The Evo world is forever turned upside down when a man named Dr. Nathanial Essex begins a project known as Shadow Cell from which the lives of Scott, Jean, Vincent, Wanda, and X23 are changed forev...
Chapter 4: Enhancement
After having gone through the same procedures to get Jean out of the hospital as they had to get Scott out of the orphanage, the young redheaded girl was at long last free from her confinement and allowed to leave the dark, dingy building where she had been forced to reside for over two years now. Unknown to her, however, she was now officially non-existent just like Scott. The both of them were now complete unknowns...Shadows in the light of the world. They were alive...Yet officially, were just figments of flesh, not at all recognized by the collective consciousness of others.
For Jean Grey, she was no longer drugged or sedated anymore. This did cause a few concerns about her powers among the General and the Colonel, not to mention the ever vigilant GURSO soldiers that still surrounded the convoy that would take them back to Shadow Cell's new base. However, being the resourceful and intelligent man that he was, Dr. Nathanial Essex had already planned for such an issue and as soon as Scott and Jean were in their possession, he gave each of them special, high tech necklace that contained power dampening components so that they wouldn't be a problem. This would keep Scott's headaches from getting too great and prevent any unexpected blasts for him while also keeping Jean's telepathy and telekinesis at bay while she adjusted to such radical change.
During the drive back to the base, Dr. Essex stayed close to both Scott and Jean, even as the imposing presence of numerous military officers and GURSO soldiers stood present, ready at a moments notice to contain them if they showed any signs of becoming unruly. It was a troubling situation for the two young kids who had already suffered so much in their lives, but to the ever stoic military, it was a necessary preventative measure. Despite this, Dr. Essex kept giving Scott and Jean his assurance that this was all for the best as they were forced to contend with this very new and frightening situation. He proved to be a more compassionate figure for the two children compared to the emotionless officers and officials around him, which was just the way the doctor wanted it in order to ensure that the coming steps both now and in the near future would go smoothly.
While Dr. Essex was somewhat of a comforting presence in the crowd of ominous men that surrounded them, both Scott Summers and Jean Grey found more comfort in clinging to each other for support during this very dramatic transformation in their lives. Jean may have still been in a daze, but she kept close to Scott, for there was nothing else around her that offered such consolation as she continued to struggle with everything that was happening to her. Neither of them said a word during the three hour ride back to the very secret base in the vast openness of upstate New York...For there was nothing to say about their situation. There was no telling where this would lead, whether or not these people would truly help them, or even if whatever they planned to do to them would be a success. Nevertheless...At least they had something to hold onto as they were now faced with complete and utter uncertainty as to what was going to happen next.
The base where Shadow Cell would operate now and for an indefinite period of time was very secluded within the hilly terrain of the remote parts of upstate New York. It was far from any city and the closest civilization was only the vast farmland, much of which was well away from the uncultivated hills. Even though the base was very cutting edge in terms of technology and secrecy, it was not new. Before it became Shadow Cell's headquarters, it was once a super secret military instillation that researched and housed nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Gradually, its focus shifted as Nathanial Essex took over and put together the components necessary for Project Shadow Cell in the years following the Prodigy Project. Even before his fateful proposal, the facility was being prepared for the most advanced research in biological and mutagenic fields. However, now that the project had been approved, numerous scientists and officers relocated to the super secret base, bringing with them a fleet of new and advanced equipment that any normal citizen would have found too fantastic to believe. With construction still going strong, the components necessary for turning these first two specimens into unstoppable, unparalleled warriors of American democracy were beginning to arise further and further with each passing day.
While the facility was already big enough, numerous expansions had to be made in order to make it perfectly suited for the needs of the project. Not only would this hold Shadow Cell and all it's components, but it would also be the new home of the GURSO unit, which were the ones specifically tasked with controlling and watching over the Shadow Cell recruits, always armed and ready, ensuring that they didn't go renegade. The whole base would also be home to some of the most advanced military and civil technology ever conceived. Much of it was many decades ahead of it's time, thanks in large part to the contributions made by Dr. Essex and his knack for all things advanced. Everything from the training facility, which would use advanced holography and real time danger, to the computers and networks that would monitor hot spots for trouble all over the world was more complex and sophisticated than anything ever conceived. It showed the true ambition of those involved, especially the ever eager Nathanial Essex.
For young Scott Summers and Jean Grey...The two young children for whom all this elaborate technology and ambition centered around...They would now reside in special quarters at the heart of the base. The conditions were not at all unfavorable compared to the orphanage or the insane asylum, but they did have a rather ominous feel to them. Each room looked as though it was fit to comfortably house one person with the bare necessities ranging from a simple bed, a working sink, and air conditioning for both heating and cooling. There were also separate showers out in the hall, standard to pretty much any other group of soldiers. They were separated for both men and women, but given that Scott and Jean were the only ones there at the moment, that did not matter.
Not long after they arrived, both Scott and Jean were escorted by Dr. Essex and a small contingent of GURSO soldiers to their quarters. However, despite the better conditions, Dr. Essex quickly discovered that they didn't want to be left alone. And having anticipated this, the doctor had the soldiers set up a temporary room for the both of them with two beds so that they could at least stay near each other. While this did have immediate practical reasons, for Dr. Essex...It would aid in something much more down the road. But the doctor was forced to set such thoughts aside for the time being, for there was serious work to be done and both Scott Summers and Jean Grey could do nothing but wait and see what it was these mysterious people had in store for them.
