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 6: Ghosts of the Past
Upon meeting up Cyclops, Phoenix, Mayhem, X23, and the Scarlet Witch went to work on the mysterious safe. From the looks of it, this thing hadn't been touched in decades and its level of sophistication was perfect to Sinister's persona. Only he could keep something this hidden for 30 years.
However, breaking into the safe was no easy matter. With time working against them, the mutant soldiers tried every safe cracking technique they could think of. But Sinister wasn't making it easy for them.
"Damn, this thing is tough!" grunted the Scarlet Witch as she tried to crack the ten digit code.
"Tell me about it. My crackware program keeps stalling," said Jean, who was helping by using a special program she had on a flash drive.
"Keep at it," said Scott as he and Vincent kept searching for weaknesses, "We have to get this thing open!"
"If it's giving us this much trouble, why don't we just smash it open?" grunted X23.
"Because this thing is built as a solid, one-piece unit," explained Mayhem, "You can't break the seal without destroying the contents inside."
"But don't we want to destroy Legacy?" reasoned Phoenix.
"Yes, but we could accidentally release the virus in the process. And we especially don't want that," said Cyclops, shuttering to think of the possibilities.
"Point taken," said Phoenix, "We'll get it open one way or another. If somebody can build it, somebody can unbuild it."
With that logic in mind, the five mutant soldiers kept at it. X23 was trying to check for any possible seal breaches they could exploit while Cyclops and Mayhem looked for a way to get to the servo powered locking mechanisms. The code was just too complex for simple guesswork and there weren't many options to go on.
"Man, for a box from the 70s, this thing is built tough," commented Mayhem.
"It was 30 years ahead of it's time," said the Scarlet Witch, "And I'll bet Sinister threw in some extra goodies just to spite us."
"Then we've got to spite back," said Cyclops, "Maybe we can get to the cables inside and reroute the command sequence. X, can you get is a small hole?"
"Is the electoral system always rigged?" she quipped.
With a single plunge of her adamantium claws, X23 pierced two small holes into the thick titanium shell. With new openings to go on, Cyclops peaked inside, hoping to get a glimpse of the kind of connections this thing has.
"Can't see," he said, trying to shine his flashlight into the hole.
"Try your optic blasts," suggested Mayhem.
Using his energy powers, Cyclops made his eyes glow ruby red. It did illuminate the inside of the safe, but before he could make any sense of its workings, something unexpected happened.
"What the?! The code just filled itself in!" said the Scarlet Witch with a surprised look.
"Huh? That's impossible," said Phoenix as she checked it, "My program hasn't even..."
But before they could finish, they heard a loud mechanical locking noise from within the safe. And like magic, the complex mechanisms opened and revealed the inner secrets to the five bewildered soldiers.
"Well, at least we got it open," said a flabbergasted X23.
"Yeah, but how?" pondered Mayhem.
Staying silent, the former soldiers of Shadow Cell waited for the doors to be open completely. Inside, flickering luminescent lights, dormant for 30 years, came to life and illuminated the small interior.
"Well I'll be..." said Phoenix as she took in the contents.
"X1001 holographic computer," said the Scarlet Witch through her vast knowledge of electronics, "This thing wasn't supposed to exist even unofficially until the 90s."
"Guess Sinister got a leg up on everybody," commented Mayhem.
Suddenly, the computers hummed with activity, lighting up for the first time in three decades. Then, on a small pedestal in the center of the room, a faint holographic image formed before their eyes.
And when they saw who it was, the five mutant soldiers cringed with anger.
"Sinister," said Cyclops, his words brimming with malice.
"It...it looks like some sort of recording," said X23, trying to hold her emotions back.
Once the image clarified, the five mutant soldiers were met with a voice they hoped they'd never hear again.
"Secret journal entry one, April 20th, 1977," said the tiny image of the demonic Mr. Sinister, "Whoever is hearing this, I congratulate you. The contents of this safe were meant to be stashed away until the day finally came when the ultimate life form was in my grasp. For this is the final word on Project Legacy."
"Ultimate life form? He's talking about us!" exclaimed Phoenix.
It was a harsh feeling, looking at the image of Mr. Sinister after all the pain they put them through. Yet despite this, they listened on. Even as a dead man, he had plenty of secrets to tell.
