops, I think we just found our distraction. Wait for it and make your move. Scarlet Witch, you may have to run isolated interference.'
'I'm game, Phoenix,' replied the Scarlet Witch, 'Make it happen!'
Waiting for their moment, Phoenix made sure the transport was outside the gate and making a turn down one of the trails. Once it was clear, she used her telekinesis to knock cause a few barrels to fall out of the back. And since it was a packed load, it looked like a regular accident.
"Shit! Give me some help here!" yelled one of the guards.
'Okay team! Move!' ordered Cyclops.
The sudden accident sparked a wave of activity from the guards as they ran over to the truck to help with the barrels. It also diverted the attention of the hovering cyphers. And using this as their window the three mutant soldiers on the ground and their low flying companions in the air advanced.
'Okay Scarlet Witch...NOW!' sent Cyclops.
Using her hexing powers, the Scarlet Witch delivered a carefully controlled wave of distortion to the remaining sensors. The rain covered them as they scrambled past the gates and stayed low to avoid curious eyes.
It was a tense moment, but once they were past the third and final barrier, they converged with their airborn friends and took cover behind a cluster of barrels.
"We made it," said Phoenix, feeling the adrenaline surging through her system.
"Just like old times," mused X23.
"Indeed. Now for the next step," said Cyclops as he turned to Mayhem, "Where's building C-16?"
Upon typing in a few commands, Mayhem brought up a map for his comrades.
"It's over in section C of the third level security net. It's old, but it's still wired with cameras and sensors. If we stick to the perimeter we should be okay."
"Right, then let's get moving!" said Cyclops, "Phoenix, X23, you take the lead. We can't afford to be seen now."
"So far we're completely invisible," said Phoenix, checking with her telepathy.
"And we have to keep it that way," said Cyclops as they all took out their knives and assumed a CQC ready stance, "Stryker's probably going to move on this place too. The sooner we can clear it, the better!"
"In that case, let's jus hope he's not too close," said the Scarlet Witch, "Otherwise, we may have two enemies to fight."
Staying silent and stealthy, the five mutant soldiers continued their infiltration, moving swiftly yet carefully. The guards and cyphers were nearly omnipresent. But thanks to the skills they spent years refining they were well on their way to their target.
However, they weren't the only ones.
In a clearing on the other side of the base from where Shadow Cell had landed, the three heavy transport choppers under the command of William Stryker swooped in and landed. The rain covered them and the advanced technology of the aircraft kept them invisible. Now came the hard part.
"General Stryker, sir!" said the field commander through a comm link, "Halo one, two, and three are all on the ground! We're beginning our advance!"
"Excellent," replied Stryker, still in the core of his chapel/laboratory, "Advance on the designated targets in standard delta formation. If necessary, blind the security by any means necessary. Just get that virus and get it soon."
"It shall be done, sir. Halo one, out."
"God be with you."
With a single gesture, each Halo unit split up and prepared to storm the area. They were all in high tech suits that looked 20 years ahead of their time. Every individual had their task and were prepared to follow through in the name of their great leader.
"All Halo units advance! Converge on the gate!" ordered the Halo one leader.
Through the rain, the guards and sentries posted at the checkpoints were easy targets. One by one, the high tech soldiers picked them off with sniper fire. As they moved forward, flying cyphers above descended on the area, but the team was ready for them.
Taking out what looked like a phaser gun from the realm of sci-fi, several Halo soldiers aimed it at the machines and soon afterwards, they started to short out thanks to some creative jamming.
"Sentries down! Move!" ordered the squad leaders.
Making their way past the first security perimeter, the Halo soldiers silently and swiftly picked off every guard that got in their way. Their silenced weapons kept them covered and their swift movements covered plenty of ground without impediment.
With efficiency on par with the top Special Forces in the world, Stryker's army of heaven was closing in on Legacy. None of the guards knew what hit them as sniper fire and superior guns took them down. This was sure to cause a reaction from security, but as long as they got Legacy they were wasting their time.
Inside building C-16, Shadow Cell had made a safe entrance through window on the first level. Most of the building was dark, but the security system was still hot. It was also a fairly large building, but it was clearly one past its prime. In areas which were once the best laboratories in the country, there remained only crates of military junk.
"Are we clear, Phoenix?" asked Cyclops.
"We're clear," she affirmed.
"Great, then where do we begin?" asked X23 as she looked around the area, "This place is huge and full of scrap. It sure as hell smells like a storage area."
"It should be condemned if you ask me," muttered the Scarlet Witch, "But with all this junk, it does kind of make sense that Sinister would hide Legacy here. I mean, who would ever think of looking for it in this place?"
