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 10: Hydra Havoc
In the weeks and months that followed Wanda Maximoff's recruitment, Dr. Essex and his team of Shadow Cell staff went to work on helping her to use and control her powers to their fullest extent. While she was somewhat more difficult compared to training the others, the body/mind specialists at their disposal still managed to give the young girl more control than she probably ever would have gotten otherwise. Thanks her fully enhanced and integrated shadow class DNA, she had everything she needed now to manipulate her powers to their full, destructive potential...And destructive they most certainly were.
As Wanda learned more and more about the nature of her powers, they found that she could pretty much demolish or shatter any structure by using her hexing powers to affect the chosen target on a molecular level. She started small, but she quickly worked her way up to turning cars, tanks, trucks, and stone into scrap.
They also found that with her hexing powers, she could divert incoming projectiles away from her or a given area. They tested this fully by using live ammunition from guns, knives, and rocket propelled grenades and each time Wanda was able to divert them away while protecting herself from shrapnel when necessary. Along with training concerning her powers, the drill sergeants at Shadow Cell also put her through the intense, rigorous boot camp program that Scott, Jean, and Vincent had gone through. While this was somewhat more difficult for her compared to the others, the sheer determination she exhibited drove her through those difficulties with a force that made the officers very optimistic about her future performance in combat situations. Along with boot camp, Wanda was also given a crash course in something she seemed naturally attuned to...Explosives and demolition. Thanks to Magnum's tutelage in that area along with her rigorous CQC training, the young woman showed a natural aptitude for understanding the nature of destruction. She was already showing a lot of promise in this area along with all others, but this was just the beginning for her.
Such power and manipulation over her environment soon became on par with Jean Grey, who she was frequently assigned to work with on her powers given the similar, telekinetic-like nature of her abilities. And because of this, Jean and Wanda developed a pretty close bond that was almost like that of sisters to anybody who saw them. They both had suffered the horrors of spending their childhood in an insane asylum and they both found a common bond through having to learn how to control very intense powers.
Along with Jean, Wanda developed a close bond with her other fellow Shadow Cell recruits. Scott had been very nice to her in terms of giving her space and knowing when and when not to talk about certain issues, a trait that both Jean and Vincent didn't always exhibit. And given her animosity towards her father and his hatred of his old foster father that use to beat and abuse him so much, she found many common bonds with Scott Summers and grew quite comfortable around him and Jean. And then...There was Vincent.
While she was never very keen on emotions, she quickly found herself struggling to contend with some of the lingering affects that being abandoned and left to rot in an insane asylum had on her. Even though Scott and Jean were very empathetic towards this, she had come to find the most comfort with Vincent. Upon hearing about parts of his past, Wanda actually felt as though she met someone who honestly did have it worse in many ways than her. Hearing about how he watched his mother die and spent many years as some test animal for inhuman experiments was something Wanda couldn't imagine. Not only that, the world was cruel enough to allow him to find a place at the orphanage where he actually felt like he belonged...And then take it all away from him in the span of a single night. Vincent had been through some very rough times and Wanda found it remarkable that he was still such a kind, compassionate person. During those first few scary nights, he actually would stay with her through the night and give her someone to talk and listen to when nightmares and old feelings of sorrow and loss paralyzed her. At times, Wanda practically cried herself to sleep reliving those horrible days at the asylum and feeling so alone and abandoned, but Vincent was definitely no stranger to that and through this unique understanding, he and Wanda were particularly close.
Wanda's progress and interaction with her teammates certainly didn't go unnoticed by Dr. Essex. Seeing the sheer intensity of her powers and the destruction that they could bring, it made him very optimistic about her utility in battle situations. And seeing how she interacted with Vincent was even more surprising to him, for it was something he had not expected or anticipated. However, Dr. Essex clearly saw the sings as he had with Scott and Jean, and this new development was sure to become a factor with his future plans and was already eagerly working on how he would use her and Vincent along with Scott and Jean...And with each scenario he thought of, Dr. Nathanial Essex became more and more excited about the prospects of what these powerful mutant beings could offer.
After over three months since Wanda's recruitment, she was now working quite cohesively alongside the rest of the unit. She no longer needed to undergo a different schedule to catch up to Scott, Jean, and Vincent's levels so she was now working alongside them during their rigorous training. She had made a lot of quick progress because of her insatiable drive to forever distance herself from memories of her father and the insane asylum. Even though the initial training had been very rigorous because she needed to catch up to the others, she managed to fight through it in a fraction of the time many of the Shadow Cell officials predicted. Now she was working very efficiently with the others and such progress did wonders for Shadow Cell's growing influence.
