Between Life and Death
Chapter 1: The Mission
AN: Hey everybody! Slickboy444 here with a new story for all you eager fanfiction fans! After my last story, the 40 chapter "Extermination," I have received so much wonderful feedback. I can't thank all those wonderful people who reviewed enough after reading a story of such length. I put a lot of effort into that long story and I plan to put just as much into this one as well, although I doubt it will be anywhere near the length of "Extermination." As always, before I begin I feel I must explain where this story came from and how I thought of it.
This story is another piece I have had in my head for quite some time now. I got the idea for it after reading a fic that was discontinued nearly 3 years ago called "Clean Slate." But I only really thought of a good way to go about writing this after my story "Sinister Secrets." Like my last fic, this story deals with death…But not in the same way. There is one big variation compared to the last story and you'll just have to read to find out! And pretty much every other X-men story I've written, this is a major Scott/Jean story. The setting is in the X-men: Evolution universe and is somewhat of an AU and it takes place about a year after the events of the final episode, "Ascension." And also like my last story, you'll notice a few characters are quite a bit different…But there are reasons for it, that I can assure you of! And one important thing I want to get out of the way is that there is NO PHOENIX in this fic. This story will have many new concepts in it and a few new dynamics that were never shown in X-men: Evolution, but I hope that you all like what I do since this story is nowhere near as radical as the last one I did…However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't expect the unexpected from me! I hope that you will find this story interesting and enjoyable! Like all stories I write, I will put a lot of effort into this and I hope you all enjoy it!
Summery: After nearly a year of surviving Apocalypse, things have been looking up for the X-men. Then…One fateful day, a seemingly regular mission goes horribly wrong and Scott Summers makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. His death brings forth overwhelming anguish among his friends…Especially from Jean Grey. However, is he really gone for good?
Pairings: Scott/Jean, Kurt/Kitty, Betsy/Warren, and maybe a little hint of Rogue/Remy.
Rating: PG-13 for issues of death and language.
AN: 'These mean character thoughts or psychic communication.'
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the X-men characters in any way, shape, or form. They are the property of Marvel, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby. Having said that…Please don't sue, for I have nothing.
And like I do with all my fics, I urge each and every one of you to REVIEW! After you read a chapter, please tell me what you think! Send it to me via email or post it on the fanfiction website! Either way is fine! It really serves as good inspiration and motivates me to be a better writer! Remember, I am open to constructive criticism, but if you must flame me, please be considerate. This story won't have anywhere near the death "Extermination" had, but if anybody has any issues with it than please do so with conscious. Thank you all and just remember…REVIEW!
Also, before I begin I would like to send a special thanks to all the reviewers who have been so kind to me with my fics: Optic Red, Radnommarvelfan, Doza, SouthernRebelGal, Sentoris, Reddfire, Darkenss1, Extra2restrial, Agent-G, Quillian, Howlerdrode, The Uncanny R-Man, Wen1, Mrs. Jean Grey-Summers, Mark C, The Uncanny R-Man, X00001, Lil Jean, and especially Heartsyhawk (you rule my friend!).
Well, that's it! I hope you all enjoy the story! Now without further adieu, Slickboy444 proudly presents "Between Life and Death."
They sky was cloudy and dark as the early hours of the night began to set in over the vast landscape that was the Canadian wilderness. It was in an area not far from the boarder, but desolate none the less. The fields were too rough and rugged for farming and the only from of life that seemed prevalent were the tall deciduous trees. Normally, this serine, uninhabited land was quiet with crickets and wind being the only noise. But tonight…It was different.
In the sky overhead, the loud roar of an advanced jet engine echoed through the sky and caused the leaves on the trees to gently rustle in the gust that followed. This jet was the supposedly non-existent SR-77 Blackbird. If any normal person had seen it, they would have thought it to be something right out of science fiction. But it was there and it was real. As it streaked through the sky at speeds exceeding that of sound, the inhabitance of the plane sat in wait as they drew ever closer to their destination. They were mutants…Born with unique powers at birth. They included Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Kurt Wagner, Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake, Ororo Munroe, Rogue, and Logan. They were the mutant peacekeeping force known as the X-men…A group of young, gifted individuals that swore to protect a world that both feared and hated them.