"For three years now, I have been working as an artificial pathogenic specialist. The American government wishes to possess the ultimate in bio-warfare, but they fail to see the true majesty of what I'm about to do."
"Big surprise," muttered X23.
"Project Legacy has exceeded all expectations. But thankfully, the reports I've fabricated has kept the higher ups thinking I'm not completely done. Using my own unique body chemistry, I've managed to synthesize a unique virus with the most effective killing power ever conceived. So far, the computing power necessary to program the virus to designated targets has been lagging, but thanks to a few confiscated parts I have perfected the process. My Legacy is officially ready."
This came as a shock to the five soldiers. Fury told them he had been working on Legacy, but they never said he actually finished it. Then again, this was Sinister. He had a knack for fooling even the vast powers of government.
"He perfected it?!" exclaimed Mayhem, seething with more anger over this monster.
"Why am I not surprised?" muttered Cyclops.
"The necessary programming to make the virus usable is simple. All that is needed is a map of the human genome. Thankfully, humanity has some catching up to do in that regard. Therefore, it is necessary for me to keep this virus out of mankind's hands. Only when the ultimate life form is secured will my Legacy be released. The weak and barbaric shall be purged from this planet and only the strong shall thrive. There will be no more suffering, no more war, and no more conflict. Peace shall finally reign."
At this point, Sinister began showing a different side. It was one only the five soldiers of Shadow Cell ever saw and it made this monster all the more sinister as his name implied.
"Mankind simply cannot get along," said the recording, sounding more emotional, "I used to believe that through science, humanity could evolve to a higher state and be free of suffering. But in my many decades of life, I've come to realize that such aspirations are mere fantasy. The nature of humanity is too barbaric. The only way for peace to reign is to evolve the masses by artificial means. Only then will the suffering cease. I have no love for these heartless political games the American government plays. I understand they're using my genius to further their own goals, but I'm NOT going to let them destroy this planet or this species! Every war from ancient times to this ongoing Cold War is further proof that humanity cannot go on. And with the current state of the world, I fear the next generation of mutants and non-mutants alike will be doomed. Therefore, it is up to me and my Legacy to ensure that this beautiful world is spared such a fate."
Such words resonated deeply for the five soldiers of Shadow Cell. As cruel as Sinister was, he did have a noble dream for humanity in this world. He may be a monster, but he did what he did for a reason.
That didn't make the five mutants of Shadow Cell hate him any less. There was no forgiving what they put them through. But it was a harsh reminder to them that things weren't always as they seemed.
"In this secret vault, I leave behind the only completed concentration of the Legacy virus. It is ready for programming and deployment. They only requirement is a suitable DNA computer and genetic map. Project Legacy is already dead in the water and I'm sure it'll be shut down within the week. But I do not weep for such a loss. Now, I can move on to the next stage of my work. Already, the seeds of what I call Project Prodigy have been sewn. I can feel my ultimate dream close at hand. I just need to get the necessary data to make my new class of mutants. Only then will my Legacy be ready. Only then will peace, love, and happiness reign for every living being."
"Enough sweet talk, get to the point!" spat Mayhem, the mention of the Prodigy Project bearing heavily on his soul.
Suddenly, Sinister's demeanor took an unexpected turn.
"However, I am not so naÃ¯ve that I assume that nothing will go wrong. Therefore, I have installed a special mechanism in this safe that will open it in the event that the proper energy is applied. And to make sure it is not faked, I use the only energy that is capable of harming me."
"So that's why it opened when I powered up!" said Cyclops, "I must have trigged the fail-safe!"
However, Sinister was not done yet.
"And if by chance the beings of such power other than myself are reading this, I ask but one task of you...destroy Legacy."
"What?!" exclaimed Cyclops.
"He can't fucking be serious," said the Scarlet Witch.
"If I am gone, then I do not wish to see this virus in the hands of humanity. I know full well that they will use it to destroy each other. Racism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and every horror in between are possible with such a weapon. That is why it MUST be destroyed! The only way to do so is through the same energy that can harm me. If this is not done, mankind will perish through human nature."
