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 6: Training
With the successful experiment in using the bio-mutagenic enhancer on Scott Summers and Jean Grey, the two mutant children now had the power and potential to become the valiant soldiers of Shadow Cell. For Dr. Nathanial Essex, it was a major victory that won him a great deal of power and praise among the vast team of officers and scientists that worked with him to lay the foundations for what they hoped to be one of the most ambitious projects in American military history. Nobody was more pleased about this than Dr. Essex, who now walked with a great deal of respect among the growing organization that was Shadow Cell. Thanks to the success of the experiment, the General managed to convince many of the political and military leaders back in Washington to grant them more resources and personnel. The facility was expanded and modified with even more advanced equipment that would aid in training their new recruits and performing top notch research. In addition, the plans for systems that would monitor intelligence on threats throughout the world were already in the works, but before any such apparatus could be implemented...Scott Summers and Jean Grey had to be trained.
Under the powerful guidance of the Russian born mercenary known as Magnum, Scott and Jean began what was sure to be a long, hard road on the path to being the best soldiers they could possibly be. Both Magnum and the officers present from many divisions including the Army, Marines, and Navy Seals wasted no time in conditioning the two damaged, undernourished children for the rigors of becoming soldiers.
Their days started early in the morning and didn't end until late at night. Practically every moment of their day was spent doing some sort of conditioning whether it be physical or mental. It was clear that they were still very traumatized to Dr. Essex and all those who worked with them. Both Scott and Jean still struggled with nightmares, sadness, and depression, but the rigorous training that they began under their new mentors helped give them the strength of both body and mind to finally fight these horrible feelings that had long haunted them. Under the several boot camp sergeants that they were conditioned under, they were yelled at, broken down, and toughened up on a daily basis with rigorous exercises that would have caused any normal bodied person to faint. Such treatment that was both harsh and necessary in the minds of all those who wanted to see this project succeed was difficult for both Scott and Jean to take, but by helping each other and by pushing themselves to limits they had not known existed, both mutant kids were beginning to develop a new sense determination that they would use to push aside the pain of their past, for their slate was clean now and ready to be molded into something far greater.
While the drill sergeants and the rigorous training routine that they forced upon them every day was tough, it was under Magnum's tutelage where both Scott and Jean truly came into their own. Magnum was no drill sergeant, for she was not the kind of teacher who dehumanized her pupils and focused on turning them into mindless drones. She was a soldier of honor and principle in both body and mind and she worked to pass on many of those traits to Scott and Jean as she taught them the mindset and philosophy of a soldier and a killer. She showed them the near superhuman skill and reflexes that she had mastered with her body over many years of training and discipline and began using the enhancements that Dr. Essex's machine had given them to lay the foundation for them to become a fighting force unlike any other.
Magnum was present during all boot camp sessions with the drill sergeants, lending advice and guidance that no other officer or official could give. And when they weren't with the drill sergeants, Magnum was spending hours with them in specially designed private quarters teaching them the art of CQC, the advanced fighting style that she had created herself from practically every from of fighting known to humanity. And since Scott and Jean were only ten upon beginning their training, they were at a very tender age for Magnum to work with. Like her, they would learn at an early stage in life, developing it to the point where such fighting skill became almost like breathing to them. It would allow a kind of advanced mastery of CQC that few people could ever muster.
Learning CQC and undergoing boot camp starting at such young ages was tough enough for a couple of ten year olds, but in addition to that their advanced mutant powers made it all the more difficult for them. However, this is where Dr. Essex came in. Nearly half of their rigorous day was spent with him during the early days learning the ins and outs of their abilities. With the help of Dr. Essex's advanced scientific hardware, they were trained to hone their powers to a level of unprecedented skill for mutants of their age.
