A Test of Power
Everywhere there is one principle of
which is the interest of the stronger.
The Republic, ca. 390 B.C.
He might have been a tourist, or a laborer, or just an average resident
of the city out for an afternoon walk -- his appearance divulged nothing
remarkable. In his present guise, no one could possibly surmise that
the mutant tyrant Apocalypse walked among them. It was even less likely
that they could deduce that he was enjoying the beautiful day as much
as they did -- possibly even more.
With senses both common with those around him, and with perceptions
rare even among the most powerful mutants, Apocalypse was thoroughly
invigorated by his surroundings. The basis for his enjoyment was because
he possessed a visual acuity beyond the norm, and could see the humans
that inhabited this city -- truly see them.
Long ago, he found that he could attune his senses and observe those
around him and distinguish that they were not just flesh and blood
creatures, but beings of energy and light. A more devout individual
or even someone with a finite lifespan might have attributed some
divine significance to this. Apocalypse supposed that this could be
called wishful thinking. After all, the existence of a soul would
have been the confirmation of eternal life and it had been his experience
that the vast majority of humanity wanted to -- continue.
He had ample opportunity to observe many of the Egyptian priests
during the early part of his life, and listen to them espouse nothing
but self-serving nonsense. The narrow minded fools were too dogmatic
to even acknowledge other views. Apocalypse believed that most theologians
were alike, and if they could see what he saw...it would have been
all the proof they believed they needed to triumph over more secular
thinkers in their age old debate. But Apocalypse saw no omnipotent
or heavenly connection at all. Because of one of his own specific
mutant abilities, he thought of the human spirit as simply something
that powered the human machine, a battery of sorts. He held more steadfast
to this opinion after he found out that he could also feel and experience
this anima, even making it a part of himself...greatly augmenting
his own power. Perhaps it was just the physical manifestation of that
abstract concept that represented life.
Apocalypse would never be confused as a philosopher, but he had a
perspective and abilities at his disposal that all the great sages
could only dream of. As long as he had been alive, he never tired
of seeing it, -- the human spirit, this heart of consciousness. His
appreciation of that transcendental beauty never wavered or lessened.
And in a populace city, he gladly immersed himself in that ambient
He could also turn his minds eye inward, and see and control
every aspect of his being, down to the smallest components -- the
fundamental building blocks of matter. He was even able to control
anything that he consumed or his body broke down and metabolized --
anything that became a part of him he could control. With every inhalation,
air molecules would be broken into its constituents, once part of
him, they would respond to his direction. Energy was available to
him in such great quantities because of his mutant ability.
During the first few years that Sinister had worked for Apocalypse,
Sinister's curiosity about Apocalypse's mutation was boundless. Exposed
to undreamed of science and technology in Apocalypse's employ, Sinister
had all the tools to aid him in his relentless quest for knowledge.
He had asked an endless stream of questions -- What did Apocalypse
see with his minds eye? How was he able to grow to such proportions?
Where did the great energies he could manifest come from?
Apocalypse was no fool. He recognized that Sinister was not a common
lap dog and would eventually attempt use any information he learned
against Apocalypse. That was one of the reasons why he had chosen
him. He wanted someone who could not be broken -- someone with a strength
of will that approached his own, and he was not disappointed. Sinister
was truly brilliant and had exceeded all of Apocalypse's expectations.
In his relatively short life span, he had tried to kill Apocalypse
But the threat that Sinister posed to Apocalypse, was overshadowed
by his curiosity about his own mutation. Apocalypse himself simply
did not know what he was. So he answered a great majority of Sinister's
questions, and Sinister in turn with tireless research and with the
aid of Celestial equipment, was able to deduce much about the nature
of matter and how that related to Apocalypse's mutation. Sinister
was incredibly able to accomplish this in just a few short months.
Sinister had explained to an incredulous Apocalypse that solid matter,
what we stand on, what bears the weight of a mountain, is actually
empty space. Sinister described that what Apocalypse saw with his
minds eye were atoms and the smaller constituents that comprised all
atoms were sub-atomic particles. These particles revolved around the
center or nucleus much the same way planets revolved around the sun.