The shock of such words resonated strongly with the five mutant soldiers. It was almost as if Sinister planned for them to open this safe 30 years ago. And here he was, asking them to do one final task for him.
"Before I end this entry, I leave with one last declaration of intent. War, hatred, intolerance, and conflict are unfortunate byproducts of cognitive beings. What we think, feel, and experience is a consequence of our environment and our nature. I only wish to change it for the better. Human beings are not perfect, but they can change. With time, determination, and drive mankind can overcome their limitations. War can end. Peace can prosper. And all I want to do is help. Evolution is the mechanism. Science is the key. And before I lay this final secret of mine to rest, I ask that those who hear my words heed them well and continue that legacy. Because the best legacy we can leave behind is a better world for the next generation."
Such words caused the five soldiers to think back to their families. In some ways, they had continued Sinister's dream. They were fighting for a better world for their children. It was hallow in a ways that they were doing what he wanted, but while the man may have been a monster the message was still every bit as meaningful.
"This is Dr. Nathanial Essex. End entry."
With those final words, the hologram faded and the pedestal opened to reveal a small vile of strange, metallic colored gas.
Stepping forward, the five mutant soldiers laid eyes on the only concentration of the Legacy virus ever concocted. And whether they liked it or not, they were going to carry out Mr. Sinister's final wishes.
"Legacy..." said Phoenix as they gazed upon the deadly substance.
"Well, you know what to do, Cyclops," said Mayhem, "Sinister said it himself. You're the only one who can destroy it."
"Guess it's fitting in a ways," said Scott as he took in the haunting site, "I was the one who killed him. Now I'm the one who has to destroy his legacy."
That didn't sit right with the young man even if it was the right thing to do. He hated Sinister as much as his comrades, yet here they were fulfilling his last wishes.
But they tried not to think of that, wanting only for this mission to end.
"Come on, Cyclops, do it," said the Scarlet Witch, "The sooner we destroy this thing, the sooner we can go home to our kids."
Upon thinking of Nathan and Rachel, Scott Summers set aside his lingering anxieties and prepared this final act of obedience to the man he hated so much.
"Okay...stand back," he ordered.
Then, just as he was about to end this, the five soldiers heard a noise from down the hall.
"This way! We have to make a sweep of every office!" said one of the heavily armed Halo soldiers outside, "Let's check this one."
"Shit! Someone's coming!" exclaimed X23.
Acting on instinct, Cyclops, Mayhem, and the Scarlet Witch ducked behind the boxes while Phoenix and X23 took cover in the ceiling tiles. But the safe was still open as the Halo soldiers entered the room.
"Whoa...I don't remember this being on our schematic," said one of the soldiers.
"That's because it wasn't," said the other, "This must be a secret add on."
As the two soldiers approached the safe, the five mutant soldiers stayed dead silent.
'Shit! They're going to get the virus!' sent Phoenix via telepathy, 'We have to take them down!'
'No! We can't! We'll unleash the virus!' replied Cyclops quickly.
'Then what do we do?!' exclaimed the Scarlet Witch.
'We wait. Maybe these guys will tell us something about Stryker.'
As the two Halo soldiers scanned the area, their eyes fell upon the small vial containing the Legacy virus. Immediately, excitement took over.
"We did it! We found it!" exclaimed the soldier as he took the vial and secured it in his suit, "God has truly blessed us!"
"Indeed, we should inform General Stryker."
The five mutant soldiers tensed as they listened. Stryker was their other main target and this could give them what they needed to take him down.
"This is Stryker," came a calm voice over the link.
"Sir, we found Legacy! There was a full sample in a wall safe!"
"A sample you say? How good is it?"
"We're not sure, sir. But it looks active," replied the excited Halo soldier.
"After 30 years? It's even more resilient than I had imagined."
Standing in his lab back in the heart of the skyscraper that bore his name, William Stryker was consumed with excitement. God had truly blessed them. The tools for his ultimate victory were finally in his hands.
It was all so easy...too easy, even with the blessings of God.
"You say it was in a safe? How did you open it?" inquired Stryker.
"That's just it, sir. It was already open."
"Open? That shouldn't be," said Stryker with a suspicious tone, "Why would it be open?"
"I'm not sure, sir. According to the building schematic, it shouldn't exist."