With the project becoming more of a success with each passing day, nobody was more enthused about this than Dr. Nathanial Essex as he now stood behind an observation post that looked into one of the main training rooms where Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda learned to use, hone, and perfect the use of their powers along with their physical capabilities. Magnum was with them like always and was occasionally taking them off to the side to tell them something which Dr. Essex couldn't make out, but judging by the look on their faces they were words that seemed to push them even further as they began to wield their powers with increasing efficiency. It was quite impressive for mutants so young, but it only showed just how well planned Dr. Essex had been with this project, and it was quickly beginning to raise his status in both Washington and around Shadow Cell in general.
Now, as with yet another training session at hand, Dr. Essex watched as his four young recruits prepared. They were all doing some of the stretching exercises that Magnum and a few of the mind/body specialists had taught him...But that's not what caught his attention...What really got him interested was how they were interacting.
"Hey Jean..." said Scott, keeping his voice down as the looming GURSO soldiers kept their guard up.
"Yes Scott?" she replied, just as silently.
"Have you be able to sleep at all these past few days?" he asked, getting some rather tense feelings from her through their link.
"No..." she said with a sigh, "I don't think any of us has..."
"Tell me about it," said Wanda upon overhearing their conversation, "The nightmares just never seem to want to end..."
"Yeah...I know," said Jean empathetically as she looked over to the young woman who she had come to see almost like a sister, "Once thrown in an asylum...A part of you always stays there."
"Yeah...But do you think it'll ever go away?" she asked, although she kind of already knew the answer to that.
"I don't know..." answered Jean, honestly not knowing the answer to that one.
"Memories have a way of sticking with you..." said Vincent, who was preparing his young, yet strong body for yet another grueling test, "Believe me, I know."
"Yeah...But still," said Scott, "That doesn't mean we can't cope with them. It just never seems to get easier."
The four mutant kids were silent again as they kept their cool around the GURSO unit as they had quickly learned to do since arriving. But as they began to pair off, they continued to lend what support they could for each other...For their constant training often required every ounce of support they could muster.
'Hey Jean...' sent Scott through the psychic link he shared with the young girl he was now so close to.
'Yeah?' she sent in response, keeping with the stern appearance as was often required by their drill sergeants.
'I'll try to make it over tonight...I promise,' he told her, making sure each thought and feeling he sent her sounded sincere, 'I don't think either of us can keep this up without sleep...'
'I don't think so either...' said Jean in agreement, taking comfort in the warm feeling she got every time Scott spoke to her through their link, for it helped her draw the strength she needed to get through each grueling day, 'Thanks Scott...'
'Hey...Anytime Jean,' he sent, his lack of sleep now feeling less of an issue as he drew on their strength together for yet another training session.
However, as Scott and Jean prepared to make their entrance, Wanda lingered a bit. It had been three months since she arrived and she was only starting to really participate in the regular sessions with the others. Up until this point, she had just been playing catch-up...Now she was going to be working on par with the others, each of whom had a lot more experience than her. And while she had taken to her training with undue progress in the eyes of many, that didn't make it any easier for her when it came to taking it to the next level.
"Hey..." said Vincent, who stayed behind, seeing that something was troubling her, "You okay?"
"Yeah..." she said unconvincingly, "I'll manage. It's just...It's difficult now working with you guys on this level."
"Hey...You're doing great so far, Wanda," he assured her, placing a comforting hand upon her shoulder, which helped ease her tension, "Remember your last session with Magnum? You took down two guys twice your size without any powers...That alone shows how far you've come."
"I know, but...It's all just happening so fast," she said, once again feeling tense about everything that was now happening.
Vincent, however, wouldn't allow her to doubt herself. Already, she had shown him just how strong she was with how far she had come since that fateful day their eyes for met and it never ceased to amaze him every time he thought about it.
"Fast or not...It's something you've earned," said Vincent, "You should be proud...How many other kids your age could do what you did?"
"I don't know..." she said, feeling a little better at his words of encouragement, "The only one who comes to mind is a really strong, really tough...But really nice boy who probably could have done it in half the time."