For Scott, Dr. Essex employed an army of body/mind specialists to help him take his advanced energy manipulation abilities and use them to their full potential. At first, they went with the simplest skill, firing optic blasts with his eyes. With help from Magnum, his aim and focus became quite good for someone so young, but his eyes were just the beginning. As Scott became more comfortable with his powers, he began taking the energy that used to only manifest through his eyes and concentrate it all throughout his body. This meant that he could fire powerful blasts through other mediums than just his eyes. It got to the point where he could make his entire body glow with intense energy, focusing it to levels of varied intensity and channeling it into immense, concentrated blasts of power that had the potential to bring unprecedented fury and destruction against any enemy that stood in his way. In addition to the firepower element, the enhancements to his powers also gave him the ability to take the energy he tapped and use it for a temporary burst of strength or stamina when the going got tough. It was found that for short periods of time, he could manage to lift over 500 pounds under this energized state and since he was so young, that weight promised to go up as he got older as he learned to wield this great power with increasing intensity and skill.
For Jean Grey, her powers required an entirely different set of methods for honing and control. With the resources at hand, Dr. Nathanial Essex used his understanding of psychic powers to allow her to wield her telepathy and telekinesis with great control and stability. In addition, Shadow Cell employed many former Psy Ops agents that had been used during the Cold War to train young Jean Grey. She was taught to use her powers for such things as sensory manipulation, mental probing, psychic scanning, and telepathic communication. The potential in her DNA alone gave her the capability to become one of the most powerful psychics that ever existed and with rigorous mind/body focus, she learned to take her telepathy and telekinesis to unprecedented levels. With her telepathy, it was found that she could break her way through a multitude of mental shields and span it over great distances that were small at first, but quickly grew with training. In terms of telekinesis, she started with light objects like baseballs and bowling balls in order to learn how to control and maneuver objects with her mind, but as time went on she managed to lift far heavier objects that weighed a few tons and since she still had plenty of room to grow, that yield was expected to rise with time. In addition, Dr. Essex also educated her on her pyrokinetic powers that had manifested as a result of the experiment as well. This took a while for her to grow comfortable with, but once she got the hang of it, she gained the skill to engulf her body in flame and direct it in almost any direction she wanted. With encouragement from both Dr. Essex and Magnum, Jean Grey was finally beginning to get a hold of the abilities she once was thrown into an insane asylum for.
Thanks to the strong guidance and tutelage of their mentors, Scott Summers and Jean Grey learned to manage their powers in a way they never thought possible. Such control and intensity alone would give them a serious edge in any conflict, but this was only the beginning and they knew it. With their powers under a new sense of control and their intensity level growing with time, the two young kids were becoming stronger and more confident. The powers that were once their weakness had now become their strength and it gave them a new sense of determination and drive to better themselves and prove their once dogmatic views about being a hopeless cause dead wrong.
With the knowledge and training granted to them by Dr. Essex, Magnum, and the rest of Shadow Cell, Scott and Jean were beginning to wield their powers with increasing skill in a multitude of ways as the intensity of their abilities grew steadily along with their young bodies. It opened the door to a world of potential thanks to the skill and strength they were being taught as soldiers and the mentality and drive that they were being taught as warriors. With each day that passed, the looks of determination and drive upon their young faces were growing as their rigorous new lives began to harden them both mentally and physically. Even at such young ages, it was clear that early signs of strong muscle development were beginning to show both as a result of conditioning and as a result of the advanced body structure from Dr. Essex's machine. They were already slightly big for their ages and they only promised to grow more as their minds, bodies, and powers continued to grow.
However, such training and advancement in terms of their abilities and skill as soldiers did not come without its rough points. Since they were still mutants and a couple of non-existent citizens, Scott and Jean were pretty much always under the watchful eye of the GURSO unit. Even when they went outside or traveled to specified locations for training, there was always a team of GURSO soldiers near them, fully armed and ready to take them out at a moments notice. It was very scary for the two young children at first, but as they became more and more hardened by their rigorous existence, they became somewhat accustomed to it.