"Then if it's open, then why haven't the MPs cleaned it out?"
This wasn't making any sense. Stryker my have been a zealot, but he was not stupid. One doesn't just leave an open safe in a decommissioned lab. It would have been cleaned out. Something was seriously wrong here. He just didn't know what.
"What are your orders, sir?"
Still suspicious, William Stryker made his move, not wanting to squander God's blessing.
"Move out," he ordered sternly, "Return to base as soon as possible. Forego all safety and preliminary protocols. Just get out of there!"
"All protocols? But sir..."
"Just do it!" ordered Stryker sternly, "Don't say another word! Guard that virus with your life and get it back to HQ!"
The line went dead. They had their orders. And with their objective in hand, it was a victory in the name of God.
"You heard him! All units, this is Halo one! By order of General Stryker, we are to perform Ezekiel maneuver alpha and return to base! I repeat, Ezekiel maneuver alpha!"
With the order given, the two Halo soldiers exited the office. But before they could get out, the Scarlet Witch threw a small tracking device on the back of the lead soldier's leg. And once they were clear, they all came out of hiding.
"They've got Legacy. Why the hell did we let them get away?!" growled X23, her claws drawn and ready for combat.
"Because this way we can kill two birds with one stone," explained Cyclops, "We follow them, they'll lead is directly to Stryker. From there, we can destroy both him and the virus together."
"By the looks of those soldiers, I doubt he'll make that easy for us," commented Phoenix, "I've seen nearly every armament known to man and the only time I've ever seen stuff that sophisticated was with..."
"GURSO, yeah I know," muttered the Scarlet Witch.
A heavy silence fell over the team upon the mention of that word. Memories of how they were treated back at Shadow Cell under GURSO came surging back and seeing updated versions of them under Stryker's command was enough to get their blood boiling.
"We have to stop this son of a bitch," said Mayhem in a determined tone, "We can't let him keep this up. If not through Legacy, he'll do what he has to another way."
"Don't worry, babe," said the Scarlet Witch with a grin, "Thanks to the tracking device I threw on that guard, we'll be able to trail them like vultures."
"Exactly!" affirmed Cyclops, "We just have to..."
But before he could finish, he was cut off by the sound of a loud alarm that echoed all throughout the building.
"Shit! Those amateurs! Don't they know ANYTHING about stealth?!" shot X23 angrily.
"Apparently not! Come on, we have to get out of here!" ordered Cyclops.
Ignoring the tenants of stealth, the five mutant soldiers drew their guns and filed out of the building. Almost immediately, they were met with fully armed military MPs.
"Stop! United States Army!"
Responding with the lightning fast reflexes of soldiers, Cyclops and Phoenix unloaded a few rounds. However, they were careful not to kill them. Under their old rules, they wouldn't have hesitated to just put a few in their heads, but these were innocent military police caught in the crossfire of a conflict they didn't understand. And just to make sure, Phoenix knocked them out and wiped their minds.
"Hurry! This way!" said Mayhem, using his super speed jet ahead and punch through some of the locked doors.
Every security mechanism fell into place. Automatic gun turrets mounted with cameras were on red alert, shooting at anything that moved. As they made their way down the halls, they naturally tripped their sensors.
"Scarlet Witch! The guns!" yelled Cyclops.
"On it!" she affirmed.
With her hexing powers at hand, she unleashed a wave of bolts that shorted out each defense armament. Some still tried to fire, but X23 took care of those with a few quick swipes of her claws and a quick shot of her guns.
Finally reaching the staircase, Cyclops unleashed an energized punch to get through the reinforced door. But the sensors were still hot and the sound of MPs was growing ominous.
"Shit! Standard flanking maneuver!" grunted Cyclops, "We need a diversion!"
"You've got it, hun," said Phoenix.
With the power of her mind, the beautiful young woman was consumed by a fury of flames and with her pyrokinesis, she unleashed a wave of fires that set the halls ablaze.
Almost immediately, the fire safety systems kicked in and the sprinklers went off.
"Fire! Fire!" yelled the MPs.
"That'll work!" grinned Cyclops.
Now soaked head to toe from the sprinklers, the five mutant soldiers stormed down the stairs and made their way towards the back lab areas.