"Professor Xavier, we're nearing the target coordinates. I'm beginning the final decent," said Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops because of the visor he wore to control and contain his photo-concussive optic blasts.
"Good, you're right on target. The site I told you about should be coming into view any moment now," responded Professor Charles Xavier over a radio, who was monitoring the situation over a distance through the use of the psychic amplifying computer known as Cerebro.
"Explain it to me again Chuck…Why the hell are we bothering with this? Should it really take a team this big to investigate something we don't even know that much about?" said a gruff voice over the radio that Xavier quickly recognized as the ever strong, feral, and steadfast man known as Logan, aka Wolverine.
"This team of regulars is merely a preventative measure should this mission turn out to be more than it seems old friend," answered Xavier, "Given the information I received about your destination, I feel it would be best to play it safe, given our course of luck in the past."
"Yeah…That's another thing," added Logan, "You also didn't tell us a whole lot about this 'information' you received. And if we're gonna do this…Shouldn't we know all the facts?"
A brief moment of silence fell over the radio as Professor Xavier contemplated his response. Usually, Professor Xavier was not a man that needed to formulate words of such a nature, but this time it was different.
"You are absolutely right Logan," said the Professor, breaking the silence over the radio, "The information I received was a rather disturbing report and I didn't want to spark any confusion or speculation until I was sure of it. But I have uncovered that the data is valid and demands immediate attention."
"But just what exactly is so special about this place?" asked Jean Grey, the beautiful redheaded girl that had the power of telekinesis and telepathy.
"Well, to answer that, I'm sure you all remember the facility Logan investigated a year ago upon learning about Kurt's past," responded the Professor as the plane began to descend.
"You mean that castle turned laboratory?" asked Kurt "Nightcrawler" Wagner, a young mutant whose appearance was riddled with blue fur, a tail, and a slightly bent disposition.
"Yes, the very same," answered Xavier, "Even though it was destroyed, from what Logan described it sounded like a highly advanced research laboratory with mutants being the prime focus."
"So you think this may, like, have something to do with Kurt?" asked young Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde, a traditional, upbeat valley girl with the mutant ability to walk through solid objects.
"I am not sure about anything other than the information I received hinted at the possibility of another advanced facility of the same nature," said the Professor, "And the only other types of facilities that could possibly come close to the one that was destroyed were those that Magneto used on Asteroid M."
"So could this mean that Magneto has returned?" asked Ororo "Storm" Munroe, a beautiful African woman with shining white hair and the mutant ability to control the weather around her.
"I'm afraid I don't know Storm. As you all probably know, Magneto and Mystique practically disappeared after the whole Apocalypse ordeal. While I have tried time and time again to surmise what happened to them, I have not at all been able to so much as learn their location other than the times Mystique stays at the Brotherhood house for brief periods."
"You think that maybe their up to no good again?" asked Bobby "Iceman" Drake, the newest member of the core team that had the power to create ice as his name suggested.
"I honestly don't think so Iceman," answered Xavier with confidence, "Mystique, Magneto, and the Brotherhood have not shown any hostility ever since Apocalypse. And knowing them, there would have been signs because of the nature of their plans. So far, there have been no such signs to my knowledge and this situation bears no hint of involvement from them."
"But how can you be sure of that?" asked Rogue in her southern accent.
"Call it a…Gut feeling, Rogue," said the Professor, "Having dealt with them in the past, my instinct simply tells me that they are not the culprits of this development."
"Then who do you think is?" asked Logan.
"That, my X-men, are what you are there to find out," said the Professor, "This information speaks of a facility in Canada of the same nature, if not far more advanced, as the one that was destroyed over a year ago. While I sensed no psychic activity in the area…I urge you all to be careful and find out whatever you can."