To illustrate this void, he said that if we could scale the nucleus
of an atom to four inches, the surrounding electron cloud would be
several miles away and the gap between, nothing but gloriously empty
space. The solidity of iron is actually 99.9999999999999 percent vacuous
space made to feel solid by ethereal fields of force having no material
reality at all. It was that ethereal field of force, that binding
energy, that Apocalypse could snap like a rubber band releasing a
colossal burst of energy. Even that imprisoned energy, suddenly liberated,
its desire for entropy finally realized, was submissive to Apocalypse's
will and obeyed his every whim.
Apocalypse clearly remembered when Sinister had calculated the strength
of these bonds, quantified the energy. His expression was one of awe
and respect for what Apocalypse could control. The shear magnitude
of power that Apocalypse literally had at his fingertips was almost
unimaginable. Almost a half a century later, a few human physicists
show would the world the destructive might of splitting the atom.
Apocalypse turned down a quiet street leaving the crowds behind and
immediately noticed a marked change in his surroundings. The affluence
in this area was palpable and the buildings were untainted by weather
or pollutants. Even the cobblestone streets were scrubbed clean, the
surface smooth, making the dull color gleam in the midday sun. This
section of the city had changed very little over the past fifty years
yet still looked brand new. It had escaped much of the necessary rebuilding
that just about all of London had gone through due to Hitler's relentless
V-2 rocket salvos. The pristine condition and upkeep of this area
was a direct testament to the reach and longevity of the Hellfire
Apocalypse stopped in front of a particularly extravagant mansion.
He smiled to himself and thought, those who believed that the protection
afforded to them by membership within this group that symbolized affluence,
excess, and power -- they would soon learn the true meaning of power.
Money was their refuge, but history had shown more often than not
that a safe haven proved to be a target more often than a sanctuary.
He walked up the burnished marble steps to the two large mahogany
doors, its ornately carved surface polished clean belaying its age
and exposure to the elements. He grasped the ornamental door handle,
noticing even its superior quality, and walked into a large opulent
lobby. Aged paintings that appeared to be original art adorned the
walls. Finely detailed sculptures sat atop multiple pedestals and
were scattered about giving the room more of the feel of an art museum
than a simple reception area. The room's sole occupant was a striking
young woman who sat behind an antique desk, but the desktop by contrast
was covered with the modern technology of the day.
"May I help you sir?" she asked, greeting him with a warm smile.
She lightly tapped the keyboard of her computer, long fingers with
finely manicured nails were ready to input a name to confirm an appointment.
Apocalypse ignored her, and headed directly to a set closed doors,
which were partially obscured behind a spiral staircase that led to
"Sir, that area is off limits." Her voice lost all of its warmth
and contained a commanding tone that was surprising for someone of
She reached under the table and other doors immediately opened almost
in tandem with her movement. Five heavily armed men entered the room
"Get away from that door buddy," the lead man barked. "You're on
private property and we're authorized to use lethal force."
Apocalypse continued to head towards the doors, heedless of the security
"Can you believe this asshole? Johnson, shoot him in the leg." The
leader said it loud enough to perhaps dissuade the intruder from going
any further. The man hadn't even turned around let alone stopped.
As the intruder reached the door, Johnson fired his nine millimeter
handgun once, aiming for the man's calf. He was certain that he hit
the trespasser but the man exhibited no reaction that he had been
It was quite possible that the man possessed some type of body armor
the team leader quickly assessed. But his instincts told him that
this wasn't a human covered in armor. "We've probably got us a mutant
here, open up with everything you've got," he ordered. The entire
team began shooting, concentrating their fire on the man's head as
they had been trained to do.
Bullets struck the intended target but were deflected and ricocheted
all around the room as Apocalypse reached locked doors. He drove his
hands into the small juncture between the two heavy oak doors, and
somehow gained a purchase and casually tore them both off the steel
hinges. He passed through the doorway which led to a long corridor,
completely indifferent to the screams coming from the room he had
"Cease firing," the team leader screamed. He quickly glanced around
the room and saw that the receptionist and two of his men were either
wounded or dead. His suspicions about the nature of the intruder were
unfortunately confirmed. He reached into a shirt pocket and pressed
a button on a communication device designed for just this contingency.
It immediately informed other forces that a hostile mutant or super-powered
being had entered the premises.