"Too many, unfortunately," as Mayhem took out his PDA, "But thankfully, we have a small break to work with."
Bringing up a digital blueprint, Mayhem showed his comrades what they were up against.
"C-16 is divided into three levels. The top level had the old offices. The second level had the computer array. And the first level had the main labs. They're all mothballed now so there really isn't much left.
"So where do we begin?" asked Phoenix.
In response, Mayhem brought up another image that displayed the security layout.
"First, there's still security to worry about. Some of this stuff is pretty sensitive, so they keep a close lid on it. Every level is wired with cameras and sensors. And once the alarm is triggered, every door and window locks. But on the plus side, there are very few guards and most of them stay on the first level anyways."
"In that case, Phoenix and the Scarlet Witch should take the first level. If any of them become suspicious, it's best to have someone there to wipe their minds. X23, you take the second level. If anything's there, you should be able to smell it. Vince and I will take the offices."
"Sounds good, but that still doesn't address what the hell we're looking for," said Phoenix, "This place has been a storage area for years. If nobody came across it, then it must be well hidden."
"Making it all the more important that we find it," said Mayhem as he put his PDA away, "We better get moving. There's no telling when Stryker will make his move."
After a swift advance through the first security zone, the Halo units converged up at the series of fences. But thanks to the diversion that Shadow Cell had created, they had no sentries to deal with.
"Looks like God has blessed us with a break," said the Halo two leader, "Mole units, give us our opening!"
Several specialized units stepped forward and raised a gun that looked different compared to the others. Standing back a safe distance, the units fired on the fence and in a strange burst of purplish blue light, the fence was shorted out.
"Switching to pulse cannon!" said one of the gunners.
With another burst, each gun unleashed a pulse of energy that warped enough to make a sizable hole for the units to go through.
"All units, file in! File in!" ordered the Halo one leader.
Up above, Cyhpers began to converge on the disturbance, but they were all met with jamming devices that sent them crashing to the ground.
One by one, the Halo units made it through each gate, neutralizing the electricity and punching a large hole through. Some sentries took notice, but they were all cut down by superior sniper fire. Nothing would stand in their way. God was on their side.
And with the last gate breached, the Halo units were ready to begin their search.
"All Halo units scatter!" ordered the Halo three leader, "Take your designated target and find that virus! Leave no stone unturned! We must fulfill our heavenly duty!"
Back inside C-16, the five soldiers went to work searching for any traces of Sinister's Legacy. It was a difficult, tedious, and dirty job. But they had to do it if they were to stop Stryker and end Sinister's wrath once and for all.
However, much to their dismay, Sinister was very crafty about hiding his secrets even in death.
"Man, it's like looking for a tissue in a blizzard," commented the Scarlet Witch as she and Phoenix scoped out the old lab, which was littered with boxes and old supplies.
"No kidding. I'm not sensing anything," said Phoenix, keeping her knife ready as they snuck around the corner.
Upon seeing another camera, the Scarlet Witch was used her powers to temporarily short it out. But she made sure it wasn't disabled.
"At this rate we'll never find it," muttered the Scarlet Witch.
"We just have to keep looking. Remember, this is Sinister we're talking about here," said Phoenix, "He's a master of deception."
"Don't remind me."
As the two female soldiers carefully snuck around the lab, they suddenly saw a guard come in with a flashlight. Ducking behind a couple of desks, Phoenix used a little telepathy to 'coax' him into leaving.
It was very frustrating having to avoid security while searching at the same time. It was going too slow. They needed to get Legacy.
"Damn it," grunted the Scarlet Witch, "This is going nowhere fast."
"I'll say," said Phoenix.
Switching to her telepathy, Phoenix contacted her comrades.
'X, how are you doing on your end?'
'Ran into a few cameras, but nothing I couldn't get around,' replied X23 as she stood in the middle of what used to be a server room, 'I'm in the data storage area. But so far I haven't been able to find any intact drives.'
'Probably because they archived all the data in the main building,' mused Phoenix, 'Keep looking. Maybe they missed something. Cyclops, Mayhem, what about you?'
'Same story, I'm afraid,' replied Cyclops, 'Not much security up here, but not many clues either. Some of these offices should be condemned.'
'Well keep looking,' said Phoenix, 'Things are really slow down here, but we've got it under control. Let us know if you find anything.'
'We will,' they all replied at once.
Returning to their search, Cyclops and Mayhem checked another office only to find an empty room with torn carpet that had been eaten away by the forces of time. Their trained eyes scanned every possible inch for any signs of abnormalities. But so far, nothing stood out.
"I'm beginning to think this is a waste of time," commented Mayhem as they went back out into the halls, "As crafty as Sinister was, I'm still not sure he'd hide his secrets in a place like this."