The radio then went silent as the rumble of the engines caused the inside of the advanced aircraft to shake and vibrate as it passed through a large cloud that hovered over the target area and descended towards the ground below.
"Okay everybody," said Scott as he flipped several control switches, "I'm taking her down."
As the plane lowered towards a clearing, their target destination came into sight. It seemed strange, but it was there in plain sight for all of them to see. It was a rather tall, multi-leveled facility that fed directly into the large hill behind it as it sat over a cliff that led down towards a brisk river. As they got a closer look, the saw that the structure was completely unlit, hinting that it was abandoned. The remoteness of this site seemed strange, for the only way to and from the facility was a small dirt road that didn't look like it had been used in quite a while.
"Professor, we're at the facility. We can see it and its right where the coordinates said it would be," said Scott over the radio as he maneuvered to land the plane a few miles down the dirt road that led to the building.
"Good…Then the information I received was valid," said Xavier as he kept watch over his beloved students via Cerebro.
The X-men then proceeded to file out of the jet and made their way towards the mysterious old building. It was a strange sight, but that only further prompted the need to investigate. Although from the looks of it, nothing seemed to threatening. Then again, that could have been the result of things being so quiet for the X-men as of lately. Ever since Magneto and Mystique disappeared, they hadn't had much worry about other than growing anti-mutant sentiment. However, that was a bit more manageable and didn't involve life-threatening risks. And from the looks of it, this place didn't seem to have any of those risks as well.
"So…Do you want to ring the bell? Or should I?" joked Bobby as they all took in the close up appearance of the facility.
"I don't know man," said Kurt as he looked at the fading outer walls, "I don't think anybody's home."
"Well I'm not sensing anything," said Jean with a hand on her temple as she tried to use her telepathy to see if there was a presence in the building.
"Nor am I Jean," said Professor over the communication pieces each X-man had in their ears, "But see if you can get in. If this facility is such a remote location, then it would probably be because it was hiding something."
"Hiding something?" said Kitty as she looked skeptically at the old, darkened building, "What could a place like this possibly have to hide?"
"Only one way to find out half pint," said Logan, "Come on. Let's check it out."
The ominous shadow that the building cast over them gave off somewhat of a creepy feel as if it were something out of a suspense movie. The closer they got to the entrance, the more the level of disrepair that the facility was in became clearer. The paint was old and chipping, the concrete around the area was dirty and unkempt, and the metal on the outside had rusted over. And in the minds of the small team of mutants, nothing looked all that threatening.
Then, with a snikt of his claws, Logan sliced through the front door and the X-men stood poised to enter.
"You know…That door might have been unlocked Logan," said Scott upon seeing his rather brash means of entrance.
"I guess we'll never know," smirked the Wolverine as everybody made their way inside.
The layout of the facility seemed like that of a regular laboratory. The halls led to different sectors and each sector had its specific function and purpose. However, it was hard to discern much else from this because of the pitch blackness caused by the lack of light. Jean tried to flip a nearby switch, but no lights came on.
"No electricity," said Jean as she tried some of the other switches, "No detectable presence…Professor, I think it's safe to say that this place is abandoned."
"Yuck…No argument here," said Kitty as she looked at the blackened, moldy walls and let out a light gag at the level of decay that everything seemed to be in.
Logan proceeded to sniff the air, trying to get a scent that might lead them all to something. But at the moment, all he could smell was rotting drywall, old chemicals, and cluster upon cluster of mildew and mold. So far, nothing seemed all that significant about this place, but it was still suspicious. Why was this building even here to begin with? Who built it and for what purpose? They were the questions that they were here to answer, but the size of the facility would not make that easy.
"This place is big," said Scott as they passed down the main hallway and arrived at a dividing intersection, "We better split up to cover more ground."
"Wait…Isn't that how scary movies usually start?" asked Bobby as he rubbed a spider web off of his uniform.
"If you don't quit with the jokes and take this seriously Drake, it'll turn into a slasher flick," grunted Logan in annoyance over Bobby's overt lack of seriousness over the mission.