Vincent, even though he wasn't one for showing much emotion, couldn't help but blush and smile...Although he had to quickly hide it before the GURSO unit found out.
"You're something else...You know that?" he said, flashing her a slight smirk.
"To be a part of Shadow Cell...I guess we have to be," she said as she made her way into the training room with Vincent following close by.
There was just so much about her that astonished him and she was one of the few who could relate to having such a hard life. Her along with Scott and Jean had become the only friends he could truly open up too...And with Wanda, that connection seemed somewhat stronger than either of them were able to process. Maybe it was because they were still so young...Maybe it was just because they were both desperate for something to hang onto. But neither of them wanted to lose such a feeling...Not when it gave them the strength they needed to make it through this hard life as growing soldiers of Shadow Cell.
Unknown to either of them, however, Dr. Essex was making a solid note of their actions...Almost smiling somewhat at what he saw, for it was truly something that spoke volumes to him. While he had planned for as such with Scott and Jean...Vincent and Wanda, however, was quite a shock. Nevertheless, it was but a bonus in his mind...For it would make things all the more interesting when his ultimate plans were put into action later on.
As the session began Dr. Essex started taking notes on a pad of paper while he watched his four proud recruits continue to show their skill. Scott was using his energy powers to unleash ruby red blasts upon targets at up to 100 feet away with pinpoint accuracy. The intensity of his blasts were also starting to show as they began to mangle increasingly strong targets, including a nearly two feet thick steel plate.
Jean was also training with her telekinesis as well, lifting up a series of one ton metal spheres, moving them in a specified order, and igniting them with her pyrokinesis. While she used to struggle with such tasks, she was beginning to accomplish such tasks with ever increasing ease as she rigorously honed her powers.
For Vincent, however, his tests were somewhat different compared to those of Scott and Jean. Most of his tests involved using his super strength and flight capabilities. The facility had large, piston-like steel apparatuses that he was forced to lift in order to keep from getting crushed. His weight yield was somewhat low at first, but he was quickly increasing that yield as he was pushed harder and harder with each session.
Wanda's powers also required a unique way of testing. For her, she was instructed to take several large 15 foot steel beams and use her hexing powers to bend them in a certain way and return them to their original shape. In addition, her reflexes on these powers were tested when she was forced to undergo live ammunition fire testing from GURSO soldiers armed with M-16s. While she was successfully able to deflect each projectile, she did get a little temperamental about it and hexed a couple of soldiers. This earned her some heavy scorn from the soldiers and from Magnum, but she was luckily able to keep it from getting too serious. However, Dr. Essex had to constantly make notes of Wanda's volatile temper, which seemed directly related to her powers. But he wasn't worried, for his body/mind specialists had already taught her so much on handling her abilities that he was confident that such incidents would become rare if not non-existent soon enough.
While making notes, the door behind him opened and the General and the Colonel stepped in. At first Dr. Essex didn't seem to notice them, for he was too engrossed in his notes. However, he had come to expect the impromptu visits from the two men since they held such a high status and power at Shadow Cell. And with the way things were going lately, he felt he had no reason to be worried.
"They're looking pretty good out there Doctor," commented the General as he watched the dazzling display of ruby red blasts, telekinetic manipulation, superhuman strength, and hex bolts.
"Indeed they are General," said Dr. Essex in full agreement as he made one last note before diverting his attention to the two men now standing beside them, "How was Washington?"
"Rainy and muggy," answered the General rather distastefully, "But I'm glad to say that the meeting came out in our favor for the most part."
"As I knew it would..." said Dr. Essex confidently, "What did they think of my report?"
"Needless to say, they were very impressed," said the General as he watched the mutant kids push themselves to their limits with each action they performed, "And trust me...That's not easily done."
"Well, I never like to go the easy way...It's no fun," grinned Dr. Essex jokingly.
"But there was something else that happened at that meeting Doctor..." said the Colonel, sounding much more serious, "And it's something that may affect us."
"And what might that be, Colonel?" asked Dr. Essex, not sounding at too concerned at all as he remained fixated on the four mutant kids.
"Hydra..." he said simply.
"Again? Don't those cock-suckers ever get tired of making a scene?" said Dr. Essex in a mildly annoyed tone.