While the Colonel, the GURSO soldiers, and a plenty other officials in Shadow Cell remained distasteful of mutants, Scott Summers and Jean Grey did not voice any complaints or let such attitudes get to them when they were still very scared and traumatized. This was thanks in large part to the guidance and encouragement of their mentors, Dr. Nathanial Essex and Magnum, who were quickly becoming like parental figures to them. It was because of them, they were encouraged to keep their sense of individuality rather than succumbing to the rigorous dehumanizing affects that training from practically every military division in existence brought. They spoke to them not just as pupils, but as regular individuals who needed their assistance in life as they grew and developed in a way few people ever had before. It was hard enough having to contend with their troubled pasts, but in the end...They managed to fight through such horrors with help not just from their superiors, but from each other.
Ever since they had first met each other at the insane asylum where young Jean Grey had been forced to stay at for a large part of her childhood, Scott and Jean developed a very special bond as they lived, grew, and fought together through the rigors of their training. While many of their drill sergeants often yelled at them about soldiers being devoid of emotion, Dr. Essex and Magnum taught them otherwise. Emotion to them was what made them who they were and gave them strength when simple drive alone couldn't get them past certain challenges.
During those first lonely nights, Scott and Jean often snuck into each other's rooms despite being the lingering presence of GURSO soldiers to be with each other and lend one another comfort as nightmares about their past still lingered. Sometimes they would cry or shiver at the feeling a particularly strong nightmare and they would simply hold one another and say supportive words to each other to help them get past it and live through another day. Through this strong comradery during training and the comfort they gave each other outside of training, both Scott Summers and Jean Grey began developing a unique and special bond that extended somewhat beyond the physical and emotional elements and grew into something so much more. In some ways, it could have been as a result of Jean's telepathy that allowed them such a unique sense of closeness...However, as time went on, it clearly became more profound than that.
At first, the Colonel expressed his strong dismay at allowing Scott and Jean to sneak into each other's room during the short nights they were given. Like most staunch soldiers, the Colonel believed that emotions had no place within soldiers, but for Dr. Nathanial Essex, he watched this strange development between the two youngsters with an enthusiasm and jubilance. His justification was that the closer they grow, the more cohesive they'll be on the battlefield. However, there were far more complicated reasons for this attitude...Reasons that the doctor kept to himself as he simply watched with an inner smile at the growing closeness between Scott and Jean, for it would make a few things much easier for him in the future.
Days, weeks, and months ticked by for Scott Summers and Jean Grey in an almost incoherent daze as their lives continued to evolve into a plethora of rigorous training and routine. They were up early all the time and it was never clear when they would be allowed to sleep again. Sometimes they would remain awake for days on end with their rigorous training and exercise. And since much of their actions were closely scrutinized by both GURSO soldiers and scientist monitoring their growth, it left few moments of rest. Nearly two years passed almost without Scott and Jean realizing it as each day was pretty much in the same context as the last. It seemed that their only purpose was to wake up, train, and get stronger in every facet of being a soldier whether it was with Magnum and CQC or with their drills sergeants in gaining proficiency from marine, navy seal, army, special ops, or delta force training. They had to be adapted for their tender ages, but that didn't make it any less rigorous for them as the two mutant kids were continually hardened with each passing day.
Dr. Nathanial Essex couldn't help but admire how much they had grown in this time as he watched them go through their routine of intense training. They were becoming so strong both on a personal, physical, and mutagenic way. He couldn't help but feel a great deal of pride for having brought them into this world and seeing them exceed many of his initial expectation. It was all going better than he could have ever planned and at this rate, things would move forward precisely on schedule.
At the moment, the proud doctor was standing on an observation deck that overlooked one of the many training areas that Magnum used to teach Scott and Jean. He had already heard from her that they were already quite proficient with the basic arts of CQC and would be ready to learn the more advanced parts very soon. Now, she was beginning to teach them basic weapons training with things like knives and bow staffs that could very well be necessary during certain combat situations. Eventually, she planned to teach them the same skills with firearms she had mastered that made her one of the most deadly mercenaries in the world to begin with. But since both Scott and Jean were still so young, such training would have to wait so that they could learn gradually and efficiently in order to make them the best they could possibly be.