The Iceman gulped and said nothing more, not wanting to provoke any more anger from the ever volatile Wolverine.
"And to think I begged to join the main team," muttered Bobby.
"Don't worry, ya tend to get use to it after a while," assured Rogue.
As Logan rolled his eyes in frustration, Scott stepped in.
"Come on guys, we have to keep moving. Bobby, Rogue…Go with Logan down the hall up ahead. Kurt, Kitty…Go with Ororo down the left hall. Jean and I will take this one."
"Ooh…Trying to sneak some alone time with Jean during a mission?" said Kitty under her breath to Kurt as they both let out a light laugh and made kissy faces at them.
Even during missions Kurt and Kitty still found time to poke fun at the two love birds, as they called them. Ever since Jean's breakup with Duncan a while back, she and Scott had been growing very close. Even after the events in Mexico when they actually kissed, they still wouldn't disclose the true details of their relationship. While part of that was because of their private nature, it did help to fuel the ever popular gossip that circulated about them since they seemed so drawn to each other from day one. All that was known was that they were dating now…And that was all they knew. But that didn't make the residents of the Xavier Institute any less curious about the young couple even though it was clear to all just how crazy they were for each other.
However, such thoughts were soon halted as Ororo beckoned Kurt and Kitty to follow her down one of the darkened halls.
"Come on you two," said Ororo, "Mission now…Flirt later."
This caused both young mutants to blush somewhat and provoked a smile from Ororo at the amusing sight. Not wanting to add insult to injury, they didn't say another word and simply refocused themselves on discovering what secrets this facility could possibly hold.
As each group continued their exploration, the sheer size of the building soon became apparent. The corridors and laboratories extended into the hills and several stories below. It had all the classic features of secret research facility…One that the public was not meant to know about. But there were still some inconsistencies that just didn't add up and as the deeper the team continued to explore, more and more questions just kept coming up.
"Professor, we're in some kind of archive," sent Scott over the radio as he and Jean entered a large room full of file cabinets and paper storage areas.
"Archive? Can you find anything useful about what the building was used for?" replied Xavier, still using Cerebro to monitor the situation.
Scott and Jean proceeded to open some of the storage cabinets, but it didn't look to promising. The locks had pretty much rusted away and everything they opened was full of nothing but dust. There were no documents, no records…Nothing.
"They're all empty," reported Jean as she went through several more empty storage bins, "Every record is gone, Professor."
"Every record?" said Xavier, finding this development all the more mysterious.
"From what we can tell…Yes," confirmed Scott, "I don't even see any government logos, name brand equipment, or hints of an accident. It was as if whoever was here simply picked up and left, not leaving a single trace of what was going on here."
"All the more reason to assume that it was something that the rest of the world was not meant to see," concluded the Professor, "Keep looking…Try and find whatever you can. I have a bad feeling about this."
For his two eldest students, that was enough for them. Professor Xavier's hunches always had some truth to them, but it was never certain what they could lead to. The only way for them to find out was to discover it on their own.
The radio fell silent again as the three sub-groups continued their search. But the longer they searched, the more puzzling everything seemed. The Professor still couldn't sense anything there. There were no hints of foul play, no signs of an accident or a struggle, or even any hint of the kind or research that was being done there. But for such an elaborate facility to be constructed, it had to have some purpose. Otherwise, why would it have been abandoned?
"Dude, this is getting creepy," said Kurt as he, Kitty, and Ororo entered what looked like computer server rooms.
"I know…I think Bobby was right about this place feeling like a horror movie," said Kitty in agreement, "I can't help but think that flesh eating zombies are going to pop out at any minute."
"Hey…Given our line of vork, that's not outside the realm of possibility," said Kurt.
Ororo proceeded to look at the dusty computer hardware. While she didn't know a great deal about computers, she knew that both Kurt and Kitty were fairly knowledgeable. But the problem was that even they were perplexed by what they were seeing as they attempted to open up the servers in search of more clues.
