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 10: Coming Home
In the aftermath of the attack on Stryker, SHIELD and numerous military and government officials cordoned off the area. They were late as usual, but that was hardly surprising to Colonel Nick Fury, the leader of the investigation.
It was a sight worthy of classic dramas. Reverend William Stryker, a man who had wrought such havoc on government and humanity alike, was dead. His body was riddled with bullets. His bones had been shattered from the fall. Yet in his hands, he still held onto his bible and his cross. It seemed a fitting end for such a complicated man.
It was over now. The threat from Stryker was officially vanquished. There would be no massive genocide. There would be no massive Legacy pandemic. The world as everybody knew it was saved. Yet still, there were those who were deeply angered.
"FURY!" bellowed the Major as he stormed through the rain, "You son of a bitch! I knew those freaks were no good! They destroyed a building! They killed a major public figure! And worse of all, they destroyed Legacy!"
"Your welcome," said Fury snidely as he took a puff of his cigar.
The Major was further enraged. He, along with many other officials back in Washington, would not be pleased with how this mess turned out.
"Damn it, Fury! You know this wasn't the task we agreed upon! Those so called 'soldiers,' were supposed to bring Stryker to justice! They were supposed to secure Legacy and return it to the Defense Department!"
"Sorry, Major, but there are just some weapons that can't exist, even in the hands of the good guys," said Fury, showing no remorse, "You wanted Stryker taken care of. Well guess what? Mission accomplished. He's not a threat anymore."
"That's not the point! Do you have any idea what the media is going to do once they learn such a powerful man was killed in his own building?! It'll be pure madness! The press will have a field day!"
"So lie to them like you always do," scoffed Fury, "Tell them he died a martyr for all I care. The point is that lives were saved...millions of them. If that's not victory enough, then tough luck, Major. Those soldiers did their jobs and I did mine. Just suck it up and take it for what it is."
For nearly a full minute, the Major stared down Colonel Fury with a gaze of pure venom. He didn't care if this guy was a living legend, he had botched this mission. They trusted him and he didn't come through. It was very frustrating and the aftermath was sure to be unpleasant.
"Heads are gonna roll for this! I swear to God, this is a disaster! A real fucking disaster!"
Storming off in a fit of rage, Fury put out his cigar and reflected on what just happened. He had been in this business a long time and he knew that victory was never truly absolute. He was sure to catch some flack back in Washington, but he had handled worse.
Looking back at the now covered body of William Stryker, the Commander approached his side. He didn't look very enthused either, but it was still a triumph in some ways. The cleanup cost was sure to be high, but it was worth it now that millions had been saved.
"Your boys sure know how to leave their mark, Fury," mused the Commander as he watched the fervent activity of his agents.
"All in a days work," quipped the old cold warrior.
"What about those soldiers?" he asked curiously, "What happened to them?"
Shifting his gaze up towards the roof, Stryker saw the faint outline of five figures looking down on them. Knowing exactly who they were, Fury smiled. It was a rare event for him, but he knew the whole world was once again indebted to them. They would get no praise, no parade, or even so much as a thank you. Yet they still did it out of duty and honor. And that's what made them true warriors.
"I don't know," conceded Fury as he watched them wheel off Stryker's body, "But I do know where they're going."
"And where might that be?"
"Home...it's where they need to be."
With Styrker's body gone, the mission was officially over. The legacy of William Stryker was complicated and would be forever skewed by history. But for the five mutant soldiers of Shadow Cell, it was a legacy best left to the past. Now finally, the ghosts of their pasts could be laid to rest and they could finally move on.
"Come on guys," said Cyclops, "Time to go back to our families."
It was past midnight when Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and Laura returned to the mansion. They were soaked from the rain, their uniforms were torn from the fight, and they were emotionally and physically exhausted. All they could think of now was being with their families.
For Laura, she didn't even remove her tainted uniform as she went up to baby Kendall's room. Upon entering, she found her fast asleep in the arms of Ororo, who was out cold too. It was a sight that caused the former living weapon's heart to swell. Having been born into a loveless world of war, it made having a family all the more special. And after tonight, she swore she'd never take it for granted again.
Smiling at the beautiful sight before her, Laura gently kissed both her mother and her little sister on the forehead, being careful not to wake them.
"It's okay, mom. It's okay, Kendall. You're safe now," she said softly.
Leaving them to sleep, Laura turned to make her leave. But as she stepped out into the darkened halls, she came across Logan, who had sensed her return. She looked like hell, but she was okay. And upon seeing her, Logan smiled warmly, happy to see his daughter safe and sound.