"How are they looking Dr. Essex?" asked the General as he stepped into the observation deck along with the Colonel and a few other officers and officials.
"See for yourself General," said Dr. Essex with a proud grin.
As the General and his associates looked down into the area, they saw twelve year old Scott Summers and Jean Grey sparing in karate uniforms against Magnum using wooden swords. They were both double teaming her, but armed with two swords, the Russian born mercenary was still able to fight them off with ease. It was a rather impressive display of speed and skill on both their parts, for all their movements were quick and fluid even if they weren't on par with the far more experienced Magnum. But still...It wasn't bad for a couple of growing kids.
"Impressive..." said the General as many of the officials seemed to look on in approval, some of them actually taking notes.
"Indeed..." said Dr. Essex in agreement, "It's hard to imagine that they have come this far in a mere two years. I hardly recognize them from the scared, traumatized children they were when we brought them in."
"Me neither," said the General, "At this rate, they'll be combat ready in no time...And not a moment too soon."
"I look forward to seeing them in action as well," said Dr. Essex as he saw Magnum once again disarm and knock back the two determined kids in the sparring area below, "But before we get around to that, we must make sure that they're completely ready."
"Agreed," said the General, "But I must say...Both me and my associates do have other concerns about the progress of this project that we're going to have to address."
"And what concerns might that be?" asked the doctor as he turned his attention away from the scene below him and toward the General and his entourage.
"Well doctor..." said one of the officials who was in a all black suit carrying a folder with the seal of the United States Federal Government on it, "We've all been very impressed with what you've done with these first two specimens. I have personally seen the tapes of them using their powers and I'm quite amazed that you managed to grant them so much power and control. However, after reading many of the protocols that you gave us when we started this project, one of them has become of interest and concern to both myself and many of the higher ups back in Washington."
"Do they know the details of our current progress?" asked Dr. Essex, curious as to what they were getting at.
"That's part of the reason why we're here doctor," said another official, this one female and wearing a formal dress embroidered with White House logos, "You see...We just got your latest report and we noticed that there was one element you seem to have negated. And that element is the simple fact that as strong as these two specimens are...There are still only two of them."
"Oh...This again," said Dr. Essex, rolling his eyes in annoyance for having had to deal with this issue more times than he cared to over the past few months.
"You can't escape it doctor," said the male official who spoke first, "Part of the protocols in this project that you promised us as part of the deal was the recruitment of subsequent mutants to supplement the ranks of Shadow Cell once the first two specimens proved to be successful templates."
"Well with all do respect sir," said Dr. Essex, keeping his tone calm despite his annoyance, "Finding mutants with the right stuff for an organization like Shadow Cell is no easy task. There are only a handful of mutants out there and there are only a select few that truly have what this unit requires."
"We understand the logistics of the problem," said the General, "But both many of the higher ups along with myself are concerned that you haven't even been doing anything to find these new recruits that are so necessary to the success of this project."
"General...I have been searching," assured Dr. Essex adamantly, "But you must understand that it is difficult given the simple fact that mutants still do not exist according to our government's standpoint. I have spent a lot of time making sure that my first two specimens are being trained and conditioned correctly and that alone has left little time to dedicate to a search. Keep in mind...I closely tracked Scott and Jean for many years before we recruited them and I can't reproduce such certainty in the given time frame that you all so sorely want."
The expressions on the stoic faces of the officials grew somewhat disenchanted with his words if not downright frustrated. Dr. Essex had spent so much time ensuring that everything was perfect with Scott and Jean in terms of their mutation, conditioning, and training that he hadn't been able to pursue many prospects for subsequent recruitment. It had been a part of his initial plan, but he had not expected it to become an issue among his superiors so soon.
"Look Doctor," said the female official with the White House embroiders on her dress, "We know you have already exceeded many of the expectations of both the organization and the higher ups back in Washington. It's very rare that such a program is able to establish such advancement both in terms of progress and technology so quickly, cheaply, and efficiently over the course of two years...But you have to understand, there is still competition out there in the world of black projects. This program may be doing well, but you're still going up against others like Hydra and their Weapon X23 project."