"No, I'm afraid it was serious this time, Doctor," said the General, "It appears that Shadow Cell's presence has upset the balance of influence. All the officials and reports that record our progress has been very impressive to many of the higher ups since the get go. We've been operating at record levels of efficiency in terms of both accomplishment and money management. On the flip side, Hydra has been an ongoing disaster for many years...Soaking up a fairly sizable amount of resources with few returns. While this didn't use to be an issue for the higher ups, seeing our efficiency and management of what has already been widely agreed upon as a far more capable and versatile unit has led them to question their long standing contracts with Hydra."
"Oh I'm sure that made them happy," grinned Dr. Essex in response, finding it somewhat humorous that Shadow Cell was beginning to overlap Hydra after only a few years of existence.
"This is no laughing matter, Doctor," said the Colonel, sounding all the more serious since he had been there, "Some of our deliberations nearly turned into all out fist fights and the political situation is not looking good."
"For us or for Hydra?" asked Dr. Essex, never one to care a whole lot about politics.
"For both in some ways...For them in many others," said the Colonel, "It took Hydra 23 tries and many years to get a working specimen at a cost of millions. It took us only a fraction of the time and money to get four working specimens, each of which could potentially accomplish way more than theirs ever could at a fraction of the price. This lack of progress is finally starting to show now that they are no longer the biggest show in town."
"Can't stand the competition, can they?" said Dr. Essex with a light chuckle.
"This is no laughing matter, Doctor!" shot the Colonel in response, "Hydra is already plagued with corruption and unsavory characters that have replaced countless inefficient officials over the years. And now their costs have amounted so much that they're strating to skimp on their contracts. This is not helping their political situation and they are growing increasingly isolated. And because of this, they were given an ultimatum at the meeting...Either shape up, show some progress, and stay involved...Or their deals would be terminated."
"Sounds like good news for us..." commented Dr. Essex, "More funding is always a good thing for any project."
"But that's not the problem..." said the General, "The problem is that the higher ups now fear that because of this ultimatum and because of our presence, Hydra will go rogue and start working against the government...Possibly even deploying their research overseas to the highest bidder...Which could very well mean a few groups that aren't exactly friends to our country. And unfortunately there are quite a few unsavory places that would love to get their hands on a weapon like theirs."
"And keep in mind, if Hydra goes rogue...It could have permanent repercussions on our growing political base and delay Shadow Cells future development by a few years because of the chaos," said the Colonel, not sounding too happy about their current predicament.
Dr. Essex took a moment to think about this. He was no political analyst, but if this Hydra situation continued to devolve, it would delay his plans by an unacceptable margin. He was already making so much progress and every day was bringing him closer and closer to his ultimate dream. To have some rogue organization that couldn't handle the competition slow him down was not an option in his mind. And if he was to continue making such progress, he knew that they would certainly have to rectify this situation.
"Did they have any solutions in mind?" asked Dr. Essex, feeling he needed more information.
"Well...There aren't many options at this point," said the General somewhat disheartened, "Hydra didn't exactly accept the ultimatum and they are already in serious trouble for their rampant corruption, so I don't think political pressure will resolve this one."
"Yes, I even heard some quiet chatter among some of the higher ups that they may favor an all out...Termination of Hydra...By any means necessary," said the Colonel cryptically.
"Any means?" said Dr. Essex, growing all the more curious, "I assume some of those means include explosives."
"Among other things..." said the Colonel, "But the only thing we can be certain of is that it's going to get ugly. I hear SHIELD may already be making preparations."
"SHIELD?" questioned Dr. Essex, knowing that SHIELD was a dirty word for many of the people working at Shadow Cell, "They're really pulling out the big guns with this one."
"No kidding...And with all the hardware Hydra has at their disposal, it's sure to be a hell of a fight," said the General, "I know because Fury seemed pretty eager to get rid of them."
"So we're looking at a secret coup here since chances are Hydra will probably go rogue before succumbing to political pressure," concluded Dr. Essex.
"Yes, Hydra neither has the capability nor means to match what we've done...So there's no way they could meet the ultimatum anyhow," added the Colonel.
"Pity...I can't say that makes them very worthy opponents to our illustrious organization," said Dr. Essex with pride as he watched through the looking glass at his recruits setting up for another run of tests after just having finished two hours of the previous one.
"Worthy or not...This situation is bound to get ugly," said the Colonel, sounding much more concerned about it than Dr. Essex was letting on, "They only way to effectively neutralize them now is to eradicate them before they can plan too far ahead. This includes their facility, their equipment, and their specimen...Weapon X23."