"She stayed with her all night," he told her, watching as the emotional look on her face grew distant, "After ya left, we stayed together waitin' for ya to come back. I knew you'd pull through."
His words brought a smile to Laura's face. Every time she was with this man, her heart swelled. His blood flowed through her veins. He gave her something she'd never thought she'd have...family.
And after this difficult mission, it made her appreciate just how much it meant to her.
"This was a close one, dad," she mused, feeling choked up, "It could have ended so terribly. Everybody I loved could have been killed."
"But ya stopped em," said Logan proudly, "Ya stepped up and became a soldier again. I know it's a tough thing to swallow, but you're strong, darlin'. You are my daughter, after all. And I couldn't be prouder."
Unable to hold in her emotions, Laura pulled her father into a tight embrace, wanting to hold onto that which she had fought so hard for. And as he felt his powerful arms around her, a sense of peace came over her. Weapon or no weapon, she was a soldier...a soldier and the daughter of a proud warrior.
"I love you, daddy. Thank you...for everything."
"That's what I'm here for, darlin'," said Logan, holding her tight, "You have a family, Laura...a family that loves ya. And whether here or on the battlefield, don't ever forget it."
"I won't," she promised, tear now streaming down her face.
Laura had come a long way. But in the end, she found more humanity in her than she ever thought possible. It was proof positive that the people who created her had failed. They didn't create a living weapon...they created a warrior and a survivor.
And with so many fights behind her and a family to be proud of, former weapon X23 was ready to move forward with her life.
As Scott, Jean, Vince, and Wanda returned to the Summers household, they found their kids fast asleep on the couch. Mystique and Irene were still up keeping watch and when they saw their battle scared state it came as quite a shock. But upon reassuring them that all was well, the two long time friends made their leave, giving one last goodbye kiss to the kids.
"You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?" grinned Mystique as she and Irene walked back out into the light rain.
"Did you ever have any doubts?" she replied.
"Not for a moment."
As trying as the battle had been, Shadow Cell's strength persevered. Even after five years, they couldn't completely escape their soldier past. And maybe with this mission, they'll stop trying and start accepting it. It would be difficult, but both Mystique and Irene were confident they had laid the past to rest and work harder on the future.
For Vincent and Wanda, seeing Maggie again was an emotional moment. Looking at her, all the challenges they had to go through against Stryker seemed well worth the strife. And upon bidding their comrades goodbye, they flew home together.
Remarkably, Maggie stayed asleep the whole flight. She looked so beautiful and innocent, yet this mission reminded them of the difficult world they lived in. And eventually, she would have to be a part of that world. But with the love and guidance of her parents, she had everything she be strong.
Upon stepping into their home, Vincent and Wanda let out an exhausted sigh. After living in the military for much of their earlier lives, coming back to a home was a truly special feeling.
"Home sweet home," said Wanda, "Funny, I never thought I'd say that."
"I know," agreed Vincent, "It feels nice, doesn't it?"
Despite their battle scared bodies, the couple smiled warmly as they embraced each other with Maggie still between them. And from this, she finally began to stir.
"Mommy? Daddy?" she said with tired eyes.
"Hey there, sweety," said Vincent softly as he gently cradled his little girl, "It's okay. We're home."
Letting out a cute little yawn, Maggie Freeman was too tired to ascertain what had happened. But that was a world she would come into gradually. For now, Vincent and Wanda were going to see to it that she enjoyed the innocence they had been robbed of.
"I was scared," she said as she clung to her daddy, "Aunty Raven told us you had to stop a monster."
The couple laughed at Mystique's take on their mission, but in retrospect, it wasn't very far from the truth.
"Well you don't have to worry about any more monsters from here on out," said Wanda, gently kissing her little girl's forehead, "Mommy and Daddy took care of it. You're safe now, baby. And I promise you, no monster is EVER going to hurt you."
"Warrior promise," affirmed Vincent.
Convinced by their word, Maggie hugged her Mommy and Daddy closely. Monster or not, they made a promise and they were going to keep it. And as they hugged their little girl, Vincent and Wanda Freeman exchanged warm gazes. With a moment like this, it made having that second baby all the more appealing.
"Come on, let's get you to bed," said Wanda softly as she took her in her arms.
"I don't want to sleep," she whined, "I had a bad dream. I was scared that the monster was going to hurt you."
"You've got no reason to be scared now, Maggie," said Vincent softly, "If you want, you can sleep with us. You know you'll always be safe with us."
With a tired smile, the little girl snuggled comfortably into her mother's arms as they ascended the stairs together as a family. Once they got to the master bedroom, Wanda laid her little girl on the bed while she and Vincent removed their tattered uniforms and slipped into comfortable sleeping clothes.