Apocalypse unhurriedly walked down the hallway seemingly oblivious
to any resistance or pursuit he might encounter. At the end of the
corridor, four men stepped into view. Three of the men were armed
with some type of energy rifle. The fourth man carried no visible
weapon but was clearly in charge as the other men trailed a few paces
"Pierce, isn't it?" Apocalypse demanded more than asked.
"Yup," Pierce answered not sounding all that surprised. "Are you
a member of my fan club because I don't know you? So why don't you
tell me who you are and why you're here so my trigger happy friends
don't barbeque your ass for lunch."
Apocalypse continued his deliberate pace down the hallway disregardful
of Pierce's warning.
"Well I gave it a try," Pierce said smiling, satisfied with his effort.
"You see my talkative friend, I really don't give a damn about what
you want or who you are."
"That's unfortunate," the intruder rumbled. "If you knew who I was,
you would leave this place and never look back."
Pierce felt a chill run through him at the man's boldness considering
his circumstances. "Waste this bastard," Pierce said through clenched
All three men fired their energy weapons simultaneously, striking
their target squarely in the chest. The man's march forward was not
altered in direction or pace. There wasn't even a burn mark on the
man's jacket. All three men looked to Pierce, similar expressions
of disbelief on their faces.
Pierce watched as the man's hand suddenly changed shape transforming
into something that resembled oversized metal gardening shears. Then
more swiftly than Pierce could imagine the man's arm lengthened and
shot across the distance that separated them. He barely had time to
raise his robotic arm in order to deflect the attack. The man's arm
smashed through Pierce's attempt to defend himself and he was knocked
painfully into one of the walls. Staggered by the impact, it took
him a moment to fully determine what had occurred.
Pierce was wide eyed with terror as he found himself pinned against
the wall and felt the cutting edge of the shears slice into his neck.
Panic stricken and screaming like a frightened child, he attempted
to pry the scissored fingers apart to keep them from severing his
neck. Pierce looked down the barrel of an absurd looking arm, its
out of proportion length almost comical. But there was nothing comical
about the cold and aloof eyes boring into his own, without a shred
of compassion or mercy. The pain and his voice reached a crescendo
and mercifully for Pierce, everything went suddenly dark.
The three security men stood transfixed for a moment as the telescoping
arm shot by them ramming into Pierce. Pierce's neck was wedged between
two prongs that were somehow attached or part of the man's arm, and
were stuck in the wall trapping him there. He clawed futilely trying
to extricate himself but only succeeded in nicking and tearing his
skin creating wounds which began to bleed profusely. His screams became
higher and higher pitched as he realized that he could not escape.
The horrified men watched as the razor-edged prongs slowly closed
and a sound like the snapping of a wet towel preceded Pierce's head
separating completely from his shoulders. Pierce's head hit the rug
with a dull thump and rolled a fair distance before coming to a stop
at the feet of Pierce's security team. The men, paralyzed by fear,
could barely bring themselves to glance down at their feet. Pierce's
head stared up at them with a terrified expression that mirrored their
own . What was even more gruesome to the men was the sight of Pierce's
headless body, still standing upright, while blood rhythmically fountained
from his neck. Pierce's heart was still beating, as the remaining
fluid in his body painted a red death shroud and cascaded down the
All three men dropped their weapons and ran in terror as the creature
retracted its arm with barely a sound, and reformed suddenly to a
very normal sized limb and ordinary looking hand.
Apocalypse could sense two powerful mutants far beneath his present
level. He reached down to what appeared to be a belt buckle shaped
like a capital A, but was in reality a Celestial matter-energy transport
device. He activated it and was conveyed to his desired location.
He materialized in a large cavern, impressed by the size of this
hidden facility under the streets of London. He chuckled to himself
and wondered how many other people maintained secret bases under this
Apocalypse knew that this was a training facility of sorts where
the mutants in this clandestine organization could use, practice and
hone unique abilities, unseen by the general populace. It was also
used to house Sentinels. Apocalypse knew this because he was calmly
standing beneath one at this very moment. But strangely enough the
Sentinel was not what had his attention. Two paintings, conspicuously
hung on a bare rock wall at eye level, were presently the focus of
Just then Sebastian Shaw and his personal assistant Tessa rounded
a rock wall, and were both somewhat startled by his presence. Shaw
quickly recovered and addressed the intruder coolly. "Do you like
the paintings?" Shaw asked genuinely curious noticing the man's interest.