"Sounds like it will be quite a party," said Dr. Essex, "When do you think they'll go forward with this...Task of theirs?"
"I don't know..." said the General as an exasperated look fell upon his face, "Knowing Hyrda, they're probably already preparing to pull out of their base...So the sooner the better."
"Yes...And officially, the military is already planning to hit them before it happens," said the Colonel, "But unofficially...I hear that SHIELD is already scheduled to lead an assault as early as tonight."
"Where did you hear that Colonel?" said the General curiously.
"You may think I'm overly paranoid General...But that doesn't always mean that it is a completely useless trait," said the Colonel with a somewhat sneaky tone, "I have a source and I also have ears...And if I were to go by my gut instinct, I would probably say that they would want to hit Hydra as soon as possible...And if they can do that with SHIELD, then they probably wouldn't hesitate."
"I guess there's nothing we can do to affect the outcome then..." said Dr. Essex, at a loss for ideas at the moment concerning this complicated situation.
"No...I don't see how it can be stopped," said the General, "Shadow Cell's presence has upset quite a few things and all we can do now is make the preparations to contend with the inevitable political repercussions."
"Well you'd probably be better at that then me General," said Dr. Essex respectfully as he continued to think about this situation, "I am but a man of science...My place is in the laboratory and not in Washington."
"Don't worry, Doctor," assured the General, "I've already started making a few arrangements, but be prepared to work around them. I don't want to see any lapse in progress with our recruits just because the competition had to mess things up."
"Neither do I General..." said Dr. Essex in agreement, "But I promise you that if you do your part, I'll be sure to do mine. And if there is anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask."
"I'll keep that in mind, Doctor," said the General, "And believe me...I'm open to any new ideas for something like this. After all...Radical situations sometimes require radical action."
"Well said General," said Dr. Essex approvingly as he considered this approach, "I'll be sure to give it some thought. And if you can, leave a transcript of the meeting on my desk. Perhaps the information there will help me."
"Will do, Doctor," said the General as he and the Colonel turned to leave, "Just keep up the good work. We'll work through this...No way in hell is Shadow Cell going to be hindered by politics on my watch."
"I appreciate that General," said Dr. Essex as they all turned their attention back to their recruits as they kept running going over their rigorous routine, "It would be a shame if such a powerful team that could exact such great influence on the world was hindered by some rogue misfits who couldn't stand the competition."
"Well it's not going to happen," said the General as he and the Colonel turned to leave the room, "I'm going to sit down with some of the other officers and we're going to find a solution that will hopefully get us on par with all the politicians and keep things stable...Even if it takes us all night."
"And I'll be sure to help," said Dr. Essex as they both left to handle the daunting task at hand.
As soon as they were gone, Dr. Essex let out a deep sigh. Everything had been going so well in practically every facet of the project, but even this wouldn't be enough to contend with the sheer politics of their organization. As a scientist, he always loathed politics for standing in the way of scientific progress. They were always more complicated than they had to be and he had always tried to distance himself from them over the years. Unfortunately, such an ambitious project was only possible because of the deep pockets of the political elite. And while his mind was always defined by science, he knew he would have to at least try to think of a solution even if he felt there were far more important matters at hand.
As Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda's session ended and they were given a brief moment to rest before heading back to the drill sergeants for another round of boot camp with the marine corps, Dr. Essex chose to return to his office and get this matter out of the way. Magnum seemed to notice his abrupt exit and as she left her students with the drill sergeants, she left in pursuit of him to see what was going on.
Upon entering his office, Dr. Essex found a few folders containing the transcripts of the meeting just as he had requested. Not looking forward to it, he wasted no time in getting started so he could at least get it out of the way as soon as possible. Time was such a precious commodity to him with this project, for he had been waiting a very long time to see it manifest. Everything was going better than he had planned and he was determined not to let anything threaten that. He may not have had a political mind like the General, but he sure as hell had an intellect and that's what he would go on as he read through the files.
For the most part, the data from the transcripts was fairly mundane. Much of it outlined the formalities of the meeting and only a few parts of the report really told him the kind of things he wanted to know. Once he found the useful bits of information he needed, he organized it into a pile of papers that he would compile in order to give him a full picture of the situation so he could more easily determine a solution.