"And keep in mind doctor..." added the man in the suit, "They are garnering more influence at the moment, so unless you so something to show us that Shadow Cell will have more proficiency, you'll be lagging behind. Do you understand?"
A look of great distaste fell upon Dr. Essex as he looked back at the people who he was forced to answer to. Part of him wanted to scoff at their ignorance for not knowing just how difficult it was to find mutants like Scott Summers or Jean Grey, but he had to keep in mind that they were a part of the fast machine that backed this organization. It was their thirst for new powerful resources for the country's defense and their black budget that made all this possible. Whether he liked it or not, it was something he was going to have to accept and work with as long as necessary until the time was right.
"Yes...I understand completely," he assured, skillfully hiding his annoyance towards their attitudes, "I will double my efforts to find new recruits. Just let the higher ups know that they shouldn't put all their chips on Hydra at the moment. I know their procedures and I know how they like to do things. It'll only be a matter of time before Shadow Cell proves it's worth...That much, I am certain of."
"Well for the sake of this project doctor...I hope you're right," said the General.
Then, the officers and officials left, leaving Dr. Essex behind to ponder how he was going to handle this situation. He didn't like being rushed and he didn't like being pressured by simpleminded paper pushers, but this was an issue that he knew he couldn't ignore. As he looked back down at Magnum and his sparing specimens, his good mood took a noticeable downturn as he decided to return to his office and contemplate what he was going to do now.
Down in the sparring room, Scott and Jean continued to fight with Magnum using their wooden swords. She was still beating them both easily, but after a couple of years of learning the basics of CQC, even Magnum couldn't deny that they were improving.
"Alright you two...Again!" ordered the Russian mercenary as she stood in tight fitting black pants and black shirt, armed with two wooden swords while Scott and Jean struggled to get up after being taken down once again.
As they both returned to their feet, they took their stance again despite their ragged breathing. They had both been at this with Magnum for hours now and they were both working up quite a sweat. But with each defeat, they grew all the more determined and focused. Ever since arriving at Shadow Cell, it seemed to them as though their harsh lives had simply fueled this drive to become stronger. The once deeply traumatized kids were showing with each rigorous session just how hardened they were becoming. However, strength alone would only get them so far...That much Magnum had taught them.
"Ready...Go!" she ordered as she used a lifetime of fighting experience to prepare for their simultaneous attacks.
Scott and Jean let out grunts of determination as they both lunged forth in a speedy, fluid motion and focused only on one thing...Overcoming their foe. Their movements and attacks were smoother and swifter than most anybody three times their age, but Magnum was still stronger than her twelve year old pupils and she knew it.
As a prolonged fight ensued, Magnum easily fought of Scott with one hand and took on Jean with the other. It seemed almost superhuman in a sense because the Russian born killer made each movement seem as easy as breathing to her and that's exactly what she was trying to train her pupils towards. However, she knew that at this point, their minds were still too cluttered and overly focused to achieve such a state and she could only help them work their way closer and closer to that goal session by session.
After a good fifteen minutes of solid swordplay, the two young mutant children attempted to coordinated a single attack in order to try to do something against their highly skilled teacher. Scott tried a high horizontal slash while Jean simultaneously did a vertical slash, putting as much speed into it as possible. Magnum, clearly seeing her opportunity, took charge and swiftly blocked each blow and in the split second when Scott and Jean's wooden swords were stopped from the impact, the skilled assassin did super quick spin move that caught the both of them off guard and sent them falling to the ground once again in defeat.
"Fifteen minutes...You're both getting better," said Magnum in approval as she heard Scott and Jean groan from the pain of the impact they had felt, which they had become all too accustomed to at this point, "It was good at first...But you both got sloppy."
"I know..." grunted Jean in frustration as she returned to her feet with her sword in hand along with Scott, "We gave you the chance to counter and you did."