After leaving the two kids to their own devices in their new room, he returned to the lab to prepare the bio-mutagenic accelerator for his first two specimens. A few GURSO soldiers stayed behind, acting as watchdogs for the two anxious children as they sat in darkness behind the closed door of the room they would temporarily share for the time being. Both children were very tired from all the dramatic changes and stress they had undergone in the span of a single day. Neither of them had eaten much even though Dr. Essex and some of the officers managed to get them a light snack upon their arrival. There was just too much going through their young minds at the moment, for they were now struggling to ascertain the complicated predicament that they now found themselves such a big part of.
Both Scott and Jean tried to get some much needed rest on their separate beds upon seeing Dr. Essex and the officers depart. Scott quickly curled up into a ball under the sheets, fighting off waves of fear and uncertainty, yet remembering the words of encouragement that Dr. Essex had given him when he made the fateful choice to join him and this mysterious organization. Like he had back at the orphanage, Scott found himself closing his eyes and trying to remember the times before all his pain and suffering took hold of his life. He tried to remember what it was like to have the happy, care-free life of any regular child with his mother, father, and brother...But he had found that the more time that went on and the more he suffered...The more faded these memories became. It got to the point where they were more like dreams rather than memories, fading more and more with each passing day. Whenever he thought about his family, the only thing that truly stood out was the fateful plane crash that took them away from him and left him all alone in this scary, unforgiving world.
A small tear trickled down Scott's eye as he laid upon the cold, hard bed typical of most military lofts...But as he tried to shut such pain out, he suddenly heard something else in the dark room that drew his attention. Slowly, he sat up in his bed and traced the gentle noise to the bed right across from him and soon found out it was the sound of gentle weeping. Looking over through the darkness, he saw that Jean was still sitting upright, hugging her knees in the dirty, worn clothes that she still wore from the asylum where she had come from. Her emerald green eyes were brimming with tears and wrought with sorrow...A look Scott knew all too well as he soon found himself getting out of the bed, once again drawn to this distraught young girl that seemed to be in so much pain.
"Jean?" the young boy said as he slowly made his way over to her.
The little redhead didn't stop weeping, but it looked as though she had heard his concerned tone through her pain. She didn't do much else in response as Scott slowly got into the bed next to her, leaning up against the wall alongside her and not knowing what to do in such a situation. Her pained cries only brought more tears to Scott's eyes because they only reminded him of his own world of sorrow, but despite this he managed to move in close to her, feeling the warmth of her shivering young body and taking a small bit of comfort in her presence.
"Jean...What's wrong?" he asked as he found himself placing a hand on her shoulder once again, just as he had back at the asylum when he first saw her.
The young redhead then turned to face the boy beside her and was met with his enchanting blue eyes that seemed to stand out more than anything despite the innate darkness of the room. His hand on her shoulder once again brought the unique feeling she had felt back at the asylum. His touch was one of gentleness and comfort...A touch she had not felt in so long. There were still tears in her eyes, but as she looked at this young boy...She saw a slight hint of tears as well and through her raspy, uncertain voice she found herself speak for the first time in quite a while.
"What is your name?" she asked, eager to know who this mysterious boy was and why he was trying to comfort her after so many others had merely scoffed at her.
Upon hearing her voice, young the heart of young Scott Summers nearly skipped a beat, sensing the sorrow in her tone, yet hearing this soft, soothing voice beneath the sadness the likes of which he hadn't heard before, given the traumatic life he had lived these past three years.
"Scott...Scott Summers," he found himself answering, acting only what his immediate thoughts were telling him.
Jean found herself repeating that name in her head upon hearing it...As if she simply needed one single thought to hold onto that didn't involve pain and suffering. Her mind had been in a dazed state ever since that fateful day she had felt her whole family die and all the drugs she was given back at the hospital didn't help all that much in the long run. For three years now, the traumatized young girl had been stuck in a dazed state, not knowing which state was that of dreaming and which sate was that of consciousness. All the renegade thoughts that had bombarded her mind...All the alien feelings which she knew were not hers...They had assaulted her to no end for so long now. However, because of the special necklace that Dr. Essex had given her and Scott, she was no longer assailed by chaotic thoughts or plagued with concern over making things move abruptly and unexpectedly. For the first time...Her thoughts were all her own and her actions were all her own. It was a strange, scary feeling...Yet there was some comfort in the knowledge that she wasn't alone and wanted to hold onto such a moment for as long as she possibly could.
"What...What's going on? Why are we here?" she asked, her mind still in a state of turmoil.
Scott tightened his grip on her shoulder as he scooted in closer to her, hoping to ease her tension while also feeling the slight comfort of having somebody else to share his anxiety with as well.
"They're going to help us," said Scott, speaking only from what he knew from Dr. Essex, "That man...Dr. Essex...He says he can help us. He says that we...Both you and I...Are mutants."
"Mutants? What's a mutant?" asked Jean, feeling as though she was finding only more questions than answers.