This would take time...Too much time in his mind. He'd much rather be going over new mutant reports in order to search for another Shadow Cell recruit, but this took a far greater precedence in terms of importance. And as he read, he began to get an idea of just how complicated the problem was. Apparently, the head politicians that deal with both Hydra and Shadow Cell couldn't agree on what to do about upset balance between the two organizations. Shadow Cell was wiping the floor with Hydra in terms of progress, efficiency, and utility and if some of the words he was reading weren't misprints, they were not too happy about it.
However, despite Shadow Cell's success, Hydra still had many hardliners that sought to do something to keep their project alive while others wanted everything they had accomplished completely destroyed. This is where the main conflict seemed to be...This inability to agree on what to do now that Hydra was crumpling under the pressure that Shadow Cell was exerting. And if Hydra was eliminated via force, it would cause a great deal of animosity among key politicians and slow their progress by a great deal. There didn't seem to be an easy fix to the situation, for the hardliners still sought a Weapon X type program even though Dr. Essex's predictions about its inherent flaws were proving all too valid. It was unfortunate, for he knew that Hydra was doomed from the beginning for trying too recreate Weapon X...He just wished that it didn't affect his program so much.
With an exasperated sigh, Dr. Essex's eyes soon fell upon another piece of data that he had not looked over yet. However, this one seemed different. With a new hint of curiosity, he picked it up and his eyes widened at the sight of it...For it was a complete, detailed readout of Hydra's living weapon...X23. While he had scoffed at the possibility of a viable living weapon, he had to admit that this little girl had some impressive stats. She was only eight years old...Although her birth was not a normal one since she was grown in a bio tank. She had much of the same features as the original Weapon X such as advanced healing factor, heightened senses and advanced reflexes, and adamantium claws in that they had only recently put in. However, there were some differences. Because of this little girl's youth, her healing was somewhat more astute compared to her genetic equivalent. And along with the claws in her hands, she also had them in her feet as well. And unlike the original Weapon X, her entire skeleton had not gone through the adamantium bonding process. Dr. Essex suspected this was because they wanted her to grow a bit before they got around to it, but not having the skeleton would mean she was more nimble and quick.
Even though X23 was a product of Hydra, Dr. Essex had to admit she was still quite an impressive specimen. The readout said her training was based on rigorous treatment that was meant to destroy any sense of self she had, but many times this traumatized her and caused a few violent outbursts that cost quite a bit of money to clean up in more ways than one. Such deplorable treatment and such mundane training made Dr. Essex simply shake his head in pity at Hydra's outdated approach.
"When will these people learn?" he said to himself as he remained fixated on X23's information readout, "A human being can never truly become a machine."
As Dr. Essex looked at more data on X23, he found himself becoming more and more intrigued. This little girl's genetic makeup was a work of art in his eyes. Such advanced senses, powerful healing, and superhuman reflexes whose measurements according to the readout were unheard of even for Dr. Essex. She most certainly had a great deal of potential. There was no question that she could truly be a deadly force to be reckoned with if so much of her attributes weren't squandered. Then suddenly...Dr. Essex had a thought.
"So much potential...Such deadly skill," he mused as his mind began to race the more he looked at X23's readout, "It would be such a tragedy to destroy such a powerful specimen..."
Then...Looking back at the info on her stats, Dr. Essex began to wonder just how much such attributes would be enhanced if she were to go through the bio-mutagenic accelerator. Would these stats go up even more? Would it speed up her growth without having to wait for her body to grow into it? His machine had successfully accelerated Scott, Jean, Vincent, and Wanda's powers to the point where they didn't have to wait for them to age in order for them to fully manifest...And since they were still young, those powers were still growing. But what would happen if this little living weapon went through it? What would happen if she was actually trained in the right way instead of the old way that had already failed with the original Weapon X? As he continued to look at the data on young X23, a slow smile spread across his face...For he thought he just might have a solution to this little problem after all...One that would eliminate Hydra and complete Shadow Cell, establishing it as the dominate black project.
Just then, Magnum entered his office, yet Dr. Essex was still transfixed on what he was looking at and what he had just thought of. Knowing by the look on his face that something was up, Magnum was quick to inquire.
"Nathanial...What's going on?" she asked in her Russian accent, "I heard something happened back in Washington with the higher ups."