"Professor, this is, like, getting too weird," said Kitty over the radio, "These servers look pretty expensive, but all the hard drives are gone."
"Hmm…Just like the archives," mused the Professor, "If there are servers there, then it's logical to assume that there was a large array of data that needed processing. Exactly how many are there?"
Ororo did a quick count.
"I count about…50."
"50?" said the Professor in mild shock, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, why?" asked Ororo.
"So many servers…That could only mean that the experiments that were done here were very complex," said the Professor, "Only experiments yielding enormous amounts of data, variables, and storage would require such computing power. Even the most advanced experiments that I know of needed no more than 25 to 30 servers. But 50? Something was definitely going on there. You must find more."
"Right," said Ororo, "Come on you two, let's keep looking."
There still wasn't a whole lot to work with, but from simple observation of this strange laboratory the Professor had already come to some rather mysterious conclusions. The work done here must have been big…Otherwise it wouldn't have been so hidden or needed so much computing power. The secrecy of this building was also a rather disturbing aspect because it would also be logical that if it was so hidden, then the work done here might have been illegal.
As the Professor considered the possibilities, he heard another voice over the communications link.
"Prof…I think we found something," said Logan's voice as he, Bobby, and Rogue reached what seemed to be the central laboratory and experimentation center.
"Go ahead Wolverine, what did you find?" asked the Professor, keeping a close psychic eye over the area just in case.
"I ain't an expert…But I think we're in some kind of testing room," reported Logan.
"What kind of testing?"
"Genetic from the looks of it. Believe me…I know the signs," grunted Logan, speaking from his experience of the weapon X project.
"Genetic…That would explain the need for such large servers in such great quantities," deduced the Professor.
While Xavier considered the implications, both Iceman and Rogue marveled at the layout of the room.
"Man, this stuff looks pretty advanced," said Bobby as he looked at several strange aging bio tanks, "I don't remember ever seeing this on the Science Channel."
"Since when did you ever watch that stuff anyways?" scoffed Rogue as she looked at some of the tools, "But you're right about the advanced part. I'd bet Beast would have a field day if he were here."
"Yeah, too bad he got stuck looking after all the underclassmen," said Bobby as he ran his hands over the dusty components.
While Bobby and Rogue explored deeper, Logan felt an ominous sensation in his mind as he looked around at an all too familiar sight. He was once a test subject of a heinous science experiment and it left him forever changed both mentally and physically. Because of that experiment, he had adamantium bones and a huge gap of his memory missing. Being in a place like this was far from pleasant for him as he continued to sniff the air for any further clues. But the deeper they dug, the more mysterious this place became.
"Chuck, I can't smell anything except dust. There's no damage to the place, no records, not even a drop of blood," reported Logan.
"But why would it be abandoned then?" asked Rogue, "And why keep a place like this so secret."
"Probably because whatever they were doing here must have been far from ethical," assumed Logan as he kept trying to find a scent other than mildew and gas.
"Which is why you must keep looking," said Xavier over the com link, "This information must have been given to us for a reason."
"Just where did you get this 'information' in the first place Chuck?" asked Logan as he looked at the rusting bio tanks.
There was a brief silence over the line as the Professor seemed to struggle with an answer that usually wouldn't have required a second thought.
"It was an anonymous tip," he finally said.
"Anonymous tip?" said Logan, sounding quite surprised, "You've never trusted those! Why start now?"
"Normally I wouldn't…" replied Xavier, "But when I checked the coordinates that it had and cross referenced information about the area, I came across major inconsistencies that couldn't have been mere coincidences. The secrecy, the terrain, the map descriptions…It seemed too detailed."
"Well what else did it say?" asked Logan, still not liking this one bit.
"Not much, it simply said that there was a highly advanced facility here…One that was heavily focused on mutants. Other than that, it said nothing more."
"Well from what I can see, I wouldn't doubt that mutants were a part of the show here," responded Logan, "But why anonymous? Who would want us to know about this?"