"I...I'm really not sure," said Scott, his young mind still unable to process the true meaning of what he was, "But I know that...We're mutants. We have...Some kind of special ability...Something unique to us that normal people don't have."
"So...I'm a mutant?" said Jean, turning away from the young boy briefly, not knowing how to react to such a revelation.
"Yes...And so am I," said Scott.
The two young kids sat in silence once again, yet Scott's hand did not leave her shoulder. Soon, Jean found herself reaching up and grasping the young boy's hand, desperately holding onto it as if it were the only thing to keep her from falling back into the void where she had been so greatly consumed by sorrow. Scott gave her hand a squeeze in return, letting her know that she wasn't alone.
"Does this mean we're freaks?" she asked, tears once again forming in her eyes.
"Of course not..." replied Scott, although not very sure himself, but desperately wanting to believe, "We just...Can do things that others can't."
"Then...What can you do?" asked Jean as she looked back towards him, once again stuck in the gaze of his deep blue eyes.
Scott hesitated briefly, not knowing how to explain it. To him, it was still a curse...One that had brought him unparalleled pain and confusion. Even though he now knew what it was, it didn't make it any easier...Knowing he had this power inside him, waiting and lurking within his body.
"I'm...Really not quite sure," said the young boy with a noticeable strain in his voice, "I get headaches...Bad ones...Ones where I feel this...Pressure building up inside me. And when it gets too great...It explodes through my eyes in this red light that destroys everything I look at. It just...It brings so much pain and so much destruction that I...I can't control it. It hurts and I..."
The young boy found himself unable to finish as tears once again formed in his eyes, still wrought with uncertainty and strain in his fragile mind. This time, Jean gave his hand a squeeze in response, which helped comfort him in the same way he had been doing for her since that fateful first moment in the asylum. The little redheaded girl didn't quite know why both she and this boy were stuck in this world of pain...Yet she knew his suffering and he knew hers. They were both in a place they did not know, they were both surrounded by people they had just met, and they were both all alone in the world.
"What about you?" asked Scott as his distraught sobs subsided, "What can you do?"
Jean swallowed hard, for it was truly not something she liked to think about...But she had to tell somebody who understood. There were no thoughts bombarding her now...But there remained a lingering fear that it would not last and she would once again be assailed by thoughts that were not hers. She wanted to hang onto her own thoughts now...She wanted to hang onto every part of her that made her Jean Grey. But that didn't make it any easier to describe something she had struggled so hard to understand for so many years.
"I don't know either..." she answered with a similar strain in her voice, "Sometimes...I think thoughts...I think a lot of thoughts. But the thing is...Many of those thoughts aren't mine...They're the thoughts of others. They...They bombard my head...They never stop. Sometimes they're so loud and they hurt so much that...Strange things happen."
"Strange things?" said Scott, keeping her hand in his as she went through this obviously painful recollection.
"Yes..." she said, tears once again threatening to fill her eyes, "I...I don't know what it is, but...They just keep happening. Things I'm not touching...Start to move. I...I know I'm moving them...But I don't know how...And I can't control it and it just..."
It soon became all too hard for the young redheaded girl to talk about. Both kids soon found themselves leaning against one another, lending each other the support that they had never had throughout the tragedies that assailed their lives. Such young children had suffered so much loss and so much hardship...More than anybody could possibly understand. They were both very alike in the things they suffered and in the pain that they felt...They both understood that in the manner in which they clung to one another, desperate for something...Or someone to hold onto. Loneliness, sadness, and sorrow was all they had known for so long now...And no matter how much they tried to forget, it still hung strong in their pained eyes.
"Why...Why does everything have to hurt so much?" said Jean as she began to lose control of her sobs once more.
"I don't know Jean...I wish I could tell you, but I honestly don't know," said Scott with a hard lump in his throat as he wrapped his arms around her as she did the same for him, the both of them needing whatever comfort they could muster during this very difficult time.
"My...My family is dead...Everything is gone...It just...Why? Why does it have to be so hard?" she sobbed as she began crying uncontrollably.
Scott soon found himself crying as well upon hearing Jean's anguish of loss and sorrow. Everything hurt so much for them...And they were only children. They were ten year old kids...Living in a world of sorrow and pain and it seemed as though there was nothing they could do about it.
"I know how you feel...My family's dead too," said Scott in a low, monotone voice.
"Did...Did you see them die?" asked the sobbing young girl as she looked back at the young boy with tears streaming down her face.
"Yes..." said Scott, choking on his own voice, "Right before my eyes."
This only caused the young girl to cling to the boy beside her even more as her sobs became more uncontrolled. In a way, it was strangely comforting when she heard that Scott had been through the same horror as she had, but it didn't make it less painful for either of them. They had both been forced to watch their mommy and daddy die right before their eyes and they had both lived a life of hell ever since. Now, in this very frightening and uncertain place, their future remained in a shroud of uncertainty and all they had now were the terrible memories of their past, struggling to deal with being so young and having to deal with having their childhood and their innocence taken away from them so harshly.