"Forgive me, but judging from the preliminary reports I received,
you don't strike me as a lover of fine art. I assume," Shaw pointed
to the roof of the cavern, "you're responsible for the disturbance
There was no reaction from the stranger. He hadn't even turned around
in response to Shaw's question, seemingly engrossed at what he was
looking at. He used the man's distraction to issue a few instructions
"The one on the left is a favorite of mine. It's a Baroque period
piece," Shaw explained. "You can tell by the extreme use of light
and shadow," he continued enthusiastically. "The first piece of real
art I ever possessed. The Return of the Prodigal Son, an original
by Rembrandt Van Rijn. An original, like all my works of art," Shaw
said with a tone and pompous smile that the rich universally used
to assert their superiority over those they deemed inadequate. Shaw
was only trying to provoke some type of reaction from the stranger,
but he refused to acknowledge Shaw's presence. Shaw though, was not
insulted. He found this all rather amusing, a welcome distraction.
Tessa telepathically informed Shaw that she scanned some of the security
personnel upstairs and that Pierce had been killed -- beheaded in
His face immediately lost its smug smile and was replaced by a grim
and displeased expression. "Show me," Shaw said aloud.
A low chuckle emerged from the stranger who spoke to Shaw for the
first time. "Don't let what the mind-witch related to you ruin your
good spirits. You asked about the paintings. Does the painting in
some way remind you of your relationship with your father Jacob Shaw...before
he became weak and died? Or perhaps it was a present from the late
Senorita Chantel for certain...favors?"(1)
Shaw's face flushed with indignation, his control slipping for a
moment, and then just as quickly, he exerted a rigid control over
his emotions. The strangers voice -- disturbed Shaw on some level,
an impossibly deep baritone that clearly was one of power. Through
his link and without any delay, he instructed Tessa to alert Selene
and have her join them immediately. He saw how easily Pierce
was dispatched and wanted Selene on hand before he disposed of this
"You seem well informed," Shaw said with a cruel edge in his voice.
"You obviously have a particular interest in the details of my
past, why?" Shaw demanded threateningly.
"It was the other painting that caught my eye," Apocalypse finally
turned and faced Shaw completely ignoring Shaw's question. "A painting
detailing the Salem witch trials Shaw? No doubt you feel some type
of affinity between the persecution these people were subjected to
and what mutants face today."
"Perhaps," Shaw answered coolly. The stranger had an intensity about
him which only added to his agitation.
"Yet you have a pet Sentinel. How curious," Apocalypse said grinning
It was Shaw's turn to ignore the man's question and goading tone.
"Why do you find this painting so fascinating?"
"The six woman depicted in this painting, were all hung on Gallows
Hill, the day before I was tried and convicted of witchcraft," Apocalypse
"You wear your age well," Shaw responded dubiously. "This was painted
"I refused to enter a plea to the charges of witchcraft leveled against
me," Apocalypse answered disregarding Shaw's sarcasm. "The Sheriffs
administered something called Piene Forte Et Durre -- pressing. I
was stripped naked, a board placed upon my chest, and then--while
my neighbors watched--heavy stones and rocks were piled on the board.
The pressing lasted for two days until I finally died. Very painful,"
Apocalypse said, with a humorless smile.
At that moment, Selene chose to make her entrance walking regally
into their midst. She stopped abruptly and practically hissed at the
Shaw readily observed that Selene's reaction was one of recognition,
"Hello Selene," Apocalypse said and greeted her with a cold smile.
Selene didn't answer but seemed to retreat into the shadows, almost
putting Shaw between this man and herself.
Shaw was not accustomed to being ignored and Selene and this man
seemed to have each others undivided attention. Irritated, he turned
to Selene. "Do you know this man?"
"This isn't a man Sebastian. I'm not sure he's even a mutant," she
spit out the words in contempt. "I don't know what it is."
She paused for a moment, regarding the cruel smile that had crept
across the man's face in answer to her words. "He calls himself Apocalypse."