"You heard right Magnum..." said Dr. Essex as he stood up with X23's paper in hand, "We do indeed have a little situation...One that could possibly affect our progress and our future plans."
"What is it?" she asked with a grunt, thinking it could mean she had someone to kill, "How much would it delay us?"
"Don't worry Magnum...It is all under control," said Dr. Essex as he continued to smile with a sinister undertone as he approached the Russian born mercenary, "I have just thought of a solution...One that will destroy any and all competition and give us what I think will be our final recruit."
"A definitive blow to our enemies and our final recruit?" asked Magnum curiously, "What's the plan?"
Dr. Essex then showed her the paper of the girl he wanted as his last specimen for Shadow Cell. As soon as she saw it, Magnum grew quite curious, for it seemed that whatever this solution was, it evoked a great deal of excitement for the doctor.
"Get the recruits ready and get your guns ready Magnum..." said Dr. Essex ominously, "I'll need you to make this solution work...And trust me, you'll have quite a daunting task ahead of you."
"Daunting..." she said in her stoic tone as she gave the paper back to Dr. Essex, "Exactly the kind of assignment I'm best at..."
With Magnum already preparing for the assignment that Dr. Essex had laid out for her and Dr. Essex ready with the details, he made his way towards the main meeting room on the uppermost part of the Shadow Cell complex where the top officials along with himself and some of the scientists met to address issues pertaining to their project. Usually, meetings were scheduled every few weeks or so in order to hear of the progress that had been made. However, this critical situation had called for an emergency meeting...One that was already being seen as their most important thus far.
"How many times do I have to tell you people...Hydra won't negotiate!" shouted the Colonel as the meeting entered what seemed to be it's third hour, "Don't you think we've tried that with all the other times we've faced them in Washington?"
"But the fact remains that we both stand to lose something if we just sit back and do nothing while our political base is threatened and the project's progress is delayed," said another one of the officers who had been pushing for a more rational approach that didn't involve violence.
"Don't you think I know that?!" spat the Colonel, his frustration with the lack of progress in the meeting clearly beginning to show.
"Easy Colonel..." coaxed the General, who was feeling a powerful headache setting in for him as he struggled to be the referee to this heated debate, "We can't let the insubordinance of another affect our performance as an organization."
"But like it or not sir..." said one of the female officers, "We are predicated on a political base that is already by nature unstable because of the secrecy."
"And we shall work around it," said the General in a determined tone, "I don't care if it takes us all night, but we are going to find a solution!"
Just then, Dr. Essex stormed into the room with a file in hand that he had been crafting for the better part of the last three hours. At first it startled all those present, but as soon as the General saw the look ominous look on his face, a sudden glimmer of hope came over him, for he knew that Dr. Essex wouldn't barge in on a meeting like this unless he had something important to say.
"Dr. Essex..." began the Colonel, but Dr. Essex didn't waste time as he tossed the folder on the table, the ominous grin on his face never waning in the slightest.
"Look no further for a solution ladies and gentlemen...For I have found one that should appease all sides," said Dr. Essex as he watched the Colonel eagerly grab the contents of the folder before anybody else.
"You have a solution?" said the General, open to pretty much anything at the moment given the lack of progress at this meeting.
"But of course General," said Dr. Essex confidently, "I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it. I may not know politics like you do, but I certainly know a thing or two about solving problems."
As the Colonel read through some of the contents of the folder, his eyes widened in shock. Others began to read and they seemed equally surprised at what these papers were implying, for it seemed like a rather radical approach to a very serious problem. Then again...This was Hydra they were dealing with and if anybody with an even a marginal level of experience in black projects knew that radical was one of their most defining qualities.
"Wait...Doctor, you're not suggesting that..." began the Colonel, but Dr. Essex was quick to cut him off.
"We go in while SHIELD is infiltrating the main Hydra facility and extract X23 before she is destroyed in the crossfire," said Dr. Essex, more or less summing up his plans, "We find her...We take her...And we make her a part of Shadow Cell...We make her our final recruit."
"Whoa, whoa...Slow down here, Doctor!" said one of the head scientist who was all too familiar with Weapon X and all projects relating to it, "You're not suggesting that we take a specimen from our enemy that they have most likely messed up in many immeasurable, irreparable ways and risk taking her into our hands, are you?"