Jean kept crying, unable to forget or cope with the great waves of sorrow she felt for the life she had been living. Everything hurt so much and all she could do now was cry. The pained sobs of this little girl were like red hot needles in the heart of young Scott Summers. They were wrought with so much sadness...Sadness that reminded him of the horrible places where he came from and the memories that he had to contend with. Yet despite the feelings of deep sorrow that hung over the both of them, they still managed to hang onto one another...Feeling the warmth and comfort that gave them both something to hang onto and something to believe in despite being in a world that had been so cruel to them.
"Don't cry..." said Scott, struggling to fight his tears as he held the sobbing young girl in his arms, "Don't cry Jean..."
The gentle sound of his voice helped to lessen her sobs as she simply let the tears flow and soon found herself resting her head against Scott's shoulder, which helped to ease his own sobs as he felt he finally had something truly special in his arms to treasure and take comfort in. They stayed in this position for an untold period of time, simply letting themselves cry out their pain and sorrow from their trauma ridden lives. Neither of them said anything, for neither of them really had the strength at this point. They didn't know what was going to happen and they didn't know what these people were going to do to them. It was a scary thought...Especially for a couple of traumatized ten year old children.
"It'll be okay..." said Scott, finally breaking the silence as he found himself gently stroking Jean's beautiful red hair.
"But...What's going to happen to us?" she said, her voice still choked by anxiety and sorrow, "Is the hurting ever going to stop?"
Scott nearly felt himself break down again, for he truly didn't know the answers to the young girl's questions. There were so many uncertainties and it was unclear how much longer they could even last. So many times, both Scott and Jean thought about death and dying...More so than any young child ever should. Life was just so painful...And what more did they have to live for in the first place? Such thoughts only made them focus on the gentle warmth they offered one another as they remained huddled in the darkness, not wanting to leave each other's side.
"I don't know Jean...I wish I did...But I don't," he finally managed through his sorrow, "But just because it hurts...It doesn't mean we have to be alone."
Jean looked back at the young boy, the tears in her eyes gradually ceasing as she looked into the deep blue eyes of the young boy before her. She had been alone for so long now that she had nearly forgotten the simple joys of human contact. She could see the pain in this boy's eyes...Pain which she knew all too well. Loss, sorrow, and isolation had only made life so hard for the both of them...But the thought of not having to suffer alone was actually one Jean found solstice in...Just as Scott did as their respective gaze's remained fixated on one another.
"I don't want to be alone again..." said Jean, the strain still in her voice, only now it was somewhat less severe.
"Then you won't have to be...Neither of us will," assured Scott as his hands continued to gently stroke her hair in a way Jean found to be very soothing.
They only sought comfort...They desired only warmth from the chilling effects that life and the world around them had brought upon them. With only simple words and gestures, both Scott Summers and Jean Grey managed to sooth some of their pain. The warmth of their embrace, the comfort of their touch, and even the mere knowledge of being with someone who understood the sorrows that had plagued their lives...Helped to ease their suffering, for now after being isolated for so long...They were not alone.
"Scott...Thank you," said Jean as she once again rested her tired head against the young boy's body.
With the first warm smile he had managed in what seemed like an eternity, Scott held the little girl close in his arms and whispered, "No...Thank you Jean."
For hours on end, the two young children stayed huddled together in the dark room. They drifted in and out of sleep, helping to wake each other up when they had a nightmare. Occasionally, some of the guards would bring in trays of food for them, and while they didn't eat too much of it, such desperately needed nourishment offered clear hope for them as they simply passed untold amounts of time huddled by each other's side. Whenever one would cry, the other would soon follow and whenever it hurt too much, they simply held each other tighter...Not wanting to let go of the comfort they had just found in one another. For the first time in a very long while...Scott Summers and Jean Grey managed to find something within one another that helped to fill the deep emptiness within their hearts.
Time itself became irrelevant as seconds, minutes, and hours all melded into mixed mesh of meaninglessness. Scott and Jean stayed by one another, living from moment to moment in this mysterious new dwelling, not knowing what the future had in store for them.
Then finally...Dr. Nathanial Essex returned to them with a rather large squad of GURSO soldiers and doctors behind him. In his hands, there were several hypodermic needles fully loaded with clear liquid...However, he hid them from the sight of the two weary children. On his face, there was a penetrating sinister grin...One that hinted a great deal of eagerness as he looked upon the two frail specimens that were such an enormous part of his very ambitious plans. With his grin only growing wider with each step forward he took, the doctor behind Shadow Cell looked down at Scott Summers and Jean Grey and said two fateful words.
Activity in the main laboratory area was at a fevered level as both soldiers and scientists scrambled to and fro throughout the vast area of the facility. In the center of the large, high tech room...There were two large bio tanks full of strange, green liquid. There was a vast array of cables and wiring throughout the advanced machinery and they all fed into a powerful network of highly advanced computers.
The smell of chemicals was thick in the air as all of the highest ranking officers of this fateful project were present for this momentous event. Dr. Essex was coordinating it all as he and his associates worked to run he elaborate and complex computer programs for some of the most high tech genetic equipment ever conceived. Many of the components that ran this apparatus didn't even exist and was many years ahead of it's time. Yet in this most secret and advanced facility, Dr. Essex and all his associates worked around it as though it was as regular as getting a cup of coffee.