Shaw straightened, regarding the man in front of him with some new
respect and also with caution. "Of course. Yes I've heard of you.
The immortal mutant, like Selene," Shaw said looking at both of them
for an answer. Selene's eyes narrowed with suppressed fury at Shaw's
Shaw signaled Tessa to scan Apocalypse and see why he was here --
see what he wanted.
She had just started the scan when pain welled up into her like a
surging tidal wave, sweeping her away. She immediately broke the telepathic
scan or she could no longer function properly, Tessa didn't know which.
She had actually stopped thinking and there was no longer an iota
of coherent thought in her mind -- only the pain. She was unaware
that she was tearing at her body in an attempt to rid herself of the
overwhelming agony that infused every crevice, every nerve ending
of her body.
Shaw watched as Tessa's body crumpled immediately after he had given
the order for her to scan Apocalypse. A small snarl of agony escaped
her lips and then she lost the ability to make any sound as her body
and limbs twisted and contorted, writhing on the cave floor. Shaw
saw the contents of her stomach spill out of her mouth and smelled
that Tessa had lost all control of her bowels. She appeared to be
gulping for air when her face blanched and she curled into a fetal
position and appeared to be unconscious.
"Please let me explain," Apocalypse offered in answer to Shaw's grim
expression as he looked at Tessa. "I'd encountered a similar problem
with a mutant much like your lovely associate. Someone intimately
known to your Hellfire Club as well -- the Phoenix, Jean Grey. She
attacked many years ago much like your Tessa just did. Oh, I was able
to repel her advances," he said with a cold smile. "But I was very
impressed with this new martial ability and could see its uses --
and the necessity to develop ways to combat it. One such way was recalling
specific incidences of pain."
"You couldn't do that to Tessa with a memory," Shaw said but with
a clear lack of conviction.
"Your quite right Shaw. A poor description. Not a memory. Anyone
who has had the misfortune of having a limb amputated can tell you
how the missing limb continues to be felt -- in the brain. I actually
witnessed this very thing. A former...colleague of mine, a Dr. Essex
-- I believe you know him Shaw."
Shaw just shook his head, confused.
"Really? I was led to believe he commonly was in and out," Apocalypse
paused seeming mildly amused -- "or visited your Inner Circle
quite often. No matter. You see Dr. Essex performed a number of amputations,
all unnecessary of course, just to test this theory. He said that
the brain has within it maps of the body that record every sensation
onto the relevant body part. You don't feel anything with your hands
or fingers, you feel with your mind. The entire reality," he gestured
around him, "what we see and what we feel, what we smell and what
we hear is mapped in the brain and then those recorded sensations
reach out to our consciousness from within," he paused tapping the
top of his head. "The cerebral cortex -- yes I am sure that was the
name of the part of the brain Essex was referring to," Apocalypse
said, nodding his head strangely, confirming his thoughts. "There
is a reality out here, but everything we experience," he smiled, "arises
inside our heads -- amazing really."
"With Essex's help I learned to actually recreate physically those
things in my mind, that map, the very nerve messages, truly feeling
the pain at that time." He continued, grimly. "You can say pain and
I are old friends. The very nature of my mutation is exquisitely painful."
He laughed, a booming, terrifying sound. "I function quite normally,
in agony. Others, who might find themselves in the vicinity of my
mind, well...." he gestured towards Tessa. "Others find it a bit overwhelming,"
he chuckled frostily.
Shaw was fascinated by the way Apocalypse had handled the attempt
to telepathically scan him. If Apocalypse were to be believed -- excruciating
pain as a defense. If Tessa's reaction or condition was any indication,
a formidable defense at that. And what did it say about the person
who adopted that defense of his accord and could function? What kind
of willpower would that take?
Something suddenly dawned on Shaw and he changed his tactics immediately.
"My sources had informed me about a potential conflict involving many
mutants led by Mr. Sinister. His conflict is with you. I hadn't thought
much about it until now but that is why you're here, isn't it?"
"I see no reason for our interests to conflicts," Shaw said amicably.
As a matter of fact, it is rather obvious that an alliance would benefit
us both. I recognize you as a man with unusual resources. I assure
you that I can easily prove my worth as well."