"And that's only because you let me," said Magnum in her heavily accented tone, "You both know the basics of CQC, but knowing them won't do you any good if you don't integrate them. In the heat of combat, you can't always be too focused because sometimes you need to divide your attention to other matters in the mission. So for that reason, you must learn to take each move I show you and work it into your movements. That way you can close the gap between seconds and end a fight before it begins, never giving your enemy have a chance to counter."
"We're still learning..." said Scott as he prepared his sword for another round, "And the more we practice, the closer we'll get to that point."
"No Scott...Practice is only practice," said Magnum as she tossed her swords off to the side, "You can not simply refine skill...You must let it come and grow into your minds and bodies with each moment both in and out of sessions. You're both still very young and there are a multitude of things I have yet to teach you...But it takes time. And what's the one thing I've always told you about time?"
"With time comes possibilities...And with patience comes enlightenment," both Scott and Jean said in complete unison, for this was just one of the many sayings that Magnum had been drilling into their head every single day for the past two years now.
"And with enlightenment comes strength in skill, body, and mind...And it is that which lies at the heart of CQC," continued Magnum as her gaze then shifted up towards the now empty observation deck where she knew Dr. Essex had been watching them.
Knowing that Dr. Essex usually liked to keep close tabs on the progress of Scott and Jean's training, Magnum knew he wouldn't leave a session like this unless there was a good reason. As both Scott and Jean set their wooden swords aside, they too were drawn to what had caught their mentor's attention.
"Where's Dr. Essex?" asked Jean, "I thought he always watched us while we were in here."
"He does..." answered Magnum cryptically, "But I guess he left. Something must have come up."
"Come up?" said Scott curiously, "What do you mean?"
Magnum wasn't sure, but she was definitely going to find out.
"This session is over..." she said without answering Scott's question, "Go back to your rooms and change. It's almost time for your marine conditioning."
Obediently, Scott and Jean did exactly as they were told, not making another comment as they exited the room. By now, they had come to know that any word from Magnum was a word not to be taken lightly. She was their mentor and they were her pupils and as a part of Shadow Cell, compliance was always expected of them and they had learned to set most curiosities aside and simply keep it to themselves as they once again focused on heading to another session bent on making them stronger.
After leaving the observation area, Dr. Essex returned to his private office. Since he was the head doctor and founder of this organization, he had a much nicer office than many of the other scientists and officials that worked with Shadow Cell. It was much bigger and far more spacious, but much of that space was taken up with cabinets stuffed with files and mounds of computer disks. For the few people who ever got a chance to see inside his office, it was always a curious matter as to why he had so many disks when most of the data was stored and backed up on servers. Some wondered what exactly was on those disks, but nobody except Dr. Essex himself knew...And he intended to keep it that way.
At the moment, the doctor was pouring over some of his many files and working on his computer in an effort to compile data for possible recruitments of Shadow Cell quality soldiers. But finding mutants in a world where they were not supposed to exist wasn't easy to say the least. Most of the data he had now was compiled from reports of field agents that worked for both Shadow Cell and other organizations like SHIELD. With many government databases at his disposal, there was quite a list of names, but few of them had any useful information on them other then the fact they were mutants or suspected mutants.
Having not dedicated a whole lot of time to this matter, it was quite frustrating for the doctor because it meant filtering through so much information and discerning which was useful and which wasn't. Add to that, he was being rushed now and he didn't like to go into anything without a sense of careful planning...Just as he had with Scott and Jean.
As he looked over some of the files, he did come across a few candidates, but many of them didn't seem like practical recruits. There was one report of a young Cajun mutant thief from New Orleans who was said to have some skill with a bow staff and wielded fairly strong kinetic energy powers. However, his label as a thief didn't make him seem very practical since thieving qualities were a bit hard to train in terms of being a soldier and their principles were ambiguous at best. Another report spoke of some woman with weather manipulation powers...An ability that had a great deal of practicality on the battlefield, but alas she was already at the age of a college student and it she probably couldn't be molded as well compared to Scott and Jean. He also saw a few papers on a fairly young mutant that was said to have wings like an angel, but to him this didn't seem like much of a battlefield worthy weapon. There were a couple of other telepaths as well...But with Jean already very powerful in that field, it wasn't practical to add more of the same to the team.