"You two!" ordered Dr. Essex as he looked towards two of his subordinate scientist, "Being loading the feeding tubes into the bio-aetheric vat, but be sure that the regulators are in place! We cannot afford to have a milliliter more or less with this."
"Already in progress doctor," answered one of the female scientists working the main computer programs, "Preparation steps one through three are almost complete. The accelerator is nearly fully primed."
"Excellent..." said Dr. Essex as he checked his watch, "We're precisely on schedule. Begin loading programs A through D and make sure that the main servers are at full capacity! We'll need every bit of computing power we can muster with this process."
"We're already at 80 percent doctor," said the main server technicians who were already hard at work fulfilling their duties, "We should have the rest ready in less than five minutes."
"Good...Stay on course, but don't forget...If there is even one single flaw, don't hesitate to let me know," assured Dr. Essex, "We can't have any slip ups with these programs. One bug could spell disaster for all of us if we don't do this right."
"Understood Dr. Essex," said the technicians as his team began feverishly doing double checks of the program and data feed integrity, making sure they were working at the most optimum level possible.
Dr. Nathanial Essex then proceeded to make the last and most important calibrations on the overall integrity of his machine. Every last bit of wiring, data, and procedure was scrutinized by the powerful mind that had worked to create everything that was now standing before him. This whole apparatus was the culmination of his blood, sweat, and tears and now it was almost ready to be put to the ultimate test. So much patience along with a great deal of trial and error had led up to this moment and the doctor was intent on making it perfect, for he strived for nothing less in his ambitious goals.
While the doctor was working intently on the components and parts that only he had the capability to adjust, the head officers of Shadow Cell remained in the background, watching and waiting as the experiment took shape before their eyes. Some were anxious, some were very optimistic, and some were a little in between. This one moment would determine whether or not Shadow Cell had a future ahead of them. And if it failed...It could mean the end for many of them.
"This is a big moment sir," said the Colonel to the General as he watched the fury of activity before them along with the many other officers present.
"Indeed it is Colonel," said the General, sounding a bit anxious, but still optimistic, "It's remarkable how quickly and efficiently things have gone so far. The extraction of the specimens and the setup of this base has gone every bit as flawlessly as I had hoped."
"Now it's all on Dr. Essex's shoulders," said the Colonel, who still harbored somewhat of a distaste of the doctor, but setting aside such personal feelings for the time being, focusing on the task at hand.
"Well he's delivered everything he's promised so far Colonel," said the General, helping to reassure both him and the other officers around them, "And if anybody can pull something like this off...It's him."
"But what if this procedure fails?" asked the Colonel, always one to consider the worst when it came to most anything.
"Then we're all in up shit's creek, Colonel," answered the General simply, "We've already spent a hell of a lot of money setting up this facility and initiating this experiment. It's not as much as it could have been, I'll give the doctor that, but it's still sizable enough to make it so our asses are on the line. But try not to think about that at the moment Colonel. It's important to stay positive and ask yourself...What if this procedure succeeds?"
A brief silence fell over them as they watched Dr. Essex bark more orders towards some of the scientists present as he continued making the final adjustments on his machine. While the anxious officers watched, their eyes kept shifting from the activity to another guest that had come to join in this momentous occasion. The mysterious guest was a rather tall, imposing, and very intimidating looking woman with blonde hair. She wore black all over her body from her black shirt, black boots, black gloves, to the tight fitting black pants that showed off her very fit figure to the large black trench coat that covered her body. She also had on a pair of ominous sunglasses that hid her eyes and accentuated the stoic look on her face. She looked very strong and very intimidating even to military personnel. However, what stood out the most about this mysterious woman were the holsters strewn along her upper body. There were three in all, but one was far more visible than the other. The one everybody saw was the one that contained a shining 44 caliber magnum that looked completely customized and very deadly. The stoic woman had not said a word since she arrived alongside Dr. Essex soon after they relocated to the base. And right now, she was simply leaning against the walls fixated on the experiment like the rest of them while casually twirling her trusted 44 magnum around her finger, hinting at the great skill she wielded it with.
"Yes Colonel...It is," said the General, cutting the Colonel off in mid sentence as he saw who his subordinate was looking at, "That's her...Magnum."
"Why was she allowed to be here during this?" asked the Colonel in rather hushed tone, "She's just a mentor for the recruits...I thought she was given restricted privileges here."
"Essex set her up here..." answered the General, "It was part of the agreement and the protocols."
"But sir...Do you really think it's a good idea to have one of the deadliest mercenaries in the world as a part of this without a little oversight?" said the Colonel as he looked back at the stoic Russian woman with suspicion, "I mean...Do you really trust Dr. Essex to control her?"
"Colonel...Like it or not, she's a big part of this," said the General, sounding very exasperated by his subordinates tone, "And furthermore...She is the best for the task at hand. Now I don't like the idea to some extent either...But I can understand Dr. Essex's logic in using her. She's one of the best and if anybody can make our soldiers the deadliest and most efficient in the world...She can."
"Be that as it may...I still don't trust her," he said, his suspicious tone not skipping a beat.
"Well if you don't like it...Then why don't you go up to her and tell her that so she can put your fears to rest?" asked the General in a slightly sarcastic tone.
Looking back at the intimidating, imposing woman, the Colonel was quick to answer.