"Come on! This way! They're probably watching the front!" yelled Cyclops over the alarm.
"Guess that means we'll have to make our own exit!" grunted Mayhem.
Along the way, several MPs stood in their way, but they quickly fell to some non-lethal CQC attacks from X23 and the Scarlet Witch. When they were met with a blockade in the hall, Phoenix used a wave of telekinesis to send them flying and create an opening.
More MPs came their way, forcing Phoenix to make more fires to cover them. The Scarlet Witch kept up with the automated defenses while X23 and Mayhem took care of those who got too close.
Finally, they were in an open lab area with windows. MPs greeted them, but a few blasts from Cyclops, Phoenix, and the Scarlet Witch put them out of commission.
"Come on! Let's get out of here!" yelled Cyclops as he ran towards the windows.
Using his powerful optic blasts, Cyclops made a new exit for them. One by one, they leapt out into the still pouring rain. And unfortunately, it wasn't much better outside than it was inside.
"Damn! Those assholes must have alerted the whole base! They're locking everything down!" yelled Mayhem as they watched waves of MPs drive by on jeeps.
"And it sounds like Stryker's boys are putting up quite a fight," commented Phoenix.
In the distance, they could hear cries like "God give me strength!" or "Death to the wicked!" Stryker's men were fanatic in their loyalty and the MPs didn't stand a chance.
The sound of automatic rifle fire and explosions echoed all over the base, forcing the five mutant soldiers to take cover behind one of the buildings. The sky was lighting up like the Fourth of July and echoes of frantic battle cries could be heard everywhere.
It was just like old times.
"We can't be caught up in this mess!" exclaimed Cyclops over the noise, "We have to get out of here!"
"Then we'll have to use the express route," said Mayhem, "Phoenix, are you up to it?"
"I'm game if you are, Mayhem," nodded Phoenix, "If we get high enough, they shouldn't see us. Mother Nature will cover us."
"In that case, beam me up, Hotshot!" said the Scarlet Witch, jumping on her husband's back for the ride had saved her so many times before.
"You're on, love!" said Mayhem as he held onto her and flew up into the rain.
Following close behind, Phoenix took Cyclops and X23 by the hand and used her telekinesis to levitate them into the air.
Down below, the fighting continued as Strykers men threw themselves at the MPs in a suicidal charge. They trying to protect Halo one at all costs and the MPs were pinned down with ease.
Thankfully, this provided the cover they needed to get away. They came across a few cyphers, but they were easy targets for X23's guns and the Scarlet Witch's hex bolts. Once they were back on the ground, the boarded the X-jet and fired up the engines. With the echoes of the battle still resonating strongly, they were ready to go.
"Everybody hold on!" said Cyclops as the engines roared to life.
"Way ahead of you, Cyclops!" said the Scarlet Witch as vibrations filled the aircraft.
Then, with a definitive roar, the SR-77 ascended into the air and away from the battlefield. They had gotten in, but they couldn't stop Stryker from getting Legacy. But it was far from over. Now they had what they needed to take the fight to Stryker. And once they got their hands on him, he would pay for messing with the ghosts of Mr. Sinister.
"We made it," said Cyclops with a sigh of relief.
"Just like old times indeed," muttered Mayhem.
"But what about Legacy?" asked X23.
"Don't worry, X. I'm already tracking them," said the Scarlet Witch as she brought up their tracker, "According to radar, only one other aircraft made it out. The other two they brought with them are already smoldering heaps."
"Stryker's men are loyal followers. No doubt about it," commented Phoenix.
"Loyal or not, they can't hide from us now," she replied with a grin, "Now all we have to do is follow them and take the fight to Stryker himself."
"Follow them and go up against a powerful religious nut who wants to create his own kingdom of heaven with the most powerful biological weapon man has ever conceived..." summarized Cyclops, "Sounds simple enough."
"Then let's go!" said Mayhem in a determined tone.
Carefully following the stealthy Blackhawk helicopter from afar, the five mutants of Shadow Cell could only wait and hope. This was the final piece of Mr. Sinister. Legacy was his last curse to humanity. And ironically, they, the children of Mr. Sinister, were the ones who were going to have to stop it.
THE LEGACY GOES ON! REVIEW!!!