It seemed as though each candidate had too many flaws for Shadow Cell. Not only would it probably be difficult to even try and recruit them, it would most certainly be cumbersome dealing with parents and family. Making a couple of traumatized orphans disappear on paper was one thing...Doing it to a regular person who had a family and more of a trail was another. Nevertheless, he knew he needed to find something soon, if for anything, to get the higher ups off his back. He kept on reading and gathering data, having a feeling that this could definitely take up a larger part of his schedule from now on. Then suddenly, he was interrupted from his work as Magnum entered his office.
"You seem troubled," she said as she quickly ascertained the look on his face.
"You could say that..." said Dr. Essex with a frustrated grunt as he simply stared back at the glow of his computer screen.
"Well I stopped by some of the other scientists and they told me to give these papers to you," said the Russian mercenary as she showed him the rather elaborate stack of tabloid news papers she had been carrying.
"Ah yes," he said as he turned away from his screen and took them, "I was hoping to get a hold of these."
"Why do you need them? And what are all these files for?" asked Magnum as she looked around the vast sea of papers that Dr. Essex had been looking over.
"I'm researching possible new recruits for Shadow Cell," answered Dr. Essex, not hiding the distaste in his tone.
"I thought you said we should not focus on that while Scott and Jean are still growing," said Magnum, very familiar with the protocols and timetables that Dr. Essex had meticulously laid out for her.
"I did..." replied the doctor, "But apparently the higher ups are getting a little impetuous. After seeing the results from Scott and Jean's training, they're eager to see more mutants join the team and add to the unit's strength."
"Again?" said Magnum, her mood clearly souring at this revelation, "Why won't they give that stupid issue a rest and simply follow the protocols exactly as they are?"
"Because they're impatient," he answered simply, "They expect me to have mutants exactly on par with Scott and Jean at a moments notice when in reality they have no idea how truly rigorous the process is for finding mutants of Shadow Cell caliber."
"Did you try to placate them?" she asked, knowing that Dr. Essex had been in this position before.
"Not this time...They had a few White House, Pentagon, and Department of Defense officials with them," he answered in an annoyed tone, "And they won't take no for an answer. They say they're impressed and that everything has been such a booming success...Yet they still want more."
"Typical Americans," grunted Magnum in her rough, accented tone.
"Indeed..." said Dr. Essex with a slightly humored grin as he started to go over the tabloid newspapers for anything that might possibly hint at mutant activity since they had a way of uncovering certain overlooked things, "But unfortunately...I think I'm starting to agree with them on this matter."
"Is that why you're going over this now?" she asked as she looked at some of the files that had been stacked on his desk.
"Yes, for one of the actual valid reasons they gave for adding new recruits is the increasing competition Shadow Cell is facing from Hydra," explained Dr. Essex as he looked over the first few pages of one of the tabloids, "Apparently, they still have the advantage over us in terms of progress since they've been an ongoing program for the past seven years. And it's still the coveted golden boy of many officials still dreaming of another more manageable Weapon X."
"Do you think they're a threat?" she asked, always suspicious about competition.
"For now, no...But they could be," admitted Dr. Essex, "I know their organization isn't as...Noble as ours even for a black project. The manner in which they go about treating their specimen and executing their protocols is wrought with corruption and impracticality."
"But it still garners favor among the superiors back in Washington," quipped Magnum.
"Yes...Which is why we need to find a new recruit and show them that Shadow Cell is many times more efficient and strong than anything Hydra could muster," said Dr. Essex with a confident tone, "And if anything, luck is on our side...Given the history of projects like Weapon X."
"But what if they learn to rectify their mistakes with this new program of theirs?" asked Magnum, still concerned about Hydra's influence on Shadow Cells autonomy.