"Thanks but no thanks sir," replied the Colonel, knowing full well that talking to Magnum in the wrong way could lead to many painful outcomes.
"Then stop pestering me about it," said the General in a stern tone of voice, "You're constant and innate suspicion of absolutely everybody around you is what got you in trouble in the first place Colonel...It's why you ended up here. Now I don't claim to know all the facts, but I do know when to do my duty and set aside unscrupulous fears for the sake of getting something done. So I ask you kindly Colonel...Keep your ever pestilent opinions to yourself for now and do you duty."
"Yes sir..." said the Colonel in a low, disgruntled tone.
He looked back over towards Magnum as she kept doing little gun-slinging tricks, making it as seem as easy as breathing to her. He wasn't sure if the imposing woman was looking back at him, but he still harbored a deep feeling of suspicion towards her and Dr. Essex. He had always been a suspicious man and many times, that trait came back to haunt him. However, he still harbored such feelings even though it didn't sit well with the General. His rank may have been lower, but he was far more active in this project than the General since he was still head of the GURSO unit. And because of this, he would always keep his own little acts of oversight vigilant no matter what the outcome of this fateful experiment may be.
Back down in the main lab area, it was all coming together as Dr. Nathanial Essex did a final check of his powerful machine, making sure all the components were honed to absolute perfection. The rest of the scientist working with him were staying on task and keeping up with the intense protocol that he had instantiated. Everything was happening very fast, yet each step was done with meticulous care, knowing that this experiment would be one to remember even though it officially wasn't happening.
"Doctor..." said one of the male technicians, "We've just activated the last server. We're now operating at one hundred percent."
"Good work," said Dr. Essex as he kept his attention focused on some of the last few vital parts, "You and your team keep monitoring every aspect of the data flow. If something goes wrong, I want to know about it a nanosecond after it happens."
"Yes doctor, it will be done," said the technician as things began to slow down for the data processing team.
After doing a quick check of the wiring and the feed to the servers, Dr. Essex found the big moment drawing ever nearer for him. Quickly, he turned to the monitoring team, who were still working feverishly to the protocols to set up the main procedures that would actually run each process of the bio-mutagenic accelerator.
"Status report..." he ordered as he looked back at the lead female programmer.
"Programs E through G are now up and running," she affirmed, "All monitoring and procedure programs are now ready."
"Perfect...That leaves only one last part," said Dr. Essex with a grin as he made his way over towards the medical team.
Both Scott and Jean were now lying on a couple of beds, surrounded by doctors. They had been injected with a series of sedatives that left them just barely conscious. They could still see what was going on around them, but their vision and overall sense of perception was slightly blurred. They were now no longer wearing the inhibitors that held back their powers, so Scott was quick to feel another headache come along and so was Jean as a few stray thoughts made their way into her head. While it was hard to show, both young children were very scared at what was going on and had no clue as to what was about to happen to them.
"Scott...Jean...Can you hear me?" said Dr. Essex in a calm tone to the two young children that held so much promise for Shadow Cell.
They both found it hard to make out their surroundings, but the both of them did recognize the doctor's voice and managed to not in reply despite their barely conscious state.
"It's going to be okay..." he assured the both of them as he smiled down at his two specimens, "Relief is coming soon. Now I know you both are scared...But I need the two of you to be strong for me. We're going to help you...These fellow doctors and I are going to help you take control of the chaos that has caused you so much pain. You just have trust me...It will all be over soon."
Dr. Essex's gentle coaxing did help the two drugged kids relax a bit as the team of scientists surrounded them and kept a close eye on their physical condition. The bio-mutagenic accelerator may have been a machine honed to perfection by Dr. Essex, but it had still never been used before, so there was always the possibility of unforeseen problems. Yet so much preparation and so many teams of the best scientists that the world could offer had brought the advanced machine to most optimal state it could possibly be. Constant, meticulous testing was all about to come to ahead...For what would happen next was no test...It was the real deal.
"They're vitals look good, Doctor," said one of the lead physicians whose job it was to carefully look over Scott and Jean's physiology for any signs of complications.
"Excellent...Then set up the digital electrodes so we can monitor them from inside the tanks," ordered Dr. Essex, "Is the emergency team still on standby?"
"Ready and waiting Dr. Essex," replied the physician as he and his subordinates fitted both Scott and Jean with a series of monitoring electrodes that would keep their vitals in check.
Turning back towards the large computer array that would monitor the whole situation, Dr. Essex knew that the time was drawing near and so far, everything was going exactly as he had envisioned it in his head for so long now.
"Are you getting a signal?" he asked the lead female scientist at one of the computer hubs.
"Loud and clear doctor," affirmed the scientist, "We've got all their vitals on screen and everything is looking good."
"Then that just leaves one last step..." said Dr. Essex as the rolling beds carrying to the two mutant kids was now directly within the shadow of the imposing bio tubes, "Load them in..."
Wasting no time, several of the subordinate scientists took the two drugged children and placed them both in separate bio tanks. While Scott and Jean had felt this as it happened, they were still unaware of what was going on because of their woozy state of mind. Their anxiety level went up, but there wasn't anything they could do about it at this point except take each frightful moment as it came.