And as they snuggled up together, they both gave their baby one last kiss. Smiling at one another, they had everything they needed. After having such a difficult family life growing up, it made moments like this all the more intimate. They didn't want to lose what they had come to treasure so much. It was a dangerous world out there, but they would take it on together...both as warriors and as family.
"Sweet dreams, baby," said Vincent, feeling so lucky to have the two greatest women in the world by his side, "We love you very much. We'll always love you. You've given us so much. And no matter what happens, always remember you'll have the support of your family."
Back at the Summers home, Scott and Jean slipped out of their battle scared uniforms and into more comfortable clothes. Nathan and Rachel were fast asleep and they dared not wake them. But after having come so close to losing them, they wanted nothing more than to hug their babies.
Gently, they took their still sleeping children in their arms and took them upstairs to their respective rooms. They remained asleep, allowing them to tuck them in and ensure they were safe as they drifted off to a world of dreams.
"Goodnight Nathan," said Scott, gently kissing his son's forehead, "Mommy and Daddy love you. And we'll always be there to protect you."
In Rachel's room, Jean did the same, tucking her little girl under the sheets and kissing her softly so as to ensure she slept with the guidance of a mother's love.
"Goodnight Rachel," she said, feeling choked up by her emotions, "I love you so much. Mommy and Daddy will always love you. Be safe...my little marvel."
Tears formed in her eyes as Jean left her daughter to her rest. Meeting in the hallway, the long time lovers embraced. The mission had been an emotional mess. Not only had the lives of their children been threatened, but they had to revisit old ghosts they once thought had been laid to rest.
Five years ago, they embarked on a venture to move away from the past. Yet only now was it truly sinking in. They could never escape where they came from, no matter how much their lives had changed. But they had come to accept that now. And where they went from here was up to them.
"This was a hard one," said Scott softly as he held his wife close.
"Yes, but we succeeded," said Jean, fighting back her tears.
Running a finger down her face, Scott wiped away her tears and kissed her tenderly as his arms slipped around her waist.
"It feels different this time," he mused, "Back at Shadow Cell, I thought of nothing but the mission during a battle. This time, I thought of nothing but coming home to our kids."
"I know. I felt it too," said Jean with a sob, "I guess Magnum was wrong in some ways. Faith in the mission isn't always one's greatest strength."
"Yeah...having something to come home to really changes things."
As Scott and Jean held each other, a new feeling of calm came over them. Emotions still ran strong, but it was different now. Looking at their lives, they had so much to be thankful for. They had friends, they had each other, and they had two beautiful kids that meant the world to them. And after having been denied so much in their short lives, it really meant a lot to have something so precious.
"So where do we go from here?" wondered Jean, "Now that we've laid the last piece of Sinister to rest, what happens now?"
It was a difficult matter to ponder, but thinking back to the two beautiful kids they had and the deep love they shared, Scott and Jean-Grey Summers had plenty of faith in the future.
"I don't know, Jean. I really don't," he said with a sigh, "But I do know this though...the world is a really messed up place. We've experienced things no one else should ever experience. But together, I know we can overcome whatever obstacles the future throws us. We owe it to ourselves and our kids."
"Yes, I have faith that we can too," said Jean tenderly.
It was a profound moment. They had to face a lot of challenges in this mission, but the hardest of them all was their past. And now that they had moved past that, they could focus on the future. Only this time, they would not forget where they came from.
"I...I guess Sinister was right about one thing," said Scott with a slight laugh.
"Really? What's that?" said Jean with a surprised look.
"The best thing we can do for the world is to make it better for the next generation. And as parents and warriors, I think that's our greatest mission."
"Mmm...I couldn't agree more," said Jean with a warm smile, "Now shut up and kiss me."
Sharing one last powerful kiss, Scott and Jean embraced this new beginning. They still had a long way to go in this complicated world. But together, they had faith that they could make it better for their children.
The past and the present are often intertwined. In some cases, they are one in the same. And for those who struggle with the past, the present can be an ongoing challenge. But for the strong and the bold, such trials and tribulations serve to grant strength as well as reflection. And that strength is the best gift that one can pass on to the next generation.
Through conflict and hardships, it is strength and spirit that shapes the future. As mortal beings, humans can only do so much. And by making the world better for the generation to come, everybody can leave an everlasting legacy.
AN: That's it. It's over. I know it was a lot shorter than "Sinister Soldiers," but was it still enjoyable? I appreciate all the wonderful support my readers have given me since the beginning and I hope you come away from this story with something meaningful. Thanks again and I wish you all the best.
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The best legacy we can leave behind is a better world for the next generation.