Apocalypse focused fully on Shaw for the first time, almost as if
he were beneath his notice until Apocalypse deemed it appropriate
to address him.
"You misunderstand me Shaw. Even should you choose to side with Sinister,
it would not tip the outcome in any fashion. No," Apocalypse drew
the word out, and Shaw could feel the overtones of power build in
the air around him. "I am going to use you as an example. Your death
will send a message," he said pinning Shaw with a frightening stare.
A machine mind that a moment ago was completely dormant, sprang to
life, illuminating lifeless eyes bent on destruction. Preprogrammed
objectives were being compared to data that was currently being fed
to it by a vast array of external sensors. The bio-signatures of the
mutants resident in the Hellfire Club mansion were all but invisible
to the great machine. Apocalypse's bio-signature was not.
Unlike many of the earlier model of Sentinels, this robot did not
announce its intention to the world. Belying its enormous size, the
Sentinel quickly closed its hand, while raising a single arm, and
brought its fist crashing down towards one of the mutants.
With his minds eye, Apocalypse reached into his vast pool of stored
resources, and began the conversion of energy to mass. A portion of
this energy was diverted to his arm and hand, which was used to replicate
the basic structure that was already there. His arm lengthened and
thickened and his hand grew to a size that matched or exceeded the
Sentinels hand. He strengthened the bonds between the molecules in
his arm and hand, as well as the bonds between the atoms, bringing
them closer together -- so close in fact that the density of his body
exceeded any natural substance. If one had measured Apocalypse's mass
a few nanoseconds ago and compared it to the mass he now possessed,
they would have discovered that it had increased a thousand fold.
Shaw had no intention of negotiating with Apocalypse. He had activated
the Sentinel and knew it was programmed to ignore Selene but had special
instructions to strike Shaw himself. He had hoped that this misdirection
would have allowed the Sentinel endow him with super strength and
invulnerability because of his mutant ability to absorb kinetic energy.
Being struck by a five ton arm at a considerable velocity would have
imparted a sizable amount of energy to Shaw. He had no idea that Apocalypse
would anticipate this action and take steps to prevent this. Obviously
Apocalypse had come prepared with full knowledge of Shaw's mutant
Things happened so quickly is was almost impossible for the eye to
follow. The Sentinel brought its fist down on Shaw's head. In a blur
of motion or a blur due to Apocalypse's transformation, Apocalypse's
oversized hand intercepted the Sentinels blow and Shaw remained untouched.
Shaw was shocked as the detonation of sound occurred directly over
his head due to the impact. He watched as the Sentinel's fist came
to an abrupt stop as this feat flouted the laws of physics. At end
of a long lever arm, Apocalypse should have been launched into the
air by the impact. Despite the Sentinels vastly greater size, Shaw
watched enthralled as Apocalypse's feet remained firmly rooted to
the ground and the Sentinels arm buckled at its shoulder.
Apocalypse's other arm again, blurred momentarily and morphed into
a sharp blade. It extended, growing in length and width making a direct
course for the Sentinels head. The spear-like appendage penetrated
the Sentinels chin and met no resistance as it passed through and
out the back its head. A short sharp electrical discharge and accompanying
smell permeated the air. Red-lit eyes momentarily dimmed and then
went completely out as the Sentinel fell backwards and crashed to
the ground , a deafening sound of metal against rock echoed throughout
the vast cavern.
"Your trivial ploy would have made little difference Shaw. In a clash
between the two of us," Apocalypse limbs returned to normal size,
but he assumed the form that all his enemies were familiar with, "there
can only be one outcome."
Shaw braced himself for an attack. "Even I find your boasting
irritating," Shaw said with a challenging tone.
Apocalypse did not advance on Shaw, instead, he just pointed his
index finger at Shaw and wiggled it back and forth.
Perplexed, Shaw sneered at Apocalypse. "Is that supposed...." Shaw
suddenly felt his legs go numb and he collapsed to the ground. He
had no feeling in his legs and despite repeated attempts, he could
"I've severed certain nerves at the base of your spine that control
everything below your waist," Apocalypse supplied.
"You what? Shaw exclaimed with a saucer-eyed stare.