"Now...Lower the feed-in cables and air supply," ordered Dr. Essex, prompting one of the scientists at a computer hub to immediately comply.
Then, from within the empty, sealed bio tubes, a mechanical apparatus from the top resembling a breath mask lowered and was practically forced upon both Scott and Jean. Their anxiety levels went up, but Dr. Essex was quick to reassure them over the inside speaker that had been built into the tubes.
"It's okay..." he said in a deep, calm tone, "Those masks are to help you breathe...Don't be afraid. This is all necessary."
Not having any choice in the matter, neither Scott nor Jean fought it as they began taking deep breaths from the air masks, which did help to relax them to some extent. Then, numerous mechanical wires were lowered in and connected themselves with some of the electrodes while also injecting them with super sharp hypodermic needles, built so finely that the penetration of the skin was not felt by the two children.
"Doctor...They're in," said one of the scientists sitting at a computer hub.
"Then we're ready to begin," said Dr. Essex with a slight hint of eagerness in his voice, "Fill the tanks..."
Upon receiving that order, the engineers who had loaded in the external feed-in components activated the pumps, filling both bio tanks with a glowing green liquid. Both Scott and Jean's heart rate and anxiety level went up as they suddenly felt themselves immersed in a strange liquid and soon found themselves floating in the glass tubes looking out through blurred vision at the stoic, yet eager scientists watching over them. This sudden change in their environment along with the effects of the sedatives that continued to leave them in a semi-conscious state caused their fear and anxiety levels to soar and they both ran the risk of hyperventilating. But Dr. Essex continued to speak words of reassurance to the two children as the next procedures were taken slowly, but surely in order to maximize their results.
The officers, the scientists, and Dr. Nathanial Essex, the mastermind behind it all, all watched in anticipation as the whole future of Shadow Cell now rested on the weary shoulders of two traumatized young children who had suffered so much in life. Now, the most important phase of the experiment was about to begin...Yet it was also the most risky.
"Status report..." he ordered to the lead scientists surrounding him as his gaze remained fixated on the immersed forms of Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
"Chemical balance optimal..."
"Vitals holding steady..."
"Data flow...Looking good."
"Excellent..." said Dr. Essex as he watched the eyes of the two distraught and confused kids lock onto him, knowing it was now or never, "Now...Begin the procedure..."
Everybody soon feel silent as the main operators at the control hubs began running the programs that commenced the experiment. A gentle hum was soon heard throughout the area, hinting at a vast use of power and energy as the green fluid within the tanks began to glow and show signs of electrical stimulation. Through the needles injected into their young bodies and through the feed in tubes that the green fluid had gone through, an elaborate array of chemicals was pumped into the tanks. Immediately, this triggered a reaction within the two kids.
"Doctor...Heart rate and BP just nearly doubled," warned one of the female scientists monitoring their vitals.
"Shock to the system...I anticipated such," muttered Dr. Essex, "Keep going..."
Young Scott Summers and Jean Grey then began to thrash somewhat in the confines of the bio tanks as looks of pain quickly dominated their faces and subtle groans could be heard echoing through the tubes. The experiment was just beginning, but even Dr. Essex knew that the processes involved were far from comfortable.
"Catalyst phase...Nearly complete in 3...2...1..."
"Good...Now begin the main acceleration sequence..." said Dr. Essex, feeling unable to hide his eagerness as he watched many years of countless research culminate before his very eyes.
With a close monitoring of their vitals, the most pivotal part of the experiment began as a series of chemicals coupled with a blast of mutagenic field manipulation energy filled the two tanks, causing even more dramatic discomfort for Scott and Jean. They both let out loud cries of pain as they suddenly felt as though their bodies were on fire both inside and out, but none of the doctors present flinched...They remained completely fixated on their duties.
Time itself seemed to stand still for the scientists as they went through each chemical and energetic process, accelerating and manipulating Scott and Jean's physiology right down to their DNA. On the vital monitoring stations, some of the scientists held back subtle gasps as they watched the cell structure and the DNA of each child change right before their eyes into something that looked more advanced than anything they had seen before.
"Doctor...What's happening?" said the Colonel from one of the protective booths overlooking the experiment.
"The acceleration process has begun..." answered Dr. Essex in a tone that sounded mesmerized from the sights he was witnessing, "The growth and manifestation of the X-gene is accelerating and being used to enhance every cell of their bodies..."
"In English Doctor," quipped the Colonel growing increasingly anxious along with the rest of the officers as they watched the two young kids struggle and cry in pain.
"They are practically undergoing countless enhancements on every level down to their DNA on an unprecedented scale. Their entire physiology is being restructured and advanced to a level unseen in any human or mutant before them. Every cell...Every fiber...Every protein...They're being advanced to a level beyond anything the natural world could ever muster."
The noise of the machine grew louder with each passing second as the doctors went from step to step, accelerating the growth and manifestation of Scott and Jean's mutation and physiology to an advanced state of functioning. Their bodies were actually starting to change now as a result of this and it was happening right before the very eyes of the scientists who watched on in awe. Muscles grew, slight wounds healed, and an overall growth within the two ten year olds was observed. They were starting to grow from the weak, meager, malnourished bodies that they had arrived in, to far stronger looking forms that only hinted at the great change that was going on within them. However, despite this powerful change, it did not take away from the pain of the procedure. The sedatives may have helped null some of it, but both Scott and Jean could still feel it surging through their bodies like powerful electric shocks, intensifying the pain.