"Don't worry about that Magnum..." assured Dr. Essex with a slight grin, "If there's one thing I've learned about humanity...It's that of all the wonders it can do, learning from past mistakes remains horribly pitiful. And in this case...We need only let time do the work for us while we grow stronger and Hydra crumples under its own weight."
"You know...Sometimes you're too patient for your own good doctor," commented Magnum, her tone and face remaining stoic.
"Well in my line of work...Such traits are necessary," said Dr. Essex with a humored laugh as he rummaged through another tabloid.
"When dealing with men like that damn Colonel, I would not argue that," said the Russian mercenary in a bitter tone, "I swear Nathanial...That son of a bitch is trying my temper."
"Oh will you relax Magnum," coaxed Dr. Essex as if it was nothing, "You know as well as I do that he may have a high rank here, but he's completely powerless against our more...Covert plans in the long run. I know he's meddlesome...It's why he ended up here in the first place. But for now just try to..."
Suddenly, Dr. Essex stopped in mid sentence as he froze at the sight of something strange in a small picture inside one of the tabloids he had been looking at. Immediately, the expression on his face changed as he saw something within the background of that picture that further drew his attention. It was a seemingly unimportant scene of what looked like a small convenience store robbery. Above the picture, there were bold letters that proclaimed the ominous words "Mysterious tale of a thwarted burglary in Toronto. Witnesses say a young man subdued two armed gunman with abilities that they could only describe as 'superhuman.' The young man has yet to be identified."
However, it was not the text or the picture that had caught Dr. Essex's full attention...It was the small, somewhat blurry image of one of the young men present in the picture that seemed unmistakable to him. He knew that face...He knew it very well. He was shocked, for he never thought he would see it again...Yet here it was right before his eyes.
"Nathanial?" said Magnum, growing concerned since Dr. Essex was not a man who was easily surprised or left speechless by anything, "Nathanial! What's wrong?"
"I don't believe it..." he muttered to himself as he ran his hands along the small image of the young man in the picture that was only one of many, yet only he truly stood out, "It's not possible...He actually survived."
"What? Who survived?" said Magnum, thinking this could mean a threat of sorts.
However, as she watched with intent, she saw a wide smile spread across the mysterious man's face as he sat eagerly with the picture in hand and quickly did a run through the database references on his computer to see where the article had come from. It took a few tense moments, but it didn't take long before the screen showed Dr. Nathanial Essex exactly what had suspected and hoped for. According to his database, this news came from an impoverished area in Toronto, Canada...Which is exactly where they would have to go to confirm his suspicions. But his gut told him that this was it...This was the next specimen for Shadow Cell. The smile only grew wider as a renewed look of excitement dominated his face.
"It's him...I know it's him! I can feel it...The lone survivor of the Prodigy Project...Prodigy Seven, my most tenacious of genetic marvels...You live."
"Prodigy Seven?" said Magnum, growing all the more curious, "Who is he? And why is he so important?"
Dr. Essex simply stood up with the picture in hand, his smile not diminishing in the slightest as he looked back at his Russian ally.
"Tell me Magnum...How are you at deception?" he asked with an ominous grin.
Magnum simply looked back with her stoic face, this time with confidence and poise that only a soldier and warrior like her could match.
"One of the best...And you damn well know it."
"Excellent..." he said with a sinister look of intent on his face, "Then pack your bags for Toronto...We have a little investigating to do. And I think we should also talk to the General...For I believe I have just found our newest recruit for Shadow Cell."
AN: Well, there you have it folks! Both Scott and Jean are now becoming true warriors and soldiers of Shadow Cell, but it looks like they won't be the only ones! Stay tuned to witness the entrance of Agent-G's famous popular OC Vincent "Mayhem" Freeman! Agent-G has been so kind as to allow me to use this great character in this fic so I owe him a lot of thanks! If you all get the chance, check out his stuff and read more about Vincent. Otherwise, stay tuned to see him in a new light with this very unique universe! So what do you think so far? How has this new universe of X-men been for you? Please tell me! Send me your reviews via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a lot for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!
THE MAYEM IS ABOUT TO BEGIN! REVIEW!!!