A TEST OF POWER
BY DR
Prologue
The supreme, the merciless, the destroyer of opposition,
the exalted King, the shepherd, the protector of the quarters
of the world, the King the word of whose mouth destroys
mountains and seas, who by his lordly attack has forced
mighty and merciless Kings from the rising of the Sun to
the setting of the same to acknowledge one supremacy.

Ashurnasirpal


Two years from now

He walked the brightly illuminated corridor, methodical in his pursuit to observe and catalog the many strange machines, which seemed to cover every inch of the floor and walls. At least he believed they were machines, but it was impossible for him to tell. The technology that surrounded him and had become his home was a complete mystery and might have been something supernatural -- for as much as he was able to understand it. Occasionally during one of his many explorations, he would stop to examine a particularly strange apparatus in an attempt to discern its function. During these data gathering forays, he often thought that a former associate of his would have been particularly useful for this endeavor. He would gladly have spent many years learning all the things this place had to offer. It would take a thousand of the most accomplished scientists ten lifetimes to learn even a fraction of the knowledge that was available here.

Although there were much faster and more sophisticated means of transportation at his disposal, walking afforded him the opportunity to see firsthand as much of his new home as possible. The particular corridor he presently occupied was about a thousand feet wide with a five hundred foot ceiling, and could go on for miles. This, coupled with the sheer number of similarly sized corridors, which numbered in the hundreds, perhaps thousands, his self prescribed task was Herculean. In the year that he had spent here he had only been able to explore a small percentage of the endless hallways. The immense rooms that these corridors sometimes led to were even larger still. It was to one of these rooms that he had been summoned.

As large as the room was, a gargantuan figure still managed to dominate it. His massive back facing the entrance, the giant gave no indication that anyone had entered the room, although this lack of reaction meant nothing. The giant was aware of all that transpired in his home. This absence of a response was more a matter of his vistor's lack of significance to the great being than of the giant's awareness of his surroundings. The vistor understood his master's regard for inferior beings. They simply were beneath his notice.

As usual, he did not wait to be addressed and spoke with no visible acknowledgment of his presence. "Preparations are underway. All will be ready upon our scheduled arrival."

The giant's response was in a deep resonant timbre, without inflection, that conveyed absolute authority. "Very well. During your short time here, your performance has been quite adequate. See that it continues."

"I will return to my prescribed duties."

The giant momentarily discontinued his efforts and although still facing away, the slight inclination of his head clearly indicated that he was expecting something more.

"...Master."

This seemed to satisfy the giant, who resumed his mysterious activities.

He exited the room to complete his tasks and resume his exploration. Direct confrontation with his captor at this time would be suicide, even for a being with his power. Escape was his only option and events were developing that might afford him just that opportunity. A smile formed on his face that contained no humor and would only terrify or impart a sense of foreboding to the poor soul unfortunate enough to witness it. Yes, his stay here would serve him well for the future. He had learned many useful things in a brief period of time, things that could be learned nowhere else. With this knowledge, he would eventually pay back his "master" and those like him. They would serve him, or die. After all, was this not part of his ultimate objective?

An even larger, more terrifying smile spread across his face. He would accomplish all the things he had first set out to do over 5,000 years ago. This unforeseen captivity would only serve to strengthen him and help him achieve his goals. His ultimate goals in mind, Earth's first and most powerful mutant, the dread lord Apocalypse, purposefully went about his appointed tasks.


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