"Doctor...Their vitals are starting to go into the red," warned the female scientist watching over them.
"Just a little bit longer..." said Dr. Essex, not tearing his gaze away from the two kids as their enhanced forms continued to take shape.
"Heart rate's getting dangerous...It looks like they may go into full cardiac arrest!" said another one of the scientists monitoring the situation.
"Offset the chemical balance by a factor of two," ordered Dr. Essex, "It's almost complete."
The emergency personnel were now on full alert, thinking they may be called in at any second, yet Dr. Essex didn't look at all daunted by what he was seeing. The screams and groans of pain from the two kids was getting louder and if they weren't surrounded by liquid, there would have surely been tears in their eyes.
Dr. Nathanial Essex now had a sinister looking grin on his face as he kept watching his two specimens undergo this truly momentous procedure, but momentous or not, it didn't take away from the pain that both Scott and Jean were feeling as the very core and essence of their bodies was being reworked on a molecular level. Then...As the final steps began to take place, something strange began to happen.
While still struggling within the tanks, both Scott Summers and Jean Grey managed to look through the liquid and the glass and see each other's pained eyes. They were still yelling and crying out in pain...Yet the sight of one another was giving them something to focus on...Something to hold onto and fight for the next agonizing moment that came. With everything from their muscles to their brain being affected by this process, everything seemed heightened to them. Practically ever part of their being was being accelerated and enhanced to a level more advanced than either of their young minds could even begin to contemplate...But it was still all but impossible to escape the true agony of this procedure.
However, through looking at one another and focusing on one another through such pain and suffering...Their thoughts suddenly connected through the wave of agony, reaching out to one another and connecting for a desperately sought feeling of comfort. And as the final moments of the experiment came...Both Scott Summers and Jean Grey heard warm, gentle voices in their minds...Feeling beyond the boundaries of pain and finding a common link through their suffering and sorrow.
'Scott...' sent Jean through this connection, her mind and body weak and tired.
'Jean...' sent Scott in response as they both reached out to one another.
Then finally...After so many complex procedures and so much suffering...It all stopped and both Scott and Jean fell unconscious as the fluid began to drain from the bio tanks.
"Final step complete Doctor..." said one of the monitoring scientists as they all scrambled for data print outs.
"Perfect...My wondrous experiment...So beautiful," said Dr. Essex in a daze as he looked at the stronger, more advanced forms of Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
"Doctor!" said one of the female scientists, not knowing what was going on with him.
This seemed to snap Dr. Essex out of his state as he turned back to his associates, putting on a serious look to mask his true jubilation.
"Vitals?" he ordered.
"Unconscious...But stabilizing and holding strong," affirmed the female monitor.
A slow smile spread across Dr. Essex's face as he made his way over to the main data readout centers which were now surrounded by a swarm of eager doctors and scientists.
"Doctor...Look at this," said one of the scientists as he looked back at his display of Scott and Jean's DNA and overall physiological data in a mixture of amazement and shock.
As Dr. Essex and his associates looked over what they were seeing, a look of awe fell upon all of them...For they had done it...They had succeeded. Every cell and every strain of DNA within it was fully enhanced by the process. Their physical and cellular readings were more robust and strong than any normal ten year old. The X-gene was now completely advanced and thanks to its presence, all aspects of Scott Summers and Jean Grey's body and form had been enhanced just as Dr. Essex had hoped. Their mutant readings were even more promising, prompting and even greater feeling of accomplishment for the doctor...Because those powers would be a big part of what he had planned for both the near and far future.
"Doctor!" said the General from the booth above that overlooked the area, "Doctor Essex! What's going on down there?"
The rest of the scientists had given way to jubilation as smiles and joyous laughs suddenly filled the room while Dr. Essex turned back up to the booths where all the weary officers looked back down upon them. Feeling so victorious over what he had just accomplished, the doctor merely smiled widely at the observing officers.
"Dr. Essex!" said the Colonel in a more commanding tone, "What's happened? Was the experiment a success? Do we have our soldiers?"
Taking the microphone, Dr. Nathanial Essex's smile didn't wane as he took one last look back at his unconscious specimens and then back towards the officers in the booth.
"Yes Colonel...We have our soldiers," said Essex in a tone that sounded full of triumph, "Now...Standing before us all...I give you Scott Summers and Jean Grey...The worlds first shadow class mutants and the first soldiers of Shadow Cell."
AN: That's it for now folks! Now Scott and Jean have undergone a process that has enhanced and changed their bodies and abilities, officially making them the first new soldiers of Shadow Cell. Stay tuned to see just how much this fateful experiment has changed them and how it will impact them both down the road. Trust me...This is only the beginning for them and there's plenty more to come! And just so you know, some of the procedures and details I mentioned from this chapter were inspired in part by my last story "Between Life and Death." If you read that story, you probably understand more what happened in this chapter, but while it is very similar...It's NOT the exact same. Also, one major reminder...REVIEW! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine as long as you review! Thanks for reading everybody! Until next time, I wish you all the best!
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