"Someone who may feel that they are taking a great risk by letting us know this," said Xavier, "The level of encryption that the message used was very advanced, so we can only assume that whoever sent it didn't want risk exposing themselves to anyone else except us."
"I still don't like it…" said Logan with a grunt as he and the two younger students continued their search.
Each group kept on digging deeper in their respective areas. But this strange facility seemed to refuse to give up its secrets as nothing concrete about the nature of this strange laboratory. Scott and Jean kept trying to find something in the archives, but everywhere they looked, they were only met with emptiness and dust. Ororo, Kurt, and Kitty kept searching the server room for any possible computer data, but everything looked as though it was wiped clean of any possible information. Logan, Bobby, and Rogue kept searching the lab area, but nothing came up. There were no traces of the kind of chemicals that were used, what data was recorded, or even what kinds of experiments were done. The darkened facility truly seemed like a ghost given such mystery.
"Chuck, I don't think there's anything else in here to find," said Logan over the radio, not smelling anything useful.
"Yeah, I think somebody sent us all on a wild goose chase," said Bobby, who was all too ready to leave this creepy facility.
"Don't assume the simplest explanation Iceman," said Xavier over the radio, "Something was definitely going on in this facility. But whoever was behind it simply picked up and left upon going to great lengths in order to not leave any possible information about the experiments intact."
"So what do we do now?" asked Rogue.
"Check and see if there are any other lab areas," said the Professor, "Given the size of the building, there must be more."
"Hell, that could take all night," said Bobby.
"Well you did wanna come on this mission icecube," said Logan, "But if we're gonna search the whole place, we'd better get started. Come on you two, let's go find the others."
"Right," said Rogue as she and Bobby turned back towards the exit.
Then suddenly…Just as Logan was about to head out as well, something caught his eye and he froze in his place.
"Logan?" said Rogue, upon seeing his sudden change in demeanor.
The feral mutant didn't respond as he simply turned away from the exit and walked back over towards the old, dusty control terminals from where the experiments must have been controlled. Both Iceman and Rogue quickly followed, thinking that maybe he found something major that would shed some light on this strange place. But as they soon saw what had caught his attention, that prospect didn't seem nearly as possible.
Upon the terminal, a single red light was flashing no bigger than a dime. It didn't seem like much, but to Logan it was enough to draw his attention.
"Chuck…I thought we determined that this place had no electricity," said Logan over his com link.
"Yes we did," replied the Professor, "Why? What did you find?"
Logan didn't reply as he and the two students standing besides him simply looked at the blinking red light, not knowing what it meant or if it was something to be worried about.
"Okay…Am I the only one creeped out by this?" said Bobby, breaking the silence.
"I don't think so," answered Rogue, "Was that light flashin' when se came in?"
"Nope…I would've seen it beforehand," said Logan, not liking where this was going one bit.
"Did we trip an alarm or something?" asked Bobby as he began scanning the area for any signs of a laser barrier or camera.
"Nope…I would've smelled the ozone," said Logan, ruling that possibility out as well, only making things seem all the more ominous.
"But what does it mean?" asked Rogue.
Then suddenly…Before anybody could answer her, a loud alarm went off and a high pitched noise echoed all throughout the building. For the other two teams, it was a very startling development, but it was one that provoked an immediate sense of urgency.
"Woverine! Cyclops! Storm! What's going on?" said Xavier hearing the alarms over the link and sensing a great deal of anxiety among his team.
"Chuck…I think we have a problem," said Logan as lights all over the facility suddenly came to life.
AN: Well, what do you think? I know it's sort of an ambiguous point to end it at, but trust me…There's more to come! The action, drama, and angst has just begun! There's plenty of complications ahead, but I don't want to give it all away just yet! You'll all have to stay tuned and see for yourself! In the meantime, please tell me what you think of the beginning of this new story! I would love to know! Do you want to read more? Do you want to know where I'm going with this? Tell me! Send me your feedback via email or post it on the fanfiction website! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the every growing plot to unfold! Until next time, I wish you all the best!
IT HAS BEGUN! REVIEW!