"That's exactly what I'm suggesting..." said Dr. Essex definitively, "X23 is a powerful specimen with enormous potential both as a mutant and as a soldier. She has the reflexes, the power, and he base skills she learned as a child to make her a perfect addition to Shadow Cell. However, because her sense of self was repeatedly suppressed, much of her potential has been wasted. If we recruit her...We can give her a sense of self and a sense of being that will take that born and bred warrior within and turn her into a soldier in a class all her own."
"But she's emotionally unstable, Doctor," argued the scientist, "Believe me...That's the case with all Weapon X knockoffs."
"And we shall use that in the same way we did with our other four recruits," said Dr. Essex, not letting up in his enthusiasm for this plan, "Our specimens have all endured inhuman treatment and torture not at all that different from young X23. And if we can get them to overcome their emotional issues that once threatened to destroy them in every conceivable facet, then I'm certain we can do the same for X23."
"Well that's all well in good, Doctor. But we can't just go in with Nick Fury and a legion of SHIELD agents and ask them to let X23 live so we can take her when pretty much ever one of us is on Fury's watch-list," argued the Colonel.
"Colonel Nick Fury and the rest of his SHIELD goons don't have to know..." said Dr. Essex with an ominous grin.
Then, many of the officers present began to understand what he was getting at. A new look of enthusiasm fell upon the General's face as he considered the impact this would have.
"So we get X23 from under Fury's nose...Take her into Shadow Cell...And use the fruits of all of Hydra's labor to our benefit while also inheriting their resources?" said the General with the first hint of optimism in his tone in what seemed like weeks, "It's perfect...It would definitely satisfy the hardliners because it would mean they would still have a working Weapon X and it would make our supporters happy because it would complete our unit ahead of schedule and under budget."
"Exactly General..." said Dr. Essex with a grin, "There would be no instability among our political base since everybody would get what they want. It will make us the leading black project in the world and it will cement our presence in terms of both influence and power for many years to come."
It seemed like a total win situation for everybody as they considered what Dr. Essex was suggesting. It would not only establish them as a dominate power in Washington, but it would also accelerate the progress of Shadow Cell while also making a fool out of Nick Fury...Something many of the officers in the room wouldn't mind seeing.
"But...There's still one problem," said the Colonel as he saw everybody in the room look approvingly at Dr. Essex and the plan he had just proposed, "How in the hell are we going to extract X23 during an all out firefight between Hydra and SHIELD?"
"You need not worry about that Colonel, for I have already taken care of that," assured Dr. Essex, "I shall leave tonight to carry out this plan since it's likely that SHIELD will want to strike as soon as possible. By the time we're done...Hydra will be gone, X23 will be ours, and I'll make sure that Fury believes that he has succeeded in eliminating everything...When in reality, he had just given us a big push forward."
"I like it..." said the General, who had always had a distaste of Nick Fury, "Both our enemies fight to destroy each other while we sit back and reap the rewards."
"Indeed General...And all I need from you is the approval and I should be able to proceeded exactly as planned," said Dr. Essex, knowing from the look on the General's face that he was all too eager to see this plan come to fruition, "And all you have to do is let the higher ups know."
The General and the Colonel exchanged looks. They both knew this plan was their best bet to not only avoid Shadow Cell from being delayed...But to also move ahead of schedule while making a fool of Nick Fury in the process. As much of a critic as the Colonel was, he could not deny that this plan, if successful, would be the defining success that would make Shadow Cell a true force to be reckoned with. It was somewhat of a gamble, but the rewards far exceeded the risks and from the looks of it, Dr. Essex was already completely confident of the outcome.
"You've got it, Doctor...Make it happen," affirmed the General.
"Will do General," said Dr. Essex as he turned to make his leave, ready and eager to go forth with his plan, "Just leave it to me..."
"Thank you, Doctor. You never cease to amaze us," said the General, "But now...I think I have a few phone calls to make..."
AN: Well, things are looking complicated for young X23. She's about to make her debut in the Shadow Cell universe so stay tuned to see how she impacts everything in this very different universe. Dr. Essex has really done a lot to change things with a few key characters and the affects of such changes will show later on as I bring in more characters. So what do you think so far? X23's about to come in and I'd love to know your thoughts on this story so far as I bring yet another beloved X-men character into this universe! Send me your feedback via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Either was is fine as long as you REVIEW! Thanks a bunch for reading everybody and I wish you all the best!
REVIEWS ARE MY FUEL AND I NEED A REFILL!!!