"Your mutant power is very formidable Shaw. Although you wouldn't
have been able to absorb the punishment I could have easily administered,
I rather enjoyed this subtle approach. I simply reduced the breadth
of my finger to a few molecules in width. Just enough to cut the nerves
and impart next to zero kinetic energy due to negligible mass."
Apocalypse waved his finger again. Shaw grunted, his look of apprehension
changed to outright horror.
"I can't see, I can't see! What have you done to me you crazy bastard?"
Shaw cried out hysterically. "Selene, help me. Selene? Answer me you
bitch!" fear and rage mixed in his words. He reached for her, his
Apocalypse did not even look at Selene. It was almost an open invitation
for her to do something to help Shaw. Selene remained where she was.
"I've severed both your optic nerves. Believe me when I say I take
little pleasure in this," Apocalypse said with brutal detachment.
"What I have done to you is for others to see -- and understand."
"Please," Shaw begged. "I'll give you anything," his voice degenerated
into a guttural rasp.
Shaw's pleading disgusted Apocalypse. "You deserve much worse," Apocalypse
said with undisguised distaste. With that, Apocalypse severed the
major arteries leading to his brain. Sebastian Hiram Shaw, Black King
of the Hellfire Club, fell forward. The king was dead.
Selene watched at how easily Shaw had been dispatched. Long ago,
she had heard of Apocalypse, and had sought him out to subdue him
to her will. He had shrugged of her attempts indifferently, much as
an adult would restrain a small child. It had been the first time
she had suffered a defeat and Apocalypse had achieved it effortlessly.
At the time, it had galled her to no end. After many years, she had
learned to accept this ignominious defeat and resolved to avoid this
creature at all times. Selene believed that the old adage that there
was always someone stronger or more powerful than you -- she
believed that the someone that was being referred to was Apocalypse.
She momentarily froze as cold eyes regarded her once more. She recovered
quickly and with intricate arm and hand movements, gathered vast arcane
energy about her. "It shall not be as easy to best me this time monster.
I have learned much and have grown in power," Selene said, and stuck
out her chin in defiantly.
Apocalypse regarded her for a moment before speaking. "Indeed."
With that one word, it was clear that he believed her -- his tone
not mocking, but one of respect.
"You have undeniably supplemented your already considerable power,"
Apocalypse said with candid appreciation. "But I have no quarrel with
you Selene. My purpose was to kill Shaw only."
Selene neither relaxed her guard or allowed her defensive energies
to wane. But she was curious.
"Why Shaw?" she asked.
"There are those who foolishly wish me dead. An army of mutants is
being assembled to finally put an end to me," Apocalypse chuckled,
the sound even disturbed Selene.
"Shaw would have been enlisted. This," Apocalypse said pointing to
Shaw's inert body, "is just a personal message to his would be employer.
I suggest you take note of the content of this message, should you
yourself be contacted," Apocalypse's tone, had suddenly turned ominous.
"See to it that none of your External brethren participate in the
upcoming conflict." Apocalypse took a threatening step towards her.
"I will not be as swift or merciful as I was with Shaw," he said with
one last withering glare, and disappeared.
Selene had no intention of siding with that madman Sinister against
Apocalypse. She wasn't a fool. She glanced down at Shaw and didn't
feel an ounce of remorse. Her only thought was that she was glad that
Apocalypse had come for Shaw, and not her.
Sinister watched as Shaw's bio-signature winked out indicating that
he was dead, although Sinister's presence wasn't necessary. Like many
of his devices, it was automated and the data on Shaw's demise would
have been waiting for him to evaluate at his convenience.
The information was not unexpected. Apocalypse was obviously aware
of Sinister's overt machinations and Shaw's death was no more
than Apocalypse's show of recognition. The target had been a carefully
selected one as well. Sinister's connection to Shaw's family made
him more of a personal target. But for Apocalypse to take any action
at all was almost a show of appreciation. In many ways Apocalypse
was quite predictable.
There were still many more pieces to be moved into place before he
felt he could successfully execute his plan. He believed for the moment
Apocalypse would allow him the time to assemble the necessary combatants.
Apocalypse would no doubt welcome the challenge, welcome the test
of his own power.
Sinister began his review of the next candidate -- the next sacrificial
lamb to insure the realization his plan.
X-Men the Hellfire Club#4
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