"You might be right, Mayhem," said Cyclops as he peaked around the corner before sneaking down to the next office, "For all we know, Sinister hid it somewhere else and we're just wasting our time while Stryker makes his move. But we can't leave without being sure. No mission ever succeeded by only doing it half assed."
"Well this is the last office, so if we don't find anything here, we'll just have to meet up with X," said Mayhem with a sigh, "But I don't see how he'd hide anything here."
"Only one way to know for sure," quipped Cyclops.
Not expecting to find much, the two soldiers scanned the office. It was a little bigger than the last one, but not by much. There were no desks or computers, just boxes of junk and old files.
They scanned the ceiling, the floors, the electrical sockets, and the walls. And as they expected, there was nothing to be found.
"Looks like this place is clean too," said Cyclops as he knocked along the far side of the wall.
"Yeah, the ceiling is fine and these boxes are useless," said Mayhem as he looked in a box which contained nothing but old confiscated issues of Playboy magazine.
"Then I guess we better..."
Suddenly, Cyclops stopped as he knocked on the wall and got a different noise. His soldier instinct heightened, he put his knife away and knocked again.
"Cyclops, what is it?" said Mayhem anxiously.
Moving three feet to the right, Cyclops began knocking on the wall. At first, it didn't sound like suspicious. Then, when he got to a certain area near the corner, there was a clear difference.
"Drywall," said Cyclops confidently, "This section is drywall."
"In a building made of cinderblock construction?" said Mayhem as he took out his PDA and brought up the blueprint, "According to this, it should be all stone."
It was the sign they had been looking for. It was an abnormality in a place that wasn't supposed to have any. This could very well be the clue they had been waiting for.
"You know what this means, right?" said Cyclops with as he looked at the wall with a ready stance.
"You even gotta ask?"
Then together, the two men used their enhanced strength to punch through the fake wall. And as was expected, it crumbled under the force. And as they cleared it away and got a look inside, they were met with a most unexpected sight.
"Well I'll be damned..." said Cyclops.
"A level 5, high grade reinforced titanium vault door with seven digit alphanumeric input and a reinforced harmonic seal," said Vincent as if he had read it from a textbook.
It was definitely out of place. Nobody had a safe of this magnitude in a storage building. It just didn't fit. It reeked of Sinister's stench. If there were any secrets left for him to hide, it would be in here.
"I think we found our clue, Mayhem."
"And here I was thinking we were on a wild goose chase," commented the lone Prodigy survivor.
"Now all we have to do is crack this baby open," said Cyclops, making it sound so easy.
Unfortunately, with a safe of this level, they were going to need some help.
'Phoenix, X23, Scarlet Witch, are you there?' he sent urgently.
'We're here Cyclops,' replied Phoenix, 'What's up?'
'Get up to the third floor and meet us in the fifth executive office from the elevator. We just found something.'
'You found something? What is it?' asked X23.
'You better come and see for yourself,' said Cyclops ominously, 'Sinister definitely left his mark here. And I think he's definitely got a few more secrets to tell us.'
Upon hearing that, the three girls went silent and quickly made their way to the third floor. Tensions ran high now as the thought of finding one last message from their former mentor loomed over them.
It was a strange feeling, knowing they were still fighting against Sinister even though he was dead. But the sooner they got this over with, the sooner they could lay him to rest forever.
Outside the C-16 building, Halo one was converging on the entrance. Having separated from the rest of the tam, the platoon of highly equipped soldiers was poised to storm the building.
Signs of a security breach were already starting to take shape, but that would not stop them from carrying out their objective.
"All units! Attack formation alpha!" ordered the leader.
In response, each soldier took cover besides the secure door as the leader prepared to fire his gun and blow it open.
Suddenly, the door swung open and the guard Phoenix had coaxed away before stepped out. Except this time, his transgressors were not as lenient.
"What the?!" he exclaimed as he raised his Scorpion.
"For the Kingdom of Heaven!" exclaimed the leader as he attacked, cutting his throat with a knife and tossing his body off to the side in a mangled, bloody heap.
With the guard gone, Halo had their entrance. The door was locked by a fingerprint scanner and now that they had the guard, they had their key.
"Come comrades!" said the leader as he used the hand of the now deceased guard to open the door, "We must act fast! Legacy could be within these walls! God is with us and we must carry out His wishes!"
"For God and Heaven!" replied the soldiers in perfect unison.
With the divine on their side, the Halo soldiers stormed the building and began their search for Legacy, the ultimate weapon that would finally deliver God's will upon this wicked world.
SINISTER'S GHOST IS RISING! REVIEW BEFORE HE TAKES SHAPE!